Children's Literacy Initiative (CLI) is a mission-driven organization fueled by the passion and enthusiasm of our employees. Our dedicated team works together to equip teachers with the right tools to ensure all children have the power of literacy. We pride ourselves on having a workplace that is fun and engaging, and a team that is smart and motivated. 

Today, our Team Spotlight series features our Chief Development Officer, Naimah Bilal. Naimah leads our fundraising and communications efforts across. She works every day to expand our organization's visibility, engaging with supporters and advocates to deepen our impact in communities across all our regions. 

We sat down with Naimah to learn more about her CLI experience, what motivates her every day, and who are some heroes she has as we celebrate Women's History Month. Check out Naimah's answers below. 

You can see more of Naimah as she hosted the CET Community and Urban Consulate - Cincinnati special, Black Future City. Click here to see more! 

Q: What attracted you to working at Children’s Literacy Initiative? 

A: CLI's literacy mission alone made the opportunity to join the team exciting. Literacy is the gateway to all learning and I was drawn to the opportunity to contribute to the advancement of this vital life skill through increased fund development. CLI's unwavering commitment to social justice also animated me and coupled with our unassailable mission, will propel CLI to new levels of impact for the children and teachers we serve.

Q: What are some of your key duties within your role?

A: As Chief Development Officer, I oversee the design and execution of CLI's comprehensive fundraising and communications program that includes a robust suite of fund development and marketing campaign initiatives, brand awareness, major and planned giving, and institutional relations. These efforts knit together to deepen and expand CLI's visibility and support which drive sustainability in service of our mission.


Q: What aspects of your role do you enjoy the most?

A: There are few aspects of the role more fulfilling than working alongside the Development and Strategic Communications team to help support organizational capacity and innovation, while also securing CLI's long-term sustainability. Philanthropy is where ambition meets action and I love seeing how big visions for our growth converge with donors and constituents who want to help us reach our next stage of impact for teachers and children.

Development, in particular, is highly relationship-driven and a satisfying part of the role is seeking the progression of meaningful discussions with donors about our work which result in successful philanthropic investment matches.

Q: In celebration of Women’s History month, can you name woman or women who have inspired you? and why?

A: My Mom. An incredible human, educator, adventurer, she instilled in me a love for literature, travel, and my appetite for learning new things. She's a professor of Rhetoric and Communications at the American University in Cairo (yes, Egypt!) and reminds me each day that a life of unending learning is a life well-lived.

Q: Please share a fun fact about yourself that most people would not know. For example, do you play any instrument, or have a unique hobby? 

A: I began my career as an orchestral violinist and violist. To this day I draw inspiration from my experiences as a musician to inform how I connect with people in my professional and personal life. Though most of my experience was performing Western Classical repertoire, the most thrilling experience I had was doing tour with Kanye West as member of his band for his "Touch The Sky" tour. I'm still a Kanye fan! 🙂

Black Future City

What does a thriving city look like through the imaginations of Black visionaries and change-makers?

Our very own, Naimah Bilal, hosted a very special conversation, Urban Consulate Presents: Black Future City, focused on local exchange, bringing people together, and sharing ideas for better cities. Check out the full CET Community special today!


Interested in joining Claire and the CLI team? Check out all our open positions on our Careers Page

Join Our Team Today! >>

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