Meet The Reading Center’s Staff

Under the leadership of Executive Director, Cindy Russell, The Reading Center is managed by five directors and other instrumental support staff. We also have more than 45 tutors working full or part time with students and training adults in our Orton-Gillingham training institutes.

If you are interested in working for The Reading Center, please visit our recruitment page.

Reading Center Directors

Cindy Russell,  Executive Director    Cindy joined The Reading Center in 2007. She has a M.A. in Religion from Yale University and has spent her career serving non-profits. Her focus has been non-profit management, fundraising, marketing and program supervision. She is the parent of three children who are dyslexic, all of whom have received tutoring from The Reading Center.

Cindy Russell, Executive Director

Cindy joined The Reading Center in 2007. She has a M.A. in Religion from Yale University and has spent her career serving non-profits. Her focus has been non-profit management, fundraising, marketing and program supervision. She is the parent of three children who are dyslexic, all of whom have received tutoring from The Reading Center.

Sue Christenson,  Director of Best of Basics    Sue has worked at The Reading Center since 2006 and is currently Director of Best of Basics – our four week summer school program for kids from first grade-high school. She is a tutor, tester, presenter, and a Master Teacher for trainees in our Basic and Advanced Orton-Gillingham Training Institutes. She currently supervises the tutors who work with students via our online tutoring platform. She holds a Master’s Degree in Counseling, with an emphasis on marriage and family.

Sue Christenson, Director of Best of Basics

Sue has worked at The Reading Center since 2006 and is currently Director of Best of Basics – our four week summer school program for kids from first grade-high school. She is a tutor, tester, presenter, and a Master Teacher for trainees in our Basic and Advanced Orton-Gillingham Training Institutes. She currently supervises the tutors who work with students via our online tutoring platform. She holds a Master’s Degree in Counseling, with an emphasis on marriage and family.

Amy Basnyat,  Director of Testing    Amy has a B.A. in Psychology from Coe College and an M.S. in Professional Development with an emphasis on counseling from Winona State University. She started working at The Reading Center in 1998 tutoring students, but then moved into testing in 2000. In addition to testing, Amy coordinates the student yearly rechecks and recruitment of Teaching Assistants for our Training Institutes.

Amy Basnyat, Director of Testing

Amy has a B.A. in Psychology from Coe College and an M.S. in Professional Development with an emphasis on counseling from Winona State University. She started working at The Reading Center in 1998 tutoring students, but then moved into testing in 2000. In addition to testing, Amy coordinates the student yearly rechecks and recruitment of Teaching Assistants for our Training Institutes.

Jan Hagedorn,  Director of Reading Readiness    Jan has been a Reading Center staff member since 2005. She developed and implemented programs based on the principles of OG that support emerging readers and their families. Jan is a parent of a child with dyslexia and understands the struggles and the triumphs that families experience as their children grow up. Jan has a BS from the University of Minnesota, a MA from University of St. Mary’s, and has studied towards her MA in Special Education from Augsburg College. For over 20 years Jan has been a legislative advocate to improve the training for classroom teachers to equip them to better serve the needs of dyslexic learners and students that struggle with reading.

Jan Hagedorn, Director of Reading Readiness

Jan has been a Reading Center staff member since 2005. She developed and implemented programs based on the principles of OG that support emerging readers and their families. Jan is a parent of a child with dyslexia and understands the struggles and the triumphs that families experience as their children grow up. Jan has a BS from the University of Minnesota, a MA from University of St. Mary’s, and has studied towards her MA in Special Education from Augsburg College. For over 20 years Jan has been a legislative advocate to improve the training for classroom teachers to equip them to better serve the needs of dyslexic learners and students that struggle with reading.

Sarah Carlson-Wallrath,  Director of Development    Sarah joined The Reading Center in 2015 having come from attorney work in private practice. She previously worked for the U.S. Senate, Minnesota House of Representatives and International Dyslexia Association-Upper Midwest Branch (IDA-UMB). She holds a J.D. from Hamline University and a B.A. from University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Sarah Carlson-Wallrath, Director of Development

Sarah joined The Reading Center in 2015 having come from attorney work in private practice. She previously worked for the U.S. Senate, Minnesota House of Representatives and International Dyslexia Association-Upper Midwest Branch (IDA-UMB). She holds a J.D. from Hamline University and a B.A. from University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Fay Van Vliet, Fellow/AOGPE, CDT/IDA     Director of Programming    With The Reading Center since 1996, Fay is a Fellow of the Academy of Orton-Gillingham Practitioners & Educators, and is a Certified Dyslexia Therapist through IDA. She holds Minnesota State Teaching Licenses in elementary education, middle school language arts, and K-12 reading. She is a Lead Instructor for the Orton-Gillingham Training Institutes, a Diagnostician, Master Teacher, and Educational Therapist. Passionate about reading, Fay has more than 35 years of experience at all levels of education. As an adjunct instructor at Rochester Community and Technical College, she researched and developed Orton-Gillingham in the collegiate classroom, and assisted adult learners in gaining literacy skills. Fay helped develop the Rochester Reading Champions' program, which reaches the underserved with Orton-Gillingham instruction, and remains active as its liaison. She presents locally, regionally and nationally.

Fay Van Vliet, Fellow/AOGPE, CDT/IDA

Director of Programming

With The Reading Center since 1996, Fay is a Fellow of the Academy of Orton-Gillingham Practitioners & Educators, and is a Certified Dyslexia Therapist through IDA. She holds Minnesota State Teaching Licenses in elementary education, middle school language arts, and K-12 reading. She is a Lead Instructor for the Orton-Gillingham Training Institutes, a Diagnostician, Master Teacher, and Educational Therapist. Passionate about reading, Fay has more than 35 years of experience at all levels of education. As an adjunct instructor at Rochester Community and Technical College, she researched and developed Orton-Gillingham in the collegiate classroom, and assisted adult learners in gaining literacy skills. Fay helped develop the Rochester Reading Champions' program, which reaches the underserved with Orton-Gillingham instruction, and remains active as its liaison. She presents locally, regionally and nationally.

Barbara Zelinske,   Fellow/AOGPE, CDT/IDA     Director of Teacher Training    Barbara has been with The Reading Center since 1995. She is a Fellow of the Academy of Orton-Gillingham Practitioners & Educators, and is a Certified Dyslexia Therapist through IDA. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Special Education (K-12) with licensures in LD and DCD from Winona State University and a Master’s in Human Development with a focus on dyslexia and scientifically research based reading instruction from Saint Mary’s University. Barbara served on the Content Advisory Committee Birth to Grade 3 Test Framework Review for the MN reading standards and the MN Teacher Licensure Examination Materials Review. She has taught in a variety of public and private school settings – one on one, small group, and full classroom, and has published resource materials for educators.

Barbara Zelinske, Fellow/AOGPE, CDT/IDA

Director of Teacher Training

Barbara has been with The Reading Center since 1995. She is a Fellow of the Academy of Orton-Gillingham Practitioners & Educators, and is a Certified Dyslexia Therapist through IDA. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Special Education (K-12) with licensures in LD and DCD from Winona State University and a Master’s in Human Development with a focus on dyslexia and scientifically research based reading instruction from Saint Mary’s University. Barbara served on the Content Advisory Committee Birth to Grade 3 Test Framework Review for the MN reading standards and the MN Teacher Licensure Examination Materials Review. She has taught in a variety of public and private school settings – one on one, small group, and full classroom, and has published resource materials for educators.

 
 

Staff Tutors

Lora Keller, Certified/AOGPE, CDT/IDA    Placement Coordinator, Master Teacher & Tutor   Lora has been a tutor since 2008. She is Certified by the Academy of Orton-Gillingham Practitioners & Educators, and is a Certified Dyslexia Therapist through IDA. Lora has a BS in Home Economics Educational Services and her K-12 Certification from UW-Stout.

Lora Keller, Certified/AOGPE, CDT/IDA

Placement Coordinator, Master Teacher & Tutor

Lora has been a tutor since 2008. She is Certified by the Academy of Orton-Gillingham Practitioners & Educators, and is a Certified Dyslexia Therapist through IDA. Lora has a BS in Home Economics Educational Services and her K-12 Certification from UW-Stout.

Ashley Lund    Tutor & Tester   Ashley Lund is a staff tutor for The Reading Center since 2018. Ashley has her Master’s Degree in Curriculum and Instruction with an emphasis as a Reading Specialist. She has over 10 years of public school teaching experience including first grade, third grade, as well working as an intervention specialist.

Ashley Lund

Tutor & Tester

Ashley Lund is a staff tutor for The Reading Center since 2018. Ashley has her Master’s Degree in Curriculum and Instruction with an emphasis as a Reading Specialist. She has over 10 years of public school teaching experience including first grade, third grade, as well working as an intervention specialist.

Lillian Stewart    Master Teacher, Tutor, Program Navigator   Lillian has been a tutor since 2010. She is a Master Teacher for our new institute trainees, conducts all levels of testing, and tutors students of all ages - specializing in math instruction. She also responds to many of our new intake client calls - so she is one of the first people you meet when you join The Reading Center family. Lillian has a BBA from Howard University.   g

Lillian Stewart

Master Teacher, Tutor, Program Navigator

Lillian has been a tutor since 2010. She is a Master Teacher for our new institute trainees, conducts all levels of testing, and tutors students of all ages - specializing in math instruction. She also responds to many of our new intake client calls - so she is one of the first people you meet when you join The Reading Center family. Lillian has a BBA from Howard University.

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Barb Walbruch    Master Teacher and Tutor   Barb has been a tutor since 2004. She is a Master Teacher for our new institute trainees and 1:1 tutor for students of all ages.

Barb Walbruch

Master Teacher and Tutor

Barb has been a tutor since 2004. She is a Master Teacher for our new institute trainees and 1:1 tutor for students of all ages.

Front Office Staff

Gade Grinnell,  Office Manager/Bookeeper    Gade (Somsiri) joined The Reading Center as a bookkeeper in 2011. Originally from Thailand, Gade earned a BA in Linguistics from Chiangmai University, Thailand, MA in Comparative Cultures from International Christian University, Tokyo, Japan, and an Associate Degree (Dean’s List) in Accounting from Madison Area Technical College.

Gade Grinnell, Office Manager/Bookeeper

Gade (Somsiri) joined The Reading Center as a bookkeeper in 2011. Originally from Thailand, Gade earned a BA in Linguistics from Chiangmai University, Thailand, MA in Comparative Cultures from International Christian University, Tokyo, Japan, and an Associate Degree (Dean’s List) in Accounting from Madison Area Technical College.

Anna Johnson,  Office Administrator    Anna joined The Reading Center in 2019. She graduated from Luther College with a B.A. in Art and has previous experience working for a non-profit. As our Office Administrator, she will be the first smile you see as you walk in our doors and is always eager to help.

Anna Johnson, Office Administrator

Anna joined The Reading Center in 2019. She graduated from Luther College with a B.A. in Art and has previous experience working for a non-profit. As our Office Administrator, she will be the first smile you see as you walk in our doors and is always eager to help.

Kate Jirik,  Development and Program Assistant    Kate came to The Reading Center as a parent and then years later became staff in 2016. She is currently our Development Assistant and also aids in helping to produce our Institutes. She holds a BS in Mental Health and Human Services from Franciscan University of Steubenville (OH) and a Masters in Social Gerontology from the University of Central Missouri.

Kate Jirik, Development and Program Assistant

Kate came to The Reading Center as a parent and then years later became staff in 2016. She is currently our Development Assistant and also aids in helping to produce our Institutes. She holds a BS in Mental Health and Human Services from Franciscan University of Steubenville (OH) and a Masters in Social Gerontology from the University of Central Missouri.