In October 2014, we held the second Growing Healthy Readers Half-Day Literacy Conference.


What do children need to thrive in their early years and read proficiently by third grade?

Growing Healthy Readers: Half-Day Literacy Conference
brings together educators, researchers and children’s advocates to share strategies
that help children reach their academic potential and excel in school and in life.

Thursday, October 30, 2014
8:00am – 12:30pm
at Scholastic Inc. in New York City
557 Broadway, New York, NY 10012

#healthyreaders @reachoutreadny @unitedwaynyc @scholastic


Welcome & Overview

VP and General Manager, Scholastic Classroom & Community Group

Program Director, Reach Out and Read of Greater New York

A Conversation on City-Wide Early Learning Strategies & Universal Pre-K

Two leading children’s advocates dialogue on Universal Pre-K and the city‘s approach to early learning opportunities that close the achievement gap.

Deputy Mayor for Strategic Policy Initiatives, Office of the Mayor of New York City

CEO, United Way of New York City

Government Affairs Reporter, NBC 4 New York

Creating a Level Playing Field to Achieve Educational Parity

Speakers address strategies needed to ensure that children from at-risk backgrounds are in good health, able to access needed services, and developing on track for success in school.

Executive Director, Literacy and Academic Intervention Services, New York City Department of Education

Director, Barnard College Center for Toddler Development and Author, How Toddlers Thrive

Professor, NYU Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development

VP, Learning, Research & Intelligence, United Way of New York City

Community-Based Approaches to Early Learning and Brain Development

Speakers discuss how community organizations can collaborate to develop a coherent system of early care and education that aligns, integrates, and coordinates with children’s lives from birth and beyond.

Vice President of Community Health Development, New York-Presbyterian Hospital

Senior Associate, Safir and Associates

Chief Medical Officer, Children’s Health Fund

Co-Director, Docs for Tots

Parent Education: A Critical Strategy to Reduce the Achievement Gap

Speakers explore how to encourage and empower parents, families, and caregivers to play essential roles as co-producers of successful educational outcomes for their children.

I.A. Principal, P.S. 49 Willis Avenue, Hub Area of the South Bronx

Executive Director, MASA, Inc.

Parent Leader, New Settlement Parent Action Committee (Member of the New York City Coalition for Educational Justice)

CEO, Literacy Partners

Closing Remarks: A Vision for Our Children

New York City Council, District 33

New York City Council, District 34

About the Speakers

Richard BueryRichard R. Buery, Jr
Richard R. Buery, Jr. is New York City Deputy Mayor for Strategic Policy Initiatives leading priority interagency efforts including Mayor de Blasio’s signature initiative to offer high quality pre-kindergarten programs; develop community schools; expand Middle School Afterschool programs; and Chair the NYC Children’s Cabinet. Deputy Mayor Buery has dedicated his life to improving educational opportunity and life outcomes for young people in America’s most disadvantaged communities. Previously, Buery was the tenth President and CEO of The Children’s Aid Society, which serves NYC’s neediest children and their families with a network of services and programs. In 2009, Buery was named one of Crain’s New York Business’s “40 Leaders of the Future Under 40” in recognition of his contributions to the life of NYC.
JECarillo_J. Emilio Carrillo, MD, MPH
Dr. J. Emilio Carrillo is the Vice President for Community Health Development at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital. He is responsible for developing and implementing a strategic program to address health disparities and special health needs of minority and immigrant communities by partnering with local healthcare providers, community-based organizations, government agencies, and foundations. Prior to joining the Hospital in 1995 as Medical Director, and then President and Chief Medical Officer of the Community Health Plan, Dr. Carrillo was President of the New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation. In addition, he was principal investigator for the National Cancer Institute’s first community-based program designed to reduce smoking in the Latino community. Dr. Carrillo is an expert in the fields of cultural competence and cross-cultural communication in health care. He is also an associate professor of clinical public health and medicine at Weill Cornell Medical College. Dr. Carrillo received his undergraduate degree from Columbia College, his medical degree from Harvard Medical School and his MPH from Harvard School of Public Health.
Esther Klein FriedmanEsther Klein Friedman, PHD
Dr. Esther Klein Friedman has served New York City students since the mid 1970s as a teacher of special education and reading in elementary, middle and high school, staff development trainer, principal in District Two, director of literacy and social studies in District Six, regional director of intervention services and local instructional superintendent in Region Ten, director of secondary school reform, director of academic intervention services K-12 at the New York City Department of Education central office, superintendent in District Three, and currently executive director of literacy and academic intervention services at the New York City Department of Education central office. Esther was born in Romania, and lived in two other countries before arriving in New York City the middle of first grade. She is a product of the New York City public schools, completed her undergraduate degree in education and psychology at Queens College and received a masters degree in special education and a Ph.D. in reading and learning disabilities from New York University. Her doctoral work focused on reading acquisition in struggling students. Esther’s professional interests include exploration into the challenges of and solutions for supporting achievement of students in urban schools, particularly in the area of literacy. Esther believes deeply in the transformative power of pedagogy and hopes to convince you of it as well.
Tanya Friedman
Tanya Friedman
Tanya Friedman has worked in public education for nearly twenty-five years, beginning as an elementary school teacher, then becoming a school leader, and more recently a Literacy Specialist, an Instructional Coach and Equity Facilitator. As a teacher, Tanya earned National Board Certification and was recognized by 826 Valencia as an outstanding teacher. As a school leader, Tanya fostered a culture of equity-centered inquiry and published an account of her school’s transformation in Working Toward Equity: Writing and Resources from the Teacher Research Collaborative.   Tanya also wrote about democratic school leadership for Horace, the journal of the Coalition of Essential Schools.  She coordinated a Family and Community Engagement network in San Francisco that worked to engage family and community members in their school’s highest leverage academic goals.   Tanya’s belief that classrooms are a core locus of social change brought her into education, and her commitment to that same idea keeps her in the field.
Delaney GracyDelaney Gracy, MD, MPH
Dr. Delaney Gracy is committed to providing health care to the nation’s most medically under-served children.

As a practicing pediatrician, Dr. Gracy spent five years caring for homeless kids in New York City on board one of the Children’s Health Fund mobile clinics, each a state-of-the-art doctor’s office on wheels. While there, she also served as the Co-Director of the Childhood Asthma Initiative and as the Coordinator for Medical Students and Residents.

Now as Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Gracy guides the health care teams throughout the Children’s Health Fund National Network, integrating new technology with best practices to deliver the highest quality health care to kids who face the greatest health care barriers.

Delaney Gracy received her MD from Baylor University in 1999 and completed her pediatrics residency in San Diego in 2002. While in San Diego she began working with underserved children, arranging to work in a small clinic in Tijuana, Mexico as part of her continuity clinic.

She moved to New York to participate in a combined Academic Pediatrics and Public Health Fellowship at Columbia University School of Medicine and The Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health, where she was involved in resident training and an HIV vertical transmission prevention program in the Dominican Republic. She completed her Masters in Public Health in Epidemiology in 2005.

Frank HernandezFrank Hernández
Frank Hernández, is a public elementary school principal in Mott Haven neighborhood of the South Bronx. Prior to becoming a principal in 2012, Mr. Hernández began his career as an Elementary school teacher in 2003. In addition to classroom teacher, Mr. Hernández has served in multiple instructional and leadership capacities including mathematics coach, data specialist and four years as assistant principal.

Mr. Hernández earned a Master’s of Science in Teaching as well as a Master’s of Science in Education from Fordham University. He is currently a doctoral student at Fordham University’s Graduate School of Education pursuing a doctorate in Urban Education.

Throughout his decade of dedicated service to the South Bronx, Mr. Hernández has exhibited a passion to help his students defy the social and academic trajectory of their peers. His goal is to lead and prepare young scholars for prominence in college and/or career. The key to college and career readiness is grounded in a high quality education. Hence, improving the quality of teaching, leading, and learning is his foremost priority.

Mr. Hernández attributes his relative success in life to caring educators, strong school leaders, and dynamic parents. He believes, that with support, all students can learn and achieve at high levels.Mr. Hernández values close and collegial partnerships with the school community and is passionate about stakeholders’ role in enhancing the life and educational opportunities of our children.

Dr. Elizabeth IsaksonElizabeth A. Isakson, MD, FAAP
Dr. Isakson is Co-Director of Docs for Tots. She is a pediatrician and public health practitioner with 15 years of experience with Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center, the National Center for Children in Poverty (NCCP) and the New York Zero-to-Three Network (NYZTT). Her passion and support for early childhood systems integration (health, education, family) stems from her exposure to the short- and long-term human outcomes of an under-funded and misaligned system for families with young children.

Dr. Isakson has published multiple publications with the National Center for Children and Poverty (NCCP) across the systems of early care and education, health and family economic security. With NCCP and Susan Ochshorn of ECE PolicyWorks, she envisioned and executed the policy forum: Paid Family Leave: Getting it Right from the Start. Dr. Isakson sat on the executive committee of the board for the New York Zero-to-Three Network from 2008-2013, where she authored the 2008 report Unequal from the Start: a Check-up on NYC’s Infants and Toddlers. In addition to publications, she is a sought after speaker on issues of community and state systems to support healthy development in early childhood.

Dr. Isakson trained in General Pediatrics at Children’s Hospital of New York where she served as Chief Resident. She received her MD from University of Connecticut Medical School and is completing her MPH from the Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University.

Jacqueline JenkinsJacqueline D. Jenkins
Jacqueline D. Jenkins is Vice President of Learning, Research & Intelligence at United Way of New York City, where she supports strategy development, the use of data to inform decision-making, research, and evaluation. Her goal is to ensure that the organization is high performing and making an impact in communities.

Prior to this appointment, Jackie was Projects Director at the Center for New York City Affairs, an urban policy analysis institute at Milano, The New School for International Affairs, Urban Policy & Management. She was also Associate Director at The Institute for Urban Education there. At The New School, she directed and implemented two urban school change pilot projects designed to transform university, community, and school partnerships using change frameworks and methodologies like practitioner action research, transformational leadership, and design-thinking. Trained as an anthropologist of urban education, she enjoys thinking hard about leadership development, organizational learning, change management, school-community partnership, and alternate approaches to schooling. Jackie began her career teaching English at several high schools in Connecticut and the San Francisco Bay area for almost a decade, fulfilling various leadership roles as a teacher-leader, school designer, equity coach, and assessment coordinator. She earned her Ph.D., Masters degrees, and teaching credential in modern thought, anthropology, and secondary education from Stanford University. She is also a proud graduate of Princeton University and D.C. public schools.

Tovah KleinTovah Klein, PhD
Tovah Klein is Director of the Barnard College Center for Toddler Development and Associate Professor of Psychology at Barnard College. At the Barnard College Center for Toddler Development (Toddler Center), Professor Klein and her research team study children’s social and emotional development, the influence of parents on children’s development, and the experience of being a parent in the early years. In addition to her work at Barnard, Professor Klein is a developmental advisor for Sesame Street, and serves on the advisory boards for Room to Grow, Rawanda Educational Assistance Project and NYC Voices of Childhood.
Stephen LevinStephen Levin
Stephen Levin was elected in 2009 to represent the 33rd District in the New York City Council, which includes the diverse communities of Brooklyn Heights, DUMBO, Williamsburg, Greenpoint, Boerum Hill, Vinegar Hill, Downtown Brooklyn, and Bedford–Stuyvesant.

A native of Plainfield, New Jersey, Stephen moved to Brooklyn to work as a community organizer after graduating from Brown University. Stephen started his career by simultaneously running a Lead Safe House program and an anti-predatory lending program. The Lead Safe House program helped to relocate families of lead-poisoned children out of hazardous apartments. Stephen also used this program to work with homeowners to effectively and efficiently remediate lead contamination. As director of the anti-predatory lending program, Stephen organized homeowners throughout the community through grassroots outreach and community workshops about the dangers of subprime mortgages. Working with the City, local elected officials, and advocacy groups, Stephen was able to galvanize the community against the unscrupulous lending practices that were decimating the neighborhood with foreclosures. In 2006, Stephen went to work for the New York State Assembly, where his non-profit experience allowed him to advocate effectively for constituents.

As a Councilmember, Stephen has proven to be a leader on education and early childhood issues, and an advocate for increased open space in our communities and transportation safety initiatives. He has passed legislation requiring the Department of Education to notify families and teachers about potential PCB contamination, and has sponsored resolutions calling for mandatory kindergarten and breakfast-in-the-classroom.

In addition to serving as Chair of the Committee on General Welfare, Council Member Levin serves on the Cultural Affairs, Education, Environmental Protection, Land Use, and Transportation committees, and the Subcommittee on Landmarks, Public Siting and Maritime Uses.

Aracelis LuceroAracelis Lucero
Aracelis Lucero is the Executive Director of Masa. As a native New Yorker from the South Bronx, born to Mexican immigrant parents, she is deeply committed to the academic and economic advancement of Latinos in the U.S. and in Latin America. Aracelis became Masa’s Executive Director in 2013, and has been involved with the organization for over seven years. She first joined Masa as a volunteer mentor in 2007, and was soon invited to lend her financial planning and management skills to the organization as a member of the Board of Directors. During her tenure on the board, she worked on the organization’s budgeting, strategic planning, capacity building, program evaluation, and fundraising initiatives.

Aracelis attended Middlebury College as a Posse Scholar, earning a Bachelors degree in Economics and French. She worked in finance for six years, holding managerial roles at Lehman Brothers and Barclays Capital. Ultimately, Aracelis’ work at Masa and on development projects with indigenous communities in Mexico inspired her to change careers. In 2012, she earned a Masters in International Affairs with a concentration in economic and political development and a focus on Latin America from the School of International and Public Affairs at Columbia University. After graduating, she served as Finance Project Manager at Safe Space, a major social services provider in New York City. Since Aracelis joined Masa as Executive Director last year, the organization has dramatically expanded its early childhood education programming through a partnership with Parent-Child Home Program, as well as deepened the academic supports it provides to school-age children.

Angel MartinezAngel Martinez
Angel Martinez is a parent-activist with the New Settlement Parent Action Committee.  Founded in 1997, the Parent Action Committee is a multicultural group of concerned parents, guardians and community members dedicated to improving the quality of education for all children in New York City, with an emphasis on District 9 in the Bronx. The Committee organizes, empowers & educates parents/guardians, to defend their rights in the New York City public school system; develop and lead campaigns for school safety and school improvement; hold public school officials, elected officials, and government agencies accountable for the quality of education our children receive; and collaborate with Citywide agencies and coalitions to make real, lasting changes to our public school system.
Susan NeumanSusan B. Neuman, PhD
Susan B. Neuman is a Professor and Chair of Teaching and Learning at New York University specializing in early literacy development. Previously, she has been a Professor at the University of Michigan and has served as the U.S. Assistant Secretary for Elementary and Secondary Education. In her role as Assistant Secretary, she established the Early Reading First program, the Early Childhood Educator Professional Development Program and was responsible for all activities in Title I of the Elementary and Secondary Act. She has served on the IRA Board of Directors (2001-2003), and other numerous boards of non-profit organizations. She is currently the Editor of Reading Research Quarterly, the most prestigious journal in reading research. Her research and teaching interests include early childhood policy, curriculum, and early reading instruction, prek-grade 3 for children who live in poverty.  She has written over 100 articles, and authored and edited 11 books, including the Handbook of Early Literacy Research (Volumes I, II, III) with David Dickinson, “Changing the Odds for Children at Risk” (Teachers College Press, 2009) “Educating the Other America” (Brookes, 2008) and “Multimedia and Literacy Development (Taylor & Francis, 2008). Her most recent books are “Giving our children a fighting chance: Poverty literacy, and the development of information capital.” (Teachers College Press, 2012); and “All about Words: Improving vocabulary in the age of Common Core Standards, preK-grade 2.
Council Member Antonio ReynosoAntonio Reynoso
Antonio Reynoso was born and raised in the South Side of Williamsburg, Los Sures, to immigrant parents from the Dominican Republican. At a young age, Antonio’s parents instilled in him the importance of education and community.

Antonio graduated from LeMoyne College in Syracuse, NY with a bachelor’s degree in Political Science. After graduation, Antonio joined NYC A.C.O.R.N. as a Community Organizer. Antonio led a comprehensive coalition to improve the lives of child-care providers through Union Incorporation.

Since 2007, Antonio has worked relentlessly for the communities throughout the 34th Council District to improve the quality of life for the residents of Brooklyn and Queens. In 2009, Antonio became Councilmember Reyna’s Chief of Staff, where he oversaw and advanced policies and legislative reforms for affordable housing, economic development, job creation, education, and public safety. Antonio is a founding member of the Progressive organization, New Kings Democrats and the South Side Schools Coalition.

Today, proudly representing Bushwick and Williamsburg in Brooklyn and Ridgewood in Queens comprising the 34th District, Council Member Reynoso is the Chair of the Committee on Sanitation and Solid Waste Management where he is working to ensure trash equity amongst all five boroughs. He also sits on the following Committee’s: Education, Transportation, State and Federal Legislation

Melissa RussoMelissa Russo
Melissa Russo is an award-winning Government Affairs Reporter with NBC 4 New York, covering New York politics and policy for more than a decade. In addition to Russo’s ongoing coverage of City Hall, she has brought attention to the struggles of New York’s most vulnerable citizens including children, the elderly, and the homeless, which has resulted in changes to government policy.
Anthony TassiAnthony Tassi

Anthony Tassi is the Executive Director of Literacy Partners, a non-profit organization dedicated to closing the academic achievement gap among children by educating their parents. Parents in Literacy Partners classes significantly improve their literacy and English language skills and are better able to promote their children’s healthy intellectual development.

Anthony spent many years in the health care sector as an advocate and analyst assisting safety net health care providers improve their services and maintain financial stability. His work in the health care sector culminated in 2002 when he served as a Health Policy Advisor in the Office of the Mayor, where he was he developed a citywide health literacy program.

Anthony lives in Brooklyn with his wife and daughter.

SWright_Sheena Wright
Sheena Wright is President and CEO of United Way of New York City(“UWNYC”). In October 2012, Wright made history becoming the first female president to lead the organization in its 76-year history. UWNYC is a nonprofit, community service organization with a long and rich history. As one of the best-known nonprofits and part of the worldwide United Way brand, UWNYC mobilizes NYC communities to eradicate barriers and create opportunities that improve the lives of low-income New Yorkers for the benefit of all. Prior to joining United Way, Sheena served as President and CEO of the Abyssinian Development Corporation. Sheena is a graduate of Columbia University, received her law degree from Columbia Law School, and is a member of the New York State Bar.

About the Campaign for Grade Level Reading

Campaign for Grade-Level Reading Brochure

Read the Campaign Brochure

The Campaign for Grade-Level Reading is a collaborative effort by foundations, nonprofit partners, business leaders, government agencies, states and communities across the nation to ensure that more children in low-income families succeed in school and graduate prepared for college, a career, and active citizenship. The Campaign focuses on an important predictor of school success and high school graduation—grade-level reading by the end of third grade.

Reach Out and Read of Greater New York, United Way of New York City, and Scholastic Inc. are cohosting Growing Healthy Readers: Half -Day Literacy Conference to bring together educators, medical providers, policy makers, children’s advocates, and early childhood specialists to focus on strategies to ensure that children from at-risk families develop on-track for success in school, and highlight findings from the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading.




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