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ProLiteracy Names New Executive Officers to Board of Directors

ProLiteracy, the largest adult literacy organization in the nation, announces appointment of new Board Officers to its Executive CommitteeJohn H. Ward of Sarasota, Florida, was named Chair; Nikki Zollar of Chicago, Illinois, was named Vice Chair; and Seetha Srinivasan of Jackson, Mississippi, was named Board Secretary. Tom Fiscoe of Syracuse, New York, will continue to serve as Treasurer. ProLiteracy represents community-based volunteer and adult basic education affiliates in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. ProLiteracy supports them with technical assistance, tutoring materials, programs and professional development services. ProLiteracy serves as an advocate for issues related to adult literacy and lifelong learning.

“The Executive Committee looks forward to working closely with new ProLiteracy president and CEO Kevin Morgan, our talented staff, and the dedicated managers and volunteers across the country to raise awareness and address the literacy crisis we face in the United States,” says Ward. “An estimated 36 million people over the age of 16 are currently reading no better than the average elementary school child. Without literacy skills—the ability to read, write and do simple math to solve problems—today’s adults will struggle in reaching their potential as parents, employees, and fully-participating community members in this digital economy.”

The following provides biographical information for ProLiteracy’s Executive Committee. Additional information is available by visiting the ProLiteracy website. For more information, please contact Amy Schmitz, director of marketing and communications, at or (315) 214-2580. 


CHAIR—John H. Ward is a senior corporate executive with extensive experience leading business services and logistics companies to improved results. John’s career has been distinguished by a consistent track record of delivering financial growth, building profitable businesses, driving operational turnarounds, leading organizational change and developing high performance executive teams. As Vice President, and General Manager at RR Donnelley Logistics, his responsibilities included international distribution, domestic mailing services, and completion of two acquisitions. In three years he grew revenues from $60mm to over $450mm. Prior to joining RR Donnelley; he was president of Pitney Bowes Global Mail Services Group, operating a global distribution network of 40 processing centers with 4,200 employees. Before joining Pitney Bowes, he had a successful career at the U.S. Postal Service where he held senior officer positions such as vice president marketing, vice president of pricing and business development, and vice president finance and controller. He has also served as a Board of Governor for MIT’s Sloan School of Management. He holds a master's of science degree in management from MIT and bachelor's and MBA degrees from Pace University. 

VICE CHAIR—Nikki Zollar is president and CEO of Triad Consulting Services. Previously, she was senior vice president and general counsel at Gemini Electronics. Her prior work experience also includes acting as director with the Illinois Department of Professional Regulation and chairperson with the Chicago Board of Elections. Nikki sits on the boards of the Black Women’s Exposition, the Black Women Lawyers Association, and the Illinois Literacy Foundation, where she is also board vice president. She formerly sat on the board of the American Heart Association. She is the recipient of the Boys and Girls Club of America’s Martin Luther King Legacy Award for dedicated leadership, the Chicago Urban Professionals’ Outstanding Young Professional Award, and one of the Revlon Corporation/Kizzy Scholarship Fund’s Kizzy Awards for America’s Highest Black Women Achievers. Dollars and Sense magazine chose her as one of 100 Outstanding Black Business and Professional Women in the United States. Nikki holds a bachelor’s degree from The John Hopkins University and a JD from the Georgetown University Law Center.

SECRETARY—Seetha Srinivasan is director emerita, former associate director, and former editor-in-chief of the University Press of Mississippi. From 2003 to 2004, she was president of the Association of American University Presses. She was an external reviewer for the Indiana Historical Society Press, the University of Tennessee Press, and the Texas Christian University Press. She is a current member of the board of directors of the Women’s Fund of Mississippi and a former member of the board of trustees of Leadership Jackson. In 2002, Seetha received the Association of American Presses (AAUP) Constituency Award for Outstanding Service to the University Press Community. In 1998, she received the Jim Livesay Service Award from Millsaps College in Jackson, Mississippi. Seetha holds a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree from the University of Poona in India, a master’s degree from Mills College, and a master’s degree from the University of Florida.

TREASURERTom Fiscoe is managing partner and CPA at Dannible & McKee. He is a board member and past treasurer of Consumer Credit Counseling Services of Central New York, and he is the treasurer and a member of the executive committee of the board of directors of Huntington Family Centers. He is also a member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants and the NYS Society of Certified Public Accountants. Thomas also served as treasurer and a board member of Literacy Volunteers of America. Tom holds a bachelor’s degree in accounting from LeMoyne College.




Funding In Decline for Adult Literacy and Basic Education Programs

A new survey of ProLiteracy adult literacy and basic education member organizations finds that federal funding for these programs continues to shrink—falling 1 percentage point over last year and falling 10 percentage points since 2006.

Additionally, ProLiteracy programs show a general trend of receiving less public funding overall. In 2011-12, 38 percent of programs received federal and/or state funding; that figure has fallen to 31 percent in 2012-13.

ProLiteracy’s Annual Member Statistical Report also shows that, among member programs:

  • Almost one-third (32 percent) of those enrolled in adult literacy and basic education programs are unemployed and looking for employment. This aligns with Department of Labor data that show that those with less than a high school diploma are more than three times more likely to be unemployed as those with a bachelor's degree or higher.
  • There has been a marked increase in demand for GED and GED preparation classes, which may continue to rise based on the increased requirements for at least high school equivalency credentials to obtain quality jobs.
  • Seventy-three percent of member programs report waiting lists, indicating that the demand for adult literacy programs continues to exceed the capacity to deliver.

Nine hundred fifty of ProLiteracy’s member programs were surveyed through the 2012-13 Annual Member Report. Extrapolated data in the Statistical Report are based on 44 percent of Annual Member Reports submitted.

Questions about this report can be directed to Michele Diecuch, senior membership and program manager, at (315) 214-2576. Media queries can be directed to Amy Schmitz, director of marketing and communications, at (315) 214-2580.





ProLiteracy/LiteracyCNY Launch New Program to Prepare for New High School Equivalency Test

In preparation for changes to the high school equivalency test that went into effect this year, ProLiteracy, the largest adult literacy and basic education membership organization in the nation, in partnership with LiteracyCNY, has launched a new program to create a corps of trained volunteers to provide individualized support for local underserved high school-aged youth.

Previously, the GED was the only high school equivalency (HSE) available across the nation. In 2014, the GED test underwent significant changes, and some states adopted other HSE tests. New York adopted the (Test Assessing Secondary Completion (TASC), which is administered by CTB/McGraw-Hill.

The new “Buddy Up” program launched by ProLiteracy and LiteracyCNY will recruit and train 15-20 volunteer tutors. These tutors will be buddied up with 225 low-income, underserved Syracuse young adults who are enrolled in pre-HSE or HSE instruction at the Syracuse Educational Opportunity Center who require and who require individualized help.

“AT&T is proud to support ProLiteracy’s innovative tutoring program aimed at improving youth reading levels among Syracuse’s most vulnerable students,” says Marissa Shorenstein, New York State president, AT&T. “AT&T is committed to investing in the future success of our youth by partnering with community organizations like ProLiteracy which provide the tools and support needed for our students to achieve high school success leading to higher education and the skills for the jobs of today and tomorrow.”

The Buddy Up program will help students during the spring, summer, and fall 2014 sessions. At a later date, ProLiteracy will look to expand Buddy Up to its network of more than 1,000 member organizations locally and nationally.

This Buddy Up program is made possible through generous support from AT&T.

For more information about the program, contact Marsha Tait, executive director, at or (315) 471-1300.


About LiteracyCNY
Formerly Literacy Volunteers of Greater Syracuse, LiteracyCNY provides adults in the Central New York community with the literacy tools and skills that they need to be contributing, productive, and engaged members of the community. We do this by advocating for adult education, providing instruction, and partnering with other community based agencies. Improving adult literacy makes our community stronger.




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