Karen A. Gardner
Executive Director, Washington, DCKaren joined Reading Partners in 2015. She brings 12 years of experience leading high-performing teams in the nonprofit sector, driven by the desire to close the opportunity gap for low-income students. Early in her career, she taught pre-K and served as an AmeriCorps member in Washington, DC with Higher Achievement, an academic enrichment program for middle school students. She stayed with Higher Achievement for five years after her AmeriCorps term as the organization prepared for national expansion. Most notably, she created Higher Achievement's volunteer management department from the ground up and co-authored the organization's signature Culture Policy. In recent years, Karen managed a consulting practice for nonprofit and government entities, working primarily to develop systems for volunteer management, training, and development, and HR management. Before joining Reading Partners, Karen served as a program manager at Family Services of Western PA, where she was responsible for leading her teams to exceed statewide service-delivery goals and secured major, multi-year funding for the organization. Karen has a bachelor's degree in education from Ball State University and a master’s in business administration from The George Washington University with concentrations in organizational development and nonprofit management. She is a volunteer reading partner and a former advisory board member for Higher Achievement. Email Karen Gardner - firstname.lastname@example.org.
Senior Program Manager, Program ImplementationBolanle’s passion for educating youth developed when she volunteered as a mentor for a multicultural student organization in college. As a mentor, Bolanle quickly realized the importance of providing students with a supportive and encouraging environment to learn and grow in. Bolanle now joins Reading Partners Washington, DC as a program manager after four years of teaching at a charter school through Urban Teacher Center (UTC). She received her bachelor’s in psychology with a minor in Africana studies from Binghamton University, and a master’s in elementary and special education from Lesley University. Bolanle is excited to be part of a national literacy organization that focuses on improving the reading skills and confidence levels of students.
Development DirectorCielo Contreras is a nonprofit fundraising professional with expertise and experience with youth-serving and education organizations. Prior to joining Reading Partners, Cielo was the director of development for the Spanish Education Development (SED) Center and worked as the development manager for local after-school programs including 826DC and DC SCORES. She also served as the special events chair of the board of directors of the Young Nonprofit Professionals Network DC Chapter. Cielo has a master’s in public administration with a concentration in nonprofit management from The George Washington University and a bachelor’s in sociology from Rice University.
Program ManagerAbby’s passion for reading and literacy began at a young age as an only child who realized the world could open up through books and stories. Throughout college, Abby worked as a camp counselor and her desire to work with children began there. After receiving a bachelor’s degree in interdisciplinary studies from Texas A&M University, she worked in both secondary and elementary schools as a reading and writing teacher. While teaching, she obtained a master’s degree in library and information sciences from the University of North Texas. After five years in the classroom, Abby worked as a school librarian. She is excited to have a larger impact on education and students with Reading Partners DC!
Program ManagerAnna Greenstone is happy to join Reading Partners DC as a program manager. Anna has worked with children and youth in settings ranging from the classroom to experiential learning programs in rural villages of Tanzania. Anna has spent the last three years as an elementary school teacher in DC. Before moving into the education field, Anna worked in refugee resettlement in Pittsburgh, PA, her hometown. Anna holds a Master of Science in Education in international educational development from the University of Pennsylvania and her bachelor’s in anthropology and Africana studies from the University of Pittsburgh.
Program DirectorShannon Kane began her career working in international development focusing on women and education before joining the inaugural cohort of DC Teaching Fellows. Since then, Shannon has spent time as a classroom teacher in traditional public and public charter schools in Washington DC, an instructional coach, curriculum writer, professional developer/consultant, teacher researcher, and adjunct professor. She earned her doctorate in reading, writing, and literacy from the University of Pennsylvania and also holds master’s degrees in international development and elementary education/TESOL. While earning her doctorate, Shannon worked as a new teacher mentor and supervisor for the school district of Philadelphia. Her research interests include critical literacy, literacy pedagogy, teacher resilience, and teacher leadership. Prior to joining Reading Partners, Shannon worked as the director of teacher certification at the Center for Inspired Teaching.
Special Projects AssociateRoopa Kosuri is excited to join Reading Partners DC. She has worked in development and operations with acclaimed dance companies such as RIOULT in New York City and more recently, 277 Dance Project. She has her Bachelor in Fine Art from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and her Master in Fine Art from Parsons School of Design and has worked in several creative mediums including fashion, film, painting, installation, and printmaking. She continues to make and exhibit art. Roopa believes that learning to read is a major tool in a child’s creativity and is eager to bring her experience and creative perspective to help Reading Partners DC’s students.
Individual Giving ManagerA native of Los Angeles, California, Aurora first moved to Washington, DC to attend Howard University where she studied business. After graduating with a Bachelor of Business Adminstration in Management, she realized working with very young children was truly where her passion lies, so she moved back to Los Angeles and began a 20-year career as an early childhood and elementary school teacher. After moving back to Washington, DC, Aurora returned to the early childhood level, where in less than two years, she was promoted to Director of Development for an early childhood education center. She is thrilled to join Reading Partners and continue supporting children and education through the organization's fundraising efforts.
Data and Evaluation AssociateAfter serving as an AmeriCorps site coordinator with Reading Partners DC for two years, Katie joins our team as our data and evaluation associate. Katie received her bachelor’s from Dickinson College where she studied international relations concentrating in national security. She also represented The Garden State as Miss New Jersey 2011 where she worked closely with children’s Miracle Network Hospitals. Starting in 2008, she championed a project called Reading for the Right Reasons. The project’s goals were to build the personal libraries of students attending Title I schools in New Jersey and to get students excited about reading.
Development ManagerAfter Mike Robbins graduated from Western Connecticut State University with a bachelor's degree in English literature, he embarked on two years of national service with AmeriCorps VISTA. He strongly believes in the transformative power of national service and one-on-one tutoring for struggling readers, so when he found out that Reading Partners does both, he knew where he wanted to be. Mike came to Reading Partners during his second AmeriCorps VISTA term and is excited to contribute to Reading Partners DC’s overall mission of closing the opportunity gap for DC’s elementary students.
Senior Program Manager, Student ImpactWashington, DC Program Manager, Rebecca Schmidt, comes to Reading Partners after eight years of teaching in DC Public Schools. She received her bachelor's degree from Grinnell College, Iowa, and her Master of Education from George Washington University, and has taught in traditional public, bilingual, and charter schools in DC since. In each context, Rebecca helped to guide students to become successful advocates for themselves and their communities, beginning with a strong foundation in literacy. Rebecca is excited to serve even more students and schools in DC this year.
Community Engagement DirectorNaomi is thrilled to work with Reading Partners after serving two years as an AmeriCorps site and volunteer coordinator. She graduated with distinction from Stanford University with a major in comparative studies in race and ethnicity and a focus in public service. Her community-based honors thesis research explored how ethnicity, race, class, and neighborhood context shape students’ understandings of service and civic engagement. Naomi’s passion for service and education have led her to work with youth of all ages in Madrid, Cape Town, California, and northeast Washington, DC.
Program ManagerJoshua Vallejos graduated from Monmouth University in West Long Branch, New Jersey, with a bachelor’s in political science. After graduating, he did three years of service with AmeriCorps—one with City Year Denver and two with Reading Partners DC. Josh’s experience as a site coordinator increased his passion for education and the positive impact nonprofits can have on a community. During 2015-16, Josh worked as a program associate with Reading Partners North Texas and managed a portfolio of schools and AmeriCorps members. In July 2016, Joshua rejoined the DC team as a program manager and is excited to continue helping students become lifelong readers.
Program ManagerMegan Waters graduated from the University of Southern California with a bachelor’s degree in political science and history. After working as a kindergarten aide, she realized the importance of early literacy intervention and joined Reading Partners Los Angeles as an AmeriCorps member. Born and raised in Maryland, she returned to the east coast to serve a second term with Reading Partners in Washington, DC. Megan is excited to continue her work with the incredible students and dedicated tutors of the thriving community of our nation’s capital.
Community Engagement AssociateRachel Woods attended Middlebury College in Vermont where she majored in political science. While at Middlebury, she was inspired to pursue a career in nonprofits through an internship in her college's Community Engagement department. After college, she served two terms as an AmeriCorps volunteer coordinator with Reading Partners DC. Rachel is excited to continue building relationships with communities and volunteers all over the city in her new role as community engagement associate.
Makia Green, Senior Volunteer Coordinator
Shawn Wilds, Senior Volunteer Coordinator
Rosa Bangura, Volunteer Coordinator
Maria McLean, Development and Communications Coordinator
Lisa Abualy, Site Coordinator
Kevin Walker, Site Coordinator
Jake Thomas, Site Coordinator
Alima Shaw, Site Coordinator
Erin Weber, Site Coordinator
Emily Clark, Site Coordinator
Christina Ruffin, Senior Site Coordinator
Billy Cerullo, Senior Site Coordinator
Kassia Massey, Site Coordinator
Ashley Williams, Site Coordinator
Patrick Lukulay, Site Coordinator
Alonna Rankin, Senior Site Coordinator
Krystal Gilmore, Site Coordinator
Shani Campbell, Site Coordinator
Amber Cilitti, Site Coordinator
Jordan Kelly, Senior Site Coordinator
Erika Brosnihan, Senior Site Coordinator
Anna Rabideau, Site Coordinator
Taylor Hicks, Senior Site Coordinator
Rebecca Ackerman, Site Coordinator
Kim Cassada, Senior Regional Site Coordinator
Kat Riley, Regional Site Coordinator
Alexi Stewart, Regional Site Coordinator
Jessi Courier, Regional Site Coordinator
Samantha Kendall, Regional Site Coordinator
Goutham Reddy, Literacy Lead
Donna Aguilar, Literacy Lead
Sara Reyes, Senior Literacy Lead
Justin Johnson, Literacy Lead
Amalia Mendoza, Literacy Lead
Helene Pinto, Literacy Lead
Esthella Kamara, Literacy Lead
Jade Jackson, Literacy Lead
Cindy Amuzie, Literacy Lead
Kortney Hall, Literacy Lead
Johnesha Warren, Literacy Lead
Sade Oseni, Literacy Lead
Cindy Saavedra, Literacy Lead
Brae Blackley, founder and president of Premier Sports Productions, LLC, left a promising career in corporate law to follow her dream for a national women’s half marathon event series. Brae founded ZOOMA in July 2007. Now, ZOOMA is a growing national series of women’s running events with a booming following among active women and an exciting line up of events in cities across the United States. In 2005, Brae and her husband, Seth, founded a nonprofit humanitarian organization called Friends of Penyem dedicated to improving the lives of the people in a village in The Gambia, West Africa. Since its founding, Friends of Penyem has funded over 25 scholarships, built a village library, and funded a solar-powered water system to bring clean water to the village.
Brae earned her Doctor of Law from The George Washington Law School in Washington, DC, and her Bachelor of Arts from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Prior to founding Premier Sports, Brae worked as a corporate transactional attorney at Ropes & Gray LLC in Boston. She lives in Arlington, Virginia, with her husband, Seth, and two daughters, Davis and Dre
Ian Cameron has more than 25 years experience in broadcast television news. Most recently he was executive producer of ABC News’ This Week with George Stephanopoulos. Prior to This Week, Ian was Washington senior producer for ABC World News for eight years. With a bachelor’s in communications from Stanford University and an master’s of science in international relations from the London School of Economics, Ian started his television journalism career in local news in California before moving back to Canada where he became a senior broadcast executive with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. As senior producer of World News Tonight with Peter Jennings, Ian was recognized with the prestigious Peabody Award. In addition to serving on the board of Reading Partners, Washington DC, Ian is also a member of the Board of Trustees at Maret, an independent school in Washington, DC. He is married with two children.
Lois has been a dedicated supporter of Reading Partners since 2014 as a volunteer, donor, and member of the Sustainability Committee. Prior to her retirement in 2009, Lois was an injury epidemiologist with the National Center for Health Statistics for 32 years. She holds a bachelor’s degree from The George Washington University and a master’s degree from Georgetown University. She is a past member of the Georgetown Day School board of trustees, having served during the years her two sons attended the school. In addition to her commitments to Reading Partners, Lois serves on the Adas Israel social action committee currently as chair of the gun violence prevention team, she is a Theater J council member, and she records books for the visually impaired through Learning Ally. Lois and her husband Michael are both Reading Partners volunteers, Nationals season ticket holders, and theater enthusiasts. They have two sons, David and Josh, who live in Colorado and California, respectively.
Tina L. Fletcher holds a bachelor’s degree in political science and African American studies from the University of Arkansas and a master’s degree in teacher education from Harvard University. Before entering politics, Tina served as a US History and US Government teacher at Anacostia High School in Washington, DC, where she was named the 2010 Teacher of the Year. She also served as a fundraiser and successfully raised a record amount of funds for President Barack Obama’s 2012 re-election campaign and Lt. Governor Anthony Brown’s 2014 gubernatorial campaign. She currently serves as a community engagement specialist for the District of Columbia where she assists city leaders with their efforts to better engage the district’s most underserved communities and residents.
Tina also serves as an Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner (ANC) in the Historic Anacostia neighborhood, is a reading partner at Martin Luther King Jr. Elementary School, and serves as the Ward 8 Education Council’s Secretary. She was most recently named a Rising Political Leader by EmPower Magazine.
Simone Frederick is the First Lady of Howard University. Born in Trinidad and Tobago, she earned a Bachelor of Science degree in computer science and management from the University of West Indies. Professionally, she has worked in the healthcare information technology industry. Mrs. Frederick is passionate about education, community service and the arts. She volunteers at Beauvoir – The National Cathedral Elementary School and St. Albans School where her daughter and son are enrolled.
She is married to surgeon, scholar and Howard University’s 17th President, Dr. Wayne A.I. Frederick. They reside in Cabin John, Maryland.
Mimi has been a Reading Partners tutor and board member since the organization came to Washington, DC, six years ago. Prior to Reading Partners, her focus had been on raising her four children and being a devoted volunteer at the schools they attended, St. Patrick’s Episcopal Day School and Maret School. Mimi’s experience with Reading Partners and her development work at her children’s schools made her realize that her passion lies in early childhood literacy. The impact of the one-on-one connection between student and tutor is hard to deny. She has greatly enjoyed watching Reading Partners’ young students become not only proficient readers, but eager readers.
Harry Jaffe has been a reporter for over five decades, covering the local Washington region, honing in on politics, true crime, and media. As Washingtonian’s national editor from 1990 on, he won many awards for investigative feature writing. Harry’s exposé of toxic waste pits from World War I in DC’s Spring Valley triggered a $300-million ongoing cleanup. With WRC-TV reporter Tom Sherwood, Harry co-authored Dream City: Race, Power and the Decline of Washington, DC, the definitive account of Washington’s emergence as a world-class city, with Marion Barry as the main character. Harry also collaborated with school reformer Michelle Rhee on Radical, her memoir and take on education in America. He followed that by collaborating with former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and Michael Kelly, her astronaut husband, in their book ENOUGH; Our Fight to Keep America Safe from Gun Violence. Harry’s work has been published in Playboy, Yahoo News, Men’s Health, Harper’s, Esquire, and newspapers from the San Francisco Examiner to the Philadelphia Inquirer.
As an educator, Harry started lecturing at Georgetown University in 1984 and became an assistant professor of media studies at American University. In 1986, he taught journalism and media at the American University in Rome.
Raël Nelson James
Raël Nelson James is associate director, diversity and inclusion at the Bridgespan Group. Raël has nearly fifteen years of experience building and facilitating diversity programs; board recruiting; public speaking; leading organizational growth; fundraising; managing programs; planning events; and successfully cultivating and managing relationships. Prior to Bridgespan, Raël was director of recruiting and diversity at Charter Board Partners (CBP), a DC-based company that works to make sure that all kids have access to an excellent school by partnering with charter school boards to offer candidate recruiting and matching, as well as personalized coaching; strategic tools and resources; and networking and training opportunities to board chairs, school leaders, and board members. Raël was the first-ever executive director of LIFT-D.C. where she expanded the antipoverty organization into the District’s bilingual communities and east of the Anacostia River. Raël managed KIPP D.C.’s foundation and corporate relations and served as the program director at Operation Understanding D.C., a leadership development and dialogue program for Black and Jewish high school students.
Raël is a native Washingtonian who holds a bachelor’s degree in political science from Tufts University. She, also, sits on the board at Capital City Public Charter School.
Mary Stuart McCamy
Mary Stuart grew up in Atlanta where an early mentor taught her about the opportunity gap through a learning exchange program in some of the city’s most challenging neighborhoods. Since then, she has sought volunteer opportunities at home and abroad as a literacy tutor for children, adults, and second language learners. Mary Stuart has tutored at several Reading Partners sites over the years and is currently a volunteer at Patterson Elementary in Ward 8.
Mary Stuart moved to Washington, DC, after graduating cum laude from Davidson College with a bachelor’s in French. She has since pursued additional graduate studies in language and linguistics at Georgetown and George Washington Universities. Before raising her four children full-time, Mary Stuart served as legislative assistant to US Senator Wyche Fowler, Jr. (D-GA) for energy, environment, appropriations, and historic preservation issues. She then worked as Washington coordinator for a number of nonprofit organizations, including the Greater Yellowstone Coalition and Keepers of the Treasures, a national Native American cultural heritage association.
Manar Morales is currently President and CEO of the Diversity and Flexibility Alliance, a think tank dedicated to creating work environments centered on inclusion and innovative thought leadership. Manar also serves on a number of boards, including the Washington Advisory Council for Commonsense Media, the President’s Council of Cornell Women, the ABA Commission on Women in the Profession, and St. Patrick’s Episcopal Day School. Manar is also a past board member of Everybody Wins! USA (national board) and former adjunct faculty member of Georgetown University where she taught classes in Labor and Employment law and Entrepreneurship. More information about Manar can be found here.
Jeannie Musslewhite is currently an assistant director in the Office of Career Strategy at Georgetown University Law Center. Her primary responsibilities include advising students and alumni on their judicial clerkship and career goals. Previously, Jeannie practiced corporate law for King & Spalding in Atlanta, Georgia, and Vinson & Elkins in Dallas, Texas, where she was active in both firms’ lateral and summer associate recruiting programs. She has been a Reading Partners tutor and currently serves as chair of the Governance Committee. Jeannie has, also, been an active volunteer at her children’s schools, serving as co-chair of the Financial Aid Auction at St. Patrick’s Episcopal Day School and co-chair of the St. Albans Christmas House Tour. Jeannie received a Juris Doctor from Harvard Law School, a master’s in educational sciences from the University of Amsterdam, and a bachelor’s in psychology and communication from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Ann Rakestraw is assistant general counsel at Verizon where she practices litigation. Before joining Verizon, she worked as a litigation attorney at Williams & Connolly. Ann received her bachelor’s degree from the University of Virginia, graduating with distinction with a double major in English and religious studies. She obtained her juris doctor from the University of Virginia where she was elected Order of the Coif.
Many of Ann’s volunteer efforts have focused on education and literacy. In addition to her work with Reading Partners, Ann volunteers at her children’s school, St. Patrick’s Episcopal Day School, where she has served in various roles, including on auction committees, as a room parent, and serving on the executive committee of the Parents Association. She created and runs an annual book drive at St. Patrick’s, distributing books to local schools and literacy organizations. Ann and her husband, Steven Farina, have three children and live in Washington, DC.
William Rosenau, Ph.D.
Bill is a senior research scientist at CNA, a nonprofit research and analysis center in Arlington, Virginia. Before joining CNA, Bill served in the RAND Corporation’s International Security Policy department; as chair of RAND’s Insurgency Board; as a policy adviser to the coordinator for counterterrorism, US Department of State; as a professional staff member on the Department of Defense Commission on Roles and Missions of the Armed Forces; as a special assistant to the assistant secretary of defense for special operations and low-intensity conflict; and as research coordinator at the National Security Program at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. Bill has, also, been an adjunct professor in the Security Studies Program, Walsh School of Foreign Service, Georgetown University.
Sid Smith is a senior advisor to Bellwether, focusing on issues of talent and entrepreneurship. He is the founder and president of SRS Counsel PLLC, a solo law practice that provides virtual general counsel services on a range of corporate and transactional matters. He is also a co-founder of Discourse Analytics, Inc., a data analytics company launched in 2011 that enhances audience messaging and activation by building issue-weighted profiles of individuals and providing micro-segmenting of groups, audiences, and communities based on common activation points.
Sid is a member of the Board of the Pahara Institute and the University of the District of Columbia, David A. Clarke School of Law Foundation. He was also involved with the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE), served as chair of the Multicultural Affairs Committee on the Phillips Academy, Andover Alumni Council, and as pro bono counsel for The Seed School of Washington, D.C. He is a charter member of The Marathon Foundation, an organization focused on increasing investment of capital into businesses with significant minority ownership or management. Sid graduated from Yale with a bachelor’s in English where he was a member of the varsity basketball team and received his J.D. from the University of Virginia School of Law.
Stuart Stein is a partner at Hogan Lovells in Washington, DC. Having joined Hogan in 1987, Stuart is the immediate past Global Head of the Hogan Lovells Corporate Practice Group. His background includes being a Certified Public Accountant, and his law practice primarily involves representing clients in a variety of corporate and securities matters, including mergers and acquisitions, initial and follow-on public offerings, and other public and private financing transactions.
Stuart is married to Joy Stein, and has two daughters – one a sophomore in college and the other a recent college graduate and working in Los Angeles, California. Stuart and his family are avid Washington, DC sports fans, and very tied into our community through charity and activities.
Margery Yeager is currently the chief of staff to DC Deputy Mayor for Education Jennifer Niles. In this role, she helps coordinate education policy in Washington, DC, for students from age 0-24. Previously, Margery was a senior policy advisor at EducationCounsel, an affiliate of Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough. In this capacity, she provided assistance to clients at state education agencies and other entities to inform, guide, and facilitate the process of policy change around Common Core State Standards implementation, school and district accountability, and educator evaluation. Prior to this, she was special assistant to the chancellor at DC Public Schools where she managed student recruitment and enrollment, intra-district school choice, and school closures. Margery has published articles on No Child Left Behind flexibility provisions and the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP). Margery began her career as a second-grade teacher at Simon Elementary in Washington, DC, with Teach for America. She received her Bachelor of Arts from Tufts University summa cum laude and her Master of Public Policy from the Harvard Kennedy School with thesis honors.