The People Behind Raising A Reader
Raising A Reader’s national office is located in Redwood Shores, California.
National office staff provide support and technical assistance to all affiliates in the RAR network.
Join our team
President and CEO
Michelle Torgerson joined the Raising A Reader family in 2018 as President and CEO. She oversees Raising A Reader’s day-to-day operations and drives our Vision 2020 initiative to reach 3 million children across the country by 2020. Both personally and professionally, Michelle has made a longstanding commitment to children’s literacy. She has spent the past 20 years in the nonprofit sector and her experience includes leadership roles with nonprofits to deepen their reach in communities across the country. Previously Michelle was senior executive director of Reading Partners, a San Francisco-based literacy intervention organization. Her responsibilities included overseeing a staff of 70 and securing revenue through foundation, individual, corporate and government sources and generating partnerships to ensure needed funding. She also held executive positions at College Possible, a national nonprofit that makes college admission and success possible for low-income students through an intensive curriculum of coaching and support.
Deputy Chief of Staff
Lizzie is responsible for the smooth running of RAR;s national internal operations, ensuring high levels of organizational effectiveness and communication; leading and/or supporting high-quality execution of strategic initiatives; and providing executive support, including serving as a liaison to national board.
Lizzie earned her bachelor’s degree in Human Resource Education with an emphasis on leadership development & training from Louisiana State University. Lizzie’s passion for organizational culture and the people experience made her successful in her previous work where she led on people and operations for a healthcare startup in San Francisco.
Lizzie’s favorite childhood book is Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown.
Program and Affiliate Stewardship
Michelle Sioson Hyman
Senior Vice President, Program and Partnerships
As Senior Vice President of Program and Partnerships, Michelle is responsible for overseeing program development, growth and impact. Michelle has had a long-standing commitment to child development, both professionally and personally. She has worked within the philanthropic sector and across the public systems that are in place to support the education, health and well-being of young children as Deputy Director, Center for Early Learning at Silicon Valley Community Foundation and program officer for First 5 San Mateo and First 5 Santa Cruz Counties. Michelle has also worked directly alongside children and families as an AmeriCorps member, GirlVentures mentor and birth support doula which has fueled her passion to ensure that family is at the center of both program and public policy decisions.
Michelle earned her bachelor’s degree in English and anthropology from Case Western Reserve University and her master’s in public health from Yale University. Michelle’s first job in high school was at a children’s bookstore where she spent hours reading picture books, so it is impossible to identify just one favorite, but a favorite book she shares with her two children is Knuffle Bunny by Mo Willems.
Assistant Vice President, Program and Affiliate Stewardship
As Assistant Vice President of Program and Affiliate Stewardship, Rebecca is responsible for overseeing program growth as well as the program quality of Raising A Reader’s National Affiliate Network. Prior to joining Raising A Reader, Rebecca served as Director of Literacy Services for Reading Is Fundamental. In that role, she was responsible for literacy initiatives including early childhood services, parent education programs, conference presentations and projects related to a multicultural initiative.
Rebecca began her career as a special education teacher for children in grades 2-7. Rebecca earned her bachelor’s degree in elementary education from Towson University and completed her graduate studies in special education at Johns Hopkins University.
Rebecca loves sharing books with children as they discover the magic of the world around them! Her favorite book sharing partners are her children.
Senior Manager, Program and Affiliate Stewardship
As Senior Manager of Program and Affiliate Stewardship, Tymisha oversees the quality of Raising A Reader’s National Affiliate Network. In this role, she supports over 200 Affiliates ensuring program fidelity and sustainability.
In her past experience Tymisha served as the Counselor of the T.E.A.C.H. Scholarship program at National Black Child Development Institute. In that role, Tymisha moved to Washington, DC from Pennsylvania to launch and implement the program.
Prior to moving to Washington, DC, Tymisha worked as an ECE teacher in the Harrisburg, Pennsylvania public school system. Tymisha has a dual degree in Early Childhood Education and Elementary Education from Lincoln University.
As a child, Tymisha enjoyed reading The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats. This was a must read on a snow day with a cup of cocoa in hand.
Senior Manager, Program and Affiliate Stewardship
As Senior Manager of Program and Affiliate Stewardship, Kristen works closely with organizations to direct grant funding towards program start up and expansion. She is responsible for onboarding new Affiliates, training staff, and managing grant requirements.
Kristen has a passion for literacy development. Prior to joining Raising A Reader, Kristen worked in East San Jose, CA managing a reading mentor and family engagement program for kindergarten students and their families. Kristen also worked in Guatemala for four years, developing libraries in rural villages and teaching workshops for elementary school teachers on effective reading instruction. Kristen has a bachelor’s degree in economics from University of California, Santa Barbara, and a master’s in education from Walden University. She is also an enthusiastic Spanish language student.
Her favorite children’s book is Moira’s Birthday by Robert Munsch. It was the book she read aloud most often when visiting Guatemalan classrooms, often to children who had never been read to.
Senior Associate, Programs and Affiliate Relations
As Senior Associate, Programs and Affiliate Relations, Charlene supports both the Programs and Business Development departments out of our Glen Burnie, Maryland, office. She supports efforts to build consistent account management processes and maintain positive customer relationships with RAR affiliate partners. This includes assisting in outreach efforts in sales, maintaining accurate Affiliate records, meeting and event support, developing, editing, and distributing affiliate communications as well as day-to-day administrative duties.
Charlene has Bachelor of Science from the University of Maryland, College Park, where she studied Business Management and Transportation, a Publications Specialist Graduate Certificate from George Washington University in Washington, DC., and a Masters in the Art of Teaching from American University in Washington, DC. Her background centered mainly in the non-profit arena, but after volunteering in a local first grade classroom through her employer, Charlene obtained her teaching license and taught in underserved schools in Washington, DC, for five years.
Charlene’s favorite book for read alouds in her 4th Grade classroom was The BFG by Roald Dahl.
Business Development and Brand
Manager, Affiliate Growth and Development
As Manager, Affiliate Growth and Development, Mikaela Houghton manages the growth strategy of the Raising a Reader network of over 300 affiliates while supporting partnership and market expansion. As part of the Business Development team, her efforts contribute to account management and customer relations to all affiliate partners.
Mikaela’s love for literacy and diverse communities is evident in her career trajectory. In 2011-2012, Mikaela was a Corps Member for the AmeriCorps Program, City Year.. In this role, she was a tutor and mentor for middle school students in attendance, behavior and course performance. From 2016 – 2019, Mikaela was the first Development & Operations Associate at Georgia Asylum and Immigration Network. In this position, she oversaw grant management, fundraising, event planning, marketing, and communications as well as administrative activities of the organization. Here, she was selected as the organizational representative for Atlanta’s Coalition for Refugee Serving Agencies and in 2018, was named “30 Under 30” by the Young Nonprofit Professions Network Atlanta for her dedication and commitment to the sector.
Mikaela received a Bachelor of Arts in Global Studies with a concentration in Comparative Education from Long Island University’s Global College in 2016 where she studied abroad in Costa Rica, India, and China, each for one academic year. Her senior thesis examined the academic and cultural challenges faced by refugee girls within educational institutions in the United States. She is currently enrolled in Northeastern University’s College of Professional Studies, where she will receive her Master of Science in Nonprofit Management with a concentration in Global Studies in 2020. She additionally holds a certification in Nonprofit Marketing from the Georgia Center for Nonprofits and a certification in Rights of Refugees and Internally Displaced Persons from the Human Rights Education Associates (HREA).
Her favorite children’s book is Emma’s Pet by David McPhail. Her brother chose Mikaela’s middle name based off of his love for this book.
Finance & Operations
Director, Finance and Operations
As the Director of Finance and Operations, Jennifer is reponsible for overseeing finance, accounting, and operations of Raising A Reader’s national office. Prior to joining the Raising A Reader team in May 2013, Jennifer worked at another Bay Area nonprofit, Peninsula Family Service, as the Grants Manager and Financial Analyst of the organization.
Jennifer earned her bachelor’s degree in Sociology and Statistics from the University of Michigan. She also holds a Master’s in Business Administration from Santa Clara University.
Jennifer’s favorite book is Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst.
As the Senior Accountant, Shelly assists the finance team in all areas of need. Her daily responsibilities include maintaining Accounts Receivables, Accounts Payables, invoicing, account reconciliations, month-end and quarter-end closing.
Prior to joining the Raising A Reader team, Shelly has spent the majority of her career in finance and accounting. She received her Bachelors of Science degree at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo with a major in journalism but her affinity for numbers, and love for technology, led her home to the Bay Area and into the world of accounting. Prior to joining RAR, Shelly spent several years as an accountant in the private aviation sector, but also has extensive years of experience with VARs and manufacturing companies as well.
While it’s hard to pin down just one favorite, one of her most beloved children’s books from the Raising A Reader collection is The Littlest Scarecrow. She enjoys reading that book, and many others, with her seven year old daughter.
Senior Manager, Customer Service and Warehouse Operations
As the Senior Manager of Customer Service and Warehouse Operations, Marie works closely with the warehouse to procure materials and ensure proper fulfillment of orders. She helps Affiliates with their ordering needs and works closely with the Programs and Finance teams to make sure it is a smooth process all around.
Prior to joining Raising A Reader, she worked in the finance industry and more recently as an inventory analyst which made for a smooth transition. Marie holds her bachelor’s degree in Communication and Business from the University of Pittsburgh.
One of Marie’s many favorites from the Raising A Reader collection is The Cow that Went Oink by Bernard Most.
Warehouse Operations Associate
As the Warehouse Operations Associate at the Raising A Reader warehouse in Milpitas, Alan is responsible for the organization, shipping, and receiving of books and program materials. Alan assists with Raising A Reader volunteer events at the warehouse.
Before working at Raising A Reader, Alan worked as a cashier in the Buyback Department at Tri-Ced Community Recycling, helping the customers unload their aluminum cans and plastic bottles and then paying them with cash for their recyclables. Alan has a Bachelors degree in Kinesiology, with an emphasis in Athletic Training and Nutrition.
Alan’s favorite children’s book is A Light in the Attic by Shel Silverstein.
Warehouse Operations Associate
As the Warehouse Operations Associate at the Raising A Reader warehouse in Milpitas, Philip is responsible for the organization, shipping, and receiving of books and program materials. Philip also assist with data entry for sales and grant orders.
Before working at Raising A Reader, Philip worked for Apple as a Speech Data Collection Moderator specifically with Siri and has over 10 years of warehouse experience. He is a father of 3.
Philip’s favorite children’s book is Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak.
As Operations Associate, Amanda Madril is responsible for helping with sales and grant order entry, purchasing, and managing special projects in the Redwood City office. She also coordinates volunteer events and supports the warehouse staff as necessary.
Amanda attained her Bachelor of Arts degree at California State University Monterey Bay where she studied Social and Behavioral Sciences with a concentration in Sociology. Prior to joining Raising A Reader Amanda worked a variety of retail jobs. Most recently and while completing her degree, she worked as an intern in a homeless shelter where she performed research regarding the Housing and Urban Development “Housing First” policies to procure adequate funding for the homeless shelter.
Amanda’s favorite children’s book is Horton Hears a Who! by Dr. Seuss
Support Raising A Reader
Make a donation today to increase reading habits for children and families.
Give us your time
There are opportunities to volunteer at our east coast and west coast offices.
Partner with us
Join the group of agencies that deliver the program to their communities.