Literacy Volunteers of Illinois


Supporting Volunteer Literacy In Illinois Since 1979


On the Road Speakers


Opening Speaker : 

Ben Greer III | Illinois Community College Board

Ben is the Associate Director for Adult Education and Literacy - Program Support Specialist for the Illinois Community College Board. He had more than 35 years of experience in Adult Education and Literacy working with programs in correctional, community based, and community college settings. Ben Greer III holds a Master's Degree in Educational Leadership. 


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Fantasia Berry | UIC Center for Literacy

Fantazia Berry is a Chicago native with love for advocacy work, the arts, and traveling. She received her Bachelor of Arts from Chicago State University and is currently pursuing her Graduate degree. As a graduate student studying Criminal Justice and Educational Policy, she wants to continue to push for education and prison reform for all, especially people of color.


Fantazia is a former AmeriCorps member of and now works as the Adult Education Literacy Coach with UIC’s Family Start (FAST) Learning & Support Center - South. In the classroom, she specializes in Math, Science, and Digital Literacy, showing students that yes, STEM is hard, but it is fun, and it is in everything we do. She believes that allowing others to see her flaws encourages them to be unapologetically flawed as well as for them to learn from those imperfections.

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Karen Fredrickson | 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, Karendecided 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 teach the tutor training, in addition to teaching an Adult Literacy Class and ediiting the association's yearly publication of student writings, "Words on The Page." In 2019, she received the Spotlight on Service Award from Jessie White, Secretary of State of Illinois, for her outstanding work, her devotion to Literacy Chicago as well as her positive and uplifting attitude to every endeavor she takes on.

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Dena Giacmetti | City Colleges of Chicago 

Dena Giacometti is the Dean of Adult Education at the City Colleges of Chicago (CCC).. She began her career in adult education as an ESL instructor at Heartland Alliance, World Relief – Chicago, in Mexico City and Haiti. Prior to joining CCC, Dena oversaw programming at the Chicago Citywide Literacy Coalition (CCLC) where she coordinated membership activities and advocacy efforts that included Career Pathways, Health Literacy and Digital Literacy. Prior to that Dena served as the Adult Education Department Director at Centro Romero and in that capacity was named CCLC’s Beyond Books Adult Education Provider of the Year in 2016.  


She currently serves as Vice President of Regions for the Illinois Association of Continuing and Adult Educators (IACEA) and was elected leadership for the Area Planning Council #508 of the Illinois Community College Board from 2016-2019. She is a parent member of the Local School Council for Carl Von Linne Elementary School and is on the Member Action Council Board for Logan Square Neighborhood Association.  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.

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Sarah Glazer | UIC Center for Literacy

Sarah Glazer is an educator passionate about supporting adult learners in developing English language and literacy skills. As the ESL Lead Instructional Coach at the Center for Literacy, Sarah is responsible for teaching English, supporting the ESL teaching team, and overseeing the administrative needs of the ESL program.

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Margaret Goldstein | Literacy Chicago

Margaret Goldstein has been tutoring ESL students in Chicago for about 10 years.  For several years she has also assisted Literacy Chicago as a volunteer both for ESL and in their training sessions for new ESL and adult literacy tutors.  She taught ESL in Japan full time for two years.  She is recently retired from her own business in technology training and IT systems project management.

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Jeffery Goumas | CrowdED Learning

Jeff Goumas is the founding director and President of CrowdED Learning. After four years as a classroom teacher, he spent 15 years in educational publishing developing programs for learners of all ages and education levels, eight of those years focused on developing instructional materials and professional development for adult education. An avid proponent for equal and free access to quality educational resources, his passion is to better organize and deliver quality, freely available learning resources in ways that make them more readily available, accessible, and usable to learners and instructors.

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Robert Guzman | Citywide Chicago Literacy Coalition

Robert Guzman is the Career Pathways Navigator for the Chicago Citywide Literacy Coalition (CCLC).  He represents adult education at the Near West American Job Center (AJC) on behalf of 13 of CCLCs member organizations. He refers adult learners to and from the AJC, ensuring that individuals with low skills on Chicago’s south and west sides can access education and training opportunities. Prior to joining CCLC, Robert was a Safer Foundation Workforce Investment Act Intern; a Career Coach at Aunt Martha’s; and a Career Counselor at Alternative Schools Network. Robert holds a Bachelors in Criminal Justice from Chicago State University and is currently working toward his MBA from Governors State University.

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Stephanie Hernandez | UIC FAST Bilingual Literacy Team

Stephanie Alma Hernandez is currently an Americorps member serving the UIC Center for Literacy Family Head Start program as a bilingual GED tutor. Stephanie has earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Applied Psychology and Disability and Human Development from the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC). Empowering diverse communities and fostering positive identity development is the core of her professional and future aspirations.

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Janise Hurtig | Howard Area Community Center

Janise Hurtig has been teaching and learning with adults for over 25 years. Currently she is an instructor at the Howard Area Community Center, coordinator of the Community Writing Project, and part-time faculty in the DePaul University School for Continuing and Professional Studies.

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Danielle Johnson | Literacy Volunteers of Illinois

Danielle Johnson, PhD, is a Senior Program Associate at Literacy Volunteers of Illinois (LVI) where she manages the Literacy for Life component of LVI’s Jump Start at the IYCs program.

Dr. Johnson joined LVI in August 2019, after having served as a Jump Start tutor since 2017. She holds a PhD and a MA in Social/Industrial-Organizational Psychology from Northern Illinois University, a MA in Communication from NIU, and a BS in Communication from Northern Michigan University. Previously she served as the Disability and Inclusion Manager for PepsiAmericas and Leaders & Scholars Program Coordinator at NIU. She is also adjunct faculty at Waubonsee Community College where she teaches classes in Communications and Psychology.

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Aurora Lucas | Triton College

Aurora Lucas is a current college instructor at Triton College and a Culturally & Linguistically Diverse Teacher at CICS West Belden. Aurora has devoted more than 6 years to teaching K-Adults in the classroom and training teachers pertaining engagement tied with cultural relevance and social justice. Aurora earned her Bachelor's Degree in Creative Writing from Roosevelt University and her Masters in TESOL from SIT Graduate Institute. She also served as a proud AmeriCorps VOCAL member from 2018-2019.

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Michael Matos | Citywide Chicago Literacy Coalition

Michael Matos is the Technology Project Manager at the Chicago Citywide Literacy Coalition. He loves working to innovate education and educate for innovation.  Michael previously held several roles at Albany Park Community Center (APCC), including Senior Director, Adult Education, Employment and Training; Director, Adult Education and Data; and Computer Lab Director/Coordinator/Teacher. Earlier in his career, Michael was a classroom teacher in Chicago public high schools, teaching CAD, Information Technology, Art, and Business classes. Michael holds a B.A. in Education from Northeastern Illinois University and a B.A. in Architecture Design, History of Art and Architecture from the University of Illinois at Chicago.

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Kori McCullough | UIC Center for Literacy

Kori McCullough is a current Graduate student at UIC who is studying Youth Development. She is the High School Equivalency (HSE) English instructor at the Center for Literacy. Kori describes herself as a life-long learner who believes empathy, relationship building, and student voice should be the core of education. As a first- generation college student, her mission is to be recognized as representation for inner city youth who can't yet see themselves as future leaders.

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Carol Morris, Retired | Waukegan Public Library

Carol Morris is a long-time adult educator having taught ABE and GED classes at the College of Lake County in Grayslake. Prior to her retirement, Carol was the project manager for the Waukegan Public Library’s Adult Literacy Program. Carol has participated in two nationwide training opportunities in STAR/EBRI and Making Sense of Decoding and Spelling teaching programs.

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Jeanine Nthirageza, PhD | Northeastern Illinois University

Jeanine Ntihirageza holds a PhD in Lingusitics from the University of Chicago, with a specialization in Bantu languages and an MA in Applied Linguistics from Southern Illinois Univeristy, Carbondale. She received her BA in English Language and Literature from the University of Burundi where she taught TEFL and EFL classes. She has developed ES: curriculum for various institutions including the Illinois Institute of Technology. Currently, she is as Associate professor at Northeastern Illinois University, and Chair of the Anthropology Department.


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. In 2017, she joined the Chicago Cancer Health Equity Collaborative (Chicago CHEC) as a community Engagement Core Co-Leader and is a Board member of the Refugee Education & Adventure Challenge ( REACH). In 2007, she and her colleagues received a NEIU research grant to work with Burundian refugees resettled by Heartland Alliance. She has presented at conferences on various issues immigrants are faced in relation to language, education,culture shock, health, and much more.

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Maria Orozco | UIC Center for Literacy

Maria Orozco is an ESL tutor and AmeriCorp member with the Center for Literacy. Maria is a former CFL student. She enjoys working in her community and helping students achieve their goals.

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Veronica Ocampo | UIC Center for Literacy

Veronica Ocampo is an ESL instructor for the Center for Literacy. She works with adult language learners in the Back of the Yards community. Veronica is a former CFL student and AmeriCorps member. She is passionate about using her experiences in education to help her community and connect with students. She wants students to see that one day, they can do what she’s doing!

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Lucy Padilla | UIC FAST Bilingual Literacy Team

Lucy D ‘Erandi Ornelas de Padilla is a Spanish Language Arts Instructor in the UIC Center for Literacy / Family Start Learning Services HSE / GED Adult Education program. Lucy thinks that sharing experiences, values and knowledge helps create a favorable environment in the teaching-learning process, so it favors active teaching through activities and projects that allow students to learn and demonstrate their abilities.

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Tracy Palmer | UIC FAST Learning and Support

Tracy Palmer is an AmeriCorps member serving in Adult Literacy in the UIC Center for Literacy’s Project MORE with a major emphasis on Digital Literacy, Social Entrepreneurship Development, and Self Care. Tracy is a big believer in self-care and advocates for meditation and mental focus as a mindful exercise to promote self-care and productivity.  Tracy loves art and creates experiences through her volunteer work that makes others smile. 

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Martin Rabotti | UIC FAST Bilingual Literacy Team

Martin S. Rabotti is the Spanish HSE/GED instructional coach in the Back of the Yards neighborhood. Martin has worked in education for over seventeen years with a focus on youth and was happy to take on the challenge of working in adult literacy, beginning his work with Center for Literacy in 2017.

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Radhika Sharma Gordon | Apna Ghar

Radhika Sharma Gordon manages Education and Training for Apna Ghar (a Hindi/Urdu phrase meaning “Our Home.”) Apna Ghar was founded in 1989 in Chicago to serve the legal, counseling, advocacy, and housing needs of immigrant survivors of gender based violence. Radhika obtained her BA and her Masters in Public Health from the University of Michigan. Since 1989, she has been working and volunteering in Chicago addressing disease, violence, the needs of immigrant communities, women's empowerment, and positive youth development. Radhika is also an adjunct instructor in Community Health and Wellness at Northeastern Illinois University.

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Joanne Telser-Frere | Literacy Chicago

Joanne Telser-Frere, Program Manager at Literacy Chicago since 2016, enjoys enriching lives by helping adults in her hometown.Joanne has always been an adventurer. Before returning to Chicago in 2010 she lived and worked in France, Pakistan, Egypt, and Qatar. Joanne is fluent in French and can get by in Arabic. Communication has always been important in her choice of jobs. In Qatar she was a journalist for French and English radio stations, the local press and Qatar TV. In Paris, after teaching English for many years, she became Academic Director at a prestigious language school. Upon her return to Chicago she spent four years developing and teaching Cognitive Fitness programs before accepting a position teaching ESL and citizenship courses at Literacy Chicago which led to her position today. A member of Toastmasters International, Joanne received the Distinguished Toastmaster Award, the highest level of educational achievement in Toastmasters and holds a degree in bothFrench and Science from the University of Illinois.have a bio – needs to be inpuy”

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Fred Tsao | Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights

Fred Tsao is the Senior Policy Counsel at the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights. In this position, he provides technical support, trainings, and presentations on immigration-related topics to service providers, immigrant community organizations, and others who work with immigrants. He also provides updates and analysis of changes in immigration policies and procedures to ICIRR members and allies, and assists with the coalition's legislative advocacy efforts. A self-described recovering attorney, Fred practiced law at the Rockford office of Prairie State Legal Services, where he worked after receiving his law degree from the University of Michigan. He has also worked with the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois, the Chicago Anti-Hunger Federation, and the Missouri Public Interest Research Group. A native of Chicago, Fred is the son of immigrants from China, and has had a lifelong concern with immigration issues.

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Viviana Vázquez | UIC FAST Bilingual Literacy Team

Viviana Vázquez has worked as a tutor in adult education programs for the past two years, she believes that education is the door to success and that age should not be an obstacle. Viviana has helped Hispanic adults obtain their high school equivalency certificate, providing classes and tutorials for the preparation and study of the exams, this has allowed the Spanish-speaking community to obtain better opportunities in the workplace, as well as the possibility of growing and starting studies at the university level. Viviana is a proud AmeriCorp member who continues to make a difference in her community.

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Martha Villanueva | UIC FAST Bilingual Literacy Team

Martha Villanueva started as a UIC FAST GED student. Once she obtained her high school equivalency certificate she became a volunteer in the AmeriCorps MORE program. This is her fourth year of service. She has served primarily as a Math tutor as well as supporting all other aspects of the program.

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Irene Williams | Illinois State Library Literacy Office 

Irene Williams received her M.S. in Library & Information Science in 2008 at the University of Illinois, Urbana Champaign. She served as a medical librarian at the University of Illinois at Chicago - Library of the Health Sciences - where she worked as a paraprofessional for many years. She has worked many years as an Adjunct librarian for the City Colleges of Chicago – most recently at Malcolm X Carter G. Woodson Library. Irene went on to become the Network Services Coordinator for the National Network of Libraries of Medicine – Greater Midwest Region where she oversaw the Resource Sharing program DOCLINE.


She is currently the Chicago Liaison for the Secretary of State Literacy program where she is the point person for Literacy Grants. Her office is in the James R. Thompson Center and she can be contacted at or 312-814-3229.

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Rosie Waniak | UIC Center for Literacy

Rosie Waniak is a first year graduate studies of Museum and Exhibitions at UIC. Her primary research interest is community outreach and engagement at art museums, and she hopes to work on finding ways for museums to better serve their communities. She teaches ESL at FAST Southwest in the Back of the Yards neighborhood.

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Keighty Ward | Literacy Works

Keighty Ward began her work as an educational ASL interpreter and quickly became interested in the teaching she was interpreting. She taught English as a Second Language for three years, while pursuing her M.A in Applied Linguistics. Her thesis focused on d/Deaf adult English learners, which led her to become interested in adult education specifically. She has presented at several conferences about adult education including the concept of Universal Design in the educational setting and working with ASL interpreters. Through her work she hopes to help make education accessible and equal for all who seek it. 

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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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