Hadiyah MillerAcross Oregon’s early childhood landscape, certain individuals stand out for their unrelenting dedication, progressive thinking, and advocacy. Hadiyah Miller, who passed in September of 2022, was one of those change-makers, leaving an indelible mark on the field through her commitment to anti-bias education,classroom practices centered in justice, and the wellbeing of young learners and the adults who care for them. As we reflect on her career and enduring impact, it is with deep respect and gratitude that we announce the opening of the Hadiyah Miller Scholarship Fund.

Hadiyah's influence has been vital to the Multnomah County Preschool for All initiative since its beginning. She participated in the Task Force process and was a member of the inaugural Advisory Committee. She later became one of the first lead PFA coaches. She advocated for representation of teachers of color in our workforce, and for culturally specific coaching for all PFA providers, helping them foster inclusive and empowering learning environments for every child.

Hadiyah began her career in early education as a teacher at Helen Gordon Child Development Center at Portland State University. She was drawn to anti-bias education after attending a training facilitated by Katie Kissinger, who went on to become a long-time friend and professional collaborator. Within a few years, Hadiyah transitioned into facilitating trainings alongside Katie, challenging dominant culture views in early childhood education that even she had held when she entered the field.

Later, as a professor at Portland Community College, Hadiyah worked to impact both coursework and the culture of the on-campus child development center. She supervised students as they worked in the classroom, nurturing their passion for teaching with a keen sense of inquiry and empathy. Her love of coaching led her to take a role as the African American Family Childcare Network Coordinator at Multnomah County CCR&R, where she championed developmentally appropriate and culturally responsive practices. Hadiyah’s work resisted oppressive special education practices and behavior interventions disproportionately affecting Black children.

Hadiyah MillerHadiyah's tenure as President of ORAEYC and her founding and involvement in organizations like Threads of Justice Collective and Black Child Development PDX underscored her dedication to advocacy and transformative change in early childhood education. Threads of Justice offers toolkits, workshops, and other professional development resources designed to help educators counter bias, racism, and discrimination. Black Child Development PDX connects community members, Black leaders, and allies to change outcomes for young Black children in Portland. Through these efforts, Hadiyah was committed to elevating Black voices and experiences, striving to create a more equitable and inclusive educational landscape.

Her advocacy efforts culminated in the development and successful passage of Oregon Senate Bill 236 in 2021. This landmark legislation bans preschool suspension and expulsion, an exclusionary practice that has impacted Black children at higher rates than their peers. In all her advocacy around this issue, Hadiyah was clear that passing legislation wasn’t enough; culturally specific coaching and professional development for teachers would be key to the successful implementation of SB 236. She approached all her work with a keen awareness of the humanity at the core of early childhood education, striving to support educators in staying connected to their passion and purpose amidst the challenges they faced.

The Hadiyah Miller Scholarship Fund is a ‘thank you’ for her enduring legacy and commitment to uplifting the next generation of early childhood educators. As Leslee Barnes, director of the Multnomah County Preschool & Early Learning Division, aptly puts it, "Everyone knew her—she was like a celebrity. In Oregon, it was really something to encounter a Black woman in leadership in education. I was her fan. I was in awe." 

Hadiyah's unwavering belief in the importance of skilled teachers underscores the mission of this scholarship, which seeks to honor her memory by providing financial assistance and professional development opportunities to aspiring educators who share her passion and vision.

Throughout her career, Hadiyah asked questions like, "How do we support teachers so that they can support children?" The Hadiyah Miller Scholarship Fund is part of our answer—a gesture of hope and opportunity for those who, like Hadiyah, are dedicated to making a difference in the lives of young children and their communities.

Deep thanks to Katie Kissinger, Grace Bounds, and Leslee Barnes for sharing about Hadiyah’s work and her friendship for this piece.