Volunteer Spotlight: Welcome New 2023-2024 Board Members & Officers

Volunteer Spotlight: Welcome New 2023-2024 Board Members & Officers

The Literacy Council of Frederick County’s Board of Directors at its June Board Meeting approved its slate of new officers for the coming year fiscal year which begins this month.  We are also excited to welcome and introduce our two new members!

New officers (from left to right) include President Sharon Jacko, Lt. Col. USMC (Ret.); Vice-President Catherine Mock; Secretary Carmen Hernandez; and Treasurer Carole Southam. All four of these leadership volunteers have served multiple years guiding the Literacy  Council and our community.

Cyndi McNamara recently became a Literacy Council volunteer tutor, in memory of her father and long-time tutor, Gene Beall who she observed helping many students over the years.  Cyndi retired from Frederick County Workforce Services, and served on FCC’s Accounting Advisory Board for 20 years.  With her finance, grant reporting, and accounting experience, she has already been warmly welcomed on the Finance Committee!  When asked why she is interested in serving on the Literacy Council’s Board, Cyndi shared “I know the Literacy Council makes a great impact on helping the immigrant and basic literacy community in Frederick County.  Improving literacy, in all its forms, can change a person’s life for themselves and their families.  Now that I am retired, I believe I can assist the Literacy Council with my nonprofit and fiscal skills and experience, and help to meet the goal of essential literacy skills for adults.”

Silvia Muñoz is a long time friend of the Literacy Council, participating actively as an author for multiple editions of Reflections – Voices of English Learners, volunteer tutor, student, and Spanish language translator.  Silvia previously served as a law intern for the Frederick County State’s Attorney’s Office, and volunteered with the UNESCO Center for Peace, Centro Hispano de Frederick, the Asian American Center of Frederick and on the Frederick Commission for Women. She is currently a LL.M. Candidate at Georgetown Law School and works at the Georgetown University Office of Public Interest and Community Services.  Silvia described her motivation for serving on the Board, “Since I started learning English at the Literacy Council, I see how important it is to learn the language.  Immigrants like me, once knowing how to speak English, can benefit the entire family, can access resources of their families, and can make their dreams real.  Working  on the Literacy Council’s Board will allow me to continue to serve students so they can reach their dreams, and follow my passion to serve with inclusion and collaborate with ideas to close education gaps for young adults with limited English proficiency.”

The Board gratefully acknowledges the service provided to the Literacy Council over multiple years by Geordie Wilson who will continue as immediate past president, and board member Jim Grissom.

Also stepping down is Lisa Myers, who has served as Treasurer since 2012 . For over ten years, together with Assistant Treasurer Doris Vierbuchen, Lisa has guided the Literacy Council through the critical finance and accounting processes and reporting resulting from the organization’s fundraising and grant development work to support expanding programs. Lisa and incoming Treasurer, Carole Southam, have been working closely together for the past year to prepare for this transition. Lisa was recognized for her amazing service in this Volunteer Spotlight in January 2022.  “Lisa Myers is one of those special individuals whose professional expertise in accounting, ‘behind the scenes,’ has been a quiet and steady force for good, guiding the Literacy Council in ensuring a sustainable financial position from which its programs have grown to meet changing community needs,” Laurie Fisher, Executive Director

We recognize the leadership and dedication of Geordie Wilson, our outgoing Board President for his guidance, level-headedness and pragmatic thinking!  Geordie helped to lead the Literacy Council successfully through a year of strategic planning and growth.  Geordie shared this reflection: “In its 60th year, the Literacy Council of Frederick County is growing and serving more people than ever, thanks to its committed staff and amazing volunteer tutors and board members. The needs are greater than ever, but with the continued support of the community we are well positioned to help Frederick residents reach their potential by empowering themselves through literacy.”

After two terms as Board Member, President, and Committee Chairman, Jim Grissom is stepping off the Board. He will be greatly missed, but we hope he will continue his volunteer service in a new capacity!  Jim’s contributions were honored this past year as one of the Literacy Council’s National Philanthropy Day Distinguished Volunteers! Thank you, Jim, for your dedication and love for this community, and for helping the Literacy Council to grow to meet the changing needs of this community.  Jim’s leadership and medical expertise was extremely helpful guiding our operations through the pandemic years.

Continuing members of the board include: Darrell Batson, Michael Cohen, PhD, Caroline Gaver (Board Member Emeritus), Richard Holley, Sakina Husain, Erik Jones, Peter Shuck, Ginger Trautman, and Graciela Zurita.

President Sharon Jacko offers hers perspective on the importance of the Literacy Council’s work:

Adult literacy can change everything. Health. Gender equality. Poverty. Every important social issue is impacted by low literacy. When individuals learn how to read, write, do basic math, and use computers, they have the power to lift themselves out of poverty, lower health care costs, find and keep sustainable employment, and ultimately change their lives. ProLiteracy

“As educators, government officials, business leaders, and nonprofit organizations, we are all stakeholders in this issue and we must be a part of the solution in helping remove barriers to literacy.  It’s exciting for me to see growth in the Literacy Council of Frederick County and to know we value opportunity because it opens doors beyond the pages of a book and forms the foundation for self-empowerment.”

The new members and officers join our robust team of community leaders who oversee and guide the Literacy Council’s programs and services and strategic plan implementation.  This includes supporting literacy classes in the workplace for workers in the hospitality industry, and helping families with young children through its collaboration with the Judy Center and five Frederick County Public elementary schools.

The Literacy Council of Frederick County teaches adults the reading and other English language skills they need to provide for their families and to contribute to the well-being and prosperity of the whole community. You can learn more about ways to volunteer on our website. Listen to what our tutors have to say about their work on this short YouTube video!