Hello Literacy Lab Team, School Partners, donors and friends:
I wanted to take a moment to introduce myself as the new Board Chair of Literacy Lab. By way of background, I am originally from Sri-Lanka and grew up in Zambia, Zimbabwe and England. I came to the US in 1986 for college and have lived in Washington, DC for the past 22 years. Kaili is my spouse and we have two sons, Toomas (19) and Tiimo (17). Professionally, my work experience is in private investing. Living across different cultures and education have been a defining part of my lived experience.
I have been on the Literacy Lab board for the past 6 years during which I have seen the organization grow from $3 million to $15+ million of annual revenues with a simple essential focus on early childhood literacy. I am grateful to Ned Mandel for his board leadership over many years and his continuing participation on the Board of Directors. I am also grateful for the support of our Board of Directors in taking on this role.
Why take this role? Two reasons come to mind right away. First, early childhood literacy makes a significant difference in empowering children to achieve higher levels of education. Education, in turn, breaks the cycle of poverty by providing a gateway to opportunity and financial security. Second, Literacy Lab has a chance to become a national leader in the early childhood literacy space. It would be wonderful to be part of the team that makes this a reality.
Over the past 2 years, we have seen a global pandemic impact everyone. However, underserved communities have seen a meaningfully disproportionate impact from the pandemic. Students in pre-K through grade 3 often missed important foundational instruction in addition to dealing with numerous issues such as poverty and mental health challenges as a result of the pandemic. This is especially true in underserved communities with black and brown children. When reading and discussing these issues, despair is appropriate. So is hope. One of my mentors taught me that when facing life’s challenges, you must “control the controllable.” Every child we help by improving their literacy skills will have a meaningfully better chance of progressing through their educational journey.
I am grateful to have the opportunity to work together with Heather and all of you. Thank you for all the work that you do to help our students.