Friends of Literacy Partners Profile: Meet Erika & Shannon

Literacy Partners Associate Leadership Board left to right: Emily Gallagher; Samantha Gronwoldt; Ruby Bola; Chimene Williams; Erika Alter and Shannon Webb.


Friends of Literacy Partners, our associate leadership board, advocates for our mission to support NYC families and the next generation of readers. Friends of Literacy Partners brings together an inspiring mix of emerging to mid-career professionals whose professional backgrounds range from marketing and finance to graphic design, event planning and nonprofit consulting. Our associate board works closely with us to assist in implementing our fundraising and program goals, and host cocktail receptions, small cultivation events and networking events.

Meet our two co-chairs, and learn about why they chose to become ambassadors of literacy:


Shannon Webb, Education Consultant
“Literacy means self-determination!”

Were you a reader as a child? Did you have a favorite book?
Yes! My favorite book was Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O’Dell.

Where did you go to college, and what did you study?
McGill University – my major was linguistics.

How did you get involved in your career? What were your last few professional positions?
I got involved in my career by working in the Second Language Acquisition Lab at CUNY Graduate Center. My recent professional positions have been as a writer, project manager, and program manager for various English Language Learner assessment projects in English and home languages.

How did you get interested in literacy, and why did you want to join Friends of Literacy Partners?
I became interested in literacy through my assessment development work. I wanted to be involved with LP to serve diverse learners as an ESL Conversation Group Facilitator and to gain non-profit board experience as a Friend of Literacy Partners.

What has surprised you the most about Literacy Partners?
What’s surprised me most is how many students LP is able to serve with such a small, efficient staff.

What has been your favorite moment at Literacy Partners?
Hearing students’ personal stories and watching their English develop in the WANY groups; Hearing from Moravet Espinoza at the Gala.

What are you currently reading? Do you have a favorite author/place to read?
I’m currently reading The Invention of Brownstone Brooklyn by Suleiman Osman. I don’t have a favorite author, but my favorite place to read is on Georgian Bay in Ontario, Canada.


Erika Alter, Principal and Chief Marketer, ESA Marketing
“Empowerment through reading!”

Were you a reader as a child? Did you have a favorite book?
I was a big bookworm. I loved Shel Silverstein’s poems and Beverly Cleary’s books as a younger kid, and I read everything by Judy Blume as I got older. But it was “Where the Red Fern Grows” by Wilson Rawls, which I read in middle school, that left the most indelible impression on me.

Where did you go to college, and what did you study?
I studied Creative Writing and Literature at Hofstra University.

How did you get involved in your career? What were your last few professional positions?
My long term plan was to star on SNL or write for the NY Times. Instead, I’m a storyteller of another kind – a FinTech marketer to the Capital Markets stars – and I love it! When I was just out of school – “at the turn of the (21st) century,” I took an event marketing role at a top financial information and technology company. I turned out to be an intuitive marketer and worked my way through the ranks, learned everything I could about the industry and have built a career helping global FinTech brands and growing start-ups tell their stories to the market.

How did you get interested in literacy, and why did you want to join Friends of Literacy Partners?
Literacy is empowerment. I believe it is in the world’s best interest that everyone be interested in the propagation of literacy as a fundamental right for all. When I learned of Literacy Partners  through a social media invitation, I was immediately drawn to LP’s vision of the future – one in which every parent has the tools to create success for themselves and a better future for their children. I want to help create that reality.

What has surprised you the most about Literacy Partners?
The diversity of the LP programs in terms of the tools for learning and the resulting benefits that are available to adults and children alike. The program doesn’t just teach reading skills. It sets parents up for success, with literacy as a means of access to information – helping students to use literacy and their evolving language skills to better navigate their communities: transportation, schools, banks, health care and the internet.

What are you currently reading? Do you have a favorite author/place to read?
I’m slowly, but surely making my way through Robert K. Massie’s biography of Catherine the Great (she established the first national library in Russia!), and I just finished a collection of short stories by Ann Petry. I can’t pick a single, favorite author, but reading on the beach – any beach – is single-handedly my favorite place to read – it’s divine.


Learn more about how you can get involved – visit our associate board’s page or email Allison Sciplin at allisons@literacypartners.org.

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