Deborah Valdez, Ed.D.
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Deborah joined the SAYL staff in May of 2016. As Executive Director, she has found a perfect fit for her thirty plus years experience in education and five years in the non-profit arena. Deborah is a military brat, coming to Texas when her father was stationed at Laughlin AFB in Del Rio, Texas as a squadron commander. Having lived here longer than anywhere else in the world, she now considers herself a Texan. Deborah holds a B.S. in Education from Texas A&I, Kingsville (now Texas A&M, Kingsville), an M.S. in Educational Leadership from the University of Texas San Antonio, and a Doctorate from Texas A&M University, College Station in Educational Management. She takes pride in her civic and community involvement serving as a member of the Can High School of San Antonio Development Board, the George Gervin Foundation Board of Directors and the strategic planning committee of the Girl Scouts of Southwest Texas. She has served as an adjunct professor at Texas A&M San Antonio since 2005 when it was still associated with Texas A&M Kingsville and feels privileged to have been a part of the evolution of the university into the fastest growing campus in the Texas A&M system. Having been an early childhood educator, Deborah believes strongly in the vision of SAYL that every child in South Texas enters 3rd grade reading at level and is dedicated to the continued success of SAYL and its mission.
Fund Development Director
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Patricia Medina joined the staff of SAYL in May, 2005 initially serving as their Executive Director. Beginning in 2012, she moved into the newly formed position of Development Director. Although not a native of San Antonio, Patricia and her family have lived in San Antonio for over 30 years. She has dedicated her entire career to working in the non-profit arena. Prior to joining SAYL she spent 20 years with the YMCA of Greater San Antonio. She served in administrative positions for the first seven years, and then as Executive Director of the Downtown YMCA for ten years, followed by three years as Executive Director at the Northwest YMCA. Patricia holds the distinction of being the first female executive director for the YMCA of Greater San Antonio, having stepped into that position in 1992.
Director of Communications & Partnerships
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Mary Flannigan first joined the SAYL team in March of 2008. As the Director of Communications and Partnerships, Mary is responsible for volunteer recruitment and placement in SAYL’s Reading Buddy program sites and maintaining relationships with our community partners. She has community service in her blood! After graduating from Alfred University in Alfred, NY with a Bachelors of Arts and Fine Arts degree, she joined AmeriCorps, a national service organization, where she served as a Construction Crew Leader with Habitat for Humanity of San Antonio for two years. She then went on to serve as an AmeriCorps VISTA member with Habitat for Humanity of Omaha as their Volunteer Manager. Mary returns to SAYL after a brief hiatus during which she served as the Onsite Placement & P.A.S.S. Supervisor with San Antonio Pets Alive!. As a previous volunteer, and now a current volunteer administrator, she understands the impact a volunteer can make. Taking the time to ensure that volunteers are trained and supported is always a priority. Mary’s passion for volunteering also comes through with her own volunteer work. She serves on the Friends of Government Canyon Board of Directors, volunteers with Green Spaces Alliance of South Texas, and is an active member with the San Antonio AmeriCorps Alumni chapter. Mary was also the recipient of the 2010 San Antonio Volunteer Administrator of the Year Award.
Ellen Van Meter
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Ellen Van Meter joined the SAYL staff in August 2016 after previously volunteering as a Reading Buddy. She received her Bachelors of Arts in English and Spanish Literature from the University of Michigan. Upon graduating the pull of a warmer climate and a higher concentration of Spanish speakers brought her to San Antonio. She taught in San Antonio ISD for two years as a Teach for America corps member, falling in love with the city and its inhabitants. She has experience teaching and tutoring students of all ages and subjects from pre-kindergarten to adults. Ellen is pursuing her Masters of Arts in Literacy Education at the University of Texas-San Antonio in order to continue to deepen and share with others a love of reading and language. She is passionate about working towards equity in education and is excited to be part of the SAYL team doing just that.
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Alyssa Delgado grew up as the book loving daughter of a librarian in Brownsville, Texas and moved to Austin to attend the University of Texas in 2009. After receiving her BA in English, she moved to Shanghai, China to teach English for a year and later to Japan where she ended up staying for another 3 years. She moved to San Antonio in the summer of 2017 and continued her work in education at KIPP Aspire Academy. Alyssa was thrilled to join the SAYL team this summer and is looking forward to helping kids develop a passion for reading! When her nose isn’t buried in a book, she can most likely be found at a food truck or walking her dog at Hardberger Park.
Fun fact: Alyssa won her elementary school’s spelling bee in 3rdgrade and still remembers her winning word (“cranium”)!
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Laura Nygaard first joined SAYL as an intern in the summer of 2013. In January of 2014 Laura joined the SAYL staff as a Program Coordinator, then moving to the position of Volunteer Manager. Before joining the SAYL tribe, Laura studied Sociology and Religious Studies for two years at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana. While there Laura volunteered for the non-profit organization, Family Services, Inc. As a volunteer for Family Services, Inc., Laura worked closely with the Events Coordinator to design fundraising events for the organization’s many community outreach programs. In 2012, she moved to San Antonio and attended the University of Texas at San Antonio. In December of 2013 she received her Bachelor’s degree in Sociology. Laura found her passion for childhood education while attending UTSA when she took a few courses in Early Childhood Development. Not too long after she discovered this passion, she discovered San Antonio Youth Literacy.
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Yvette Marie Medrano was born and raised in Texas and moved to San Antonio during her collegiate years at St. Mary’s University. During her studies she took the opportunity to live abroad in London and traveled around Europe for four months, followed by graduating in the spring of 2016 with a BA in International Relations and a Minor in History. Yvette first joined the SAYL team as a Reading Buddy volunteer during the 2013-2014 school year through St. Mary’s service-learning program. She recently returned to SAYL during the fall of 2016 this time serving as an Intern. During her time as a Reading Buddy and Intern with SAYL she found great joy in helping out the youth and making a difference in their lives. She will soon be returning to her studies to obtain a Master’s in Public Administration, where she hopes to one day start a literacy program in her hometown of Mission, Texas.
Robyn was asked to join the SAYL team in the fall of 2012. As a Reading Buddy for the last four years, Robyn truly understood the process of working in the schools and with struggling 2nd grade students. As our program has gown and incorporated more students, we knew we needed more hand-on staff to help manage our school sites. Robyn has been instrumental in helping to coordinate the day-to-day logistics of our Reading Buddy Program. She greets everyone with kindness and compassion, and absolutely believes that we can help every student. Most recently, Robyn has created supplemental materials that Reading Buddies can use when working with kinder level readers. She meets one-on-one with Reading Buddies to ensure they feel valued and successful during their reading sessions. We are thrilled to have Robyn on board and can see everyday what a difference she is making.
Book Buddy Coordinator
IT Manager External Support John has been assisting SAYL since 2011 and is the owner of an Independent IT Consultant/Software company. Established in 2011, John provides provides IT support and software development for small businesses throughout the greater San Antonio, Boerne, Kerrville, New Braunfels, Seguin, San Marcos, and Austin Texas areas.