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Washington Literacy Center Expands Board of Directors


November 20, 2019

Washington, DC – The Washington Literacy Center (WLC) is pleased to announce the addition of Elizabeth (Liz) Ryan - President of Sapphire Enterprises, Anthony (Tony) Gittens - Founder and Director of the Washington, DC International Film Festival, Louis (Lou) Constantino - EVP and Managing Director of the Managed Funds Association, and Daniel Hayden – Managing Director of Blue Green Ventures to the board of directors. These seasoned professionals add decades of expertise in community outreach, government relations and finance to WLC’s current board.

Established in 1963, the WLC has expanded its curriculum to include workforce skills, digital, health, and financial literacy and a pilot ELL program for new immigrants who struggle to read in their native languages. One in five adults in DC cannot perform above the 5th grade level in either math, reading or both, a deficit made more pronounced with the increasingly large gap between the wealthy and those who live in poverty in America’s capitol city. WLC’s goal is to make a notable impact in this statistic by expanding the number of adults served, and by supporting legislation that addresses reading disabilities and improves civic engagement.

WLC President Jimmie Williams stated, “Those of us who have not experienced barriers to education take literacy for granted. We take an holistic approach by preparing adults to function and succeed in the 21st century. Reading, math, and digital literacy are key components to overcoming the poverty trap. Our board will be instrumental in helping us reach as many adults as possible. I greatly appreciate these individuals for their commitment.”

WLC welcomes participation in two upcoming fundraising events:

  • Politics and Prose Bookstore - November 29th to January 6th. Gift wrapping services will be offered by volunteers at all three locations. Proceeds from donations will benefit students of WLC.

  • Love Letters for LiteracyFebruary 13th. WLC’s premier fundraiser, which includes a cocktail reception, seated dinner and live auction, will take place at the Mayflower Hotel beginning at 6pm. For more information, go to Love Letters for Literacy.

New board member bios and photos follow below. For interview requests, please contact: Annette Larkin, or (703) 772.6427

Daniel Hayden is the Managing Director of Blue Green Ventures. Previously, Daniel served as the Senior Director of Business Operations at the Digital Impact Alliance at the UN Foundation. He was responsible for finance, grant management, contracting, IT and human resources, and developed the systems and process to grow the organization from 4 people to over 40 people. Daniel is on the Grantmaking Infrastructure Advisor Council of the Paradise Foundation.

Liz Ryan is President of Sapphire Enterprises and brings over 25 years of assurance and advisory experience. Liz served in an external audit and advisory role with Deloitte and an internal audit role with Freddie Mac, Altria Group, the Washington Post and the Federal Government. Liz is a Certified Public Accountant, licensed in the state of Virginia, and a Certified Information Systems Auditor.

Tony Gittens is Founder and Director of the Washington, DC International Film Festival. He served three Washington, DC mayors as Executive Director of the Washington, D.C. Commission on the Arts and Humanities. His major recognitions include Knight in the Order of Arts and Letters by the French Ministry of Culture, Professor Emeritus of the University of DC, winner of the Mayor's Award for Excellence in Service to the Arts, and Public Humanist of the Year by DC Humanities. The Eyes on the Prize Public Television series profiled him for his contributions to the Civil Rights Movement.

Lou Costantino is EVP and Managing Director for Government Relations of the Managed Funds Association. Lou has more than twenty-five years of experience in financial services public policy at the Federal and State levels. He has served as senior policy and legislative staff for two major trade associations (MFA, SIFMA) and one of the country’s largest financial services companies (Merrill Lynch). He maintains a broad network of meaningful relationships in the U.S. House of Representatives, U.S. Senate, the Administration, as well as the U.S. Treasury Department, SEC and CFTC.

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