Meet the Indy Reads Team.

Want to join the team at Indy Reads? Check out our current open positions.

Sarika Agarwal

Sarika Agarwal

Instructor

Sarika Agarwal teaches a Pre-HSE and a High School Equivalency (HSE) class for adult learners working toward attaining their High School Equivalency diploma. Sarika attended Indiana University in Bloomington and graduated with a Bachelor of Science in elementary and special education. Prior to joining Indy Reads, Sarika was an elementary/special education teacher for seven years. She volunteered as a literacy tutor with Indy Reads before joining the team as an instructor. Sarika loves watching her students gain confidence after improving their skills. In her spare time, Sarika enjoys cooking, exercising, playing tennis, reading, and traveling with her family. She is the proud mother of two children. 

Maria Thereza-Bastos

Maria Thereza Bastos

Instructor

Maria Thereza teaches an Indy Reads English Language Learning (ELL) class. Thereza holds a doctorate in literacy, culture, and language education from Indiana University in Bloomington, a Master of Arts in teaching English as a second language from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and a Bachelor of Arts in English and Portuguese from the Universidade Federal do Pará in Brazil. She enjoys traveling, learning about world cultures, dancing, photography, and spending time with her family.

Lee Bennett

Lee Bennett

Fundraising Intern

Lee Bennett assists the Indy Reads team in fundraising and special events efforts. She received her Bachelor of Arts degrees in Studio Art and Art History from Indiana University. She is a passionate bibliophile who channels her passion for art and literature through Read Write Books, under which name she publishes two magazines, Yesterday Quarterly and Quotidian. Lee is excited to use her passion for reading and belief in the power of the written word to support Hoosiers on their path to literacy.

Grace Brenner is smiling in front of a green background. She has shoulder-length blonde hair and is wearing a dark purple top.

Grace Brenner

Instructor

Grace Brenner teaches adult learners English in our online Pathway to Literacy classes. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in sociology and Spanish, with a minor in teaching English to speakers of other languages (TESOL) from Ball State University. She is currently enrolled to earn her Master of Arts in TESOL at Ball State with an expected graduation in May 2024! Grace enjoys bringing passion and laughter into the classroom and firmly believes that students learn better when they enjoy being present and active, even on Zoom! In her spare time, Grace loves spending time with her five nephews and one niece and being an active participant in her community. 

Cat Cardwell

Catherine Cardwell

Community & Family Program Director

Cat Cardwell manages the bookstore program team and facilitates Indy Reads’ community and family programs. Cat holds a Bachelor of Arts in English and a Bachelor of Arts in political science from Indiana University. She also holds a postgraduate diploma with merit in Shakespeare, Stratford-upon-Avon, and the cultural history of Renaissance England from the Shakespeare Institute. Cat is thankful for a family that knew the importance of reading to her before the letters made any sense. When she isn’t sharing her love of reading and knowledge through Indy Reads, Cat enjoys spending time with her husband and two senior pups, Yorick and Olivia.

Casey Culp

Casey Culp

Bookstore Manager

Casey Culp manages Indy Reads’ community bookstore. She obtained her Bachelor of Arts in writing and literacy from IUPUI. She also holds a Master of Arts in English with a concentration in literature from IUPUI. Casey has previously interned for Genesis and The Ray Bradbury Center. Before finding Indy Reads, Casey worked for two small independent bookstores on the Northside of Indianapolis. Casey loves watching adults and families sharing their stories with each other in our community bookstore. 

Photo of Carrie Dickerson smiling in front of a green leafy background. She has shoulder-length, curly blonde hair and is wearing a gray and red plaid shirt.

Carrie Dickerson

Instructor

Carrie Dickerson teaches adult learners in our English Language Learning (ELL) program.  She holds a Master of Science in education from Indiana University Indianapolis, and a Bachelor of Science in elementary education from Ball State University.  Carrie has previously taught online and in public schools with students from many different backgrounds.  When she’s not teaching, she loves to read (or listen to a good audiobook!) and binge-watch television shows with her husband and two teenage daughters. 

Sam Ferrante

Sam Ferrante

Communications & Development Manager

Sam Ferrante manages Indy Reads’ internal and external communications to further our vision of 100% literacy for all. She received her Bachelor of Arts in English from the State University of Fredonia. She also holds a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing with a concentration in poetry from Butler University. Sam has spent the last decade writing, editing, teaching, and facilitating workshops and events in New York, San Diego, Paris, Belfast, and Melbourne. She hopes to spend the next decade right here in Indianapolis, continuing to work alongside Hoosiers using literacy to make our entire community better. 

Paul Finnegan

Paul Finegan

Instructor

Paul Finegan teaches adult learners in Indy Reads’ English Language Learning (ELL) program. He graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in English and economics from Indiana University—Bloomington. Paul has also earned a teaching English as a foreign language (TEFL) certificate from the University of Toronto. Before joining Indy Reads, he worked as a professional guitarist, a home builder, and a financial analyst. Empowering his students to succeed and leading a dedicated team of volunteers toward that end is his raison d’etre. Paul enjoys listening to Shostakovich at high volume until his wife can’t stand it anymore. Otherwise, he’s usually hiking, running, biking, traveling, or reading a book.

Sarah Bright-Guthrie

Sarah Guthrie Bright

Instructor

Sarah teaches adult learners in our Literacy Foundations and High School Equivalency (HSE) classes. She received a Bachelor of Science in business from Indiana University. After working in banking and insurance for several years, she decided to pursue a career in education. Sarah completed a transition-to-teaching program in secondary English education at Indiana Wesleyan University. She also earned her Master of Arts in secondary education from Ball State University. Sarah has ten years of experience teaching English literature and composition writing in private, public, and virtual schools. She enjoys reading, traveling, going to concerts, and spending quality time with her husband, Todd, and two cats. Sarah has a passion for literacy and loves that Indy Reads offers a variety of classes for all levels of learners.

Darci Hawxhurst is smiling at the camera. She has brown hair cut just above her shoulders and is wearing a bright red top.

Darci Hawxhurst

ELL Program Manager

Darci Hawxhurst, M.S. Ed. has the honor of ensuring that our student-centered English Language Program is impactful, inclusive, and effective in supporting every single learner to meet their personal goals and express themselves in the ways most meaningful to them.  She is a child brain developmentalist, neurological evaluator, certified health coach, a member of the Conscious Feminine Leadership Academy, a writer, speaker, teacher, and literacy expert who believes that every human being is brilliant and has vast learning potential.  As the homeschooling mother of a formerly brain injured child, she devoted years to helping her daughter outgrow a long list of disability labels to become a successful college student and entrepreneur.  When not learning alongside the members of the Indy Reads community, Darci can be found writing her first memoir, growing her dad’s favorite tomatoes, playing with her golden retriever, Bella, or riding her bike through the beautiful, hilly forest of southern Indiana, which is the ancestral homeland of the myaamiaki, Lënape, Bodwéwadmik, and saawanwa people.

Devan Heiber

Devan Heiber

Instructor

Devan Heiber teaches adult learners in our High School Equivalency (HSE) program. She has been an educator for a decade and a coach of all ages for over 25 years. She earned her Bachelor of Arts from IUPUI, her Master of Arts from Marian University, and is currently finishing her doctorate of education from the American College of Education. Born and raised in Indianapolis, Devan has taught in urban schools with diverse student populations. She strongly believes in giving every learner equitable educational opportunities. Outside of education, she is dedicated to her five rescue dogs and attending live music events around the city. 

Lydia Johnson

Lydia Johnson

Vice President of Operations

Lydia Johnson manages Indy Reads’ daily and long-term operations and staffing needs. Previously working in an administrative capacity at a for-profit college in Indianapolis led Lydia to seek a way to use her organizational and system-making skills in the nonprofit sector. She holds a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing with a concentration in poetry from Butler University. Lydia is a freelance writer and poet who also teaches writing workshops and leads book discussions for the Indiana Writers Center and other organizations in Indianapolis. Lydia loves music, thrifting, collecting records, and reading. She believes that the work we do at Indy Reads matters because we help students learn and grow via adult education which in turn helps families become stronger and more stable. 

Molly Johnson

Molly Johnson

Instructor

Molly Johnson teaches adult learners in Indy Reads’ English Language Learning (ELL) program. She holds a Master of Arts from IUPUI in English as a New Language (ENL) education with a concentration in literacy. She has taught middle and high school grades and in the university setting. Molly enjoys spending time with her family and pets (a crazy bird dog, a sphynx cat, and a couple of horses), reading, and trying new restaurants.  She believes deeply in Michelle Obama’s theory that, “the ability to read, write, analyze; the confidence to stand up and demand justice and equality; the qualifications and connections to get your foot in the door and take your seat at the table—all of that starts with education.” 

Ruba Marshood

Ruba Marshood

Chief Executive Officer

Ruba Marshood oversees Indy Reads’ programs, brand, and growth to advance Indy Reads’ vision of literacy for all. A social justice leader, Ruba came to adult literacy and education after a decade of international community development work in Kenya, Jamaica, Papua New Guinea, and other parts of the world. She returned to the US with an eye on local impact and brought her international perspective to the Literacy Council of Northern Virginia (now EEC), where she launched their trademark Destination Workforce program, emphasizing the power of collaboration to create meaningful, student-centered transformation. An alumna of the Princeton AlumniCorps’ Emerging Leaders program, Ruba received her Bachelor of Science from the University of Maryland and her Master of Environmental Management and International Development from Duke University. Ruba proudly serves on the Board of Directors of the Museum of the Palestinian People, the first of its kind in the nation’s capital. A first-generation American who grew up in New Jersey, Ruba is fluent in Arabic, and a published photographer and photo-editor. She moved to Indy to become a Hoosier and embrace her role at Indy Reads in the summer of 2022. Ruba is inspired daily by the potential of literacy and education to advance social equity and by the wonderful team she gets to work alongside toward advancing this possibility. She enjoys exploring the city with her kids, dancing, and good food with great company.

Jennie McDowell

Jennie McDowell

Community Engagement & Volunteer Coordinator

Jennie McDowell coordinates our volunteer recruitment, orientation, and training and supports community engagement efforts. She holds a Bachelor of Science in exceptional needs education and a Master of Arts in adult and community education from Ball State University. Jennie has a background in the non-profit disability services field in the Indianapolis area. She also served as the Vice President of Philanthropy for Indiana Zeta’s chapter of Pi Beta Phi, in which she had the opportunity to coordinate their philanthropic efforts for children’s literacy. As a servant at heart, Jennie is honored to work with Indy Reads where she gets to help make the world more accessible through literacy. 

Jean Miller

Jean Miller

Executive Assistant

Jean Miller uses her nonprofit administration skills to support chief executive officer Ruba Marshood in advancing Indy Reads’ vision of 100% literacy for all. Jean has more than 20 years of experience serving a variety of nonprofits as both an employee and a volunteer. Most recently, Jean served as the director of administration for Indiana Recycling Coalition/Circular Indiana. She is an avid reader and is a member of two book clubs, so a workspace with a bookstore is a dream come true! Jean is a proud Purdue graduate who is passionate about social justice and enjoys hiking, camping, exploring new places and restaurants, plant-based cooking, theater, live music, and spending time with her husband, two young adult children, and two dogs. 

Shalini Mitchell

Shalini Mitchell

Instructor

Shalini Mitchell teaches adult learners in our English Language Learning (ELL) program. She has a Master of Arts in education from Ball State University and a Teachers of English Language certification. Shalini enjoys seeing her students’ growth in their English language skills and watching them gain confidence to use those skills. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, traveling, spending time with her family, and being outside.  

Raquel Ravinet

Raquel Ravinet

Finance Manager

Raquel Ravinet manages the financial health, reporting, and compliance for Indy Reads. She was a volunteer for the Greater Indianapolis Literacy League in the 1980s, which went on to become Indy Reads. Raquel has more than 30 years of experience in the Indianapolis nonprofit sector, including as program director for the Indiana Library Federation and executive director of the Neighborhood Self-Employment Initiative and The Children’s TherAplay Foundation. She earned her Bachelor of Arts in English and communications from Hanover College. Raquel believes in the transformative power of learning and is honored to help Indy Reads advance its vision of 100% literacy for all.

Chris Simmons

Chris Simmons

Student Services Manager

Chris Simmons manages student services by leading enrollment, orientation, and coaching efforts with adult learners. He holds a Bachelor of Science in education and a Master of Education in occupational training and development, both from the University of Louisville. Chris is committed to community service and making the world a better place from the grassroots up, often one person at a time. Chris enjoys cars, cooking, sports, celebrations, working, and relaxing with his wife, two sons, extended family, and many friends. His greatest joys come from helping others to improve their life situations. 

Gya Torres

Gyalene Torres

Program Associate

Gya supports Indy Reads’ programming by managing student data, supporting family and community programs in our community bookstore, and helping students enroll. She has a Bachelor of Arts in art history from the University of Puerto Rico Rio Piedras Campus. Working in the coffee industry for nine years, she developed her customer service, training, leadership, and organizational skills. Some of her passions are community service, reading romance novels, social justice, and spending time with her family. Gya’s name once appeared in a book. After crossing paths with Indiana author, Jennifer Niven, she promised to include her name in her next novel, Breathless, and she did. Gya enjoys sharing her love of reading with students and their families through our literacy programming. 

David Turner

David Turner

Instructor

David teaches adult learners in our High School Equivalency (HSE) program. He has been teaching for 20 years and has been working in adult education since 2015.  He got his Bachelor of Music in music education from the University of Indianapolis and taught elementary music prior to 2015.  He also got licensure in Middle School Mathematics, and then switched to adult education, working in an adult male correctional facility.  It was there that he not only realized his passion for teaching math but also that he has an immense passion for helping adults who are in need of a second chance at their education.  He has worked in similar capacities for other HSE programs and currently also works full-time at an adult charter high school.  He still enjoys music performing and teaching as a hobby, mostly in a religious capacity.  David lives in Plainfield and has a wife and three teenage children. 

Daisy Velez-Collazo

Daisy Velez Collazo

Intake/ELL Coordinator

Daisy Velez Collazo coordinates enrollment for our English Language Learning (ELL) students and plays a large role in coaching Indy Reads students as they work toward achieving their goals. She has a Bachelor of Arts in elemental education. Daisy graduated from dietetics school and is also a Certified Domestic Violence and Human Trafficking Advocate in Florida. She is a member of the Brown County Rock Club, the Tecumseh Lodge Education Group, and the Indiana Archaeological Society. Daisy likes photography, hiking, geode hunting, camping, traveling, painting, gardening, yoga, and dancing. She enjoys working with students and their families in Indy Reads’ programs. 

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