The pandemic revealed major gaps in basic educational needs such as WiFi and device accessibility for our adult learners who are often already dealing with major barriers to achieving their education and employment goals. COABE is committed to working with legislators, foundations, and the business community to illuminate the needs of the local programs and adult learners, but we need your help to do so. Please complete this questionnaire to help us continue to make the case for funding.
Michael Matos – scaleLit / COABE Chair, Illinois
Michael Matos is the Education Technology Director for scaleLit and manages the Illinois Digital Learning Lab (IDLL). He is currently the COABE Region 3 Representative and Technology Chair and serves on the IACEA Board as Senior Director of Region 1. He previously held several roles in adult education, including Senior Director of Adult Education, Employment and Training; Director, Adult Education and Data; Computer Lab Director/Coordinator/Teacher; and ESL/ABE/ASE Teacher. Earlier in his career, he was a high school teacher in Chicago, teaching CAD, Information Technology, Art, and Business classes. Michael is passionate about helping adults gain the skills they need to improve their lives, and is committed to using technology to scale up educational opportunities and make them more accessible to all.
Kristin Hempel – EASTCONN / COABE Board Member, Connecticut
An educator for over 20 years, Kristin Hempel has been a passionate adult education administrator and advocate in CT for the past 7 years. Previously, she was an elementary principal in NY and a teacher and high school administrator in RI. She graduated from Swarthmore College, received her MA in Educational Psychology from Vermont College, and completed her principal residency program at Northeastern University in Boston. Her mission has been to support and inspire students to be lifelong learners and engaged, inquisitive, and compassionate citizens. She found her “sweet spot” in the world of Adult Education, where helping individual students achieve their goals will change the future for their whole family and our community. Currently she is the Associate Director for a regional adult education program known for innovation and for substantial workforce partnerships. An active executive board member of the Connecticut Association for Adult and Continuing Education (CAACE), Kristin has chaired the Professional Development Task Force for six years, and represented CAACE at COABE’s Capitol Hill Days and National Skills Coalition’s Skills Summit. Nationally, Kristin is a CT representative to the New England Literacy Resource Center (NELRC) Advisory Board, a member of NELRC’s XPrize Leadership Team now the mLearning Leadership Team, and has been a member of COABE’s Advocacy & Public Policy Committee. Kristin is the Region 1 Representative for COABE.
Jacqueline Aguilera – Mayor’s Office for Adult Literacy, Texas
Jackie Aguilera’s adult education career spans more than 3 decades. Highlights include partnering with Boston based Doorways to Dreams to pilot financial edutainment online games for low income families and helping Houston’s local employers provide equitable access to company mobility through the English@Work program. In addition to leading a Houston Tier 3 team win in the 2019 Xprize Adult Literacy Apps competition, she coordinated Houston’s participation in the 2022 Xprize Rapid Reskilling competition. Jackie completed the COABE State Advocates for Adult Education Fellowship in 2022 and is now an alumni and advocacy mentor. She served in an advisory capacity with the Environmental Defense Fund and Texas Southern University to implement an environmental literacy certification component to its green jobs training and employment program. She also worked with US Congresswoman Sylvia Garcia’s office to introduce legislation regarding equitable language options for financial information provided across the nation. Most recently, Jackie was invited to join the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) Digital Equity Leaders Network (DELN). Her service as Project Manager with the Mayor’s Office for Adult Literacy in Houston, TX, has contributed to the office’s local and national impact that includes programs, initiatives, and presentations regarding digital equity and inclusion, fin tech and personal finance education, telehealth and telemedicine. As a trainer and consultant, Jackie candidly shares lessons learned and experiences dashed with a sense of humor and is an powerful advocate for adult literacy innovation that transforms and evolves the field for the greater success of all.
Carmine Stewart – Seeds of Literacy / Aspire Consulting and Educational Services, Ohio
Carmine is the Vice President of Programming at Seeds of Literacy in Cleveland, Ohio, the President and CEO of Aspire Consulting and Educational Services. Carmine has been conducting professional development workshops for adult literacy instructors since 2007. In 2008 she began pursuing a PhD in Urban Education from Cleveland State University. Carmine earned her doctorate in August 2012, after defending her dissertation, Teacher Preparation and Professional Development in Adult Literacy Education.
Nell Eckersley – NYC Support and Technical Assistance Center at the Literacy Assistance Center, New York
Nell Eckersley is the Director of Digital Equity Projects & Senior Advisor for the New York City Support and Technical Assistance Center (STAC) at the Literacy Assistance Center. Nell has been working on ways to integrate digital literacy skills into adult education ever since she developed a project on how to teach basic computer skills in a classroom without computers in 2001. Nell’s current work on digital literacy and adult education includes being a member of the US Adult Digital Learning Advisory Group for the Ed Tech Center at World Ed, a Subject Matter Expert for the DRAW project, a technology advisor for the CILIA-T project, and a resource developer for the LINCS. Her particular areas of interest are strengthening digital literacy skills for adult education practitioners and students, integrating technology into the adult education classroom via mobile devices, and digital inclusion for all.
Anthony Burik – Outreach and Technical Assistance Network, California
Anthony Burik is a Coordinator with the Outreach and Technical Assistance Network (OTAN), a California state leadership project that focuses on support for and the effective application of technology in adult education. He coordinates a variety of distance learning projects with OTAN. Prior to joining OTAN, Anthony was the ESL and Citizenship Coordinator for an adult education program in the San Francisco Bay Area. He previously worked as an ESL teacher, Distance Learning teacher, EL Civics Project Leader, and GED test administrator managing the PearsonVUE testing center. Finally, Anthony has been active in a statewide professional development association for ESL K–adult professionals at the local and state levels. He currently serves on its Board of Directors as President.
Jennifer Wiggington – Indiana Association for Adult and Continuing Education, Indiana
Jenn Wigginton has been the Indiana Association for Adult and Continuing Education (IAACE) executive director for almost five years. Wigginton graduated from the University of Southern Indiana with a Bachelor of Science in communications. She has over 25 years of communications and organizational management experience. She has served on the Indiana Literacy Association, IAACE, and Workforce Development Board. Wigginton has presented on social media, literacy components, and life skills at the IAACE and COABE conferences. She believes that building relationships is a key ingredient to life. She earned her Distinguished Toastmaster award in Toastmasters International in June 2020.
Sharon Bonney – Coalition on Adult Basic Education
Sharon Bonney began her career with COABE as a part-time administrator in 2009, moving up in the organization as she showed an unparalleled commitment to the field of adult education. Sharon has helped advance the organization on a number of fronts, including managing efforts to move it from a 1,300-member group in 2009 to 35,000+ active members in 2022. She was the guiding force behind designing and implementing a new national conference model; developing new state, national and workforce partnerships with more than 100 organizations; rebranding the COABE research journal and a related research-to-practice initiative; and designing all new professional development offerings, including webinars that engage have engaged more than 50,000 members. Bonney spearheaded the development of the internationally acclaimed, six-time award-winning Educate and Elevate public awareness campaign, which brought much-needed visibility to the value of adult education and prompted more than 250,000 contacts with legislators at the local, state and federal levels. These efforts staved off $200 million in funding cuts and added an $108 million increase in funding for adult education. In addition, Bonney has scaled a national two time award winning campaign, Move Ahead with Adult Ed, to increase enrollments in local adult education programs that were hard hit by the pandemic, and has diversified and increased revenue streams for the organization, and envisioned, designed, and implemented many new and innovative strategies for the organization.