Office Staff:

Alison S. Houser, Executive Director, joined the Augustine Literacy Project as a tutor in 2012 and worked with a struggling reader at Sedgefield Elementary.  She hoped to change the trajectory of her student’s life but had no idea her own life would be changed in the process.  Alison was named Executive Director in August 2013 and is working with the ALP staff, tutors and board to accelerate growth of the organization.  Prior to Augustine, Alison was an active community volunteer, leading the Park Road Montessori (PRM) SchoolMates program, serving on the PRM School Leadership Team and participating in the CMS Higher Education Partnership Task Force, among other projects.  Alison’s prior professional experience was in higher education student affairs, working at the University of Virginia, the University of Maryland, and the University of North Carolina-Charlotte.  Alison holds a Bachelor’s Degree in English with a Minor in Sociology and a Master’s Degree in Social Foundations of Education from the University of Virginia.   Email:


Ellen Babb, Business Office Manger, 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. Email:


Jess Heath, Administrative Support, joined ALP in May 2012. She left her career with Coca-Cola to stay at home with her growing family. Jess is the glue that holds ALP together! She spends her time managing ALP’s office, marketing and preparing for special projects and 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. Email:


Kelly Halmrast, Training Coordinator, joined the ALP staff in January of 2018.  “I have tutored students on a volunteer level for over twenty years, but the ALP method is truly special.  It is my belief that the comprehensive training and support that tutors receive, along with the unique relationship that ALP tutors develop with their students, is the best recipe for success for struggling readers.”  Kelly took the training in the winter of 2015 and is currently tutoring at Bruns Academy.  She graduated from the University of South Carolina with an MA in Teaching with an English concentration. Email:


Helen Kimbrough, Engagement & Recruitment Manager, has an extensive career centered around reading and literacy initiatives. She is also a published author of four multicultural children’s books, and an independent publisher of eleven books highlighting  children’s, motivational, and spiritual genres.  Prior to joining the HELPS implementation team, Helen was Community Engagement & Program Manager for Reading Partners, where she helped create and execute a comprehensive community engagement strategy for volunteer recruitment and managed program implementation, among many varied duties. A graduate of Hampton University in Hampton, VA, Helen has compiled a lengthy list of community service affiliations in Charlotte, including serving on the Board of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Library Foundation, serving on the Regional Advisory Board for Out Teach, and being a charter member of the South Charlotte Chapter of Jack & Jill of America, Inc.  In August 2019, Helen successfully completed her certification in Systems Thinking from Cornell University.  Email:


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.  Email:


Leslie Mackinson, Assistant Trainer, joined ALP as a tutor in January 2018 after working for 18 years as a Transition Counselor at Cambridge School in Pennington, NJ, a school for children with primary language based learning differences. She has also served on multiple primary and secondary school boards as a trustee as well as on a non-profit counseling service board of trustees in Princeton, NJ.  Leslie taught K-1 Sunday School for 21 years and was a comptroller of a medium sized, privately held corporation for 8 years. Leslie comes to ALP after moving to Charlotte in 2010, and volunteering with Northstar and Read CLT.  She was always interested and involved in education, but became a true advocate for and believer in Orton-Gillingham methods and programs through the experience of her own child’s journey with language and reading development. Leslie learned first hand the value of ALP and joined the staff as Assistant Trainer in 2019. Email:


Michelle Miller, Training Manager, joined Augustine Literacy Project as a tutor in 2018, primarily working at Montclaire Elementary.  As the parent of a child with dyslexia, she researched programs to help her son and was impressed with the diagnostic and prescriptive Orton-Gillingham method.  Michelle completed her Orton-Gillingham Associate Level training and applied her learnings to see gains in her son’s test scores and confidence.  Michelle became an ALP tutor and continued to embrace the changes in her scholars!    Michelle has been an active volunteer in the Charlotte community, including Scouting, YMCA, and CMS.  Her prior professional experience includes corporate training and being a business entreprenuer.   She is a graduate of Purdue University and is married with two kids and a large cat (who thinks he a dog).  Email:


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. Email:


Jan Tiffany, Administrative Support, has a unique and diverse background combining education, social work and small business administration.  Jan was a 3rd and 4th grade teacher before she made the move to supplemental, private instruction. For 24 years Jan has worked with Sylvan Learning Center and Swan Learning Center where students are assessed and tutored individually with prescriptive educational programs.  She owns several small businesses and is also an Election Judge in Mecklenburg County. Jan is a fierce defender of the underdog, which is why she loves this organization.“It makes a huge impact to be eye to eye with a young child, to be the smile or the wink or the hug that they count on once or twice a week.” A graduate of UNC Greensboro with a double major in Psychology and Sociology, Jan lives in Charlotte with her 2 teenage sons and dog Smokey. Email:


Site Coordinators:

Anne Bayliss joined ALP as a tutor in September 2016.  After a career in public accounting and financial services, she was seeking volunteer opportunities when she heard about Augustine. Helping struggling readers master the essential life skill of Reading with the training, support, and people of Augustine, was the perfect fit.  Helping instill a love of reading is added reward.  “I have now experienced a struggling reader having the light come on as they sound or read a word for the first time. To see how excited they get and how good they feel about themselves is a wonderful thing.” Anne joined the ALP staff as a site coordinator in August 2018.  She is a graduate of The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Email:


Sandy Carter has enjoyed participating in the field of education in a variety of roles. She served as an administrative assistant to the principal and elementary reading tutor for five years, before transitioning to classroom teacher. She taught middle school and high school English for ten years. While attending Northeastern State University in Oklahoma, Sandy was a tutor in the writing center at the university. After her husband’s job facilitated a move to Charlotte in 2014, Sandy tutored in the writing program at Winthrop University in South Carolina. In September 2016, thanks to a fortuitous conversation with Augustine Literacy Project tutor Fran Huske, Sandy became an ALP tutor at Rama Elementary in Charlotte.  Sandy and Frank, her husband of 38 years, are the proud parents of three beautiful daughters and a wonderful son-in-law. They are also the besotted grandparents of the most precious granddaughter and grandson.  Sandy’s hobbies include reading, cooking, travel, knitting, and singing with the Charlotte Master Chorale. She has a good friend in her cat, Hobbes. Email:


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.                                        Email:



Susanna Meyer joined the ALP staff as a site coordinator in February of 2019. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in English with a Minor in Art History from the University of Georgia and a Master’s Degree in Early Childhood Education and Special Education from New York University. Her previous teaching experiences, in both New York City public schools and an Alabama public school, have given her a wide range of exposures to school systems. She is passionate about the importance of supporting readers early on to help develop a good foundation in reading. She has trained as both an Augustine and HELPS tutor. Susanna lives in Charlotte with her husband and two young children.  Email:


Elizabeth Nichols, Site Coordinator, joined ALP as a tutor in October of 2016 at Huntington Farms Elementary School. Since then she has had the pleasure and honor of sharing her love of reading with three exceptional children who patiently allowed her to explore this world of tutoring. Having detailed training and a structured curriculum provided by Augustine has helped her move her children steadily forward despite not having experience in education. Elizabeth graduated from the College of Charleston with a BS in Psychology and went on to work for the Carolina Panthers before starting her family. She is the mother of two college-aged boys who share her love of reading and continually teach her in much the same way as her students. Since their launch, she has served as a part-time bookkeeper before becoming a site coordinator for ALP in August of 2020. Her interests include hiking, travelling with her children and tennis. Email:


Lynn Schweitzer began tutoring through the Augustine Literacy Project in September of 2017 and joined the staff as a Site Coordinator in January of 2019. As the parent of a dyslexic child, Lynn experienced the miracle of the Orton-Gillingham reading approach first hand and credits her son’s OG tutor as one of the most impactful contributors to his overall academic success. “After experiencing the life-changing effect OG tutoring had on our family, it’s a joy to positively impact, not only struggling readers, but also their parents through the ALP program.” Lynn graduated from Clemson University with a BS in Business and spent her twenty-five year banking career in various lending and risk management roles. She and her husband have a daughter in graduate school and a son in college. Email:


Alyssa Wood joined ALP as a tutor at Winding Springs Elementary in fall 2016. She is currently working on her Classroom Educator certification by the Academy of Orton-Gillingham Practitioners and Educators. She has a BFA and MFA from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and taught at CPCC when she and her husband first moved to the area. She has served as a Board member for Clayworks and J.M. Alexander Middle School’s PTSA. She loves incorporating her passion for travel, nature, and visual art into her tutoring and was thrilled to join the ALP staff as a Site Coordinator in August 2018. Email:

The ALP-Charlotte Board

Tom Temple – Chair

Jim Boylan – Incoming Chair

Koren Cranford – Treasurer

Valerie Roberts – Secretary

Kristin LaPrise – Governance Chair

Michael E. Blair

Bonnie S. Fleming

Anthony T. Jones

Des Keller

Anjali Markey

Michele Melchior

Bert J. Miano

Christina O’Dell

Don E. Olmstead

Trish Sexton

Click here to view ALP Board Member biographies.