From May 20, 2020: Watch a recording of this expert panel discussion on recovery efforts in the wake of COVID-19 and how, together, we are building bright futures for our students.
Ellen Arnold Principal, Arnold Public Affairs & Literacy First Advisory Board Member
Ellen is principal and owner of Arnold Public Affairs where she represents nonprofit entities such as Texas PTA, National Multiple Sclerosis Society and Goodwill Industries of Texas before the state legislature, assisting clients with their goals to pass legislation, obtain state appropriations, and influence or impact legislation that potentially affects their organizations. Ellen also serves on the Advisory Board of Literacy First. Prior to becoming a government affairs consultant in 2002, Ellen worked in the field of education for over 20 years, the last several as principal of Barton Creek Elementary School in Eanes ISD in Austin. During her tenure there Barton Creek applied for and received the prestigious National Blue Ribbon School Award, presented by the United States Department of Education.
Helen Dunne Garcia, M.Ed Principal, Del Valle ISD
Helen is principal of Hornsby-Dunlap Elementary, PK-5th Grade Campus in Del Valle ISD. Helen graduated from UT-Austin and has been in education for 17 years. She has worked in several districts with a focus on reading and math in both monolingual and bilingual settings. After serving as an assistant principal in both Austin and Pflugerville ISD, Helen joined DVISD in 2019. In addition to being a principal, Helen is the mother of two very energetic toddlers, Javi and Miguel. They spend a lot of free time outdoors and reading books, they keep her on her toes and active.
Ilza Garcia Administrative Supervisor of Dyslexia & Literacy, Austin ISD
Ilza is a biliterate educator, mother, writer and advocate who attended and taught in AISD schools. She holds a master’s degree from the University of Texas at Austin in Curriculum and Instruction with a focus on Bilingual and Bicultural Education and serves as a Teacher Consultant for the Heart of Texas Writing Project. She serves as Administrative Supervisor of Dyslexia & Literacy in Austin ISD, as well as the chair of the AISD Dyslexia Support Committee and seeks to improve equitable learning experiences for students in AISD.
Mary Ellen Isaacs, Ph.D Director, Literacy First
Mary Ellen has nearly 25 years of experience with Literacy First, and four decades of experience working in the field of reading difficulties as a teacher, diagnostician and program coordinator. She has a deep knowledge of both research and best practices in reading acquisition, and brings this expertise to shaping and growing our highly effective early literacy intervention program. Mary Ellen believes that learning to read is the right of every child, and has dedicated her career to ensuring children learn to read well, so they can read to learn. Some of her best memories are of reading aloud to her daughter, and their favorites were Blueberries for Sal, and Miss Rumphius.
Virginia Potter Portfolio Director, Michael & Susan Dell Foundation
Virginia joined the Michael and Susan Dell Foundation in 2008, leading projects in California, Colorado, Cape Town, South Africa, and finally Central Texas. In the Central Texas community, she manages efforts to improve children’s ability to engage and perform effectively at school; to increase access to quality healthcare services for children and their families; to ensure the safety and wellbeing of abused or neglected children, and to provide gifts to organizations or projects that have the power to transform the Austin community. Prior to joining the Foundation in January 2008, Virginia served as director of product marketing with Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Earlier in her career, she was a Spanish teacher at Lanier High School in Austin, Texas. Virginia has a bachelor’s in Spanish and linguistics from the University of Virginia and a Master of Business Administration in global business from Saint Edward’s University in Austin, Texas.
Moderated by Marisol Foster Executive Director, Webber Family Foundation
Marisol is Executive Director of the Webber Family Foundation, a charitable organization that focuses on closing the achievement gap in academics and the arts. Since 2008, Marisol has managed the Foundation’s grants portfolio in both Washington, DC and Austin, TX. She holds a B.A. in both English and Spanish from the University of Texas. In her spare time, Marisol enjoys volunteering with local nonprofits and spending time outdoors with family.