Who We Are

Our Board of Directors

Donie Gignac, Board President, Current Voting Member

Retired Branch Manager, Pima County Public Library

Sesaly Stamps, Vice President, Current Voting Member

DeConcini McDonald Yetwin & Lacy, P.C.

Patricia Clay, Treasurer, Current Voting Member

Director of Operations, Law Offices of John K Hilton PLC

Veronica Avila, Secretary, Current Voting Member

Parent Representative

Mark Alvarez, Current Voting Member

TUSD Interim Assistant Superintendent of Elementary & K-8

Mary Jan Bancroft, Ph.D., Current Voting Member

Emeritus, founder of Make Way for Books

Paul D. Bancroft, Esq., Current Voting Member

McDonald Carano

Erin Hyde, CPA, Current Voting Member

Senior Tax Associate with R&A CPAs

Sunni Lopez, Current Voting Member

Educator, Sunnyside School District

David Lovitt, Current Voting Member

Assured Partners of Arizona

Karyn Prechtel-Altman, Current Voting Member

Deputy Director, Pima County Public Library

Autumn Ruhe, Current Voting Member

Mildred and Dildred, Owner

Crystal M. Soltero, Ph.D., Current Voting Member

Assistant Professor of Practice, University of Arizona College of Education

Jennifer J. Stewart, M.B.A., Current Voting Member

Emeritus, award-winning children's author

Greg Curtis Wakefield, Current Voting Member

Morning Radio Host, 94.9 MIX FM

Our Staff

Jenny Volpe
Chief Executive Officer

Jenny is passionate about helping children access equitable and excellent educational opportunities. Jenny holds a bachelor of arts in literature and education from The University of Chicago and a master’s in education from the Johns Hopkins University. Believing in education as a means to achieve social change, Jenny began her educational career as a Teach For America teacher before entering the educational publishing/curriculum design world and nonprofit sectors. Jenny is proud to lead a dedicated team working to ensure Arizona is a place where children can read and succeed. When she is not making way for books, she can be found reading, writing, or practicing yoga.

Email: Jenny@makewayforbooks.org

Ally Baehr
Chief Operating Officer

Ally is a native Tucsonan and earned her bachelor’s degree at the University of Arizona. Ally has extensive experience in the nonprofit sector and has worked in various capacities in the field including at the State 4-H Office, LeCroy & Milligan Associates, Inc., and the United Way of Tucson and Southern Arizona. Ally serves on many community councils, committees, and boards. She volunteers with Tucson Postpartum Depression Coalition and Arizona Department of Education and is on the Board of Directors of KXCI community radio. Ally is an avid volunteer and adventurer with her 16-year-old daughter Rylee and fiancé Craig. She loves to travel, hike, camp, and spend time with family!

Email: ally@makewayforbooks.org

Joel Benson
Director of Finance

Joel is excited to be at Make Way for books and support the mission that contributes so much to the community.  He is passionate in his belief that everyone should be treated with respect and be given equal opportunity to become the best that they can be.  Joel enjoys baking, working in his yard, and being in the beautiful surroundings of Tucson.

Email: joel@makewayforbooks.org

Melinda Englert
Creative Director

Melinda believes education empowers, breaks down barriers, and creates new possibilities. She is passionate about education as a means for change and enjoys listening, writing, creating, and designing to share that passion with others. Melinda has a bachelor’s in Anthropology from the University of Arizona and has extensive experience in grant writing, communications, and design. She loves learning, biking, hiking, traveling, and reading, of course.

Email: melinda@makewayforbooks.org

Monica Farmer
The Story Project Impact Director

Monica Farmer has worked at Make Way for Books for more than eight years in a variety of different roles. As the Impact Director, Monica is passionate about sharing the effectiveness of the program with others. Monica has a master’s degree in Information Resources and Library Science with an emphasis in cultural competency and coursework in digital collection management. Monica is a third-generation library professional and is passionate about making a difference in our community’s preschools and childcare centers. She enjoys exploring our city by bike, spending time with her nephews, and sipping tea.

Email: monica@makewayforbooks.org

Tania Hinojosa
The Story Project Education Director

Tania has been involved in the education field for more than twenty years. She is passionate about empowering people, giving them the right tools to develop their full potential so they can become agents of change, improving their lives and their communities. She has a master’s in Educational Technology and Leadership and a bachelor’s degree in Educational Sciences. Tania loves the magic children’s books bring to the world. She enjoys reading, dancing, having conversations with babies and snuggling with her son and daughter.

Email: taniah@makewayforbooks.org

Cynnamon Woodberry
Early Literacy Specialist

Cynnamon loves working with our youngest children. Cynnamon has extensive experience working in early education settings with expertise in infant and toddler development. Cynnamon is a passionate advocate for early literacy and education. When she is outside of the classroom, Cynnamon enjoys reading, crafting, doodling, swimming and bullet journaling.

Email: cynnamon@makewayforbooks.org

Lina Armijo
Early Literacy Specialist

Lina has a Master of Education in Educational Leadership and a Master of Education in Language, Reading & Culture and is an adjunct facility member with Pima Community College. Lina has more than forty years’ experience in the education field. Lina has worked in the community as a teacher, principal, and Education Curriculum Supervisor to empower educators, parents, and children in English and Spanish. She is passionate about empowering educators by inspiring and motivating them to be their best. Lina loves traveling and spending time with family. Her greatest joy is watching her granddaughter learn and grow every day!

Email: lina@makewayforbooks.org

Lori Cady
Early Literacy Specialist

Working with children has always been a passion for Lori. Lori has a bachelor’s in Elementary Education and a master’s in Early Childhood Education. She has worked with children in different capacities for more than 10 years and has experience working as a Quality First Coach. Lori is overjoyed to be making a difference in young children’s lives through positive experiences, imagination, and early literacy and language experiences. When she is not working with young children, she enjoys spending time with her husband, son, and family, dancing, shopping, and completing home projects.

Email: lori@makewayforbooks.org

Rosa Lira
Early Literacy Specialist

Rosa has been working in the education field for more than 10 years. She has a passion for empowering teachers and giving them the tools they need to make a difference in the life of the children in their classrooms and instilling in them a love for literacy. She has a bachelor’s in Elementary Education and a Master of Arts in Teacher Leadership. As a former Quality First Coach, Rosa has experience facilitating workshops and coaching. Rosa loves to spend time with her family, travel and learn about different cultures and everything desert.

Email: rosa@makewayforbooks.org

Jessica Tapia
Early Literacy Specialist

Jessica has been in the field of Early Childhood for the last 12 years. Jessica has a bachelor’s degree in Clinical Psychology and has extensive experience in the early childhood field. She has worked as a Quality First Coach, a developmental evaluator, and preschool assistant director. Jessica believes in the joy, power, and impact of books in children’s development. She enjoys spending time with her husband and daughter as they watch her learn and grow.

Email: jessicat@makewayforbooks.org

Carla Romero
Early Literacy Specialist

Carla has been working in the early education and invention field for more than 15 years. She has experience as a preschool teacher, an in home specialist, and an intervention specialist at Head Start. Early childhood education has been a passion for her since the day she stepped into her own preschooler’s classroom. Having teachers and staff that empowered her as a parent and seeing the impact that a quality education gave her children, she wanted to be a part of that world. Carla’s other passions include her four beautiful children, hanging out with friends and family, reading, and DIY projects

Email: carla@makewayforbooks.org

Loren Reyes
Early Literacy Specialist

Loren’s love for stories is at the center of all her endeavors. As a kindergarten teacher she worked diligently to incorporate quality children’s literature into daily routines. She has served as a language and literacy subject advisor where she supported teachers while monitoring and managing curriculum. She is currently in pursuit of her PhD in Language Reading and Culture at the University of Arizona. Loren specializes in children’s literature and is committed to the idea that sharing diverse stories can lead to deeper cultural understanding. She is delighted to be at Make Way for Books! Some of her favorite authors include Kyo Maclear, Oliver Jeffers, and Maurice Sendak.

Email: loren@makewayforbooks.org

Lana Bruno
Program Assistant

Lana is a retired Peace Corps Training Director who has experienced the power of literacy in various countries during 25 years of international life and work. She welcomes the opportunity to support the Make Way for Books team to empower children and families in our community. Personal passions include family, a collection of international arts & traditional crafts and Lana never tires of cooking recipes gathered in travels or new ones learned through cookbooks and friends. Her dog, Luna, figures prominently in this chapter of her life.

 

 

Email: lana@makewayforbooks.org

Mandy Becker
Program Assistant

Mandy is a native Tucsonan with a passion for reading and literacy. She completed her undergraduate education at the University of Arizona in 2019 and has been involved in children storytimes through the Pima County Public Library for 5 years. She believes books are a wonderful way to motivate young kids to learn more about their world and grow up to be great leaders. When not working, Mandy enjoys reading, writing, making music, volunteering, and exploring the outdoors.

Email: mandy@makewayforbooks.org

Diane Altieri
Program Assistant and Storytime Volunteer Coordinator

Diane has more than 10 years of experience with coordinating the Make Way for Books Storytime Volunteer program and has extensive experience training and providing ongoing support for volunteers. Diane loves children’s books and is always excited to share new books, puppets, and props with our volunteers. The mother of three and grandmother of eight, Diane enjoys crafting as well as spending time with her family, her husband Len, and their tuxedo kitty Mr. Maxwell Binks.

Email: diane@makewayforbooks.org

Julie Fischer
Make Way for Books Coordinator I Avondale

Julie is thrilled to be part of the Make Way for Books team. She has been an educator for the past 35 years with the majority of her teaching experience in preschool and kindergarten. She is passionate about sharing the power, joy, and adventures that books and reading bring to children. Julie also loves spending time with her family, traveling to new places and exploring her neighborhood, downtown Phoenix.

Email: julie@makewayforbooks.org

Fernando González
Digital Director

Fernando has a bachelor’s in Psychology and Native American studies and has extensive experience in Montessori education, early education, and early literacy. Fernando is passionate about teaching everything from languages to martial arts. Formerly a Family Literacy Specialist, Fernando now directs the development and distribution of the Make Way for Books App with the goal of using technology to create equitable access to books for families everywhere.

Email: fernando@makewayforbooks.org

Brieanna Chillious
Digital Division Specialist / AmeriCorps VISTA

Brieanna is currently serving her AmeriCorps VISTA term as Make Way for Books’ Digital Division Specialist. She earned her Master of Science degree in Information Science and Bachelor of Arts degree in Art & Art History from the University at Albany. A recent transplant from Troy in Upstate New York, Brieanna has experience in library services, including her role as Reference Librarian at Russell Sage College. Brieanna brings with her experience in public programming, community engagement and outreach, and a love for books!

Email: brieanna@makewayforbooks.org

Natalia Hoffman
Family Education and Literacy Impact Director

Natalia Hoffman holds a master’s in Information Resources and Library Science and is a graduate of the University of Arizona’s Knowledge River program, which focuses on providing culturally meaningful library services. Natalia has extensive experience in the development, implementation, and continuous improvement of community-based learning models. Natalia is a native Tucsonan who is committed to sharing her love of books with families in our community. She enjoys reading and spending time with her family.

Email: natalia@makewayforbooks.org

Dianette Plácido
Family Education and Literacy Education Director

Dianette attributes her love of books and learning to childhood experiences rich with culture, love, and stories. With a master’s in Educational Psychology, Dianette has extensive experience in family engagement, curriculum development, cultural responsivity, and emergent literacy and language development. Her free time is occupied with sporting events, family-get-togethers, and chasing her toddler Lucero.

Email: dianette@makewayforbooks.org

Thania Mayorga-Shull
Family Literacy Specialist

Thania has nearly 20 years of experience implementing early literacy and family engagement programs in Tucson. She is dedicated to sharing the joy of books and loves presenting fun, interactive storytimes and literacy workshops for families. Thania is a Library Associate at the Valencia Public Library. She enjoys spending time with her husband and exploring Tucson.

Email: thania@makewayforbooks.org

Xochitl Coronado-Vargas
Family Literacy Specialist

Xochitl comes to Make Way for Books with a bachelor’s in public health and extensive experience in coordinating behavioral health services, health promotion programs, and reading programming.  She considers literacy a right and believes cultivating a culture of reading can have the potential to address many social and economic issues in our society.  Xochitl loves connecting with children over books.  Xochitl enjoys hiking, biking, eating pho, watching her son play the guitar, gardening, camping, dancing with her husband, and playing capoeira with her husband.

Danae Pineda
Family Literacy Specialist

Coming from a family of teachers, Danae has the love of learning and books in her blood! She loves working with families by singing, playing, reading and talking with all of them. Danae holds a bachelor’s degree in Communication. She has worked in Make Way for Books’ family engagement programming for four years. In her spare time she loves to play the ukulele, sing and be around her family.

Email: danae@makewayforbooks.org

Stephanie Carl
Family Literacy Specialist

Stephanie is passionate and dedicated to the mission of Make Way for Books and its ability to positively influence the lives of the Tucson community. With a bachelor’s from Northern Arizona University, Stephanie has experience in Montessori education and kindergarten readiness programming. Being a mother of three beautiful children she fully understands and sees firsthand how wonderfully sharing books impacts the lives of families. When she’s not reading she enjoys running, playing guitar, and rummaging through thrift stores and yard sales.

Email: stephanie@makewayforbooks.org

Suzannah Herron
Family Literacy Specialist

Suzannah grew up reading books with her family as a young child and hopes she can instill that love with other families. Suzannah holds a master’s in Language, Reading, and Culture from the University of Arizona.  She loves working at Make Way for Books to help create a positive impact on her community.  In her spare time, she loves to play and watch tennis, read, go to the movies, play board games with her friends, and travel.

Email: suzannah@makewayforbooks.org

Karina Estrada
Family Literacy Specialist

Karina has a degree in Early Childhood Education and has over ten years’ experience working with families and young children. With her family, Karina enjoys visiting the park, playing board games, listening to music, and reading books.

Melina Rodriguez
Family Literacy Specialist

Melina is an undergraduate student at the University of Arizona. Shas worked with Make Way for Books as a student volunteer, AmeriCorps Member, and Family Literacy Specialist. Melina is extremely proud to work with an organization creating great change while spreading joy and kindness through the community. In her free time, you can find her enjoying art, books, and spending time with her dogs.

Email: melina@makewayforbooks.org

Nikki Alvarado
Family Literacy Specialist

Nikki Molina holds a bachelor’s in Elementary Education with an Early Childhood Endorsement. She has been a classroom teacher for more than six years.

Alecy Molina
Family Literacy Specialist

Alecy holds a bachelor’s in Leadership, Learning, and Literacy. She worked as a home visitor for more than four years and is well versed in early childhood and adult learning principles.

Email: alecy@makewayforbooks.org

Mia Ruiz
Recruitment and Enrollment Specialist

Mia started at Make Way for Books as a parent participant. After three years of attending programs with her daughter, she joined the team as an AmeriCorps member. She now serves as the Recruitment and Enrollment Specialist. Mia is dedicated to supporting parents in recognizing their power to create opportunities for their children. Her other passions include spending time with her partner Adrien, daughter Brissa, and their dog Vader.

Email: mia@makewayforbooks.org