The Reading Apprenticeship team combines decades of expertise in the areas of adolescent literacy, teacher professional learning, and education research. We are committed to building academic and social-emotional learning for students nationwide.
In addition to our WestEd team, we consistently partner with a wide network of experts from across the country, including content area teacher leaders, researchers, literacy coaches, community college instructors, site administrators, district literacy directors, and regional service agencies.
Linda Friedrich, Literacy Director
Linda is the Director of Literacy at WestEd and leads the Reading Apprenticeship team, which has a proven track record in improving disciplinary literacy in middle school, high school, and college.
For nearly three decades, Linda has worked at the intersection of practice and research to engage teachers in collaboratively improving teaching and learning with a strong focus on literacy.
Most recently she served as the National Writing Project’s (NWP) Director of Research and Evaluation, where she led writing assessment efforts and developed and co-facilitated an initiative that engages young people in crafting civic arguments and improving academic arguments. Prior to joining NWP, she served as Research Director at the Coalition of Essential Schools and as a program officer at the Philadelphia Education Fund.
She has won competitive program and research grants, coauthored peer-reviewed journal articles and book chapters, edited collections of teachers’ research including Working Toward Equity, and, with Ann Lieberman, coauthored How Teachers Become Leaders: Learning from Practice and Research (Teachers College Press, 2010).
She earned her PhD in Administration and Policy Analysis at Stanford University’s Graduate School of Education and holds an AB in History from Bryn Mawr College.
Sukhraj Bassi, Operations Coordinator
In Sukhraj’s role as the Operations Coordinator, he coordinates and supports projects related to School and District Services (SDS) while also leading Requests for Proposals (RFPs) within the team. Prior to WestEd, he worked in system change for the California community colleges and is passionate about creating equitable access to education. He earned his Bachelor’s of Arts in Psychology and Social Welfare from the University of California, Berkeley and currently lives in San Francisco, CA.
Irisa Charney-Sirott, Senior Program Associate
Irisa began working with Reading Apprenticeship as an 8th grade teacher. She currently coordinates and supports the national cohort of Reading Apprenticeship facilitators. Additionally, she designs and facilitates Reading Apprenticeship professional learning both face-to-face and digitally. Irisa earned a BA from Brown University.
Heather Conklin, Senior Program Associate
Heather designs, facilitates, and supports professional learning for Reading Apprenticeship. Prior to coming to WestEd, she served nearly 3 decades in public education as a teacher, instructional coach, and Director of Curriculum and Instruction. Heather holds a BA in English and an MA in Education from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.
Emma Fujii, Project Coordinator I
Emma manages in-person and online learning and logistics for the team’s federal grant, Supporting Effective Teaching with Disciplinary Inquiry (SETDI). Her role also includes project management and support for Literacy Team projects. Prior to joining WestEd, Emma worked as an Administrative Assistant at Community Focus – a Project of the Tides Center. She received her BA in Psychology and Environmental Studies from UC Santa Barbara.
Nika Hogan, College National Coordinator
In addition to her national role managing Reading Apprenticeship outreach to college educators, Nika is an Associate Professor of English at Pasadena City College (PCC) and lead designer for the California Community College Success Initiative (3CSN). Her work is focused on developing transformative inquiry-based learning opportunities that help educators and students alike reach their full potential. She helped to develop the First Year Pathways program at Pasadena City College, which was awarded the California Community College’s Chancellor’s Office Award for a Student Success Initiative. Nika holds a PhD in Multiethnic U.S. Literatures from the University of Massachusetts.
Heather Howlett, Director of Professional Development
Heather designs and facilitates face-to-face and digital Reading Apprenticeship professional learning with teachers and serves as an instructional coach in schools. Prior to that she was an instructional coach in Reading Apprenticeship for her district and an eighth grade science teacher. Her classroom work is featured on the U.S. Department of Education’s website, Doing What Works. She has co-authored articles about Reading Apprenticeship for Mathematica Policy Research, Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, American Educator, and a chapter in Teacher Learning in the Digital Age: Online Professional Development in STEM Education. Heather holds a BS in Biology from Madonna University and an MA in Teaching and Learning from Nova Southeastern University.
Jennifer Johnson, Project Assistant
In her role as Project Assistant, Jennifer provides administrative support to the Reading Apprenticeship team. She previously spent 15 years working as an Early Childhood Special Education Teacher and Director of Education in New York City and upstate New York, where she currently resides. She has a MS Degree in Special Education and BA in Liberal Arts.
Jenell Krishnan, Senior Program Associate
Jenell Krishnan is the Senior Program Associate of Literacy. She supports cross-functional teams for Reading Apprenticeship, an evidence-based teacher professional learning program for improving disciplinary literacy in middle school, high school, and college. Jenell earned her PhD in Education at University of California, Irvine’s School of Education and served the students of Cassadaga Valley Central School as a classroom teacher for six years.
Diane Lee, Finance & Project Manager
Diane’s responsibilities include fiscal management of Reading Apprenticeship’s budgets, cost reports, and forecasting, as well as other financial analysis work. Her role also includes project management around contracts and federal grants. Prior to her work at WestEd, Diane served as a Program Specialist in the Curriculum Office at USC’s Keck School of Medicine. She received a BA in Economics from the University of Southern California.
Bill Loyd, Michigan State Coordinator
As Reading Apprenticeship Michigan State Coordinator since 2010, Bill has been instrumental in shepherding broad implementation of Reading Apprenticeship across the state. Bill first became involved with Reading Apprenticeship as Literacy Coordinator for the Washtenaw Intermediate School District, where the successful implementation of Reading Apprenticeship was featured on the U.S. Department of Education’s “Doing What Works” website. Over a period of 38 years, Bill’s educational career has encompassed teaching at all levels—from second graders to doctoral candidates—administration at the school and district levels, and project management.
Stephanie M Patterson, Director of Partnership Development
Stephanie is the Director of Partnership Development for the Reading Apprenticeship team. She is a former elementary school teacher with over 25 years’ experience in the field of education including teacher coaching, assisting with curriculum selection, and providing professional development. Stephanie believes that equity and access for all learners is key and that everyone should have the option of college and/or career. Her passion is to inspire students for the lifetime journey of education. Stephanie obtained her BA in Psychology from Clark Atlanta University and a Master’s Degree in Education from Pepperdine University.
Sam Peters, Program Coordinator
In Sam’s role as Program Coordinator, she manages project logistics and communication for the Education Innovation and Research (EIR) grant in North Carolina and School and District Services. Prior to joining WestEd, Sam served as the Program Specialist at the Center for Inclusive Design and Innovation at the Georgia Institute of Technology. Sam earned her Master of Public Administration (MPA) from the University of Georgia and her BS from Clemson University. She currently resides in Atlanta, GA.
Mary Stump, Associate Director
Mary’s areas of work include project management, communications, and resource development. She works with WestEd’s Reading Apprenticeship team and external partners to develop and manage large grant-funded projects that bring professional learning to thousands of teachers every year across the country. She has 25 years of managerial experience in education service and research organizations. Prior to working in the non-profit sector, she taught college composition and conducted research in the teaching of writing. At the CRESS Center at the University of California, Davis, she evaluated programs focused on school district improvement, science education, and teacher professional learning. She holds an MA in English Composition from San Francisco State University.