Executive director, Washington, DCShukurat 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.
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.
Senior program managerStephanie is a long-time educator committed to closing the opportunity gap for students and families in historically underserved communities. She grew up in Houston, Texas, and came to Washington D.C. in 2004 as a City Year AmeriCorps member. A year of service ignited her passion to address racial injustices through education and service. After graduating from The University of Maryland with a Criminal Justice degree, she went on to explore cultural competency in the social justice sector through service abroad with an International Development graduate program. Her career in education began as a teaching fellow with KIPP Houston and has since been teaching in elementary classrooms in Houston, Washington D.C., and New York City. She is currently exploring opportunities to deepen her understanding of early literacy development and sharing that knowledge with others invested in this work.
Program associateVeronica 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.
Jenese Jones Oden
Program managerJenese Jones Oden has been a staunch advocate for equality through the lens of educational, political advocacy, and community development for over nineteen years. A 7th generation Marylander, she has a sincere passion for empowering and equipping underserved populations through leadership development and targeted skill-building opportunities. After graduating from Clark Atlanta University, she spent two years as a Teach for America Corps member in Saint Louis, Missouri and committed ten additional years to serving our nation’s youth on the front lines as an inspirational educator and change agent for at-risk youth. Jenese’s commitment to eradicating educational inequity has fueled her leadership roles over the last decade. She served as the executive director of MarylandCAN and was a policy advisor fellow in the U.S. Department of Education (ED) under Secretary Arne Duncan. Jenese enjoys literacy and is a certified Orton Gillingham Instructor and supports students with dyslexia, dysgraphia, and executive function challenges. Her leadership extends to serving on the board of Capital Village Public Charter School in Washington, DC. She is excited to join the Reading Partners team.
Development and communications managerDaniela is a nonprofit professional with experience in development, communications, and project management. After she graduated from Masaryk University with a Master's in Environmental 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 worked as a life skills specialist. Daniela is excited to join Reading Partners in advancing educational equity for students in DC.
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.
External relations directorDavita Louie is Reading Partners DC’s external relations director. In this role, she is charged with leading regional fundraising strategy as well as building community engagement solutions in order to drive impact to the organization, and ultimately, the students it serves. Prior to joining Reading Partners, she directed strategy for a portfolio of nonprofit clients at Elevate, working in areas such as youth development, college access, and workforce readiness. Davita also served as the Partnership Development Director for the digital inclusion nonprofit EveryoneOn and as the Director of Business Development and Consulting for the DC-based food incubator Union Kitchen. Davita holds a master’s degree from the SIT Graduate Institute where she specialized in Social Sector Innovation and Management and International Education. Passionate about the power of mentorship and education, Davita has enjoyed volunteering with Big Brothers Big Sisters, College Bound, and Reading Partners! An avid traveller, nothing makes her happier than exploring new places and cultures.
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 managerAimee 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.
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.
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.
AmeriCorps team (2020-2021 school year)
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
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.
Larae Booker is senior director of partner communications at 2U, Inc., a global leader in education technology, and an independent communications consultant, specializing in executive communications, corporate messaging and communications strategy. Previously, Larae led the corporate communications function at the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), the world’s largest HR professional association. Booker held speechwriting, communications and public affairs positions with the U.S. federal government, including a political appointee role in the Obama Administration’s Corporation for National and Community Service and at the U.S. Department of Agriculture. A Pittsburgh, Pa. native, Booker earned a Master of Arts degree from the New York University (NYU) Steinhardt School of Media, Culture, and Communication and a Bachelor of Science degree in Organizational Communication from the Ohio University College of Communication.In her spare time, Booker enjoys spending time with family and friends, reading, singing, jogging, and fitness classes.
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.
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 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.
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 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 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.
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 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.