Silja Kallenbach

For more than 40 years, Silja Kallenbach has been a champion of adult education, working to help people gain skills and bridge the digital divide. In her 27 years with World Education, she has grown our work in the United States, served as a mentor and friend, and made a lasting impact on the lives of countless individuals. After overseeing double-digit growth in project funding for the U.S. division, she leaves World Education with a portfolio of 26 active projects that will continue to enhance people’s access to adult education for the next 25 years.

This is a small snapshot of Silja’s impact.


Co-founded Mujeres Unidas en Acción, a learning center for Latina women in Boston


Founding member of the Boston Adult Literacy Fund, now First Literacy


Started at World Education


Founded and led the New England Literacy Resource Center


Co-directed the Adult Multiple Intelligences study


Cofounded the National College Transition Network


Designated a Massachusetts Literacy Champion


Designed and carried out the New England Learner Persistence Project


Co-designed the Transition to College and Careers demonstration project


Assumed responsibility as Vice President of World Education US division


Awarded the Promoting Literacy Award from COABE


Founded the EdTech Center @ World Education


Directed the Networks for Integrating New Americans Initative








The breadth and depth of Silja’s knowledge of adult education policy, practice, and research is vast, as is her level of productivity, her writing and communication skills, and her ability to accomplish multiple, complex tasks within very intense and demanding time-frames.  Silja is creative and entrepreneurial, maintains a clear and strategic vision, and cares deeply about World Education, the work, the practitioners, and the students.”

Silja has been a relentless advocate who works with courage and conviction. She is nationally respected for her leadership in the field of adult education because she has been, for decades, a passionate leader in this space…for both adult learners and educators. She never shies away from the opportunity to advance bold ideas. Mostly, she has a strong internal moral compass around issues of equity, access, and fairness that drives her vision, her work, and her capacity for creating broad coalitions in support of these efforts.”

-Luanne Teller

It has been a privilege to work for such a mission-driven organization with talented and dedicated colleagues and partners across the nation. Together we have been improving access to and quality of education for thousands of adults, with a focus on equity and social justice.


As I conclude my 27 years at World Education, I can’t say ‘mission accomplished,’ but I can say we have used all means at our disposal to advance the field of adult education, illuminate its vital importance, and open opportunities for adults to improve their lives through education.”

-Silja Kallenbach

Freedom Fighters – All

Thank you, Silja!