Members and Organizations
American Library Association
Founded in 1876, during the Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia, the mission of ALA is to provide leadership for the development, promotion and improvement of library and information services and the profession of librarianship in order to enhance learning and ensure access to information for all. The ALA Office for Diversity, Literacy and Outreach Services supports library and information science workers in creating responsible and all-inclusive spaces that service and represent the entire community.
Kevin Strowder – Director, Office for Diversity, Literacy, and Outreach Services, American Library Association
Kevin came into the role of Director of the Office for Diversity for the American Libraries Association in June of 2021. Prior to that, he spent almost 6 years at Embarc, the nation’s only teacher-led organization that achieves student academic success through systematic, long-term social and cultural exposure. With extended experience in the public sector, his efforts create pathways for talent to enhance skills, realign with the company mission, and carve out a plan for collective upward mobility.
Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy
BBF’s calling is to improve lives through literacy. They are dedicated to expanding access to literacy services for adults nationwide because of the belief in the uniquely transformative power of literacy. The ability to read, write, and comprehend brings dignity to daily life and equal opportunity to fulfill one’s greatest potential. BBF envisions an America in which all adults have the opportunity to read, write, and comprehend in order to navigate the world with dignity.
Andrew Roberts – Interim President and Chief Executive Officer, Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy
Andrew Roberts has been helping mission-driven organizations develop impactful strategy and translate it into everyday operations for the entire course of his career. He currently serves as the Interim President and Chief Executive Officer at the Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy, an organization dedicated to creating an America in which all adults have the opportunity to read, write, and comprehend in order to navigate the world with dignity. Prior to stepping into his current position, Andrew served as the Barbara Bush Foundation’s Chief Operating Officer for more than three years. In 2023, Andrew was honored as a Top 100 Chief Operating Officer by the OnCon Icon Awards. Previously, Andrew served in a number of different management roles at AARP. During his tenure as AARP’s Vice President of Enterprise Strategy, he developed a Malcolm Baldrige award-winning best practice strategic planning process for the organization’s $250M social impact portfolio. As Director of Organizational Effectiveness, he helped build and execute against a comprehensive operational improvement plan for the entire 2,600-employee nonprofit organization.
Coalition on Adult Basic Education (COABE)
COABE’s mission is to inspire educators so adults succeed and communities thrive through providing leadership, professional development, advocacy, and communication services that encourage greater consciousness and cultural competency in our interactions with teachers, administrators, adult learners, and our partners. COABE is committed to using their platform and influence to celebrate, engage with, and listen to adult education communities and diverse voices of the field.
Sharon Bonney – Chief Executive Officer, Coalition on Adult Basic Education
Sharon Bonney began her career with COABE as a part-time administrator in 2009, moving up in the organization as she showed an unparalleled commitment to the field of adult education. Sharon has helped advance the organization on a number of fronts, including managing efforts to move it from a 1,300 member group in 2009 to 50,000 active members in 2024. She was the guiding force behind designing and implementing a new national conference model, developing new state, national, and workforce partnerships with more than 100 organizations, rebranding the COABE research journal and a related research-to-practice initiative, and designing all new professional development offerings, including webinars that have engaged more than 50,000 participants. Bonney spearheaded the development of the internationally acclaimed, six-time award-winning Educate and Elevate public awareness campaign, which brought much-needed visibility to the value of adult education and prompted more than 250,000 contacts with legislators at the local, state, and federal levels. These efforts staved off $200 million in funding cuts and added a $108 million increase in funding for adult education. In addition, Bonney successfully promoted a national two-time award winning campaign, Move Ahead with Adult Ed, to increase enrollments in local adult education programs that were hard hit by the pandemic. Moreover, she has diversified and increased revenue streams for the organization by envisioning, designing, and implementing many innovative strategies.
Shaketta Thomas – President, Coalition on Adult Basic Education
Shaketta Thomas is an experienced education specialist with a demonstrated history of working in Correctional Education. She is skilled in adult education, curriculum development, public speaking, management, and program development. Shaketta is a strong professional with a Master of Education focused in Curriculum and Instruction and Education Specialists in Education Psychology from Regent University. She has worked at COABE since July 2019, previously working at the Virginia Association for Adult and Continuing Education.
Citizens United for Rehabilitation of Errants (CURE) is a grassroots organization that was founded in Texas in 1972. It became a national organization in 1985. Their mission surrounds the idea that prisons should be used only for those who absolutely must be incarcerated and that those who are incarcerated should have all of the resources they need to turn their lives around. They believe that human rights documents provide a sound basis for ensuring that criminal justice systems meet their goals. Among its many goals, CURE supports a holistic concept for education including basic, secondary, post secondary and digital education to prepare returning citizens to be successful as citizens, parents, and worker
Stephen Steurer, PhD – Consultant, CURE National
Stephen is an educator and criminologist. His experience includes teaching high school and middle school as a Title I Reading teacher and Administrator in public schools and adult and juvenile correctional systems. He has also taught History, English and Italian in Chicago and Washington, DC. public schools. For 28 years he worked for the Maryland State Department of Education as a teacher trainer and federal program administrator in the state adult and juvenile correctional systems. Concurrent with his Maryland position and continuing after retirement from the state he worked as the Executive Director of the Correctional Education Association for 29 years. Stephen also worked for five years as an adjunct Collegiate Professor of Criminology for the University of Maryland University College teaching both face to face and online courses.
Currently he is the US Reentry/Education Advocate for CURE, an international prison reform and nonprofit volunteer organization headquartered in Washington, DC. Recently, he has been working as the Chairperson for the Correctional Education Working Group at the Barbara Bush Foundation. In August he published How to Unlock the Power of Prison Education for the Center for Human Capital and Education at Educational Testing Service. Past experiences include being the first President of the Maryland Association for Adult, Continuing and Community Education and an accreditation auditor for both the American Corrections Association and the Correctional Education Association. He has written numerous articles in correctional and educational journals, conducted training and workshops in the US, Europe, China, Japan and Australia and participated in nationally recognized educational research on education and recidivism.
Dollar General Literacy Foundation
DGLF’s focus is believing that everyone deserves a equal opportunity to receive a basic education. They invest in literacy programs that are increasing access, enhancing the quality of instruction, and inspiring and advancing innovation. DGLF helps individuals of all ages pursue their educational goals and achieve their dreams by investing in literacy programs that help students learn to read, prepare for the high school equivalency or learn English.
Denine Torr – Vice President of Corporate Social Responsibility and Philanthropy, Dollar General
Denine leads strategic development and execution of national, regional and local philanthropic-related programs and initiatives for Dollar General’s 19,000+ store communities, distribution centers, and corporate headquarters. In addition to her philanthropic responsibilities, she also leads Dollar General’s social responsibility activities and initiatives, as well as the company’s environmental, social, and governance report on sustainability and other related disclosures. Denine brings more than 20 years of Dollar General and corporate philanthropy experience to this position. She currently serves as chairperson of the board for Governor’s Early Literacy Foundation and on the board of directors for the American Indian College Fund and the Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy.
Lindsey Basler – Director of Corporate Social Responsibility and Philanthropy, Dollar General
Lindsey supports the strategic development and execution of national, regional and local philanthropic-related initiatives for Dollar General’s 19,000+ store communities, distribution centers and corporate headquarters. In her role, Lindsey supports the company’s corporate giving programs, employee volunteerism and engagement, cause-marketing initiatives, the Dollar General Employee Assistance Foundation and the Dollar General Literacy Foundation. She leads the Dollar General Literacy Foundation’s grant programs and partnerships, which have awarded more than $238 million, impacting more than 19.6 million students.
Houston Mayor’s Office of Adult Literacy
The Houston Mayor’s Office for Adult Literacy (MOAL) focuses on enhancing adult literacy advocacy and awareness and its impact on our economy, communities, families, and individuals. MOAL promotes awareness of, and advocates and builds capacity for, Adult Literacy and Adult Education causes and providers in the City of Houston.
Federico Salas-Isnardi -Director, Mayor’s Office for Adult Literacy, Houston, TX
Federico was named the first Director of the Mayor’s Office for Adult Literacy in Houston, Texas. This was announced on September 17, 2019 by Mayor Turner at the Julia Ideson Building of the Houston Public Library, where the MOAL is now housed. The Mayor’s Office for Adult Literacy envisions a Houston where every individual can obtain the skills necessary to prosper and reach their full potential and where low literacy no longer keeps families in poverty. The Office builds partnerships, advocates for adult learners and families, enhances Houston’s response to the need for adult literacy services, and educates the community at large on literacy’s impact on our economy, communities, families, and individuals. Federico has been in this position for about 4 and a half years and hopes to tap into the knowledge and expertise of individuals in the world of literacy nationwide.
National Association of State Directors of Adult Education (NASDAE)
Since its inception, NASDAE has established itself as a major force in the adult education community. The organization offers membership to 50 states and territories. NASDAE is organized by state directors of adult education with the purposes of coordinating and developing professional development programs, to serve as a catalyst for public policy review, and to disseminate information to the field of adult education.
Patricia Tyler – Executive Director, NASDAE
Patricia Tyler was appointed to the role of Executive Director of the National Association of State Directors of Adult Education in March 2017, after serving as the State Director for Adult Education in Maryland for eight years. Her career in adult education spans three decades, beginning with her time as instructor, student counselor, grant administrator, teacher trainer, and accountability manager in local adult education programs. Patricia joined the Maryland State Department of Education in 1998 as the Specialist for Workforce Development to provide guidance for the implementation of adult education under the newly enacted Workforce Investment Act, and subsequently led the administration of Family Literacy partnerships in Adult Education, prior to being appointed as the Chief of Adult Instructional Services. She presided over Maryland’s transformational repositioning of the state adult education program to the Department of Labor in 2009, as the State Director for Adult Education.
Sheryl Hart – Assistant Director, NASDAE
Sheryl has been the assistant director of NASDAE since January 2023. Prior to that, she spent 21 years working for the Arizona Department of Education. She worked both as the Deputy Associate Superintendent and the Educational Technology Director and is responsible for navigating the Arizona Education System through the opportunities and challenges under the implementation of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act. She is also the NASDAE Liaison for COABE.
Jobs for the Future
Jobs for the Future’s mission is to drive transformation of the U.S. education and workforce systems to achieve equitable economic advancement for all. Their goal is that in 10 years, the 75 million people facing systemic barriers to advancement will have quality jobs. JFF wishes to help strengthen the current adult education systems and support on-ramps to further education and training and to design and test new transformational models and system changes.
Lisa Soricone – Senior Research Developer, Jobs for the Future
Lisa Soricone, Ed.D. is Senior Research Director at JFF in Boston, where she leads a team focused on research and evaluation of programs and policies that help adults succeed in career pathways and postsecondary education and training. Her work has focused on efforts to increase access to career pathways in IT and other sectors, frontline worker advancement initiatives, and systems change in workforce development. With over 20 years of experience in adult education, she has written multiple publications related to adult learning, including a brief examining diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility in adult foundational education; an evaluation of bridge-to-college programs for adult immigrants; a report on English language services in Boston; and tools for integrating health literacy into basic skills instruction. She has worked to support instructional coaches in the OCTAE-funded Teaching Skills that Matter (TSTM) and Digital Resilience in the American Workforce (DRAW) initiatives and is a member of the IES-funded Collaborative Research for Educating Adults with Technology Enhancements (CREATE) Adult Skills Network Lead. She holds a Master’s degree in International Education and a doctorate in Community Education and Lifelong Learning from the Harvard Graduate School of Education.
National Center for Families Learning
NCFL believes education is a shared responsibility. Partnering with educators, families, literacy advocates, and communities, they have worked for over 30 years to eradicate poverty through equitable education solutions for families across multiple generations. With the right resources, care and opportunities, NCFL works to eliminate systemic barriers, create powerful learning experiences, and grow equitable communities.
Dr. Felicia Cumings Smith – President and Chief Executive Officer, National Center for Families Learning
A lifelong educator and national thought leader for teaching and learning, Dr. Felicia C. Smith brings decades of experience to advance NCFL’s mission of working to eradicate poverty through education solutions for families. Smith’s career in education spans nearly three decades, where she has served in various leadership roles in P-12, higher education, nonprofits, and philanthropy. Her career has allowed her to experience leading systems to develop a unique vantage point of a learner’s educational trajectory. She is driven by her commitment to equity and excellence for every learner.
Before joining NCFL, Smith was the senior director of Global Delivery at the National Geographic Society, where she oversaw the implementation and programming of domestic and global education strategies focused on transforming the classroom and family experiences. Smith served as assistant superintendent of Teaching and Learning in the 27th largest urban district in Louisville, Kentucky, as a senior program officer at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and as associate commissioner for the Kentucky Department of Education. She began her career as an elementary classroom teacher and has taught at the University of Kentucky, where she led the Collaborative Center for Literacy Development, which is legislatively required to provide professional development and conduct research in literacy for preschool through adult learners. Recognized as an Aspen-Pahara education fellow, she serves on several national and local boards. Smith serves as Vice Chair of the Southern Regional Education Board and was appointed by Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear to chair the state’s Early Childhood Advisory Council. At the forefront of centering equity in education through inclusive programming, in 2021, participated in The Equity Lab’s prestigious year-long Nexus Fellowship. Smith holds an Ed.D. in education leadership and administration and an M.A. in elementary education with an emphasis on literacy development.
Tony Peyton – Executive Vice President and Chief of Staff, National Center for Families Learning
Before returning to NCFL, Tony Peyton served as the Program Director at the C.E. and S. Foundation, a private family foundation focused on education grantmaking, where he led the development and execution of a grantmaking strategy focused on important issues such as early childhood education, K-12, Out-of-School Time, postsecondary education, family stability, and family engagement. He previously served on Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer’s senior staff as the Director of Public Policy, a role in which he created, developed, and managed the city’s Cradle to Career initiative. He also served as the primary liaison for the mayor with local, state, and national education institutions and organizations. Earlier in his career, Tony was the Senior Director of Policy and Government Relations at the National Center for Families Learning (NCFL), where he was responsible for federal and state policy, lobbying, and advocacy activities. Tony serves on the Board of Directors of the National Civic League and the University of Louisville’s Early Learning Campus and Early Childhood Research Center. He was also a founding member of the Board of Advisors of the Goodling Institute for Research in Family Literacy at Penn State University. In 2020, Tony was one of ten people in the country chosen for the inaugural cohort of the National League of Cities (NLC)’s Early Childhood Municipal Fellowship sponsored by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, Bezos Family Foundation, and Pritzker Children’s Initiative. Tony attended Paducah Community College, received his B.A. and M.A. from the University of Louisville, and completed the Certificate Program in Legislative Studies at Georgetown University’s Government Affairs Institute.
National Coalition for Literacy
NCL’s mission is to advance adult education, family literacy, and English language acquisition in the United States by increasing public awareness of the need to expand programs and funding; by promoting effective public policy; and by serving as an authoritative resource on national adult education issues.
Deborah Kennedy – Executive Director, National Coalition for Literacy
Deborah has worked at NCL for over 7 years, previously working at TESOL. She is an expert in adult second language acquisition and provides professional development for teachers of adult English language learners. As the executive director for NCL, she is an advocate for adult learners, adult basic skills programs, and teachers in the field of adult basic education and English as a second language.
For over 60 years, ProLiteracy has been working to make strong adult literacy programs stronger. As the world’s leader in adult education practice, they provide funding, comprehensive training, professional learning, accessible research, and New Readers Press digital and print resources to unleash the power of literacy to transform lives.
Mark Vineis – President and Chief Executive Officer, ProLiteracy
Mark has been the President and Chief Executive Officer since October 2021 and is responsible for the continued scaling of ProLiteracy into its next chapter of impact in adult literacy. He is dedicated to working with stakeholders across the sector to rethink and shape student centered learning and how professional learning and technology can help educators and students to their highest potential. Prior to working at ProLiteracy, Mark founded Mondo Education in 1986. What began as a professional development organization, Mondo evolved into a creator of ELA supplemental, core, intervention, and digital schools. Over the years, Mark has been able to work closely with renowned literacy and school improvement experts, authors, and researchers, as well as collaborate with an impressive team who is passionate about supporting educators and students.
TESOL International Association
TESOL International Association advances professional expertise in English language teaching to speakers of other languages in multilingual contexts worldwide through professional learning, research, standards, and advocacy.
Jeff Hutcheson – Director, Advocacy and Public Policy, TESOL
With over 25 years of experience in the field of English teaching and learning, Jeff is a passionate advocate for the rights and needs of TESOL professionals and students worldwide. As the Director of Advocacy and Public Policy at TESOL International Association, he leads the association’s efforts to influence local, state, and global policies that affect the TESOL community and advance the interests of its members and affiliates. Jeff is committed to promoting the values of diversity, inclusion, and excellence in TESOL, and to fostering collaborations and partnerships across the field and beyond.
In addition to his role at TESOL, Jeff is also a founding partner at Global Ed Professionals, a consultancy firm that provides solutions for internationalizing the campus and preparing students for the global community. In this role, Jeff leverages his extensive experience and expertise in ESL and higher education partnerships, as well as cross-border business development, to help clients achieve their goals and enhance their outcomes. Some of the skills that he brings into this role are policy advocacy, immigration, staff mentoring, and corporate training.
Heidi Faust – Grants, Projects, and Partnerships Office, TESOL
Heidi has worked with TESOL for over 5 years. She has extensive experience in English as an additional/foreign language teacher for teacher professional development education consultation and capacity building programs and working on grants and special projects. She is also a private consultant for the Center of Applied Linguistics. Prior to her work at TESOL, she worked for 9 years as the Reading Apprenticeship Consultant and Training Facilitator at West Ed.
ValueUSA was a national organization of adult learners that worked to improve our nation’s education system and help adult learners realize their human potential.
Marty Finsterbusch – Executive Director, Value USA
Marty is an award winning leader considered an expert in Student/Learner involvement, within Adult Basic Education, with a solid foundation of national level relationship building as well as developing Adult Learners to be more involved within their programs. As Executive Director for 34 years, Marty has supervised staff, managed programs and program development, trained programs, sought after speakers in the field, and organized adult learner workshops across the country.
WorldEd is made up of education development experts who believe that everyone has the right to a high-quality education. Their work is driven by the belief that education is a powerful tool to improve the quality of life and increase economic opportunities for people worldwide. WorldEd’s programs create and strengthen equitable access to services that support people’s individual and collective needs. These programs improve adult education, build early-grade literacy, help displaced people, mitigate the effects of HIV, and reduce gender-based violence. Their work is driven by equity and inclusion.
Priyanka Sharma – Vice President, World Education
As VP of World Education, Priyanka Sharma oversees the organization’s U.S,-based projects and centers of expertise, including the EdTech Center, National College Transition Network, New England Literacy Resource Center, and SABES Program Support Center. Priyanka leads projects on post-secondary career readiness, technology integration, digital transformation, and digital skills development. She co-leads Digital US, a national initiative with a cross-sector approach to design a learn and work ecosystem that fosters digital resilience for all learner workers. She also directs the New England Literacy Resource Center, leading projects that emerge from collaboration among policymakers, professional developers, and practitioners.
Jen Vanek – Director of Digital Learning and Research, EdTech Center at World Education
Jen Vanek, PhD, is a researcher, teacher educator, and professional learning facilitator who focuses on digital literacy, online learning, classroom technology integration, and English literacy and language learning. She directs communities of practice that support adult education researchers, practitioners, and administrators as they develop educational opportunities for adult learners. Jen has collaborated in research and technical assistance projects with a diverse range of scholars and policy leaders. She is co-principal investigator on US Department of Education/Institute for Education Sciences research projects exploring technology use in adult education and a long-time partner of the Literacy, and Technology Research Group at Portland State University, exploring characteristics of effective 21C workplace learning.