President and FounderRead more
President and Founder502-584-1133 x129
Sharon Darling is the president and founder of the National Center for Families Learning (NCFL). Though she had been a teacher for years, Sharon’s inspiration for developing the formal family literacy movement came in a Kentucky church basement, where she was volunteering to help adults learn to read in 1970. She discovered then that working in a classroom only took students so far if they didn’t have the support of their family. To do something systemic for children’s education, parents had to be involved and engaged. Fast forward to present day, NCFL’s model of dual-generational learning includes children’s education, adult education, parent time, and interactive literacy activities among parents and their children (Parent and Child Together (PACT) Time®). Through Sharon’s leadership, the organization has spread this family literacy model to thousands of partner sites across the United States in diverse settings such as community centers, homeless shelters, libraries, and public schools. The family literacy model is culturally sensitive and has thrived no matter what population it served–inner-city families; immigrant families from Latin America, the Middle East, Far East and Africa; American Indians; and indigenous populations from Canada to New Zealand.
Sharon has been well recognized for her contribution in helping millions of families climb out of poverty and into self-sufficiency. Her many awards and recognitions include: the National Humanities Medal awarded by President George W. Bush; the Razor Walker Award from the University of North Carolina; Woman of Distinction Award, Birmingham Southern University; Albert Schweitzer Prize for Humanitarianism, Johns Hopkins University; and the Harold W. McGraw Award for Outstanding National Educator. In addition, she has been featured on the Arts & Entertainment television network’s series, Biography, inducted into the Frederick Douglass Hall of Fame on Capitol Hill, is frequently quoted in the national news, and is featured in education related stories on television. Sharon serves as an advisor on education issues for governors, policy makers, business leaders, and foundations.
When she’s not busy being NCFL’s fearless leader, Sharon enjoys exercising, reading, traveling, rooting for her favorite sports team, spending time with family and friends, and eating great meals.
As Grants Manager, Rebecca works to pursue new funding opportunities by researching, writing, and reporting on funding partnerships. She brings to NCFL nine years of experience working in fundraising, special events, project management, and administration for higher education institutions and nonprofits. Prior to joining NCFL, Rebecca worked in development at Teach Kentucky and Indiana University Southeast. She has a Bachelor of Arts from Smith College in Massachusetts and an M.B.A. from Indiana University Southeast. In her spare time, Rebecca seeks out new experiences and perspectives by traveling any chance that she gets, fawns over cute animals, is addicted to reading thriller and mystery novels, and loves playing any type of sport.
Family Learning SpecialistContact 502-584-1133 x199
In her role as Family Learning Specialist, Cindy Baumert supports various family leadership and community engagement initiatives. She brings a strong background in family and community engagement as the former director of a statewide parent leadership program in Kentucky and the co-author of The Missing Piece of the Proficiency Puzzle: Recommendations for Involving Families and Community in Improving Student Achievement, a report commissioned by the Kentucky Department of Education. Cindy has 20 years’ experience as an education policy advocate at the local, state, and national level for students who have learning disabilities and students who receive free and reduced-price meals, and their families. Prior to her career in education advocacy, she owned a software development company and was an IBM marketing representative. Cindy holds a Master's in Engineering from the University of Louisville Speed Scientific School. Cindy grew up in Louisville and enjoys traveling, exploring new restaurants, reading mystery novels, and spending time with her family and friends.
Administrative Assistant for Federal ProgramsContact 502-584-1133 x216
Susan Birch brings 35 years of administrative and education experience to NCFL. Previously, she served as a billing clerk, inventory control clerk, transportation coordinator, and accounts payable clerk. Prior to joining NCFL, Susan was the director of a family resource center. As the Administrative Assistant for Federal Programs, Susan will provide various types of support to the Statewide Family Engagement Center directors in Arizona and Nebraska. Susan loves dogs and has a Dachshund named Sissy. Her two favorite places to visit are the beach and Gatlinburg, Tennessee.
Family Learning SpecialistContact 402-405-0510
In her role as Family Learning Specialist, Jessica provides high quality coaching and professional development to families and educators across Nebraska. She has a strong knowledge in technical assistance and coaching from previously investigating cases of discrimination in Nebraska. Jessica also brings many years of experience working in the nonprofit field, where she focused on low-income, immigrant, and refugee families. Jessica holds a Bachelor of Arts in Global Studies focusing on Spanish and Psychology. In her spare time, Jessica enjoys playing with her dog, reading, traveling, and spending time with family and friends.
Director, Professional DevelopmentContact 502-584-1133 x174
As the Director of Professional Development, Andrea brings years of experience to the NCFL team, including six years as an early childhood classroom teacher and four years at the director level. At NCFL, she provides her early childhood expertise to many initiatives, including Say & Play with Words, NCFL Family Learning, and professional development of school practitioners. Andrea has a Bachelor of Science and Master’s in Early Childhood Education from University of Dayton. Andrea is a dog lover who enjoys reading, spending time with family and friends, and cooking.
Corporate Partnerships ManagerContact 502-584-1133 x210
As NCFL’s Development Manager, Brooke works to secure funding for NCFL’s education initiatives, including the annual Families Learning Conference. She manages relationships with many of NCFL’s financial partners and identifies potential partnerships and funding streams to continue and scale NCFL’s work in communities throughout the country. She brings experience from her roles as the advancement director at Nativity Academy at St. Boniface and as the corporate relations manager at Frazier History Museum, both located in Louisville, Kentucky. She has a Bachelor of Science in Interpersonal/Organizational Communications from Appalachian State University in North Carolina (go, Mountaineers!). When she’s not working, Brooke enjoys spending time camping, Crossfitting, cycling, and spending time with her two kids, husband, and friends.
Communications CoordinatorContact 502-584-1133 x132
In her role as Communications Coordinator, Angel Chichester is responsible for all publicity and events related to NCFL's Say & Play With Words Louisville initiative. She also provides additional support through a variety of internal communications efforts. Prior to joining the communications team, Angel served as the Family and Child Education (FACE) Administrative Assistant. She has over a decade of marketing experience, working for Mindful Direction Counseling Services and Exceptional Teens and Adults prior to joining NCFL. Angel has an MBA in Business Marketing from Indiana Wesleyan and a Bachelor of Science in Business Marketing from Northern Kentucky University. In her spare time, she enjoys singing, playing volleyball, watching movies, hanging out with friends, and just having fun.
Vice President, External AffairsContact 502-655-0770
Shea Coughlin brings 15 years of experience in fundraising, communications, government affairs, and volunteer management to NCFL with former roles at organizations such as the award-winning Noble Network of Charter Schools and longstanding social service provider Northwestern University Settlement Association, in Chicago, IL. Shea led advocacy and government relations strategy for an organization representing 12 urban high schools and 600 employees. Additionally, she has played leadership roles in a $30 million capital fundraising campaign, stewarded public funding opportunities and other strategic initiatives to advance the goals of the organizations she represented. As NCFL’s Vice President of External Affairs, Shea manages a team responsible for leading the organization’s fundraising, internal and external communications, and creative efforts. Her passion for community level change and strength in big picture thinking make her a great asset to NCFL’s leadership team. Shea holds a Bachelor in Arts in Creative Writing from Miami University and is based in Nashville, Tennessee. Shea enjoys Orangetheory fitness, reading and writing, traveling, spending time with family and friends, and eating—check out her Instagram account on all things Nashville, @noshville_tn!
Vice President, EducationContact 502-584-1133 x125
Dr. Joshua Cramer brings nearly two decades of education and nonprofit administration experience to NCFL as the Vice President of Education. Cramer holds a Doctorate in Educational Leadership and Higher Education from University of Nebraska, a Master of Education in Curriculum and Instruction from Doane University, and a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from University of Nebraska. Prior to joining the NCFL team, he was the Supervisor of Federal Programs for the public school system in Lincoln, Nebraska. At NCFL he leads our signature grant making program, national training and technical assistance contracts, national policy efforts, place-based initiatives, coalition-building efforts, the selection of the Toyota National Family Teacher of the year, and NCFL's research and evaluation agenda. Dr. Cramer works with school districts, business partners, national and local policymakers, institutions of higher education, and community-based organizations to build strategic partnerships for the implementation of family literacy and learning programs. In his role he also has the opportunity to supervise a great professional and administrative staff. Dr. Cramer has received the following awards and honors:
In his spare time, Josh enjoys spending time with family and friends, reading, volunteering, and outdoor exercise.
Accounts Payable SpecialistContact 502-584-1133 x356
Kayibanda Doe, commonly referred to as K-Doe, brings years of experience to the finance department of NCFL. As Accounts Payable Specialist, K-Doe is responsible for processing vendor invoices and making sure that vendors’ scheduled payments are processed in a timely fashion. Prior to joining NCFL, K-Doe worked in finance for the State of Ohio for more than 10 years, processing invoices for more than 30 state agencies. K-Doe holds a Masters of Business Administration from Ashland University and a Bachelors of Accounting from the University of Liberia in Monrovia, Liberia. In his free time, Kayibanda loves playing soccer, traveling, meeting new friends, and socializing.
Family Learning SpecialistContact 502-584-1133 x118
Amanda Evans is a family learning specialist at NCFL. She holds Bachelor’s degrees in Economics and History, and in 2010 she earned her Master's degree in Modern World History. Over her educational career, she has taught and worked with learners of all ages both domestically and internationally. Most recently, Amanda has served as the Technology and Family Coordinator for Milwaukee Environmental Sciences Academy (MESA) Charter School in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. As the Family Coordinator, she worked on and saw firsthand the measurable benefits of two-generation learning. At NCFL, Amanda primarily works with the Family and Child Education (FACE) program as a technical assistant and professional development trainer. Amanda enjoys reading, traveling, gaming, and exploring and learning about her new city of Louisville.
Design ManagerContact 502-584-1133 x208
With over 20 years’ experience as a graphic designer, Chad Farabee works to enhance NCFL’s brand with consistent print and digital materials. Working closely with NCFL’s Creative Director, Chad produces materials for all departments of NCFL and has demonstrated his drawing prowess by providing the illustrations for the past several editions of Camp Wonderopolis. Chad worked as the lead graphic artist for Cenveo, Inc. and the pre-press art technician for Discount Labels, Inc. prior to joining NCFL in 2015. He earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Graphic Design from Indiana University and an Associate of Applied Science in Computer Graphic Design from Sullivan College of Technology and Design. Chad is a cat lover who enjoys traveling, creating art, working on cars, and home remodeling.
Administrative Assistant – Front DeskContact 502-584-1133 x218
As the Administrative Assistant for the Front Desk, Abbey Frederick is the first face you will see at NCFL! Her role is to lend a helping hand to people inside and outside of the organization. She has three years of administrative experience, including working as the Administrative Assistant and Event Coordinator for an art-based nonprofit in Bloomington, Indiana. Abbey majored in Digital Media and Photography and minored in English at Spalding University, and she has a passion for photography and digital marketing. She moved to Louisville in April and is very excited to be back! In her free time, Abbey likes to explore new restaurants and breweries in the area, visit the various local art museums, and she loves to spend quality time with her husband and cats.
Content CreatorContact 502-584-1133
As Content Creator, Amanda Free seeks to engage children of all ages in learning through curiosity and discovery across various content areas. In this role, she contributes to the Wonderopolis team by researching and writing Wonders of the Day. Prior to joining NCFL, Amanda worked in English education and literacy development at the secondary level. She earned a Master of Arts in Teaching and a Bachelor of Arts in English, both from the University of Louisville. In her spare time, Amanda enjoys reading, traveling, spending time with her dogs, and cheering on the Cards.
Nebraska Statewide Family Engagement Center DirectorContact 402-817-2012 x228
As the Statewide Family Engagement Director of Nebraska, Roger Garcia works to create a high impact statewide family engagement system that improves academic achievement for disadvantaged students in the Cornhusker state. He will also spearhead site development at 12 school districts over the next four years, ensuring that they have the resources and support to be successful. Roger brings more than 14 years of experience in the education and nonprofit sectors to NCFL. He holds a Masters in Public Administration from Bellevue University and bachelors degrees in Psychology and Latino/Latin American Studies from the University of Nebraska Omaha. In his spare time, he enjoys reading, watching movies, and traveling with his wife.
Reading SpecialistContact 502-584-1133 x141
In her role as Reading Specialist, Becky Goetzinger develops and provides professional development and technical assistance pertaining to reading practices. She also writes content for NCFL’s communications channels, including the Hotspot for Families Learning blog. She brings a strong technical knowledge of literacy education, theory, pedagogy, and practical application to NCFL. Becky has 24 years’ experience in literacy instruction across multiple settings and has taught at the elementary, middle, high school, and university levels. Becky holds a Master’s Degree in Education from the University of Louisville and a Doctor of Philosophy in Education from Bellarmine University. Becky is a cat lover who enjoys reading, traveling, rooting for her favorite sports team, spending time with family and friends, and eating great meals.
Director, Community DevelopmentContact 502-584-1133 x353
As Community Development Director, Rosa Guzman-Snyder initiates and develops community support at NCFL’s major project sites across the country. Rosa’s background includes ample experience fostering both community engagement and social justice. She previously worked with the NCFL in implementing Family Literacy programs at Pueblo City Schools in Colorado before founding the Community Language Cooperative (CLC) in Denver in 2013. The CLC, which works to promote language justice in a variety of capacities, has since grown to include 17 translators among 10 different languages. Rosa holds a Master of Public Administration from the University of Texas at Arlington and a Bachelor of Arts in Spanish and Nonprofit Administration from Colorado State University-Pueblo. In her spare time, Rosa enjoys playing the guitar and making music, cooking special dishes, and spending time with her family and friends.
Education Administrative AssistantContact 502-584-1133 x182
Melissa Hall works with the Education team as the Education Administrative Assistant. With a focus in the Professional Development department, she provides training and resources to support professionals and practitioners of Family Learning. Melissa joins NCFL with eight years of experience in the social work and education fields. She previously served as the Education Manager for a state agency middle and high school. Melissa earned her Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Louisville, where she served as the President of Student United Way. Melissa loves being a mom, and enjoys having fun with her family, being outdoors, and trash talking in fantasy football.
Digital Communications ManagerContact 502-584-1133 x127
As Digital Communications Manager, Brian Hancock plans, writes, and monitors content for NCFL’s many communications channels. Prior to joining NCFL, Brian was the editor-in-chief of the Franklin Favorite newspaper in southcentral Kentucky, and has also previously worked as an educator. He holds a Master of Business Administration from the University of Louisville and a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Kentucky. In his spare time, Brian enjoys coaching youth track and cross country, reading, traveling, and spending time outdoors.
CFO and Senior Director of OperationsContact 502-584-1133 x114
With over 13 years’ experience in accounting, finance, and management, Jessie brings a wealth of expertise in financial analysis, budgeting, auditing, risk management, and tax knowledge to NCFL. Jessie uses her strengths in collaboration, communication, and being detail-oriented to maintain financial practices and internal accounting controls that safeguard NCFL assets. Prior to joining NCFL, Jessie worked as the director of finance & operations at the Neighborhood House, Inc., and as Chief Financial Officer/Treasurer for the Frazier History Museum. When she’s not working, Jessie enjoys spending time with family and friends, traveling, and writing poetry.
Executive AssistantContact 502-584-1133 x129
For the past 20 years, Julia Harper has been the executive assistant to Sharon Darling, NCFL’s president and founder. Julia also supports NCFL’s Board of Directors and serves as the secretary of the corporation. In addition to these duties, she maintains NCFL office facilities and liaises with all departments of NCFL as needed. Julia is detail-oriented and highly organized. She attended Spalding University in Louisville, Kentucky. In her free time, Julia enjoys reading, antiquing, spending time with her family (including four young grandchildren!) and rooting for her favorite sports teams.
Family Learning SpecialistContact 480-556-7158 x157
In her role as Family Learning Specialist, Sherri Hudson provides high-quality coaching and professional development for families and educators across Arizona. Sherri brings over 27 years of education experience to NCFL, previously working in early childhood education, family engagement, and professional development across multiple environments. She holds a Bachelor’s in Elementary Education, a Master’s in Reading Curriculum and Instruction, and is National Board Certified in Early Childhood Education. In her spare time, Sherri enjoys reading, painting, hiking, and spending time with her family.
Senior Director, Education and Curriculum DevelopmentContact 859-940-6816
Kim Jacobs, M.S.Ed., leads education, professional development, and publishing initiatives at NCFL. She enjoys partnership development and has led projects with federal and private funding streams. Her educational expertise is in early childhood education, early language and literacy development, and family engagement. The author of numerous articles, book chapters, and training manuals, Kim authored the book Stronger Families, Stronger Communities: 20 Years of Highly Effective Practices Supporting Two-Generation Learning, and is the primary author of CIRCLES: A Culturally Appropriate Preschool Curriculum for American Indian Children. She is a member of the Families Like Us advisory council. Kim enjoys writing, cooking, and upcycling furniture.
Information Technology DirectorContact
Brad holds an Engineering degree in Computer Science and over 15 years of experience in Information Technology management within the private, public, and government sectors. Brad brings a strong and diverse IT background to NCFL. In his role, he oversees infrastructure and technical operations, including architecture, design, accessibility, and life cycle, for a variety of systems at NCFL. Brad also directs and supports the implementation of new cutting-edge technologies while working to assess and eliminate security risks. In his spare time, he enjoys working on his golf swing, spending time with his family and friends, and practicing the bass guitar.
Director of Internal Operations and Strategic Support ServicesContact 502-584-1133 x106
Brenda Logan has served as a director on NCFL’s staff since 1999 when she brought more than 27 years of professional experience in public education to the team, including a background as a teacher and principal of an elementary school. Her experience is paired with a Bachelor of Arts in English, a Master of Arts in Elementary Education, a Rank I in Supervision and Administration, and certification in counseling. Ms. Logan has used her expertise to direct or support several NCFL initiatives including Toyota and Family and Child Education (FACE) programs. Her responsibilities have included developing data instruments to capture the impacts of NCFL’s family literacy services, designing systems to follow gains of programs and families, and working with internal and external staff to produce new instructional materials and research analysis. Ms. Logan continues to maintain ongoing relationships with numerous program partners around the country and works with the senior management team to support strategic direction for NCFL. When she’s not working, Brenda enjoys traveling, singing in her church choir, golfing, and playing bridge.
Community Manager, Wonderopolis and Literacy SpecialistContact 502-584-1133 x215
John MacLeod is a community manager with a passion for using digital communication to foster a love of learning in students. John guides content development and manages social media for Wonderopolis in addition to managing the team of Wonderopolis Lead Ambassadors. John is a former English teacher and Department Chair in Language Arts. His experience as a middle school educator and skills in digital communications make him a dynamic NCFL team member. John received his Master of Arts in Teaching from the University of Louisville and Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from Eastern Nazarene College. Outside of his work at NCFL, John enjoys running, rooting for the Boston Celtics, reading, playing music, and spending time with family and friends.
Literacy and Family Learning Specialist
As a Family Learning Specialist, Lynn McGregor provides training and technical assistance to early childhood programs implementing two-generation education programs across the U.S. Additional responsibilities include supporting fund development and publication efforts, reviewing grant applications and creating educational content for program partners. With a passion for serving families, Lynn has nearly 30 years of experience in the field of education including work at the early childhood, elementary, high school and adult education levels. An experienced grants manager, Lynn has provided oversight of multiple educational programs, including Early Head Start, that provide support to low-income, at-risk families including English Language Learners. Prior to joining NCFL, Lynn worked at Southwest Counseling Solutions in Detroit, Michigan, as the early childhood and family literacy manager and Early Learning Communities Hub director. Lynn holds a Bachelor of Arts in Elementary Education from the University of Richmond. Some of her favorite activities include spending time outdoors (especially walking and hiking!), reading, spending time with family and friends, eating out, and traveling.
Director, Family and Child Education (FACE)Contact 502-584-1133 x205
As NCFL’s Director of the Family and Child Education (FACE) program, Cathy provides training and technical assistance for NCFL funded initiatives, including professional development and technical assistance for FACE, Toyota Family Learning, Early Learning Collaborative, and Paired Reading/Parent Engagement programs. She has more than 15 years in the education field as a family literacy director, Head Start education/early literacy coordinator, and elementary school teacher, specifically working in cross-cultural environments with ethnically and economically diverse populations. Ms. Miller is fluent in Spanish and specializes in research-based early literacy, ELL, and parent engagement workshops at NCFL. She received a Bachelor of Arts from Hope College and an elementary teaching certificate. In her spare time, Cathy enjoys traveling, hiking and spending time outside.
Family Learning SpecialistContact 502-584-1133
Jessica brings more than a decade of early childhood experience to NCFL, formerly serving as a public school preschool teacher and subsequently a teacher preparatory program coach though the Public Education and Business Coalition (PEBC) in Denver. As a Family Learning Specialist, she provides support to families, educators, and caregivers in Jefferson County Public Schools. Jessica has a Bachelors in Business Management from Appalachian State University and earned her teaching license through the PEBC. In her spare time, she enjoys biking, cooking, and spending time with her family on their farm.
Developmental EditorContact 989-708-1522
As Developmental Editor, Wendee Mullikin likes words. She proofreads and edits a variety of NCFL and Wonderopolis® content for publication in her role. Wendee also contributes to the Wonderopolis® team by providing editorial expertise and visitor engagement. With 26 years of instruction in music and English under her belt at the elementary, middle, secondary, and collegiate levels, she brings a diverse understanding of learning styles and needs to the team. Wendee holds a Master of Arts in Teaching Special Education from Saginaw Valley State University. In her spare time, she enjoys curling up with a good book and her feline companions as well as touring lighthouses along Michigan’s coast with her spouse.
Senior DirectorContact 502-584-1133 x209
As the Director of Literacy and Family Learning Services, Tracy Noles provides training and technical assistance and subject matter expertise for NCFL’s two-generation educational initiatives. She also provides project leadership for National Literacy Directory and Statewide Safety Net Initiatives, serves on the NCFL Family Learning team, and develops and administers Adult Education professional development trainings. Prior to joining NCFL, Tracy worked for Jefferson County Public Schools, serving in many roles throughout her time there; most recently she served as the Specialist for the Adult Education program. Currently, Tracy serves as the Coalition on Adult Basic Education (COABE) Region Two Representative. Tracy holds a Master of Science in Adult Education from Western Kentucky University and a Bachelor of Arts in Secondary English Education from the University of Kentucky. In her spare time Tracy enjoys reading, traveling, rooting for the University of Kentucky Wildcats, and spending time raising three kids, ducks, and chickens on her family farm.
Early Childhood SpecialistContact 615-584-4219
As an Early Childhood Specialist, Danielle brings nearly 13 years of education experience to NCFL. She worked in the Metropolitan Nashville Public School District for 11 years, and has in all served as a classroom teacher for eight years and a multi-classroom leader for another 4.5 years. During that time, she assisted with the expansion of pre-kindergarten within the district. At NCFL, Danielle plans and delivers professional development and high quality technical assistance to local and national partners in support of project goals. She also provides on-site visits to local and national partners. Danielle has a Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration from the University of Memphis. She also received her teaching certification from Tennessee State University and her Master of Leadership and Administration in Education from Middle Tennessee State University. Danielle loves to attend concerts, go out to eat, and spend quality time with her significant other as well as her family and friends.
Adult Education SpecialistContact 502-584-1133 x.115
As an Adult Education Specialist, Jeff brings over five years of teaching experience with adult English language learners in community-based settings. He earned his Bachelor of Arts in Spanish at Asbury University, and obtained a Master of Arts in Teaching English as a Second Language from the Inter American University of Puerto Rico with a research focus in second language acquisition and learner motivation. At NCFL, Jeff primarily provides technical assistance to the Family and Child Education (FACE) program. He also supports family engagement, online learning, and adult education initiatives. In his free time, he enjoys visiting artistic and historic sites, watching live theater, reading fiction, and creative writing.
Human Resources and Facilities CoordinatorContact
In her role as Human Resources and Facilities Coordinator, Michelle Parkerson assists in the hiring and onboarding of new employees. She helps employees with their annual open enrollment of benefits. Michelle also contributes to the overall HR infrastructure as well as helping NCFL maintain compliance. She has a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from the University of Louisville. Outside of NCFL, Michelle enjoys reading, traveling, and spending time with her friends and family.
Administrative AssistantContact 502-584-1133 x108
As Administrative Assistant, Deb provides vital support to many teams at NCFL, including the FACE, Toyota Family Learning, training, and Conference teams. With her broad Information Systems background and organizational skills, she also recently helped to spearhead the organization’s transition to Salesforce. Before joining NCFL, Deb was the production/purchasing manager at Centennial Bindery, where she lead a team of twenty production workers in the manufacturing of customized orders for a variety of customers. Deb studied music education and business administration at Murray State University and later studied business administration at the University of Louisville. In her free time, Deb enjoys spending time with family and friends, cooking, and designing jewelry.
Literacy Training ConsultantContact 502-584-1133 x112
Gail J. Price writes and develops online courses as part of NCFL’s Kentucky Adult Education contract. Enrolling in the courses is a PD requirement for part-time adult education instructors in the state. Gail interacts with course participants, engaging them in discussions about the topics in the discussion forum. She relies on her experience as an adult education instructor to provide the most salient and up-to-date information to course participants. In addition, Gail has many years of experience providing editorial services to a variety of projects throughout NCFL. In her spare time, Gail enjoys reading, especially to her grandchildren; doing jigsaw and crossword puzzles; and watching college basketball and old movies.
Creative DirectorContact 502-584-1133 x103
Since 2012, Jon Reigelman has steered and enhanced NCFL’s product suite as our Creative Director. In addition to guiding NCFL’s overall design and branding strategies, Jon serves as the project director for Wonderopolis, overseeing multiple enhancements and overhauls to the platform and every edition of Camp Wonderopolis to date. He possesses more than 20 years’ experience in agency, corporate, and freelance environments, and relishes the opportunity to work on compelling creative—from the big idea to the smallest typographical edits. Jon holds a B.A. in English from Centre College in Kentucky and is a staunch advocate of the Oxford comma. Outside of NCFL, Jon enjoys attending concerts, traveling, spending time with family and friends, reading, and rooting for the University of Kentucky.
Instructional DesignerContact 859-312-9351
With 10 years of experience in online instruction, Clay Rice has developed a unique perspective on how to effectively teach through emerging technologies. Students from the middle school level to adult learners have benefited from his online courses. Clay administers NCFL’s Learning Management Systems, and is its video conferencing specialist. His skills as an instructor expand to the classroom, where he teaches a weekly German language class at a local community center. Clay has resided in the Lexington area since his childhood, and earned a Bachelor’s degree at the University of Kentucky. In his free time, Clay enjoys music, playing guitar, woodworking and cooking.
Director of CommunicationsContact 502-584-1133 x105
Karen brings over twenty years’ experience in nonprofit communications and development to NCFL. In her role as Director of Communications, she guides the internal and external communications strategies for broad national impact. Karen works collaboratively across teams to lead the development and execution of NCFL’s national communications priorities. For several years, Karen ran her own marketing and communications firm where she led strategic communications efforts for clients including rebranding, social media, and marketing. Prior to running her own business, Karen worked in Communications and External Affairs for Christian Academy School System and Sunrise Children’s Services. Karen earned her Bachelor of Arts in Journalism from Western Kentucky University. She is a graduate of Leadership Louisville (’02). Karen shares that among her talents is in “creating order from chaos.” In her free time, Karen enjoys reading, writing, spending time with family and friends, and gardening.
Conference Registration AdministratorContact
As the Conference Registration Administrator, Alyssa is responsible for the pre-conference registration of participants and exhibitors, providing registration and event support services both year-round at NCFL and on-site at conference. Alyssa also serves as a member of the finance team, accounting for purchases, assisting with bank deposits, and providing other financial support as needed. Prior to joining NCFL, she worked both as a small business manager and as an administrative assistant at the Ohio Literary Resources and GED Scholars Initiative, where she assisted with conference planning and educational content development. In her spare time, Alyssa likes to read, play table top games, and make soap.
Administrative Assistant for Family and Child Education (FACE) programContact 502-584-1133 x201
In her role as Administrative Assistant for the Family and Child Education (FACE) program, Vanessa Scott is responsible for various administrative support duties and responsibilities to assist the oversight of 49 FACE programs across the nation that are located in American Indian communities. Prior to joining NCFL, Vanessa served in several administrative roles, most recently in Tallahassee, Florida as an Operations Manager for the Foundation for Excellence in Education, where she provided support to the Operations and Communications teams. Vanessa has Bachelors of Arts degrees in Political Science and Communication Studies from Western Kentucky University, where she graduated in 2010. In her free time, Vanessa enjoys trying new restaurants, adding to her growing vinyl collection, reading, cheering for her favorite hockey team, and spending time with her cat, Tenny.
Project ManagerContact 502-584-1133 x207
Emily Sedgwick serves as a project specialist for NCFL, where she provides support for the Toyota Family Learning program and NCFL’s Vice President of Family Engagement Initiatives. As NCFL’s staff librarian, she also works to develop family literacy relationships with libraries across the country. Before joining NCFL in 2014, she served as the Federal Government Documents and reference librarian for the Kentucky Department for Libraries and Archives (KDLA). Emily earned both her Master of Science in Library and Information Science and Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Kentucky, where she was a Gates Scholar and Beta Phi Mu member. She earned her postbaccaulareate certification in Family Literacy from Penn State University. When she’s not working, Emily enjoys a variety of hobbies and activities, including bird-watching and spending time outdoors, traveling, producing art, volunteering, writing, playing sports, and needlework.
Lead Financial and Database SpecialistContact 502-584-1133 x158
Since joining NCFL in 2000, April Simpson has proven to be a tremendous asset to our team. Her eye for detail and institutional knowledge serve not only the Finance department, but also the organization as a whole. April works closely with the Controller and Accounts Payable Specialist to ensure that NCFL’s finances are streamlined and well-maintained. She is also instrumental in many aspects of the Families Learning Conference, from registration to presenter coordination. Before her time with NCFL, April served as the accounting manager at JCD Creamery, LLC. Outside of work, April enjoys traveling and spending time with her family and friends.
Arizona Statewide Family Engagement Center DirectorContact 480-556-7158
As the Statewide Family Engagement Director of Arizona, Kendra Smiley works to create a high impact statewide family engagement system that improves academic achievement for disadvantaged students in the Grand Canyon state. She also coordinates the management of ongoing relationships with new and existing partners, leveraging those relationships for collective impact in Read On communities throughout Arizona. Kendra has more than 12 years of experience in literacy program development and instruction. She holds a Master of Arts in Education from the University of Phoenix and a Bachelor of Science in Exercise Science from Arizona State University. In her free time, she enjoys exercising and spending time with her daughter.
Contracts and Grants Management SpecialistContact 502-584-1133 x185
In his role as the Contracts and Grants Management Specialist, Ashford Sonii coordinates the compliance and financial elements of a complex grants portfolio, including federal funding, interagency agreements, cooperative agreements, and highly technical special projects. He brings a strong knowledge in grant administration, community development, project management, and analysis strategy to NCFL. Prior to joining NCFL, Ashford worked on multiple metropolitan grant administration teams. He holds a Bachelor’s in Political Science from the University of Texas at Arlington with plans to complete his Master’s in Public Administration. Ashford is a musician who enjoys singing, songwriting, and discovering great new unknown artists in his free time. Someday, he wants to travel and backpack in various locations around the world. Ashford appreciates NCFL’s longstanding efforts in what he calls addressing “local needs with local deeds.”
Communications and Conference ManagerContact 502-584-1133 x206
Since 2012, Sara Ulliman has fulfilled a variety of roles at NCFL in communications, development, and special projects including Wonderopolis and Camp Wonderopolis content development. Sara currently leads the planning of NCFL’s annual Families Learning Conference and plans, writes, and monitors NCFL’s communications. Prior to joining NCFL, Sara was the communications specialist for the Leadership Louisville Center and art director for ProMoter Marketing Communications, both located in Louisville, Kentucky. She has a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Communication Art & Design from the University of Louisville. In 2014, she was named one of 70 Rising Stars in Social Media by Schaefer Marketing Solutions for her work managing social media for Wonderopolis. In her free time, Sara enjoys spending time with family and friends, wine tasting and sampling micro-breweries, reading, gardening, and spending time outdoors.
Director of Place-Based InitiativesContact
Dr. Ashley Vaughns brings nearly a decade of education experience to NCFL, teaching both at the university level and in Montessori schools. She earned her Doctorate in Curriculum and Instruction from Indiana University, a Master of School Administration from Vanderbilt University, and a Bachelor of Arts in Montessori education from Xavier University. As Place-Based Initiatives Director, Ashley works to ensure program quality in NCFL Family Literacy and Family Learning programs. She oversees both the design and the implementation of processes that create high quality programming for NCFL. Ashley loves spending her free time outdoors. She enjoys hiking, stand-up paddle boarding, canoeing, and ziplining.
Director emeritus, Family and Child Education (FACE)Contact 502-386-2442
Margo Waddell has worked for the National Center for Families Learning for the past 14 years and has served in many capacities. She has a Bachelor of Arts degree from Adelphi University in New York and holds a license as a Kentucky Early Care and Education Trainers Credential. She is an expert in early childhood education, parent engagement, program development, workforce/employability skills and financial stability strategies. She has held management positions overseeing Careers for Families, the Family Independence Initiative, and, most recently, the Family and Child Education (FACE) program at NCFL. Previously, she worked for the Center for Family Resources in New York and Women 4 Women in Louisville, Kentucky. She has shared her expertise as she has served as a member of several boards and committees that include Jefferson County Public Schools Head Start Advisory Council, Metro United Way Bridges to Tomorrow Advisory Committee, and the Louisville Asset Building Coalition.
Research and Development SpecialistContact 502-584-1133 x200
Laura Westberg has been a life-long advocate for children and families. As Research and Development Specialist, she supports research and evaluation efforts, contributes to evidence-based publication and training, and advises for consistent organizational messaging related to research. Laura started her career as an early childhood educator and administrator in university-sponsored preschool and child care programs, employer-sponsored child care, and Head Start. Her background includes work with children with disabilities, teaching at the college level, providing statewide and national training, and leading projects with corporate, government and private foundation funders. She has presented at state, regional, and national conferences in addition to publishing research articles, training guides, and instructional materials for early childhood practitioners. Laura served as the Director of the National Early Literacy Panel that published its research synthesis, Developing Early Literacy: Report of the National Early Literacy Panel, in 2008. Most recently, she helped establish and managed the Pediatric NeuroRecovery Program in the College of Medicine at the University of Louisville. Laura completed her college education at Indiana University, earning a bachelor’s degree in early childhood education and a master’s degree in language education.
Family Learning SpecialistContact 502-584-1133
As a Family Learning Specialist with a concentration in Family Engagement, Kristen Whitaker plans and delivers professional development and high quality technical assistance to local and national partners in support of project goals. She hails from Washington D.C., where she taught History at Columbia Heights Educational Campus and was a Home Visit city-wide teacher trainer for The Flamboyan Foundation. Kristen matriculated from North Carolina Central University with a double major in Political Science and Public Administration. She then earned a Masters in Federal Program Management at Trinity University. Kristen was named Family Engagement Teacher of the Year by NCFL in 2015. In her spare time, she enjoys traveling, painting, sewing, fishing and reading, among other activities.
Family Learning SpecialistContact 502-584-1133 x104
As a Family Learning Specialist, Leslie primarily provides technical support and professional development to the Family and Child Education (FACE) program. She also lends her expertise in early childhood education to support of a variety of NCFL Family Literacy and Family Learning programs. Leslie brings over 23 years of education experience in early childhood education and family engagement to NCFL. She has taught and worked with learners of all ages and their families both domestically and internationally. She holds a Bachelors in Early Childhood Education, a Masters in Elementary and Early Childhood Education, and an administrator certification. Leslie is a sports enthusiast who enjoys traveling, reading, warm weather, and engaging in new adventures with family and friends.
Project SpecialistContact 502-584-1133 x145
Carrie Wohlschlegel began at NCFL as an Intern supporting the Wonderopolis community and came onboard full time at the end of 2017. Carrie continues to support Wonderopolis by engaging community members and now also provides social media, email, and writing support for the National Literacy Directory. Prior to joining the NCFL team, she was a legal assistant at Grossman & Moore, PLLC. Carrie graduated Summa Cum Laude from Campbellsville University with a Bachelor of Arts in English. In 2013, she was awarded the Ruby Curry Award for English Excellence from Campbellsville University and the NAIA Champions of Character Award in Women’s Swimming and Diving. In 2012, she was named the Who’s Who Among Students in American Universities and Colleges. Outside of NCFL, Carrie enjoys spending time with friends and family, traveling, reading, swimming, and knitting.
NCFL is proud to be led by a passionate group of business leaders and experts in key areas of industry expertise.Read more
Toyota, one of the nation's most successful corporations, began a partnership with NCFL in 1991. In addition to a commitment of more than $50 million, Toyota has also contributed a wealth of in-kind support — including advertising, planning and management expertise — to form one of the most progressive corporate/nonprofit partnerships in the nation.
Three major programs have been developed through the Toyota partnership based on the family literacy model of parents and children learning together. These models have influenced federal and state legislation, leveraged local dollars to support family literacy and led to successful programs being replicated across the country.Read more about Toyota's commitment to communities
The Dollar General Literacy Foundation began partnering with NCFL in 2006. A signature effort of this partnership is the National Literacy Directory, a resource that launched in 2010 and strives to reach the 35.7 million adults ages 18-64 who do not have a high school diploma by guiding them to better-paying, more stable jobs.
The National Literacy Directory contains over 10,000 educational agencies located across the United States and has a dedicated toll-free number to help support those wanting to pursue educational opportunities in their communities.
Dollar General also provides support for development of NCFL’s innovative family learning resources centered on financial literacy and Parent and Child Together (PACT) Time®.Go to Dollar General Literacy Foundation's website
PNC Grow Up Great believes deeply in the power of high-quality early childhood education and provides innovative opportunities that assist families, educators and community organizations to enhance children's learning and development.
PNC Grow Up Great has partnered with NCFL since 1994 to advance early literacy and learning resources for vulnerable families. Current efforts supported by PNC include a collaborative initiative in two at-risk Detroit communities that engages families to support vocabulary development for children under age 5.
NCFL's work is also featured on the PNC Grow Up Great Lesson Center website. The Lesson Center includes over 100 free, high-quality preschool lesson plans and research-based instructional techniques and strategies. All lesson plans contain Home/School Connections printouts, in English and Spanish, to help families extend and reinforce the learning at home.PNC Grow Up Great
NCFL has partnered with the W.K. Kellogg Foundation since January 2016. The Foundation is currently supporting a dynamic two-generation family engagement initiative that expands NCFL's Family Learning model into select Head Start programs nationwide. NCFL's model presents an innovative way to support Head Start programs in meeting outcomes aligned with the Parent, Family, and Community Engagement Framework.Visit the Foundation website
Better World Books selected NCFL as its domestic literacy partner in 2005 and has raised more than $1 million to support NCFL’s work and donated more than $15 million to support literacy and education efforts worldwide. Better World Books is a triple-bottom-line online bookstore, working equally for people, planet and profit. Each book purchased powers literacy across the world.
Better World Books’ support of NCFL has provided books and workshops to families after Hurricane Katrina, donated large book donations to literacy programs and families nationwide and fueled innovative family literacy and learning programs and resources in libraries, schools and community-based organizations. In addition to their work for literacy and education, Better World Books diverts books from landfills and offers carbon-balanced shipping.Better World Books
In 2013, NCFL began a partnership with the Gates Foundation to ensure that our network of students, teachers, and families thrive among recent shifts in standards-based education. NCFL will leverage the unique strengths of our award-winning Wonderopolis® platform to build upon the growing teacher network that uses the resource for core daily instruction and as a basis for professional growth.Foundation Website
NCFL has partnered with the Goodling Institute for Research and Family Literacy at Penn State University since 2001, working collaboratively to further research, professional development, and policy efforts for family literacy and intergenerational learning.
The work of this partnership includes, but is not limited to, a strong research strand at NCFL's national annual convening, the Families Learning Summit; advocacy for family literacy and learning to further support for and inclusion of family-focused education in new and ongoing legislation; and dissemination of the latest research, resources, information, and professional development opportunities for literacy and learning practitioners and advocates, including the Certificate in Family Literacy provided by the Goodling Institute.Goodling Institute for Research and Family Literacy at Penn State University