Welcome To Our New Staff Members!

We had several new members join The Literacy Lab team during the month of July. Check out the video and each of their profile below to learn more about our new staff.

 

Meet Ilyssa DeLeon, Our New Program Associate in the Massachusetts Region

Tell us your name, new position title, and where you are from. My name is Ilyssa DeLeon. As a former tutor for the past two years, I am excited to be joining The Literacy Lab as a Program Associate in my hometown of Springfield, Massachusetts!

What’s the most important thing people need to know about you?

I was born and raised in Springfield, MA and I love this city. I am grateful to be able to serve my community through the work being done at The Literacy Lab.

Why does equity in education matter to you?

Equity in education matters to me because education directly impacts a child’s future quality of life. I believe access to quality education should be a human right, not a privilege. 

What do you hope to accomplish with The Literacy Lab?

My time as a tutor was a very rewarding experience. I made meaningful connections within the school community and I received a tremendous amount of support from the program staff and coaches. In this new position, my goal is to work with my team to provide that same experience for all future tutors to come.

 

Meet Nia Fitzhugh, Our New Program Associate in the Metro D.C. Region

Tell us your name, new position title and where you are from.

Hello everyone! My name is Nia Fitzhugh, I’m from PG County Maryland and I am a Program Associate for the DC region.

What’s the most important thing people need to know about you?

The most important thing people need to know about me is that I am very committed and enthusiastic about my work and my ambitions! I love being an essential component of a team that is working towards such an important mission.

Why does equity in education matter to you?

Educational equity is important to me because I believe that all students should receive access to education and the tools they need to be successful.

We love our pets here at The Literacy Lab. If you have one now or had one as a child, what kind and what is the name of your pet?

This is my childhood puppy Mason! He’s a Shih- Tzu, I got him when I was 9 years old and he celebrated his birthday 13th this past July!

Slowly over the years, as older siblings have moved out and family has made room for more puppies, he has become more of my dog (I think because he likes me most). He absolutely believes that my room is solely his and he’s just sharing with me but I’ve learned to accept it. He’s the cutest old man you’ll ever see. :’)

 

Meet Jinmo Koo, Program Associate in the Metro D.C. Office

Tell us your name, new position title and where you are from.

My name is Jinmo and I’m a Program Associate at the DC office. I was born in South Korea but lived in Ithaca before moving down to DC!

What’s the most important thing people need to know about you?

I try to maintain a positive attitude and good vibes in the environments I’m in and the people I’m with.

What is one thing that you did or created that helped you get through quarantine last year?

Like many people, I spent a lot of my free time during quarantine cooking and trying new recipes. I didn’t learn how to take good pictures, so no good photos yet 🙁

 Why does equity in education matter to you?

Equity in education matters to me because education intersects with so many different opportunities and barriers that people face throughout their lives. Ensuring that every child has the opportunity to reach their full potential requires us to strive for equity in education.

Meet Ted Lewis, Our New Foundations Relations Manager

Tell us your name, new position title, and where you are from.  

I’m Ted Lewis, I use they/them pronouns and I am proud to serve as the Foundations Relations Manager at The Literacy Lab. I’m originally from Northern Virginia, but today I call Richmond, VA home.

What’s the most important thing people need to know about you? 

I’m an introvert who has learned to extrovert well. I’d prefer to be curled up at home with a good book than a night out any day.

We love our pets here at The Literacy Lab. If you have one now or had one as a child, what kind and what is the name of your pet?

My boyfriend and I have two cats, Bailey and Tater, and just recently adopted a dog named Honeybee. 

Why does equity in education matter to you? 

We teach our children that anything is possible and by focusing on equity, and specifically racial equity, in our education system we can ensure that possibility is true for everyone.

What do you hope to accomplish with The Literacy Lab?

As a part of The Literacy Lab team, I hope to assist in inviting more people to join the great work of the organization whether as tutors, funders, or advocates for literacy.  

 

Meet Valerie Manu, Our New Marketing and Communications Manager

Tell us your name, new position title and where you are from.

My name is Valerie Manu and I am excited to join the Literacy Lab team as the Marketing and Communications Manager. I was born in Ghana but raised in Alexandria, Virginia.

What’s the most important thing people need to know about you?

I am an introvert who is also a people person. I love getting to know new people and I thrive in a collaborative space. I am the friend and colleague that likes to bring different groups of people together.

What is one thing that you did or created that helped you get through quarantine last year?

With the help of YouTube, I learned how to grow my own food during quarantine last year. I was able to successfully plant a few kale seeds and even had the chance to enjoy the fruits of my labor before the winter season.

Why does equity in education matter to you?

Due to the way the system is designed, racially and economically marginalized students lack access to high-quality education. An equitable education system is important because it equips ALL children with skills and knowledge that increase opportunities later in life.

What do you hope to accomplish with The Literacy Lab?

I hope to amplify the voice and increase brand awareness of The Literacy Lab and the work we do every day to impact the lives of children.

 

Meet Arshia Sethi, Our New Program Manager in Maryland 

Tell us your name, new position title and where you are from.

My name is Arshia Sethi and I am a Program Manager in Maryland, and I am originally from Buffalo, New York.

What’s the most important thing people need to know about you?

The most important thing that people need to know about me is that I love being around people. I am an extrovert and truly thrive off of other people’s energy, whether it’s in a personal or professional setting. I love to collaborate, listen, and celebrate with others.

 If you could choose a superpower, what would it be?

It seems like a typical answer, but I would love to be able to fly. I don’t live very close to my family so I would love to be able to get to them quickly, as well as travel and see more of the world in an easy (and cost effective!) way.

 What is one thing that you did or created that helped you get through quarantine last year?

Like many others, I jumped onto the baking train! I have always loved to cook and bake but took time during quarantine to really try some more complicated baking projects, such as Pain au Chocolat. They were time-consuming but delicious! (picture attached). Baking also let me still see friends in a distanced way, because I would always have LOTS of extra baked goods to drop off on their doorstep!

Why does equity in education matter to you?

Equity in education matters to me because systems have consistently been built that lead to less access, opportunities, and support for students of color, and it is important to work to dismantle those. I am passionate about equity in education because I believe that all young people deserve a chance to succeed and the ability to pursue any path that they choose.