In spring 2021, the merger between Center for Literacy (CFL) and Community Learning Center (CLC) brought together 87 total years of literacy experience that has created lasting, positive impacts, not just for individual students, but for their families and the community at large. By uniting together, the combined agency – renamed Beyond Literacy – goes above and beyond to offer strong transformational services and classes to those seeking a way to a better life.
Center for Literacy: Born as a volunteer tutoring program in 1968 in West Philadelphia, Center for Literacy (CFL) quickly expanded to other areas of Philadelphia in need of adult tutoring. The demand for tutoring services soon exceeded the availability of volunteer tutors, and CFL began adding classroom instruction for adult education. Preparation classes for the GED® test soon followed, and in a few short years CFL was offering free neighborhood classes throughout Philadelphia. In 2019, CFL’s headquarters and classes relocated to Peirce College with additional classes held at neighborhood locations across Philadelphia.
Community Learning Center: In 1987, founder Jean Fleschute launched an adult education program called Community Learning Center (CLC), meeting a dire local need for adults who had not finished high school. Starting with 67 students, Ms. Fleschute and devoted volunteers taught classes in the Germantown, Kensington, and West Oak Lane neighborhoods and began CLC’s hallmark of student-centered education that promotes a love of lifelong learning. In 1994, Community Learning Center became an independent 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation. Throughout its history CLC, established its reputation as an outcome-driven organization.
Greater capacity. Greater impact.
Together we have the ability and opportunity to reach, serve, and impact more individuals, families, and communities. As the largest literacy organization in Philadelphia, we are positioned to provide more opportunities to our learners than ever before through innovative partnerships, accessible services, and close relationships with diverse communities citywide.
To expand opportunities and improve lives by unleashing the power of literacy through free, high-quality education.
Adults empowered beyond literacy; children, youth, and families inspired; our communities thriving; our city transformed.
Belonging: We create a positive environment where all learners may experience a sense of belonging and worth.
Equity: We provide equal access to education to combat systemic injustices that lead to unequal opportunities.
Lifelong learning: We believe everyone can learn and grow throughout their lives.
Inclusion: We foster an inclusive space in which all cultures, traditions, and social identities are welcomed.
Transparency: We are sincere and accountable to each other and our community.
Click here to view our financial statements for transparency.
Board of Directors
Enrico Crispo | President
Julie Jones | Vice President | Drexel University
Jeffrey Daman | Secretary | Daman and Associates
Kyle Straub | Treasurer | PwC
Ted Baumgardner | University of Pennsylvania
Pratik Butala | Vanguard
Denise Cifelli | University of Pennsylvania
Ashley Del Bianco | University of Pennsylvania
Alison DiFlorio | Exude, Human Capital
Charlie Douglas | Comcast
Jessika Faulkner | Citizens Bank
Hon. James Giles | Blank Rome Law Offices
Michelle Grimley | Teachtown
Barbara Halpern | Halpern Law Office
Dinesh Indala | Philadelphia Housing Authority
Zeidane Javar | Beyond Literacy Learner Becky Leimkuhler | Deloitte Consulting
Michael McCourt | Clarfeld Citizens Private Wealth Ivy McDaniels | Alliance for Decision Education Keisha Moore | Beyond Literacy Graduate Dr. Erica Patterson | Philadelphia Gas Works (PGW)
Carol Saline | Saline Solutions Marion Sindoni | Strategic Communications Leader
Malcolm Yates | Public Health Management Corp Robert Young | Retired Attorney
Executive Leadership Team
Chief Executive Officer
Kimmell Proctor, M.Ed.
Chief Program and Impact Officer
Dawn Hannah, M.A.
Since 1998, Dawn has dedicated her professional life to improving the academic and personal success of out-of-school youth and striving adult learners. The length of Dawn’s tenure in education is a testament to her passion for bridging the academic gaps that can limit one’s life-chances.
Dawn began her career as adjunct faculty at the Community College of Philadelphia, teaching ESL, GED, and developmental English courses. She later served as a researcher and project manager at the University of Pennsylvania’s National Center on Adult Literacy (NCAL). Building on lessons learned as both an educator and education researcher, Dawn left NCAL and began her career in education administration in 2007. Since then, Dawn has served as Education Coordinator at Congreso de Latinos Unidos, and held a number of positions at the Center for Literacy, including In-School Youth Program Manager, Manager of Data Systems, In-House Professional Development Specialist, and Assistant Director of Education. In 2013, Dawn accepted the position of Director of Education at the Community Learning Center (CLC). In 2018, she was charged with management of CLC’s intake and student support teams. Dawn now serves as the agency’s Chief Program Officer.
Dawn’s commitment to adult education is grounded in her personal journey as one of the first in her family to attain a postsecondary credential, and the only one until recently to have earned an advanced degree. Dawn holds a B.S. in Spanish from Georgetown and an M.A. in linguistics from Stanford.
Get in touch with Dawn at [email protected]
Chief Operating Officer
Sara joined Beyond Literacy as Chief Operating Officer in August 2023. She has held senior leadership positions at Mental Health Partnerships, The Economy League of Greater Philadelphia, White-Williams Scholars (now Heights Philadelphia) and the American Heart Association. Sara has 18 years of nonprofit management experience in development, communications, operations, board relations, and events. In her prior roles, she built her expertise in implementing new systems for greater efficiencies, leading efforts to increase and diversify organizational revenues, and raising brand awareness.
Before entering the nonprofit sector, Sara held several account management positions in major broadcast, cable, print and radio with Fox Philadelphia, KYW-TV, Metro Philadelphia and Radio One. During her tenure, she spearheaded creative partnerships with several nonprofit organizations resulting in increased community engagement and exposure for all parties.
Sara holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communications from Temple University and is a first-generation college graduate. An active member in her South Jersey community, Sara is a founding board member of The Victory Group, a nonprofit based in Westville, NJ, which addresses basic needs within surrounding underserved communities around food insecurity, clothing essentials, education, and job training. Early in her career, Sara served as a volunteer for the Center for Literacy. She is excited that her career journey has brought her full circle to Beyond Literacy.
Get in touch with Sara at email@example.com
Director of Education
Gianna Brisbone, M.S.
Gianna is dedicated to helping others utilize education to become the best versions of themselves. She grew up in North Philadelphia and experienced many of the systemic inequities that still plague urban areas today. Thankfully, she was able to receive excellent educational experiences. It was those experiences that allowed her to gain access to a variety of opportunities. She believes that having options makes all the difference in life. Therefore, she strives to ensure that others receive high-quality academic instruction, so that they will have choices about what they want to do with their lives and who they want to become.
Gianna currently serves as the Director of Education for Beyond Literacy. Her previous roles include Math, Reading, Science, and Social Studies teacher, In-House Professional Development Specialist, Academic Coordinator, and Neuroscience researcher. She earned both her Bachelor of Science in Biology and her Master of Science in Neuroscience degrees from Delaware State University. She also earned her Master of Science degree in Secondary Education from the University of Pennsylvania.
Get in touch with Gianna at [email protected]
Director of Enrollment & Placement
Kelly is invested in building and strengthening community to foster the development of a more equitable world. She is passionate about how Beyond Literacy’s focus on providing adults and families with access to high quality education plays a small, but impactful, role in this work.
Kelly graduated from The College of New Jersey with a degree in Biology and minors in Spanish and Gender Studies. Initially unsure of the type of job she wanted to pursue, Kelly began working as an SAT & ACT tutor for high school students. She quickly found a home in the education field, but was eager to utilize her skills and experience in an administrative capacity. After tutoring for two years, Kelly began working as an Intake Coordinator and Office Associate at Community Learning Center (CLC). She has since held a few different positions at CLC and BeLit that have enabled her to help develop an intake and enrollment process that makes it easier for prospective learners to begin their education journeys. Kelly currently serves as the Director of Enrollment & Placement.
Get in touch with Kelly at [email protected]
Director of Finance and Administrative
LaShonda Thomas, Ed.D.
A native of West Philadelphia, LaShonda has more than fifteen years of experience in financial services. Most recently, LaShonda was the Director of Student Accounts at Delaware County Community College, where she led the strategic direction for integrated student account functions across five campuses.
LaShonda is skilled in financial oversight and management, risk evaluation and planning, organizational growth and development, strategic planning, budget management, audit, and extracting and analyzing data to generate meaningful insights. LaShonda values continuous program, policy, and process assessment to ensure compliant and optimal performance and is committed to closing equity gaps, particularly those that affect achieving educational objectives.
A creative thinker, LaShonda employs a holistic approach that combines disciplined focus, analytics, integrity, policy, servant leadership, and stakeholder needs to accomplish goals. LaShonda has given national presentations on effective tools and techniques to enhance student financial services for organizations such as the Higher Education User Group and the Power Campus Users Group. She earned a BS in International Business from Mansfield University, an MBA from Rosemont College, and a Doctorate in Higher Education Leadership from Maryville University, where her dissertation explored first-generation college students’ financial anxiety and student loan debt. A Certified Associate in Project Management, LaShonda enjoys lending her skills in systems integrations to develop and implement strategic projects. In 2023, she was elected as a board member of the West Chester Area Daycare Center. In her spare time, LaShonda loves helping others navigate the higher education processes and spending time with her daughter.
Get in touch with LaShonda at [email protected]
Sr. Director of Development
Soon after graduating from Antioch College with a BA in Sociology, Robin founded the Women’s Alliance for Job Equity (WAJE), a former member agency of WOMENS WAY, and served as its executive director for 13 years. During National Secretaries Day, she organized Bad Boss Contests with the Philadelphia Daily News and led workshops for employers on how to prevent sexual harassment in the workplace. Robin moved on to work at the Urban Affairs Coalition (UAC) for 18 years, where she secured discretionary federal funds for workforce development programs supporting homeless adults and welfare-to-work clients, coordinated the development of UAC’s five-year strategic plans, directed events/press conferences, wrote external communications, and did media placements for UAC programs, including the Campaign for Working Families. In April 2015— her third career—Robin was hired at Center for Literacy to do fundraising and communications, and later was promoted to chief advancement officer. She is a board member of Northern Children’s Services.
Get in touch with Robin at [email protected]
Director of Communications
Amanda is passionate about strengthening and expanding our new agencies impact to directly combat systemic injustices in Philadelphia. As Director of Communications, she is committed to creating partnerships that align with our agency’s collective action to create empowered and equitable opportunities for our learners. Amanda earned her B.A. in Mass Communications and Women’s Studies from Towson University. Previously, she served as Director of Events at the Greater Northeast Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce where she developed dozens of corporate events focused on city-wide economic and workplace initiatives for minorities, women, and young professionals. She was co-editor and designer of the InBusiness Magazine, as well as being a contributing writer.
Get in touch with Amanda at [email protected]
Niema Alfred | Intake Coordinator
Michael Antosch, M.Ed. | Instructor
Luriel Balaurea | Instructional Technology Specialist
Amy Bell | Instructor
Karen Bennett | Instructor
Mitchell Berger, Ed.D. | Instructor
Dzemila Bilanovic | Workforce Development Manager
Lindsay Blade | Student Support Coordinator
Ivry Bland | Student Support Coordinator
Eddie Bruzek | Corporate Engagement Specialist
Scott Bostwick | Intake Coordinator
Debbie Arnold Brown | Communications & Special Events Specialist
Barbara Cavanaugh | Instructor
Tiffani Clemons | Administrative Assistant/Receptionist
Christian Cody | Instructor
Rebecca Curry, MPH | Communications Intern
Suzy Czarkowski, M.Ed., M.A. | Instructor
Lynette David | Data Entry Specialist
Jemal Davis | Facilities and IT Coordinator
Warren Dobney | Instructor
Steven Doncaster | Student Enrollment Specialist
Kieran Farrell | Student Support Manager
Nicole Ford | Data Entry Specialist
Amara Gregorek | Student Support Coordinator
Carl Gugasian | Instructor
Patricia Haggerty | Instructor
Song Han | Instructor
Steve Hawkins, M.Ed. | Instructor
Aliocha Haynes | Instructor and Intake Coordinator
Clarece Hicks | Intake Coordinator
Kristen Hodge | Data and Intake Coordinator
Roberta Hodges | Senior Site Coordinator
Andrew Hoffman | ESL Instructor
Mercy Howard | Student Support Coordinator
Barry Johnson | Instructor
Shaina Kapeluck, M.S.Ed. | Instructor
Lorna Laster-Jackson | Volunteer & Outreach Coordinator
Gabrielle Lanciano | School Partnerships Manager
Joanne Laub | Instructor
Nancy Lawrence Hill, M.S. | Instructor
Zaire Martin | Digital Navigation Specialist
Anna Claire (AC) Loper | Development Associate
Carolanne Mitchell, M.Ed. | Tutor and Classroom Aide Coordinator
Tim Morris, Ph.D | Instructor
Carlie Muessig | Data Quality Manager
Maryellen Norek | Student Support Coordinator
Vinny Ong | Intake Specialist
Megan Reamer | Instructor
Iris Rivera | Intake Coordinator
Heather Robinson | Instructor
Alexis Smith, M.A. | Instructor
Vivian Sevick | Intake Coordinator
Mike Stevens | Instructor
Vicki Szondy | Instructional Technology Specialist
Nicole Tomassi | Instructor
Claire Tucker | Instructor and Data Coordinator
Tammy Walker | Instructor
Daniel Waters | Instructor
Jelani Wilson | Student Support Coordinator
Samira Woods, M.A | Instructor