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Washington, DC

Our Team

  • Shukurat Adamoh-Faniyan

    Executive director, Washington, DC

    Shukurat Adamoh-Faniyan serves as the Executive Director of Reading Partners DC and has overall responsibility for the operations, fundraising and community engagement. Born and raised in DC, Shukurat has dedicated her life to working in high-poverty and under-resourced communities in the fields of education, policy, community organizing, public engagement, training, and program development. Shukurat is a passionate and motivated leader with extensive experience and is committed to ensuring that every child in DC has the opportunity to realize their full potential. Before joining Reading Partners, Shukurat served as the Senior Director of Partnership and Infrastructure for Leadership for Educational Equity. Leadership For Educational Equity is a non-partisan, non-profit leadership development organization dedicated to inspiring a diverse movement of leaders that engage civically and politically on behalf of children in their communities. In the role, Shukurat served as a force multiplier and team-specific chief learning, strategy, and operations officer. She has also served as an Executive Director of a PreK-8th grade charter school serving over 700 scholars in Southeast, D.C. Shukurat began her career as a 5th-grade Math and Science teacher and Teach For America corps member.
  • Erika Brosnihan

    Community engagement manager

    Erika 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.
  • Kyndall Brown

    Program manager

    Kyndall is a Washington, DC native, Temple University alum, and currently a graduate student at American University in the Education Policy and Leadership program. She also served as an AmeriCorps member at Reading Partners Washington, DC from 2017-19. After her AmeriCorps service terms, she went on to work as an early childhood teacher at KIPP DC. Kyndall is now currently a newly joined program manager at Reading Partners Washington, DC.
  • Veronica Ferris

    Program associate

    Veronica joined Reading Partners in 2019 as an AmeriCorps member in the Baltimore region before transitioning to her current role as a program associate at Reading Partners DC. She is an alumna of The College of William & Mary where she earned a bachelor’s in Economics and Environmental Science. After college, she served in the Peace Corps in Namibia as a community economic development consultant and developed a passion for community development and youth development. After her Peace Corps service, Veronica attended American University and earned a master’s in International Development. She is committed to helping young people learn and grow and helping communities thrive.
  • Lyssa Jellenik

    Community engagement associate

    Lyssa is excited to join the Reading Partners Washington, DC team as a community engagement associate. Lyssa grew up right outside of the Boston area and went to American University here in Washington, DC. At AU, she earned her bachelor's degree in interdisciplinary studies: CLEG (communication, law, economics, and government). She is currently a student at American University, where she is working on her master's in political communication. While an undergrad, she was a member of Alpha Phi Omega (APO), a professional co-ed community service fraternity where she volunteered with nonprofits all over the DMV area. A few organizations she worked with through APO include: A Wider Circle, Rural Dog Rescue, and Martha’s Table. Lyssa is eager to continue her work in the nonprofit world and make a difference in the lives of DC students through Reading Partners.
  • Roopa Kosuri

    Special projects manager

    Roopa 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.
  • Kathy Lee

    Program operations manager

    Kathy Lee is the Program Operations Manager at Reading Partners. Prior to Reading Partners, Kathy was a middle school math teacher in Phoenix, Arizona, and most recently, worked for a nonprofit in DC doing human rights work across the world. Kathy has her Masters in Public Policy from Harvard University and a Bachelor's of Arts in Political Science and Spanish from the University of Notre Dame in Indiana, USA. She grew up in Phoenix and has been living in DC for four years. She is excited to be working closely with the Reading Partners team and community!
  • Klara Manz-Siek

    Community engagement associate

    Klara 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.
  • India Matthews

    Community engagement associate

    A 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.
  • Aimee Oda

    Program manager

    Aimee has been with Reading Partners since 2018 when she served a year as an AmeriCorps site coordinator. She received her bachelor's in international relations from Beloit College and her master's in international development from American University. Aimee has been committed to educational equity since her time at Beloit. There, she worked for the TRiO funded Student Excellence and Leadership Program supporting college students who are first-generation, low-income, and/or have learning disabilities. She is excited to continue working to support students across DC. When she isn't working, Aimee loves to spend her time with her cats (Goomba and Boo), going to concerts, or bargain shopping.
  • Alanna Sereboff

    Development associate

    Alanna joined the Reading Partners team in February 2022. Alanna is a proud alumna of McGill University, where she majored in International Development and minored in Political Science and Social Entrepreneurship. After graduation, she moved to D.C. to serve as an AmeriCorps volunteer at Mary House, a transitional housing organization that works with immigrant and refugee families. There, Alanna served as a family advocate and oversaw the after school program. This experience helped her understand the pivotal role that organizations like Reading Partners play in supporting underserved children and strengthened her commitment to fighting for educational equity. Alanna most recently worked as a fundraising canvasser for the International Rescue Committee and the ACLU. Alanna is excited to use her energy, passion, and creativity to support Reading Partners as a Development Associate.
  • Devika Strother

    Communications manager

    Devika Strother is a communications specialist who is passionate about storytelling on behalf of non-profit organizations with missions that make an impact on marginalized communities. A Maryland native, she has held various communications roles with consulting firms and non-profit organizations in the DMV, most recently serving as Communications Manager for an affordable housing non-profit organization. Devika has a Bachelor’s degree from Salisbury University in Journalism and Public Relations. She enjoys writing, swimming, gardening, traveling, reading, and sipping coffee.
  • Diego Torres Diaz

    Program manager

    Diego Torres Diaz grew up in Germantown, Maryland, and attended the University of Maryland - College Park, where he studied Cell Biology & Genetics. During his time in college, he discovered a passion for service and community empowerment through volunteer programs at local elementary schools. His journey in service continued as an AmeriCorps member with a non-profit advocacy group in Baltimore in 2018-2019 and Reading Partners DC during the 2019-2020 school year. During his two service years, he experienced the profound impact a community can have on the literacy potential of its youth. Diego is excited to return to Reading Partners as a program manager and continue his commitment to education equity.
  • Stephanie Wolfe

    Development manager

    Stephanie 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.
  • Belinda Nyarku

    Program associate

    Belinda (They/them) previously served as an AmeriCorps member with Reading Partners DC for the 2019-20 and 2020-21 service years. They are excited join RPDC's program team! Belinda is a DC resident originally from New York City. They have lived in the "DMV" area for 9 years. They are an aspiring educator/child psychologist currently finishing up their bachelors degree at Bowie State University. When they aren't tutoring, they enjoy watching anime and crocheting.
  • Pheobe Kiekhofar

    Program manager

    Phoebe Kiekhofer is a recent M.S.Ed. graduate from Johns Hopkins University and former DCPS elementary educator. Phoebe is overjoyed to re-enter the RPDC community after working as a Program Coordinator from 2019-2020. Phoebe is bilingual and aspires to be trilingual. Her Master's coursework emphasized instructional techniques around the science of reading, and Phoebe is excited to bring these practices to RPDC to ensure quality, impactful literacy instruction.

AmeriCorps team (2020-21 school year)

Literacy leads

Adaobi Akuazaoku, Literacy Lead

Alison Eddins, Literacy Lead 

Bel Nyarku, Literacy Lead 

Caroline Paxton, Literacy Lead

Catherine Pringle, Literacy Lead

Davongah Martin-Lewis, Literacy Lead

Dionne Rameau, Literacy Lead

Fred Brown, Literacy Lead

Isaiah Richmond, Literacy Lead

Jazmine Black, Literacy Lead

Lakeyia Bell, Literacy Lead

Lavanya Shukla, Literacy Lead

Madison Bowers, Literacy Lead

Maranda Estwick, Literacy Lead

Mollie Greenberg, Literacy Lead

Ryan Turse, Literacy Lead

Shiori Zinnen, Literacy Lead

Sydnee Wurtz, Literacy Lead

Tiona Lancaster, Literacy Lead

Distance tutoring coordinators

Catherine Axelsson, Distance Tutoring Coordinator

Claire Starks, Distance Tutoring Coordinator

Courtney Fullwood, Distance Tutoring Coordinator

Dana Dow, Distance Tutoring Coordinator

DeAndre Williams, Regional Distance Tutoring Coordinator

Dylan Leach, Distance Tutoring Coordinator

Elyse Armstrong, Distance Tutoring Coordinator

Helene Pinto, Distance Tutoring Coordinator

Iqra Razzaq, Distance Tutoring Coordinator

Jake Readinger, Distance Tutoring Coordinator

Jazmine Hicks, Distance Tutoring Coordinator

Kristin Williams, Distance Tutoring Coordinator

Kyra Parker, Distance Tutoring Coordinator

Lola Solaru, Distance Tutoring Coordinator

London Ladd, Distance Tutoring Coordinator

Meena Lukas, Distance Tutoring Coordinator

Natalie Danett, Distance Tutoring Coordinator

Taylor Kelly, Distance Tutoring Coordinator

Whitley Hatton, Distance Tutoring Coordinator


Board

Amy Dunbar

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 Engel

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 Fingerhut

Board Chair

Lois has been a dedicated supporter of Reading Partners since 2014 and has enjoyed volunteering at multiple schools over the years including Seaton, Whittier, Wheatley, Malcolm X, and this past year virtually at Payne. She joined the board in 2016 and served for two years as the chair of the sustainability committee, and is currently in her second year as board chair. Lois also serves as a member of the Adas Israel Congregation board of directors, and is an active member of their social action committee. She also serves as a board member of The TraRon Center, dedicated to helping children who are affected by gun violence heal through the arts. Lois retired from the federal government in 2009 where she 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.

Silas Grant

Silas Grant, a lifelong Washingtonian, has committed his life to public service and the betterment of others. Silas has served in many community-based roles, including his service formerly as an Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner and currently on the Mayor’s Commission on Fathers, Men, and Boys. Silas has a professional mission of advising public-facing leaders by providing information and resources that will allow them to make better decisions on behalf of those they serve. Silas is also committed to assisting the next generation of leaders dedicated to community service.

Harry Jaffe

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. 

Tommie Jones, Jr.

Tommie is passionate about helping people and serving his community. For the past six years, he has had leadership roles in the Government of the District of Columbia. He served first in the Executive Office of Mayor Muriel Bowser as the Ward 5 Community Relations Liaison and was then promoted to Deputy Director and Director of the Office of Community Relations and Services. In his work with Mayor Bowser, he connected District residents to services and programs and provided sound advice to the Mayor as it related to constituent service issues in all eight wards.

He has since left the Mayor’s office and now serves as the Chief of External Affairs for the DC Department of Parks and Recreation. At DC Parks and Recreation, he is in charge of all community relations, partnerships, sponsorships, and development for the agency. Tommie is married to the love of his life Monica Jones who is a civilian engineer with the US Department of Navy. They have a son who is a kindergartner in DC Public Schools.

Yvette LaGonterie

After over 30 years in a federal career that focused on immigration operations and policy, Yvette LaGonterie is pleased to have time to dedicate to Reading Partners. Her last position before her retirement was chief of outreach with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services where she previously served as the founding director of the agency’s executive secretariat and as a senior policy advisor. Among the other senior positions she held are Director of international operations for the Department of Homeland Security, the deputy director of International Affairs with the Immigration and Naturalization Service (USINS) and the USINS regional attaché for Latin America and the Caribbean assigned to the American Embassy in Mexico City. Yvette brings years of experience in successfully building collaborative relationships to the service of Reading Partners. Yvette has a bachelor’s in mass communications and master’s in public administration. She is also a Reading Partners tutor.

Laura Dallas McSorley

Laura Dallas McSorley is the director of Early Childhood Policy at the Center for American Progress. Before joining CAP, she supported DC’s early learning organizations on creating inclusive policy agendas and strategic plans. Laura was previously the senior director of early childhood initiatives at Raise DC, where she worked toward collective efforts for stronger early childhood systems for children and families in the District of Columbia. Laura has also served as the vice president of strategic initiatives and partnerships at Teach For America (TFA) and as TFA’s senior managing director for its Early Childhood Education Initiative. Laura taught pre-K at Bridges Public Charter School and Head Start at DC Public Schools. She holds a bachelor’s degree from Rhodes College and a master’s degree in early childhood education from George Mason University. She and her husband live in DC with their two young children.

Diane Mooney

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

Ann Rakestraw is a Reading Partners tutor and the Board Engagement Committee Chair of the Reading Partners DC Board. A wearer of many hats and juggler of many balls, Ann is a lawyer; a strategist; a storyteller; and an entrepreneur. She launched Myriad PLLC, a firm focusing on law, strategy, and mediation, and co-founded Lost-Mountain Entertainment, a development company for original scripted television and feature films.

After clerking on the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, Ann began her legal career as a litigation associate at Williams & Connolly. In 2001, she moved to Verizon, where she worked as in-house counsel for 17 years, concentrating on regulatory and litigation matters. During 2019, Ann held various positions on the United States Presidential Campaign of John Delaney, including Communications Strategist, Legal Counsel, and Director of Human Resources and Volunteer Engagement.

Ann is a graduate of both the University of Virginia and University of Virginia School of Law. She and her husband, Steven Farina, live in Washington, DC with their three children.

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.

Eric Schultz

Founder of The Schultz Group, Eric is adept in advising clients from all spheres – political, financial, technology, entertainment – on how to navigate the intertwined media and political landscape.  After leaving his position as Deputy Press Secretary and Special Assistant to the President during the Obama administration in 2017, one of Eric’s first steps was to jump into the role of Reading Partners tutor.

Audrey Spencer

Audrey Spencer has 15 years of experience as an international education professional specializing in programming and training for literacy, teacher training, STEM, and healthy youth practices that are grounded in inclusive and gender-equitable foundations. Audrey is the Education and Youth Practice Director and has provided technical assistance and thought leadership on development projects in Central Asia, Africa, the Americas, and the Pacific regions. Audrey has experience forging successful partnerships with Ministries of Education, research and training entities, civil society and grassroots stakeholders to design, implement and grow projects that consistently meet or exceed targets and prove to be sustainable. Audrey served as both staff and volunteer with Peace Corps (Belize 2005-2007, Uganda 2011-2015), as an elementary school principal, literacy specialist, and lead teacher as a founding educator with Aspire Public Schools in Los Angeles. She holds an MA in Education, specializing in Curriculum and Instruction, and a BS in Elementary Education.

Abby Walsh

Abby Walsh is the Vice President of Strategy and Operations for the Council on Criminal Justice, a nonpartisan think tank and membership association advancing policies that enhance safety and justice for all. Before launching the Council, Abby led state engagements for the Pew Charitable Trusts, partnering with policymakers to enact data-driven solutions that safely reduced prison populations, improved outcomes for youth in juvenile justice systems, and expanded treatment for substance use disorders. Abby brings a dedication to public service and social justice and a longtime commitment to Reading Partners, where she has been both a tutor and a donor. Abby is a New Leaders Council Fellow (‘17) and a graduate of American University’s School of Public Affairs (B.A. ‘07) and George Washington University (M.P.A. ‘12). A Ward 7 resident and current DCPS parent, Abby is devoted to building high-quality resources for students east of the river.

 

Thanks to Washington, DC Partners

  • American University
 
Americorps

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