STAIR New Orleans Announces Five New Board Members

New Orleans, LA – (October 7, 2020) Start the Adventure in Reading (STAIR) announced five new volunteer Board of Directors members for our operational year beginning July 1, 2020.

  1. Sissy Blewster: An energetic, top-selling realtor with a degree in retail marketing, Sissy brings her expertise in social media and marketing, as well as business connections to STAIR’s Board of Directors. As a dedicated STAIR tutor, she knows the needs of the organization from the inside out.
  2. Monique Ameyo Constance: Monique is currently a Masters of Education student at Texas A&M University in the School of Teaching, Learning and Culture focusing on Curriculum and Instruction with an emphasis in Urban Education. Her career as an English educator and an active member of the New Orleans arts community has provided her with a deep understanding of the importance of literacy and its relationship to students in New Orleans. She is committed to positively impacting literacy through culturally intentional education that is reflective of the identities and experiences of her students.
  3. Lauren Marshall: Lauren is Woodward Design+Build’s Director of Diversity and Inclusion where she works diligently to create business opportunities for local, small and disadvantaged businesses. Lauren serves as a liaison, confidant, and advocate to help bring DBEs in the trade community to the table and find ways to pair their services with Woodward or other large specialty contractors in the New Orleans area. Lauren holds a Bachelor of General Studies in Child and Family Development from UNO and serves the community through membership and leadership roles in organizations such as the NOLA Business Alliance.
  4. Meera U. Sossamon: Meera is a New Orleans native and partner in the law firm of Irwin Fritchie Urquhart & Moore, LLC, practicing in the areas of product liability defense and complex litigation. Meera brings extensive legal expertise to the STAIR New Orleans board as well as long-standing dedication to helping others. Meera also serves on the board of the New Orleans chapter of the Association for Women Attorneys, and was recently named part of New Orleans CityBusiness’ 2020 Leadership in Law Class. She has received numerous honors and is a member of multiple legal associations.
  5. Teresa Nathalie Villafana: Nathalie has more than 15 years of experience in Information Technology consulting, auditing, and risk management. She currently works in the Internal Audit department at Pan-American Life Insurance Company. While completing her undergraduate studies at Claremont McKenna College, in Los Angeles, CA, she led the on-campus Spanish-language tutoring program, in addition to holding English-language lessons for the college staff. As a Latina who is fluent in Spanish and a champion of building language and literacy skills within the Latino community, she brings an important perspective to the organization’s culturally-diverse needs and growing Spanish audience.

STAIR New Orleans 2020-2021 Board Officers
Franklin “Tad” Jones — President
Samantha “Sam” Hill — Vice President
Maggie Perrien — Treasurer
Paula Henry Johnson — Secretary
Bart Dornier — Immediate Past President

STAIR New Orleans’ Board of Directors includes Rebecca Rogers Bravender, David Grimes, Paula Henry Johnson, Lucas Hohnstein, Larry D. Odoms, and Pierce Young.

STAIR’s Board of Directors is comprised of members with a passion for increasing literacy among under-performing elementary school children. Achieving grade level reading benchmarks is critical to increasing high school graduation rates and mastering other core competencies. STAIR board members oversee the program and the long-term financial sustainability of the organization.

Due to COVID-19, STAIR’s fall 2020 program is virtual. The free, nine-week fall program started the week of September 21. Each week, children will participate in one-on-one 60-minute sessions with their tutor to reinforce decoding, fluency and comprehension skills. To be eligible for the program, a child must be enrolled in second or third grade in a public or charter school. Additional resources such as pre-recorded video lessons, workbook, writing journal and poetry anthology are included.

Since 1985, STAIR has improved the reading skills and self-esteem of second-graders through community volunteers serving as tutors in one of the most effective children’s literacy programs in the New Orleans area. STAIR New Orleans is located at 1535 State Street, New Orleans, LA 70118. Visit or call 504-899-0820 for more information.