Executive DirectorJustin has dedicated his career to educational equity and entrepreneurialism. Before joining Reading Partners, Justin served as national director of operations support for Character Formation Project, where he ensured smooth implementation and managed digital content for over 40 partner schools and organizations across the country. He launched his career with Teach For America-Oklahoma when it opened in Tulsa in 2009, and quickly rose through the organization as it expanded across the state. In his various roles, Justin raised more than $7.5 million for Teach For America and secured funding from the State of Oklahoma. Justin also managed operations for the Teach For America Oklahoma City Institute, which trained more than 260 teachers, staffed over 100 people, and provided free summer school to more than 2,000 students. He was a founding board member for Collegiate Hall College Prep Charter School in Tulsa and currently serves as the board chair. Justin earned his Bachelor of Arts and Masters of Business Administration from the University of Tulsa.
Director of External RelationsJessica Risenhoover joined Reading Partners in 2014 as community engagement manager. Prior to Reading Partners, Jessica worked in public relations with nonprofit clients at Saxum, a regional integrated marketing communications agency. Jessica has a bachelor’s in public relations from Oklahoma State University.
Program DirectorHeather Kawlra comes to the Reading Partners team with a wealth of experience teaching and leading in both district and charter schools. Heather was most recently the principal of Wright Elementary School in Tulsa Public Schools, where she oversaw the implementation of data meetings that drove a 10 percent increase in the number of students growing one or more grade levels in a single academic year. Prior to her work at Wright, Heather founded DSST: College View Middle School, a charter middle school in Denver, Colorado. Under her leadership, College View finished first in the state of Denver in writing and in ELL growth and was the highest performing Denver Public School. Heather grew up in Norman, Oklahoma and earned her bachelor's in special education from the University of Oklahoma and master's in education leadership from Seton Hall University.
Manager of Literacy InterventionsBrandy Jones graduated from Northeastern State University with a master's degree in reading education and is a certified reading specialist. She has worked in both Tulsa Public Schools and Union Public Schools as a reading specialist. Brandy understands the value of teaching literacy skills to students at a very early age. She believes that when low-income students build strong literacy skills in their early childhood years, they will be better equipped to be successful throughout primary and secondary school, graduate high school, go to college, find a career they truly enjoy, and not live in poverty as adults. Brandy is proud to work with the Reading Partners team to ensure that all students have the literacy skills they need to succeed in school and in life.
Program ManagerBorn and raised in the Midwest, Ashley moved to Oklahoma in 2007 where she went to the University of Oklahoma, met her husband, and is here to stay. After volunteering with the United Way in OKC tutoring kindergarteners, Ashley found her passion and joined Reading Partners Tulsa as a site coordinator at Celia Clinton Elementary. Ashley is currently getting her master's degree in public administration at the University of Oklahoma - Tulsa.
Program ManagerDana Whittaker graduated from Northeastern State University in 2007 with a degree in elementary education. After college she taught fourth grade at a Title I Tulsa Public School. After teaching Dana moved on to become program manager for Girl Scouts of Eastern Oklahoma. She is very excited to be a program manager for Reading Partners and to make a difference in her community through literacy.
Program ManagerLauren Murray graduated from McDaniel College in Westminster, Maryland, with a bachelor’s degree in English. She left her hometown of Centreville, Maryland, for Tulsa, Oklahoma, to pursue her career in the nonprofit sector. She served two years as an AmeriCorps member with Reading Partners and loved the mission of the organization so much that she decided to stay. Lauren is currently pursuing her master’s in public administration at the University of Oklahoma - Tulsa so that she can continue to learn about the nonprofit sector and how to make a difference in the community.
Program ManagerBefore joining Reading Partners, Lindsey worked for eight years as a speech pathologist and brings a unique set of experiences to the Reading Partners Tulsa team. Her first loves were language and reading. As a program manager, she will work to instill that love of reading in students. Lindsey also founded Nerdy Girls Tulsa, a women-focused organization whose mission is to create intelligent community in Tulsa and make our city a better place. When she's not working, Lindsey enjoys reading, running, music, and spending time with her husband and two dogs.
Program ManagerTammy Robbins is a graduate of Xavier University of Louisiana. She worked as a middle school science teacher in south Texas and a missionary teacher in Mexico before coming to Reading Partners. She moved to Tulsa and began working at Reading Partners as a site coordinator in 2015. She believes that literacy is the key for future academic success for children and that it allows students to have better opportunities in life.
Development ManagerElizabeth Edwards graduated from Oral Roberts University in Tulsa, Oklahoma, in 2012. Upon receiving her Bachelor of Arts in communications, she began working at a nonprofit in Tulsa. In January of 2016, she joined Reading Partners in hopes to work upstream of the many issues impacting the Tulsa community. The shift in reading to learn is crucial to developing lifelong learners through a passion for reading, thus enabling students to reach their full potential.
Community Engagement ManagerUpon graduating from Oral Roberts University, Rebecka worked for her alma mater for several years in the Alumni Relations office and later the University Relations office. Though she left the world of academia for a brief adventure doing HR in the world of retail, she was overjoyed to join the Reading Partners team in the summer of 2016. Her favorite childhood books were The Berenstain Bears series, and she is currently enjoying a phase favoring classic literature. She and her husband are the proud parents of Titus, a charming and energetic Bull Terrier.
Community Engagement CoordinatorBrenna Peterson graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with a bachelor's degree in communication sciences and disorders, focusing specifically on deaf education and deaf studies. She has previous experience with volunteer management, ranging from nonprofit work at the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation in Tulsa to organic farming at Johnson's Backyard Garden in Austin, Texas. Brenna is honored and excited to continue learning and growing in the role of community engagement coordinator. In her free time, you can find Brenna reading, playing in the sun, shopping at the farmer's' market, or two-stepping!
Community Engagement CoordinatorMarisa Morgan graduated from the University of Oklahoma in 2014 with a degree in communication and a minor in writing. She worked in journalism for two years and is happy to have found herself in the nonprofit world. She considers herself a Tulsa native even though she moved here when she was eight years old. Marisa is happy to share the joy of reading with children in a city she loves.
AmeriCorps & VISTA Team
Ben Stewart (Chair), Program Officer, George Kaiser Family Foundation
Dr. Keith Ballard, Director of Professional Development & Professor of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies, University of Oklahoma
Dr. Kim Boyd, Associate Professor and Dean of the College of Education, Oral Roberts University
Susan Bynum, University of Tulsa law student
Ann Farrow, Community Volunteer
Errick Greene, Chief of Schools, Tulsa Public Schools
Omare Jimmerson, Tulsa Public Schools
Fred Lawler, Sr. Vice President Service Delivery, Level 3 Communications
April McAnnally, Community Volunteer
Dennis Neill, Senior Program Officer, Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation
Connie Pearson, Gateway Mortgage
Susan Pennington, Community Volunteer
Kaci Skidgel, Executive Vice President, Corporate Retirement Plans, Summit Financial Group
Kathy Taylor, City of Tulsa