National Board of Directors
We give generous thanks to our dedicated board for their unwavering commitment to Raising A Reader and early childhood literacy.
Board of Directors
Richard Wilkolaski has served as a certified public accountant, business advisor, business appraiser and court expert witness for over 35 years. Dick is a Partner at Seiler, LLP, a regional C.P.A. firm. Previously, he worked for Price Waterhouse in upstate New York and Northern California. As a certified public accountant, advisor, forensic accountant and business appraiser, Dick’s client service areas are quite broad. His current primary focus is leading the firms’ litigation services group. This includes working with individuals and closely-held businesses involved in litigation, mediation and arbitration at both the state and federal court levels.
Dick volunteers for numerous nonprofit organizations, including the Boys and Girls Club of the Peninsula and Raising A Reader. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree with a major in accounting from Rochester Institute of Technology in Rochester, New York, a CPA Certificate from the State of California, a CVA credential from the National Association of Certified Valuation Analysts, and an ABV credential from the AICPA.
Allan Casalou is the grand secretary of the Freemasons of California. In this role, he leads the staff at the California headquarters in San Francisco and oversees the business operations of the fraternity throughout the state. He serves as secretary to several operational and charitable boards including the Masonic Homes of California and the California Masonic Foundation. Since 2002, he has been the editor of the award-winning Freemason magazine.
For over 25 years, Allan has been a leader in the non-profit sector. He worked as a project officer for the Merced County Office of Economic and Strategic Development where he managed many small business development projects, including a Central Valley farmer’s disaster relief loan program and a micro-enterprise program for Southeast Asian immigrants. Allan is the founding executive director of the Merced Center for the Performing Arts and led membership, education, and leadership programs for youth organizations in California. Allan joined the staff of the Freemasons in 1999 as executive director and was elected grand secretary for the first time in 2008.
In addition to international speaking engagements on behalf of Freemasonry, Allan is a frequent speaker on topics relating to nonprofit board governance, leadership, and change management.
While his professional work includes nonprofit board service, Allan volunteers for a number of organizations including Raising A Reader. He is also vice-president and treasurer of the Five Bridges Foundation in the Bay Area and is a director of the Nob Hill Association in San Francisco.
A native of California, Allan received a Bachelor of Science in Economics and a Master of Business Administration from the University of San Francisco.
Jennifer Blatz is the president and CEO of StriveTogether, a national nonprofit working in 70 communities across the United States to enable nearly 13 million young people to succeed in school and life.
Jennifer is a nationally recognized leader and expert in building place-based partnerships. For two decades, she has designed, developed and implemented strategies that drive large-scale community improvement through partnership with local leaders and organizations.
Prior to taking the helm of StriveTogether, Jennifer served in leadership roles, including Deputy Director and the Senior Director of Operations. She was instrumental in launching the national Cradle to Career Network and creating the StriveTogether Theory of Action™. She also developed a bold plan for 24 communities across the country to reach systems-level transformation by 2023.
Before leading StriveTogether, Jennifer was a founding member of StrivePartnership, serving Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky. Through her contributions, StrivePartnership became one of the most notable collective impact initiatives in the country.
Jennifer began her career in the education sector. As executive director of Ohio College Access Network, she led a network of community-based programs focused on improving access to and attainment of postsecondary education.
Jennifer serves as a PolicyLink Ambassador for Health Equity and as a LEAP Ambassador. She was also invited to help launch the Weave Movement at the Aspen Institute.
Jennifer has been named a YWCA of Greater Cincinnati Rising Star and a Cincinnati Business Courier Forty Under 40. She is a graduate of United Way of Greater Cincinnati’s Volunteer Leadership Development Program, the Billions Institute Skid Row School for Large-Scale Change and the Cincinnati Chamber of Commerce Women Excel Leadership Program.
Carol Emig has spent her career working at the intersection of public policy, programs, and research related to children and youth. Since 2006, she has been President of Child Trends, an independent, nonpartisan research center. Child Trends improves the lives and prospects of children and youth by conducting high-quality research and applying the resulting knowledge to public policies, programs, and systems.
A growing organization, Child Trends’ research portfolio includes extensive work in early childhood; youth development; teen childbearing; education; child welfare; reproductive health, family structure, and parenting; child poverty; and the transition to adulthood. Child Trends, as its name suggests, has particular expertise in developing, tracking, and analyzing data on children and youth.
Under Carol’s leadership, Child Trends has significantly expanded its capacity to communicate research effectively to key stakeholders, and its outreach and interaction with programs that provide direct services to children, youth, and families. In particular, Child Trends works extensively with decision makers to use data effectively, to incorporate evidence-based practices into their programs and policies, to evaluate their effectiveness, and to use all of this information to improve outcomes for vulnerable children and youth.
From 2002 to 2006, Carol was Executive Director of the Pew Commission on Children in Foster Care, a blue-ribbon panel of child welfare experts. Many of the Commission’s recommendations were enacted by Congress or adopted by state agencies and state Supreme Courts. Prior to this, she was Vice President for External Relations at Child Trends, where she built the organization’s public policy communications department.
Carol’s other professional experiences include Deputy Director of the National Commission on Children, a bipartisan Congressional-Presidential panel; Senior Associate at the Center for the Study of Social Policy; director of a state children’s advocacy organization; and, early in her career, research assistant to First Lady Rosalynn Carter. She serves on the Boards of Directors of Reach Out and Read; the Stoneleigh Foundation; and the Children’s Chorus of Washington. She is also an advisor to the Board of Directors of Venture Philanthropy Partners.
Carol has an undergraduate degree in international relations from Georgetown University and a master’s degree in public policy from the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.
Kirk A. Law
Kirk A. Law is Vice President Product Development at Tableau Software that provides business analytics software products to greater than 75,000 customers worldwide with an $8B valuation. Tableau appears as a Leader in the Gartner Magic Quadrant for Analytics and Business Intelligence Platforms.
As an executive leader at Tableau, Mr. Law is responsible for a team of US and international engineering and product management talent for the core data platform technologies for Tableau’s products. This includes strategy, planning, development, and technology partnering.
Before Tableau, Mr. Law has held positions of SVP of Engineering at Primary Data, SanDisk, Skyera, NetApp, and Cacheflow. As well, he held senior positions at Silicon Graphics and RCA’s David Sarnoff Research Center where he is co-author of 4 US Patents.
Mr. Law graduated from Purdue University with a BSEE in 1981 and an MSEE in 1983. He was honored as the recipient of the 2012 Purdue University Outstanding Electrical and Computer Engineering (OECE) award.
Jamay has been licensed to practice law in California since 2005. Over the course of her career, she has represented clients and appeared in contested and uncontested probate matters throughout California.
After earning a bachelor’s degree from the University of California, Los Angeles, Jamay obtained her law degree from University of the Pacific McGeorge School of Law, where she was the recipient of a Public Legal Services Society Grant and received an Honors at Entrance Scholarship. Prior to forming her own firm, Jamay practiced at a prominent firm in San Mateo County, focusing on estate planning and litigation and elder abuse litigation.
An active member of her legal community, Jamay belongs to various professional organizations. She is a member of the Litigation Section and the Trusts and Estates Section of The State Bar of California. She serves as Vice Chair of the Estate Planning and Probate Section of the San Mateo County Bar Association and is a member of the San Mateo County Bar Association Diversity Committee.
Jamay is a member of the Court-Appointed Independent Counsel Panel for San Mateo County Superior Court Trust, Probate and Conservatorship matters. She is also a Paul Harris Fellow of the Foster City Rotary.
Sterling Speirn is the former Chief Executive Officer and now a Senior Fellow at the National Conference on Citizenship. He previously served as President & CEO of the Peninsula Community Foundation, now the Silicon Valley Community Foundation (PCF: 1992-2005), and as President & CEO of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation (WKKF: 2006-2013).
From these philanthropic platforms, Sterling has been a long-time champion of early childhood development and early childhood literacy as essential elements for interrupting poverty and promoting racial equity. He has also supported efforts to promote civic and community engagement as well as service and volunteering as key strategies for revitalizing our democratic culture and practices.
At PCF he founded the Center for Venture Philanthropy, and launched the Raising a Reader take-home book program which today operates at more than 3,000 sites serving more than 135,000 children annually. Also during this time, Speirn taught a seminar on philanthropy at the Stanford Graduate School of Business, and PCF’s innovations in donor services were profiled in a Harvard Business School Case Study.
At WKKF he helped launch America Healing in 2009, a five-year, $75 million initiative to support programs that promote racial equity and address structural racism. He also championed the creation of a $100 million Mission Driven Investment Fund that built a remarkable portfolio of private double bottom line investments in alignment with the foundations programmatic and place-based focus areas.
For several years he served as co-chairman of the national D5 coalition on Diversity in Philanthropy. He currently serves on the Board of Directors of the Greater Washington Community Foundation and is a member of the Racial Equity Working Group of the Washington Regional Association of Grantmakers. He also serves on the Board of Directors of Kindred, a Washington, DC-based nonprofit organization that works in local public schools to build trusting relationships between parents of diverse backgrounds and supports them to work with school leadership to drive equity and diversity in their schools and communities.
Speirn began his career as a 7th and 8th grade English Teacher in Cleveland, Ohio. Later he was a law clerk at the U.S. Department of the Interior, worked as a poverty lawyer in North Carolina; and managed a large community health center in Arcata, California.
Sterling earned his bachelor’s degree in political science from Stanford University and holds a law degree from the University of Michigan.
He is married with two sons and is an avid hiker and community gardener.
As the former executive vice president, Erica lead SVCF’s efforts to identify and respond to the most challenging issues facing the San Francisco Bay Area region. In this role she would oversee the institution’s discretionary grantmaking programs, strategic initiatives, research and convening activities. She also supported the institution’s public policy and advocacy work on board-prioritized issues.
Erica joined the community foundation in 2003 and has held several senior leadership positions including vice president and senior vice president of community leadership and grantmaking. Under her leadership the organization has received numerous awards for its work in economic security, early learning and education, immigration and land use planning.
Prior to joining the foundation, Erica was the director of research and evaluation at Applied Survey Research in Santa Cruz, California. While there she led the firm’s community assessment and major evaluation projects throughout the State.
Erica graduated with honors from the University of California at Santa Cruz and studied in Spain and Mexico. She serves on the board of the Community Action Agency in San Mateo County and is a current fellow of the American Leadership Forum – Silicon Valley Chapter.
Erica lives in Half Moon Bay with her husband, Jesse and daughter, Paloma.