Karen A. Gardner
Senior 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. 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. Additionally, she managed a consulting practice for nonprofit and government entities, working primarily to develop systems for volunteer management, training, and HR management. 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.
External Relations 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.
Programming DirectorRachel has spent her career focusing on creating social justice through equity in education. As a City Year AmeriCorps member and program manager, she created and implemented programs designed to keep high school students on track to graduate in both Boston and Chicago. Then, as the founding site director for Match Education, she piloted an innovative program that combined academic tutoring with socio-emotional supports that were designed to support young men of color in staying in school and out of violence. Most recently, Rachel served as a school leader at Citizens of the World - Silver Lake, a diverse-by-design elementary school in Los Angeles that uses mindfulness, socio-emotional curriculums, and constructivist pedagogy to build students into courageous and compassionate adults. Rachel is a proud graduate of the University of Connecticut and is a loyal Husky fan. When she's not working she loves to take long walks, discover new books, visit exciting cities, and add to her extensive sneaker collection.
Deputy Program DirectorAnna 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.
Community Engagement ManagerErika grew up in Woodbridge, Virginia and attended George Mason University where she majored in conflict analysis and resolution. She discovered her passion for service and education while volunteering in Sri Lanka and Afghanistan. This fueled her desire to give back to her own community in the United States and successfully complete four years of AmeriCorps service, two years with City Year and two years with Reading Partners as a site coordinator. Her favorite children's book is the Sky of Afghanistan.
Development and Communications ManagerDaniela is a nonprofit professional with experience in development, communications, project management, and event planning. After she graduated from Masaryk University with degrees in environmental and gender studies, she managed an individual giving program at a grassroots nonprofit addressing environmental and social justice issues, coordinated a job-training project serving an immigrant population, and organized International Women's Day events. Her extensive volunteer experience includes tutoring and participating in story time programs. Daniela is excited to join Reading Partners in advancing educational equity for all.
External Relations 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.
Program ManagerJade Okunlola moved to DC from High Point, North Carolina to work for Reading Partners as an AmeriCorps member in 2016. She has a background in sociology from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. Jade has had a life of service in education and volunteered with several organizations including Peace Corps. Jade is excited to be a program associate so that she can continue her life’s work alongside passionate AmeriCorps members, staff and, DC communities.
Program ManagerA recent transplant from Pittsburgh, PA, Elizabeth is excited to join Reading Partners as a Program Manager. Elizabeth discovered her passion for kids and closing the opportunity gap during her commitment with Teach for America, where she taught fifth grade science for two years. After teaching in North Carolina, Elizabeth returned home to Pittsburgh to work at Reading Is Fundamental Pittsburgh as their Books for Keeps Program Director for five years, leading a team of AmeriCorps members and helping to develop a lifelong love of reading in Pittsburgh's children at over 80 sites across the city. Elizabeth holds a master's degree in Library and Information Science, and most recently worked as a children's librarian, doing outreach story times and promoting early literacy in children up to the age of five.
Mary Kate Suhy
Program ManagerMary Kate has had a lifelong love of volunteerism and education. After attending George Washington University and tutoring students in DC, she moved to New Mexico as a Teach For America Corps Member where she taught upper elementary on the Navajo Nation. Prior to joining Reading Partners, she worked for the K-12 Education Program at Walton Family Foundation. Mary Kate is thrilled to bring her love of reading and a commitment to improving educational opportunities for students to her work at Reading Partners.
Development ManagerStephanie Wolfe joined Reading Partners in the summer of 2019, arriving from Baltimore, MD where she served as the Engagement Coordinator for Soccer Without Borders for four years. During this time, she was a 2017-2018 Johns Hopkins University SOURCE Community Fellow, where she worked with faculty members to improve service-learning partnerships. As an avid reader herself, Stephanie is excited to be a part of a movement to promote a lifelong love of reading in children. She is equally thrilled to help advance Reading Partners’ goals of fostering inclusive and equitable communities. Stephanie holds an M.S.W. (Global Practice) from Boston College and a Master's degree in International and Public Law from the University of Melbourne.
Community Engagement AssociateKlara is excited to join the Reading Partners DC team as a Community Engagement Associate. Klara grew up in the Boston area and went to Davidson College where she majored in Anthropology and Hispanic Studies. While in school, she spent time tutoring in an ESL classroom at a local elementary school and became passionate about literacy and education. She moved to DC in 2017 to work for The Literacy Lab as a literacy intervention tutor for two years. Klara is eager to continue working to support students in DC at Reading Partners.
Community Engagement AssociateA native to Washington, DC, India received her bachelor's from Frostburg University where she studied psychology. After graduating, India teetered on the fence between continuing her schooling in counseling or becoming a teacher. To figure out her life plan, India joined Reading Partners as an AmeriCorps member. She spent her first year as a Literacy Lead and her second year as a Regional Site Coordinator. Now she is excited to join the staff at Reading Partners with the knowledge she brings from within the schools we serve.
Program AssociateAimee is thrilled to join the Reading Partners staff after serving a year as an AmeriCorps site coordinator. She received her bachelor's in international relations from Beloit College. Aimee has been committed to educational equity since her time at Beloit where she worked for the TRiO funded Student Excellence and Leadership Program supporting students who are first-generation, low-income, and/or have learning disabilities. She moved to DC to study international development at American University and graduated with her master's in 2018. When she isn't working, Aimee loves to spend her time at concerts, bargain shopping, and traveling whenever possible.
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.
Ravontae Pettus, Second Year Site Coordinator (Achievement Prep PCS)
Taylor Kelly, Site Coordinator (Bancroft ES)
Alexandra Stevenson, Site Coordinator (Beers ES)
Jake Dyson, Site Coordinator (Burrville ES)
Lola Solaru, Site Coordinator (DC Scholars)
Claire Starks, Site Coordinator (Excel Academy)
Phoebe Kiekhoferi, Site Coordinator (H. D. Cooke ES)
Whitney Smith, Site Coordinator (Height ES)
Allison McGlone, Site Coordinator (Kimball ES)
Jazmine Hicks, Site Coordinator (Malcolm X ES)
Raquella Horton, Site Coordinator (Nalle ES)
Melanie Cunningham, Site Coordinator (Patterson ES)
Amaani Desai, Site Coordinator (Payne ES)
Navpreet Sandhu, Site Coordinator (Rocketship Legacy Prep)
Angelique Devonish, Site Coordinator (Rocketship Rise Academy)
Jesse Ingber, Site Coordinator (Van Ness ES)
Diego Torres, Site Coordinator (Seaton ES)
Nirvana Lutchman, Site Coordinator (West Education Campus)
Meena Lukas, Site Coordinator (Whittier Education Campus)
Polly Spadavecchia, Literacy Lead (Achievement Prep, Patterson ES)
Jordan Stanton, Literacy Lead (Beers ES, Kimball ES)
Isaiah Richmond, Literacy Lead (Burrville ES, Excel Academy)
Izzy Moore, Literacy Lead (DC Scholars, Van Ness ES)
Holly Vo, Literacy Lead (H.D. Cooke ES, West EC)
Giuliana Arditto, Literacy Lead (Malcolm X ES, Rocketship Rise)
Bel Nyarku, Literacy Lead (Nalle ES, Rocketship Legacy)
Senior Regional Site Coordinators
Hunter Jarvis, Senior Regional Site Coordinator (Achievement Prep, DC Scholars, Patterson ES, Van Ness ES)
Rachel McManus, Senior Regional Site Coordinator (Bancroft ES, Payne ES, Whittier EC)
Versell Brown, Senior Regional Site Coordinator (Beers ES, Burrville ES, Excel Academy, Kimball ES, Seaton ES)
Ebonie Ellison, Senior Regional Site Coordinator (Malcolm X ES, Nalle ES, Rocketship Legacy, Rocketship Rise)
Brenda is a senior judicial education attorney at the Federal Judicial Center. She leads the center’s orientation and judicial legal education for U.S. Court of Appeals Judges and legal education for court attorneys. She is the founding host/moderator and producer of Court Web, the center’s national LIVE webcast for federal judges and court attorneys, focusing on legal topics. Brenda served as an assistant United States attorney in the District of Columbia, and in several senior positions at the United States Attorney’s Office, including acting executive assistant United States attorney for management and acting assistant director for professional development.
Brenda served as counsel to the director, Executive Office for United States Attorneys, at the Department of Justice. She served in the White House Counsel’s Office, as special counsel to the President and lead managing attorney in the White House Counsel’s Vetting Office. She worked with senior white house officials on nominations and personnel matters. Brenda is a member of the Metropolitan D.C. chapter of The Links, Inc., and the former president of the Montgomery County Maryland Chapter of Jack and Jill of America, Inc. Brenda believes strongly in our youth, is super positive and a history buff. Her passions are mentoring young people, helping others and reading! She received her bachelor’s in business administration from North Carolina Central University and juris doctorate from North Carolina Central University. She and her husband are the proud parents of three adult sons.
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, working at a makeshift desk in a coffee shop. 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 US. In 2005, Brae and her husband, Seth, founded a nonprofit humanitarian organization dedicated to improving the lives of the people in a village in The Gambia, West Africa. Since its founding, Friends of Penyem, the organization founded by Brae and Seth, 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 juris doctorate 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 Drew, and son, Jack.
Amy grew up in Massachusetts, graduating from Dartmouth College and Northeastern University School of Law. She worked in the successful Senate campaign of Paul Tsongas and came to Washington. She returned to Massachusetts to work at the U.S. Department of Transportation before attending Northeastern. She practiced law as a public finance associate in the Boston law firm of Palmer & Dodge before returning to D.C. as the director of governmental affairs for the National Association of Bond Lawyers, representing municipal finance lawyers and working with state and local government organizations. Her focus was tax, securities, and federal/state law.
Amy retired from law, supporting various charitable organizations and volunteering at her daughter’s schools including chairing events, committees, and the Parents’ association, culminating in sitting on the Governing Board. For 4 years she has been volunteering 2 days a week with Reading Partners in different parts of the city, most recently at MLK Elementary in Anacostia. Working with her students is her weekday passion followed whenever possible by weekends in Massachusetts or Wintergreen, VA with her husband and daughter.
Elizabeth Weaver Engel has been volunteering with Reading Partners since 2016 and is honored to have been invited to join the board for 2018-2019. By day, Elizabeth is a membership strategy consultant for tax-exempt membership associations. She founded Spark Consulting in 2012, after 15 years in the association industry. Although she’s worked with and for a wide variety of membership organizations, she’s always had a special affinity for associations in the education space and associations that focus on children and young people. Elizabeth is a certified association executive and holds a master’s degree in government and foreign affairs from the University of Virginia.
Lois has been a dedicated supporter of Reading Partners since 2014 as a volunteer and donor. She joined the board in 2016 and currently chairs the sustainability committee and is a member of the program and partnerships 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, is a Theater J council member, and 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.
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. Simone is passionate about education, community service, and the arts. Mrs. Frederick is a member of The Metropolitan DC Chapter of The Links Inc., which is a women’s volunteer service organization committed to enriching, sustaining, and ensuring the cultural and economic survival of the African American community. Simone is married to Dr. Wayne A.I. Frederick, a surgeon, scholar, and Howard University’s 17th President,. They reside in Cabin John, Maryland.
Faith Gibson Hubbard
In May 2015, Faith Gibson Hubbard was appointed as the chief student advocate for the Office of the Student Advocate, an independent office in the DC State Board of Education. As a former public school teacher, Faith is a passionate education advocate who has served in many capacities including: as the former president of the Ward Five Council on Education and as a member of the advisory committee for the student assignment and school boundaries review process for the District of Columbia Public Schools. Currently, Faith serves as a board member of the DC Public Library board of library trustees and as a member of the Mayor’s DC Cross-Sector Collaboration Taskforce. Faith is currently pursuing her doctorate in public policy from the Center for Public Administration & Policy at Virginia Tech where her dissertation focuses on community engagement and shared decision-making processes in public education planning. Faith holds a Masters of Public Administration from Old Dominion University (Norfolk, VA) and a Bachelor of Arts in communications/public relations from Georgia State University (Atlanta, GA). Faith is a proud DC resident who lives in the Woodridge neighborhood in Ward 5 with her husband and son.
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.
Ruchi Jain is the pro bono counsel for the Washington, D.C. office of Kirkland & Ellis LLP. Before joining Kirkland, Ruchi was a special assistant to President Obama, where she worked with other senior White House officials on federal agency management, political nominations, and personnel matters. She held several other roles in the Obama Administration, including senior counsel to the assistant attorney general for the Office of Justice Programs at the Department of Justice. Previously, she was a litigation associate at Dickstein Shapiro LLP. Ruchi has a juris doctorate from Georgetown University Law Center and a bachelor’s from Rice University.
Mary Stuart McCamy
Mary Stuart grew up in Atlanta where an early mentor taught her about educational inequality through a high school learning exchange program. 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 completing a post-graduate teaching fellowship in France. She received a bachelor’s in French from Davidson College and has since pursued additional graduate studies in language, linguistics and nonprofit management at Georgetown and George Washington Universities.
Before raising her four children full-time, Mary Stuart served as legislative assistant to U.S. Senator Wyche Fowler, Jr. (D-GA) for energy, environment, appropriations, and historic preservation issues. She also 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. In addition to her experience working with nonprofit boards, Mary Stuart served two terms as Village Council vice-chair in Chevy Chase, Maryland and was an active community service volunteer in her children’s schools.
Diane Mooney is serving her eighth year on the board of trustees of the independent Maret School, Washington, D.C. and has held numerous other volunteer positions at the school. Diane is also in her seventh year as an English as a second language instructor at the nonprofit Washington English Center in Washington, D.C., where she also serves on the board of directors. She previously served for a number of years on the board of directors for the Chevy Chase Recreation Association. Diane is an avid supporter of and has served as a volunteer tutor with Reading Partners in three Washington, D.C. elementary schools since 2013.
Diane grew up in Princeton, New Jersey and received her Bachelor of Arts cum laude in communications/journalism from the University of Washington in Seattle. She also holds a certificate in French language and civilization from the University of Paris, Sorbonne. Diane continued her education at the George Washington University National Law Center where she received her juris doctorate and is licensed to practice law in Washington D.C. and New Jersey. Diane went on to work in telecommunications law for 14 years, including private practice in Washington, D.C. Prior to her law career; she worked as a journalist for the Associated Press in Seattle. Diane and her husband, Frank Pietrantonio, live in Chevy Chase, Maryland, and are the parents of three adult children.
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. Ann received both her bachelor’s and juris doctorate degrees from the University of Virginia 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.
Eric E. Richardson
For more than 15 years, the Emmy nominated producer has played a role in some of the District of Columbia’s most groundbreaking media moments. He served as executive director of the District of Columbia Office of Cable Television (OCT) for over eight years and spearheaded the acquisition and renovation of OCT’s permanent home in the former BET studios. Proficient in managing large-scale projects, media productions, budgets, and contracts, he has had a career that includes time as the director of broadcast services at Howard University’s PBS station WHUT-TV, serving as executive producer of Evening Exchange with Kojo Nnamdi, and contributing to the development and direction of such shows as The Tavis Smiley Show, Moneywise with Kelvin Bolston, and White House Chronicles. Currently, he is the vice president of programming and production for the Public Access Corporation and continues to create content in a myriad of other media outlets.
Stuart Stein is a partner at the global law firm, Hogan Lovells, where he serves as the chief legal officer. He has been advising clients on corporate matters for more than 30 years and is a trusted advisor to the boards of some of the largest companies in the world. Stuart is a regular speaker on national panels and programs that address corporate issues. Stuart is going into his fourth year as a tutor at Kimball Elementary School. He also is on the board of directors of Rebuilding Together Montgomery County. Stuart and his wife Joy have two daughters; one in Los Angeles and one in New York, as well as two dogs that enjoy a lot of walking.