Executive DirectorKaren Casanova is passionate about ensuring all students in Minneapolis and St. Paul have access to a high quality education and believes reading proficiency is the critical first step on the path to success. A life-long resident of the Twin Cities, Karen played leadership roles in several arts nonprofit organizations before serving for nearly a decade as part of Target’s corporate social responsibility team.
At Target, Karen held a variety of positions in community relations, including managing a portfolio of arts partnerships, providing strategic direction for employee service and volunteerism programs, and most recently, overseeing K-12 education investments in the Midwest and Northwest region. This experience made her keenly aware of the education inequities facing children in poverty and sparked her desire to make a difference for these kids. She was drawn to the opportunity to launch Reading Partners in the Twin Cities because of the organization’s proven program, volunteer engagement, and entrepreneurial spirit.
Program DirectorBrooke (Hanson) Rivers comes to Reading Partners after spending eight years on the College Possible leadership team, first in the Twin Cities office and then as part of the national office. After receiving degrees in anthropology, Spanish, and English literature from Bethel University, Brooke served two terms as an AmeriCorps VISTA member, developing a passion for service and believing that anyone has the ability to change the world. In 2011, Brooke was awarded the Catalytic Leader of the Year award by the Minnesota Council of Nonprofits for her work in creating, developing and leading College Possible’s College Program. She is excited to be a part of launching Reading Partners Twin Cities and working to help all students have the opportunity to lose themselves in a good book.
Program ManagerWith experience as a classroom and intervention teacher, Katherine Christman is passionate about providing high-quality, individualized education for all students. Katherine has a Masters of Education in curriculum and instruction and taught in both Denver Public Schools and Talkeetna, Alaska. As a Twin Cities native, she is excited to partner with the community to make a positive difference in the lives of students in the Twin Cities.
Program ManagerAsha Farah is a former language arts teacher and Peace Corps volunteer. She received her master’s degree in language, reading and culture from the University of Arizona where her focus was on literacy and second language acquisition. She's very excited about the mission of Reading Partners because she knows that individualized instruction is the key to unlocking children’s potential and that volunteers help students build confidence and develop a love of reading.
Development ManagerGraham Sutherland is a development professional with a strong commitment to social justice and education equity in the Twin Cities. He believes that a love of reading can unlock the potential to become powerful self-advocates and lifelong learners. Prior to joining Reading Partners, Graham worked in development in the realm of college access and success with College Possible. Originally from Seattle, Graham earned his bachelor’s degree from Macalester College in Saint Paul, MN.
Community Engagement Team
Ini Augustine, Volunteer Coordinator
Caitlin Ignasiak, Volunteer Coordinator
Kelly Rynda, Volunteer Engagement VISTA
Regional Site Coordinators
Matt Ervin, Regional Site Coordinator, Minneapolis schools
Grace Herndon, Regional Site Coordinator, St. Paul schools
Ellie Patterson, Ascension Catholic School, Minneapolis
Susan Banaszewski, Benjamin E. Mays International Magnet School, St. Paul
Kari Heistad, Bethune Community School, Minneapolis
Kyle Decker, Cityview Community School, Minneapolis
Blaishia Lee, Elizabeth Hall International Elementary School, Minneapolis
Sarah Arena, Hamline Elementary School, St. Paul
Ashley Jensen, Lyndale Community School, Minneapolis
Tonio Gonzales, Maxfield Elementary School, St. Paul
Matt Abbott, Northeast College Prep, Minneapolis
Emily Culhane, Phalen Lake Hmong Studies Elementary School, St. Paul