Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs
Elizabeth Burke Bryant

Elizabeth Burke Bryant

Elizabeth Burke Bryant

Adjunct Lecturer in Public Policy


Elizabeth Burke Bryant is a child advocate with over 30 years of experience in advancing equitable policies and programs to improve the well-being of children, youth, and families. She served as Executive Director of Rhode Island KIDS COUNT, a children’s policy and advocacy organization, for 28 years - from its establishment in 1994 to 2022.

Under her leadership, Rhode Island KIDS COUNT became the state’s premier child advocacy organization with a national reputation for its work to improve the health, education, early childhood development, economic well-being, and safety of Rhode Island’s children. The annual Rhode Island KIDS COUNT Factbook informs data-driven advocacy across the state, with a core focus on closing unacceptable disparities by race, ethnicity, and income. Among the policy victories that Rhode Island KIDS COUNT contributed to during her tenure were the establishment of the RI Pre-K program (ranked first in the nation for quality), Full-Day Kindergarten, the expansion of children’s health insurance coverage (RI is ranked 4 th best in the nation and provides health coverage to eligible children regardless of immigration status), the extension of DCYF services for foster youth up to age 21, and the reversal of a law that required 17-year old’s to be tried as adults and sent to adult prison.

Elizabeth is an Adjunct Lecturer at Brown University’s Master of Public Affairs program where she teaches Public Policy Advocacy & Strategic Communications. She serves on the Advisory Council for Brown University’s Hassenfeld Child Health Innovation Institute and the Advisory Board for Ocean State Stories at the Pell Center at Salve Regina University. She has provided leadership for national initiatives including the 17-State School Readiness Indicators Initiative and the national Campaign for Grade-Level Reading. Previous positions include Housing Court Prosecutor and Director of Policy for the City of Providence, and consultant to Rhode Island Housing, the Women’s Prison Mentoring Project, and the Rhode Island Foundation. She is a graduate of Classical High School, the University of Vermont, and the George Washington University Law School. For several years she served as co-chair of the board of the Partnership for America’s Children, a national network of state and local child advocacy organizations working to improve policies affecting children at the national, state, and local levels. She is a recipient of numerous awards, including the national Florette Angel Child Advocate of the Year Award, the University of Vermont Alumni Achievement Award, the Girl Scouts of Southeastern New England Leading Women of Distinction Award, the YWCA of Rhode Island Women of Achievement Award, and the Rhode Island Foundation’s Community Leadership Award.