Our Team

Working together to achieve our mission. Our team is our greatest strength.

Our Staff

Heather Jenkins

CEO

hjenkins@theliteracylab.org

Heather Jenkins is the Chief Executive Officer. Prior to joining The Literacy Lab, she was the Chief People & Equity Officer at uAspire where she was responsible for ensuring that uAspire’s people, equity and organizational culture work is done with a people-first mindset to drive retention, inclusivity and sustainability. Heather has 19 years of experience working for equity and access in education including: teacher and administrator at the K-12 level; non-profit leader; diversity and equity consultant for secondary and postsecondary institutions; public and private school college readiness education consultant; and a mentor to students of color and economically marginalized youth. She has a BA in psychology, an MS in education, and a Ph.D. in sociology of education. She is the proud mother of two young women, one in college and one in graduate school.

Tirthna Badhiwala

Director of Operations

tbadhiwala@theliteracylab.org

Tirthna Badhiwala joined The Literacy Lab after a year of service as an AmeriCorps VISTA in North Carolina. As a VISTA, she developed educational and employment programs for individuals with intellectual/developmental disabilities. She earned her Bachelor's degree in Chemistry with a minor in Social and Economic Justice from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Shona Barton-Negreiros

Recruitment Coordinator

sbartonnegreiros@theliteracylab.org

Shona Barton-Negreiros is a Recruitment Associate at The Literacy Lab. Originally from Boston, MA, she moved to Washington D.C. to serve with AmeriCorps City Year at Turner Elementary School. Prior to that, she served with AmeriCorps Jumpstart, Big Brother Big Sister, America Reads, and worked as a school library intern in Cape Town, South Africa. Shona holds a Bachelor's degree in Communications and Human Rights, with a minor in Theatre Studies from the University of Connecticut.

Cayla Bledsoe

Program Coordinator

cbledsoe@theliteracylab.org

Cayla Bledsoe is a Program Coordinator at the Literacy Lab. She joined the Literacy Lab team after serving as a K-3 tutor at Mary E. Rodman Elementary School in Baltimore, MD. With a Bachelor’s degree in Social Work, Cayla has always held a strong passion for serving her community and has almost a decade of experience working in the nonprofit sector. Prior to working with the Literacy Lab, she was a Therapist and Social Worker helping to empower, teach, and coordinate services for young children and young adults in education and employment.

Emma Byrne

Regional Director

ebyrne@theliteracylab.org

Emma Byrne serves as Regional Director in Virginia. She fell in love with the field of education while serving as a summer camp counselor and went on to receive a B.A. in English and Secondary Education from West Virginia University. After graduating, Emma lived in Guanajuato, Mexico, where she helped implement the country's first 4-H Youth Development program. Prior to joining staff, Emma also taught high school English and served as a Literacy Lab tutor.

Lucas Camacho

Program Coordinator

lcamacho@theliteracylab.org

Lucas Camacho is a Program Associate at The Literacy Lab. Prior to joining The Literacy Lab, Lucas served as an AmeriCorps member in North Carolina. During his year of service, Lucas led nutrition-based culinary courses connecting kids in need with nutritious food and teaching their families how to cook healthy, affordable meals. He earned his Bachelor's degree in Global Studies with a Minor in Medical Anthropology from The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Jordan Chandler

Program Operations Manager

jchandler@theliteracylab.org

Jordan Chandler joined The Literacy Lab team after serving as a full-time tutor at Stanton Elementary School in southeast Washington, DC. Prior to her year of service with The Literacy Lab, Jordan completed a year of AmeriCorps service at Stanton. Jordan holds Bachelor's degrees in Psychology and Spanish from the University of Virginia.

Jax Chaudhry

Regional Director

jchaudhry@theliteracylab.org

Jax believes literacy is a fundamental right and the cornerstone for stronger educational pathways to student success. She values a diversity, equity and inclusion lens in all regional engagement as the Metro DC Regional Director. Previously, she led operational strategy, managed teams and built community partnerships with K-12 schools and education nonprofits. Jax holds a Bachelor's degree from The University of Pennsylvania.

Allie Deerr

Program Associate

adeerr@theliteracylab.org

Allie Deerr is a Program Associate at The Literacy Lab in Richmond, VA. She joined the staff after serving as a K-3 tutor at Lindenwood Elementary in Norfolk, VA. Originally from Bloomington, IN, Allie holds a Bachelor’s degree in Anthropology, Business Management and Entrepreneurship from Indiana University. With a passion for human resource development and education, Allie brings over a decade of management and training experience to The Literacy Lab. Her background also consists of working in marketing, operations, and fundraising in both the nonprofit and for-profit sectors.

Ilyssa DeLeon

Program Associate

ideleon@theliteracylab.org

Ilyssa DeLeon is a Program Associate at The Literacy Lab in Springfield, MA. Prior to this role, Ilyssa served for two years as a K-3 tutor at Alfred M. Glickman Elementary School. She earned her Bachelor’s degree in Public Health Sciences with a minor in Spanish from the University of Massachusetts Amherst. While there, Ilyssa was inducted into the Delta Omega Honorary Society in Public Health which recognizes academic achievement and promotes continued effort in the public health field. She is passionate about working to improve public health through literacy and education.

Ivan C. Douglas Jr.

Leading Men Program Director

idouglas@theliteracylab.org

Ivan Douglas is the Program Director for The Literacy Lab's Leading Men Fellowship. He began his professional career as a corporate securities attorney in Washington, DC, and practiced law for seven years before transitioning to the field of education in 2013. Prior to joining The Literacy Lab, Ivan was a high school teacher and program director for a youth male mentoring initiative in DC Public Schools. Ivan received his Bachelor’s degree in International Affairs from Emory University and his Juris Doctor degree from the Washington College of Law at American University.

Terrans Edmonds

Program Assistant

tedmonds@theliteracylab.org

Terrans "Tj" Edmonds is a Leading Men Fellowship Program Assistant. Prior to his current role with The Literacy Lab, Tj served as a Richmond Leading Men Fellow from January 2019 to June 2020 at Oak Grove Elementary and South Hampton Elementary. Tj is a proud graduate of Richmond Community High School and attended North Carolina A&T. He loves working at summer camps, helping kids, and engaging with the larger Leading Men Fellowship Alumni community.

Carly Elliott

Program Manager

celliott@theliteracylab.org

Carly Elliott is a Program Manager at The Literacy Lab in Washington, DC. Before coming to The Literacy Lab, Carly spent six years as an elementary Special Education teacher and a second grade teacher in the District of Columbia. Carly is an alumna of Teach For America and completed two years as a corps member in Washington, DC. Carly earned her Master’s degree in Special Education from George Mason University and her Bachelor’s degree in Political Science and English from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

María Eugenia "Maru" Fernández

Program Manager

mfernandez@theliteracylab.org

Maru is a Program Manager at The Literacy Lab. Prior to joining The Literacy Lab, she interned at organizations supporting public education in her homeland, Puerto Rico. Maru also volunteered as a tutor and classroom aide in Richmond, Virginia. She holds a Bachelor's degree in Journalism and Sociology from the University of Richmond.

Nia Fitzhugh

Program Associate

nfitzhugh@theliteracylab.org

Nia Fitzhugh is a Program Associate at The Literacy Lab. Prior to joining as a Program Associate, Nia served as a Literacy Lab tutor at Smothers Elementary School in Washington, DC. During her year of service, Nia worked with PreK students and introduced them to foundational literacy skills. Nia received her Bachelor’s Degree in Communications with a Minor in Electronic Media, Film, and Journalism from Towson University.

Katya Forbes

Program Associate

kforbes@theliteracylab.org

Katya Forbes is a Program Assistant at The Literacy Lab. She has a Bachelor's degree from Johns Hopkins University in Sociology and Writing Seminars. Katya served two years as a Literacy Lab K-3 tutor at Frederick Elementary School in Baltimore, MD. She also worked as a Behavior Technician providing ABA services to children with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Katya is passionate about ensuring that all children have the skills they need to thrive and succeed.

Chamelle Gleaton

Director of Operations and HR

cgleaton@theliteracylab.org

Chamelle Gleaton joined The Literacy Lab team after serving as a full-time tutor at Amidon-Bowen Elementary school in Washington, DC. She also served as a Team Lead for The Literacy Lab’s summer school program at Wheatley Elementary school. Prior to her two years of service with The Literacy Lab, she worked for four years educating the general public on FEMA’s National Flood Insurance Program. She also spent a summer working in a youth development program in Hyattsville, Maryland. Chamelle holds a Bachelor’s degree in Business Management from North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University.

Aja Goode

Equity, Impact, and Anti Racism Manager

agoode@theliteracylab.org

Aja Goode is a Recruitment Associate at The Literacy Lab. Prior to joining The Literacy Lab, Aja worked in higher education, assisting graduate students with application processes, recruitment, and enrollment. Aja holds a Master's degree in Ethics, Peace, and Global Affairs from American University. She obtained her Bachelor's degree in International Studies from George Mason University.

Brandon Graves

Program Manager

bgraves@theliteracylab.org

Brandon Graves is the Program Manager for the Leading Men Fellowship in Virginia. His passion for justice and urban ministry was sparked by his experience working as the Youth Development Coordinator for the YMCA in Norfolk, VA in 2013. After that he spent most of his professional career working in local news as a photojournalist and Director of Visual Presentation for 13News Now in Norfolk. There he was able to continue his leadership experience and passion for coaching and mentoring young and seasoned professionals. Brandon graduated from Old Dominion University with a Bachelor's in Communications and is currently finishing his Master's in Biblical Studies. He is passionate about the NBA, social justice, Amazon book purchases, family, Funko Pops, and his faith.

Kaneshia Greene

Program Manager

kgreene@theliteracylab.org

Kaneshia Greene is a Program Manager for The Literacy Lab's Leading Men Fellowship in DC. She earned her degree in English with a concentration in Secondary Education from the University of South Carolina. She is passionate about creating opportunities for equality within the classroom and believes literacy is the foundation to a great education. Kaneshia brings several years of project management experience to The Literacy Lab team.

Angela Hawkins

Director of Grant Management and Strategy

ahawkins@theliteracylab.org

Angela Hawkins served as a full-time tutor at Benjamin Banneker Elementary during The Literacy Lab’s first year in Kansas City, MO. Her interest in literacy was stimulated by nearly a decade spent volunteering for early education programs, including the Kansas Children’s Discovery Center in Topeka, KS, where she served as an AmeriCorps VISTA. Angela holds a Bachelor’s degree in Journalism from the University of Kansas and a Master's degree in Public Administration from Park University.

Allen Hess

Chief Financial Officer

ahess@theliteracylab.org

Allen Hess is the CFO at The Literacy Lab. Allen is a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) and has extensive experience in providing accounting, tax, and consulting services to various nonprofit organizations. Prior to joining The Literacy Lab, Allen was a Principal with a public accounting firm located in Pennsylvania. Allen has over eighteen years of experience, working both in public accounting as well as serving as Chief Financial Officer for a non-profit continuing care retirement community. Allen earned his Bachelor of Science degree from Shippensburg University.

Mya Hodge

Program Manager

mhodge@theliteracylab.org

Mya Hodge is a Program Manager in the Maryland region. She is a Baltimore native and holds a Bachelor's degree in English from Morgan State University and a Master's degree in Criminal Justice with a concentration in Juvenile Services from the University of Baltimore. Mya brings years of experience working with nonprofits and youth development partnerships and is dedicated to seeing students achieve their educational goals. Mya enjoys traveling, social activism, spending time with family, music, and reading.

Jin Mo Koo

Program Associate

jkoo@theliteracylab.org

Jin Mo is a Program Associate at The Literacy Lab. He graduated from Cornell University as a government major with a minor in history. At Cornell, Jin Mo worked as a research assistant studying the relationship between economic and educational inequity and incarceration and helped organize a variety of public speaking and argumentation workshops and courses with the Speech and Debate Society. In his free time, Jin Mo likes to cook, go swimming, and read.

Ted Lewis

Foundation Relations Manager

tlewis@theliteracylab.org

Ted Lewis (pronouns: they/them) serves as the Foundation Relations Manager for The Literacy Lab working to create meaningful relationships with funders in the communities we serve. Ted's background is in higher education and youth advocacy with a passion for LGBTQ inclusion and equity for all. Ted has a BA from the University of Mary Washington and an MEd from the University of South Carolina.

Claire Lingham

Operations Coordinator

clingham@theliteracylab.org

Claire Lingham is an Operations Coordinator at The Literacy Lab. Prior to joining The Literacy Lab, Claire was an administrator at Presidio Knolls School, a PreK-8, Mandarin-immersion school in San Francisco. Fluent in Mandarin, Claire previously lived in China for several years; first as an English teacher, then a college student, and then a translator for an international wine company. She holds a Bachelor's degree in East Asian Studies from Connecticut College.

Brittany Lundy

Program Associate

blundy@theliteracylab.org

Brittany Lundy is a Program Associate in Hampton Roads, VA. She joined the team after serving as a K-3 tutor at Hidenwood Elementary School. Brittany graduated from Randolph College where she earned her Bachelor’s degree in Psychology. While at Randolph, she served as a psychology tutor and an assistant for the psychology department. She was also president of the all-girls acapella group, Songshine, and served as a Community Fellow in the campus leadership group, Life More Abundant.

Vlai Ly

Program Coordinator

vly@theliteracylab.org

Vlai Ly (V-Lie Lee) is a Program Associate at The Literacy Lab. He graduated from the University of Massachusetts Amherst as an English major with a minor in Education. After graduating, he served as a DIAL/SELF AmeriCorps member where he worked closely with Holyoke students in supporting their educational success. Following his service, Vlai has dedicated his energy towards his photojournalism and writing, creating a platform for underserved stories. This resulted in him founding and becoming Editor-In-Chief for 'maivmai', a literary publication for Hmong American voices from around the country.

Valerie Manu

Marketing and Communications Manager

vmanu@theliteracylab.org

Valerie Manu is the Marketing and Communications Manager at The Literacy Lab. She has over four years of experience in strategic communications, social media management, graphic design, and event planning. Prior to joining The Literacy Lab, she was the Communications Associate at the Virginia Early Childhood Foundation where she used her skills to advance school readiness in Virginia. Valerie earned her Master's degree in Strategic Public Relations and a Bachelor's degree in Mass Communications from the Virginia Commonwealth University.

Bianca Mark-Okai

HR Manager

bmarkokai@theliteracylab.org

Bianca Mark-Okai is the Human Resources Manager at The Literacy Lab. Prior to joining the team, she worked as an HR Generalist at Paralyzed Veterans of America where she gained her experience in the non-profit industry, advocating for its members with spinal cord injuries. She focused on improving HR policies, processes, and practices while promoting positive relationships across the organization. Her love and passion for Human Resources developed in her hometown in Ghana. Bianca earned her Bachelor's degree in Psychology with a concentration in Industrial Organization from Radford University in Radford, VA.

Kendaliz Mata

Operations Associate

kmata@theliteracylab.org

Kendaliz (Kendy) Mata is the Operations Associate at The Literacy Lab. Prior to joining The Literacy Lab, she worked as an Administrative Assistant for American University and as an Infant Teacher for Courthouse Academy. She obtained her Bachelor's degree in Community Health from George Mason University.

Emanual Murry

Program Associate

emurry@theliteracylab.org

Emanual Murry is a Program Associate in the Kansas City office. Prior to joining The Literacy Lab, Emanual served for a year with AmeriCorps City Year Kansas City where he developed his passion for youth education and serving the community.

Connor Nowalk

Director of Data and Evaluation

cnowalk@theliteracylab.org

Connor Nowalk began his work in education with The Literacy Lab. After serving as a tutor in 2010-11, he joined the Teach For America DC Corps as a high school math teacher. He relocated to Kansas City, working as a teacher and then founding Echograde, an ed tech company. In addition, to his role with The Literacy Lab, he runs the Pell Project, a scholarship for Kansas City’s undocumented students that he co-founded. He has degrees in Music and the Program of Liberal Studies from the University of Notre Dame and a Master's in Data Science and Analytics from the University of Missouri.

Thomas Oakley

Program Manager

toakley@theliteracylab.org

Thomas Oakley is The Literacy Lab's Program Manager for the Western MA region. He is a product of Springfield Public Schools in Springfield, MA and went on to graduate from the University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth with a Bachelor's degree in Economics. Thomas brings over a decade of experience working with youth and is dedicated to seeing students living in the inner-city succeed. Previously, Thomas served as a Community School Director in Hartford, CT, where he worked to ensure that students and families had the supports they required to be successful. His role included overseeing community and corporate partnerships, academic alignment of the after-school program, and working to reduce chronic absenteeism. Thomas enjoys spending time with his family, playing and watching sports, and reading.

Matt Orlins

Director of Government Relations

morlins@theliteracylab.org

Matt Orlins is the Director of Government Relations for The Literacy Lab. Prior to joining The Literacy Lab, Matt spent nearly a decade in legislative and government affairs roles with the District of Columbia Government. He began his career as a middle school teacher in the Atlanta Public Schools, as part of Teach for America, and has worked in higher education as well. Matt earned a Bachelor’s degree from Denison University and a Juris Doctor from The George Washington University Law School.

Syd Parker

Recruitment Associate

sparker@theliteracylab.org

Syd Parker is a Recruitment Associate at The Literacy Lab. Originally from Queens, NY, Syd attended school at the University of Kentucky and Salisbury University, then moved back to New York to serve with AmeriCorps at Great Oaks Charter School. Shortly after that, he served with Baltimore Corps as a Job Coach, worked at the Park School of Baltimore and McDonogh School. He has also worked on horse farms in Chicago, and Kentucky, coached basketball, and baseball in his free time. Syd holds a Bachelor’s degree in Sociology, with a minor in history from the Salisbury University and is currently working on a Master’s degree in Community Based Education and Leadership from Stevenson University.

Nick Picciotto

Program Coordinator

npicciotto@theliteracylab.org

Nick Picciotto joined The Literacy Lab team after serving as part of The Literacy Lab's first cohort of Baltimore tutors, where he was a Pre-K literacy tutor at Curtis Bay Elementary/Middle School. Prior to his year of service, he worked as a teacher's assistant and lead teacher at Step by Step Children's Learning Center in Sparks, MD for 4 years. Nick holds a Bachelor's degree in History from Towson University.

Bernard Rahming

Program Manager

brahming@theliteracylab.org

Bernard Rahming is the Program Manager for The Literacy Lab’s Leading Men Fellowship Program in Milwaukee, WI. He is passionate about building school-to-career pipelines and believes education is a vehicle for empowerment. Bernard earned his Master’s degree in Community Psychology from Concordia University-Portland and his Bachelor’s degree in Math and Psychology from Marquette University.

Sarah Reape

Regional Director

sreape@theliteracylab.org

Sarah Reape supports The Literacy Lab's programs in MO and MA. She has 15 years of experience serving in the nonprofit sector and previously worked at a national early education agency, where she managed a language, literacy, and social-emotional program for preschool children in Kansas City. After launching The Literacy Lab's work in the city, Sarah was honored as the 2017 Kansas City Emerging Nonprofit Professional of the Year. She is an AmeriCorps alumna who holds Bachelor’s degrees in Psychology and Spanish and a Master’s degree in Public Administration from the University of Missouri-Kansas City.

Henriette Recny

Chief Operating Officer

hrecny@theliteracylab.org

Henriette M. Recny is the first and proud Chief Operating Officer for The Literacy Lab. In addition to seven years of non-profit management experience, she has twenty years of experience learning from and working alongside young people through her roles as an administrator, teacher, tutor, mentor, and volunteer. Currently, she serves on the Board of Directors for Minds Matter Boston. Prior to joining The Literacy Lab, Henriette was Managing Director of Program Design and Evaluation and a member of the Executive Office at City Year Boston. She received a BA in literature and theory from Hampshire College and a MA in English from the University of Exeter.

Arshia Sethi

Program Manager

asethi@theliteracylab.org

Arshia Sethi is a Program Manager at The Literacy Lab. Prior to joining The Literacy Lab, she was a Teach For America Baltimore corps member and worked as a Middle School Social Studies teacher in Baltimore City Public Schools for three years, and a Director of Volunteer Recruitment at Thread. Arshia earned her Master’s degree in Secondary Education from Johns Hopkins University and a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science and International Studies from Northwestern University.

Ellen Sheppard

Program Manager

esheppard@theliteracylab.org

Ellen Sheppard served for two years as a tutor with The Literacy Lab at Benjamin Banneker Elementary in Kansas City, MO. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Environmental Science with a minor in Geography from the University of Missouri-Kansas City.

Evan Singleton

Program Manager

esingleton@theliteracylab.org

Evan Singleton serves as the Program Manager for The Literacy Lab’s Leading Men Fellowship in Baltimore, MD. Prior to joining The Literacy Lab, he spent six years as the Dean of Students and Athletic Director at Baltimore Collegiate School for Boys. He earned a Bachelor's degree in English from University of Maryland, College Park. His hobbies include coaching basketball, playing tennis, cooking, attending community events, and traveling.

Raissa Singleton

Program Manager

rsingleton@theliteracylab.org

Raissa Singleton is a Program Manager at The Literacy Lab. She joined the team after serving as an elementary school special education coordinator. She also has experience as a reading interventionist in the K-12 setting. With a Bachelor’s degree in special education and a Master’s degree in diversity and equity studies, Raissa has always been driven by a passion for the purpose of serving diverse populations and doing transformative work within the frameworks of education and learning.

Sam Spickard

Program Coordinator

sspickard@theliteracylab.org

Sam Spickard joined The Literacy Lab team as a Program Assistant after serving as a full-time tutor at James K. Polk Elementary in Alexandria, Virginia. He earned a Bachelor's degree in History with a Religious Studies minor from the University of Virginia.

Jane Sul

Special Assistant

jsul@theliteracylab.org

Jane is the Special Assistant to the Chief Executive Officer. She also supports the Data and Government Relations teams. Prior to joining The Literacy Lab, she interned at UNICEF HQ in New York and at Umoja Student Development Corporation in Chicago. She became interested in education while tutoring at a correctional institution with the Petey Greene program. Jane holds a Bachelor's degree in Public and International Affairs, with a minor in French from Princeton University.

Caitlin Tolson

Operations Coordinator

ctolson@theliteracylab.org

Caitlin Tolson is an Operations Associate at The Literacy Lab in Richmond, VA. She joined the team after serving for two years as a K-3 tutor at Ratcliffe Elementary School. Caitlin is a graduate of Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU), where she received her Bachelor’s degree in International Studies with a concentration in Social Justice and is currently pursuing a Master’s Certificate in Nonprofit Management. While at VCU, she served on the President’s Action Group on Diversity and Inclusion and received the 2013 Burnside Watstein award for her advocacy work on campus.

Mia Tswago

Chief Program Officer

mtswago@theliteracylab.org

Mia Tswago is the Chief Program Officer. Prior to joining The Literacy Lab, Mia was a Program Director at The Richmond Neighborhood Center in San Francisco where she actively sought to bring equitable education opportunities, family partnership, and holistic student support to the communities she served. Mia has 11 years of experience advocating for educational equity and holistic, student centered practices with a focus on meeting the needs of youth who identify as historically disenfranchised, socioeconomically disadvantaged, and/or are in foster care. Mia is a dog-mom to a poodle-mix named Nugget. She holds a BA in English and an MS in education.

Cal Umlauf

Program Coordinator

cumlauf@theliteracylab.org

Cal Umlauf is a Program Associate in The Literacy Lab's Kansas City office. Cal served as a Creative Fellow at Vanderbilt University's Curb Center for Arts, Enterprise, and Public Policy before moving to Scotland to earn his Master's degree at the University of St. Andrews. After returning to the States, he helped to found an art museum in his hometown, directed crews for a Historic Preservation Corps, and joined The Literacy Lab as a K-3 tutor at Pathway Academy Charter School in Kansas City.

Alexis Underwood

Recruitment Manager

aunderwood@theliteracylab.org

Alexis Underwood is a Recruitment Associate for The Literacy Lab in Washington, DC. Prior to joining the team, she served as a K-3 tutor at LaSalle-Backus Education Campus in DC Public Schools. During her service at LaSalle, Alexis launched People Who Are Incarcerated Awareness Day, an interactive day promoting community discussions of penal issues. Alexis is a graduate of St. Mary’s College of Maryland, where she earned her Bachelor’s degree in Philosophy with a minor in Political Science.

Stephanie Valencia

Program Manager

svalencia@theliteracylab.org

Prior to joining The Literacy Lab, Stephanie spent six years working in DC and Virginia nonprofits that focused on closing the education gap with an emphasis on social justice by way of out-of-school time programming. An AmeriCorps alum and first generation college graduate, Stephanie is passionate about equity in education as well as college access and readiness. Stephanie attended Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, VA where she received a Bachelor's degree in Political Science and Homeland Security & Emergency Preparedness.

Mysiki Valentine

Program Manager

mvalentine@theliteracylab.org

Mysiki is a native Washingtonian and an experienced educational professional with a deep passion for empowering communities of color. He works to create safe and inclusive cultures for children while advocating for marginalized communities through grassroots organizing and education. Mysiki possesses a wide range of skills in technology, local government, and non-profit management. He also loves to engage in juvenile justice, behavioral sciences, and criminal law. In his free time, you can find Mysiki jogging or biking the Anacostia River Trail or watching court cases on Youtube.

Josie Verchomin

Program Coordinator

jverchomin@theliteracylab.org

Josie Verchomin is a Program Associate at The Literacy Lab. Prior to joining The Literacy Lab, Josie served as a Baltimore Corps Fellow working as the Assistant to the Director of a preschool serving low-income city residents. In addition to being a former Literacy Lab tutor, she served as an AmeriCorps Member with City Year San Jose. She holds Bachelor's degrees in Theatre Design, Psychology, and Indigenous Studies from Smith College.

Funmi Vogt

Director of Advancement

fvogt@theliteracylab.org

Funmi Vogt is Director of Advancement at The Literacy Lab. Prior to this, she was the Director of Operations and Partnerships at TrustAfrica. Funmi believes that providing a quality education to all children lies at the heart of building just and equitable societies. She received her Bachelor’s degree in English Literature from Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, and a Master’s degree from the School of Oriental and African Studies, at the University of London.

Ebanē Ward

Program Manager

eward@theliteracylab.org

Ebanē Ward is a Program Manager at The Literacy Lab. As a native of Richmond, VA, Ebanē attended school in two districts that The Literacy Lab currently serves. During the 2016-17 academic year she served as a full-time K-3 tutor at Glen Lea Elementary, where she initiated school-wide projects and led clubs and afterschool programs. Prior to her year of service with The Literacy Lab, Ebanē worked with children of all ages in both recreational and educational settings, which ignited her passion for education and youth development. Ebanē is a graduate of Old Dominion University, where she received her Bachelor’s degrees in English and Professional Writing and has a Master’s degree in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Virginia.

Rudi Zelman

Regional Director

rzelman@theliteracylab.org

Rudi Zelman is a Program Director at The Literacy Lab. Prior to joining The Literacy Lab, she was a Teach For America Baltimore corps member and worked as a classroom teacher in Baltimore City Public Schools for six years. Rudi earned her Master’s degree in Early Childhood Education from Johns Hopkins University and a Bachelor’s degree in Journalism and Political Science from Arizona State University.

Our Coaches

Patience Davis

Pre-K Leading Men Coaching Specialist

pdavis@theliteracylab.org

Patience Davis is a Pre-K Leading Men Coaching Specialist in the Baltimore region. She has a Bachelor's degree in Elementary Education and a Master's degree in Administration & Supervision from Coppin State University. Educating and servicing children and families is her passion. She is committed to sharing her love of learning with others. Patience has worked in the field of Education for 21 years. During that time, she has worked as a Pre-K and Head Start teacher, Supervisor of Education, and an Instructional Coach. Patience is married to a Lt. Colonel in the US Army and has three children and one grandson. In her spare time, she enjoys traveling, spending time with family, and fitness training.

Antoinette Douglas

Pre-K Leading Men Coaching Specialist

adouglas@theliteracylab.org

Antoinette Douglas works as a Pre-K Leading Men Coaching Specialist at The Literacy Lab. She holds a Bachelor's degree in Human Relations from Trinity Washington University and an Early Childhood Certificate from University of Maryland Baltimore County. Antoinette has worked as an instructional coach and curriculum manager at District of Columbia Public Schools. Also, she holds the position of Professional Development Manager at AppleTree Public Charter School. It is Antoinette's passion and mission to ensure that children are equipped with the social, emotional, and academic skills they need to be able to excel as lifelong learners.

Emily Durig

K-3 National Lead Coach

edurig@theliteracylab.org

Emily Durig is the K-3 National Lead Coach and is located in Kansas City, MO. She has a decade of experience as an Intermediate General Education and English-Language Arts teacher in Kansas City area schools. She is an alumna of the Leading Educators Teacher Leader Fellowship and previously served as a Leadership Coach for the organization. Emily has experience managing and coaching teachers and teacher leaders as well as facilitating professional development locally and nationally for Expeditionary Learning Schools. Emily holds a Master’s degree in Elementary Education with a literacy focus and a Bachelor’s degree in Education from The University of Kansas.

Christine Farber

Coaching Specialist

cfarber@theliteracylab.org

Christine Farber is a K-3 Coaching Specialist in Baltimore, MD. She started off her career as a French teacher in Baltimore City Public Schools. She then became a teacher coach and director of professional development with Teach for America Baltimore. Her most recent role, prior to joining The Literacy Lab, was as an Assistant Principal for KIPP Harmony Academy, a public elementary charter school in Baltimore City. She earned Bachelor's degrees in French and Political Science from Bates College and her Master’s degree in Education from Johns Hopkins University.

Alexandra Gerson

K-3 Coaching Specialist

agerson@theliteracylab.org

Alexandra Gerson is a K-3 Coaching Specialist in Washington, DC. Alexandra has taught reading skills to learners from age five to adult. She earned her Master’s degree in Elementary Education from Teachers College, Columbia University and completed her certification in Literacy from Bank Street College of Education. Prior to joining the Literacy Lab, Alexandra worked as a Middle School Reading and Literacy specialist in Arlington Virginia Public Schools for eight years. She has also worked to support literacy at both public and charter schools in DC. Alexandra is a DC native who loves to explore her hometown with her husband and daughter.

Sharlie Goodson

K-3 Coaching Specialist

sgoodson@theliteracylab.org

Sharlie Goodson is a K-3 Coaching Specialist in Washington, DC. Sharlie was born and raised in Atlanta, Georgia. She began her career teaching 5th grade in Miami, Florida, and has experience working with low-income communities of color. Sharlie holds a Bachelor's degree in Humanities from Florida State University (Go 'Noles) and a Master's degree in Education Advocacy & Policy from Georgetown University. Sharlie is passionate about equity and ensuring racial justice through education. In her free time, she enjoys playing soccer, watching football, and going to DC restaurants with friends.

Kevin Green

K-3 Coaching Specialist

kgreen@theliteracylab.org

Kevin Green is a K-3 Coaching Specialist in Springfield, MA. Green is also a Master's level social work practitioner, a purpose-driven connector and change agent with a passion for advocacy and education. He is the chief visionary and CEO of Seeds of a Father, a 501 C3 nonprofit organization that is dedicated to the overall well-being and enrichment of father/child relational development. Green has demonstrated knowledge working with various populations that present unique challenges and has a history of creating initiatives that focus on encouraging education and quality of life.

Toni Hamlin

Coaching Specialist

thamlin@theliteracylab.org

Toni Hamlin is a K-3 Coaching Specialist in Henrico County Public Schools. She has over 20 years of experience working in grades K-6, and spent 17 of those years as a Reading Specialist in the Richmond area. Toni has experience in staff development and has facilitated trainings in both the educational and business sectors. Toni holds a Master’s degree in Reading from Virginia Commonwealth University and a Bachelor’s degree in Childhood Education from Mount Vernon College (GW) in Washington, DC.

Emma Hancock

Early Literacy Coach

ehancock@theliteracylab.org

Emma Hancock is an Early Literacy Coach in Kansas City, MO. She has previous experience as an Early Childhood Paraprofessional and Family Advocate. Emma served as a Pre-K tutor with The Literacy Lab in Kansas City Public Schools during the 2016-17 school year. She earned her Bachelor’s degree from Park University in Parkville, MO.

Demetrius (Dee) Harris

Early Literacy Coach

dharris@theliteracylab.org

Demetrius Harris is an Early Literacy Coach in Richmond, VA. For over thirty years, Demetrius has been a classroom teacher, a cooperating teacher, a reading specialist and a library media specialist. She has taught in three school divisions in the state of Virginia: Chesapeake Public Schools, Chesterfield County Public Schools, and Richmond Public Schools. Demetrius holds a Master’s degree in Pre-Elementary Education from Norfolk State University and endorsements both in reading and library media from Longwood University. Demetrius believes that early literacy development is important in order to help ensure that preschoolers are successful in both their formative and later years. She coaches the Leading Men Fellowship where she enjoys sharing her experience and passion to inspire preschoolers to love reading and to become lifelong learners.

Shannon Hepler

Coaching Specialist

shepler@theliteracylab.org

Shannon Hepler is a Coaching Specialist in Washington, DC. She has over a decade of experience as a special educator with DC Public Schools as well as with Cesar Chavez and EL Haynes Public Charter Schools. She was a member of the inaugural class of DC Teaching Fellows and has extensive experience managing and coaching teachers, volunteers, and AmeriCorps members. Shannon holds a Master’s degree in Special Education from George Washington University and a Bachelor’s degree in Communication from George Mason University.

Trevina Jefferson

Early Literacy Coaching Specialist

tjefferson@theliteracylab.org

Trevina Jefferson is an Early Literacy Coaching Specialist in the Tidewater Virginia area. She still keeps a photo of the first elementary class she assisted during her high school Home Economics assignment over 25 years ago. Even then, she had a passion for helping those who needed it most and knew she had certain gifts to support children and families within education. Trevina has enjoyed a career in being intentionally inclusive within the realm of education and nonprofit/government sectors in her teaching and educational leadership roles in the United States, Saudi Arabia, and South Korea. She holds a BA from University California Berkeley (cherished memories of work with Professor Starkey and Klien in the Cross-Cultural Math Project: US, China, and Japan), BA in Early Childhood Education from Northwestern College, Master's degree in Education from California State Northridge, and completed 2 years in law school to better advocate for education. When faced with a challenge, her first question is not “if it can be done” but “how can it be done.”

Megan Leonard

Senior K-3 Coaching Specialist

mleonard@theliteracylab.org

Megan Leonard is a K-3 Coaching Specialist in Western Massachusetts. She has experience teaching in preschools, elementary schools, and at the college level. The majority of her teaching career was spent in a fourth grade classroom. Previously, Megan worked as a Coaching Specialist with the Pre-K Reading Corps program in Springfield, Massachusetts. Prior to joining The Literacy Lab, she coached teachers and facilitated professional development. Megan holds a Master's degree in Educational Administration from Springfield College, and Bachelor's degrees in Elementary Education and Special Education from Springfield College.

Renae Lloyd

Coaching Specialist

rlloyd@theliteracylab.org

Renae Lloyd is a K-3 Coaching Specialist in Kansas City, MO. She was a founding teacher at the Kansas City Neighborhood Academy prior to joining The Literacy Lab. Renae was awarded KCNA Teacher of the Year in 2018. She is an experienced Mentor Teacher who helped shape and develop new and aspiring teachers while working with the Kansas City Teacher Residency program. She has over twenty years of experience teaching in public and charter schools in the Kansas City area. Renae is Montessori trained and taught grades 1-3 in multi-age classrooms for six years. Renae earned a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Creighton University and her teacher certification (1-8) from the University of Missouri-Kansas City.

Terrell Mann

Coaching Specialist

tmann@theliteracylab.org

Terrell Mann is a Pre-K Coaching Specialist in Kansas City, MO. Her past roles include: early childhood teacher; teacher/coach; director; and elementary, preschool, and early intervention special educator. For the past ten years she has provided training, technical assistance, and coaching services to local and national child care and out of school time programs and support organizations. Since 2000 Terrell has served and continues to serve as adjunct faculty in the Early Childhood programs at two local community colleges. She graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in the History of Art and Architecture from Princeton University and holds a Master's degree in Child Study from Tufts University as well as a Master's degree in Educational Psychology from the University of Connecticut.

Alesha Martin

Early Literacy Coach

amartin@theliteracylab.org

Alesha Martin is an Early Literacy Coach in Washington, DC and Baltimore, MD at The Literacy Lab. Alesha has previous experience as a Human Resources Manager for numerous companies in Washington, DC and has implemented and run a tutorial program for underserved children at a large low-income housing community for the Greater Washington Urban League. Most recently, Alesha served for two years as a Literacy Lab Pre-K tutor in Washington, DC before becoming a SEEDS-certified trainer and coach with The Literacy Lab. Alesha hails from Howard University's School of Fine Arts and is a proud member of the Greater Washington Urban League, whose mission is to give the most to those who have the least.

Tiffani Martin

Coaching Specialist

tmartin@theliteracylab.org

Tiffani Martin is a K-3 Coaching Specialist in Baltimore, MD. Tiffani has over 15 years of experience in education and child advocacy, specifically working with “at-risk” students as a teacher coach, graduate Literacy instructor, ECE classroom observer, ECE classroom teacher, substitute, tutor and after-school program specialist. She primarily taught Early Childhood Pre-K through 2nd grade for almost 10 years. Most recently, she worked with Urban Teachers for Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore City for 7 years providing high-quality graduate coursework instruction to approximately 30 resident teachers, issuing actionable feedback as a teacher coach to a group of 6 to 12 resident teachers in their classroom placements, as well as leading and facilitating professional development sessions like "The Social and Emotional Development of 3 and 4-year olds", "Fountas and Pinnell Running Record Benchmark Assessment", "Lesson Planning Bootcamp", and "Classroom Management."

Elizabeth (Liz) Miller

Coaching Specialist

emiller@theliteracylab.org

Liz Miller is a Coaching Specialist and trainer based out of Western MA. She is a former early childhood educator with eighteen years of experience working as a preschool and kindergarten teacher, and school administrator. Prior to joining The Literacy Lab team, Liz worked as a Reading Corps PreK Literacy Coach for six years. Liz holds a Master’s degree in education from Springfield College, and a Bachelor’s degree in sociology from Mount Saint Mary’s University.

Alison Nyarko

Coaching Specialist

anyarko@theliteracylab.org

Alison Nyarko is a K-3 Coaching Specialist in the MA region. Prior to joining The Literacy Lab, Alison worked several years teaching and leading in low-income school districts throughout the United States and abroad. Additionally, Alison has experience in the non-profit management sector as she served as Country Director for an anti-child trafficking NGO in Africa. Alison is an alum of Teach for America (TFA) and the TFA RISE teacher leadership fellowship. Alison holds a Bachelor’s degree in Early Childhood Education from Ohio University and a Master’s degree in Educational Policy and Organizational Leadership from The University of Illinois.

Dwayne Pinkney

Pre-K Leading Men Coaching Specialist

dpinkney@theliteracylab.org

Dwayne Pinkney is a Pre-K Leading Men Coaching Specialist in Washington, DC at The Literacy Lab. Dwayne has over 10 years experience working in early childhood education in Washington, DC and abroad. He started his career as a teacher assistant and later became a classroom teacher. Dwayne earned his Bachelors of Arts in Music from Morgan State University and his Masters of Arts in Teaching Early Childhood Education from Trinity Washington University. Dwayne also has experience with curriculum writing, professional development, and technology integration.

Rebecca Pride

Early Literacy Coach

rpride@theliteracylab.org

Rebecca is an Early Literacy Coach in Milwaukee, WI. She is a Child Development Specialist with over 12 years of experience working in the Early Childhood Education field as a coach, teacher, developmental therapist, and behavioral instructor. Rebecca holds a Master's degree in Child Development with a specialization in Infant Studies from Erikson Institute, as well as a Master's degree in Curriculum and Instruction from Concordia University. She also holds a Professional Educator License with early childhood and English as a second language endorsements.

Tawanda Rollins

Coaching Specialist

trollins@theliteracylab.org

Tawanda Rollins joined the Literacy Lab team as a Pre-K Coaching Specialist in August 2020. Tawanda has always had a desire to work with children and graduated with a Bachelor's degree in Early Childhood from Coppin State University. She began her teaching career in 2001 as a Head Start teacher. Working with adult learners, she is passionate about ensuring educators have the tools and supports necessary to provide their students with quality education every day.

Christa Rupp

Coaching Specialist

crupp@theliteracylab.org

Christa Rupp is a K-3 Coaching Specialist in Kansas City, MO. She has previous experience as a school psychologist serving both early childhood and elementary levels. Christa holds a Bachelor's degree in Psychology from Drake University, a Master's degree in Child Development, and an Education Specialist degree in School Psychology from the University of Kansas.

Sharanya Sharma

Coaching Specialist

s.sharma@theliteracylab.org

Sharanya Sharma is a K-3 Coaching Specialist at The Literacy Lab. Prior to this she was an elementary school teacher in northeast DC for several years, where she wore many hats, including assistant teacher, reading tutor, Special Education teacher, and classroom lead teacher. She earned a Bachelor's degree in English with a minor in Elementary Education at Bryn Mawr College, and a Master's degree in Writing at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

Alisa Smith

Coaching Specialist

asmith@theliteracylab.org

Alisa Smith is a K-3 Coaching Specialist in Virginia. She began her career in education as an Elementary Teacher for Henrico County Public Schools in Richmond, VA. After earning her Master's degree and reading specialist endorsement from the University of Virginia, she helped open Harvie Elementary in eastern Henrico as the school's Title I Literacy Specialist. There she provided intervention to struggling readers and supported the faculty as a reading coach. Alisa has also taught graduate level courses in literacy for the University of Virginia in the Richmond area and has enjoyed providing professional development and support to teachers in a variety of settings.

Donna Smith

K-3 Coaching Specialist

dsmith@theliteracylab.org

Donna Smith is a K-3 Coaching Specialist in the Hampton Roads region of Virginia. Prior to joining The Literacy Lab, Donna was an elementary classroom teacher, Title 1 reading teacher, reading specialist, and literacy coach in Newport News Public Schools. She was also a Reading First Reading Specialist for the Virginia Department of Education. Most recently, she held a joint faculty position between Thomas Nelson Community College and Old Dominion University where she taught and advised future teachers. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education from the College of William and Mary, a Master’s degree in Reading, Language, and Literacy from the College of William and Mary, and an Educational Specialist degree in Educational Leadership from The George Washington University.

Amy Stelljes

Coaching Specialist

astelljes@theliteracylab.org

Amy Stelljes is a K-3 Coaching Specialist in the Tidewater Region. She has nearly twenty years of experience working and teaching in public schools. While teaching, Amy earned the National Board Certification. Amy holds an M.Ed. in Elementary Curriculum and Instructions from Old Dominion University, a Bachelor's degree in Psychology and K-3 teaching certification from James Madison University. Amy is also trained as a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA).

Lisa Sweeney

Coaching Specialist

lsweeney@theliteracylab.org

Lisa Sweeney is a K-3 Coaching Specialist in Washington, DC. She has a decade of experience as an educator in a variety of elementary and special education settings. Lisa was a K-3 Master Coach for Iowa Reading Corps and has experience training and coaching AmeriCorps members for Minnesota Reading Corps National Replication. She is a member of Kappa Gamma Pi, the National Catholic College Graduate Honor Society, which strives for a high standard of excellence in leadership, scholarship, and service within the community. Lisa holds a Master’s degree in Education with a concentration in Learning Differences from Cabrini College and her Bachelor’s degree in Criminology from Indiana University of Pennsylvania.

Suzanne Tirado

Coaching Specialist

stirado@theliteracylab.org

Suzanne Tirado is a Pre-K Coaching Specialist in Washington, DC. She is an early literacy specialist with expertise in special education, dual language learning strategies, and behavior interventions. Suzanne taught in public and charter schools in the District, and was a mentor teacher for an Urban Teacher Resident. Suzanne holds a Bachelor's degree in Music and a Master's degree in Special Education.

Hamida Toomey

Coaching Specialist

htoomey@theliteracylab.org

Hamida Toomey is a K-3 Coaching Specialist in Washington, DC. Prior to joining The Literacy Lab, she worked for several years as a teacher in the Philadelphia area. She has experience as an elementary teacher in grades K, 1, 3, and 5, as well as experience working as an adult ESL teacher for immigrants and refugees. Hamida obtained her Master’s degree in Language and Literacy Education from the University of Pennsylvania, where she focused her research on critical literacy practices. She also holds a Bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education from West Chester University.

Sara Twaddell

Coaching Specialist

stwaddell@theliteracylab.org

Sara Twaddell joined The Literacy Lab in 2016 as a K-3 Coaching Specialist in Washington, DC. As a Coaching Specialist, she supports tutors, Internal Coaches, and students in DC Public Schools and charter schools. Sara approaches coaching and training through the lens of developmental reading to provide tailored support to students and schools. Prior to joining The Literacy Lab, Sara has served as an RTI Coordinator, Instructional Coach, Manager of Teacher Recruitment and Selection, and Elementary Teacher. She holds a Master of Education degree in Curriculum and Instruction with a Reading Specialist Certificate from the University of Virginia, a Master of Public Policy degree from the George Washington University, and a Bachelor of Science degree in Applied Psychology from New York University.

Kyle Warren

Coaching Specialist

kwarren@theliteracylab.org

Kyle grew up primarily in South Carolina where he attended school at the University of South Carolina, earning a degree in English and Political Science. After graduating, Kyle moved to Tulsa, OK where he taught 5th grade for two years at Celia Clinton Elementary School as a Teach For America corps member. He shifted to an Instructional Coach role with Teach For America as a Manager of Teacher Leadership Development, supporting teachers in content delivery, planning, and pedagogy in both Arkansas and Massachusetts from 2012 – 2016. He’s excited to be supporting tutors with The Literacy Lab in Richmond, VA where he lives with his partner and two dogs. When not working, you’ll likely find him trying something new in the kitchen, kayaking or running the dogs by the river, or exploring the city.

Linda Wicklein

Coaching Specialist

lwicklein@theliteracylab.org

Linda Wicklein is a Pre-K Coaching Specialist in Baltimore, MD. She has considerable experience working with Head Start programs as a teacher and as a Mentor-Coach. She served as a Senior Instructional Facilitator for Johns Hopkins University working in collaboration with Head Start and Early Reading First. She also served as an adjunct faculty member in the Early Childhood Education Graduate degree program for Towson University. Linda has presented at numerous conferences, including NAEYC’s National Institute for Early Childhood Professional Development. She participated in an International Study Tour of Reggio Emilia, Italy, for dialogues on education with educators from around the world. Linda holds a Master’s degree in Early Childhood Education from Towson University.

Sheila Williams

Early Literacy Coach

swilliams@theliteracylab.org

Sheila Williams is an Early Literacy Coach in Washington, DC. After receiving her degree in special education from Kean University, she began teaching preschool in the same New Jersey school district where she attended school as a child, and later coached at both the Pre-K and Kindergarten levels. After marrying, she moved to Pennsylvania and became a Lead Trainer for the Tools of the Mind preschool curriculum. Her interest in working within a Head Start program led her to the DC Public Schools Early Childhood Division, where she has both been a curriculum specialist and a manager of Instructional Specialists. With over 20 years of experience in Early Childhood, she is excited to support The Literacy Lab's Leading Men Fellowship.

Amy Wilson

Coaching Specialist

a.wilson@theliteracylab.org

Amy Wilson is a K-3 Coaching Specialist in Baltimore. She has been working in education in Baltimore for over 25 years and was a part of Teach for America Baltimore's first corps in 1992. Amy taught elementary school at Fort Worthington Elementary School in Baltimore City, and went on to work as a Math Curriculum Designer for the Success for All Foundation, a Teacher Advocate for the Johns Hopkins University Tutorial Project, and a Faculty Member with the Johns Hopkins University/TFA partnership, where she coached and taught early career teachers. Amy has a Master's degree from Goucher in Urban Education and a Bachelor's degree from Carleton College in Psychology with an Educational Studies Concentration.

Our Board

Ned Mandel

Chair

Ned Mandel has been involved in serving schools and literacy programs for over 30 years. He was an unpaid Literacy Lab tutor for two years at two different DC Public Schools. He served as Development Director and board member of Septima Clark Public Charter School, located in DC’s Ward 8. Prior to his work at Septima, Ned spent 15 years as owner and President of AKJ Educational Services, a leading supplier of paperback books to schools and literacy programs nationwide. He earned an AB from Dartmouth College and an MBA from Stanford University. He serves as Treasurer of the board of The Modern Classrooms Project, an innovative non-profit empowering educators to meet every student’s needs. Ned also serves as Secretary of the board of Horizons National, an award-winning, summer academic program. He previously served as Vice Chair of the board of St. Patrick’s Episcopal Day School in Washington, DC. Ned and his wife Betsy have two grown children and live in Chevy Chase, MD.

Bailey Edelson

Treasurer

Bailey Edelson is a Senior VP with JBG Smith, a publicly traded, real estate investment trust in Bethesda, MD. Bailey has over 15 years of experience in real estate investment and development and is currently focused on mixed-use development in the DC Metro Area. She earned an AB from Brown University and an MBA from Georgetown University. She spent five years volunteering through the Junior League of Washington with The Literacy Lab’s Ready to Read program. She lives in Bethesda with her husband and two children.

Betsy S. Duff

Secretary

Betsy Duff is a Founder and Managing Partner of Harbour Capital Advisors, LLC, a multi-family office formed in 2011 to provide comprehensive wealth management advice to families and their charitable organizations. She is the firm’s Chief Operating Officer and Director of Family Wealth Advisory Services. Betsy has over 35 years of experience in wealth management, private and investment banking, and corporate finance. The majority of her early career was spent with Bank of America Corporation. She led client relationships as a Private Client Advisor with U.S. Trust; provided risk mitigation and debt restructuring services in emerging markets for Banc of America Securities’ Global Project Finance unit; and, arranged debt products for corporate clients in Global Corporate Finance.

Betsy has served as a Trustee and Chair of the Board of The Potomac School, Director of the Wolf Trap Foundation for the Performing Arts, and Board Member and President of the Junior League of Washington. Since 2011, Betsy has served on the Board of Directors of The Literacy Lab and she joined the Board of Trustees of Radcliffe Creek School in 2020. Betsy earned a B.A. in International Relations from Brown University. Betsy and her husband, Jim, live in McLean, Virginia and Chestertown, Maryland and have two grown children.

Hugh Cole III

Hugh Cole is an associate with Washington Property Company, a real estate development firm in Bethesda, Maryland. Hugh has 12 years of experience in real estate development and investments. He earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science from the University of Pennsylvania and an MBA from Loyola University in Maryland. Hugh has previously served on the Board of Directors for KIPP Baltimore, the Alumni Board for the Gilman School in Baltimore, and the Secondary School Committee for the University of Pennsylvania Admissions Department. He lives in Bethesda with his wife and son.

Rachael Gibson

Rachael Gibson is director of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion at Marcum LLP. She leads DEI policies, programs, and services across the Firm. Her mission is to raise awareness and help foster a culture that is both diverse and inclusive and that encourages and enables all associates and partners to be successful in their careers.

Ms. Gibson has had a long career in management consulting, specializing in change management; diversity, equity and inclusion; leadership development; and strategic planning. In addition, she has developed and led numerous national initiatives for clients focused on a variety of leadership and change management issues.

She also serves as an adjunct professor at the Chicago School for Professional Psychology, where she teaches graduate students interested in the field of consulting and organizational development.

Heather Jenkins

Heather Jenkins is the Chief Executive Officer of The Literacy Lab. Prior to joining The Literacy Lab, she was the Chief People & Equity Officer at uAspire where she was responsible for ensuring that uAspire’s people, equity and organizational culture work is done with a people-first mindset to drive retention, inclusivity and sustainability. Heather has 20 years of experience working for equity and access in education including: teacher and administrator at the K-12 level; non-profit leader; diversity and equity consultant for secondary and postsecondary institutions; public and private school college readiness education consultant; and a mentor to students of color and economically marginalized youth. She has a BA in psychology, an MS in education, and a Ph.D. in sociology of education. She is the proud mother of two young women, one in college and one in graduate school.

Praveen Jeyarajah

Praveen Jeyarajah is a Senior Advisor to Astor Place Holdings and is on the Board of Amsted Industries. Praveen has over 25 years of private investment experience and earned a Bachelor's degree in Economics from Rutgers College and an MBA from The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. Praveen also serves on the Board of The Levine School of Music. Praveen lives in Washington, DC with his wife and two sons.

Dara Johnson

Dara Johnson currently serves as the Executive Director at the Horning Family Foundation where she is responsible for the overall leadership of the foundation which includes oversight of strategic planning and the development of annual work plans, daily operations, and grantmaking programs; identifying and strengthening partnerships with nonprofits, community leaders, residents and philanthropy; and working with board members to fulfill the mission of the organization. Dara also serves as co-chair of the Washington Regional Association of Grantmakers(WRAG) Racial Equity Working Group and is a member of Resourcing Radical Justice.

Before joining the foundation as a program officer in 2015, Dara spent 14 years in K-12 education serving in three public school systems (Dekalb County, Atlanta and Washington DC) as a teacher, literacy coach, professional development trainer, and assistant principal. She continues to remain connected to DC education as a mentor to aspiring reading specialists with the DC Reading Clinic and as a board member with The Literacy Lab and Raising A Village Foundation. Dara received her undergraduate degree in Child Development from Spelman College in Atlanta and a graduate degree in Education Leadership from Cambridge College in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Away from the office, Dara enjoys cooking, spending time with family, yard work, and is an active member in her local church.

Dr. Bweikia Steen

Bweikia Steen is an Associate Professor of Education at George Mason University, where she also serves as the Early childhood Internship coordinator. Her research focuses on exploring developmentally appropriate practices that promote social, emotional, and academic success among children of color during the early years. Bweikia received her Doctorate of Education in International and Multicultural Education (IME) from the University of San Francisco.

Terri Upshaw

Terri Upshaw, a native of San Francisco, is a devoted mother and philanthropist. During her tenure in hotel management in the Bay Area she met her husband, Gene Upshaw, and relocated to the Washington DC area. Terri lost Gene to pancreatic cancer in 2008, and because of the excellent medical care he received during his illness, and to honor Gene’s legacy, Terri established the Gene Upshaw Memorial Fund.

In 2009 Terri partnered with the Tahoe Forest Health System to establish the Gene Upshaw Memorial Golf Tournament r. She also established the annual Gene Upshaw Memorial Golf Classic. Over the past 10 years, the tournament has raised close to $1.5 million to support programs and services at the Gene Upshaw Memorial Tahoe Forest Cancer Center and the Tahoe Institute for Rural Health Research.

Terri is an avid golfer, skier, and overall fitness enthusiast, still watches and cheers on the Raiders, and most of all, enjoys being the best mom she can be to her two sons, Justin and Daniel.

Our Supporters


FUNDERS

• A. James and Alice B. Clark Foundation
• Aaron Straus and Lillie Straus Foundation
• The Abell Foundation
• Alvin and Fanny B. Thalheimer Foundation
• AmeriCorps
• Bader Philanthropies
• Baltimore Community Foundation
• Beveridge Family Foundation
• Black Community Fund
• Capital for Children
• Capitol Hill Community Foundation
• Charles H. Miller Foundation
• Citi Bank Foundation
• City of Richmond
• The Cameron Foundation
• Clayton Baker Trust
• The Community Foundation of Northern Virginia
• The Community Foundation Serving Richmond and Central Virginia
• Community Foundation of Western Massachusetts
• Crowell & Moring LLP
• David and Barbara B. Hirschhorn Foundation
• DC Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE)
• The Dennis Foundation
• Dimick Foundation
• Dollar General Literacy Foundation
• Early Education Funders Collaborative
• Eddie C. and C. Sylvia Brown Family Foundation
• Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation
• France-Merrick Foundation
• Funder Collaborative for Reading Success
• George J. and Effie L. Seay Foundation
• George K. Baum Foundation
• The George Preston Marshall Foundation
• Greater Milwaukee Foundation
• The H&R Block Foundation
• Hall Family Foundation
• Hallmark Corporate Foundation
• The Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation
• The Hattie M. Strong Foundation
• Helen Pumphrey Denit Charitable Trust
• Henry E. Niles Foundation
• Horace A. Moses Foundation
• Horning Family Fund
• Irene E. and George A. Davis Foundation
• The Jacob and Charlotte Lehrman Foundation
• John G. and Jean R. Gosnell Foundation
• The Junior League of Washington
• The J. Willard and Alice S. Marriott Foundation
• Kimsey Foundation
• Lincoln and Therese Filene Foundation
• Lockhart Vaughan Foundation
• The Lois & Richard England Family Foundation
• M&T Bank Foundation
• The Mabel A. Horne Fund
• Maryland State Department of Education
• Memorial Foundation for Children
• The Morris & Gwendolyn Cafritz Foundation
• Northwestern Mutual
• The Philanthropic Initiative
• The Philip L. Graham Fund
• Pitney Bowes Foundation
• PNC Foundation
• Robins Foundation
• Roger A. and Corinne R. Durkee Fund
• Richard E. and Nancy P. Marriott Foundation
• Select Equity Group Foundation
• Share Fund
• Sherman Family Foundation
• The Stanley H. Durwood Foundation
• Stanley and Lucy Lopata Foundation
• TD Bank
• T. Rowe Price Foundation
• United Way of Greater Richmond and Petersburg
• Virginia Assembly
• Virginia Cretella Mars Foundation
• Walter A. Bloedorn Foundation
• Wells Fargo
• Wright Family Foundation
• Yelp Foundation

IN-KIND
• Books-A-Million
• Boston University Center for Digital Imaging Arts
• Compass
• Covington & Burling LLP
• Fair Chance
• Georgetown Cupcake
• Hogan Lovells
• JBG Companies
• Raffa
• Spectrum Printing
• Washington Nationals
• Washington Redskins
• Whole Foods Market

Our Partners


• Catalogue for Philanthropy
• Junior League of Washington
• Maryland Governor’s Office on Service and Volunteerism
• Massachusetts Service Alliance
• Missouri Community Service Commission
• ServeDC
• ServeMinnesota
• United Way
• Virginia Office on Volunteerism and Community Service