The Iowa Literacy Council was established to make a concentrated effort to coordinate literacy programs statewide, to minimize the duplication of such services, and to provide assistance to those individuals in need of the basic skills.

The Iowa Literacy Council is committed to improving the literacy and basic skills levels of Iowa adults in the context of family, community, and workplace.

Below you will find information about the Iowa Literacy Council’s Vision/Mission/Goals, the Board members, by-laws and our policies and procedures.

Our Value/Mission & Goals

Every Iowan has the literacy skills to reach their personal and professional goals.

To provide support, advocacy, and resources, along with business and community partners, that enable Iowans to access literacy building opportunities to effectively navigate everyday life.

– Seek to identify persons in need of literacy training and strive to serve any Iowan with a demonstrable need for these services.
– Coordinate literacy programs in Iowa.
– Serve as a clearinghouse for information on the literacy services available in Iowa.
– Provide greater visibility to literacy programs in Iowa, and encourage Iowans to volunteer their assistance.
– Provide technical support to literacy volunteers and literacy programs

Policies & Procedures

ILC Policy and Procedures Handbook


Iowa Literacy Council By-laws

Board Members


Iowa Literacy Council Board Members

Tara Tedrow, Juan Garcia, Eric Sundermeyer, Helene Fein, Megan Linzy, Gisella Aitken-Shadle, and Amber Ramirez. Update coming summer 2023

Helene Fein
Executive Director

Dr. Helene Fein has had a long career in education including teaching on all levels from preschool to adults. Most of her work has been dedicated to educating newcomers to the U.S. and supporting their transition to a new life and community. Helene’s work experience has included serving as the State Director for Adult Literacy for the Iowa Dept. of Education and the Community Impact Services Director for United Way of Central Iowa. For 22 years, Helene was the Conference Coordinator for the Iowa Culture and Language Conference (ICLC). Helene has graduate degrees from Drake University and Iowa State University; her most recent degree is a PhD in Educational Leadership and Policy. Helene has published a book titled Necessary Conversations About English Language Learners, combining her two career passions – communication and ELL. She has three adult children and five grandchildren, all amazing.

Contact Helene

Juan Garcia
ILC President

Juan Garcia serves as Vice President, Equity Solutions for Midas Education. In this capacity, Juan partners with education and business leaders to address equity issues to better serve ALL students, with emphasis in low income, first generation, English language learners and minority serving education systems.

At ACT, Inc. he was responsible for Strategic Partnerships, working with existing and creating new partnerships fulfilling ACT’s non-profit mission of helping people achieve education and workplace success.

Before joining ACT, Mr. Garcia served as a champion of college access and readiness for the Iowa College Access Network (ICAN). As the Executive Director of ICAN, Mr. Garcia established relationships with school, district administration, state and local leaders, as well as other nonprofits to reach at-risk students, ensuring that these students were aware of the support that was available to them for pursuit of higher education.

In 2015, he received the award for Diversity and Inclusion from ACT, Inc. nominated and selected among all company employees.

In November 2016, Mr. Garcia graduated from the Harvard Business School, Executive Education program of Leadership Best Practices.

Contact Juan

Gisella M. Aitken-Shadle, M.P.A.
Vice President

Originally from Lima, Peru, Gisella is District Adult Education and Literacy Development Director for Northeast Iowa Community College. She has more than twelve years of experience in adult education. She has a Master’s in Public Administration and a Bachelor of Arts in International Studies with a focus in Human Rights and minor in Political Science, both from the University of Dayton; and is currently pursuing her EdD in Leadership for Organizations from the same institution. She has presented on Adult Education and ESOL at conferences in Iowa, Washington DC, Florida, South Carolina, Peru, and Bolivia. Gisella also serves on various committees in her community. Besides English, she speaks Spanish, French, and Italian, and has studied abroad at the Université Catholique de Lyon in Annecy, France. She also has a certificate in Educating Immigrant Studies from Harvard University’s Graduate School of Education. Outside of work, Gisella enjoys traveling, studying foreign languages, and volunteering to work with the immigrant population.

Contact Gisella


Eric Sundermeyer

Eric Sundermeyer’s is the Associate Director, Adult Education & Literacy at Des Moines Area Community College. He is the former superintendent of schools at the Interstate 35 Community School District and associate superintendent at the Ottumwa community Schools. Eric has a Specialist in Education from Drake University.

Contact Eric


Amber Ramirez

Amber Ramirez is the Central Iowa Works Director at the United Way of Central Iowa. Central Iowa Works is a workforce intermediary, convening partners to build solutions that help businesses, families and our community thrive by connecting employers with talented workers in jobs that provide career growth and financial stability. She also participates in the Greater Des Moines Partnership Inclusion Council and co-leads the OpportUNITY Reentry Task Force. Previously, Amber worked as the New Iowan Center Coordinator in Des Moines at Iowa Workforce Development. Amber has worked in the workforce development field for the past 10 years working to increase economic opportunities in our community.

Contact Amber

Megan Linzy

Megan Linzy works with Eastern Iowa Community Colleges (EICC) in Davenport, Iowa, in the Adult Basic Education and Literacy program at the West Davenport Center, where she graduated in 2013 with her General Education Diploma. Since 2013, Megan has gone on to earn her Associates’ Degree in Education and is enrolled at Bellevue University to earn her Bachelors Degree in Adult Basic Education. Megan also volunteers her time advocating for the needs of Adult Basic Education students as one of Iowa’s Adult Basic Education Ambassadors and a member of the Students as Leaders Taskforce through COABE (Coalition on Adult Basic Education).

Contact Megan

Non-Voting Board Members

Elizabeth Johnson