Christine was appointed Executive Director in October 2017, having originally joined Raising A Reader MA as Operations Manager in January 2010. Her passion for reading and empowering parents is supported by her volunteer work, raising her own two boys, and now as the leader of Raising A Reader MA.
Other charitable work includes serving as a coach for Babson’s Coaching and Leadership for Teamwork Program, 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.
Previously, Christine worked as a Vice President for Progress Partners, an investment bank and corporate advisory firm. With an MBA from the F.W. Olin Graduate School of Business at Babson College, and a concentration in marketing, Christine is passionate about Raising A Reader MA’s goal to end the literacy opportunity gap and excited to share her enthusiasm and entrepreneurial ideas with donors, partners, volunteers and her dedicated team. A few of her favorite children’s books include Wild About Books and The Story of Ferdinand.
Katee joined the Raising A Reader MA team in February 2020. She has enjoyed her entire career learning from children and families and supporting them in a variety of pediatric settings including childcare, home visiting, and child welfare.
Katee is a National Certified Counselor with an undergraduate degree from Brandeis University and a graduate degree in Counseling and School Psychology, specializing in Early Childhood Counseling and Child Development. Her clinical interests include adoption, early childhood mental health, assessment, children’s literature, and early literacy. Several of Katee’s favorite picture books include I Feel a Foot!, NOT A BOX, and MEAN SOUP.
Benjy joined the Raising A Reader MA team in January 2022, bringing 20+ years of development and community engagement experience. Prior to RAR-MA, he served in a leadership role at the historical society in his hometown of Newton, MA, where his favorite program was a weekly book-and-craft series for young kids, focusing on literacy, history, and play.
As the parent of two creative and hilarious kids, his favorite time of day is reading to/with them before bedtime. Two books they particularly enjoy together are Happy Birthday, Madame Chapeau, by Andrea Beaty, and Matt de la Peña’s Last Stop on Market Street. Benjy’s experience understanding and advocating for dyslexic family members drives his personal passion for the mission of RAR-MA.
Benjy is a graduate of Brandeis University, with degrees in African/African-American Studies and Women’s Studies, which are part and parcel of his interest in 20th and 21st century civil rights. As a former radio DJ, Benjy’s love of books and libraries (engrained in him by his parents, a teacher and a librarian) is surpassed only by his love for music, particularly that of independent artists.
When reading on his own, Benjy absolutely loved Dan Harmon’s Bottom of the 33rd about the longest professional baseball game ever played. Benjy is married to Lindsey, who is certainly more well read than he is, and he once ran into Big Papi in Sweetgreen.
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 MA 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.
Through her efforts with the Raising A Reader MA initiatives, Tasha was awarded by local congress, the 2017 Unsung Heroine of Massachusetts Award. Recently, Tasha was awarded ‘Orgullo Boricua’ recognition, issued by the Instituto Cultural de Puerto Rico, Inc on Oct 2021 for her work contributions and service to the Lawrence community.
Some of her All-Time favorite books are The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein and the Little Vampire series, from Angela Sommer-Bodenburg.
Maria joined the Raising A Reader MA 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.
Guadalupe was introduced to Raising A Reader MA through a playgroup her two children attended. Later, she became a facilitator at that playgroup. In 2013, Guadalupe joined Raising A Reader MA as a Parent Ambassador.
When she was a child, she had no books at home, but her father read the newspaper together with her every night. This experience has motivated her to reach parents and show them the importance of reading.
Her childhood dream was to become a teacher. She is still looking forward to start her education in Early Childhood soon. Being a Parent Ambassador opened a new path for Guadalupe to help her community, and she eventually became a staff member as Parent Liaison, helping to coordinate all of the Parent Ambassadors.
In the fall of 2018, Guadalupe was promoted once again to a full-time position as Program Coordinator, and in August 2019 to Program Manager serving Greater Boston. She feels grateful to contribute to such a wonderful organization.
Some of her favorite children’s books now include Froggy Gets Dress, Snuggle Puppy of Mine, The Very Hungry Bear and The Red Ripe Strawberry.
Catalina joined Raising A Reader MA in February 2019, thrilled to be using her passion for education and love of books to support the children and families of Boston. She brings years of experience working as a Program Administrator and Instructor in a variety of nonprofit, education and service organizations–focusing on bridging gaps, providing support and having a positive impact on others’ learning. Working with people of diverse cultures and from underserved communities has always been a priority and pleasure of hers.
As a lifelong learner, she loves to travel and has great memories of living in Costa Rica and studying abroad in Puerto Rico and France. She holds an MA in Teaching for Elementary Education and a BA in Psychology, and is certified to Teach English as a Second Language. Catalina is grateful to her father for always readingtoher and her sistersas children, especially The Five Chinese Brothers (by Claire Huchet Bishop and Kurt Wiese), and enjoyed reading books by Sandra Boynton and Barefoot Books to her own daughters.
Isaí joined Raising A Reader MA at the end of 2019 as the Program Coordinator for Greater Boston. He comes with over 6 years of teaching and coordination experience. Throughout his career he has worked with people from all over the world as an English and Spanish instructor. He’s passionate about languages and one of his goals is to become a polyglot. He has a bachelor’s degree in Teaching English as a Second Language and recently finished a certification as a medical interpreter.
He fondly remembers sharing books with his grandmother, some of his favorite books to read when he was young include Where the Wild Things Are, The Little Prince, Robinson Crusoe and all sort of comic books. He personally identifies with RAR-MA mission of closing the literacy opportunity gap by empowering families to develop shared reading routines. He’s motivated to reach families and help them realize the value of reading for young children.
Tara is proud to return to Raising A Reader MA in 2020 as the Grants Manager. She was previously the organization’s Founding Program Manager in Boston, where she worked with partners, parents, implementers, and other community agencies to deliver RAR-MA’s dual interventions. An unquenchable love of books, learning, and words was fostered through the home reading routines of her own childhood, providing Tara with an initial passion for, and personal understanding of, the role that literacy and family engagement play in a child’s development. Adding that to her own unique program team experiences allows Tara to bring new depth to grant narratives as RAR-MA continues to confront education inequities in Massachusetts.
Tara graduated from Northeastern University with a BA in International Affairs, having leveraged a scholarship into opportunities to study in the Dominican Republic, Egypt, and Cuba, as well as participate in an Arab-Western student conference on women’s issues in Abu Dhabi. She later earned a Master of Arts in Teaching from University of Notre Dame of Maryland in 2012, teaching general and special education in Baltimore City for several years. Tara’s work experiences have centered around youth programming and education, including roles at Hyde Square Task Force, Sociedad Latina, Massachusetts State House, Baltimore City Public Schools, and Boys and Girls Clubs of Lancaster.
She joins the team remotely from Pennsylvania, where Tara also continues to invest time in local community organizing efforts, empowering youth civic engagement, thinking about how the structures of our society contribute to oppression, and advocating for the role of education as a transformative power for individuals, communities, and the entire world.
Will joined Raising A Reader MA in November of 2021. When he was 7, he informed his mother that he did not need to complete his math homework because he was “more of a words guy anyways.”
Upon graduating with a marketing degree from Emerson College, he spent the better part of his twenties working in schools with grades PreK-8th and as a special education aide. He has experience as a coach and camp leader and is happy to explain how to make ice cream out of ziploc bags, rock salt and half & half. That, unsurprisingly, was the hit of science camp. His work with 3-6 year olds allowed him to pursue one of his true passions, doing silly voices as he reads aloud.
After reading his first book, Go Dogs, Go!, he continued to voraciously consume the written word. He credits his parents’ love of reading and writing, an early introduction to Shel Silverstein and Roald Dahl, and a strong humanities education for his comfort in and abilities around communication – and his tendency towards the ridiculous and verbose.
Will has his Master’s degree in Management from Lesley University and enjoys reading in the woods or on his deck with his wife and dog, Sherlock Bones, P.I. His favorite children’s authors are Jon Sciezka (The Stinky Cheese Man), Eric Carle, and Sandra Boynton. Some of his other favorites are If You Give A Moose A Muffin, Where the Wild Things Are, and Make Way For Ducklings.
Will McMahon Development and Communications Manager
Executive Administrator and Data Analytics Manager
Passionate about lifelong learning, Lindsay Woods graduated from George Washington University with a Bachelor of Arts in International Affairs in 2014, minoring in Spanish and Sociocultural Anthropology. Following graduation, Lindsay spent five years working in state government programming focused on creating systems of support for individuals arriving to the United States with refugee status.
In 2020, Lindsay turned her focus towards the role of libraries as community connectors, pursuing a Masters degree in Library Science from Texas Woman’s University, working as a Library Assistant with a local public library, and gaining an increased appreciation of the role of parents and caregivers as their child’s first teachers.
Lindsay Woods Executive Administrator and Data Analytics Manager
Claudia was born in El Salvador and lived there until the age of 25. There she studied Modern Languages, French and English at the University of El Salvador. In 2021 she moved to the United States. She is the proud mom of two beautiful children and a Sunday school teacher at her church.
Claudia loves working with kids. She was introduced to Raising A Reader Massachusetts’ Red Bookbag in 2016 through a play group, when her oldest was four years old and younger daughter was one. Story time was always their favorite part. In 2018, she began to volunteer as a community ambassador with RARMA.
Since then, she has been learning and sharing the importance and the impact of early literacy. She especially loves to read books with no word to kids, where they can create their own stories. Some of her favorite children’s books are: I Really Like Slop by Mo Willems, The Little Red Hen, and The Secret Garden.
Claudia Chavarria Community Ambassador Coordinator
Nicolas Howayeck joined Raising a Reader MA in the fall of 2020 as an intern. He currently studies at the University of Massachusetts – Amherst as a Philosophy and Comparative Literature double-major. Within his coursework he has studied children’s literature and takes part in a Service-Learning program that engages with social activist work, with an emphasis on education.
Nicolas works as a Peer Advisor for the Bloom Honors Advising Center at his school, has served as a volunteer at the People Inc. Children’s Center in Fall River, has taught Philosophy to elementary students as part of his studies, and also volunteers as a foster-care case reviewer for the Department of Children and Families.
Nicolas was always fond of literature and remembers Percy Jackson and Harry Potter being his first introductions to fantasy worlds. He wants to bring his love of books to others and help children achieve literacy through exposure to new stories. Nicolas is excited to work with a team who shares a passion for activism and education, and looks forward to working with RAR-MA communities.