The Oakland Literacy Council Board of Directors is comprised of volunteer members who are actively involved in promoting and advancing the council’s mission.
John Almstadt, Chair
Michigan Works Director for Oakland County, retired
John Almstadt is the recently retired director of the Oakland County Michigan Works! Agency and manager of Oakland County Workforce Development. John has more than 30 years of experience in workforce development. In addition to his service on the Oakland Literacy Council, John has experience on numerous other Boards, including Automation Alley, the Workforce Intelligence Network, Oakland Livingston Human Services Agency, and the Oakland County Human Services Coordinating Council, of which he is a former chairperson.
Robert Gaylor, Vice Chair
Founder of Oakland Literacy Council
Retired Associate Professor of Oakland University
Robert was an Associate Professor at Oakland University for 38 years. He is the founder of Oakland Literacy Council and of the Public Library Trustee Association of Oakland County. He is the Past President of the Michigan Library Association and the Oakland Bar Foundation.
Judy Bryce, Secretary
Past President of Oakland Literacy Council Friends
Judy has worked with Oakland Literacy Council for 20 years as an office volunteer, tutor and board member. She serves on the board of Glens of Copper Creek condo association and is a former medical technologist.
Paula Brown, CFRE, Treasurer
Development Director, Gary Burnstein Community Health Clinic
Paula brings to the Oakland Literacy Council more than 30 years of experience in fundraising for non-profit organizations. She is currently the Development Director at Gary Burnstein Community Health Clinic in Pontiac. Paula is deeply committed to combatting adult literacy; she is the former Executive Director of Reading Works in Detroit.
Director, FINNEA Group
Mita is an industry expert in data modeling, with over 20 years of experience across multiple industries. Mita is a community advocate with a focus on math literacy. She is “passionate about education and believes that knowledge truly is power.” Mita has served as a volunteer GED Math instructor and worked with multiple nonprofit organizations leading math boot camps, promoting STEM education for young women, and ensuring that teenagers at risk for dropping out of school have a path to higher education and trade programs. She is a certified diversity and inclusion facilitator. Mita graduated from the University of Waterloo in Ontario, Canada, with a Bachelor of Mathematics.
Dr. Ashelin Currie
Literacy Consultant, Oakland Schools
In her role at Oakland Schools, Ashelin supports school district leaders, literacy coaches, and teachers, with the goal of delivering effective and appropriate literacy instruction to all students. Ashelin is the president of the Detroit Affiliate of the National Black Child Development Institute. She works extensively with children and families and other community organizations to implement systems to improve the academic lives of students beyond the school setting. Ashelin obtained her Doctorate in Reading and Language Arts with a concentration in emergent literacy from Oakland University. She earned her Master of Arts in Reading Education from The University of North Carolina at Charlotte and her Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education from Appalachian State University.
Chair of the Board, Pontiac Regional Chamber
Principal, Essential Recycling
Managing Partner, Top Notch Enterprise Ventures
Damany is an entrepreneur, executive coach, leader, and strategist, and team builder. He has been the Chair of the Pontiac Regional Chamber since 2016, focusing on bringing forward environmentally-, socially-, and economic-minded solutions. Damany is a graduate of Ohio Northern University, BSME, Engineering.
Former Oakland Literacy Council staff member
Julie’s background includes teaching children and adults English and Language Arts, as well as curriculum design and development. That, along with her passion for reading, made the Oakland Literacy Council a natural fit. She has been a part of the organization since 2006 serving as Literacy Services Coordinator, Tutor Trainer and tutor.
Member, Michigan Board of Education
President, Michigan Promise Zone Association
Treasurer, Hazel Park Promise Zone
Former Representative, State of Michigan
Ellen previously served six years as a Michigan State Representative where she began her advocacy for Promise Zones, which supports free community college tuition, technical training, and certification to students in select communities in Michigan. Ellen has been a tireless advocate for education, committed to eliminating educational inequities and ensuring affordable higher education. A patent attorney, Ellen graduated from Harvard Law School and earned her bachelor’s degree from Williams College.
Ann Nazareth Manning
Twenty-year Ford veteran in finance, governmental relations, and sustainability
Ann serves on the Birmingham Youth Assistance board and is an active volunteer with hunger organizations. She has her bachelor’s in economics from Cornell and MBA from Wharton. She is fluent in French, Spanish, and Portuguese and is a former tutor for Oakland Literacy. She also serves on the Care House Board of Directors
Rev. Angela Ryo
Associate Pastor, Kirk in the Hills
Angela joined the Oakland Literacy Council in 2019. She has served as Associate Pastor at Kirk in the Hills in Bloomfield Hills since 2017. She was previously Resident Minister at First Presbyterian Church in Ann Arbor. Prior to joining the clergy, Angela was an English and English Language Learner (ELL) teacher for nine years. She brings to our organization important faith and education perspectives. She holds a Master of Divinity from Theological Seminary, as well as a Master of Arts in Teaching and a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature.
Director of Corporate Quality, Comerica Bank
Alicia joined the Oakland Literacy Council in January of 2018. With a background in sales, operations, communications and instructional design, she understands that literacy is the foundation of business and necessary for financial competency. She is also a board member of the Pontiac Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta, Sorority, Inc., a public service organization, as well as a board Member, secretary and communications chair for the Comerica Michigan Women’s Forum. Alicia holds a Masters in education from Wayne State University and received her Bachelors in economics and Japanese from the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor.
Past-President, Michigan Association for Community and Adult Education (MACAE)
Member, Oakland County Workforce Development Board
Bob recently retired after 22 years as director of community education for Novi Schools where he spent his career advocating for community education. For the previous 22 years, he served as assistant community education director for Brighton Area Schools. “I look forward to serving on the OLC board. With my 44 years working in adult education, it is my hope to help bring greater access to literacy programs for adults,” says Bob. He received his master’s degree in educational leadership from Eastern Michigan University and bachelor’s degree in education from Central Michigan University
Former Commissioner, Oakland County
Former Representative, State of Michigan
Shelley recently joined the Oakland Literacy Council board in February 2021 after many years supporting the organization. Recently retired from her position as Oakland County Commissioner, Shelley brings close to 30 years of experience in state and county government. As a legislator, teacher, and community activist, Shelley has been a forceful advocate for education, literacy, human services, and the arts for community members of all ages. Shelley holds bachelor’s in education from the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor with post-graduate work in education and business/medical management from the University of Kansas and University of Missouri.
Dean of College Readiness, Oakland Community College
Beverly has been in higher education for 30+ years and is an avid and passionate individual to the field of education. She has her undergraduate degree from Walsh College of Business, her graduate degree from Eastern Michigan University and her Education Specialist Certification from Wayne State University. Beverly’s current responsibilities at Oakland Community College consists of providing resources, updating systems and curricula that assist students with being eligible for and succeeding in college level courses. Beverly serves on many Boards that include but not limited to her High School Alumni Association, Michigan Center for Student Success, and Judah Tabernacle’s Board Ministry.
Emeritus Board Members
Owner/President Harbinger Financial Services
Board of Trustees Bloomfield Township Public Library
Judy joined Oakland Literacy Council as a tutor in the mid 90’s and served as President of the Board for 18 years. She contributes her time to a multitude of local causes including Cranbrook Educational Community, the Bloomfield Township Public Library and Children’s Hospital of Michigan. She is passionate about the good work OLC accomplishes and is proud of the staff, the hundreds of volunteer tutors and students who contribute their time and talent to make Oakland Literacy Council a success. She retired from the Board in 2021 and the Board of Directors elected her as the first Emeritus Board member.
Lisa Machesky, Executive Director
Lisa has over decade of experience leading nonprofits in Oakland County as a staff member and has also been involved in many nonprofit organizations as a Board member and volunteer. She is passionate about growing and connecting organizations and maximizing their impact. She has a MBA from Oakland University and received her Bachelors from Albion College. She serves on the Board of the Oakland Woods community of Presbyterian Villages of Michigan and is a Leadership Oakland alumni.