When adults improve their literacy skills, the ripples extend to benefit their families, their communities, and beyond.”
Christine’s passion for adult literacy started in high school when she volunteered as an ESL tutor at a refugee center. That passion has served her well during her many years as an English language instructor, both locally and abroad, and as the Executive Director of Literacy Works. Under Christine’s leadership, Literacy Works has provided essential training to more than 10,000 professionals and volunteer tutors and thoughtfully developed innovative programs that help organizations better serve individuals with low literacy. When Christine is not at work, it is likely that you will find her in triangle pose on her yoga mat or dancing with friends in a Zumba class.
Director of Development
Julie Burleigh brings 20+ years of development and consulting experience to Literacy Works. At Literacy Works, Julie leads and implements our fundraising efforts.
Access to literacy is fundamental for a fair and just society and necessary for individuals, families, and communities to thrive.”
Content Director of Clear Language Lab
Melanie Sampson has over 15 years of experience in adult education, including teaching, program administration, and volunteer management as well as a master’s degree in linguistics. At Literacy Works, she oversees project management at our Clear Language Lab. In this work, she designs training for professionals across a variety of sectors including workforce development, health, legal aid and others so that programs can more effectively communicate with participants. She “translates” handbooks, forms, and other client-facing documents to make them clear and accessible to adults of diverse educational backgrounds. She also consults with program staff to identify how literacy may affect their participants and how they can reduce barriers. In her free time, Melanie enjoys reading advice columns, hanging out with her dog, and walking around Chicago.
Literacy is a key that opens doors. When individuals improve their literacy skills, they are more able to advocate for themselves and participate in their communities.”
Director of Community Literacy
Becky DeForest has over 15 years of experience in education. She started out as an elementary school teacher, but found herself drawn to adult education and its rewarding combination of teaching and public service. Becky brings knowledge and skills in ESL and ABE instruction, job readiness training, textbook publishing, and low-literacy materials. For Literacy Works, Becky oversees our many services to adult education providers. She facilitates trainings for adult literacy tutors and professionals, develops specialized trainings and networking events, and manages our staff of talented trainers. She also conducts workshops in expressive writing for adult learners, refers students to local programs via our Adult Education Helpline, and coordinates our OK Learn parent-education workshops. She enjoys taking dance classes, brainstorming, and falling down Wikipedia rabbit holes.
The library is the temple of learning, and learning has liberated more people than all the wars in history.”
Gabi holds a BA in Gender and Sexuality Studies and Sociology from the University of Chicago where she also worked as a grade school teaching assistant. During her year of service with LVI VOCAL, Gabi is overseeing membership and registration for Tutor Essentials trainings. She enjoys reading, listening to podcasts, cross-stitching, and singing world folk music.
Literacy is about knowledge. It is a fundamental tool individuals can use to transform their lives.”
Finance and Operations Coordinator
Samantha Gualito first joined Literacy Works as the Program Associate and is now the Finance and Operations Coordinator. She oversees Literacy Works’ accounts, HR functions, and technology infrastructure. Samantha is currently in graduate school at Roosevelt University’s Secondary Education program. She enjoys reading, writing, listening to podcasts, and going to readings and concerts throughout Chicago.
Board of Directors
Shannon Callahan, President
Women’s Leadership and Economic Empowerment Director, YWCA Evanston/North Shore
Will Linder, Vice President
Principal, Will Linder Marketing Communications
Christine Sullivan, Treasurer
CAS Consulting, LLC
Kimberly Clark, Secretary
Financial Advisor, Waddell & Reed
Managing Director of Enterprise Science, Deloitte Consulting LLP
Mary Ann Dyar
Adult Redeploy Illinois Program Administrator, Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority
Corporate Counsel, Allstate (retired)
Senior Outreach Planner, Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning
Matthew C. Hynes
Portfolio Manager, The Northern Trust
Director of Frontline Focus, Chicago Jobs Council
Christine Kenny, Ex Officio
Executive Director, Literacy Works
Director of Development, Voices for Illinois Children
Partner, Foley and Lardner, LLP
Senior Counsel, Loeb & Loeb LLP
Instructional Coach, Reading In Motion
Celina Chatman-Nelson, PhD
Associate Dean of Academic Diversity and Inclusion, Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, Columbia University
Attorney, Allstate (retired)