Board of Directors & Advisory Council Members

Board of Directors

Janel Yamasaki, Board Chair, a veteran teacher with 35 years experience providing bilingual education to the children of the Alisal Union School District in East Salinas. She is highly respected by both administration and colleagues and has provided school-site and district level leadership. Raised in the Salinas Valley by parents who were both Special Education teachers, Janel has a passion for teaching and a deep commitment to her community.

Cynthia Hertlein, Treasurer, has been the president of The Upjohn California Fund since 1992.  The Upjohn California Fund has supported non-profits on the Central Coast since 1973 including many youth-serving organizations.  As a CPA, Cynthia was on the professional staff of Touche Ross & Co. in San Francisco for 7 years before moving to private industry.  Cynthia is the current board President for the Friends of Carmel Valley Library and has served as a director (and officer as noted) for a number of non-profit organizations including The Girl Scout Council of South Wood County Wisconsin (treasurer),  The Arts Council of South Wood County (President), and Carmel Valley Scouting Inc (CFO).  Since 1989, she has had her own business providing accounting, financial and tax services to a limited number of private clients.

Juan Pablo Lopez, Secretary, is the Principal Administrative Analyst at the Monterey County’s County Administrative Office, under the budget and analysis division. He holds a master’s degree in public administration from the University of Southern California. After graduate school, Juan Pablo moved back to Salinas to begin a career in local government. Currently he is an analyst working with various Monterey County financial teams to help address financial issues that arise from doing business as a county. His wife and oldest sisters are kindergarten teachers at the Alisal Union School District and has a 20-month old daughter to whom he reads every day. Juan Pablo says, “Without books I don’t think I would have learned so much about the world and I don’t think I would have been prepared for a world of higher education and a world that can be very different from Salinas. I want to help others in my community fall in love with reading.”

Jen Ortega Uribe, Member, is a Certified Professional Human Resource Business Partner with 10 years’ experience building and retaining the most effective workforce possible with special expertise in recruitment, employee engagement, labor relations, safety building and creating policies and procedures and company culture. Jennifer was born and raised in South Monterey County.

Debbie Howitt, Member, has 18 years of experience in key aspects of nonprofit development including major gift fundraising, annual fund, capital campaigns, planned giving, and special projects. She is semi-retired and has her own consulting company focusing on donor development, stewardship, and major gifts.  


Advisory Council

Sonia Aramburo, Member, has served as an educator for almost 30 years. She has worked at the elementary, middle and high school levels as a teacher, counselor and administrator. Currently, Sonia serves as a principal for the Greenfield Union School District. Sonia arrived at Vista Verde Middle School five years ago to serve as an assistant principal. Discipline rates were high at the school and when students were asked to read, she observed that students had great difficulty. She was asked by Greenfield’s California State Trustee to take the position of Principal at Mary Chapa Literacy and Technology Academy. Sonia is responsible for significantly raising state assessment scores (211 points in two years) propelling Mary Chapa to exit Program Improvement Year 5. Sonia prides herself in providing leadership, vision, and professional development opportunities for her teachers; helping them to maximize instruction and support for the students and families of Greenfield.

Letitia Bennett, Librarian with experience in sales and fund raising. Her professional life includes work as a library administrator, software development manager, and sales executive. She retired from University of California at Santa Cruz where she served as Associate Director, Library Development.

 Michael Covey, Ph.D., President and Board Director for the Lois Lenski Covey Foundation (a foundation that supports small libraries and innovative literacy programs) – After earning a Ph.D. in Geology from Princeton University he spent twenty years as a research geologist for Exxon. He then changed careers and spent a decade teaching high school general and AP chemistry. Today he continues his work in the field of education and is currently engaged as a middle and high school math and science tutor and school garden facilitator in Sacramento, where he resides. He advocates for literacy, education, and opportunity for all children.

 Alex Lilley,  A member of the Stanford Alumni Consulting Team for the past ten years, he has provided pro bono consulting for Monterey County non-profits including the Read to Me Project. He received his B.S. in Electrical Engineering from Princeton University, and a few years later his MBA from Stanford University. He worked for IBM in management for more than thirty years and as Chairman of the Board of a family owned real estate property management business.  Now retired, he continues to provide expertise to non-profit organizations in management, marketing, development, and strategic planning.

Lori Stewart is an award-winning author of multi-generational books and a range of other works. Born and raised in northern California, she graduated from Santa Clara University with a degree in economics and headed East for careers in finance and technology. She returned to her California roots in 2004 and currently lives and writes in Carmel. In addition to writing, Lori ran AFTA Associates, a non-profit organization she founded to support wildlife conservation through community enterprise. She also works with the recently launched Ceca Foundation, which promotes quality patient care through programs that recognize exceptional caregivers.

David Taggart After retiring as president from CTB/McGraw-Hill in 2006, David has worked with a start-up company in Santa Cruz, CA, ( and not-for-profit organizations. He believes that the Read to Me Project’s work is closely aligned with his career commitment of finding ways “To Help the Teacher Help the Child,” and, going beyond that, on helping students, families, teachers, schools, and communities ensure that students come to school ready to succeed.

 Dr. Elizabeth (Betsy) Taleporos is a measurement and test development expert working in New York City. She was responsible for all assessments administered in New York City, handling all aspects of test design, test development, analysis, and psychometrics. She retired in 2011 and since then has been consulting for a variety of clients regarding developing assessments, providing professional development.

Read to Me Project Founder

Barbara Greenway, is the Founder of the Read to Me Project. Until 2013, she was a public school Speech and Language Specialist working closely with teachers, children and families in East Salinas to develop and provide language-rich interventions and experiences to promote learning and literacy. She holds Masters Degrees in Educational Administration and Speech, Language and Audiology. Barbara’s thirty years of experience in the field of language development and education led her to finding an innovative and powerful approach to helping children enter school with the essential readiness skills needed to succeed and to become literate and successful adults.