ILM organizations with new bosses
by SUSAN HANCE | photos by MARK STEELMAN
From area nonprofits to housing leaders, several women have taken on head roles at Wilmington-area organizations. Though relatively new in their positions, they are leading longtime groups that reach throughout the community. They recently shared insights with WILMA into their lives and goals they hold for their groups in the new year.
Cape Fear Literacy Council interim executive director
Yasmin Tomkinson moved into her position as interim executive director of the Cape Fear Literacy Council (CFLC) in December, but she is a familiar face there.
She began at CFLC as a volunteer tutor in 2002, joined the staff in 2004 as volunteer coordinator, and later became director of the adult literacy program at the nonprofit, which provides free instruction to adults in the area needing help with reading, writing, language, and math skills.
Tomkinson’s initial venture into literacy tutoring proved a valuable experience.
“I started with a man who had work goals. It was one of the best things I’ve ever done,” she says.
Tomkinson studied education and American history at Vassar College, going on to earn an MBA with a concentration in nonprofit management from Boston University. She worked for education-focused nonprofits in rural Utah, Los Angeles, Baltimore, and Boston before moving to Wilmington.
“I went to grad school in Boston and was tired of being cold. I researched and visited places that were near water, were warm, and had a university,” she says. “I came here without knowing anyone, but it felt like home right away. I love this town.”
The CFLC serves about 500 adult learners each year through two programs. The adult literacy program serves native English speakers and the ESOL program serves those whose native language is not English.
“That’s the number of lives we touch. The need is much greater,” Tomkinson says.
Nationally about 20 to 25 percent of adults have trouble with reading. Not being able to read or communicate with confidence hinders them from feeling they are part of the community because information from schools, medical facilities, or other daily activities requires those skills.
With only eight paid employees, the bulk of the Literacy Council’s work is accomplished through the hands-on efforts of hundreds of volunteers, including teaching, fundraising, management, and even renovations of a second building on the group’s South 17th Street property where much needed meeting space is now available.
CFLC’s programs take a personalized approach, focusing on functional goals, and Tomkinson says they have an excellent training team. Training classes for volunteers in both programs take place every month to field their cadre of 175 instructional volunteers. In addition, there are about 200 non-instructional volunteers.
“My heart is in this place,” Tomkinson says.