Meet Our New Executive Director!
Photo copyright Kathleen Dreier
Gina Compitello, Marketing Communications Manager
Literacy Connects is excited to announce the appointment of
Matthew Tarver-Wahlquist as its new Executive Director, the second in the
organization’s history. He will begin his position December 1.
“On behalf of the Literacy Connects family, we are very excited to
welcome Matt as our new Executive Director,” says Board Chair Tim Henry. “We are confident that he will assume the leadership role and continue to move the organization forward. We conducted an extremely rigorous search and, in the end, everyone involved agreed that Matt is THE person for the job. All of us look forward to working with him!”
Tarver-Wahlquist comes to Literacy Connects with over 17 years of
experience in creating, growing, and running innovative programs. He most
recently served as Executive Director/Chief Executive Officer of The Arc San Francisco, a nonprofit serving over 700 individuals with developmental disabilities. He has extensive experience advocating for personal, educational, and professional progress for marginalized groups, having previously held directorial roles at Lifehouse, the Cedars of Marin, and Opportunity for Independence (all service organizations in the greater Bay Area). He also has a lifelong passion for reading and literacy and has completed graduate coursework in Russian language and literature.
“I am extremely honored to have the opportunity to serve the
Tucson community through this great organization, and will do everything in my power to build upon the legacy of my superb predecessor,” says
Tarver-Wahlquist succeeds Betty Stauffer in the position.
Stauffer, who is retiring in January, has been Executive Director of Literacy
Connects since its 2011 founding after a merger of five Tucson-based literacy
programs. The organization has seen tremendous growth since then, including expanding programming and reach, purchasing and renovating its current Yavapai Road home, developing and strengthening community partnerships, and most recently pivoting all of its programs to virtual learning.
The appointment comes at a pivotal time in the organization’s
history. When the pandemic caused in-person learning to be put on pause,
Literacy Connects not only shifted how current programs were delivered but also developed new programs that will continue beyond these times. Even when classes can once again be held in person, virtual opportunities and these new programs will remain a part of the Literacy Connects offerings.
“This is obviously a challenging time for everyone. The need for services is as great as ever while the degree of difficulty for delivering them has skyrocketed,” says Tarver-Wahlquist. “One thing that the current pandemic
has put into sharp relief has been the digital divide: right now, access to
technology means access to opportunities. With so much work happening online now, it will be a priority for Literacy Connects and our partners to push hard for equal access to high-speed internet and the equipment needed to use it.”
Tarver-Wahlquist holds a B.A. in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
from Dartmouth College, and has also completed Nonprofit Management training at Harvard and advanced Russian language coursework in St. Petersburg, Russia. He and his family have recently returned to Tucson, where he was raised. He adds, “It’s especially meaningful for me to be able now to devote my career to serving my beloved hometown.”