Reach Out and Read Kansas City is pleased to have four new members on our Community Council. Join us in welcoming Ashley Bieck, Liz Vasquez, Mary Olive Thompson, and Kathleen Johanson.
Ashley Bieck is the Manager of National Medical Society Engagement at UnitedHealthcare, focusing on building external relationships and making sure the care provider point of view is well-represented. She previously worked for the American Academy of Family Physicians for eight years in workforce development and policy. She holds Bachelor of Arts degrees in History and Biology, as well as a Master’s degree in Public Administration. Ashley loves spending time with her husband, Nathan, and five year old daughter, Maddie, and volunteering for a host of community and governmental organizations. Ashley shares the following about her commitment to community service:
I have dedication for helping the underserved in the Kansas City community and have tried to focus my volunteer career life on programs related to health, housing and hope. I would welcome the opportunity for additional service. And, that is what it is, service to an organization you are passionate about.
Mary Olive Thompson is the Director of Library Outreach and Community Engagement at Kansas City Public Library. She holds Master’s degrees in both Social Work, and in Library and Information Science. In addition, Mary has over ten years of experience working with a variety of community and social service agencies in the Lawrence KS and the Kansas City Metro areas. She and her fiancé are also expecting their first child in December and couldn’t be happier for the coming life changes! After reading The Read Aloud Handbook by Jim Trelease, Mary found a deep appreciation for reading aloud to children. She shares the following about how the principle in The Read Aloud Handbook led her to RORKC:
I find these same principles in the Reach Out and Read program and would love to provide my skills and sweat equity to help RORKC continue to build the personal library of children across the metro, create a reading-rich environment, and encourage parents and caregivers to read aloud to their children.
Kathleen Johansen is the Senior Communications Liaison at The University of Kansas Hospital. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism, a Master of Science degree in Health Education, and she has over ten years of experience in Communications and Journalism. Kathleen is also an active member of Junior League where she has a reputation for being a hard worker and very creative. Kathleen shares the following about her passion for reading aloud:
My love for reading and sharing bedtime stories with my son is why I want to join the Reach Out and Read Community Council. I will never forget the first time my son read along with me during his favorite bedtime story, “Old Hat, New Hat.” Oh, the joy! He was barely two-years-old but had already become a voracious reader. I started reading to him before he was born and he was reading on his own by the time he turned three.
Elizabeth Vasquez (not pictured) is a Physician’s Assistant at Health Partners Olathe, a Reach Out and Read KC partner clinic. She delivers the Reach Out and Read program to the children and families she sees in her practice and represents their sites (Olathe and Growing Futures) at our quarterly Clinic Coalition meetings. Elizabeth holds a Bachelor of Science in Psychology and a Master of Science degree in Physician Assistant Studies. Along with a love for reading and sharing books, she has a deep understanding of the need for and importance of our program and its role in fostering learning and healthy brain development. She says the following about her love of reading:
I started reading at a young age and was encouraged by my parents greatly and some of my fondest memories are of my parents reading to me nightly, us reading out loud together, and going to library readings. All of these early opportunities aided in writing, comprehension for later tests through school, and helped in general with all of my school subjects. Reading and writing have been a very big part of my life, and I would like to pass this on to other families throughout my work career.