Instructors and Staff


Keisha KING - Instructor of Reading and Workforce Literacy

My passion is helping others achieve their dreams of becoming literate and obtaining/ retaining gainful employment. I came to the DC area with more than eight years experience in adult education and a Masters in Reading Education. My primary goal has been administering the Accuplacer assessment and incorporating My Foundations Lab into the curriculum so that our students can enter college and become workforce ready. In my free time, I love traveling and capturing memories on camera.

Adrienne Danforth - Instructor

I came to Washington Literacy Center in 2005 after having practiced First Amendment and insurance law in Washington DC. I received my undergraduate degree from Wellesley College and my law degree from the University of Virginia. When I decided to return to the work force after raising three children, I volunteered at a number of organizations, but when I started tutoring at WLC, I knew this was where I could have the greatest impact.In addition to teaching, I enjoy practicing yoga and traveling.


I began my career in education through a year of service with City Year from 2012-2013. Afterwards I went on to serve as a General Education teacher on the elementary level with DC Public Schools. I came to WLC in August of 2015 to educate the adults of DC after dedicating two years to educating the children of DC. During my spare time, I enjoy exploring consignment & thrift shops in and around the DC area.  I love the thrill of the hunt! 


Cheryl Kariya - Instructor

I have been teaching with the Washington Literacy Center since 2007. It's the most exhilarating and rewarding work I have ever done, and I've been lucky to get to know some wonderful people here, both students and staff. When the WLC made the decision to use the Wilson Reading System, I became a certified instructor. I also have a B.A. in Slavic Languages and Literatures from Indiana University, a M.A. in Soviet Area Studies from Harvard University and a Ph.D. in Linguistics, also from Harvard. In previous lives, I have supervised Slavic language training at the State Department's Foreign Service Institute, worked as a computational linguist and technology manager, and served as Chief Technology Officer for the Defense Group at Northrop Grumman. I'm now very happy to have come full circle and be able to use my linguistics training to help others.

Martha Tansey - Instructor

Since reading has been such an important part of my life, it's been wonderful to see the world of reading open up for the students at WLC.  I started volunteering at WLC and eventually became a Wilson certified instructor and now teach classes. I have a BA from DePauw University and a Masters in Library Science from the University of Minnesota.   I have taught English in public schools and ESL with the Peace Corps, but most of my life has been spent as a librarian in a public library.  In my free time I love to cook, read, and garden.

Robin Barr - Intensive and pre-intensive instructor

I am fascinated by how the brain processes language, and feel privileged to teach at the WLC where I can use my research to help people directly.  It is so important to explain to our students that their reading difficulties come from a difference in one part of their brains, and have nothing to do with their intelligence or effort.  I love helping students discover ways of bypassing the road-blocks in their brains, and using the other parts of their brains to learn to read.  Every student is different, and I learn new things from my students every day.  I have a B.A. in Linguistics from Yale, and an M.A. and a Ph.D. in Linguistics from Harvard with concentrations in both Indo-European and psycholinguistics.  I am the Linguist-in-Residence at American University in Washington, D.C., and have been teaching linguistics to language teachers there since 1996.  I am also an avid amateur musician, and play the oboe and English horn in the Trinity Chamber Orchestra, the Montgomery Symphony Orchestra, and many other local ensembles.

Bridgett Morse

I came to the Washington Literacy Center in August 2014 shortly after becoming a certified Wilson Reading Instructor. My desire, as an instructor at WLC, is to share my joy of learning and to help students develop or enhance their literacy skills in order to positively impact their lives. As this is my first experience teaching adults, I am encouraged by what I learn from them as well. My experience at WLC has been very rewarding thus far.

I am currently a Special Education Teacher with twenty-nine years of experience with DC Public Schools. I received my undergraduate degree with a dual major in Psychology and Special Education from the University of MD, Baltimore County and my M.ED in Special Education from Bowie State University.

In my spare time I enjoy reading, traveling and line dancing!

Yolanda Jones - Instructor

I teach adult learners basic literacy skills to help them reach their goals and improve their quality of life. I have been a certified Wilson Instructor at Washington Literacy Center from 2013 to the present and have a BA in Communication from Pepperdine and am currently in the process of my MA in Adult Education from the University of the District of Columbia. In my free-time I enjoy travel, reading, tennis, and running.

Roo george-warren - Computer Instructor

I came to DC from South Carolina by way of Nashville, TN where I graduated with a Bachelors in Music (Musical Arts: Voice and Composition). Today I'm helping students acquire computer skills while cultivating their critical thinking and creative problem-solving. In my free-time I can be found biking around DC to-and-from rehearsals and gallery openings.

Nikia cunningham - Student Services Specialist

My name is Nikia Cunningham, and I am the Student Services Specialist here at the WLC as part of my apprenticeship through Public Allies Washington DC. Advocacy and education are very important to me. Applying my knowledge of resources, along with my enthusiasm to uplift others, compels me to work with our students in reaching their goals, as well as maintaining their presence/participation in the instruction they are receiving here. Working with student’s first-hand is an uplifting, yet challenging experience that teaches me a lot and empowers me to always uplift others when in a position to do so.

Rose joyner - Data operations manager

I perform the day-to-day and data entry operations for the center ensuring that students and teachers can focus on their classes. Working at the WLC has been an opportunity for me because I enjoy helping other people reach their goals. During my free-time I enjoy home decorating, travel, and family.

Tom hay

Tom started as a volunteer at the WLC in June of 2012, after a career as a law librarian doing legal research at several DC law firms. Tom experienced the construction of the new WLC classrooms and office space at the Thurgood Marshall Center. Tom’s motivation to volunteer was his desire to help the local community. He says, “I had a few organizations in mind and started researching the different opportunities to see how my skills would fit the needs of the organization.” In November 2015 Tom joined the staff as the search for a new Executive Director began. In his free time Tom enjoys travel and cooking.

Christen cunningham - Head of Instruction

I manage the programs and teachers here at WLC. I enjoy the privilege of working with our students to empower them to better their lives through literacy. I started my career in education with 11 years in the public schools of PA and VA as a Special Education teacher and a Reading Specialist. After earning my Masters Degree in Reading Education  from University of Pittsburgh I moved to the DC area. I enjoy spending time outdoors and traveling.

jimmie Williams - Executive Director

Jimmie Williams joined Washington Literacy Center in 2016 as Executive Director after a distinguished career in external affairs and brand management for Fortune 500 companies and leading industry players such as McDonald’s, Freddie Mac and Bank of America. In his new role, Williams aims to solidify and expand Washington Literacy Center’s 50-year history of empowering DC adults to achieve their education and employment goals by providing basic yet life-changing skills in literacy and technology.

Williams brings from his previous positions a seasoned business acumen with particular strengths in strategic communications, revenue growth and operational efficiency. In his most recent role as Director of Global Government and Public Affairs at McDonald’s, Williams advanced key corporate and legislative priorities while elevating brand visibility and public opinion among target audiences. An ardent believer in collaboration and engagement, Williams has achieved success in convening and leading high-performing teams that have included federal and state agencies, Political Action Committees, trade associations, media and community groups.

Williams is currently President of the Penn Branch Citizens Civic Association and serves on the boards of the Asian Pacific American Congressional Institute of Congressional Studies (APAICS) and Federation of Citizens Associations of the District of Columbia. He is a proud graduate of Howard University and lives in Washington.


Peggy Sulvetta- President
Chief Information Officer
The Urban Institute

Jay S. Doeden - Treasurer
Deloitte & Touche LLP

Michelle Duke
Vice President
National Association of Broadcasters Education Foundation

Nicol Turner Lee
Vice President
Minority Media & Telecommunications

Courtney Roberts
Moonshot Global

Barbara Van Allen
Senior Director, Stakeholder Relations and Communications
Center for Audit Quality