Featured Speakers

Juan Salgado, City Colleges of Chicago Chancellor
City Colleges of Chicago Chancellor Juan Salgado has focused his more than 20-year career on improving education and economic opportunities for residents in low-income communities. As Chancellor, he oversees Chicago's community college system, serving more than 80,000 students across seven colleges. From 2001 to 2017, he served as CEO of Instituto del Progreso Latino, where he worked to empower residents of Chicago's Southwest Side through education, citizenship, and skill-building programs that led to sustainable employment and economic stability. Chancellor Salgado is a community college graduate himself, earning an associate degree from Moraine Valley Community College, prior to earning a Bachelors degree from Illinois Wesleyan University, and a Masters degree in Urban Planning from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Chancellor Salgado has been nationally recognized for his work, including as a 2015 MacArthur Fellow, one of the most prestigious innovation prizes in the United States. Among his civic commitments, he serves as a board member of the Obama Foundation.
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. 
Workshop Speakers


Fantazia Berry is a current full-time AmeriCorps National Service member at the UIC Center for Literacy. She serves at the FAmily STart (FAST) Adult Education program on the south side of Chicago where she provides small group instruction and one-on-one tutoring as well as classroom assistence to their adult learners in Math and Science. Fantazia received her Bachelor's degree in Criminal Justice from Chicago State University and is now pursuing her Master's degree at the University of Nebraska at Omaha in Criminology-Criminal Justice. Fantazia's personal mission is to help as many people as she can to meet their full potential. She has help countless students who have come through the FAST South Adult Education program realize and achieve their own goals as she works on her own.

Workshop: “Mirror, Mirror” – Creating and Utilizing a Vision-Board
This workshop is geared toward understanding the importance of self-discovery through goals and visions.Attendees will receive information about the importance of goal-setting while creating a mini vision board.The vision board will help bring clarity for long and short term goals and open possibilities for the future.


Becky DeForest has over 15 years of experience in education. She started out as an elementary school teacher, but found herself drawn to adult education and its rewarding combination of teaching and public service. Becky brings knowledge and skills in ESL, ABE and HSE/GED instruction, job readiness training, textbook publishing, and low-literacy materials. As the Program Director For Literacy Works, Becky coordinates trainings for adult education staff and volunteers, and facilitates trainings for other organizations wishing to better serve their clients with low literacy. Becky enjoys taking dance classes, cooking, and falling down Wikipedia rabbit holes.

Workshops: Tips and Techniques for Teaching Multi-Level Classes and Writing Your Way to Math Fluency

Bria Dolnick is an ESL teacher at Chinese Mutual Aid Association. She has a Master's degree in Adolescent and Adult Literacy from the University of Arizona, and has worked extensively as an ESL/ABE teacher, community organizer, and refugee resettlement case manager. Bria has taught developing reading classes at Truman College where she also worked one-on-one with readers of all levels in Truman's Help Clinic and has also taught oral histroy workshops in Chciago Public Schools.

Workshop: Google My Maps In the Classroom: Using Place as a Catalyst for Writing, Reading, Investigation, and Collaboration
My Maps by Google is a flexible tool that gives students the opportunity to author collaborative maps. In the classroom, it offers a unique platform for adult learners to connect personal, place-based experiences with academic skills like reading and analyzing visual information and authoring and publishing for an audience. In this workshop, participants will learn how to make a collaborative map, see examples of student work from the ESL classroom of the presenter, and discuss possible ideas for mapping projects in the adult education classroom.

Jo Ann Fletcher is the Program Coordinator for the Read to Learn Adult Literacy/Volunteer Program, part of Township High School District 214 Community Education in Arlington Heights.She has over 15 years in Adult Education having served as a Read to Learn tutor, site supervisor, and EBRI instructor. She also teaches a citizenship class. Prior to working in Adult Education, Jo Ann spent over 30 years working in Human Resources for 3 different companies.She holds a BA in Business and Management and an MS in Industrial Relations.

Workshop: Outcome Performance Measures/Alternative Assessments
We all know that standardized tests are not always the best measurement of adult learners' progress. They are a tool, but not the only way to gauge how well a learner is doing. In this workshop we will explore some "soft tools" that can also help assess our learners' progress while maybe even having a little fun!


Dena Giacometti is the Program Director for the Chicago Citywide Literacy Coalition (CCLC), has been in the field of adult education for more than nine years. Prior to joining CCLC, Dena served as the Adult Education Department Director at Centro Romero. In addition to administering adult education programs, Dena has been an illinois Association of Continuing and Adult Educators (IACEA) board member and part of the elected leadership of the Area Planning Council #508 of an Illinois Community College Board since 2015. She was named the Beyond Books Adult Education Provider of the Year by the Chicago Citywide Coalition in 2016

Workshop: Broadening Transitions – A Scope of How All Transitions Impact Learners
While we traditionally think of transitions as moving learners from adult education programs into employment or postsecondary education, this session expands on that. We will discuss the transitions between both English levels and grade levels, and how those smaller upward movements impact the learner. Celebrating each smaller transition deepens engagement and aids in retention. We will also discuss the knowledge learners bring with them to determine the career pathway students might think about as they are finishing their time at the adult education provider. Attendees will leave the presentation with ways to celebrate minor achievements in an effort to get learners to the employment and postsecondary transitionsthe field is looking for.


Margaret Goldstein has been tutoring ESL students one on one for the past eight years. She has also taught ESL classes at Literacy Chicago for three years and has provided training for new ESL tutors there since 2014. Prior to a 30 year career in information technology with IBM and her own firm, she spent two years in Japan teaching English full time at the Osaka YMCA. She has also studied (with varying degrees of success!), Spanish, French, Danish, Japanese, Chinese, and Italian, giving her a deeper appreciation of the unique quirks and problems faced by speakers of English as a foreign language.

Workshop: Ten (Not So) "Secret Rules" of English Speech
Do you ever wonder why your ESL students don't sound right when they speak, even though they may do a decent job pronouncing individual words? And why they continue to have great difficulty making themselves understood by native speakers? This session will explore the "secret" rules of English speech that native speakers follow unconsciously, making English sound "natural" and clear to native speakers. By knowing these rules and imparting them to our students, we can help them make that magical leap into more natural sounding English.


Sara Heidbreder( M.A, LPC, R-DMT)is originally from Japan, and gained M.A in Dance Movement Therapy and Counseling from Columbia College Chicago. She has experiences in working with diverse populations, and has been providing mental health care at educational, community, and medical settings for over 3 years. Sara is currently serving as a counselor at Apna Ghar, providing individual, family, and group services.

Workshop: Empowering Immigrants
Presenters will discuss immigrants’ experiences of the life in America based on their personal and clients’ stories. This presentation will reveal the how power and control dynamic lies in the society, and how it makes immigrants more vulnerable to any kind of violence. We will also discuss how we can use education as a way to empower them.

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 popular education coordinator for the Dorothy Stang Popular Education Adult High School in Chicago.

Workshop: Writing Our Worlds: Incorporating Personal Narrative Writing into Adult Literacy Learning
In this interactive workshop, participants will take part in a sequence of personal narrative writing, reading, and discussion activities, in which the students share stories from their lives. Following the activities, the facilitator will lead a discussion about ways in which this student-centered, generative narrative writing process can be adapted for use with middle to upper level ESL and ABE students, and can incorporated into a GED/HSE program of study. We will also consider how personal narrative writing can be incorporated into one-on-one tutoring, or be used with a small group of students.

Samina Kausar (MSW) completed her bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Northeastern Illinois University and her master’s degree in Social Work from University of Illinois at Chicago. She currently works as a counselor at a non-profit organization Apna Ghar, Inc (Our Home) to serve survivors of domestic violence and gender based violence in immigrant communities.

Workshop: Empowering Immigrants
Presenters will discuss immigrants’ experiences of the life in America based on their personal and clients’ stories. This presentation will reveal the how power and control dynamic lies in the society, and how it makes immigrants more vulnerable to any kind of violence. We will also discuss how we can use education as a way to empower them.

Rini Kaushal has an M.A. in Counseling Psychology from Amity University, India and an M.S. in Marriage in Family Therapy from Northwestern University, Evanston. She has been trained in Integrative Systemic Therapy (IST) and has over 3 years of experience working with diverse individuals, couples and families. Presently, she is a Counselor at Apna Ghar Inc. (Our Home) and is responsible for providing crisis interventions, case management, short or long-term individual and family counseling services for children and adults who are affected by gender based violence. Rini also represents Apna Ghar as a Medical Advocate at Swedish Covenant Hospital, Chicago to assess service needs of patients, provide relevant information on rights and available options and connect them with appropriate resources related to domestic violence.

Workshop: Empowering Immigrants
Presenters will discuss immigrants’ experiences of the life in America based on their personal and clients’ stories. This presentation will reveal the how power and control dynamic lies in the society, and how it makes immigrants more vulnerable to any kind of violence. We will also discuss how we can use education as a way to empower them.


Carol Larsen is an Independent Sales Consultant who represents New Readers Press/ProLiteracy Adult Education materials in Illinois. Carol has assisted Illinois adult educators in selecting materials for their students for 15 years. Carol is a certified reading and math specialist who has taught adult ABE, GED, and ESL students in a variety of settings. She has also conducted literacy audits, written curricula, and taught in three National Workplace Literacy Grants and served as the Executive Director of the Literacy Volunteers of Western Cook County for five years. Carol is EBRI trained and well-versed in phonics, reading strategies, and math

Workshop: Every Journey Begins With a Single Step
Journey to Success offers lessons in Reading, Writing, and Vocabulary which preparelower level students, step by step, to proceed to pre-HSE instruction. Innovative contextualized instruction in Social Studies, Science, Literature, and Work and Life Skills! New Reading & Writing Series important to today's student as they begin their own journey to success. Help your students to get to where you want them to be – and to where they want to be.


Aurora Lucas is a Filipina-American teacher that loves to travel. Having traveled to 25 countries, and taught in 3, she has learned how to not only tolerate, but embrace the multicultural layers that every student brings into the classroom. She holds a Masters in Arts in TESOL degree from SIT Graduate Institute, with the hopes of creating socially just, interactive, and compassionate learning opportunities. She views language as an important vessel for peacebuilding, development, and diplomacy. She truly believes that it is possible to create positive change in the world we live in today, one interaction, conversation, and heart at a time

Workshop: Meaningful Interactions
Language is a living, breathing tool that we can use to get to know our students better. In this workshop, we will use interactive tools that will get students out of their seats. It is important that we bring joy and life into our classrooms, so that we can motivate our students to speak and truly maximize their learning.


Michael Matos taught seven years at a Chicago Public HS and sixteen years in adult education centers.He currently is the Director of Adult Education Programs and Data of the Albany Park Community Center (APCC) where he manages 10 instructors and various support staff, volunteers and interns. Michael helped develop the Illinois Common Core Standards in Language Arts and created the in-house ABE Curriculum for APCC based on them. He is a tutor trainer for Literacy Works and a Project Consultant for the Chicago Citywide Literacy Coalition on a Technology Pilot Program involving six community-based programs.Hehas presentedat conferences throughout the country since 2007 and has been involved in local and statewide advocacy projects to promoteadult education.

Workshop: Static to Dynamic: Math Activities for ELL/ESL Students
Help your ELL/ESL students to develop a good understanding of everyday mathematics. Practice integrating the study of mathematics and English vocabulary with hands-on and collaborative activities using games, manipulative and station-to-station activities building rigor and critical thinking. Give ELL/ESL students alternate ways to participate in whole-class, small groups, and paired discussions. Some examples and activities contextualize math instruction. Participants engage numeracy lessons that balance skill building and functional needs


Sally Maybrook has been a tutor at Literacy Chicago for 16 years. She said that it has been one of the most satisfying experiences in her life. The joy of adults learning to read, who had not had the opportunity before, made her aware that it is possible to learn at any age.Sally taught 1st and 2nd grade many years ago. No matter the age, seeing the “light" go on when being able to read, has been a privilege and joy for her.

Workshop: Why Do I Keep Coming to Literacy Classes?
This interactive session will have students from Literacy Chicago along with their tutor share information on how and why they came to the program and will provide and seek insight from those attending on what motivates adult learners to keep coming back.


Marlene McLeod is an educational specialist, diagnostician, and instructional consultant.She has worked in the field of special education for over 30 years.During that time she has not only taught in the classroom, but has provided in-services, workshops, and skills training to teachers in the Chicago Public School system, parochial school teachers, college students in the Department of Education at the University of Illinois, student teachers and other professionals interested in the field of exceptional children and IDEA. She holds a Masters degree in Special Education from the University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana, and is certified in five areas.Marlene’s primary concentration is in the mentoring, teaching and training of teachers.

Workshop: What's Your Style ?
Do you prefer to learn a skill by listening, reading, viewing or doing it yourself? Explore the various modalities of learning to help you determine how you learn best. On this interactive journey attendees will discover their preferred method of accessing and storing information and how to make the most of it.


Barry B. Mixon is a Gemmological Storyteller, Science Educator and is the owner of the "Gem Hunter Gemmological Appraisals and Storytelling Services. A totally unique and professional storytelling company, which uses the Art, Science, History and Magic of gemstones as well as the techniques and concepts used in jewelry appraisals, to help people in small businesses, educational institutions and major corporations discover the "Value" of their story.

Workshop: The Power of Storytelling
Storytelling is the social and cultural activity of sharing stories. Everyone can and should do it. This session will speak to the importance of storytelling and help you to discover the power of being able to create and tell the story within you.


Carol Morris is an adult educator at the College of Lake County and a member of the Literacy Volunteers of Illinois' Board of Directors. She is a STAR-trained reading teacher and is the retired Director of Adult Literacy for the Waukegan Public Library, a position she held for over twenty years. A former high school teacher, Carol has a Bachelor’s degree from Illinois State University.and a Masters in Teaching Degree from the National College of Education.

Workshop: Why Do Vowels Make the Sounds They Do?
In this workshop you'll learn how consonants determine vowel sounds and how candy can help you recall the short sounds of A E I O U. Additionally, we'll talk about the six syllable types. We'll also spend some time practicing what we've learned.


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.

Workshop: Improving Pronunciation and Fluency
A foreign accent can sound cute, but not if communication is unintelligible. Any pronunciation practice should aim at helping learners produce more intelligible English and be successful at perceiving it. The goal of this session is to provide attendees with practical ideas about how to improve English language learners’ pronunciation. Research suggests that effective pronunciation should allow learners to feel, see, and/or touch the sounds so as to raise their awareness of pronunciation issues and improve intelligibility. Techniques and strategies, adaptable to almost any language level, which cover segmentals (individual sounds) and suprasegmentals (stress, intonation and rhythm in connected speech) will be provided.

Rebecca Raszewski is an Associate Professor and Information Services and Liason Librarian at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

Workshop: Finding Health Information and Improving Your Health Literacy
The availability of health information on the internet can be overwhelming at times. This presentation will provide an overview of freely available resources that will help you locate health information, provide tips on evaluating health websites, and resources for improving your health literacy


Joanne Telser-Frère, as 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.

Workshop: How to Make Your Classroom Feel Like a (Happy) Family
Adult students often put up barriers to learning because they are afraid of being judged by others. In order to help them relax your classroom should be a “safe place” to express themselves, where they can feel free to experiment with their new language. This hands-on, interactive workshop will focus on how to make your students feel relaxed and comfortable in your classroom.You will try out some exercises designed to help students get to know each other and to help them gain confidence in speaking. Learn a couple of easy tricks to make your class more student-student focused rather than the traditional teacher-student approach. Join us for a fun-filled enjoyable workshop!


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.

Workshop: Know Your Rights
During this presentation participants will learn what to do and not to do in case of an immigration raid, what their basic rights with immigration are - regardless of legal status - and how to share the information learned to others. The hot topic of "Public Charge" will also be discussed.


Timothy White is the Program Associate with the Literacy Volunteers of Illinois and is part of a program called Unbound College Bound. His tasks are to provide youth at the Illinois Youth Centers with educational knowledge and success building, by preparing them for their future to furthur their education, and to have financial literacy and life skills. Timothy was born and raised on the Southside of Chicago and is currently pursuing his bachelor of Arts Degree at Roosevelt University, where he is majoring in Sociology with an interest in social justice. Timothy is aslo an veteran of the United States Marine Corps. He enjoys exercising, sports, music, and art.

Workshop: Restorative Justice in the Classrooms using Peace Circles
In this workshop, Restorative Justice in the Classrooms using Pease Circles, demonstrates the ideology to bring people together to create solutions for their conflicts within the classroom. This workshop will define Restorative Justice and why it is important in the classroom. It will also identify the reasoning for peace circles in the classroom and how they can be utilized as a restorative justice method in the classroom. This workshop will display step by step procedures how to conduct a peace circle and how to utilize restorative justice methods in the classroom.

Irene Williams received her M.S. in Library & Information Science in 2008 at the University of Illinois, Urbana Champaign. She was employed with the University of Illinois at Chicago Library(ies) for 23 years; both as a Para professional and a Librarian. She is currently the Chicago Liaison for the Secretary of State Literacy program where she is the point person for all grant types. Her office is in the James R. Thompson Center and she can be contacted at IWilliams@ilsos.net or 312-814-3229.

Workshop: Library Partnerships for Literacy and Adult Education Providers
The Illinois State Library has conducted two surveys this past year of Illinois public libraries to determine what literacy services are being offered and identifying libraries willing to partner with literacy and adult education programs. Together we will discuss forming partnerships with libraries and identifying resources and services available at libraries to best serve the educational needs of adult learners.