Tom Dillon is the Co-Founder and Co-CEO Director of The Literacy Lab. With a background in foreign language instruction, Tom brings an understanding of language acquisition and linguistic processes to the organization. Tom has experience teaching, coaching, and working in a number of academic programs in the Washington, D.C. area. Tom earned a Bachelor’s degree in European Studies at The College of William and Mary and holds a Certificate in Contemporary Europe from the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University.
Ashley Johnson is the Co-Founder and Co-CEO Director of The Literacy Lab. Prior to founding The Literacy Lab, Ashley worked as a Special Education teacher and coordinator at public and charter schools in the District of Columbia. Ashley was a Teach For America Metro DC corps member. Ashley earned her Master’s degree in Special Education from American University and her Bachelor’s degree in History and Political Science from the University of Pennsylvania.
Data and Systems Associatetbadhiwala@theliteracylab.org
Tirthna Badhiwala joined The Literacy Lab team as a Data and Systems Associate 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.
Cayla Bledsoe is a Program Associate 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.
Director of Developmentebologna@theliteracylab.org
Elizabeth Bologna is the Director of Development for The Literacy Lab. Elizabeth has ten years of experience in education nonprofits, most recently serving as the Associate Director of Development for Leading Educators. Elizabeth earned a Bachelor's degree in English and History from Grinnell College.
Lauren Bomgardner is a Program Associate at The Literacy Lab. She joined The Literacy Lab's staff after serving as a K-3 tutor at Langdon Elementary School in Washington, DC. Lauren has always been passionate about education and has volunteered in elementary schools for over eight years. Prior to joining The Literacy Lab, Lauren earned her Bachelor's degree in Government with a Minor in Dance from the College of William and Mary.
Director of Program Operationsebyrne@theliteracylab.org
Emma Byrne has experience as a classroom teacher and is an expert in experiential learning and team building. After graduating from West Virginia University with a Master’s degree in secondary education and a Bachelor’s degree in English, she lived in Guanajuato, Mexico, where she trained high school and college faculty in the implementation of the country’s first 4-H & Youth Development program. Emma is a former Literacy Lab tutor.
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 form The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
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.
Sarah-Rose Dorton joined The Literacy Lab team after being a part of The Literacy Lab’s first class of full-time AmeriCorps tutors, where she served at Polk Elementary in Alexandria, Virginia. Prior to her year of service with The Literacy Lab, she spent her summers working for Youth Development programs in North Carolina. Sarah-Rose holds a Bachelor’s degree in Middle Eastern Studies and Religious Studies from The College of William and Mary.
Ivan C. Douglas Jr.
Ivan Douglas is a Program Manager for The Literacy Lab's Leading Men Fellowship Program. 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.
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 Fernández
María Eugenia Fernández is a Program Associate at The Literacy Lab. A native of San Juan, Puerto Rico, she has previously interned with organizations working to improve the quality of public education on the island. María Eugenia 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.
Director of Operations and HRcgleaton@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 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.
Grants Compliance Managerahawkins@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 earned a Bachelor’s degree in Journalism from the University of Kansas.
Director of Financeahess@theliteracylab.org
Allen Hess is the Director of Finance at The Literacy Lab. Allen is a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) and has extensive experience in providing accounting, tax, and consulting services to various non-profit organizations. Prior to joining The Literacy Lab, Allen was a Principal with a public accounting firm located in Pennsylvania. Allen has over fifteen 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.
Kayvona Hewitt is a Recruitment Associate at The Literacy Lab. She served as a full-time K-3 tutor at Ketcham Elementary School in Washington, DC. Kayvona is a native of Washington, DC and attended two of the schools that The Literacy Lab serves: Savoy Elementary and Ketcham Elementary. She received her Bachelor's degree in English from Trinity Washington University and her Master's degree in Elementary Education from Grand Canyon University.
Weadé James has extensive and diverse experience in the education field, including program management, special education advocacy, and non-profit leadership. Prior to joining The Literacy Lab, Weadé served as Executive Director of Advocates for Justice and Education in Washington, DC. In addition to being a former Literacy Lab tutor, she has also worked for Breakthrough Collaborative as a Program Coordinator leading initiatives to increase academic opportunity for low-income students. Weadé is an Advisory Council member of The National Center for Appropriate Dispute Resolution in Special Education. She received her Bachelor's degree in Child Psychology from the University of Minnesota and a Master's degree in Educational Administration and Policy from Howard University. She is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in Special Education and Disability Policy at Virginia Commonwealth University.
Calvin Lewis is the Program Manager for The Literacy Lab’s Leading Men Fellowship Program in Milwaukee, WI. Prior to joining The Literacy Lab, Calvin spent over eight years in the field of adult education working with youth and adults on education, job training, and employment. Calvin holds a Master of Science in Administrative Leadership with a specialization in adult and continuing education from the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee. He recently returned to the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee to complete his PhD in Urban Education.
Special Assistant to the Co-CEOsclingham@theliteracylab.org
Claire Lingham is the Special Assistant to the Co-CEOs 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 has 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.
Samantha Lucci is a Program Associate at The Literacy Lab in Richmond, VA. She joined the team after serving as a K-3 tutor at Woodville Elementary. Prior to her year of service with The Literacy Lab, Samantha lived in the South Pacific as a Peace Corps Volunteer where she worked on an English literacy project as well as various health and environmental initiatives. Samantha earned her Bachelor’s degree in Journalism and International Studies from the University of Miami.
Carlie Muessig is a Recruitment Coordinator at The Literacy Lab. She has always enjoyed interacting with students and spent her high school and college years working at summer camps, participating in elementary mentoring programs, and tutoring students of all ages. After graduating from Virginia Commonwealth University with a double major in English and Sociology, Carlie joined The Literacy Lab as a K-3 tutor at Mt. Vernon Community School in Alexandria, VA.
Director of Innovation and Strategyrneal@theliteracylab.org
Ricardo Neal is the Director of Strategy and Innovation at The Literacy Lab. Ricardo has extensive experience in the non-profit and public education sectors. Prior to joining The Literacy Lab, he served in various leadership and governance roles in education, philanthropy, and public advocacy. Ricardo earned a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst and a Master’s degree in Social Work from the Boston University School of Social Work.
Data and Strategy Managercnowalk@theliteracylab.org
Connor Nowalk began his work in education with The Literacy Lab, and he is thrilled to rejoin the organization. After serving as a tutor in 2010-11, he joined the Teach For America DC Corps as a high school math teacher. He continued to teach after moving to Kansas City and then founded Echograde, an ed tech company. In 2016, he returned to The Literacy Lab as the Data and Strategy Manager. In addition, he runs the Pell Project, a scholarship for Kansas City’s undocumented students that he cofounded. He has degrees in music and the Program of Liberal Studies from the University of Notre Dame and a Masters in Data Science and Analytics from the University of Missouri.
Thomas Oakley is The Literacy Lab's Program Manager for Springfield, MA. He is a product of Springfield, MA Public Schools 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 inner city students 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 work to reduce chronic absenteeism. Thomas enjoys spending time with his family, reading, and sports.
Nick Picciotto joined The Literacy Lab team after serving as part of The Literacy Lab's first class 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, Maryland for 4 years. Nick holds a Bachelor's degree in History from Towson University.
Sarah Reape has over a decade of experience serving in the nonprofit sector. She previously worked as a program manager with an early education agency, where she recruited and trained volunteers to serve in preschool classrooms in low-income neighborhoods in Kansas City. In recognition of her leadership, talent, and dedication, Sarah was honored as the 2017 Kansas City Emerging Nonprofit Professional of the Year. Sarah 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.
Program and Communications Coordinatoraselle@theliteracylab.org
Anna Selle served as a Pre-K tutor at Ervin Early Learning Center in the Hickman Mills School District during The Literacy Lab's first year in Kansas City, MO. Anna graduated from Truman State University with degrees in Art History and Communication. Anna applies her experience in the classroom in her current role as a Program and Communications Associate for the Kansas City region.
Shiney Sharma is a Program Manager for the Literacy Lab in D.C. Prior to joining the Literacy Lab, she was a School Counselor for five years in Alexandria City Public Schools. Shiney earned her Master's degree in Counselor Education and her Bachelor's degree in Psychology from Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, VA.
Ellen Sheppard served for two years as a tutor with The Literacy Lab at Benjamin Banneker Elementary in Kansas City, MO. She is currently pursuing a Bachelor’s degree in Geography with a certificate in Geographic Information Systems (GIS) from the University of Missouri - Kansas City.
Nicole Simmons is the Operations Coordinator with The Literacy Lab. Nicole has more than 10 years of recruitment, operations, and strategic communications experience. Nicole's experiences in the nonprofit and corporate sectors include human resources positions with the District of Columbia Public Schools, Booz Allen Hamilton and PwC. Nicole earned a Bachelor's degree in Marketing and International Business from Temple University and completed graduate coursework at Johns Hopkins University.
Jordan Smith has a range of experience in elementary education in her home state of Georgia, having served as a tutor, intern to a principal, and 5th grade teacher. Upon relocating to Washington, DC, she served as an AmeriCorps member in the Trinidad neighborhood, supervising supplemental literacy tutoring through engaged community volunteers. She brings additional experience in volunteer and partnership management to her role as Recruitment Manager. Jordan holds a Bachelor’s degree in Early Childhood Education and a Master’s degree in Educational Administration and Policy from the University of Georgia. She is currently pursuing her Doctorate in Education Policy from the George Washington University.
Caitlin Tolson is a Program Associate at The Literacy Lab in Richmond, VA. She joined the team after serving two years as a K-3 tutor at Ratcliffe Elementary School. Caitlin is a graduate of Virginia Commonwealth University, 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.
Ebanē Ward is a Program Associate 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 as well as leading 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 degree in English and Professional Writing and is currently pursuing her Master’s degree in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Virginia.
Rudi Zelman 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 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 Master Coaches
Emily Durig is a K-3 Master Coach in Kansas City, Missouri. 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 current 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.
Suzanne Edgar is a Pre-K Master Coach 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 of music and a masters degree in special education.
Christine Farber is a K-3 Master Coach 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 her Bachelor’s degree in French and Political Science from Bates College and her Master’s degree in Education from Johns Hopkins University.
Toni Hamlin is a K-3 Master Coach in Hopewell and Petersburg, Virginia. She has over 20 years of experience working in grade K-6th with 17 of those years as a Reading Specialist in the Richmond area. Toni has experience in staff development and has facilitated training 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.
Early Literacy Coachehancock@theliteracylab.org
Emma Hancock is an Early Literacy Coach in Kansas City, Missouri. 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, Missouri.
Demetrius (Dee) Harris
Early Literacy Coachdharris@theliteracylab.org
Demetrius Harris is the Early Literacy Coach in Richmond, Virginia. 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 the 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 is a K-3 Master Coach 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.
Jessica Jones is a K-3 Master Coach in Washington, DC. She has a variety of experiences in early childhood and elementary education settings, teaching Pre-K, K, and 1st grade. Prior to joining The Literacy Lab, Jessica served as a Master Teacher for AppleTree Early Learning Public Charter School, coaching and developing teaching fellows. She earned her Bachelor’s degree in Education from Temple University and is currently completing her Master’s degree in Early Childhood Studies at Walden University.
Shelley Keith is a Pre-K Master Coach in Baltimore, MD. She has extensive early education experience with a wide variety of programs with various philosophical approaches. Previous positions held include director, coach, mentor, curriculum specialist, parent educator and teacher. Shelley holds a Master’s degree in Education with a concentration in Early Childhood Education from Trident University and a Bachelor’s degree in Family and Consumer Sciences from the University of Wyoming. Shelley is a former Literacy Lab Internal Coach.
Lindsey Lipsky is a K-3 Master Coach in Kansas City, MO. Lindsey has over a decade of experience working in both the education and non-profit realms. She is a Teach for America Alumni (Phoenix ’07) and worked as a special education classroom teacher for over five years, helping students with more severe reading, learning, language and attention issues. Lindsey is a certified Learning and Behavior Specialist who continues to work as an Inclusion Specialist for local private schools and religious institutions. Lindsey has a Master’s Degree in Special Education as well as a Bachelor’s Degree in Business & Nonprofit Management from North Park University-Chicago.
Terrell Mann is a Pre-K Master Coach in Kansas City, Missouri. Her past roles include: early childhood teacher, master teacher/coach, and 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 History of Art and Architecture from Princeton University and holds a Master of Education degree in Child Study from Tufts University as well as a Master of Arts degree in Educational Psychology from the University of Connecticut.
Early Literacy Coachamartin@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-Kindergarten 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.
Heather Myer is a K-3 Master Coach in Kansas City, Missouri. She has nearly a decade of experience as an elementary teacher in New York City and Kansas City schools. Heather has experience managing and coaching teacher leaders and beginning teachers as a leadership coach, instructor, professional development facilitator and curriculum writer for Leading Educators and the Kansas City Teaching Fellowship. She is an alumna of the Leading Educators teacher leader fellowship and the New York City teaching fellowship. Heather holds a Master’s degree in Elementary Education from the City University of New York and a Bachelor’s degree in Communication Studies from Azusa Pacific University in Los Angeles.
Kimberly Parker is a Pre-K Master Coach in Washington, DC. She is an Early Childhood Specialist with expertise in early childhood development, early literacy acquisition, and special education. Kimberly taught in a variety of settings in Washington, DC including child development centers, public charter schools, and DC public schools. In her three years with DC Public Schools, she was recognized as a Distinguished Teacher, having been rated as a Highly Effective educator for three years in a row, the highest possible evaluation rating. Kimberly earned her Master’s Degree in Education and Human Development from the George Washington University in 2007.
Alisa Smith is a K-3 Master Coach in Richmond, VA. 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.
Lisa Sweeney is a K-3 Master Coach 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.
Sara Twaddell is a K-3 Master Coach in Washington, DC. She began her teaching career at Hope Community Charter School and taught 1st and 4th grade. She went on to manage the teacher recruitment and selection process for DC Public Schools and then served as an Instructional Coach at Langley Elementary School before joining The Literacy Lab. Currently, she is pursuing a Master’s degree in Curriculum and Instruction, with a Reading Specialist Certificate from the University of Virginia. She holds a Master’s degree in Public Policy from the George Washington University and a Bachelor’s degree in Applied Psychology from New York University.
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 through the Teach For America program. 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 begin 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.
Early Literacy Coachswilliams@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 both at 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 Leading Men Fellowship.
Hugh Cole III
Hugh Cole is an associate with Washington Property Company, a real estate development firm in Bethesda, MD. 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.
Elizabeth S. Duff
Betsy Duff is a Partner with Harbour Capital Advisors, LLC, an investment management firm and family office based in McLean, VA. Betsy has over 25 years of experience in private banking, investment banking, and corporate finance. She earned a B.A. from Brown University. Betsy has served as a Trustee and Chair of the Board of The Potomac School, as a Director of the Wolf Trap Foundation for the Performing Arts, and as a board member and President of the Junior League of Washington.
Bailey Edelson is a Senior VP with the JBG Companies, a real estate investment and development firm in Chevy Chase, MD. Bailey has over 10 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 A.B. from Brown University and an MBA from Georgetown University. She has been active through the Junior League of Washington with The Literacy Lab’s Ready to Read program since 2012. She lives in Bethesda with her husband.
Praveen Jeyarajah works with Astor Place Holdings, the private investment arm of Select Equity Group, L.P. Praveen has 20 years of private investment experience and earned a B.A. in Economics from Rutgers College and an MBA from The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. Praveen previously served on the Board of Capital Partners For Education. Praveen lives in Washington, DC with his wife and two sons.
Ashley Johnson is the Founder and Co-Executive Director of The Literacy Lab. Prior to founding The Literacy Lab, Ashley worked as a Special Education teacher and coordinator at public and charter schools in the District of Columbia. Ashley was a Teach For America Metro DC corps member. Ashley earned her Master’s Degree in Special Education from American University and her Bachelor’s Degree in History and Political Science from the University of Pennsylvania.
Dara Johnson is a Program Officer with the Horning Family Fund, a DC-based foundation. She manages the grantmaking portfolio and assists with the development and implementation of the foundation’s racial equity strategy, family engagement plan, and other initiatives. Before joining the foundation in 2015, Dara spent 14 years in K-12 education as a teacher, literacy coach, professional development trainer, and assistant principal. Dara received her B.A. from Spelman College and a M.A. in School Administration from Cambridge College.
Elisabeth (Liz) Liptak
Ms. Liptak has been involved in the literacy field for more than 20 years. She currently serves as director of professional services for the International Dyslexia Association in Baltimore, where she directs their standards initiative for teacher training. Previously she served as executive director of the Washington Literacy Council, an adult and family literacy nonprofit in Washington, DC, and was a researcher for a U.S. Department of Education reading grant at the Krasnow Institute of Advanced Study at George Mason University. She has been a volunteer literacy tutor in Washington, DC, and New York City. Ms. Liptak began her career in the publishing industry in New York City, working for John Wiley & Sons and Institutional Investor.
Dr. Bweikia Steen
Dr. Bweikia Steen has been involved in the early childhood education field for over 15 years. She currently serves as an Associate Professor of Education at George Mason University in Fairfax, VA. For the past eight years, she served as Associate Professor and the Director of the Early Childhood programs at Trinity Washington University in Washington, DC. Her research deals with promoting social-emotional and academic excellence among children of color and children of poverty during the early years.
Ned Mandel has been involved in serving schools and literacy programs for over 25 years. He was an unpaid Literacy Lab tutor the past 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 A.B. from Dartmouth College and an M.B.A. from Stanford University. Ned serves as Treasurer of the board of Horizons National, an award-winning, summer academic program based in Westport, CT. He also 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.
• A. James and Alice B. Clark Foundation
• Aaron Straus and Lily Straus Foundation
• The Abell Foundation
• The Andrew and Julie Klingenstein Family Fund
• APT Charities
• Baltimore Community Foundation
• Bancroft Foundation
• Capital for Children
• Capitol Hill Community Foundation
• City of Richmond
• The Cameron Foundation
• Clayton Baker Trust
• The Community Foundation Serving Richmond and Central Virginia
• Crowell & Moring LLP
• DC Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE)
• DC Promise Neighborhood Initiative (DCPNI)
• The Diana Davis Spencer Foundation
• Dimick Foundation
• Dollar General Literacy Foundation
• Durwood Foundation
• Early Education Funders Collaborative
• Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation
• Fight for Children
• Funder Collaborative for Reading Success
• George K. Baum Foundation
• The George Preston Marshall Foundation
• The H&R Block Foundation
• Hall Family Foundation
• Hallmark Foundation
• The Hattie M. Strong Foundation
• Helen Pumphrey Denit Charitable Trust
• Henry E. Niles Foundation
• Horning Family Fund
• The Jacob and Charlotte Lehrman Foundation
• John Wall Family Foundation
• The Junior League of Washington
• The J. Willard and Alice S. Marriott Foundation
• Lincoln and Therese Filene Foundation
• Local Initiatives Support Corporation
• Lockhart Vaughan Foundation
• The Lois and Richard England Family Foundation
• The Ludwig Family Foundation
• M&T Bank Foundation
• Mark and Anne Hansen Foundation
• MAXIMUS Foundation
• The Morris & Gwendolyn Cafritz Foundation
• Nora Roberts Foundation
• The Philanthropic Initiative
• The Philip L. Graham Fund
• Pitney Bowes Foundation
• PNC Foundation
• Robins Foundation
• Roger A. and Corinne R. Durkee Fund
• RGK Foundation
• Richard E. and Nancy P. Marriott Foundation
• Scheidel Foundation
• Select Equity Group Foundation
• Share Fund
• Sherman Family Foundation
• Sidgmore Family Foundation
• Speas Memorial Trust
• Stanley and Lucy Lopata Foundation
• Taylor S. and Patti Harding Abernathy Charitable Trust
• TEGNA Foundation
• Terracon Foundation
• Virginia Cretella Mars Foundation
• Walter A. Bloedorn Foundation
• Washington Nationals Dream Foundation
• Webber Family Foundation
• Weinberg Foundation
• Wells Fargo
• William J. Brace Charitable Trust
• Wright Family Foundation
• Boston University Center for Digital Imaging Arts
• Covington & Burling LLP
• Fair Chance
• Georgetown Cupcake
• Hogan Lovells
• JBG Companies
• Spectrum Printing
• Washington Nationals
• Washington Redskins
• Whole Foods Market
• Catalogue for Philanthropy
• Georgetown University
• George Washington University
• Junior League of Washington
• Maryland Governor’s Office on Service and Volunteerism
• Missouri Community Service Commission
• United Way
• Virginia Office on Volunteerism and Community Service