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, 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. Email:


Kristal Badgett-Valcin, Regional Operations Manager. Kristal graduated from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She spent several years as a Compliance Manager in the Corporate/Litigation and Compliance department in the legal arena. In 2014, Kristal moved to Charlotte and decided to apply her skills within the education sector. She earned her Master’s degree from the University of North Carolina-Charlotte and, while pursuing her degree, became a researcher and fidelity specialist at UNCC. As Kristal witnessed the disparities many of our youth faced, she focused her commitment and passion on helping all students grow academically, ultimately giving them the chance to become successful in society. ALP’s belief in supporting all students while building them up from a foundational level was a true eye opener for Kristal and led to her desire to join the team. She lives in Charlotte with her husband and four sons. .


Jess Heath, Communications Specialist, 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:


Andrea Howell, Tutor Recruitment Manager, 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. Email:


Amber Lynch, Development Coordinator, has been ALP tutor since 2019, Elder and Stephen Minister at Myers Park Presbyterian Church, Resident Reporter for Myers Park Life Magazine, and Advocate and Moderator for She was formerly a City Editor for Charleston/Charlotte and Fashion Correspondent for Ask Miss A. Previously, she was the Director of Business Development for W by Worth for the North Carolina region. She is passionate about family, books and giving. She is a published poet and author of the children’s book, Where Did Grandlee Go. She grew up in Charleston, South Carolina cultivating a fondness for southern style and Lowcountry cuisine. After college, Amber began her career in New York City working for Tiffany & Co. in Community Affairs and later as the Publicity Director for Rizzoli Publications. She met her husband in NYC. Longing for southern roots they relocated to Charlotte, NC almost twenty years ago.  She has settled into the southern paced yet culturally enriched city. Raising three sons keeps her busy, but grounded. She has adopted Charlotte as her home and is avidly involved in the community through church, school and charities. 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:


Anthony McKnight, Virtual Program Coordinator. Anthony is originally from Queens, NY, and is a graduate of North Carolina A&T State University. He has over 20 years of experience working with organizations focused on youth and community programming, as well as classroom and tutoring experience as a teacher/tutor in New Haven, CT. Over the past year and a half, he has taught and tutored in virtual settings, bringing this experience into his new role as Virtual Program Coordinator with ALP. Anthony brings enthusiasm to education and youth development and recently relocated to Charlotte to continue his personal mission of closing the opportunity gap that affects so many students. Email:


Michelle Miller, Learning and Development 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:


Margo Posnanski, Learning and Development Designer, joined ALP in January 2018 as a tutor at Billingsville Elementary. She has bachelor’s degrees in print journalism and marketing from Kansas State University. She  worked at newspapers in Florida, Kansas and Missouri in sports and designed educational material for students at The Kansas City Star. Margo moved to Charlotte with her family in 2011. She has volunteered at her daughters’ school parents’ association as communications chair and secretary, co-chaired a Friends of the Arts committee and co-chaired ALP’s Coffee Cup campaign to build awareness for the Rise and Read fundraiser in 2021. Margo enjoys coaching new tutors in person and virtually and joined the training staff in May 2021. She is always looking for new ways to help children learn the power of reading. Email:


Allyssa Reitz, Executive Assistant, joined the Augustine Literacy Project in July of 2021. She comes to ALP with several years of experience working with nonprofit organizations and is excited to be part of the difference that is being made by tutors and staff alike. When asked why ALP’s mission was important to her, she said ” I moved often as a child and could always count on a library to bring me comfort in a new place. My hope is that we are able to provide that same sense of security with the children we are helping.” Allyssa is new to Charlotte and still enjoys reading, as well as gardening and spending time with her husband and rescued dogs, Tucker and Finnigan. Email:


Caroline Saunders, 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.  Email:


Alyssa Wood, Regional Operations Manager, joined ALP as a tutor at Winding Springs Elementary in fall 2016 and worked as an ALP Site Coordinator. 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:



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:


Holly Becker, joined ALP as a Tutor at Winding Springs Elementary School in January 2019 and as a Site Coordinator in August 2021. A mom to a child with dyslexia and ADHD, she  knows all too well how challenging school can be for struggling readers. She’s been an active CMS volunteer in her children’s schools, as well as  serving as a North Star Reading Partner and on the North Carolina State Improvement Project Advisory Committee for Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools.  Holly earned Bachelor’s degrees in Communication and Psychology at Coker University and has spent the bulk of her career as a writer for local newspapers, magazines and businesses. In 2019, she self-published her first children’s book, Bed Head: A Hair-Raising Adventure. A South Carolina native, Holly has lived in the Lake Norman area for 20 years. She and her husband have three children and enjoy exploring America’s national parks whenever they have a chance. 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:



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:


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. 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:


Drea Tomlinson joined Augustine Literacy Project in February 2022. She comes to ALP with over five years of experience in education. With her BA in English Education from California State University: Fullerton, she worked as a Training Facilitator and Mentor Tutor for a large tutoring program at Fullerton College. Additionally, she worked in an after-school program dedicated to supporting students after learning loss due to COVID-19. Drea is thrilled to be part of an organization that is providing crucial support to students in the Charlotte community. She moved to Charlotte in January 2022 from Southern California and enjoys reading, watching movies, and spending time with her partner and cat, Junie.  .


Summer 2022 Interns:

Jackie Haynes is spending her second summer interning with ALP. She has seen the impact that this relational and strategic approach to tutoring has had on students, and she wants to continue to be a part of this mission by supporting the staff and tutors. She is a rising junior at North Carolina State University and is majoring in Business Administration with a finance concentration and minoring in both Spanish and Nonprofit studies. Jackie is from the Charlotte area, and she loves spending time with friends and family and taking advantage of the various bike trails and food trucks Charlotte has to offer.


Hannah Matos began tutoring with the Augustine Literacy Project in 2021 as part of an education class at Davidson College and continued throughout the following semester of her senior year. She values the impact that ALP had in developing the literacy skills of her students and is excited to partner with us this summer. She graduated from Davidson College in May with a Bachelor’s degree in Hispanic Studies and Minor in Educational Studies and will be traveling to Madrid, Spain in the fall where she will teach English in a bilingual school. Hannah is from the Charlotte area and enjoys reading, writing, and spending time with family and friends.


Kendel Pierce joined Augustine Literacy Project in May of 2022. She is currently enrolled at Clemson University to earn her BS in Psychology with the intent of furthering her education to specialize in child development. Her interests in the trajectories and patterns of language and literacy development in children allowed her to recognize the importance of the work that Augustine Literacy Project does. She is thrilled to be a part of an organization that lends a hand in the development of young minds. Kendel is a native Charlottean and enjoys reading, running, painting, and spending time with her family and friends.


Emery Van Voorhis began to tutor with the Augustine Literacy Project in 2020 at the Nest Academy. From the first training session, she felt the work being done with ALP was a perfect fit given that she learned to read in the CMS system. Most recently, Emery tutored at University Park Creative Arts School in Charlotte. In the fall, she will be attending the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and is a devoted Tar Heel fan. Emery is a native Charlottean and enjoys reading, writing, and taking long walks with family and friends.


The ALP-Charlotte Board

Don Olmstead, Chair
Kristin LaPrise, Governance Chair
Michele Melchior, Treasurer
Anthony Jones, Secretary
Jim Boylan, Immediate Past Chair
Betty Blackwell
Michael Blair
Koren Cranford
Rebecca Drendel
Rebeca Fernandez
Steve Hall
Des Keller
Maria Long
Bert Miano
Trish Sexton
Tom Temple

Click here to view ALP Board Member biographies.