Ellen Babb, Operations Director, joined ALP as a tutor in the winter class of 2015. After more than 25 years working in financial institutions she was ready for a change. She was interested in literacy tutoring because she knows how critical literacy is as a tool to escape poverty. The research-based approach to teaching tutors how to make the biggest impact made her an ALP cheerleader which led to her accepting the role of Site Coordinator in January 2017. In August 2018, Ellen took on the role of Business Operations Manager at ALP. Ellen graduated University of Phoenix with a BS in Accounting. She has lived in Charlotte for 13 years with her husband, daughter, two dogs and a cat.
Shannon Blair graduated from The University of South Carolina Honors College and pursued a career in teaching English, first at the secondary and then post-secondary level. After teaching for more than fifteen years as an English professor at Central Piedmont Community College, she embarked on a new career path during the pandemic as a freelance writer with a nutrition certification. During that time, while supporting her own children with remote schooling, she discovered the important work ALP was doing in the community and wanted to become involved. She began tutoring with ALP in 2021 and grew increasingly fascinated by and committed to literacy intervention. Shannon joined the ALP staff as a site coordinator in 2023 and is thrilled to support other tutors, new and experienced, in their efforts with aspiring young learners.
Anne Bowman joined ALP in July of 2023 as the Positive Learning Developer. Prior to ALP, she most recently served as a reading intervention specialist at a CMS elementary school as well as an Adjunct Professor in the School of Reading and Elementary Education at UNCC. Anne is a former classroom teacher and holds an Ed.S in Curriculum and Instruction with a focus on Reading Education as well as a Masters degree in Elementary Education. She completed her Associate level Orton-Gilliangham training in 2019 and has worked in literacy education ever since. Anne is thrilled to combine her passion for educational equity and her background in literacy education in her role at ALP. She lives in Charlotte with her husband, four kids, dog, bunny, and snake.
Judy Degernes joined ALP as a tutor in 2017. Tutor friends recommended Augustine to her and she felt an immediate connection with the work that was being done by ALP. She has a love of reading, and hopes to instill that love in young struggling readers. Judy has been involved in education for many years, as a volunteer and as a staff member. She was a Teaching Assistant at Providence Day School and also worked in the PDS Admissions Office for 6 years. She has lived in seven different states and is happy to call Charlotte home.
Kate Degernes joined ALP as a Site Coordinator in August of 2023. She has been involved in education for many years working in admissions for schools in New York and California. Kate is passionate about education equity and believes reading is the foundation of education. She is excited to join ALP and to help aspiring readers in the Charlotte community. Kate has a Bachelors degree from Drew University. A native New Yorker, she is happy to be a North Carolinian. Kate lives in South Charlotte with her husband and is raising two little southern girls. When not in carpool, she enjoys practicing yoga, doing crosswords, and baking.
Lauren Dorsey joined the ALP team as a Site Coordinator in September of 2023. Having over 16 year of education experience she has taught children at the Transitional Kindergarten level all the way through High School. Lauren’s most recent education experience was in an adapted curriculum, Special Needs classroom where she was able to work alongside speech, occupational, and physical therapists who have helped broaden her skills on teaching the “whole” child as every child learns differently. Lauren’s passion for children and seeing the light in their eyes when accomplishing something they have been striving for is what brings her the most joy, this is what led her to ALP as she believes that our program is one that is impacting the lives of children, who may have otherwise fallen through the cracks. She believes “We ALL can do Hard Things” and strives daily to live this out in her own life experiences. An Ohio native, Lauren has called Concord NC, home since the age of 10 and is a product of Cabarrus County Schools. Lauren lives in Cabarrus County with her two sons, and three Doodle pups. Her interests involve attending her sons’ sporting events, lifestyle and family photography, camping, hiking, and volunteering in her community.
Carolyn Drake began tutoring for ALP in 2022 and joined the training team soon after. Carolyn comes to ALP with 20 years of high school English teaching experience. She holds a Masters of Arts in teaching and is at the associate level in Orten Gillingham. She is excited to be part of an organization that is meeting the literacy needs of our children. Carolyn is from Albany, New York and has lived in Charlotte for 12 years. She, her husband and two daughters enjoy traveling, cheering for the Buffalo Bills and playing tennis together.
Juanita Green, Program Coordinator/Site Coordinator, joined ALP in August 2023. She is mission driven and comes with 10 years of nonprofit experience. Juanita is excited about sharing her love for reading with all children. In her spare time you can find Juanita roaming around town in search of Art, good eats, second hand books, and waterfalls.
Steve is a thoughtful and action-oriented leader with strong ties to the Charlotte non-profit community. He served as Head of School for the Brookstone Schools where he partnered with ALP on tutoring services and became a strong advocate for our mission. He currently serves on the board of Thompson Child and Family Focus where he and his family have served as foster parents since 2010. Steve has also served on the ALP finance committee. Steve brings strong business experience in operations and an engineering background steeped in systems and process excellence.
His deep passion for service, commitment to helping children to succeed, and his broad experience, have positioned Steve to capitalize on an important moment in the early education of children. We are confident that he will galvanize the ALP family and our community to drive growth and serve more aspiring readers.
Steve and his wife, Wendy, have been in the Charlotte Metro area since 1998 along with their kids, Josiah and Haven who attend NC State.
Jess Heath, Communications Specialist, joined ALP in May 2012. She spends her time managing ALP’s social media accounts & communications and preparing for special projects & events. Jess loves working for ALP; she says, “Everyone at ALP, the staff, board and tutors, are such an inspiration. It is amazing to see the amount of dedication they selflessly devote to the students they work with.” With two little readers at home, Jess knows the importance of reading and is honored to be a part of ALP’s mission to assist struggling readers that might otherwise not receive the help they need.
Kari Heyink joined ALP as a virtual tutor in Fall 2020, transitioned to in-person tutoring for two years at Oakhurst STEAM and then became a Site Coordinator in August 2023. She graduated with a BA in Elementary Education and went on to earn a Master of Arts with a Literacy Concentration, both from Michigan State University. She holds a current teaching license and has ten years of elementary teaching experience. She has been an active volunteer at her children’s schools and also serves on her neighborhood association board. For the past six years she has been raising two young readers of her own. But as a teacher she experienced firsthand the impact strong reading and literacy skills have on a child and is grateful for the opportunity to support CMS students, tutors and teachers through the ALP mission. A Michigan native, she has called Charlotte home since 2007. Kari lives in East Charlotte with her husband, two children and two Australian Shepherd dogs. Her interests involve visiting family in Michigan and Ohio in the summer, tent camping and hiking all around North Carolina in the fall and spring and getting lost in a good book.
Andrea Howell, Director of Recruitment & Retention, comes to ALP with more than two decades of work in the non-profit sector. Most recently Andrea was the Local Serve Director for a church in the Charlotte Metro area. Prior to that she was the Executive Director of CASA for Children of Klamath County. During her tenure at CASA, the program advocated for a record number of children and youth in foster care. Through her work with vulnerable children, Andrea has developed a passion for equity in education and connecting people to their purpose. Andrea holds a BA in History from California State University, Sacramento. She and her husband Jeff and three children are transplants from the West Coast and enjoy making Charlotte home.
Jessica Klasinski, Director of Development, comes to ALP with 15 years of nonprofit experience in a progression of leadership roles, most recently as the Operations Manager of Women’s Impact Fund (WIF) where she saw the meaningful impact of collective giving and gained a deep insight into the challenges that face our community. Prior to WIF, Jessica served as the Executive Director of Reading Enriches All Children (REACH) in Norfolk, Virginia, a literacy-based nonprofit focusing on at-risk and homeless children in the Hampton Roads region. Jessica holds a BA in Communication Studies from University of North Carolina at Wilmington.
Mary Ann O’Brien
Mary Ann O’Brien, Bookkeeper, joined the ALP team in June 2020. She is very grateful that this position was available and that she was chosen to become part of the ALP team. After more than 35 years working in a wide spectrum of industries, from banking to nonprofits to school district administration, she considers her knowledge a vocation meant to be shared. Mary Ann has an MBA from St. John’s University and a CAS from Hofstra University. Mary Ann has lived in North Carolina since 2016 with her husband and youngest son. Her two older children still reside in New York.
Philisha Orr, Advancement Administrator, joined ALP as a tutor in January 2023. While being a Therapeutic Foster parent, she realized that many kids that came into her care were struggling readers and she wanted to continue to make a huge impact in their lives, not only by opening her home but also opening their minds to a world of possibilities while in her care. This led her to ALP while seeking out volunteer opportunities to learn how to teach reading skills to aspiring readers. The growth that she saw in her student while tutoring has made the biggest impact in wanting to get behind the ALP mission and help drive the organization forward. Philisha graduated from The University of Phoenix with a BS in Business Management. She is a true Charlottean and can be found at the Zmax Dragstrip (need for speed) or riding the trails after a rainy day (all things muddy) with her husband, 3 boys and a slew of bonus kids that call her Mom.
LaShonna Smith joined ALP in November 2022. She comes with over 16 years experience in education. With teaching experience at the elementary, middle and high school levels, she set out on a mission to impact more children educationally by joining the ALP team. She is excited to use her knowledge, passion, leadership skills to help meet the needs of aspiring readers in the Charlotte community and beyond.
LaShonna has a Masters degree from North Carolina Central University and a Bachelors degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She resides in the Charlotte Metro area with her husband and three boys.
McCrea Smith, Site Coordinator, comes to ALP with a decade of teaching experience in kindergarten in Title 1 schools. She attended North Carolina State University for her undergraduate degree and Meredith College to receive her Masters in Teaching. Although she misses the magic of kindergarten, she knows she will continue to make impacts in education outside of the classroom. McCrea is deeply passionate about ensuring that every early elementary aged student has access to high quality literacy intervention and support. McCrea lives in Charlotte with her husband and two children. She is a native Charlottean and plans to never leave.
Kristin Stinson began tutoring with ALP in 2016. She graduated from The University of the South in Sewanee, TN, and then earned a master’s degree in Elementary Education from Samford University. After teaching third grade for 3 years, Kristin chose to transition into the library to combine her passion for education and her love of literature. She attended The University of Alabama and received an MS in Library and Information Studies. She served as the head librarian at K-8 schools in Hoover, AL and San Mateo, CA for 8 years until her husband’s career moved them to Chicago and finally to Charlotte where she has resided since 2014. Kristin joined the ALP staff as a site coordinator in August of 2021 and is enthused by the opportunity to work with her heroes as they equip students with the confidence and skills needed to experience the joy in reading.
Caroline Walsh, Learning and Development Facilitator, comes to ALP with eleven years of elementary education experience. Most recently, Caroline taught at Trinity Episcopal School in Charlotte as well as in other schools in Pennsylvania, New York, Arizona and North Carolina. She holds her Masters in Teaching and is Orton-Gillingham certified. Caroline attended both the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Duke University but is a loyal Tar Heel fan. Caroline is a native Charlottean and enjoys traveling, working out, and spending time outside with her fiance and Golden Retriever, Archie.
ALP Board of Directors