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Alvin Irby, M.S., MPA

Alvin Irby is a former kindergarten teacher turned award-winning social entrepreneur, national speaker, comedian, and author. He is Founder and Chief Reading Inspirer at Barbershop Books, a literacy program that creates child-friendly reading spaces in barbershops and provides early literacy training to barbers. His work connecting reading to male-centered spaces and involving men in boys’ early reading experiences earned him the National Book Foundation’s 2017 Innovations in Reading Prize.

Irby leads cultural competency trainings across the United States, helping school districts, library systems, colleges/universities, and education organizations create learning experiences that are relevant and engaging.  His nationally recognized keynotes and workshops excavate his eclectic professional and personal life to better understand and address one of American education’s greatest challenges – cultivating an intrinsic motivation to read and learn.  

Irby’s debut children’s book, Gross Greg, combines his passion for humor and early literacy; it is a laugh-out-loud story that captures the hilariously gross behavior of kids everywhere.  As a stand up comedian, Irby's clever social commentary and astute observations shine through in his 2018 comedy album "Really Dense." Irby won 2nd place at the 2019 Laughing Devil Comedy Festival and was the winner of the Clean Comedy Showcase at the 2019 San Diego Comedy Festival. One of the highlights of his comedy career was securing one of nine coveted spots in the 2015 StandUp NBC national finale showcase for which he performed at the legendary Hollywood Improv in Los Angeles, CA.

Alvin Irby holds a Masters of Science (M.S.) in General Childhood Education from Bank Street Graduate School of Education, a Masters of Public Administration (MPA) from New York University’s Robert F. Wagner School of Public Service, and a Bachelors of Arts in Sociology from Grinnell College.