our team

The people behind Raising A Reader are a team of dedicated and talented professionals committed to early child literacy. Our national office is headquartered in Milpitas, California and we have dedicated staff located across the nation who provide technical assistance and ongoing support to our national network of Program Partners.
Join our team

Executive Office

Michelle Torgerson

President and CEO

Michelle Torgerson returned to Raising A Reader after a ten-year absence to take the helm as President and CEO in 2018 after gaining success as a social entrepreneur with experience in scaling education-focused organizations. She oversees Raising A Reader’s day-to-day operations and leads our strategic growth plan to reach 200,000 children across the country by 2022. Both personally and professionally, Michelle has made a longstanding commitment to children’s literacy. She brings 20 years’ experience in the nonprofit sector that includes leadership roles with national nonprofits committed to educational equity. Previously, Michelle was senior executive director of Reading Partners, a San Francisco-based literacy intervention organization where she oversaw a staff of 70, developed strategic partnerships and secured revenue from foundations, individuals, corporations and government sources. 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. Her dedication to educational equity is also informed by her experience as a National Urban Fellow where she currently serves as Alumni Board Chair and fosters the program’s mission to create diverse leaders dedicated to social justice and equity. 

Lizzie Horner

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. 

Patricia Cogley

Deputy Director, Strategic Innovation and Impact

Patricia joins us as our Deputy Director, Strategic Innovation and Impact. Patricia comes to Raising a Reader with over 20 years of experience developing and scaling award-winning social impact programs for corporations and large non-profits that include program design, global scale, and impact measurement design. She loves designing hybrid learning experiences that deepen engagement, connection, and imagination. Patricia will be taking the lead in our overall approach and implementation of our Raising a Reader’s pilots, innovations, and evaluation.

Noelle Colomé

National Director of Development and Communications

Noelle is responsible for overseeing fund development and managing strategic messaging to external stakeholders. Noelle has a long-standing commitment to social justice and educational equity, both personally and professionally. As the first person in her family to graduate college, she is committed to ensuring that students of color and students from low-income backgrounds have the opportunities and tools they need to achieve academic success and beyond. Noelle earned her bachelor’s degree in English and her master’s in social welfare from University of California, Los Angeles. Noelle credits her lifetime love of learning in large part to her first grade teacher, Jacqueline Krawczyk Zuber. I couldn’t wait to get to school on Mondays and get a new book to read!

She has held leadership roles at educational equity organizations dedicated to college access and success as Director of Development at First Graduate and Director of Strategic Growth and Director of Institutional Advancement at 10,000 Degrees. She has also worked for international social change organizations focused on health and violence prevention. She led fund development efforts at V-Day founded by playwright V, formerly known as Eve Ensler, where she accompanied funders to Democratic Republic of Congo, and was Director of Development and Communications at GAIA where she raised funds for nursing scholars and medical mobile units in Malawi. And, she spent one magical year living with her family on Martha’s Vineyard and working as Director of Development at the Martha’s Vineyard Museum. Her love of art, museums and adventure was sparked by her favorite childhood book, From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs Basil E. Frankweiler by E. L. Konigsburg, where siblings runaway from home to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City.

Nikia Brown

Development and Communications Operations Associate

As the Development and Communications Operations Associate Nikia supports Raising a Reader’s national fundraising and communications efforts. Nikia is a native of Brooklyn, NY. She has over five years of experience in nonprofit fundraising and development, with expertise in database management and donor communications. Nikia holds a BA in Sociology with minors in Psychology and Education from the University at Albany, SUNY and received a Master of Public Administration from Buffalo State College, SUNY. Prior to accepting her position with Raising A Reader, she worked for Teach for America Buffalo, YWCA of NYC, Planned Parenthood Federation of America, and she also assisted the Scheduling and Advance Team of First Lady Michelle Obama. Throughout her career Nikia has been a integral part of teams that have raised millions of dollars to support various causes such as Educational Equity, Reproductive Health, and providing low income families with access to quality early childcare.

Nikia is dedicated to empowering under-served communities and has a passion for combating educational inequality, human trafficking, and mass incarceration. She enjoys traveling, DIY projects, and spending quality time with family and friends. Her favorite childhood book is Go Ask Alice by Beatrice Sparks.

Suzanne Metcalf

Marketing and Communications Officer

Bio Coming Soon!

Programs and Partnerships

Michelle Sioson Hyman

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.

 

 

Rebecca Armstrong

Rebecca Armstrong

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.

Tymisha Sweet

Tymisha Sweet

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.

Finance & Operations

Jennifer Ford

Vice President, Finance and Operations

As the Vice President 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.

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.

Marie Waldron

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.

Alan Rodrigo

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.

Philip Chavez

Manager, Warehouse and Operations

As the Manager of 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.

Amanda Madril

Operations Associate

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