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Women’s History Month: Celebrating Our Employees

Mar. 08 2023

United for Literacy (formerly Frontier College) is a great place to work. For proof, we currently have several staff members who have been here for 20 years or more. And, as it happens, they are all women! So, we celebrate Women’s History Month by honouring these individuals who have made such a long-lasting contribution to our mission. [In alphabetical order] Maureen Anglin, Angela Bisby, Sandra Huehn, Sandi Kiverago, and Mélanie Valcin. United for Literacy’s Senior Accountant, Mimi Wong, has also been onboard for 23 years.

Maureen Anglin joined United for Literacy in 2003 and recently became Regional Director, Ontario.

In her own words:
“When I started to work for Fronter College (now United for Literacy), I mainly worked in shelters where women and children were fleeing abuse of some kind. I recall meeting a journalist living at the shelter which made me realize the importance of a safe haven for women from all walks of life. Despite all of the challenges these women were facing, they were committed to helping their children build literacy skills and get the education they need to succeed in life.

One of my roles was to run parent workshops in women’s shelters. Through these workshops, I learned about the resilience and courage of these women. I met a young mother who said that when she was a homeless teenager, she made the commitment to go to school every day.

A shelter staff member told the group that she didn’t really learn to read until she had children. Through reading to her young children, she was able to build her literacy skills.”

Angela Bisby is a Literacy Program Coordinator for Independent Studies in Toronto, where she’s been working for 22 years.

In her own words:
“I first became involved with United for Literacy as a volunteer tutor with The Independent Studies (IS) Program in 1998 while working on a post-graduate thesis linking education to lower recidivism in Canada's justice system.

Inspired by the program's and organization’s positive impacts on the lives of both learners and volunteers, I eventually pursued employment as a Program Coordinator.

Over these 20+ years, I have had the wonderful opportunity to be part of various roles: working with families in the community, children in Homework Clubs, and adults with mild intellectual disabilities to advocating for literacy with MPs on Parliament Hill—and the list goes on. 

The Independent Studies Program, a literacy and basic skills program for adults with intellectual disabilities, has been my heart and passion for a good part of these 20+ years. I deeply appreciate, enjoy, and treasure the many wonderful experiences I have working with learners, volunteers, and staff at United for Literacy.”
Sandra Huehn is a Community Coordinator in Toronto. She’s been working with children’s literacy programs at United for Literacy since 1988.

In her own words:
“Former President John O’Leary hired me as the Program Coordinator for READ Canada, the organization’s new national children’s literacy program that started with Reading Tents and Reading Circles and then grew to include Homework Clubs.

It was a wonderful but crazy time. We flew across the country and hired staff in each province and territory so we could launch on July 1st, when we were scheduled to host Reading Tents at Parliament Hill and all the provincial legislative buildings. Remember, at the time there was no internet, so we did everything by phone or post or in person. It would be a lot different if we were doing it now.

It was rewarding and exciting to be involved in the beginning of something so important.

Over 35 years with the organization, Sandi Kiverago has held different roles. She is now the Vice President, Operations.

In her own words:
“This photo was taken in 1989 at the old Red Barn Theatre in Jackson’s Point, Ontario. The occasion was the Peter Gzowski Invitational (PGI). 

The late great Canadian broadcaster, Peter Gzowski (This Country in the Morning, Morningside) hosted a golf tournament to raise funds for Frontier College from 1986 to 2001. These events raised well over $1M for Frontier College and by the mid –‘90s were being held all across the country to raise funds (in the millions!) for literacy groups in local communities. 

Peter was a passionate supporter of literacy and Canada’s North. He was connected to our great Canadian artistic talents through his radio-hosting work with the CBC, and these folks were only too happy to perform at literacy events to support his cause.

It was an incredible time and I remember being awed by the people I had the great fortune to meet at the PGI in support of Frontier College’s literacy programs. 

I am seen here [in the photo below] with my boss at the time—Jenny Marcus, who was our Director of Communications at Frontier College. Eventually, Jenny moved on to become the National Director of the PGIs and I was lucky enough to be her successor.

I’ve since moved on to other roles at United for Literacy and I’m thrilled to say that Jenny (who I met 35 years ago at work) is my dearest friend to this day."

In her 21 years with the organization, Mélanie Valcin has had a few different roles. Today, she is President and  CEO of United for Literacy.

In her own words:
“This was 2004. As a new Manager, I was nominated by Frontier College, now United for Literacy, to take part in the Governor General Canadian Leadership Conference. I got to travel through the Yukon for three weeks, all the way up to Old Crow. It is during this time that I first started to learn about the cultures, histories, and aspirations of First Nations, Métis, and Inuit people.

I had the honour of spending a moment with Ed Shultz, then Grand Chief of the Council of Yukon First Nations. He was kind enough to share his perspective on what education means in the Yukon context. His words have greatly influenced my professional journey and still resonate with me to this day.

My work has since taken me to every province and territory of our beautiful country (except for Saskatchewan… I’ve got to do something about that!). Throughout this 20+ years old journey with United for Literacy, here is the one thing that I have witnessed from coast, to coast, to coast: Literacy. Changes. Everything."

Read about Rosita Bacchus, Program Coordinator for Beat the Street.

Five photos of the women in this story
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