Staff Profile: Meet Katie Ly, Special Projects Manager




“Working with Books of Their Own and our teachers and students has further solidified for me that literacy is a basic human right.”

Growing up, Katie made weekly visits to the public library, captivated by the seemingly endless shelves of books to read. As a first-generation American and daughter of refugees, Katie has seen firsthand the world of opportunities available with a strong educational foundation.

Q: What has been your most memorable experience working with our volunteers?

A: Working with volunteers is one of the highlights of my job. Often times, new volunteers come to us with a limited knowledge of what we do. Once they go through a brief orientation followed by hands-on experience, they are blown away by the impact and importance of our work, and they are eager to come back and help again. 

With Books of Their Own, we rely on volunteers to help sort through donations and package books for distribution. I love seeing our volunteers’ faces light up as they discover new books or find old, sometimes forgotten, favorites from their own childhoods. I love listening to volunteers as they share how much joy certain books brought them and how excited they are for our students to receive them. 

Q: What is your favorite book provided to our students’ children through Books of Their Own?

A: This is like asking someone to pick a favorite child! I would have to say The Giving Tree. I remember spotting the green cover on a Waldenbooks shelf like it was yesterday and sitting on the floor reading it all the way through. I was enamored by the story, and it became my introduction to other works by Shel Silverstein.

Q: What do you like most about BOTO and book giveaways?

A: When our teachers open the boxes of books on BOTO distribution day, there’s an amazing energy in the room. I love watching parents flip through books, swapping with each other, and recommending books to their classmates. They are so diligent about choosing the right books for their children, and you can see the pride they take in being able to do so.

I also love when parents tell us how BOTO books help deepen their connection to their children. New traditions are born around the books they receive as reading time becomes a priority for everyone in the family. It doesn’t get better than hearing our parents talk about how reading has brought them together, and how their children have been ignited with a love and hunger for reading. 

Q: What has been your greatest moment at Literacy Partners?

A: There are so many special moments here at Literacy Partners that sort of fly under the radar – whether it’s listening in on a tutoring session for one of our HSE students working on a personal essay, or getting to observe our ESOL students reading to a Head Start classroom full of excited children. Seeing our students’ progress and empowerment firsthand is incredibly rewarding and is why we do what we do.

The annual gala was also a huge highlight. It brought together our wonderful supporters and our hardworking students under one roof for a truly beautiful evening. Hearing how much Literacy Partners has impacted our students’ lives definitely moved me to tears and left a lifelong impression on me, as I’m sure it did for many others in the room.

Q: What have you learned or gained through managing BOTO and interacting with our teachers and students?

A: I’ve always felt this way, but working with BOTO and our teachers/students has further solidified for me that literacy is a basic human right. Everyone should have the opportunity to learn and be able to read and write as productive members of society. Our students are doing the best they can with what they have, and it’s absolutely awe-inspiring. When given access to the right tools, our students are setting positive examples and laying strong foundations for their children’s success in the future. 

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