Virginia Literacy Foundation recognizes Literacy for Life director Joan Peterson

Contact Reporterhbridges@vagazette.com
Literacy for Life's executive director awarded by Virginia Literacy Foundation

The Virginia Literacy Foundation has named Literacy for Life executive director Joan Peterson winner of the 2016 Nancy Jiranek Award, which recognizes outstanding achievements by a director of a literacy organization.

In Peterson's eight years of leadership, the adult literacy program at Literacy for Life has grown from 370 learners to nearly 750, and revenue has tripled, according to a recent news release.

But Peterson attributes the organization's success to teamwork: "Literacy for Life is a dynamic organization with an incredibly talented staff that has allowed us to do some innovative work," she said.

One such innovation is the Health Education and Literacy (HEAL) Program, which is funded by the Williamsburg Health Foundation. HEAL both improves health literacy among low-literate adults and trains medical staff in working with low-literate patients. In 2015, the program received a national Award for Program Innovation and Collaboration from ProLiteracy.

A recent initiative is "Destination Graduation," a partnership with Williamsburg-James City County schools. This mentoring and tutoring program supports high school students at risk of not graduating on time, or at all. Destination Graduation is slated to launch in the fall.

In light of the recognition, Peterson hopes to continue Literacy for Life's forward motion.

"Literacy for Life has done a lot of innovative work that we'd like to share certainly statewide and beyond," Peterson said.

"I'd like to continue what we do here, and doing it well, but just expanding the geographic area that we can provide services to," Peterson said.

Part of this could be accomplished through training, she said. "Becoming a training center is part of the vision."

Since the 1970s, Literacy for Life has provided literacy services to adults in the Williamsburg community. For more information, visit literacyforlife.org or call 221-3325.

The Virginia Literacy Foundation supports private, volunteer literacy organizations around the state through grants, training and consultation. To find out more, visit virginialiteracy.org.

Bridges can be reached by phone at 757-345-2342.

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