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Committed to Changing Lives Through Literacy

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Founder and Executive Director

Aileen, a Miami native, spent over 10 years in education, primarily as a middle school English teacher. Seeing firsthand how a reading gap impacted learning outcomes in her students, she was inspired to found Uplift Literacy. In her career as an educator, Aileen designed an English credit-recovery curriculum, was a Tier II School Liaison with the Middle School Matters Institute, and was a grant reviewer for the Texas Education Agency Public Charter School Start-Up Program. She also served on the board of Lone Star Scholars, a foundation focused on providing quality education to underserved neighborhoods in Dallas, TX. Aileen is currently a board member at The STARS Foundation, a nonprofit organization that provides support for private schools that offer education to low-income families and tailored instruction to children with autism. She earned her bachelor’s degree in English and a master’s degree in reading education from Florida International University. She is certified in reading for grades K-12 and in English for grades 6-12 by the Florida Department of Education.



Board Member

Katarina is an established sales and marketing professional. She spent 10 years in New York’s healthcare industry, responsible for building and developing markets in the home healthcare and outsourcing services spaces. After a decade in this arena, she moved on to further her education with a Master of Business Administration. Simultaneously, Katarina transitioned her career to marketing and advertising, working for Publicis Sapient, where she held global marketing and creative operations roles over a 10-year span. During her accomplished tenure, she collaborated amongst the C-suite and across multi-disciplinary teams to build program plans, develop tactical paths forward and realize campaigns and solutions. She currently freelances and consults for creative agencies, ad agencies and technology consultancies. Katarina earned her degree in business from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte and her MBA from Florida International University.

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Board Member

Cristian is a managing consultant in the Strategy and Analytics Practice of IBM’s Global Business Services based in New York. He has experience in working on large scale divestitures and the implementation and design of business strategies related to innovation and investment matters, with significant expertise in leading global initiatives. He specializes in strategy, entrepreneurship, marketing and organizational behavior. Before joining IBM, Cristian worked as a senior project manager on commercial and military engines for a leading aerospace company. He has both consulting and industry experience across a number of functional areas, including operations, finance and sales across a variety of industries, such as construction materials, life sciences, aerospace, banking and healthcare distribution. Cristian holds a bachelor’s in mechanical engineering from the University of Puerto Rico, an MBA from Carnegie Mellon University and a Master’s Certificate in Project Management from the Stevens Institute of Technology. 



Board Member

Paola has dedicated more than 14 years to the public and private school sectors after making a leap from the world of TV news, where she worked as an anchor and reporter for a bilingual 24-hour network. In 2004, she was honored as Hispanic Woman of the Year in Media. An avid traveler, she brought her love of world cultures and languages into the middle school classroom as a history, geography and reading teacher. Her experiences include chairing the student government, yearbook and academic accreditation teams, as well as hosting the school's award-winning Model United Nations delegation in New York and her 8th graders in Washington, D.C. She was named Teacher of the Year before transitioning to a central leadership role as a K-8 principal in South Florida. Paola holds a bachelor’s degree in broadcast journalism and French from the University of Miami, with coursework completed in France and Italy, and a Master's of Education in Independent School Leadership from Vanderbilt University. At present, she is enjoying her most important role to date: mother to an intellectually curious, book-loving little boy. She also serves as an Early Childhood Director at a premier school in Central Florida.

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Board Member

Alfredo is a Partner at Hancock Askew and has over 10 years of experience in public accounting. His practice areas include financial statement audits, compliance audits, reviews, compilations, internal audits and merger and acquisition assistance. His industry expertise includes real estate, nonprofits, family offices, healthcare, manufacturing, wholesale, professional services, technology and a variety of other industries. He has worked with both publicly traded and privately held companies. As Partner, he leads the assurance practice in South Florida. Alfredo is active in the community and is Chair of The WOW Center. He is also a member of Leadership Florida and a graduate of Leadership Florida’s Connect Class X. Alfredo is also a graduate of Leadership Miami Class XXXIX of the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce. Alfredo graduated from Florida International University in Miami, FL, where he received a Bachelor of Accounting degree as well as a Master of Science in Taxation. He is a Certified Public Accountant in the State of Florida and is a member of both the American and Florida Institute of Certified Public Accountants.

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Board Member

Kimberly has been an avid reader since childhood. She has worked in communications for the past 16 years, after graduating from the University of Florida in 2005 with a degree in Advertising and a minor in English. Kimberly began her career in media relations for industries including food and beverage, not-for-profit, education, utility, accounting, legal, and banking. After that, she managed communications for Miami's premier botanic garden, as well as a top private school. Kimberly founded KBF Communications in 2020 to provide writing, editing, project management, and resume building services for clients across a wide range of industries. Her goal is to help her clients tell the best version of their stories. 

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Board Member

Latoya brings extensive experience of creating and leading Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging strategies and programs. Her work as CEO and Global Chief Cultural Officer of Community Learning Coalition, An Implementation Science Firm, influence culture to drive Racial Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion in organizations that serve over 27K+ children in South Florida. Her recent experience with The Children's Trust, a county-wide organization with over 400+ community partners, provides organizations with a diverse spectrum of Social Emotional Wellness/Racial Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion programs, training, and outcomes. Latoya is dedicated to supporting transformative wrap-around DEIB practices and is a fervent supporter of egalitarian and inclusive solutions. She is devoted to creating thoughtful, innovative connections with youth and family organizations that promote equitable and meaningful change and are committed to providing services with dignity and free of harm, thereby strengthening their reach. 



Board Member

Jordana joined Florida International University in 2015 as the Director of the Patricia & Phillip Frost Art Museum, where she also serves as an adjunct professor in the department of art and art history teaching undergraduate and graduate students. As Director, she supervises a staff of 20, developed new funding resources and cultivated donor relationships. She also built an Advisory Council comprised of community members, FIU faculty and students. She served for five years on the board of the

Association of Academic Museums and Galleries. A New Yorker, she received her B.A. from Bryn Mawr College in Pennsylvania and holds an M.A. and Ph.D. in art history from Columbia University in New York. For 16 years, she held the position of Chief Curator at the National Museum of Women in the Arts in Washington, DC, and served as a Professorial Lecturer in the museums studies M.A. program at Georgetown University. She has a son and daughter (both married and living in the Northeast), and a new grandson, Eli. She and her partner, Thomas, live in Coconut Grove. Among her fondest childhood memories is that of her mother teaching her to read with oversized phonics flashcards.



Program Director

Pooja received her undergraduate degree in international business from Nottingham University in England and began her career working in the events industry, producing conferences for family businesses and offices in the financial sector, for a period of five years. During a year-long break, she found her love for teaching whilst traveling abroad. Upon returning from her journeys in 2012, she undertook her post-graduate degree in education at London Metropolitan University and has since been pursuing this career. Pooja has been privileged to work with students and teachers in a variety of Pre-K – 6th grade settings. Her experiences include: classroom teacher, reading coach and intervention coordinator. Pooja believes in creating academically-engaging experiences that foster creativity and curiosity. She is passionate about literacy and truly believes that effective phonics instruction is fundamental for the foundation needed to build strong reading and writing skills. 



Reading Specialist

Erica has 17 years of experience as an elementary reading specialist and classroom teacher, with a track record of exceptional results. She is the owner of Growing Readers, a business which offers reading services to families, schools and organizations. Her specialty is tailoring instruction in a way that follows both the science of reading and teaches kids to love reading. She graduated magna cum laude from the University of Michigan with a degree in English and a minor in Spanish. Additionally, she holds a master's degree in reading education from Florida International University. She is certified in reading, elementary education and English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) in Florida, Rhode Island and Massachusetts.



Family Engagement Coordinator

Chelsea, a New York native who transitioned to Miami to pursue her aspirations to become an educator, graduated with a bachelor’s degree in early childhood education from Florida International University in 2017. Furthering her expertise, she earned a master’s degree in reading from Grand Canyon University. Her passion and dedication to inspire children led her to teach for Miami-Dade Public Schools for six years. During her tenure, Chelsea oversaw and participated in many developmental programs, achieving great results among her students. Ultimately, Chelsea’s quest for positive impact on our future youth led her to Uplift Literacy, where she looks to continue assisting developing future generations to come.

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