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Kyra Atterbury: Executive Director, Need in Deed

Family Focus Media is proud to recognize Kyra Atterbury with a Women of Influence Award.

The Family Focus Media Women of Influence Awards are designed to acknowledge and amplify the influence exceptional local women have in our Community, showcasing their accomplishments and encouraging others to follow their example. Through their efforts, these influencers have demonstrated the power to shape attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors on a large scale. 


“Kyra Atterbury has served the Philadelphia educational community in many capacities for over 20 years.  For the past 15 years she has worked as a program director for Need in Deed, providing several hundred teachers with the professional development and classroom support needed to engage students in community based social justice learning.  This past year, Kyra was appointed as the Executive Director of Need in Deed, bringing energy, commitment and a wealth of knowledge about schools, teaching and learning to that position.  To me she is one of the unsung women leaders in Philadelphia, working tirelessly to serve the community.” – Lisa Smulyan


Meet Kyra

Kyra Atterbury is the Executive Director of Need in Deed, an organization that offers professional development to 3rd to 8th grade teachers in Philadelphia public schools to improve the educational outcomes and experiences of students. The development is built on a fundamental sense of respect for the teaching profession and takes a unique approach to service learning that transforms teaching and learning. 


Kyra is a proud product of the Philadelphia public school system, and the daughter of a teacher. She began her career at Need in Deed 15 years ago as a program manager.

Hard Work and Giving Back


While Kyra primarily works with teachers, her ultimate goal is to serve primarily minority and underrepresented students in their classroom. “I want students in Philadelphia to be heard, to be seen as intelligent, and as having all the potential that any other child in any other area has.   I believe that equity in education must not only be about resources but about equal access to engaging and rigorous curriculum that centers students’ experiences,” Kyra says. “It is my goal to amplify the voices of Philadelphia students so that when those in power make decisions that affect their lives, they know that students are watching and that they care deeply about their communities and what happens in and around them.”

Point of Pride


During Kyra’s first year at Need in Deed, she assisted a 7th grade science teacher to encourage his students to follow through on a project about gun violence that they had lost their enthusiasm for. Kyra decided to send the teacher information about the Pennsylvania Innocence Project. “Before I knew it, I was being CC’ed on emails written by students asking a representative from the Innocence Project to visit their classroom,” she says. The students raised $250 to donate to the Innocence Project, which was enough to pay for a DNA test for someone wrongly imprisoned. 


“What I am most proud of in this story is the fact that I encouraged the teacher to push through his doubts (and justified exhaustion) to finish what he and his students started.  At the end of the year, we were both so proud,” Kyra says. “He was proud of himself for pushing through and he was surprised at the initiative his students took on. It taught me very early on in my career that with a bit of support teachers and students can do amazing things.”

Contributing Writer for Philadelphia Family.