Sarah Lytle, Ph.D. (Executive Director)
Sarah Lytle, Ph.D., is the Executive Director of the Playful Learning Landscapes Action Network (PLLAN). She comes to PLLAN after a decade at the University of Washington’s Institute for Learning & Brain Sciences, where she was most recently the Director of Outreach and Education.
Sarah is an expert in child development and has conducted research on language development and children’s interactions with screen media. She has more than a decade of experience in connecting science to practice, working extensively with parents, early learning providers, and policymakers to promote evidence-based interactions with children.
Sarah has a B.A. in Psychology and Spanish from the University of Notre Dame and a Ph.D. in Developmental Psychology from Temple University. She was a 2014-2016 Zero To Three Fellow, a 2016-2019 member of the Children and Youth Advisory Board in King County, WA, and she has served on the Seattle Educare Advisory Council and Woodland Park Zoo’s Early Childhood Advisory Committee.
Sarah lives in Seattle with her husband and their English Bulldog, Norman. She loves to cook, visit local breweries, and kayak on the Puget Sound. The greatest compliment Sarah ever received was “you must have played well as a child.”
Julia Miller (Program Manager)
Julia Miller is the Program Manager of the Playful Learning Landscapes Action Network. As a former play-based learning specialist, Julia is committed to helping support projects that that lead to high-quality education without barriers to success through play-based best practices.
Her philosophy of education has derived from the belief that all children deserve a stimulating social-emotional, sensory-oriented, and academic environment where every child can grow physically, mentally, emotionally, and socially in a playfully conducive setting. This vision was influenced by her year-long Fulbright Scholar research grant in Helsinki, Finland, where she researched the effects of play-based learning in early childhood by way of a Finnish social-emotional environment. When Julia returned to the U.S in 2019, she was able to secure a grant to turn a charter school storage room into a play-based classroom. Julia’s self-created program, Just Play, operated out of the grant-awarded playspace in North Philadelphia.
Using design and evidence-based principles from her play space, she received the Play Everywhere Philly grant from KABOOM! and the William Penn Foundation. As part of this grant, she led community engagement efforts to create playful learning installations along sidewalks and vacant parcels, beginning with five sites in North Philadelphia previously known as The Play District.
Julia holds an Urban Education Master’s Cert from the University of Pennsylvania and a B.A. in International Education and Music Business from Albright College in Reading, Pennsylvania where she served as the President of the class of 2013. In 2015, she completed her commitment to Teach for America as K-1 classroom instructor at a charter school in North Philadelphia. Julia loves to sing, read, paint, and explore her new neighborhood in South Philadelphia.