About Us


The READ Center is a community-based nonprofit organization helping adults improve their lives through adult literacy.

READ was founded as the Literacy Council of Metropolitan Richmond in 1982 by Altrusa International Richmond, Inc., a professional women’s business service club and became a 501(c)(3) organization in 1984.


The READ Center provides classroom instruction, one-to-one tutoring, and community programs to adults who want to improve their reading, writing, basic math and digital skills.

Learning to read as an adult is complex, and our students have often had limited success in school. READ meets students where they are and helps them attain their literacy and life goals.


The ability to read well is something many of us take for granted. We assume that every adult can read well. For one in six adults in Richmond, that is not the case.

Imagine trying to understand your prescription, get a driver’s license, apply for a job online, or help your child with homework when you struggle to read. Low literacy traps families in a cycle of low educational attainment and poverty that is hard to break. Everyone needs and deserves a literate life. 

Our Mission

The READ Center’s Mission:
Changing lives through adult literacy.

A community in which all adults have a literate life.

These are accomplished by providing:

Small Classroom Instruction
One-to-one Tutoring
Financial and Health Literacy

Our Impact on RVA

Serving Richmond, Henrico, and Chesterfield

Low literacy is intrinsically linked to poor health, low educational attainment, joblessness, poor housing and poverty. In Richmond City, 16% of adults lack the literacy skills to read a bus schedule, fill out a job application or help their children with homework. In Henrico County, it is about 9% of adults and in Chesterfield it is 8%.

The READ Center’s changes lives through adult literacy. When adults learn how to read, write, do basic math, and use computers, they have the power to lift themselves out of poverty, lower health care costs, find and keep sustainable employment, and ultimately change their lives.

The figures below are for the 2019-2020 academic year.


Students rate READ as good for learning

People Served

Student Goals Achieved

Why Adult Literacy?

  • 36 million adults in the United States cannot read, write, or do basic math above a third-grade level.
  • 75% of state prison inmates did not complete high school or can be classified as low literate.
  • $232 billion a year in health care costs is linked to low literacy.
  • Children whose parents have low literacy levels have a 72% chance of being at the lowest reading levels themselves. They are also more likely to repeat school years or drop out.

More than 73,000 in metro Richmond lack basic literacy skills.

The READ Center believes one adult who can’t read well is one too many.

Read Center Staff

Karen Webb

Executive Director


Marketing & Admin. Coordinator

Leslie Harper

Teacher & Tutor Trainer

Carolyn Harsh

Teacher & Tutor Trainer

Nausha Brown-Chavez

Program Director

Chris Miller

Program Coordinator

Kristin Parson

Distance Learning Coordinator



Everette Rufolo-Roger

Director of Development

Janet Sodell

Teacher & Tutor Trainer

Emma Tinney

Administrative Assistant

Don Wilms


Board Of Directors

E-Shawn Baxter

C&F Bank

Jordan Coles


Monique Finneran

Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond

Margaret Hill

Hanover Education Foundation

Bart Leahy

Information Security Specialist

Ellen Marie Hess, Vice President

Virginia Employment Commission

Frank McCormick, President

Fidelity National Title

Terry McNally

Retired, Columbia Gas of Virginia and Massachusetts

Janet Palmer

City of Richmond

Brittany Phinyowattanachip, Treasurer

Ernst & Young

Ida M. Pierce

Capital One

Sandy Reynolds, Secretary

Hunton Andrews Kurt LLP

Kady Salmon

Dominion Energy Services, Inc.

Laurie Sanderson

Accoustical Sheet Metal

William Seymour, Vice President

Florance, Gordon, Brown, P.C.

Lisa K. Tully

Fidelity National Title Insurance Company

READ Center’s Board welcomes questions, comments and input.  You can e-mail the board with this link. 


The READ Center’s 990’s can be viewed on GuideStar  and on ConnectVA. If you would like a copy of 990’s or more information, please contact the READ office at frontdesk@readcenter.org or 804.288.9930.

Everyone needs and deserves a literate life.

Want to learn more about adult literacy? Click here for the facts.