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Staff & Board


Reach Out and Read Minnesota's staff and board members are strongly committed to promoting early literacy across Minnesota. 

Reach out to us if you'd like to learn more. 

  • Kris became the Executive Director in April 2018, after serving as Reach Out and Read Minnesota's Program Director and with fifteen years of experience in the nonprofit sector. She has a bachelor’s degree from St. Olaf College and a master’s degree from The University of Chicago, as well as a certificate in nonprofit management. Having two young daughters has reignited Kris’ passion for books and she is thrilled to work with our board, partners, and donors to promote early childhood literacy.

  • Dr. Chawla is a pediatrician and hospitalist currently serving as Chief of General Pediatrics at Children's Minnesota. Dr. Chawla has been involved with Reach Out and Read Minnesota throughout her 18 year tenure at Children's and became the program's Medical Director in spring of 2020. Dr. Chawla has worked extensively to engage the public on issues of children's health and to integrate behavioral and developmental health into pediatric care. She is regularly called upon by the media to share her expertise, including regular appearances on WCCO and a column for Minnesota Parent magazine. Her clinical areas of interest are the outpatient and inpatient care of complex special needs patients, premature infants, and ventilator dependent children.

  • Janice is a licensed teacher and has spent her professional career serving and working on behalf of children and families. Her work began teaching kindergarteners in Minneapolis and then continued on at nonprofits. With nonprofits, she dedicated herself to developing, implementing, and managing various programs for targeted populations of youth and their families. At the core, Janice's work has focused on strengthening the entire family by providing skills and resources families need to thrive and succeed intellectually, physically, and emotionally. Janice shares her love of literacy with her family and has instilled this ideal in her daughter, Lyuda, by singing, music, games, and reading. Lyuda now loves to read and is reading in French and Ukrainian! Janice is grateful to be a part of an organization that provides the ability to impact young children’s health and development for a lifetime of literacy and learning.

  • Liam is a writer, educator, and community advocate with a historied passion for reading and language. He earned his Bachelor's degree in English at DePaul University in Chicago in 2015. Prior to joining Reach Out and Read Minnesota, Liam lived in Santiago, Chile, where he worked for the education based social enterprise Beyond English, teaching English in vulnerable populations, leading creativity workshops for children, and developing original educational curriculum and materials. He has also worked as a freelance editor and translator for several academic and educational publications. Some of his fondest childhood memories are of his father reading books to him in exaggerated Bert and Ernie voices. Liam joined the Reach Out and Read Minnesota team in 2019, and he is thrilled to be back in his home state of Minnesota building support for a cause that he holds so closely to his heart: children’s literacy.

  • Cate has spent 35 years as an educator in Wisconsin, Minnesota, New Zealand and Kyrgyzstan. She served as Director for Gifted Education on the Leech Lake Indian Reservation in Cass Lake, a STEM Outreach Director at Leech Lake Tribal College, and served on many boards for arts and science non-profits over the years. She is co-founder of the Bemidji Sculpture Walk with her artist husband, the founder of Mask and Rose Women’s Theater and Belle Thalia Creative Arts Space. She served as a travel writer for “Northwoods Woman” for three years, and is compiling her essays into a photo essay book after kayaking all 294 lakes of her beloved Beltrami county. She believes in the power of early literacy and looks forward to working with Reach Out and Read Minnesota to open up the magic of books with families and our littlest citizens.

  • Danette obtained her Master’s in TESOL from Winona State University and has been working with English second language learners since 2014. She is active in her community working towards the improvement of literacy services for English second language learners. She is a strong believer in building language skills in young learners and recognizes the importance of how consistent daily reading with our children greatly improves their cognitive and communication skills. Danette also is a lover of gardening and is active in a local community gardening project that connects food insecure families to fresh harvested organic produce weekly.

  • “To learn to read is to light a fire; every syllable that is spelled out is a spark.”-Victor Hugo

    Jenn is passionate about early childhood literacy and brain development, school readiness, and building strong community relationships. Previously she has worked as a licensed Teacher of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing where her work focused on emerging literacy skills and language development, and at Washburn Center for Children in early childhood community based services. She earned a Master of Education and Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Minnesota. Her favorite children’s books are Miss Rumphius by Barbara Cooney for its timelessness and beauty, and any book by Mo Willems for its wildly humorous heart.

  • Licensed as a Speech-Language Pathologist with more than 12 years experience evaluating and treating young children, Ellen knows how vitally important early language stimulation and literacy skills are for school readiness. She loves promoting the use of age appropriate books and reading to children as a means of capitalizing on brain development, early learning and deficit prevention.

Our Impact

Our 2021/22 Executive Partner

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