ITHACA, N.Y. – The Board of Directors of the Family Reading Partnership is pleased to announce the appointment of a new Executive Director. Originally appointed as Interim Director in May, Amber Smith took on the permanent role on October 9.
“I have always had a love of books, and I know that reading and playing with infants and toddlers is so very important,” says Smith. “I am so excited to bring my experience to the programming that the Family Reading Partnership offers. We have an opportunity to reach every family in Tompkins County with programs designed to empower caregivers to engage with their young children, and I am thrilled to be a part of that.”
Smith’s experience with the Family Reading Partnership began in 2017, when she was hired as an early childhood consultant for her expertise in child development. When former Executive Director Aly Evans stepped down in June to pursue other opportunities, Smith was appointed Interim Director to ensure smooth functioning of the organization, which has offered needed literacy services and advocacy with its partners in Tompkins County since 1998.
“My background in early childhood development will allow me to bring new partners and collaborations to the organization, but I can also offer a new critical eye with which to assess and improve our programming efforts. I was an integral part of the development of the Finger Lakes Toy Library over the last 3 years, and that process provided me with valuable nonprofit development and management experience,” says Smith.
In the modern world, books aren’t the only “device” families can use for early childhood reading and learning. Smith sees the opportunity for the Family Reading Partnership to support families employing smart phones, tablets, and other digital devices to boost, rather than detract from, crucial reading, play and interaction time.
“Family Reading Partnership’s work is more crucial now than ever before as technology has moved so deeply into our society. We have the opportunity to use the technologies that parents are already relying on to deliver messaging that encourages them to talk, read, sing, and play with their children, but it will be a difficult road to navigate,” says Smith.
Going forward, Family Reading Partnership will remain woven into the fabric of the community, thanks to the support of numerous partners in the non-profit and business realms. “We could not accomplish the outreach and materials disbursement that we do in our community without our dozens of local partner organizations and businesses,” says Smith. In addition to numerous ongoing programs, Smith recently spearheaded the introduction of “Shop for Words” in Clark’s Dryden Food Mart and the installation of a story walk in Danby, programs that rely on the support of local partners.
“I am very grateful for these collaborations and I look forward to rejuvenating our relationships and working together to find solutions to newly recognized challenges,” says Smith.