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June 14, 2020

Transition message from Reading Partners' CEO

To the Reading Partners community,

I write to you with bittersweet news. After nearly three and a half years leading Reading Partners, I will be stepping down as CEO at the end of June. One of the many reasons I was inspired to lead Reading Partners was that after years of rapid growth to new regions across the country, Reading Partners needed to focus on financial sustainability and position itself for strategic scaling in the future. Since this organizational need fell squarely within my professional sweet spot, I was excited to have been selected.  

Since joining the organization in February 2017, I’m proud to say that collectively we have accomplished a great deal together:

  • We developed a new strategic plan centered on educational equity and diversity, equity, and inclusion
  • We solidified our financial standing (including delivering surpluses in each of the last three years)
  • We expanded our brand awareness
  • We celebrated two decades of providing support to students and communities
  • And most recently, we navigated the seismic disruptions created by the global coronavirus pandemic to develop innovative program solutions that meet students’ literacy needs regardless of where they are physically learning 

With those organizational achievements realized, and amid the onset of COVID-19 that clearly exposed societal disparities that are disproportionately impacting communities of color, I have decided that now is the time to shift my focus. A core issue that has been a personal and professional goal of mine for years is disrupting systemic racism by increasing equity and access to help communities of color ensure they have access to their most basic needs. While I made the decision to transition months ago, the work I am planning to take on has gained highlighted urgency in light of the widespread calls for racial equality and justice over the past several weeks. On the education front, knowing all too well how systemic oppression and cyclical poverty impact the starting point for underserved children in our education system, I know that my future work will complement Reading Partners’ ongoing mission. As such, I very much look forward to identifying opportunities going forward to collaborate with Reading Partners on shared education and literacy-focused priorities.

While COVID-19 and the resulting school shutdowns created major challenges at the end of this school year, given the proactive measures we’ve taken since March, I am confident that the organization and its talented staff stands ready and able to continue positively impacting students heading into the summer and next school year.

Taking into account my transition and the rapidly changing nature of our programmatic work during this unpredictable public health crisis, the board has wisely decided that they will begin the CEO search within six months and the organization will be best served in the near term by an internal leader. They have appointed Sue Slater, our chief regional operations officer, to act as interim CEO working in close collaboration with the rest of our executive team. As articulated in the statement below from Reading Partners’ national board chair, Dan Carroll, the board will provide its full support to Sue, the executive team, and our capable staff to ensure Reading Partners’ continued success.

Finally, I want to close with a special message to everyone in the Reading Partners community, from volunteer tutors to donors to school and community partners to board members to staff and AmeriCorps members. I am so very grateful for your continued commitment to Reading Partners and the thousands of wonderful students we serve across the country. This organization truly matters — life trajectories would be different without us, and I mean all of us. Your support, in all its forms, fuels our literacy movement and I am honored and humbled to have been able to lead Reading Partners for the past several years.

While I will no longer lead the organization after June 30, I will remain a champion of its work and mission forever. 

With great respect,

karine_apollon

Karine Apollon
CEO, Reading Partners


From Dan Carroll, national board chair for Reading Partners

“While we are very sad to see Karine transition from Reading Partners, we are encouraged that she will be dedicating her talents to supporting the same communities that our organization works so hard to lift up through the power of literacy and opportunity. We are also forever grateful to Karine for the lasting contributions she has made to Reading Partners during her tenure, chiefly the path she has put us on towards financial sustainability. There are tens of thousands of students every year whose lives are improved through Reading Partners’ literacy programs and Karine has helped ensure that our sphere of positive influence will continue to expand in the years to come. Thank you, Karine!

The responsibility for carrying on Karine’s work at Reading Partners will most immediately be passed to Sue Slater and the rest of the executive team, and the board is enthusiastic about continuing to support this team of leaders. We have much to tackle and realize together in the coming months, and look forward to an even stronger partnership between the national board, our regional advisory boards, our executive team and the accomplished and committed Reading Partners staff. Sue Slater brings a wealth of leadership, strategy, and operational experience to the interim CEO role (not to mention six years of experience working in a range of leadership roles at Reading Partners). The board and I have full confidence in Sue’s leadership in partnership with the executive team to lead this incredible organization through a period of critical program innovation that will ensure ongoing student performance growth. Please join me in welcoming Sue to this new role and I encourage everyone to learn more about Sue’s background and the rest of the executive team on our website.” 

Americorps

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