35 years of Life-Changing Work
Michele Erikson's Story
It was thirty-five years ago when I signed up for a tutor training session and then met my first student, Bill, a welder who was recently laid off. He needed to learn the shapes and sounds of letters to find a new job, to get his driver’s license back and to help his son in 3rd grade who also struggled with reading. I quickly realized the cyclical and cascading nature of literacy challenges and was all in to help Bill learn to read and move on with his life. I couldn’t stop there. There were others like Bill who needed the life-changing impact of literacy.

As I reflect on Wisconsin Literacy’s 35th anniversary, I realized this occasion coincided with my own introduction to this “life-changing” work.
Adults Find Trustworthy Health Information Online
“You’re never too old. At 91 years old I’m still learning and try my best,” said a library patron during the “Health Online: Find Health Information You Can Trust” workshop.

Thanks to the support from the National Network of Libraries of Medicine - Greater Midwest Region (NNLM-GMR), Wisconsin Health Literacy (WHL) successfully implemented a new digital health literacy program.  

Together, we raised awareness of the importance of finding credible health information online and how to access and navigate online resources to 566 people. 

Community Collaboration at the Heart of Social Change
The Menominee Indian School District (MISD) faced numerous challenges – schools were not meeting expectations, they had a 16% chronic absenteeism and the high school was considered “drop-out factory.”  

Wendell Waukau, Superintendent of MIDS, knew that something needed to be done. With his brother Jerry Waukau, Clinic Administrator of Menominee Tribal Clinic, and key partners, they added a dental chair at the elementary school; attendance and success mentors in the community; and career readiness opportunities in the high school.  

“We didn’t just do school reform. We did community reform, stated Wendell.  

Thanks to their efforts, school suspension rates decreased from 8.2% to 6.2% and graduation rates increase from 60% to 90%.
Welcome Shannon Mason Young and Cassie McLain
As Peter Waite, former Vice President of ProLiteracy, said, “Without literacy, a lot of social and work-related initiatives are doomed to fail.”

We've increased support for community-based literacy to partner and improve communities across Wisconsin. We’ve added two new positions focused on fostering vital community and workforce connections.  

Help us welcome Shannon Mason Young, Northwest Regional Community Coordinator (RCC), and Cassie McLain, North Central RCC.
“The ability to read is a right that should be available to everyone"

Shannon Mason Young
Northwest RCC
Shannon , our new Northwest Regional Community Coordinator, comes to us with a wealth of experience in nonprofit organizations, from serving as a board member, leading finance and fund development committees, recruiting volunteers and building strong community relationships. She also worked for many years in the banking industry. Shannon previously worked as the American Indian Education Coordinator for the Eau Claire Area School District.

In addition, her work in profit and nonprofit organizations has given her extensive experience in helping others connect to community resources. Shannon is an active member in her community volunteering with many nonprofit organizations. She received her BA in Sociology with a Minor in Business from Oklahoma City University.
“I believe literacy is critical not just for an individual but for the community as well.” 

Cassie McLain
North Central RCC
Cassie , our new North Central Regional Community Coordinator, spent most of her working life in the healthcare field as a health educator and outreach coordinator in public health, the hospital setting, long term care and even sales. 

After retiring, she volunteered with the Alzheimer’s Association as well as the Aging and Disability Resource Center. 

She sees her strength as being a connector who can put people together to achieve the best for the communities they serve.  Working with the literacy council is the perfect coda to an amazing career.

Cassie and her husband Joel live in a home in the woods between Wausau and Merrill. They share their home with a 16-year old cat and a 3-month old rescue puppy. They have 2 adult children who started life as twins.