Executive director, South CarolinaDyrell joins Reading Partners with more than 15 years of experience as a nonprofit leader with a strong track record of executing results. A Brooklyn, New York native and AmeriCorps alum, Dyrell has always had a passion for leadership and serving the community. Most recently, Dyrell served as a site director for Saga Education (specifically the Charleston region), a national education nonprofit that leverages dedicated staff and AmeriCorps members to provide high-impact, in-school tutoring. Previously, Dyrell served at City Year Columbia, in various capacities over the years, including as the interim vice president and executive director, director of student impact, and senior program manager. In each of these roles, Dyrell helped to lead and develop a full-time staff and team of 24 City Year AmeriCorps members to implement Whole School, Whole Child programming, which includes working with all students through Tier 1 initiatives. Dyrell attended Benedict College where he received his Bachelors in Business Management. While in college he became a member of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc., which led to his unwavering dedication to service. After graduating from college, Dyrell decided to further his education at Webster University and received his Masters in Counseling. We are especially excited about the fact that Dyrell started his career as an AmeriCorps member, serving at City Year Columbia. Also, Dyrell is passionate about our REDI work at Reading Partners and how it can support our students.
Senior program managerLucas has been in education for over 20 years. She graduated with a bachelor’s degree from the College of Charleston. Before coming to Reading Partners, she taught first, second, and third grades in North and South Carolina. In addition, she was the director of admissions and recruitment for a small nonprofit college. As a program manager, Lucas brings a wealth of knowledge to Reading Partners and the volunteers and schools with which she works.
Program directorKelly brings over a decade of education and leadership experience to Reading Partners. Prior to her role as Program Director, Kelly was a Reading Partners Program Manager in the South Carolina region. In this role, she had an opportunity to work with schools to implement the Reading Partners Program and saw great gains among the students that were served. Even before that she was an elementary school principal in a Title 1 school, had experience teaching grades K-5 during her tenure as an elementary school teacher, and also helped create and lead an alternative education program that she named LEAP (Learning Everyday Accelerates Progress). Kelly has earned two Bachelor of Science degrees, the first from Indiana University of Pennsylvania in Education of Exceptional Persons and the second from the Pennsylvania State University in Elementary Education. Kelly also holds a Master of Science Degree in Educational Leadership from Saint Francis University. Kelly has been certified by the Pennsylvania Department of Education and South Carolina Department of Education and holds Administrative II and Principal Certificates for PK-12 in both states. Kelly's deep passion for learning, education, leadership, equity, and equality is what drives her to make a difference in the communities we serve.
Bridget Elliott Darst
Development managerBridget Elliott Darst has 20 years of experience in nonprofit development and marketing. For much of her career, she worked in Chicago, fundraising for organizations providing emergency shelter, supportive housing, legal aid, domestic violence counseling, job training and placement, and comprehensive human services. For the past 10 years, Bridget has focused her fundraising efforts on procuring grants through government entities, foundations, and corporations. Ms. Elliott Darst holds a bachelor's in communication arts.
Community engagement managerVictoria pursued her bachelor’s degree in English with a minor in African American studies at Winthrop University and the University of Maryland University College. Her prior experiences to joining Reading Partners include over 15 years in sales and marketing and grassroots movements including local, state, and national political campaigns. She currently advocates for social justice issues to include educational equity and injustices toward people of color. She has a love for reading and the arts; acting in several plays and featured in spoken word appearances. Her passion for literacy and underserved children is what inspired her to begin her journey with Reading Partners as a tutor. She then served as an Americorps member and is now excited about bringing all those perspectives together in her new role as the community engagement associate.
Development directorDawn received her Bachelor's degree in Business from West Virginia Wesleyan College. After working in retail for many years, she used her business acumen to serve the non-profit sector. She has worked for several small and large nonprofits such as Planned Parenthood, Trident United Way, and Pet Helpers strategizing their growth and development plans. The mission of Reading Partners has her excited to work on raising funds to help elementary school children within the Lowcountry.
Director of community engagementChristine Messick has over 20 years of nonprofit management experience with an emphasis on volunteer engagement. Currently, Christine serves as the interim executive director for Reading Partners South Carolina. Prior to working at Reading Partners, Christine served as the executive director of Youth Service Charleston. She has worked extensively with outreach and volunteer support at MUSC Children’s Hospital. Christine's passions for volunteerism, collaboration, and coordination have guided her gifts of time and talent to Hotline Training, the Trident United Way, the Mayor’s Commission for Children, Youth and Families and the Community Volunteer Engagement System Organizing Committee to name a few. She is an enthusiastic and determined leader, skilled in developing a broad vision and cultivating excellent relationships with executives, community leaders, peers, and volunteers. Christine holds a BA in English from the University of South Carolina and a certification in volunteer administration from the Council for Certification in Volunteer Administration.
Program managerCelie earned a BAIS degree from the University of South Carolina. She has been an elementary educator for over 20 years, having taught third, first, and fifth grades in VA and SC. Her passion for teaching reading and early intervention, as well as her desire to contribute to her community in a meaningful way, led her to Reading Partners. She strongly believes intervention and support are essential to providing children the best opportunity to become lifelong readers and a catalyst for future success in all aspects of a person’s life. Celie is excited to be a part of Reading Partners and use her experience in education to make a positive impact in the lives of children.
Program managerCierra is a graduate of College of Charleston, where she received her bachelor’s degree in communication and minor in linguistics. She has dedicated her career to serving youth and education in Charleston County since 2009, as she is passionate about supporting dynamic organizations that work to change the lives of youth. Prior to Reading Partners she worked as a Children’s Defense Fund Freedom School Servant Leader Intern. She later served three terms as an AmeriCorps* VISTA member under Charleston County Mayor’s Office for Children, Youth and Families, as a volunteer coordinator and literacy site coordinator. In 2013, Cierra joined Reading Partners Charleston team as a site coordinator for Chicora Elementary School, and served there until the spring of 2016. Cierra is excited about her transition into a full-time position with Reading Partners, where she will work directly with AmeriCorps members to make their service year as meaningful as possible.
Special projects associateDylan earned his bachelor's in English from Montana State University and is currently working on getting his master's in social work from the University of Montana. He was a previous AmeriCorps member serving two terms, before transitioning to the community engagement role. He has now transitioned serving as the special projects associate. He believes in the power of education and literacy to improve the lives of children all over the world. He is extremely excited to be in this new role where he can further help children reach their maximum potential, create a more equitable society and support South Carolina AmeriCorps members as they do their year of service.
Development special projects associateKelli received her bachelor’s degree in Biology with a minor in Environmental Studies from the University of Mississippi. After college, she served one year with AmeriCorps as the program coordinator at Keep Knoxville Beautiful in Tennessee. She developed an interest in the public sector and wanted to learn more about working in nonprofits and government. She recently graduated from a concurrent graduate program at the College of Charleston, earning one master’s degree in Public Administration and another in Environmental and Sustainability studies. During graduate school, Kelli worked as an environmental educator with the Department of Natural Resources, and she is excited to continue serving students in the Lowcountry with Reading Partners.
Emily Swanson, Community Advocate and Volunteer, Board Chair
Dwayne Green, Owner and Founder, Green Consulting, Board Governance Committee Chair
Alison Kowalski, Bookkeeper, Carolina Custom Carpentry, Strategic Volunteer Engagement Committee Chair
John Thompson, Novelist, Development Committee Co-Chair
Katherine Crawford, Community Advocate and Volunteer, Development Committee Co-Chair
Gerald Stinson, Retired Military, Community Advocate and Volunteer, REDI Committee Chair
Sarah Belaustegui, Project Manager, League Inc.
Hacker Burr, Managing Director & Senior Search Consultant, Big Back Pack LLC
Elizabeth Crumley, Director of Corporate Communications, South Carolina Ports
Allie Darby, Private Counselor
Dr. Elaine Graham, Principal at St. Stephen Elementary School
Kenny Harrell, Managing Partner at Joye Law Firm
Justin Lee, Senior VP of Membership & Corporate Partnerships, Charleston Metro Chamber of Commerce
Chris Singleton, Author and Public Speaker
Richard Waring, Vice President and Executive Director Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, Charleston Metro Chamber of Commerce
Roger Jones, CEO, Companion Associates, Inc., Board Member Emeritus
Louise Kohlheim, Community Advocate , Board Member Emerita
Richard Star, Principal, NEXgistics, LLC, Board Member Emeritus