Sara Hayden Parris, M.H.A.’06

Sara Hayden Parris, M.H.A.’06, was among the Des Moines Register’s “15 People to Watch in 2024” because of her efforts to help students have access to banned books. She is the president and founder of Annie’s Foundation, a Johnston, IA-based volunteer nonprofit organization that strives to ensure students have access to challenged books. There were 99 documented book challenges in Iowa school districts from August 2020 to May 2023. In 2023 the Iowa General Assembly passed legislation that bans books depicting sex acts from schools and prohibits instruction about sexual orientation and gender identity in younger grades. 

Annie’s Foundation handed out 5,000 banned books by the end of 2023 and hopes to hit 10,000 by the end of 2024. The group also plans to continue drawing awareness to the work of state legislators and asking political candidates to sign a “freedom to read” pledge. Other work, which doesn’t always deal with challenged books, has included filling Little Free Libraries and donating books to the Polk County, IA, Juvenile Detention Center.

Scroll to Top