Executive Team

Denise Alexander

President: Denise Alexander

Denise is the Program Coordinator for Continuing Education at Bucks County Community College, which is just outside of Philadelphia. She oversees the non-credit English as a Second Language program and collaborates with colleagues across the college on a variety of programs for adults in the community. Denise designs customized English language training programs for businesses in the region in addition to our traditional ESL program.

She began her career in Education in 2003 and has worked with English Language Learners since 2006. Denise has been on the PAACE Board of Directors since 2018, serving as the Fundraising Chair until moving into the role of Vice President. She also serves as a Board Member for the Newtown Business Association.

Geoffrey Woodland

Vice President: Geoffrey Woodland

Geoffrey Woodland is an instructor/curriculum developer for the College and Career Readiness (CCR) program at District 1199C’s Training and Upgrading Fund in Philadelphia. In addition, he is an adjunct instructor facilitating online and blended courses at the Pennsylvania Institute of Technology (PIT) and serves on the board for Healthcare for All PA.

He also graduated from Indiana University of Pennsylvania (IUP) and was a member of the men’s basketball team that went to the Division II Final Four in 1995. After earning a B.A. in Communications and Journalism, he continued his education at IUP earning a M.A. in Adult Education and Communications Technology. While in his M.A. program.


Secretary: Kim Gavlick

Kimberly Gavlick has worked in adult education since 1997 with Luzerne County Community College in Nanticoke, PA. Kimberly has a master’s in education and reading specialist certification. As of September 2013, she took over the role of program director. Over the past 21 years, Kimberly has coordinated the program’s ABE/GED® component, including the data management system, providing training and advice on the use of technology in the classroom, developing the program’s distance learning plan, customizing workplace training, and conducting online and face-to-face training for all the program staff. Kimberly has been a member of PAACE since she began working in adult education. She has also been a member of COABE for several years. Currently, Kimberly is the PAACE secretary. Additionally, she has presented at past conferences on various topics related to adult education, including project-based learning, distance learning, integrating technology, and managed enrollment.


Treasurer: Tim Shank

Tim Shenk is the community education program director for Lancaster Lebanon Intermediate Unit 13 (IU13) where he has worked for the past 22 years. Tim started his career in adult education as a part-time English as a second language (ESL) instructor. After obtaining his master’s degree in education from Temple University, Tim obtained full-time work as an IU13 teacher and statewide adult education trainer for the PA Professional Development System. He then moved into supervision and administration. In 2013, Tim became the Program Director for IU13 Community Education.

Tim lived in East Africa as a child and for 10 years after college. He has had the opportunity to travel to the Middle East, Europe, Central America, and South Africa for purposes of studying and visiting friends. As a result of his international experiences, Tim has developed a passion for supporting immigrants and refugees in the United States. In his role as program director, Tim oversees a program dedicated to serving refugees and immigrant families in the School District of Lancaster. IU13 Community Education also provides HSE, ESL, and family literacy instruction, serves reentering citizens through a national Improved Reentry Education grant, coordinates after-school activities through 21st Century funding, provides Title I employment and educational services to youth, and facilitates a health careers academy in coordination with local postsecondary schools.

In his free time, Tim enjoys spending time with his wife and two daughters, playing soccer, reading, and simply relaxing.


Administrator Chair: Victoria Lynam

Victoria joined Center for Literacy (now Beyond Literacy) in 2013 as a Human Resources Specialist, became the full-time Director of Operations and HR a year later, and in 2017 was promoted to Chief Administrative Officer.

Previous to joining Center for Literacy, Victoria worked in the nonprofit senior services field for 20+ years in a variety of roles including Director of Human Resources, Chief Operating Officer and Director of a multi-site senior citizens center. 

In 2017 Victoria joined PAACE and in 2018 was asked to become the Administrators Committee Chairperson; a position she has served in ever since. She loves working and volunteering for nonprofits. Victoria says that knowing her work supports an organization that makes people’s lives better is what gets her out of bed in the morning.  

Victoria earned her Bachelor of Science degree at Florida State University (FSU), but also has a certificate in Human Resource Management from Villanova University and a certificate in Nonprofit Management from the LaSalle University’s Nonprofit Center. She and her husband of 20 years live in suburban Philadelphia with two cats and a whole lot of books.

Advocacy and Public Policy Chair: Cheryl Hiester

Cheryl has been working in adult literacy and basic education since 1991. She has been a teacher, a curriculum developer, and project manager. Today, she serves as the chief executive of The Literacy Council of Lancaster-Lebanon. Cheryl serves on the Pennsylvania Association for Adult and Continuing Education Board of Directors as the assistant chair of the Public Policy Committee.

Geoffrey Woodland

ALBSE Chair: Vacant


Communications Chair: Vacant

Laurie Dawkins

Conference Chair: Laurie Dawkins

Laurie Dawkins is the Associate Director of the Literacy Council of Reading-Berks. Her primary areas of responsibilities are workplace program management, coordination, development and classroom instruction. She joined the Literacy Council in 2001 as a PA Win Program Developer where she worked with local companies to create fee-for-service programs and developed our original workforce education program. Laurie currently serves on the Greater Reading Chamber Alliance Business and Community Advocacy Council and she and her husband serve as lead pastors in their church located in Reading.


ESL Chair: Kimberly Chernesky

Kimberly Chernesky has worked in adult education since 2013 and has worked both as an ESL coordinator and ESL instructor. This journey has led her to pursue her Doctor of Education degree in educational leadership and management with a concentration in learning technologies at Drexel University with the anticipation of graduating in 2021.

Kimberly also holds a Master of Science degree in reading education with certification as a reading specialist K-12 and a Bachelor of Science degree in elementary education (K-6) and early childhood (N-3), both from Marywood University. Prior to working in adult education, Kimberly has worked as a reading specialist (K-5) and has taught in a 1st and 5th grade classroom. Kimberly has served on the PAACE Board since 2016.


Member Services Chair: Vacant

Chrissie Klinger

Professional Development Chair: Chrissie Klinger

Chrissie Klinger started her journey in adult education in 1996 as a volunteer tutor and has continued to serve in various capacities including teacher, administrator, and trainer. She currently serves as a Workforce Development Specialist with Penn State University’s Institute for the Study of Adult Literacy’s Workforce Development Project. In this role, she provides technical assistance for adult and family literacy programs across Pennsylvania for statewide initiatives that relate to adult career pathways. She is a certified offender workforce development specialist and serves on the Pennsylvania Workforce Development Board Re-entry Ad Hoc Committee.

Klinger has developed several online and face-to-face professional development opportunities for adult education practitioners and volunteer literacy tutors and presented at various state conferences (including several PAACE conferences). She is currently pursuing a Master’s degree in Learning, Design, and Technology through Penn State’s World Campus (with an anticipated graduation date of May 2021), and looks forward to putting her knowledge and expertise into practice by serving in this new capacity with PAACE.


Committee and Division Assistant Chairs

Ryan A. Breisch

Administrator Division Assistant Chair: Ryan A. Breisch

Ryan Breisch began his career with the Literacy Council of Reading-Berks in 1993 when he served as a volunteer tutor. In November 1995, he joined the staff as a curriculum developer and ESL coordinator and became the Executive Director in 2010. Ryan holds a B.A. in Spanish from Kutztown University, and served as the President of PAACE from 2016-2018.

Advocacy and Public Policy Assistant Chair: Vacant


ALBSE Division Assistant Chair: Vacant


Communications Assistant Chair: Vacant


Conference Assistant Chair: Ilsa Diller

Ilsa Powell Diller is the Outreach & Resource Coordinator for the Literacy Council of Lancaster-Lebanon, where she has worked since 2015. After receiving her Master’s Degree in Communication from the University of Hartford, Ilsa moved back to Pennsylvania and began her career in adult education as the Coordinator of the Southeast Professional Development Center (SEPDC) through Lancaster-Lebanon IU 13. Ilsa moved on to become the Director of the SEPDC, and also worked as a Communications/Projects Coordinator with the Fund Development Unit at IU 13 before taking the position with the Literacy Council. In total, Ilsa has 21 years of experience working in some capacity of adult basic and literacy education.

In her role with the Literacy Council, Ilsa coordinates both fund raising and friend raising activities including grant writing, special events, campaigns, and any other activities related to seeking donations and building partnerships to support resources and programming at LCLL. Ilsa also coordinates publications, communications, and social media for the Council, and is a staff liaison for the Board of Directors.

Ilsa enjoys spending time with her husband and daughter, working out, attending performing arts productions (and working backstage), gardening and cooking.


ESL Division Assistant Chair: Vacant


Member Services Assistant Chair: Vacant


Professional Development Assistant Chair: Donna Kirn

Donna Kirn took the leap into higher education when she accepted a position at Bucks County Community College in 2014. Donna currently oversees the entire Community Education and Professional Certification Department, which includes all the elements of program planning, development, design and implementation of non-credit classes as well as implementing marketing and customer service strategies.

Donna started her career in sales and marketing after graduating from LaSalle University.  Following her passion for fitness and community, Donna spent the next 15 years working at the YMCA in various leadership roles. The transition into higher education was seamless as she was able to utilize her community involvement, program development and fundraising experience to grow the non-credit programs in the department and engage the Bucks County community. As a true believer in lifelong learning, Donna has completed the BCCC Leading-Edge Leadership program, and most recently became certified as a Program Planner and Digital Marketing Professional.  As a member of the Lower Bucks County Chamber of Commerce, Donna graduated from Leadership Bucks County and is involved in various committees and roundtables. She was recently featured in the Outlook magazine as Executive on the Move. In 2020, Donna earned her MBA from Holy Family University, graduating alongside her son.  

Donna is a lifelong Philadelphia resident.  She spends her weekends in the Poconos enjoying the outdoors.  Donna devotes her free time to gardening, fitness, DIY projects and spending time with husband, daughter and three sons.  

Donna continually works hard bringing programs to the community to enrich the lives others and to encourage lifelong learning.


Immediate Past President: Michelle Campbell

Michelle Campbell is a member of the leadership team at Union 1199C Training and Education Fund in Philadelphia, PA.  In that capacity, she supervises 13 members of the College and Career Readiness Department. Michelle has presented at numerous conferences and collaborated with other agencies related to the use of technology in adult education and curricula development pertaining to WIOA mandates.  Her career in education commenced 30 years ago as a 4th grade and high school biology teacher in the Marshall Islands.   Michelle is a co-founder of a Spanish Immersion school in Philadelphia and served on the board in various capacities, including being the vice president.

Michelle was born and grew up in London, England.  She received her undergraduate degree in Economics from the University of Pennsylvania and her Juris Doctor from the University of Virginia.  Currently, she is obtaining a master’s degree in Organizational Development from Temple University and expects to graduate in May 2019. Early in her career, she observed the correlation between high-school drop-out rates and increased incarceration rates. Her primary interest relates to policies focusing on the reintegration of returning citizens from incarceration to education and employment.  

Michelle has traveled and/or lived in Micronesia, Polynesia, Indonesia, Australia, Asia, South America, Europe, and Northern Africa.  She is currently learning Spanish and French to better serve the needs of a growing migrant population. Michelle loves to bike, explore various parts of the world, attend live concerts, and participate in triathlons.  

Liz Geariety

PAACE Organizational Coordinator: Liz Geariety

Liz Geariety joins the field of adult education with a background in K-12 education. Liz earned her Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education from SUNY Oswego. Liz has spent the majority of her educational career teaching 5th grade in Baltimore City, MD. She has also worked as an instructional coach, teacher leader, lead curriculum writer, facilitator of numerous professional development opportunities, as well as adjuncting for Towson University after earning her Masters degree in Reading and her Admin Certificate at Towson as well.