Barry Omar Brinkley
Executive director, Washington, DC
Barry Omar Brinkley is an education leader with over 20 years of experience as a teacher, school and systems administrator, and nonprofit leader. Most recently, Barry served as the Chief of Staff at DC Prep, a high-performing charter network in the District of Columbia. In addition, Barry served as the Founding Site Director at College Track DC Ward 8 - building and designing college access programming and support for students attending several DC Southeast-based schools. He previously served as the Executive Director of Equity in Student Achievement for Guilford County Schools in North Carolina and as a Student Support Consultant for Turnaround For Children in Washington DC. He started his career as a 4th grade teacher in Compton California.
Barry has a MA in Elementary Education from Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles and a BA in Psychology with a concentration in Family and Child Development from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Barry was a member of the 2017 cohort of the School Systems Leaders Fellowship with Cambiar Education. He was also a 2018 American Express Leadership Academy Fellow with Campaign for Black Male Achievement. Barry currently serves on Teach For America’s National Advisory Board of The Collective, the organization’s national association for alumni of color, where he provides strategic guidance to Teach For America’s senior leadership.
Community engagement directorErika 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.
Program managerKyndall 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.
Development managerJamal Encalade is a proud New Orleans native serving the District of Columbia and its communities for five years. Jamal previously served as a year-round program manager and development associate at E.L. Haynes Middle School, managing a robust experiential-based learning out-of-school-time program and supporting the 16-year-old organization's fundraising efforts. Jamal enjoys reading, creative writing, gaming, and volunteering outside work, serving as the Gay Professional Men of Color's fundraising and development auxiliary chair.
Community engagement associateLyssa 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.
Ramya Kappagantula (they/them)
Community engagement associateRamya Kappagantula is a South Carolina native who moved to DC in 2020. They have previously interned on Capitol Hill with Congressman Clyburn, served as an AmeriCorps member and team leader with City Year DC at Stuart-Hobson Middle School, and was a program associate with One Common Unity in their Peace Together program. Ramya graduated from the University of South Carolina with a BFA in mass communications, with minors in public relations and nonprofit administration. In their free time, Ramya loves reading, painting watercolors (not a professional, just for fun!), cooking new foods, going for bike rides, and cheering on U of SC Gamecock Football and women's basketball.
Special projects managerRoopa 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.
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.
Program directorNadia McNeil-Thomas recently served as the Academic Tutoring and Mentoring Partner for AARP Foundation Experience Corps DC Metro Branch. In this role, Nadia was responsible for volunteer training, partner relations, program management, and evaluation, and records maintenance and compliance. Prior to this, Nadia served as the community engagement specialist where she managed volunteer and partner relationships and assisted with training implementation. She holds a Master’s Degree in Education from Regent University and a BS in Business Management from Georgetown University where she was a collegiate track and field athlete. She is currently pursuing a certificate in Early Childhood Education from Trinity University. Nadia has worked and served in the education field for over 20 years in various capacities. Her past work includes serving as an education director and program director for Out of School Time Non-Profit organizations. She also served at the National Youth Service in Kingston, Jamaica, Reading is Fundamental in DC, and Hands on Atlanta in Atlanta, GA. She has been actively serving in other capacities in the DC community through church involvement, the PTO at her daughter’s schools, volunteering as a mentor and or coach, and teaching fitness programs for adults and kids. Nadia has a passion for fitness, health, wellness, and children. She considers herself on a mission field to enhance youth's education, particularly those in low-income areas who are considered at-risk.
Program managerJahnae Miller is a Los Angeles, CA native who has called the DMV area home for over a decade. She earned a bachelor's in elementary education from Howard University, where she discovered her passion for education during a campus-sponsored service trip aimed at battling illiteracy. Adding to her experience, Jahnae also served with Jumpstart, worked as a teacher’s aide at the early learning program on campus, completed a summer teaching fellowship with Uncommon Schools and fulfilled countless practicum hours in DCPS schools throughout the city. Jahnae began her professional teaching career with Prince George’s County Public Schools, where she taught Kindergarten before transitioning to teaching PK4 (GenEd and SpEd Inclusion) at KIPP DC, where she also taught Kindergarten and spent some time as a school interventionist. During this time, Jahnae completed a fellowship that earned her an additional teaching certificate in special education. In these roles, Jahnae had the pleasure of mentoring, coaching and facilitating professional development for resident teachers to prepare them for success as lead teachers. Following many years in the classroom, Jahnae is excited to join the Reading Partners DC team as a program manager, where she can continue being a change agent in education. In her spare time, Jahnae enjoys traveling, reading, hanging with friends and family, and spending quality time with her pup, Aspen.
Program associateWhile studying for my undergraduate at the University of the District of Columbia in 2014, I stumbled upon a life-changing opportunity. I was given the chance to serve in a Pre-K 4 classroom in ward 8 through an AmeriCorps program called JumpStart. My experience with JumpStart was so rewarding that I decided to join City Year. In the summer of 2018 I landed the title of site coordinator for Reading Parters. Since then I have transitioned from an AmeriCorps member into a SPA-ZE role and I now hold the title of program associate for Breakthrough Montessori PC, Moten Elementary, and Patterson Elementary. I am truly dedicated to this life of service and I look forward to many possibilities within Reading Partners.
Program managerTia Simmons is a native of Jacksonville, Fl. She received her Associate of Arts degree at 17 years old and her Bachelor of Arts in English (sociology minor) from the University of North Florida just two years later. Upon relocating to Washington, DC, in 2017, Tia began serving for Ameri Corps as a tutor with Literacy Lab. At the end of her term of service in June 2018, Tia started at The Johns Hopkins University as a part of Urban Teachers. Tia taught first-grade reading and social studies for four and a half years and served as a mentor for resident teachers. She received her Master of Science in Education in 2020 and became an alumna of Urban Teachers in the spring of 2022. Currently, Tia works part-time as an interviewer for Urban Teachers while pursuing a Master of Business Administration at The Johns Hopkins Carey Business School. Committed to education and the fight for equitable resources and opportunities in lowkey income, minority-dominant neighborhoods, Tia joined Reading Partners as a program manager in November 2022. Tia enjoys cooking, visiting home and the beaches, boxing, and reading in her free time.
Diego Torres Diaz
Program managerDiego 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.
External relations directorStephanie 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.
Amy worked in the Senate for Senator Paul Tsongas and the U.S. Department of Transportation as a Transportation Analyst before law school. She practiced as a Public Finance associate at Boston’s Palmer & Dodge, before becoming Director of Government Relations for the National Association of Bond Lawyers. She has retired from law and supports various charitable organizations. She has volunteered as a tutor with Reading Partners for 9 years at 9 schools, with up to 10 sessions weekly during the pandemic. She has been on the Reading Partners Board for 5 years. Working with her students is her weekday passion.
Elizabeth Weaver Engel has been volunteering with Reading Partners since 2016 and joined the board in the summer of 2018. 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.
When she’s not helping associations grow, Elizabeth volunteers regularly in the community with groups like the Capital Area Food Bank, House of Ruth, the DC statehood movement, and the Ward 6 Democrats. She’s a major theater buff, loves going to hear live music, and cooks, reads, and tends her small garden in her Near Northeast neighborhood in her spare time.
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.
Eve Howard joined the Board of Reading Partners in June 2022, and is excited to become a volunteer in the Fall of 2022. For the past three decades, Eve has practiced law in DC at Hogan Lovells, where she is a partner and leader of the firm’s global capital markets practice. Her expertise includes corporate governance and finance, and she has been an active leader of the firm’s diversity and inclusion initiatives for many years. Eve’s pro bono legal work has largely focused on DC-based schools and early childhood education programs. Eve graduated from Dartmouth College, where she developed her lifelong love of reading as an English major, and Duke Law School. In her free time, when Eve is not reading, she enjoys crossword puzzles and other word games, walking and jogging in Rock Creek Park near her DC home, studying birds, and photography.
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.
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 agency’s Executive Secretariat and a Senior Policy Advisor. Among the other 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 B.A. in Mass Communications and Masters 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 D.C. 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 D.C. 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 D.C. with their two young children.
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.
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 and currently a senior advisor to former President Barack Obama, served in the White House as the Principal Deputy Press Secretary and Special Assistant to the president. Recognized by Politico as the strategist “White House officials turn to in a crisis to handle communications,” Schultz advised President Obama, spoke on behalf of the administration on Air Force One and in the White House briefing room, and helped manage the administration’s proactive messaging and news-of-the-day responses.
Schultz is a veteran of numerous statewide and national campaigns. Before joining the White House, Schultz served as communications director for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, where he became “well-known among Washington reporters for his aggressive, behind-the-scenes approach,” as noted by Politico. Schultz spent several years on Capitol Hill working for key U.S. senators, including now Democratic Leader Charles Schumer. Schultz, who recently advised Netflix’s reboot of Designated Survivor, currently provides strategic communications guidance to clients in the political, financial, technology and entertainment sectors.
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 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.
In addition to Reading Partners, Diane Mooney is a board member and officer of Horizons Greater Washington. She previously served for many years on the Board of Trustees of the Maret School, Washington, DC, and held numerous other volunteer positions at Maret. Diane is a previous board member/officer and was an ESL instructor for many years at the non-profit Washington English Center, Washington, DC. She 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 four Washington, DC elementary schools since 2013.
Diane grew up in Princeton, New Jersey, and received her B.A. 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 where she received her J.D. Diane went on to work in telecommunications law for 14 years, including private practice in Washington, DC. 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.
Ellen Kohn has been a volunteer with Reading Partners DC since 2018 and joined the board in the summer of 2022. Ellen is a retired attorney. As an associate, partner, and of counsel with Steptoe & Johnson, LLP, she advised clients on a wide range of employee benefits and executive compensation matters, with particular emphasis on the application of ERISA’s tax provisions to qualified retirement plans. Ellen began her career with the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law challenging the inequitable system found in several states for funding public schools that relied heavily on property tax revenues.
Ellen has had a life-long interest in fostering educational opportunity. She began tutoring young children as a high school student and continued through much of her life with a variety of organizations. As Secretary of the Arronson Foundation, she has sought to identify organizations in the Washington, D.C. area committed to offering programs that deliver educational success. As a member of the board of St. Andrew’s Episcopal School in Potomac, Maryland in the early 2000’s, she participated in the hiring of a new Head committed to transforming the school into a more diverse and inclusive community, and she ensured that fund-raising goals and campaigns reflected those priorities.
Ellen is proud of her daughters, both of whom work in education. She enjoys spending time with her three rambunctious grandsons. She also is involved in the care of her aging sisters. She loves the theater, walking through the neighborhood, and puttering in her garden.