Cynthia Greenleaf (Inducted 2022)

Senior Research Scientist Emerita Literacy
West Ed


cgreenl [at]

Curriculum Vitae: 

Biographical Statement

Dr. Cynthia Greenleaf, founder of the Strategic Literacy Initiative and Senior Research Scientist (emerita) in Literacy at WestEd*, is a passionate advocate for high-quality literacy education for all. She has conducted cutting-edge research in academic and disciplinary literacy and translated it into powerful teacher professional development for nearly three decades. Her work to design, develop, and bring to scale the Reading Apprenticeship® Instructional Framework has improved teaching and learning for hundreds of thousands of secondary and college students and their teachers, nationally and internationally.

Dr. Greenleaf leads collaborative, design-based research supporting the ongoing development of Reading Apprenticeship and its inquiry-based professional learning model and contributes to national and international efforts to advance academic and disciplinary literacies. With extensive experience in powerful teacher professional learning and academic literacies, Dr. Greenleaf has also co-directed several large-scale validation studies and dissemination projects, bringing Reading Apprenticeship to over one million students in high-needs districts across the country. Large-scale randomized controlled studies have validated Reading Apprenticeship’s effectiveness in improving students’ subject area engagement, literacy, and achievement.**

Dr. Greenleaf served as Content Lead on the 2026 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) Reading Framework update and from 2010 – 2016 as Co-Principal Investigator of Project READI, a federal research and development project for the Reading for Understanding Initiative of the Institute of Education Sciences. This initiative developed instructional strategies, technology, curricula, teacher professional development, and assessment to increase the reading comprehension of students in grades 6-12.

Under Dr. Greenleaf’s direction, WestEd collaborated with researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago and elsewhere to understand the processes students need to engage in with varied sources to develop discipline-specific, evidence-based arguments, and to design instructional interventions that will support students to do so successfully. Researchers also designed research studies to measure the efficacy of the project interventions. As co-Principal Investigator, Dr. Greenleaf co-led the project’s Intervention Development Studies, led the design and implementation of its professional development model, and developed the science intervention studied through a randomized controlled study in high school biology classrooms.

Dr. Greenleaf has published major research papers, peer-reviewed journal articles and book chapters, and the best-selling Reading for Understanding and Leading for Literacy books. Awards and honors include the Distinguished Scholar Award from the National Council of Research in Language and Literacy; the Arthur Applebee Award for Excellence in Research on Literacy; the Distinguished Visiting Scholar Award from the University of Auckland, New Zealand; the Best Dissertation Award from Division G of the American Educational Research Association; the Presidential Grant for School Improvement Dissertation Award from the University of California, Berkeley; and the Promising Researcher Award from the National Council of Teachers of English. Dr. Greenleaf was inducted into the Reading Hall of Fame in 2022.

Dr. Greenleaf received a PhD in language and literacy education from the University of California, Berkeley, and a BA in linguistics from the University of California, San Diego, where she graduated magna cum laude.

*WestEd is a national not-for-profit research, development, and service agency with headquarters in San Francisco, California.

**Visit the Reading Apprenticeship website [] to learn more about this ongoing work and its latest developments.