Friday, July 03, 2009


Albany, N.Y. – Literacy Volunteers of America—Mohawk/Hudson and Literacy NENY, two of the state’s leading literacy organizations, officially merged July 1 and a new entity, Literacy New York Greater Capital Region, was created.

The new organization will continue to serve individuals who want to improve their reading, writing, math and English fluency skills in Albany, Saratoga, Schenectady, Warren and Washington counties. Literacy New York Greater Capital Region will serve 3,500 square miles in the five-county region.

“This merger is part of the natural progression of the integration and standardization projects we started 18 months ago,” said Robert Stevens, former executive director of Literacy Volunteers of America—Mohawk/Hudson, who will serve as the new organization’s executive director and CEO. “Our work together, led by Literacy New York, our statewide association, on improving intake and assessment of students, tutor training, and collection and reporting of data, made it apparent that there were some real synergies between the two organizations.”

Literacy New York Greater Capital Region anticipates that the merger will result in some operational efficiencies and the resources saved, both financial and human, will be put back into programming to better serve more students.

“Prospective students will benefit from our expanded outreach to engage more tutors, and current students will benefit from having tutors who have research-based, skill-specific training,” said Sue Hensley-Cushing, formerly the executive director of Literacy NENY, who will serve as director of educational services. “Our tutors will be able to take advantage of expanded educational opportunities, and the community will benefit as we continue to help residents improve their reading, writing, math and English fluency.”

Kevin Smith, executive director of Literacy New York, the statewide association, said, “The work that these two boards did in preparing for and executing this merger is a model for what we’re encouraging other literacy affiliates across the state to do. They saw real advantages to joining forces and using resources most efficiently, and the people they serve across the Greater Capital Region will benefit as a result.”

Literacy New York Greater Capital Region’s headquarters will be located at 1510 Central Ave. in Colonie; however, it will maintain existing outreach offices in Saratoga, Glens Falls and Salem. In addition, Literacy Resource Centers at the Schenectady County Public Library and Albany Public Library will continue to operate.

U.S. Congressman Paul Tonko remarked, "I applaud the merger of these two fine organizations that have been successfully serving the needs of adults with limited literacy and language skills in the 21st District for many years. Literacy New York Greater Capital Region enables people to volunteer in support of others. It represents the kind of cooperation and efficiency that is required in these difficult economic times."

Board officers of the new organization are Jo Ann LeSage Nelson, vice president of Pierce Communications of Albany, president; Janet Galligani Casey, Skidmore College professor, vice president; Michael Klein, executive director of the Albany Parking Authority, secretary; and Jennifer Switzer, director of finance, EDC - Warren County, treasurer.

A merger task force comprised of board members from both organizations worked for months on the process and ultimately recommended to both boards that the merger take place. On May 27, both boards unanimously approved the recommendation. The merger became official July 1.

“This merger will allow us to maximize our resources, create efficiencies and help ensure our survival at a time when other not-for-profit organizations are struggling for survival and, ultimately, to serve more students better,” said Stevens.

The Charitable Venture Foundation supported the merger process through the funding of the professional services of the New York Council of Non-Profits.

For more information on Literacy New York Greater Capital Region, visit


Literacy New York Greater Capital Region changes lives and builds community by strengthening literacy skills. Its staff and volunteers provide assistance to adults building reading, writing, math and English fluency skills, as they achieve personal and economic goals.

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