Literacy Volunteers of Illinois


Supporting Volunteer Literacy In Illinois Since 1979


Board of Directors

Ruby Camacho Director

Ruby Camacho is the HR & Finance Manager & Community Liaison in the UIC Office of the Vice Chancellor for Health Affairs PHSP.  Prior to her current position she was the Associate Director of the UIC Center for Literacy, where she collaborated with LVI on a variety of literacy and national service related program initiatives. An experienced Administrator skilled in grant administration, volunteer management, program development, and grant writing, Ruby holds a Bachelor’s and a Master’s degrees from University of Illinois at Chicago.

Blake Dunphy President

Blake joined the Board in 2015. He has been a Chicago Public School teacher for years. Before that, Blake taught ESL in Guangzhou, China for a year and was a real estate broker in Chicago. Blake has a Bachelor’s in History from Colorado College, and his Masters in Teaching in Secondary Education from National Louis University.

Nia Martinez

Nia Martinez is an instructional designer with over 15 years of experience designing, developing and facilitating instructor-led and e-learning courses with international development organizations, non-profits, and financial and healthcare corporations in Latin America & the Caribbean, West & Southern Africa, Afghanistan, China and the United States
Nia has a deep passion for learning as a vehicle to create behavior change and help others see their unlimited potential to realize their goals and dream. This deep passion for learning can be attributed to the LVIVOCAL Program- having served as an AmeriCorps member at Albany Park Community Center in 2004-2005. She is so grateful to be on the LVI board.
Nia earned her Master's in Instructional Design and Learning Technology from George Mason University. Master's in Social Work from Washinton University in Saint Louis, and eLearning certificate from George Mason University. 
Nia lives in the DC area with her husband, Luis, and her two boys, Marco and Antonio.

John McLeod Treasurer

A security consultant, John has been a member of the Board since 2004 and currently serves as the Vice-President/Treasurer. He is a former local political party official who has been active in his Rogers Park community for the past 30 years and his temple, where he has been a board member for the past 12 years. He has twenty years of work experience in the public sector in the Illinois Secretary of State’s office, and 15 years in the private sector in safety and security. He holds a BA in American Studies from Roosevelt University and is a past President of LVI.

Neisha McNeal

Neisha joined the board in July 2018. She has a broad background in the non-profit sector having served various stints as a program director, program manager, and an operations coordinator, the latter with North Park University, where she also earned a Masters in Non-Profit Management. Neisha is currently a Systems Administrator with the Salvation Army and is also enrolled at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine where she is pursuing a Doctor of Medicine degree in the Addiction Psychiatry Residency Program. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Management from Phoenix University and is a former VOCAL AmeriCorps member.

Madison Palmer

Madison Palmer joined the board in June 2014. He is native of Nashville, Tennessee and graduated from the John Marshall Law School. Since graduating, Madison has worked in the real estate field of Land Use, Telecom, Commercial Leasing and in the legal department of a large international financial institution.

Chamala Jordan Vice-President 

Chamala joined the Board in October 2016 after having served as a VOCAL AmeriCorps member in Program Year 2005, and then as the VOCAL Program Coordinator for September 2006 though September 2016. Chamala has a Bachelor's degree in Business Management from Robert Morris College.


Dorothy Miaso Executive Director

Dorothy M. Miaso is the Executive Director of the Literacy Volunteers of Illinois, a position she has held since 1992. As Executive Director, Dorothy manages the day-to-day operations which includes overseeing the agency’s financial, fundraising, communications, and programmatic activities. Under her leadership the budget of the agency grew ten-fold from $100,000 to over $1,000,000. Along with the budget growth came expanded programming especially in national service.


Dorothy has been involved with a variety of literacy and national service-related initiatives at the local, state and national levels and with correctional education for adults and juvenile at the state and county levels.  She is a past member of the Illinois Commission on Volunteerism and Community Service and a past board member of the American Association of State Service Commissions, a national organization that provides leadership and support to state volunteer service commissions throughout the country.


She has served on numerous committees of the National Institute for Literacy, is a former member of the Illinois State Literacy Council and served two-terms as the Community Representative on the Local School Council of Chicago’s Jones College Prep HS.  She is a member of the Illinois Adult and Continuing Educators Association and  a past Chair of the Illinois Conference on Volunteer Administration.


Prior to joining the Literacy Volunteers, Miaso served in various capacities in the public sector in government and not-for-profit agencies. She served as the Assistant Director of Operation ABLE, a non-profit Chicago-based employment program for older workers, and, as the Director of Senior Programs in the Governor and Lt. Governor's offices. She also worked for the Cook County Board of Commissioners.


Miaso holds a B.A. degree in English from Northeastern Illinois University and a Master’s in Management of Public Service from DePaul University.

Maria Banas Volunteer Coordinator, Jump Start

Maria is a first-year VOCAL member serving as the Volunteer Coordinator for Jump Start. Growing up, Maria always had a passion for helping others, so when the opportunity to tutor incarcerated youth through Jump Start arose, she was eager to get started.


Maria is currently studying at Loyola University Chicago's graduate program fpr Environmental Science and Sustainability. She is particularly interested in how different communities are affected by environmental injustices through a public health approach. When Maria is not volunteering or studying, you can find her hiking at local state/national parks, attending Cubs games, or enjoying movies with her roommates. 

Connie Gush | AmeriCorps Member, Jump Start 

I'm Connie. I am a retired special education teacher having taught for 50 years. When teaching, I was involved in many school functions and served on a committee developing the Fine Arts Curriculum for the St. Charles School District 303. I tutored at IYC-St. Charles for 10 years and after retirement, I joined AmeriCorps.  I am an animal activist and volunteer at Animal Control in Geneva, Illinois. 


I am also involved in Community Theater in my area. I live in Elburn, Illinois with my husband, Tom and 4 furry friends. I am so grateful for the opportunity to work at IYC and all the persons involved at the facility.  The dedication, commitment and love I have witnessed and experienced at IYC and AmeriCorps cannot be measured, It is above and beyond anything I could have imagined. I hope to continue doing this for many more years. 

Elizabeth (Lizzy) Lemieux Program Coordinator

Elizabeth (Lizzy) Lemieux is the Program Coordinator of Literacy Volunteers of Illinois’ VOCAL AmeriCorps program. A Chicago transplant, Lizzy originally hails from Maine, but moved to Chicago in 2021. She served as a VOCAL AmeriCorps member and held the role of Volunteer Coordinator at The Learning Center. Now, as VOCAL’s Program Coordinator, Lizzy leads recruitment, onboarding, site placement, training, and facilitates personal and professional development opportunities for members throughout the program year. Lizzy holds a BA in English from the University of Pennsylvania.

Rachel Rusin Program Assistant, Jump Start

Rachel Rusin is the program coordinator of the Jump Start program at the IYC in St. Charles, where she previously served as the program assistant. She has a master’s degree in Education from the University of Illinois in Chicago and previously taught English at Lane Tech College Prep High School in Chicago.

In addition to teaching and mentoring students at Lane College Prep, her responsibilities included overseeing student teachers and novice teachers. After teaching for several years, Rachel retired to raise a family and eventually trained to become a yoga teacher. Rachel came to LVI as a volunteer tutor in 2021 and joined the staff in June 2022.  

Sara Vasicek Program Assistant, Jump Start

Sara Vasicek is the program assistant in the Jump Start program at IYC-St. Charles and plays a similar role with the program at IYC-Warrenville.  She has been a Jump Start volunteer tutor since 2017 and was named Outstanding Tutor of the Year at IYC St. Charles in 2018.  After 27 years in sales and management, Sara was ready for a change and enhanced her knowledge of education and the juvenile justice system through various continuing education programs.  As Sara says, “I have tremendous respect for the work that LVI does in the IDJJ facilities. Getting to know the youth, helping them see their potential, and cheering them on as they work toward their high school diplomas is one of the most rewarding things I’ve done.”  Sara is a graduate of College of DuPage and University of Phoenix, and in her spare time she enjoys hiking and other outdoor activities with her family.

Grace von Lehman | AmeriCorps Program Associate

Grace von Lehman is in her second year of the VOCAL program, in which she has served as an AmeriCorps Program associate at both scaleLIT and LVI, and as a tutor through The Learning Center and Jump Start. 

At LVI, Grace assists with communication, development, and event planning. Originally from Kentucky, she moved to Chicago to attend graduate school at DePaul University, where she studies writing and TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages). Outside of school and VOCAL, Grace loves connecting with nature and advocating for environmental sustainability. 


LVI began by working with just four LVA programs, and today provides an array of resources and services to staff, tutors, and students in some 100 adult literacy programs statewide.


Literacy Volunteers of Illinois
100 S. State St., Suite 437
Chicago, IL 60603
Phone: 312-857-1582

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