About Us

Our Vision

To make interactive reading a joyful and rewarding routine for all families. We equip parents to be their child’s first teacher, empowered to be active participants in their child’s education, impacting success in school and beyond.

Our Mission

To close the literacy opportunity gap among children ages birth to age six in high-need communities by helping families develop and practice shared home reading habits.

Our History

Raising A Reader Massachusetts was founded in 2006 by the GreenLight Fund, which identifies groundbreaking, innovative, and results-oriented nonprofits in cities around the country and replicates those programs in Massachusetts and other states.

A flagship affiliate of the national Raising A Reader organization, Raising A Reader Massachusetts became an independent 501(c)(3) organization in 2009. Raising A Reader Massachusetts launched its program in Chelsea and strategically expanded to serve Boston, Brockton, Everett, Holyoke, Lawrence, Lowell, Lynn, Malden, Revere, and Springfield.

Raising A Reader Massachusetts

Statement Of Values

Raising A Reader Massachusetts - Opening Doors by Opening Books

Early childhood literacy is a major problem for a large segment of the population and Raising A Reader Massachusetts’ job is to change that.

We embrace diversity at Raising A Reader Massachusetts, both within our organization and in the communities that we serve. Our goal is for each person, no matter their race, color, ethnicity, religious beliefs, or sexual orientation to have equal opportunities to find success in education and life.

To make that work possible, we adhere to the following core organizational values:


We approach our work with humility, respect, and recognition of the challenges facing our overall community and take entrepreneurial risks in collaboration with the families and partners.

High Integrity

We act with open, honest, transparent, and respectful communication and challenge conventional wisdom with transparency to serve our constituents and maximize the support of our donors.

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

We embrace diversity across the board to solve the complex problems of a changing — and increasingly diverse — world.


We learn from every experience and empower our team to identify and implement new best practices to achieve the greatest collective impact.

Work-Life Balance

We believe in a healthy work-life balance, including social-emotional balance, so we can better serve our constituents.

Raising A Reader Logo Without Text

Raising A Reader MA Values
Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

Diverse by nature and inclusive by choice.

Diversity is at the core of our Mission, Vision, and Values. We are an inclusive organization, at all levels. To us, this signifies a commitment to being a workplace that fully embraces and reflects the different cultures, backgrounds, and viewpoints of our team and the community groups we serve. In our cross-cultural efforts to increase access to equity-building literacy interventions, our diversity and inclusion is a strength.

Our Team

Christine Ward

Executive Director

Katee Duffy

Director of Programs

Mary Ann F. Lerner

Director of Development

Tasha Espendez

Associate Program Director

Maria Mombeleur

Associate Program Director

Guadalupe Panameño

Program Manager

Catalina Rojas

Program Manager

Katharine Winder

Senior Evaluation and Operations Manager

Jason Lang

Development and Communications Manager

Isaí Jiménez

Program Manager / Parent Liaison

Ilka Walkley

Parent Liaison

Tara Ruby

Grants Manager

Nicolas Howayeck


Board Of Directors


Gregg Dooling
CFO, Amundi Pioneer

Gregg Dooling has served on the Board of Directors for Raising a Reader Massachusetts since 2016 and was appointed Board Chair in 2018.  Gregg is the Managing Director and Chief Financial Officer of the Americas for Amundi Pioneer Asset Management. He is a member of Amundi Pioneer’s Executive, Management, and Operating Committees. Prior to taking the role of CFO in 2008, Gregg was Vice President and Corporate Controller for Pioneer Investment Management USA Inc. He has over 30 years of leadership experience in the Asset Management industry. 

Gregg graduated from Bentley College with a Bachelor of Science in Accountancy and earned his Masters of Business Administration from Bentley University. His range of experience expands from having held several management roles at Putnam Investments, John Hancock Funds and Ernst & Young.

After attending the annual Dinner with an Author Gala, Gregg was inspired by the organization’s mission of closing the literacy opportunity gap.  Since joining, he is still constantly reminded of that inspiration from the staff’s passion and stories from the families in the program. Gregg always enjoyed reading the Goodnight Moon, Curious George and the Bernstein Bears books to his 2 children as they grew up and hopes to help spread that same joy to other families in finding their favorite books together. Gregg resides in Medford with his wife.

Vice Chair
Francine Rosenzweig

Francine practiced with the law firms Smith Lyons, LLP (Toronto, Canada) and WilmerHale, LLP  (Boston) concentrating on complex business litigation, including white-collar criminal matters. She has experience representing companies and individuals in government investigations and litigations alleging fraud, bribery, conspiracy and violations of federal statutes. She subsequently worked as Corporate Counsel, Vice President at Shark, Ninja (Boston, MA) providing counsel and negotiating agreements in the areas of commercial practice, compliance, intellectual property, and employment law. Francine received her law degree from University of Toronto and her undergraduate degree from McGill University. Francine currently serves on the Board of Youth Villages, the Board of the Frances Jacobson Early Childhood Center, and has worked and volunteered with numerous other non-profit organizations, including Combined Jewish Philanthropies, Big Brother Big Sister Foundation of Boston, and the Shady Hill School. Francine lives in Brookline with her husband, three children, two guinea pigs, numerous fish and a corn snake.

Heather Dickinson
Audit Director, Deloitte & Touche

Heather Dickinson is a Managing Director at Deloitte.  Heather has over 20 years of experience serving and leading audit engagements and relationships for a diverse mix of clients within the technology, manufacturing and service industries. Such clients have included public registrants, large private companies, and serving emerging growth companies. She has extensive experience advising companies on technical and industry related matters. Heather also holds a National Office role for Deloitte, she supports the Audit practice Chief Operating Officer. In this role, Heather works with the leadership team to execute on the priorities and strategy of Deloitte’s Audit practice. Heather is on the New England leadership team for Deloitte’s Women’s Initiative. She is a graduate of Villanova University, and a member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accounts and Massachusetts and New York Society of Certified Public Accountant.

Daryl Andrews
Partner, Andrews DeValerio LLP

Daryl Andrews is a founding partner of Andrews DeValerio LLP.  Her law practice includes a wide range of clients in complex business litigation and class actions.  After graduating from Smith College and Boston University School of Law, Ms. Andrews clerked for Judge Michael A. Ponsor of the U.S. District Court, District of Massachusetts.  Ms. Andrews and her husband are raising two daughters and a Golden Retriever. Her favorite book of all time is To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee.

Melissa Alexander
IT Director at Foundation Medicine

Melissa Alexander is an IT Director of Enterprise Resource Planning for Foundation Medicine.  Throughout her career, she has supported healthcare, biotechnology, transportation and energy companies by delivering business value through technology projects and programs with a focus on organizational change management.

Melissa received a BBA in Finance and Management Information Systems from the University of Oklahoma and holds an MBA from Tulane University. Melissa also co-owns a family winery in her hometown in Oklahoma where she serves as marketing manager.

She enjoys city life and lives in Bay Village with her two daughters. Melissa loves photography, yoga, gardening and travel. She’s been known to pack a bag at the drop of a hat and has been to nearly 70 countries and hopes to pass her travel bug along to her young daughters.

In addition to being a passionate advocate for Raising A Reader MA, Melissa is very active in the community and has served as President of the Boston Chapter of OU Alumni and on the Board of Directors for Tulane University Alumni.  She has been an active volunteer of the Junior League since 2006 and recently served as Director of Communications.  She is also the founding Executive Leader of the New England Region of the Children’s Heart Foundation, a cause near to her own heart as her daughter was born with a congenital heart defect.

Brandon Burns Director, PwC Risk Assurance

Brandon Burns is a Director with more than twelve years of experience leading IT risk and controls assurance projects for public and private clients. During his tenure with the PwC, Brandon has led the delivery of third-party assurance services, internal audit services, and reviews of internal controls over information systems in a broad range of industries. Currently, Brandon oversees delivery of a portfolio of attest reports for a leading investment management firm, as well as SOX testing for a global healthcare company. Outside of work, Brandon served as a mentor with Big Brothers Big Sisters for four years.

Brandon resides in Milton, MA with his wife Emily and one-year old daughter Josephine. Books like Llama Llama Nighty-Night, I Like Myself and Dream Big, Little One are some of their favorites. Brandon holds a Bachelor of Arts in Economics from Union College and is pursuing a Masters in Accounting from Bentley University.

Mercedes Dahar
Director of Customer Success, Athenahealth

A longtime resident of Boston and an active member of the community, Mercedes attended Simmons University for her BA and MBA and is currently Director of Customer Success with Athenahealth, having also held past leadership positions with GE Healthcare. Mercedes comes to Raising a Reader MA through her affiliation with The Boston Club fueled by an interest in reading and education services for school-age children and their impact on overall wellness.

Mercedes also brings experience as a past Director at Large with Simmons University’s alumni board and as a current co-lead of athenahealth’s chapter of the Healthcare Businesswomen’s Association. She lives in the Back Bay with her Husband Philip of 26 years and her daughter Eleanor, a Junior at American University in Washington, DC.

Camille Carlstrom Managing Director of Research, Fidelity Investments

Camille Carlstrom is managing director of research in the Equity Division at Fidelity Investments. Fidelity Investments is a leading provider of investment management, retirement planning, portfolio guidance, brokerage, benefits outsourcing, and other financial products and services to institutions, financial intermediaries, and individuals.

In this role, Ms. Carlstrom is responsible for the REIT group and research associates, as well as undergraduate and MBA campus recruiting. Prior to assuming her current responsibilities, she also served as lead portfolio manager of the FIAM International Growth strategy, co-manager of the Fidelity Enduring Opportunities Fund, and an associate portfolio manager and analyst supporting the FIAM Japan Growth strategy. She also provided research coverage for the Japanese financial sector.

Prior to joining Fidelity in 2012, Ms. Carlstrom was a senior vice president and analyst in the investment division at Putnam Investments. In this capacity, she was responsible for fundamental research coverage of more than 100 financial sector stocks, banks, insurance, credit cards, brokerage, and real estate across developed and emerging Asia. Previously, she co-managed a sub-portfolio specializing in Asian financials in addition to directing the investment associate program for equity research. She also served as a business analyst in the corporate development group and an investment associate in the investment division. Before joining Putnam, Ms. Carlstrom was an assistant national bank examiner at the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency.

Ms. Carlstrom earned her bachelor of arts degree in finance and accounting from Villanova University and her master of business administration degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Sloan School of Management.

Dale Dowdie CEO and Founder, BlackFacts.com
CEO and Founder, Intellitech Consulting EnterprisesAssurance

Dale is the CEO and co-founder of BlackFacts.com, and the CEO and founder of Intellitech Consulting Enterprises. BlackFacts.com, co-founded in 1997 with Ken Granderson, is an online resource for Black History Facts (People, Places, Events). The site whose tagline is “Learn Black History, Teach Black History” grew to become the #1 on all search engines for Black Facts, has millions of unique visitors and a social media reach that grows exponentially. Black Facts aspires to become the Black Wikipedia that focuses not only on history but also the cultural contributions of people of color- past and present. Its history is chronicled by Dowdie in the American Diversity Report here.

Intellitech Consulting Enterprises is an Information Technology and Services company located in Boston, Massachusetts and specializing in Project/Program Management, DR/BC Planning, Large Scale Infrastructure Integration, Office 365 Deployment and vertical market software development. Intellitech clients have included Staples, McCormick & Co., and Harvard among others.

Ola Friday
Associate Commissioner for Workforce Development, Mass Department of Early Education and Care

Dr. Ola J. Friday was appointed Associate Commissioner of Workforce Development at the Massachusetts Department of Early Education and Care in August 2017. There she leads the state’s efforts to support the professional development of early childhood educators. Ola was raised with an appreciation for the power of education to change lives through the examples of her parents. Initially drawn to the classroom, the urge to impact systemic issues compelled her to pursue work at the policy level.

Ola brings to her work a doctorate in Education Leadership from the Harvard Graduate School of Education, a Master of Public Policy from the Goldman School at UC Berkeley, and a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from Tufts University.

From an early age, Ola’s parents instilled in her a love for reading. To this day not much makes Ola happier than escaping with a good book. Ola looks forward to contributing her program development, policy development and knowledge of early childhood education to the work of Raising A Reader MA.

When Ola isn’t working or enjoying a good book she is traveling the world and spending time with her two nephews who amaze her every day.

Aria Glasgow
Associate Partner, AON/Radford Advisory

Aria Glasgow is an Associate Partner in Aon’s Human Capital Solutions practice. Aria has over 20 years of compensation consulting and human resources experience. Her client engagements include developing programs that attract and retain key talent required to help companies scale. She is a frequents speaker at human resources conferences. Prior to joining Aon, Aria held leadership roles at Sullivan, Cotter & Associates, Pearl Meyer and Investors Bank & Trust.

Aria has a Bachelor of Arts in accounting from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst and a Master of Business Administration from Babson College.

Aria has served on several not-for-profit boards and enjoys volunteering her time with Habitat for Humanity and other community organizations. Some of her favorite childhood books include Goodnight Moon, Charlotte’s Web, and Bears in the Night. Aria lives in Westborough, Massachusetts with her husband, 3 children, and 2 dogs. In her free time, Aria enjoys practicing yoga and skiing.

Susan Houston
Founding Executive Director, MassEcon

Susan Houston’s experience covers the private, public, and non-profit sectors. Most recently, Susan was Executive Director of MassEcon, a private, non-profit economic development entity charged with promoting Massachusetts as the best place to start, locate, and grow a business. As MassEcon’s first Executive Director, she grew the organization from its inception in 1993 to become a respected voice within the economic development community.  During her 25-year tenure, Susan oversaw and implemented rebranding efforts, strategic planning, creation of financial partnerships, board development, membership growth, and exceptional programming.  In fulfilling its mission, MassEcon helped 275 companies expand or locate within Massachusetts, adding over 30,000 jobs to the state.

While at MassEcon, Susan was a gubernatorial appointee to the state’s Economic Development Planning Council and a member of the board of the Massachusetts Marketing Partnership.  She currently serves on the boards of JVS (Jewish Vocational Service), New England Economic Partnership, the Town of Brookline’s Economic Development Advisory Board, and as a consultant with ESC, Empower Success Corps.

In her spare time, Susan can be found at her favorite neighborhood haunts – the Brookline Booksmith and Coolidge Corner Theatre. Her favorite childhood book was Plain Girl by Virginia Sorensen. Susan holds an undergraduate degree from Boston University and a Master of City Planning from MIT.

Jonathan Nesbit
Vice President of Global Exchange, State Street Corporation

Jonathan currently oversees compliance and risk management for a division of State Street Corporation that develops software, analytics, research, and advisory products for other multi-national financial institutions. He has experience building and overseeing global teams to manage regulatory and operational risks.  Jonathan previously served as a consultant with experience in retail and financial services industries. He holds a B.A. in English from Rollins College and an M.B.A from Babson College.

Jill Quinby
Audit Senior Manager, Deloitte & Touche

Jill is an Audit Senior Manager at Deloitte & Touche LLP. She has experience serving clients across industries and sectors. During her eleven years with the firm, Jill has served financial services clients, which include investment advisers, broker/dealers, insurance companies, and mutual fund complexes, as well as commercial clients in the retail, manufacturing, technology, and aerospace and defense industries. In this role, she is responsible for the planning, execution, and oversight of financial statement and internal control audits. She has experience serving large, public SEC registrants and managing the execution of complex, high-volume audits in a deadline-driven environment. Jill adds value with her skills in researching technical accounting issues, overseeing firm specialists, supervising and coordinating with international member firms, and through her experience testing the design, implementation, and operating effectiveness of internal controls.

Jill has served as an Investment Management Industry Fellow, working with industry leadership on various technical issues, research, and participated in the Audit Process Transformation group’s investment controls initiative. Additionally, Jill has served as a subject matter expert on a project for the Securities Industry Professional Practice Director focused on best practices for risk assessment, developing analytics, and substantive testing of 12b-1 fees.

Jonathan Slawsby
Owner and COO, Madison Food Corp.

Jonathan is owner and COO of Madison Food Corp. and related companies. In addition to running the day to day operations of his family’s three Boston area supermarkets, Jonathan is also in charge of the company’s expansion. Jonathan is a member of the board of the Massachusetts Food Association and former board member of the Food Marketing institute and One Village at a Time. After receiving his bachelor’s degree from Occidental college in Los Angeles, Jonathan earned his law degree at Suffolk Law and his MBA from ESADE in Barcelona. Jonathan lives in Medfield with his wife.

Shelley Wilson
Marketing Director at PwC

Shelley Wilson is the Marketing Director at PwC US where she leads the marketing team for the firm’s Assurance practice. She has been with PwC US for the past 8 years, and previously spent 20+ years in marketing roles at various technology companies.

After graduating from Virginia Tech, Shelley lived in Virginia and California before settling with her family in Rhode Island in 2005. She has volunteered with local and national organizations focused on under-resourced children and teens and is pleased to join the board of Raising a Reader-MA where she is looking forward to being part of the organization’s mission of closing the literacy opportunity gap that many families face.

One of Shelley’s favorite memories as a parent include the endless hours she spent reading with her children who are now in college. Favorite children’s books include 8 Animals Bake a Cake and My Box or Color.

Community Ambassadors

Morgan Keohane

Jeanette Velez

Raising A Reader MA’s two Community Ambassador positions are leadership roles filled by partners, parents and/or caregivers who liaise between the board of directors and the community that RAR-MA serves. The Community Ambassadors support board and organizational decision making by providing valuable perspectives, sharing their expertise, and actively participating at board and committee meetings.

Alumni Advisory Board Members

Paul Buta
Ann Carter
Helen Clancy
Donna DiFillippo
Steve DiPietro
Jim Frates
Christine Freyermuth
David Gaw
Amanda Hall
Margaret Hall
Joshua Hebert*

Joan Jolley*
Sharad Joshi
Helen Kim
Jess Lutzker
Janet Porter*
David Richter
Rich Rosensweig
Gary Smith
Steve Smith
Lisa Thompson
Robert White
John Simon**

* Alumni Advisory Board Founder and Co-chair

Young Professionals

Emerging Leaders Board

Raising A Reader MA’s Emerging Leaders Board was conceived and established by the Board of Directors as an associate board of young professionals with its own management structure in order to raise awareness of and funds for Raising A Reader MA to young professionals.

The Emerging Leaders Board is a membership based group, whose participants regularly contribute to the progression of the organization’s core mission and develop into potential future leaders, specifically as potential Raising A Reader MA board members.

EL members apply to participate in the group and have a fundraising goal for the year. Applications are reviewed and accepted by the Emerging Leaders Board.

Sarah Curry
Vice President, JLL

Parker Greiwe
Clinical Research Specialist, Boston Children’s Hospital

Chapman Leedy
Senior Associate Analyst, Federal Reserve Bank of Boston – Co-Chair

Bill Hall
Nightshift Brewery

Serene Liu
Software Engineer, Privacy, IBM Resilient

Brendan Rice
Private Aviation Consultant, Magellan Jets

Emily Leinbach
Head of Marketing, The Bowdoin Group – Co-Chair

Ian White
Sales and Leasing Manager, Workbar

Manusha Chereddy
Associate, Harbourvest

Clune Walsh
Administrative Assistant, BCG

Joshua Zeff
Senior Audit Associate, KPMG

Sarah Canavan
Manager, Vynamic

Kelly Newman
Associate, White & Case

Amanda DiMatteo
Attorney, Peabody & Arnold LLP

Annie O’Connell
Communications Director, MassEcon

Chloe Lee
Software Engineer, Jobcase, Inc.

Arwa Jivani
Manager, Development Operations, MGH

Caroline Greiwe
Sales Ops Analyst, iBoss

Maeve Foley
Research Associate, Raines International