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Our Team

  • Heather Kawlra

    Heather Kawlra

    Executive director, Tulsa

    Heather joined the Reading Partners team in 2017 as a program director and served most recently as the managing director in Tulsa. In her tenure at Reading Partners, Heather has led the team to see 93 percent (a 10 percent increase) of principals from partner schools reporting improved school-wide reading progress. Before joining Reading Partners, Heather built a wealth of knowledge and experience while teaching and leading in both district and charter schools. Immediately prior to joining Reading Partners, Heather was the principal of Wright Elementary School in Tulsa Public Schools (TPS), where she led her team to increased reading proficiency for all third, fourth, and fifth-grade students on the Oklahoma Core Curriculum Tests (OCCT). Heather is excited to lead the Reading Partners team through new opportunities as we make plans for the 2021-22 school year.
  • Haley Biram

    Community engagement manager, Recruitment

    Haley is a Tulsa native and graduated from the University of Tulsa in Nonprofit Business and Arts Management. Joining the Reading Partners team in 2020, Haley leads all volunteer recruitment efforts for the Tulsa region and oversees community engagement initiatives and partnerships. Coming from Gathering Place as their volunteer program manager, Haley contributed to the launch and coordination of the park's volunteer program for two years. Prior to Gathering Place, Haley was the education and public programs manager at the Hardesty Arts Center for five years.
  • Lora Boyle

    Program operations manager

    Lora graduated from Oklahoma State University with a bachelor’s degree in psychology. She then obtained a master's degree in social work, with a concentration in administration and community practice, from the University of Oklahoma. She is currently a Licensed Masters Social Worker (LMSW) in the state of Oklahoma. Lora loves macro-level social work, and is a big believer in the power of preventative social programs. She joined the Reading Partners staff in 2019 with six years of experience in nonprofit mentoring and tutoring programs through her work at Big Brothers Big Sisters of Oklahoma and City Year Tulsa. Lora serves on the board for Volunteers of America Oklahoma, and is dedicated to using her voice to help amplify the voices of others.
  • Latasha Buxton

    Community engagement coordinator, Recruitment

    Latasha joined the Reading Partners team in 2019 as an AmeriCorps member. Her passion for education and love for children aligned with the core values and commitments of Reading Partners. With over 17 years of experience in child care and educational setting, she is equipped to make a positive impact in everything she does, to focus on what matters with changing the outcome of our children and communities, and believing in connecting with people for a sole purpose. As a community engagement coordinator for recruitment, she now works to ensure volunteers have all the information they need to be reading partners. As the first person many people interact with when joining Reading Partners, Latasha brings a warm disposition and is an excellent customer service provider. Latasha earned a Bachelor of Science in healthcare administration from Concordia University-Portland. She has two children, Daniel and Michelle.
  • Kalian deBruyn

    Community engagement associate, Operations

    Kalian deBruyn joined Reading Partners in 2018, where she served a year as an AmeriCorps site coordinator at MacArthur Elementary. Kalian first joined the Reading Partners full-time staff as a community engagement coordinator of operations in July of 2019, and is now excited to continue working with students and volunteers in a new capacity as a community engagement associate. Prior to Reading Partners, Kalian studied international community development with a focus on nonprofit work. She worked at the Tulsa City-County Library, which exposed her to the world of books and the magic of early childhood literacy development.
  • Lyssa Flanagan

    Community engagement associate, Recruitment

    Lyssa graduated from the University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma with a Bachelor of Science in psychology with minors in English and liberal arts. At university, Lyssa gained a service mindset and decided to dedicate her professional career to helping others. A few years after graduating, Lyssa knew she wanted to go into nonprofit work, and served as a City Year Americorps member at Daniel Webster High School, supporting freshman in an English classroom. During that year of service, Lyssa saw the literacy crisis firsthand and decided to join Reading Partners. Lyssa served two years at Reading Partners as an AmeriCorps site coordinator at Kendall-Whittier Elementary and McClure Elementary. Both schools boasted some of the highest student and tutor enrollments in the region. In 2019, Lyssa joined the Reading Partners full-time staff as the community engagement associate of recruitment. When not at work, you can find Lyssa in her craft room making paper crafts and scrapbooking.
  • Amanda Floyd

    Program manager

    Amanda has devoted her entire professional career to public education, first as a classroom teacher in Memphis and Dallas and later as an instructional coach. In 2019, Amanda, her husband (a Tulsa native), and two daughters moved from Dallas to Tulsa. Upon arrival, Amanda joined the Tulsa Reading Partners team as an AmeriCorps member, first as a literacy lead, and then as a site coordinator at McKinley Elementary and McClure Elementary. Amanda graduated from the University of Memphis with a bachelor’s degree in elementary education and is currently pursuing a Masters in Library Science at OU-Tulsa.
  • Brettin White Fox

    Program manager

    Brettin studied Spanish language and literature at UNAM in Mexico City, graduated from Sacramento State with a bachelor's in English and a TESOL certification, and is currently pursuing a master's in public administration at OU Tulsa. Her connection to Reading Partners began with two AmeriCorps service years at Mark Twain elementary. Before returning to the team as a program manager, she taught English language and civics courses for immigrants and refugees at YWCA and coordinated diversity and inclusion programs at OCCJ. Her dream is that someday each student would have their culture and language represented positively in the classroom, along with the support they need in order to be successful in school and life. She loves spending time outdoors, trying new foods, practicing yoga, and (of course) reading.
  • Brandy Gildon-McCracken

    Program manager

    Brandy is a North Tulsa native who has devoted her entire professional career to providing an outlet for less fortunate students. She first worked as a junior high band director in Pine Bluff, AR and an elementary music teacher and high school vocal music director in England, AR. In 2012, Brandy moved back to Tulsa from Arkansas. Upon her arrival in Tulsa, Brandy served as the vocal music director and marching band director at Central High School. Later, she returned to elementary education in one of Tulsa’s newest Charter Schools, where she served as the music teacher and an instructional coach. She is now earning her second Master’s Degree in Education Leadership. Brandy joined the Tulsa Reading Partners team as a program manager in July 2021.
  • Tara Harris

    Program manager

    Tara went to elementary school, high school, and college in Tulsa. She graduated from the University of Tulsa with a Bachelor of Arts in Anthropology with a Museum Studies Certificate and an Art History minor. After TU, Tara joined the 2017 Teach for America Greater Tulsa corps and taught second grade at College Bound Academy. She served as a classroom teacher for two years and then served as an instructional coach for the next two years with a focus on math. Tara is currently pursuing a Masters in Education Administration, Curriculum, and Supervision at OU-Tulsa and is thrilled to be joining the Reading Partners team as a program manager to continue her work in the Tulsa education community.
  • Abby Hoffman

    Senior operations manager

    After obtaining a degree in human services from Western Washington University, Abby Hoffman moved with her husband and two dogs to Austin, Texas. There she helped manage and operate several restaurants. After several years, she decided to give up the food and beverage industry and return to her first love of helping children succeed. Abby returned to her hometown of Tulsa, Oklahoma, to join Teach for America (TFA). After serving with TFA, she joined the Tulsa Area United Way as an agency specialist. Joining Reading Partners in 2018, Abby brings a background in management, education, and nonprofit experience to her role as senior operations manager. She currently spends her leisure time with her husband, two dogs, and most importantly, her bossy and brilliant one-year old, Louisa.
  • Kris Holmes

    Development manager

    Kris is a California native but a graduate of Coweta High School. They and their children moved back to Oklahoma in the fall of 2018 to plant roots and be near family. They honor Oklahoma as home with a strong desire to be impactful both personally and professionally in the Tulsa metro community. Kris went back to college while working full time, being a single parent of two, and eventually graduating with a general business degree from Regent University in 2017. Kris has been perpetually mindful of the impacts of literacy, first as a reading buddy in elementary school and carried through to mission work, and now within their children's lives and school systems as a volunteer. They enjoy spending time outdoors with their kids, grabbing coffee, and genuinely connecting with people. Kris hopes to bring empathy, humor, and grit into all they do.
  • Ashley Horning

    Program manager

    Born and raised in the Midwest, Ashley moved to Oklahoma in 2007 where she went to the University of Oklahoma. After volunteering with the United Way in OKC tutoring elementary students, Ashley found her passion and joined Reading Partners Tulsa as an AmeriCorps site coordinator at Celia Clinton Elementary. From there Ashley, has been a regional site coordinator, program associate, and is now a program manager. Ashley graduated with her master’s degree in public administration in 2018.
  • Jalessa Hurd

    Program manager

    Jalessa has passionately pursued education reform and equity throughout her career. While attending Pepperdine University and earning a Bachelor of Arts in psychology, Jalessa's love of educational equity began to grow as she taught in preschools with Jumpstart. There she managed teams who implemented sessions on phonemic and phonological awareness to preschoolers. During that time, Jalessa also joined the DC Arts and Humanities Education Collaborative, where she secured funding through grant writing and organizing fundraising events to ensure transportation for students to educational partnerships throughout Washington, DC. After graduating in 2017, she moved to Tulsa to continue her devotion to education with Teach for America as a fourth grade teacher at Celia Clinton Elementary. Jalessa joined Reading Partners as a program manager in 2019, to continue on her journey of achieving educational equity and social justice. She is excited about the Reading Partners movement and looks forward to seeing the positive change community volunteerism will make for childhood literacy.
  • Jonathan Merkel

    Community engagement manager, Operations

    A native Oklahoman, Jonathan ventured west to Denver in 2014. There he began volunteering with Reading Partners. Since his first session, he has gone on to serve two years as a reading center coordinator at Garden Place Academy in Denver's Globeville neighborhood, and with Reading Partners Tulsa's community engagement team since 2017. While not working to help students in their learning, Jonathan enjoys playing sandlot baseball, being a hack writer, cooking, his cat Cleo, and "wandering in the hinterlands" of eastern Oklahoma.
  • Marisa Morgan

    Community engagement director

    Marisa 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, upon joining the Reading Partners team in 2016. As a Tulsa native, she is happy to share the joy of reading with children in a city she loves.
  • Brenna Peterson

    External relations manager

    Brenna Peterson joined Reading Partners in 2016 as community engagement coordinator. She has previous experience with marketing, communications, and 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 has a bachelor’s degree in communication sciences and disorders (deaf education and deaf studies) from the University of Texas at Austin.
  • Jessica Risenhoover

    Director of external relations

    As the director of external relations, Jessica oversees regional communications, media relations, and manages community engagement efforts by leading a team of community engagement professionals. Jessica began her career at Saxum, a regional integrated marketing communications agency, as a public relations professional. She worked with many local nonprofit clients, inspiring her to work for Reading Partners. Jessica joined Reading Partners in 2014 as the community engagement manager, and has lead the community engagement  efforts for the region, growing from engaging 600 weekly volunteers to 2,000 weekly volunteers annually. Jessica has a bachelor’s degree in public relations from Oklahoma State University.  
  • Tammy Robbins

    Deputy program director

    Tammy Robbins earned her undergraduate degree from the Xavier University of Louisiana and graduate degree from the University of Wisconsin. She has taught in the classroom for 15 years, four years as a middle school science teacher in the Rio Grande Valley, and 11 years in an elementary school in Aguascalientes, Mexico. She started working at Reading Partners as a site coordinator in 2015. She later became a program manager and is currently serving as the deputy program director. She is excited to continue building relationships with our schools and their families. She believes that literacy is the key to future academic success for children and that it allows students to have better opportunities in life.
  • Courtney Rodebush

    Deputy program director

    Courtney Rodebush graduated from Oklahoma State University with a degree in journalism and public relations. She spent over 15 years in the classroom, teaching language arts and geography. Courtney is thrilled to work at Reading Partners and focus on early literacy in Tulsa. She is excited about the impact community volunteers can have in fostering a love of literacy across the city.
  • Sam Stockley

    Development associate

    Samantha Stockley joins the Reading Partners team with a love of literature, writing, and a strong drive for public service. After years as a freelance tutor and writer, Samantha settled into the agency world of nonprofit fundraising via proofreading and copyediting. She has always been an advocate for literacy and is overjoyed at the prospect of tackling her new role as development associate. Samantha also enjoys playing french horn, reading, and snuggling with her three cats!
  • Mike Thomas

    Program manager

    Mike has over seven years of management experience with the YMCA in Tulsa, most recently as senior director of character development. At the YMCA, he managed afterschool programs and partnerships throughout the metro, as well as youth sports, including partnering with Tulsa Public Schools to run soccer programs for elementary school students. Before the Y, Mike worked for five years in Special Services for both Union and Jenks schools. He is passionate about serving students and families in our community and believes that we are all better when we serve together. Mike is also a former Reading Partners volunteer at Eugene Field.
  • Tarae Williams

    Special operations associate

    Tarae is a Tulsa native who has a passion for children in her community. After working several years in sales, her goal was to live and serve with more passion and purpose. In her journey she found her place at Reading Partners Tulsa where she first served as an AmeriCorps member for two and a half years. Now in her new-to-Tulsa role of special operations associate, she cannot wait to see how she can further contribute to the organization and help the team serve Tulsa's students.


Samantha Aponte
Ann Farrow
Joe Gottron
Omare Jimmerson, Chair
Rick D. Lambert
Christi Lee
April McAnnally
Keith McArtor
Danielle Neves
Tim Newton
Brandon Oldham
Connie Pearson
Aliye Shimi
Nate Todd
Shagah Zakerion


Thanks to Tulsa Partners

  • Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation
  • Coretz Family Foundation
  • George Kaiser Family Foundation
  • Tulsa Area United Way
  • Tulsa Public Schools
  • OneOK
  • Quick Trip

Thanks to our partners

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