Raising Readers director resigns

SHERIDAN — After serving Raising Readers in Wyoming for more than a decade, the board of directors recently announced that Jolene Olson will resign as executive director of the nonprofit organization.

“Being a part of Raising Readers was challenging, but also an extremely rewarding and fun experience,” Olson said. “The people of Wyoming are so generous with their time and resources. It’s incredible to see how supportive they are of early childhood literacy.”

Raising Readers in Wyoming encourages parents to read to their young children by providing new books as part of their well child health care visits.

First Lady Carol Mead has engaged in several Raising Readers events to promote literacy among children, encourage families to make reading at home a priority and read to children attending the event.

“Raising Readers has worked diligently to advance early childhood literacy throughout the state, and its positive effects are evident in our young children,” Mead said.

“I am grateful to Jolene Olson for her commitment to the program for so many years,” Mead added. “Her hard work has helped make the program successful in its mission.”

Olson is credited with helping the organization develop a strong volunteer group that stores, prepares and delivers books, recruit medical offices throughout the state and design events such as Reading in the Park and Bookfest & Feast.

In late 2002, Olson had the daunting task of designing the format of Raising Readers, established by the governor’s Early Childhood Development Council in response to leading research on early brain development.

A grant written by the Department of Family Services to PacificCorp Foundation for Learning, the philanthropic arm of Pacific Power, now known as Rocky Mountain Power, was awarded to Raising Readers. During its first three years, the Child Development Services of Wyoming, Inc. provided an incubator for the program.

Raising Readers became an independent nonprofit in 2005. Since its inception, more than 293,000 books have been distributed to children and families in all 23 Wyoming counties. Books are provided in English and Spanish to 105 participating medical providers throughout the state.

“The board is unanimous in their appreciation of the time, efforts, sweat and tears Jolene has given to Raising Readers, and all the communities we serve in Wyoming,” said Col. Tim Sheppard, Raising Readers board of directors president. “Her contributions and enthusiasm will be missed. We wish her the best in all future endeavors.”

Raising Readers has entered into a partnership with Synergiii, a business development consulting firm based in Sheridan, to perform all day-to-day operations as well as continue and enhance resource development for long-term program sustainability.

“We want all of our dedicated providers, volunteers and funders to know that Raising Readers remains committed to our mission of providing books to children through medical providers. We have full confidence in Synergiii and are excited to work with them as we continue our important work for children and families across this great state,” Sheppard said.

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