Donna DiFillippo, Executive Director, email@example.com
Donna has been advocating for young children and their families for her entire career: first as a teacher, then as an administrator, and finally at Dartmouth College where her responsibilities as Coordinator of the Child Care Project included training and technical support of area early childhood professionals from the states of New Hampshire and Vermont. During her tenure at Dartmouth, she worked as a consultant to the Vermont Council on the Humanities where she developed curriculum for a new initiative called “Never Too Early,” an early literacy program designed to engage early care providers as literacy ambassadors to the parents of children in their care. The goal was to get books into the hands of families, while encouraging the parents to share them with their children on a daily basis. This work, combined with her experience in child development and early education, has prepared her for the challenges faced at RAR MA. Donna earned her BS from Boston University and her MA from Dartmouth College, with specific focus on child development, early childhood education, and cultural studies.
Gretchen Kinder, Director of Strategic Growth and Development, firstname.lastname@example.org
Gretchen Kinder is a 15 year veteran of the Boston-area non-profit and municipal sectors. She joined Raising A Reader MA after more than five years working for the Somerville Public Schools where she oversaw strategic planning, public information, and grants for the this small, urban school district. Gretchen found her professional calling in the fields of education and youth development, after stints working in homeless advocacy organizations, community health improvement, health professional education reform, and philanthropic advocacy. Her work with Raising a Reader MA gives her plenty of opportunities to channel her love for the book Frederick by Leo Lionni. She works hard to gather resources to sustain the organization and its mission, while also making a priority of sharing the inspiring work being done every day by program staff and partners with children and families.
Sara Pollock DeMedeiros, Director of Program and Evaluation, email@example.com
Sara joined the Raising a Reader team in January 2009. Her earliest memories are of story-time with her family, and she has worked her entire career to bring similar positive interactions with reading to urban youth. After graduating from Cornell University with a BA in Anthropology and a concentration in Women’s Studies, Sara worked as a Teach for America corps member, teaching English and Geography to English Language Learners in Washington, DC. Most recently, Sara worked for Tenacity, a youth development organization bringing literacy and tennis out-of-school time opportunities to Boston middle school students. She holds her Masters in Education with a focus on Risk and Prevention from the Harvard Graduate School of Education.
Christine Ward, Director of Operations, firstname.lastname@example.org
An avid reader and proponent of early literacy, Christine joined Raising A Reader MA as Operations Manager in January 2010. A few of her favorite children’s books include Wild About Books and The Story of Ferdinand. Her passion for reading is supported by her volunteer work, including co-chairing the library committee for several years at a nursery school- increasing funds raised year over year. Other charitable work includes serving on Hill House Council (a community organization), the Nichols House Museum Committee, as a parent-teacher coordinator, and supporting numerous community events and fundraisers. With a background in marketing and working for entrepreneurial companies, she brings for-profit experience and insight to the non-profit world. Most recently, Christine worked as a Vice President for Progress Partners, a boutique investment bank. With an MBA from the F.W. Olin Graduate School of Business at Babson College, and a concentration in marketing, Christine is excited to share her enthusiasm and entrepreneurial ideas with Raising A Reader MA.
Eula Lee Kozma, Manager of Institutional Relations, email@example.com
Eula has been a passionate reader her entire life and is most pleased to be furthering the mission of Raising A Reader MA as Manager of Institutional Relations. She brings a unique mix of skills related to writing, advocacy, fundraising and relationship management to RaR MA. Two of her favorite books growing up were The Little Mouse, the Red Ripe Strawberry, and the Big Hungry Bear by Don Wood and Matilda by Roald Dahl. While earning her JD and MSELP at Vermont Law School Eula realized her true passions were organizational development and supporting the mission driven work of nonprofit organizations through fundraising. Most recently, Eula worked as the Advancement Manager for Community Resources for Justice, a criminal and social justice nonprofit based in Boston. Eula resides in Medford with family including her dog and two cats. When not reading Eula can be found enjoying the outdoors with her family.
Elijah D. G. Plymesser, Operations Coordinator, firstname.lastname@example.org
Elijah D. G. Plymesser has worked in literacy development programs overseas, primarily in the desert region of southern Israel while studying towards an MA in Politics of Conflict at Ben-Gurion University. He has been reading avidly since picking up Green Eggs and Ham over two decades ago. He hopes to continue his work in the non-profit sector with Raising a Reader MA in the hope of making “las bolsas rojas” a permanent fixture in every neighborhood. One of his favorite books is The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy. He received his Bachelor’s degree from Brandeis University with concentrations in International Relations and Middle Eastern Studies.
Heloisa Micheletti Alvarez, Manager of Program Quality, email@example.com
Heloisa is a big fan of the Brazilian book Flicts, which tells the story of an unusual color in search of its own place in the universe. She brings to Raising A Reader ten years of experience as a clinical and community psychologist in both Health and Education institutions in Brazil, a strong background on Early Childhood Development and Child Psychology, and the personal commitment to foster better opportunities for underprivileged children.
Heloisa recently received a Masters in Education from Harvard Graduate School of Education, and has a Psychologist and Bachelor in Psychology degrees from PUC-RJ, a Specialization degree in Children and Adolescent Mental Health from the IPUB/UFRJ, and a Specialization degree in Psychoanalytical Theory from PUC-SP. Heloisa has been working over the past year to expand the RAR MA program to Brazil, expected to launch in the fall of 2012.
Maria Mendes, Regional Program Manager for Brockton, firstname.lastname@example.org
Maria joined the Raising A Reader team in September of 2012. She immigrated to America in 1996 from the Cape Verde Island and immediately fell in love with books, especially Tikki Tikki Tembo by Arlene Mosel. Maria earned her Bachelors of Science in Communications from Regis College in May of 2010. Upon graduation, she worked to decrease underage access to alcohol in Brockton. Most recently, Maria earned her Masters of Science in Organizational and Professional Communications also from Regis College. As a Brockton resident for over 15 years, Maria is delighted to be part of the RAR team and to bring books home to more children in the City of Champions- Brockton.
Cate Johnston, Regional Program Manager for Chelsea/Revere, email@example.com
Cate is thrilled to be part of the Raising A Reader MA family and working to bring books into every child’s life. One of her earliest and most treasured memories is reading Frances Hodgson Burnett’s A Little Princess with her father at bedtime every night- over and over again for many months! Cate comes to Raising A Reader with a passionate desire to erase the achievement gap and bring equal opportunity to every child. She has worked in a variety of child-focused nonprofit settings in the US, Central America and Spain over the past 5+ years, with experience in both direct service and management capacities. Recently, Cate spent three years working in a home for orphaned and abandoned children in Honduras, where she developed an affinity for working across cultural and social boundaries. Cate holds an MSW from Boston University, with a focus on macro practice social work and a certificate in Human Services Management.
Robyn Long-Navas, Regional Program Manager for Lowell, firstname.lastname@example.org
Robyn joined the Raising A Reader team in July of 2012, a perfect place for her to call upon the myriad of experience that she has collected over the course of 15 years as an educator and organizer. She started out organizing for an environmental lobby organization, which inspired her to complete a BS in Environmental Management from URI. After graduating, she promoted environmental education in public schools in RI, and then in Guatemala where she served as a Peace Corps Volunteer. It was in Guatemala that she developed a passion for linguistic development through her own journey in Spanish fluency and from teaching English on the side. Robyn has also had short stints in teaching Spanish, after-school programming, and community gardening. For 6 years in Lowell, Robyn has advocated for immigrant rights, civic engagement and resident leadership development. Robyn fondly remembers as a child reading the Little House on the Prairie series by Laura Ingalls Wilder.
Francia Wisnewski, Regional Program Manager for Springfield, email@example.com
Francia has fond memories of reading The Little Prince as a child and enjoys reading the playful words of Shel Silverstein. She has been a devoted supporter of families and an enthusiastic advocate for young children. With a degree in teaching science from Cali-Colombia, she arrived in the United States to pursue a Master’s of Education with a focus in Early Childhood from the University of Massachusetts. “I like to see children growing surrounded by opportunities for discovery and to learn concepts that build life skills. Access to quality, age-appropriate books is key to develop reading competences.” Francia worked for a nonprofit in Franklin County for ten years implementing and developing early literacy programs, parental education opportunities and support services for families with young children. Francia participated from two state wide fellowships in which she supported policy recommendations for the implementation of the Quality Rating and Improvement System QRIS and other advocacy initiatives in the state.
Suzanne Igarteburu, Regional Program Manager for Tri-City, firstname.lastname@example.org
Suzanne has been a book lover ever since her father first rolled his terrible eyes and gnashed his terrible teeth while reading Maurice Sendak’s Where the Wild Things Are to her before bed. A lifelong fascination with literature led Suzanne to pursue a BA in English at Northeastern University. Professionally, Suzanne has five years of experience in the field of education, particularly focusing on early childhood education. As an infant teacher at the MGH Children’s Center, she forged strong bonds with children and families to provide stimulating and nurturing care during the first developmentally critical months of life. Additionally, Suzanne spent two years teaching English in public schools grades K-12 in Granada, Spain. The international experience left her passionate about communicating across languages and cultures.
Antonieta Gimeno, Parent/Community Engagement Facilitator, email@example.com
Formerly a Raising A Reader MA Site Manager for Tri City, Antonieta is now a Parent/Community Engagement Facilitator. Antonieta is a Mexicana – Salvadoreña, born in Panama and raised in Mexico. For the last 40 years she has worked as an educator, organizer and cultural worker; she has engaged different communities in dialogue to challenge racial/ethnic stereotypes, address issues of power and trauma from violence. Her efforts are guided by a practice of Popular Education, Theater of the Oppressed techniques and other creative arts. As a creative writer, she promotes reading and writing and offers writing workshops to women in transition. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Latin-American Studies from Mount Holyoke College. Antonieta loves people, reading, music, cooking and traveling, and proudly raised her twins.
Susannah Kate Matthews, Somerville Liaison and Special Projects Assistant firstname.lastname@example.org Susannah attributes her passion for literature and the advancement of literacy to her parents, who read to her and her siblings every single night, even if they were so tired they were falling asleep amidst the storytelling. She was blessed to have a family who valued education of the whole person above all else. As an English major at Connecticut College, she was able to steer her love of books into critical theory as well as poetry – she graduated magna cum laude, with several poetry prizes and high honors in her major. She moved to Portland, OR after graduation for a year in AmeriCorps – she worked for the Washington Reading Corps, supporting literacy development in Head Start classrooms and advocating for family literacy through a small non-profit. She has been with Raising A Reader since February of 2012, and has loved every moment of it. She is hoping to pursue a Masters of Education starting next fall. Currently, her favorite book to read to children is Click, Clack, Moo: Cows That Type by Doreen Cronin.
Tasha Espendez, Regional Program Manager for Lawrence, email@example.com Tasha Espendez studied Communications and Culture at Clark University and over the last 17 years has cultivated experience in customer service, project management, and community organizing. In addition, she has instructional experience in Adult ESL education and youth empowerment programs. Tasha first learned of Raising A Reader from her engagement with the community as a NeighborCircles Lead Facilitator and Board member of Lawrence CommunityWorks. She was immediately attracted by the passion and mission of the organization and decided to join forces in April 2013 with the goal of improving kindergarten readiness for all children in the City of Lawrence. Some of her All-Time favorite books are ‘The Giving Tree’ by Shel Silverstein and the Little Vampire series, from Angela Sommer-Bodenburg.