Meet our team
Sara Schwan was appointed Executive Director of The Children’s Reading Foundation of the Mid-Columbia in July 2014. Born and raised in Juneau, Alaska, she received her Bachelor degree in Sociology from the University of Oregon in 2000. Shortly thereafter, Sara moved to Washington, D.C. to begin what would be many years of working as a Congressional and campaign staffer.
Sara enjoys using her political background to help spread the love of reading and empowering other parents with The Children’s Reading Foundation. In her spare time, Sara enjoys reading and spending time with her husband and two children.
Sara's favorite book
My favorite children’s book is "My Many Colored Days" by Dr. Seuss. I love how the book demonstrates to children that it is okay to feel differently sometimes. It is a great way to discuss with children on how they feel sometimes, how they deal with those emotions, what are appropriate and inappropriate ways of dealing with those emotions.
Team Read Program Director
A Tri-Cities native, Alicia Briones has extensive volunteer experience, both as a volunteer and managing volunteers. Team Read Program Director since July 2015, Alicia is passionate about reading, education and nonprofit work.
Alicia received her Bachelor degree in Law, Societies and Justice from University of Washington and her Masters in Criminal Justice from Seattle University. Prior to moving back to the Tri-Cities, she worked for five years at the ACLU of Washington.
Alicia's favorite book
My favorite children’s book, "Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark" (and also Where the Wild Things Are but I felt that was too obvious maybe?). The illustrations are amazing. Also, as a kid in a scary world, scary stories tell us about the scary things but often they also tell us how to defeat them. I thought the stories were empowering; lessons on how to either avoid or defeat the things I was afraid of as a child.
Joanna joined the Children’s Reading Foundation of the Mid-Columbia team in February 2017. Joanna was raised in Richland, and then spent many years in Minnesota, where she received her Bachelor’s degree from Augsburg College and her Master of Arts degree from Luther Seminary.
Joanna brings 10 years of experience serving children and families in a variety of settings. After two years in the National CRF office she’s very excited for the opportunity to serve local Mid-Columbia families.
Joanna's favorite book
Llama Llama series: Ann Dewdney’s Llama Llama series are some of my favorite books to read aloud! Kids from age one to eight are drawn into her vivid illustrations, and lyrical text. The stories are about conflicts and emotions that kids know. We get to talk about when we’ve been “mad at Mama” and how we can be patient and be glad that we’re together even when things aren’t fun!
READY! for Kindergarten Program Director
Vicki Piippo joined The Children's Reading Foundation of the Mid-Columbia in March 2016, as its READY! For Kindergarten Program Director. She brings more than 20 years of sales, management and marketing experience to the foundation's READY! for Kindergarten outreach with local parents and caregivers.
She is passionate about bringing families and the community together to assure every child is ready on the first day of kindergarten. Vicki has primarily lived in Eastern Washington and attended Central Washington University.
Vicki enjoys playing and reading with her three grandchildren, traveling and sewing. She and her husband raised their three sons in the Richland, Washington.
Vicki's favorite book
Favorite children's book is Richard Scarry's "Best Word Book Ever." My children loved it and now my grandchildren all love it. It is my favorite because it is the perfect book to not only read to a child but to have interaction as they point out items and talk about the animals in the stories doing everyday things, in this timeless, fun book to read.
READY! for Kindergarten Administrative Assistant
Long time Tri-Cities native, Kenna Ladendorf, unites her passion for the community and reading in her position as Ready! for Kindergarten, Administrative Assistant at the Children's Reading Foundation of the Mid Columbia.
Mrs. Ladendorf studied anthropology at Columbia Basin College and has since traveled across the United States to Florida and North Carolina raising a family and immersing herself in diverse cities. She enjoys reading with her children and exploring literature.
Kenna's favorite book
Chris Hadfield’s, "The Darkest Dark", is a historical picture book for all readers young and old. It playfully depicts a true historical event as well as classic stage of childhood. "The Darkest Dark" makes a child's fear of the dark seem less frightening and inspires dreams of the cosmos.
Born and raised in the Tri-Cities, Dori Schmelzer has a background in Early Childhood Education and Special Education. She joined us in 2016 as the site coordinator for Team Read at Edison Elementary.
She is extremely passionate about education and working with children. In her spare time she enjoys her family and her two darling children.
Dori's favorite book
I have very fond memories of my Mom
and aunt reading this to me as a young child. This book was also given to my children as a gift from my aunt that has since passed away. A truly great book about independence and noticing the seemingly little things in life.