Meet Board Chair Lillian Brantley-Thompson

How long have you been part of the Literacy Connects family?

I joined the  Literacy Connects family in August 2012  as a member of the Board of Directors. Prior to my recent selection as the Board  Chair, I  served on one of the board’s sub-committees as the Chair of Governance, which provided me with a great opportunity  to gain a broad depth and breadth of knowledge of the organization and board policies & procedures.


What discoveries have you made about Literacy Connects?

When I think of  Literacy Connects I think of the story of the children’s classic I read to my children, “The Little  Engine that Could.” The organization’s mission is quite bold and challenging for an organization of its size.  It is amazing to see the impact and the number of people within the community that Literacy Connects has touched by providing diversified and tailored learning opportunities for children of all ages and adults.  This is all due to the  dedicated staff and the willingness of so many in the community to share their gifts through volunteerism and the generosity of its donors and supporters.


What does literacy mean to you?

Literacy means more than reading and writing.  It’s the ability to be empowered through comprehension, critical thinking, and effective communication that can lead to exploring different aspects of life, continuous learning, and opening doors to new and exciting opportunities.


How has Literacy Connects helped you and/your family?

Joining Literacy Connects after my retirement  has helped me to stay engaged in my community. I can continue to give back and participate at a different level to support Literacy Connects’ mission to help improve the literacy of our community.  I strongly feel literacy is critical for the health,  growth, and prosperity of our community.  The importance of literacy has always been encouraged in my family.  My adult children and grandchildren understand the importance of early literacy- as they have either successfully completed, are currently attending, or are preparing to enter college and are all very busy with their professional and academic goals while giving back to their community in varies ways.  I now have a great grandson, and being involved in Literacy Connects reminds me to share studies relating to early literacy and childhood development with his parents. It’s important to slow down in this fast based and highly technological environment by reading and introducing books to their son shortly after birth.  Fortunately, they have done so along with other family members, as it takes a village.  As a result I am confident my great grandson will be prepared for preschool- he already demonstrates the freedom to be creative, explore, and learn about so many different things.  I also like to share the importance of early childhood development with other young parents  within the community.  Reach out and Read is one of the Literacy Connects programs that does an excellent job of reinforcing this.


What explorations does Literacy Connects make possible for the community?

The ability for children to explore books and  learn about unknown people, places, and things through reading, writing, and creative expression that can lead to  the possibility of having their personal story selected to come to life through one of Literacy Connects’ amazing programs: “Stories that Soar!” Additionally, the ability for adults to explore opportunities to achieve a higher level of learning  through literacy programs that offer reading, writing, and math will help to open doors for meaningful work,  improved confidence, and contributors to the community.  Literacy Connects also provides learning opportunities to adults  to learn to speak and write the English  language which will provide the freedom to explore new things,  build relationships, and better engage with others – all of which strengthens our community.


How can Literacy Connects improve?  What opportunities may we explore?

Continuing  to focus on its strategic direction and looking at opportunities to grow its programs to further serve our community.  This is not an easy task and will require the full commitment of the entire Literacy Connects organization, e.g., board, executive director, and staff for the recruitment of more volunteers and to continue  to actively  work to engage the support of educators,  community leaders,  supporters, and donors to achieve this goal.


What made you decide to become a Board member?

Shortly after my retirement, I was invited to lunch by the then board chair that I  had previously worked with.  She shared Literacy Connects’ mission and its goals and objectives which peaked my interest. I later attended an orientation where I learned more about its programs.  I was very impressed with the scope and the outreach  into the community (primarily through volunteerism) to provide learning opportunities to people of all ages. During this time Literacy Connects was evolving and merging from an organizational prospective and after meeting with Betty, the Executive Director, I felt this was an organization that I could use my leadership and organizational skills to help achieve its mission.  I have seen Literacy Connects achieve its stretch goals over the years and I am honored and excited that I have been a part of Literacy Connects’ growth and look forward to continuing work with the organization to help take it to the next level in my new role as the Board of Directors’ Chairperson.


What’s your favorite/”desert island” book and why?

Although there are a number of books that I could chose as my favorite “desert island” book, the book that came to mind that would keep me spiritually uplifted and educated about all things should I be stuck on the island for a long time and I would want to have with me is the Bible.  I enjoy reading books  that have historical references that explore the past, because the past often repeats itself in the present. It takes time to read the Bible with full comprehension, and when I read chapters or verses  for the first time or re-read them, there is always something new that is relevant to me on a personal level that I can apply in my daily life. It definitely meets my enjoyment of history and speaks to events that are occurring in our world today.


What’s something that most people don’t know about you?

Well, I love to travel! My husband  Jimmy and I have traveled quite extensively both domestically and internationally to some fascinating cities and countries.  Our favorite way to travel is on cruise ships. We’ve taken  thirty  cruises to-date with one planned for early  next year.  We even married on a cruise ship docked in the Caribbean island of St. Maarten.  Additionally, I have been blessed with two loving children,  five grandchildren and one very active 3 year old great grandson.  I  retired from  Raytheon (formerly as a legacy Hughes Aircraft employee)  as Director, Engineering after 33 years of service.  I also actively serve on  ministries at my Church, Rising Star Missionary Baptist Church.


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