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

Firm Administrator, Neff & Boyer, PC

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

Passionate about helping children gain access to quality educational opportunities, Jenny began her career as a Teach for America teacher. She believes in the power of literacy to change lives. 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 passionate about volunteering, spending time with her family, helping with her daughter’s Girl Scout troop, biking, camping, traveling, and it brings her great joy to spread the message about Make Way for Books and the great work they do in the community.

Email: ally@makewayforbooks.org

Angy Shearer
Development Director

Angy has been involved in the fundraising community for over 10 years and is honored to be part of Make Way for Books. She is passionate about helping families and supporting our community’s children to have the opportunity to grow, learn and flourish. Angy enjoys gardening, exercising, reading and hanging out with her family and friends.

Email: angy@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 is passionate about education as a means for social change and enjoys writing and designing as a way to share that passion with others. She loves biking, hiking, traveling, and reading, of course.

Email: melinda@makewayforbooks.org

Monica Farmer
The Story Project Impact Director

Monica is a third-generation library professional and is passionate about making a difference in our community’s preschools and child care centers. She enjoys exploring our city by bike, spending time with her nephews, gardening, baking, and hot chocolate.

Email: monica@makewayforbooks.org

Tania Hinojosa
The Story Project Education Director

Tania has been involved in the education field for twenty years with a commitment to Early Childhood Education for the last 5 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. Tania loves the magic children’s books bring to the world, and 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. Her focus has been on infant and toddler development during her career and 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 is a Tucson native who has been involved in the education field forty years. She is thrilled to be working for Make Way for Books. She is passionate about empowering educators by inspiring and motivating them to be their ultimate 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, being a part of the Make Way for Books Team is a dream come true. Lori is overjoyed to be making a difference in young children’s lives through positive experiences, imagination, early literacy and language in the community. She has been working with children since she was a child and professionally for the last 10 years in different capacities.  When she is not working with young children, she enjoys spending time with her husband, son and family, dancing, shopping and home projects.

Email: lori@makewayforbooks.org

Rosa Lira
Early Literacy Specialist

Rosa has been working in the education field for 10 years. Five of those years have been with the Early Childhood Education Community. 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 of Science in Elementary Education degree and a Master of Arts in Teacher Leadership degree from Grand Canyon University. Rosa loves to spend time with her family, travel and learn about different cultures and everything desert! She believes that in world where you can be anything be kind!

Email: rosa@makewayforbooks.org

Jessica Tapia
Early Literacy Specialist

Jessica has been in the field of Early Childhood for the last 12 years. She 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

Diane Altieri
Program Assistant and Storytime Volunteer Coordinator

Diane Altieri 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

Illeana Alexander
Development and Volunteer Coordinator

Illeana is a lifetime Girl Scout, recent graduate of the University of Puget Sound, and new to the city of Tucson. She is passionate about investing herself in her community and excited to be a part of such an amazing and important organization. In her free time, she enjoys exploring the city, hiking, and searching for a new favorite coffee shop.”

Email: illeana@makewayforbooks.org

Nikki Potter
Neighborhood School Readiness Assistant

Nikki received a Make Way for Books baby-bag after her daughter was born and the information she received as a new parent was a tremendous help to her! After learning about Make Way for Books, she became a volunteer and is now our Neighborhood School Readiness Assistant. Nikki loves giving back to her community.

Email: nikki@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

Fernando González
Digital Director

Fernando is passionate about teaching everything from languages to martial arts. He loves to travel and learn, and loves books because they allow all people to do both, no matter where in the world they find themselves.

Email: fernando@makewayforbooks.org

Natalia Hoffman
Family Education and Literacy Impact Director

Natalia is a native Tucsonan who is committed to sharing her love of books with families in our community. She enjoys reading, jogging, and playing with her four beautiful dogs.

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.  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 is dedicated to sharing the joy of books and loves presenting fun, interactive storytimes and literacy workshops for families. She enjoys spending time with her husband and exploring Tucson.

Email: thania@makewayforbooks.org

Xochitl Coronado-Vargas
Family Literacy Specialist

Xochitl comes to us with a background in public health.  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, cooking chicken tortilla soup, camping with friends, dancing with her husband, playing capoeira with her husband and sleeping.

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. 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. 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. Recycle, reduce, reuse!!!

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. 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 earned her bachelor’s degree in early childhood education at Northern Arizona University. 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 studying History and English at the University of Arizona. 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

Alecy Molina
Family Literacy Specialist

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 joining her daughter, Brisssa, for several of the programs; she credits Make Way for Books for instilling more love into her family beyond the scope of literacy and is now a Parent Leadership Associate, Advocating for and co- designing a strategy in the community for parents, as an ambassador. Dedicated to supporting parents in recognizing their power to create opportunities for their children. Mia’s other passions include time with her partner Adrien, daughter Brissa, and their dog Vader.

Email: mia@makewayforbooks.org