Literacy Volunteers of Illinois


Supporting Volunteer Literacy In Illinois Since 1979


OTR Conference Presenters


Keynote Speaker

Alexi Giannoulias

Illinois Secretary of State


Alexi Giannoulias was sworn into office as Illinois’ 38th Secretary of State on January 9, 2023.


The Secretary of State's office is the largest of its kind in the nation, processing more transactions and being visited by more residents than any other.


The office, which oversees 25 different departments and nearly 4,000 employees, completes more than 30 million transactions and generates more than $3 billion in annual revenue.


The Secretary of State in Illinois is also the Illinois State Librarian, a position near and dear to us providing us with a treasure trove of online and print resources including volunteer tutor training and New Reader Book Collections, award opportunities to recognize our tutors and students, and most importantly funding to keep our programs operating and students being served in local communities throughout the state. For this current year that amounts to $5.7 million in adult literacy grants supporting more than 8,500 adult learners and 4,500 volunteer tutors, with another 500 families and nearly 700 children participating in the Penny Severns Family Literacy Grant Program.


In addition to his current service as Secretary of State, the Honorable Alexi Giannoulias also served as the elected Illinois State Treasurer – the youngest in the nation at age 30. He is also a past chairman of the Illinois Community College Board and a past member Chicago Public Library’s Board of Directors.


Opening Session Speaker

Andre Vasquez

Alderman, 40th Ward Chicago


Born and raised in Chicago, Andre Vasquez is the Alderperson of the 40th Ward. Since coming into office in 2019, he has worked to make city government more accessible, transparent, and accountable to the people of Chicago, and to engage and empower the neighbors in our community. 


Prior to his life in Public Service, he was the Illinois Director for AT&T Connected Communities, a local Community Organizer with the Peoples Lobby, and a Hip Hop Artist. He has brought those different experiences and perspectives to City Council to improve government services while creating community-centered development. Alderperson Vasquez is the Chair of Chicago's Committee on Immigrant and Refugee Rights, Vice Chair of the Committee on Transportation, Co-Chair of the Progressive Caucus, and Vice Chair of the Latino Caucus.


Workshop Presenters

Jorge Fidel Berrios, Instructor and Tutor, Erie Neighborhood House

Jorge Fidel Berrios Castro es Licenciado en Pedagogía con mención en la educación, nicaragüense, egresado de la Universidad Nacional Autónoma de Nicaragua, con más 15 años experiencia en la docencia.

Jorge Fidel Berrios Castro is a graduate of the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de Nicaragua with a degree in Pedagogy and a mention in Education and has more than 15 year of teaching experience. 

Bria Dolnick, Community Literacy Program Manager, Literacy Works

Bria Dolnick has over 10 years of experience working as an educator in libraries and adult education classrooms. Currently, she is the Community Literacy Program Manager at Literacy Works.

Karen Fredrickson, Instructor and Master Tutor Trainer, Literacy Chicago

Karen Fredrickson was born in a small town in Minnesota and came to the big city after graduation for a job opportunity as an engineer for the City of Chicago. After retiring, Karen decided to become a volunteer tutor at Literacy Chicago. Little did she know that five years later she would become a VIP in the organization. Within a couple of years, she went from tutoring and teaching to becoming a Master Tutor Trainer. Along with Joanne, she continues to lead tutor training, in addition to teaching an Adult Literacy Class and editing the association's yearly publication of student writings, "Words on The Page". In 2019, she received a Spotlight on Service Award from Jesse White, Secretary of State of Illinois for her outstanding work, her devotion to Literacy Chicago and her positive and uplifting attitude to every endeavor she takes on. In 2023 she was recognized as the Tutor of the Year at the annual On the Road to Literacy Conference.

Dena Giacometti, Director of English Language Acquisition, Illinois Community College Board

Dena Giacometti has more than fourteen years of experience in adult education and workforce development- starting her career as an ESL instructor at Heartland Alliance, World Relief-Chicago, in Mexico City and in Haiti. Currently, Dena is the Director of English Language Acquisition for the Illinois Community College Board. Before joining the ICCB she was Director of Career Pathways at Skills for Chicagoland’s Future, Dean of Adult Education at Daley College, Program Director for the Chicago Citywide Literacy Coalition and Director of Adult Education at Centro Romero. She served in several roles across seven years for the Illinois Association of Continuing and Adult Educators (IACEA). She is a member of the board for multiple community-based organizations in the City of Chicago. Dena has a Master of Education from DePaul University in Bilingual/ Bicultural Education with a focus on Teaching and Learning and a Bachelor of Arts in Mass Communications from Virginia Commonwealth University. What Dena loves about adult education is the opportunity to impact whole families by empowering adults in Chicago neighborhoods.

Sarah Glazer, Clear Language Lab Program Manager, Literacy Works 

Sarah has 10+ years of teaching experience in a variety of settings, as well as instructional coaching, program management, and volunteer coordination. She has a master’s degree in Community and Teacher Leadership and a TESOL certification. Sarah has seen how important clear communication is in the fight for justice and equity, and she enjoys sharing the communication strategies she’s learned with others. In her role with the Clear Language Lab, Sarah provides professional development through training facilitation, coaching, and materials review. Through this work she hopes to challenge systemic injustice by making sure information is accessible and understood by those who need it. In her free time, she enjoys crafting, taking dance classes, and spending time in nature.

Margaret Goldstein, ESL Tutor and Trainer, Literacy Chicago

Margaret Goldstein has been tutoring ESL students in Chicago for the past ten years. For several years she has assisted Literacy Chicago as both a volunteer tutor for their ESL program and as a trainer in their tutor training sessions for new ESL and adult literacy volunteers. Margaret spent two years in Japan teaching ESL full time and has also served as ESL Coordinator and Family Mentor for the Hyde Park Refugee Project, supporting Afghan refugee families. She recently retired from her own business in technology training and IT systems project management.

Janise Hurtig, PhD, Faculty, DePaul University School of Continuing and Professional Studies & GED Instructor, Howard and Evanston Community Center

Janise Hurtig has been teaching and learning with adults for over 30 years. Currently she is a GED instructor at the Howard and Evanston Community Center, the coordinator of the Community Writing Project, which offers writing workshops in poor and immigrant neighborhoods throughout the Chicago area, and is part-time faculty in DePaul University’s School for Continuing and Professional Studies.

Michael Matos, Education Technology Director, scaleLIT

Michael Matos is the Education Technology Director for scaleLIT managing the Digital Learning Lab Project, Chicago Connected (digital literacy) and more. He is also on the IACEA Board (The Voice of Adult Education in Illinois) as the Senior Director for Region 1 and Legislative Committee member. Michael is the COABE Region 3 Representative and Technology Chair. His combined experience in education and training includes 7 years with Chicago Public Schools as a high school teacher and an additional 25+ years as an adult education teacher and administrator. Michael is a certified ABE/ASE Adult Education Standards Specialist in Mathematics and a certified English as a Second Language Standards Proficient Instructor. He has been presenting at conferences nationally since 2007. His activity ideas for teaching math, financial literacy, job readiness, science, technology and social studies for adult learners are in use by many instructors.

Mike Moline, Education Director, World Relief Chicago

Mike Moline is the Director of Adult Education at World Relief Chicagoland’s Chicago office. He has eight years of experience as an ELA instructor and over 10 years in his current position as a director. He is passionate about seeing students’ lives transformed as they are equipped to attain their educational, career, and personal goals. Mike has a B.A from Purdue University and an M.A. from Trinity International University.

Laura Moreno, Adult Literacy Coordinator and English Language Instructor, Sauk Valley Community College

Laura was born and raised in Cd. Juarez, Mexico. She started her connection with Adult Education when she became an ESL student right after emigrating to the U.S. in 2010 at the age of 19. She advanced in the ESL Class and then obtained her GED in 2012. After that, she obtained an Associates Degree in Science at Sauk Valley Community College in 2015 and a Bachelor’s Degree in Human Resources Management at Western Illinois University in 2017. Right after graduating, Laura became the Adult Literacy Coordinator at Sauk Valley Community College. In addition, she became an ESL Teacher in 2021. Being able to assist individuals to obtain the resources they need to improve their literacy skills as well as being able to inspire them to work hard towards their goals regardless of the obstacles they have is a rewarding experience for her.

Xavier Munoz, Assistant Membership Director, Literacy Education and Second Language Learning for Adults (LESLLA)

Xavier Muñoz (he/him) has worked in adult education since 2012. After serving as an AmeriCorps member teaching literacy- and beginning-level adult ESOL classes, he earned a TESOL Certificate and an MA in TESOL from the School for International Training. In his day job,  he is Director of Academic Programs and Student Services for the English Empowerment Center, an adult ESOL nonprofit based in Virginia. In 2024, he joined the Board of LESLLA as the Assistant Membership Director. 

Eva Mwariri, Community Engagement Coordinator, Apna Ghar

Eva Mwariri holds a Masters in Conflict Resolution from the University of Bradford UK and is finalizing a Masters in Sociology with a focus on Adolescent Sexual Reproductive Health from the University of Witwatersrand, South Africa. She has over 15 years’ experience of working in International Development for International Non-Governmental Organizations including UNFPA, UNAIDS, IOM, UNDP, local Nonprofits, Community Based Organizations and working with multiple stakeholders with Governments in Sub Saharan Africa in various capacities in Communication, Public Health, Community Engagement, and Stakeholder relations. She has been with Apna Ghar Inc for close to one year where she coordinates their Community Engagement. She enjoys traveling, trying out new foods, reading, trying out new adventures with her family and making meaningful friendships. She looks forward to making sustainable community partnerships that address the communities’ diverse needs, traveling to more states and to starting cycling weather permitting.

Jeanine Ntihirageza, PhD, Professor and Coordinator of Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) Program

Dr. Jeanine Ntihirageza is a Professor at Northeastern Illinois University and the coordinator of their Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) department. She has developed K-20 ESL curriculum for various institutions including the Illinois Institute of Technology. She is actively involved in the fight for human rights with a focus on immigrants’ issues and is a consultant for a number of organizations that serve immigrants. Since 2017 she serves as co-lead of the Chicago Cancer Health Equity Collaborative (Chicago CHEC) outreach core. In 2019, she initiated a garden scientist project for high school immigrant and refugee students. She has presented at conferences on various issues immigrants and refugees are faced with including language, education, cultural adjustment and health. Dr. Ntihirageza holds a PhD in Linguistics.

Jim Roberts, Program Manager, Literacy Volunteers Fox Valley

As program manager for Literacy Volunteers Fox Valley (LVFV) in St. Charles, Illinois, Jim Roberts is responsible for enrolling and assessing students' progress, monitoring student growth, coordinating tutor training, providing tutors with ongoing learning opportunities, developing curriculum, and managing data for grant reporting.

Jim has been a long-time volunteer tutor with LVFV and he has served on their board of directors. Working with adult English Learners is a second career for Jim. Over the course of three decades he was a public school social studies teacher, department chair, high school principal, and assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction. An advocate for English Learners throughout his career, Jim has coordinated programs, curriculum, and grants for English Learners.

Aimee Rosario, Adult Education Career Bridge Project Coordinator, City Colleges of Chicago

Aimee Rosario is a Project Coordinator for the City Colleges of Chicago Adult Education Career Bridge program through the partnership with Department of Family and Social Services (DFSS) for the Career Grow Chicago program. Aimee supports program operations, and leads the work with Adult Education Student Ambassadors, a leadership role for Adult Learners across the CCCs. In her downtime, Aimee is an avid learner and loves basketbal. 

Jane Rothschild, Tutor and Instructor, Literacy Chicago

Jane Rothschild is an elementary school teacher, recently retired from the classroom. Currently, she works with primary and intermediate age students providing extra support in literacy and math. Since Spring of 2022 Jane has taught adult learners as a volunteer with Literacy Chicago, where poetry has been a key component of her literacy instruction.

Colette Ruscheinsky, English Language Instructor, College of Lake County; Graduate Student, Northeastern Illinois University

Colette Ruscheinsky holds a B.A. in Broadcast Journalism with a concentration in television production from Columbia College Chicago. She worked as a Production Assistant and Field Producer for FOX News Chicago before transitioning into working as an associate producer and casting director for docuseries programming which was featured on The Oprah Winfrey Network, A&E, TLC, and The Discovery Channel.

Colette has a passion for visual storytelling as well as social justice and advocacy. Colette is scheduled to graduate from Northeastern Illinois University this year with an M.A. in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages. She is currently exploring how genocide, violence, and trauma impact second language acquisition for her thesis in TESOL.

Colette currently works as an English Language instructor at the College of Lake County as an adjunct faculty instructor. She also tutors and hosts conversation circles.

Radhika Sharma Gordon, Outreach and Education Manager, Apna Ghar

For more than 30 years, Radhika Sharma Gordon has been facilitating dialogues and educational sessions on violence, the needs of immigrants and refugees, the roots of abuse, and how we can work together to prevent abuse at all levels, from the personal to policy and systems advocacy. Radhika manages Outreach and Education at Apna Ghar, Inc., an organization established by Asian American women leaders in Chicago in 1989 to address the unique challenges of immigrant and refugee survivors of gender-based violence. Additionally, she has consulted for Northeastern Illinois University’s efforts to address substance abuse through classroom curricular infusion and has led informational sessions on the curricular infusion approach for community college instructors at Wright College. Radhika received her Master’s in Public Health from the University of Michigan in 1989 and has worked in a variety of local and statewide nonprofits and public health agencies over the past 33 years. Her favorite skill is bringing together various siloed sectors and marginalized populations to address abuse, health and gender disparities, and various other family issues. Radhika is also an Adjunct Instructor in Community Health Sciencesat Northeastern Illinois University.

Jenny Siegfried, Professional Development Specialist, Adult Learning Resource Center Arlington Heights; Adult Education Instructor, Waubonsee Community College

Jenny Siegfried began her career as a volunteer tutor in 2004 and quickly became fully ensconced in Adult Education. She holds an MA in TESOL from Hamline University. By day, she works as a Professional Development Specialist at the Adult Learning Resource Center in Arlington Heights, and by night, she unleashes her superpowers as an Adult Education instructor at Waubonsee Community College in Aurora.

Chana Sternberg, TPS/EAD Centralized Immigration Workshop Program Manager, The Resurrection Project

Chana is a Program Manager with The Resurrection Project (TRP), currently leading the TPS/EAD workshop efforts as part of TRP's robust vision to make legal services for recent arrivals more accessible. Prior to managing the workshop, where eligible participants apply for work permits and temporary protection against deportation, Chana provided asylum-related legal services to LGBTQ+ asylum seekers. She has also done organizing work combatting emergent immigration policy, including Immigration and Nationality Act Section 287g. Chana is passionate about community building and development in Chicago. She enjoys learning languages in her free time, and takes every opportunity to travel and explore the world through good food.

Joanne Telser-Frère, Author and Director of Program Development, Literacy Chicago

Joanne Telser-Frere, a Chicago native with an insatiable thirst for adventure, has traversed the globe, immersing herself in diverse cultures from France to Qatar. Fluent in French and dabbling in Arabic, she seamlessly navigates cultural landscapes. With a career spanning education, media, and brain training, Joanne now leads literacy initiatives as the Director of Program Development at Literacy Chicago. Passionate about impacting lives, she oversees a team of 150 volunteers while indulging in her love for acting, storytelling, and reading. In her latest endeavor, Joanne has added authorship to her impressive repertoire. Her book, 33 Ways Not to Screw Up Teaching Adults to Read, reflects her dedication to literacy and her commitment to sharing valuable insights gained from extensive experience. Drawing from her diverse background in education and program development, Joanne offers insight and practical strategies for educators working with adult learners. With her book, she aims to empower teachers and advocates alike, providing a roadmap for effective adult literacy instruction that fosters transformative change. Joanne’s latest leap into the realm of literacy innovation involves harnessing the power of ALfA (Accelerating Literacy for All). This groundbreaking method promises to revolutionize adult education by rapidly imparting essential literacy and numeracy skills. With ALfA, Joanne envisions a future where individuals can achieve literacy milestones in record time, unlocking new opportunities and pathways to success. Through her dedication to pioneering approaches like ALfA, Joanne continues to push the boundaries of literacy education, striving to make meaningful impacts on learners’ lives.

Keighty Ward, Community Literacy Program Director, Literacy Works

Keighty Ward (they/them) began their work as an educational ASL interpreter and quickly became interested in the teaching they were interpreting. They taught English as a Second Language for three years, while pursuing their M.A in Applied Linguistics. Their thesis focused on d/Deaf adult English learners, which led them to become interested in adult education specifically. They have presented at conferences on a variety of topics including Universal Design in the educational setting, Trauma-Informed Practice, and Reflective Teaching. Through their work they hope to help make education accessible and equitable for all who seek it. In their spare time, Keighty loves to grow vegetables, practice art making, or watch their cats run around in the yard.


LVI began by working with just four LVA programs, and today provides an array of resources and services to staff, tutors, and students in adult literacy programs statewide.


Literacy Volunteers of Illinois
100 South  State Street, Suite 437
Chicago, IL 60603
Phone: 312-857-1582

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