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

Executive Office

Gabrielle E. Miller, Ed.D.


President & CEO, Dr. Gabrielle Miller, has more than twenty years experience in nonprofit educational programming for high-risk children. Under Dr. Miller’s leadership Raising A Reader’s model has been identified nationally as a best practice by the Clinton Foundation’s Too Small To Fail Initiative and the White House’s My Brother’s Keeper Initiative. In 2012 the US Department of Education awarded RAR a prestigious Innovative Approaches to Literacy Award and in 2014 identified RAR as a national model for its alignment with the recently adopted Dual Capacity Family Engagement Framework.

Prior to assuming leadership of Raising A Reader, Dr. Miller was the Vice President of Programs at Reading Is Fundamental, where she held primary responsibility for the management of USDOE, OII’s annual $25M US Department of Education Inexpensive Book Distribution Program (IBDP) contract. She also held leadership roles at Kennedy Krieger Institute and a tenure-track faculty position at The Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore.

Dr. Miller’s favorite book is Blueberries for Sal by Robert McCloskey.

Arleen Arnal

Arleen Arnal

Sr. Manager of Administrative Services and Board Liaison

As Sr. Manager of Administrative Services and a member of the Sr. Team, Arleen is responsible for developing and maintaining all administrative functions necessary for the efficient administration of Raising A Reader National Office. She reports to the CFO and she is also responsible for all confidential administrative support to the CEO and Sr. Team. As the Board Liaison, Arleen manages all communications/administration with Raising A Reader’s Board of Directors under the supervision of the CEO.

Arleen holds a Bachelor of Science degree in business administration and economics. She began her career as a banker specializing in International Trade Finance. Prior to joining Raising A Reader, Arleen worked at Silicon Valley Community Foundation in the Investments and Accounting Departments. She brings a strong background in banking, financial systems, investments and office management.

Arleen’s favorite children’s book is Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White.

Alicia Short

Alicia Short

Administrative Assistant

As Administrative Assistant at Raising A Reader’s National Office, Alicia directly supports the Administrative Services Manager.

Prior to joining Raising A Reader, Alicia worked as a preschool teacher and director in Fremont, serving young families of diverse backgrounds. She also taught creative writing classes with an after school program which is currently expanding across the nation. Alicia has her associates in marketing from City College of San Francisco. She also possesses a strong administrative and customer service background.

Alicia’s favorite children’s book is The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein. Alicia enjoys creating her own short stories and poems as well!


Rebecca Armstrong

Rebecca Armstrong

Assistant Vice President, Program Quality and Advancement

As Assistant Vice President of Program Quality and Advancement, 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.

Tymisha Sweet

Tymisha Sweet

Sr. Manager, Program Quality

As Senior Manager of Program Quality, 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.

Kristen Anderson

Kristen Anderson

Sr. Manager, Program Advancement

As Senior Manager of Program Advancement, 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.

Strategic Partnerships

Gloria M. Garcia

Gloria M. Garcia

Vice President, National Strategic Partnerships & Brand

As Vice President of National Strategic Partnerships and Brand, Gloria is responsible for all fundraising revenue including foundations, corporations and individuals as well as brand awareness and marketing communication initiatives.

Gloria has more than 25 years of strategic business development, brand positioning and executive management experience both in the United States and abroad having worked at the World Bank and managed the U.S. cotton industry’s marketing, public relations and trade relations in Latin America. Most recently at the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute (CHCI), the premier Latino leadership development organization in the country, Gloria reengineered the organization’s brand strategy and contributed to its dramatic revenue growth and program expansion.

Heather Deno

Heather Deno

Director, Strategic Advancement and Partnerships

As Director of Strategic Advancement and Partnerships, Heather’s focus is developing sales channels and increasing sales revenue among new and existing Affiliates. This will include refining marketing and communication strategies that increase RAR’s market share, training staff on sales and marketing methods and strategies,  and developing new lines of revenue in previously untapped markets.

Heather has had more than 20 years of experience in sales, business management, and strategic planning, particularly among nonprofits and entrepreneurs. As a Business Advisor for Purdue University she developed initiatives that promoted business collaboration among private, public, and community based organizations. She also created training and coaching programs for entrepreneurs and small business owners that focused on best business practices. Most recently, Heather was a Board of Trustee and Director of Sales for Youth for Understanding. During Heather’s tenure, the organization adopted an international branding and marketing strategy, new organizational and Board structure, as well as a more strategic vision that provided the foundations for changing the organization’s business model.

Heather received her undergraduate degrees in Fine and Performing Arts and Business from Manchester College and Northwestern University. She went on to receive her Juris Doctorate from the University of Louisville.  Heather’s favorite children’s book that she shared with her sons on a nightly basis was Goodnight Moon.

Jenna Nguyen

Jenna Nguyen

Manager, National Strategic Partnerships

As Manager of National Strategic Partnerships, Jenna is responsible for planning, managing, and coordinating strategic growth efforts through local and national funder cultivation. This includes managing grant related activities and growing RAR’s volunteer engagement program.

Prior to Raising A Reader, Jenna spent the last ten years in a variety of roles in the nonprofit sector, including special event planning, fund development, and marketing communications for organizations supporting low-income seniors, affordable housing, and more. Jenna has a bachelor’s in business organizational communication and master’s in public administration with a nonprofit management focus from The University of Akron.

Jenna’s favorite childhood book is I am a Puppy which set forth her everlasting love of dogs.


Jennifer Ford

Jennifer Ford

Grants Accounting Manager

As the Grants Accounting Manager, Jennifer manages all financial aspects of grant revenue and ensures program compliance with all grant requirements. 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.

Shelly Coulter

Shelly Coulter

Senior Accountant

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.

Eric Lau

Eric Lau

Accounting Associate

As the Accounting Associate, Eric assists in the fulfillment and processing of invoices as well as coordinating with affiliates to ensure low response time to inquiries, customer satisfaction, and timely payments. Situated in our Raising A Reader warehouse in Milpitas, Eric works closely with the production team.

Prior to joining Raising A Reader, Eric attended San Francisco State University and earned his bachelor’s degree in Economics. His love for numbers and his technical background led him to pursue the world of accounting. Prior to joining Raising A Reader, Eric worked as an Accounts Payable Analyst for a few years in the hotel industry.

There is nothing like sharing a great book with a child because sharing is caring! Nothing brings Eric more joy than seeing a kid with a big wily smile on their face after he’s read to them.


Nida Crisostomo

Nida Crisostomo

Assistant Vice President, Operations and IT

As Assistant Vice President of Operations and IT, Nida is responsible for oversight of all operational aspects of Raising A Reader’s national office. Nida started working for Raising A Reader as an accountant in March 2007 and was quickly promoted to Senior Accountant then to her current position.

Nida earned a bachelor’s degree in accounting and a master’s in business administration from Saint Louis College-Philippines. After passing her CPA board exams, she worked as an accountant at SGV & Co, the Philippine’s largest multi-disciplinary professional services firm and an affiliate of Ernst & Young.

Nida’s favorite children’s book is Sleeping Beauty.

Marie Waldron

Marie Waldron

Sr. Manager, Customer Service and Operations

As the Senior Manager of Customer Service and 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, but really enjoys any book she can share with her husband and step-daughter and can have fun voicing the characters together.

Alan Rodrigo

Alan Rodrigo

Warehouse Assistant

As the Warehouse Assistant at the RAR Warehouse in Milpitas, Alan helps the Manager of Warehouse and Operations with the organization, shipping, and receiving of books. Alan also helps with RAR’s volunteer events.

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.

National Board of Directors

RAR National Board of Directors

RAR National Board of Directors 
Pictured (L-R) (Back) Rick Jones, Gabrielle Miller, Emmett Carson, Amanda Welsh
(Front) Tom Simplot, Dick Wilkolaski (Chair), John Baugh
(Not Pictured) Allan Casalou

Richard Wilkolaski

Richard Wilkolaski

Board Chair

Partner, Seiler & Company, LLP

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

Allan Casalou

Vice Chair

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.

John Baugh, Ph.D.

John Baugh, Ph.D.


Professor of Education and Linguistics, Washington University in St. Louis

Dr. Baugh is the inaugural holder of an Arts & Sciences endowed professorship named in honor of prominent civil rights attorney and emerita trustee Margaret Bush Wilson at Washington University in St. Louis where he is director of African and African American Studies and professor of psychology, both in Arts & Sciences. In addition, Dr. Baugh holds appointments in the departments of Anthropology, Education and English, all in Arts & Sciences. Dr. Baugh is also Professor of Education and Linguistics at Stanford University. His primary research interest has been the social stratification of linguistic behavior in multicultural and multilingual nations. Initial interest in this area began with quantitative and experimental studies of linguistic variation among African Americans. These studies evolved into applied linguistic research devoted to policy issues in medicine, education, and law. Gradually his analyses expanded to include populations who suffered various forms of linguistic discrimination, including deaf communities, as well as speakers of languages or dialects who lack fluency in the dominant linguistic norms of their respective societies. Dr. Baugh authored Beyond Ebonics: Linguistic Pride and Racial Prejudice, a significant piece of work on the Ebonics controversy, is a renowned linguistics expert. As one of the organization’s very earliest supporters, his efforts on behalf of Raising A Reader have been long standing.

Amanda Welsh, Ph.D.

Amanda Welsh, Ph.D.


Senior Vice President, Mobile Apps Lab, Nielsen Communications

Amanda joined the Raising A Reader Board of Directors in December 2010 and is Senior Vice President, Mobile Apps Lab, at Nielsen Communications where she runs an innovation team. Amanda has over 15 years of experience in the technology industry, covering a wide range of media-related enterprises, including most recently serving as co-founder and senior vice president of research of Integrated Media Measurement Inc. (IMMI). As vice president of research for Antics Online, she provided research and strategic consulting to companies such a Capcom, PayPal and Sun Microsystems. She co-founded Garageband Records, which uses the Internet community to test-market new music. Welsh was also head of research for Netscape’s Internet initiatives and vice president of development for Digital Pictures, a developer of full motion video games.

Amanda has an extensive understanding of the way people process information, beginning with the Ph.D. in linguistics she earned from Harvard University. This strong background in linguistics, cognition and electronic communications will be an asset to the Raising A Reading Board as will her passionate advocacy for early literacy. Amanda knows first-hand that parent involvement is critical to a child’s academic achievement.

Richard Jones

Richard Jones


President and CEO, Jones Family Vineyards

Rick Jones is a life-long lover of wine who developed a passion for grapes while living in France in the 1970’s. After returning to the States he made wine on occasion with friends. In between grape stomps he had successful careers at McKinsey & Company and Safeway. After retiring from Safeway to spend more time with Sally, he realized that retirement in the traditional sense was not his style. As a result, Rick founded Jones Family Vineyards in 1996 as a family run partnership and continues an active role in its operation serving as CEO. Never one to slow down, Rick is highly involved with the Napa Valley community serving on the Board of St. Helena Hospital Foundation and the Board of the Napa Valley Vintners, as well as Raising A Reader in Silicon Valley and the San Francisco Zoo. His most beloved role is as Pop-Pop to his three granddaughters.

Emmett D. Carson, Ph.D.

Emmett D. Carson, Ph.D.


President and CEO Silicon Valley Community Foundation

An internationally recognized philanthropic leader for more than two decades, Dr. Carson is the founding CEO and president of Silicon Valley Community Foundation. Hired in 2006 to establish a new, regional community foundation from the unprecedented merger of Peninsula Community Foundation and Community Foundation Silicon Valley, Dr. Carson is responsible for providing the vision for one of the largest community foundations in the United States with assets of $1.7 billion.

Before coming to Silicon Valley, he served as president and CEO of The Minneapolis Foundation for 12 years. During his tenure, the foundation received national recognition for its grantmaking in the areas of housing, immigration and education.

An inspiring public speaker, Dr. Carson has devoted his career to being a catalyst for positive social change and has authored more than 100 works on philanthropy and social justice. He served as the first manager of the Ford Foundation’s worldwide grantmaking program on philanthropy and the nonprofit sector and his seminal work on African American giving and volunteering at the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies is widely seen as helping to spark broad public interest in ethnic philanthropy studies.

In addition to serving on numerous nonprofit boards, he has conducted workshops on endowment building for nongovernmental organizations in southern Africa and participated in international efforts to develop best practices within the field of philanthropy. He has received numerous awards, including honorary degrees from Indiana University, Morehouse College and The National Hispanic University. A native of Chicago, Emmett received both his master’s and Ph.D. degrees in public and international affairs from Princeton University and his bachelor’s degree in economics, Phi Beta Kappa, from Morehouse College.

Tom Simplot

Tom Simplot


President & CEO, Arizona Multihousing Association

Tom Simplot was named President and Chief Executive Officer of the Arizona Multihousing Association in 2008.

The AMA is the trade association for the apartment industry in Arizona and provides educational training, community/government relations services, and special events for almost 2,000 members statewide, representing more than 220,000 apartment units.

Tom is very active in the community and served on the Phoenix City Council for 10 years. He has also served in leadership positions on the Maricopa County Board of Health, the Maricopa County Industrial Development Authority, the Phoenix Historic Preservation Commission, the Encanto Village Planning Committee and the Phoenix Housing Commission. Tom also served as board chair of METRO Light Rail and was appointed by the George W. Bush Administration to the Federal Communications Commission’s Intergovernmental Advisory Committee. Currently Tom serves on the boards of the Valley of the Sun United Way, the Arizona Chamber of Commerce, Phoenix Theatre, and Wells Fargo Arizona. Tom is also a weekly columnist for the Arizona Republic.

Tom is a licensed attorney and previously served as deputy director of the Home Builders Association of Central Arizona. Tom also served as workforce development advisor to Arizona Governor Fife Symington and was chief of staff to Maricopa County Supervisor Betsey Bayless.

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