Making an Impact with Mary
Can you remember something impactful you were doing 20 years ago? Reading In Motion supporter Mary Roney can. From a conference call on her property in the mountains of Colorado Springs, Colorado, with her loyal Weimeraners chiming in the background, Mary taught me not only about Reading In Motion’s history, but also about her life in Chicago before moving out West.
Mary Roney was first introduced to Reading In Motion by a friend in 1998. At the time, the organization was serving children in Chicago’s K-8 classrooms, and its literacy curriculum was taught to children by artists and musicians. What most impressed Mary at the time, and still does today, is Executive Director and Founder Karl Androes’s focus on pre-and post-testing to demonstrate the direct impact our curriculum has on children’s reading levels. She loves that results are measurable.
Mary was also inspired by the organization’s core mission. From an early age, Mary’s mother instilled in her the love of reading. Mary can remember riding her bike to the local library and curling up in the shade with a borrowed book; The Velveteen Rabbit became one of her favorite titles to read on hot New Jersey days. Mary also appreciates the organization’s incorporation of the arts into literacy, allowing us to reach children who may learn in different ways.
Throughout Mary’s eight-year board membership and four-year board chairmanship, the organization underwent many changes. Under Mary’s leadership, the board helped Reading In Motion develop a strategic plan that refined the organization’s work in K-8 classrooms to today’s Pre-K, Kindergarten and 1st grade focus. The program model also shifted from artists teaching in classrooms to coaches supporting teachers.
In addition to helping shape the organization’s strategy and program model, Mary also pressed for changes in the structure of the board of directors. Mary helped institute an executive committee as well as working sub-committees, a format still used today. Further, Mary suggested the board focus on recruiting members that had skills the organization was missing in order to provide more comprehensive support. Mary’s favorite word at the time was “infrastructure” and pressed Karl to hire a distinct administrative and sales staff to promote the organization’s mission. In fact, Mary was the first to suggest Karl hire a full-time development director in the early 2000’s.
It is often said that there are three ways an individual can give to an organization: “time, treasure, and talent”. Mary can proudly say she has contributed each of the “three T’s” throughout her involvement over the last twenty years. I’m proud to know Mary. Reading In Motion is so lucky to have been introduced to her decades ago. Thank you, Mary!