Meet Us


Gail Lavassar

Executive Director of Readiness to Learn and the South Whidbey Community Center

Gail is a graduate of Western Washington University with a B.A. in Human Services & Education and holds an Associate’s Degree in Early Childhood Education. She presents at state and national conferences on the issues of rural homelessness, family support principles, and the development of school, community and family partnerships, including the development of family resource centers on school property.

Recent awards include the “Best Administrator” from the National Association for the Education of Homeless Children, and recognition as Youth and Hometown Hero in the local newspapers. Gail lives in South Whidbey with her husband of 28 years, John LaVassar. She has two adult children.


Kenesha Lewin

Youth and Cultural Programs Coordinator

Having lived on Whidbey Island for a year, I have come to embrace the unique culture of the Island. I have lived in three different countries and several regions of the United States and have not come across any region as special as the island.

Having a BA in Science and being an educator for over ten years, I am embracing my new role at the South Whidbey Community Center. It enables me to foster meaningful relationships and see the community from a different prospective.


Mary Mitchell

RTL Administrative Assistant; Family Support Specialist

Mary has lived on South Whidbey since 1989 and she has two sons who graduated from SWHS. She received her BA in Human Development in Dec ’10 from WSU Online. After doing her internship with RTL, she started working here Spring 2011.

Mary enjoys working side by side with families to give them a hand up when they are struggling. She also does some of the administration work of RTL and is the Homeless Liaison for the SWSD. Mary enjoys walking the beaches looking for agates and mammoth bones. đŸ™‚


Jesse Levesque

Youth Curator Programs and Placemaking Coordinator

Jesse received her B.A. from Hampshire College in Amherst, Massachusetts, a Filmmaking Degree from the University of Washington, and her M.A. from the Hite Art Institute’s Critical & Curatorial Studies Program at the University of Louisville.

Jesse specializes in creating experiences, programming, and special events, in unique environments, for a variety of clients. She has consulted for non-profit organizations, for-profit startups, government agencies, cities, private and public schools. Former clients include several organizations focusing on working with creative people to catalyze inclusion and social change, schools in the process of designing new curricular offerings and programming, and multiple cities and communities developing new cultural policies and creative opportunities for citizens to contribute to the public realm.


Mary Lou Harris

Office Manager

Mary Lou Harris joined Readiness to Learn in 2019, bringing her extensive experience in business administration, project management and customer service to the new role of Office Manager. Her background as a professional photographer gives her a mix of creative, entrepreneurial and practical skills, which she is excited to apply in the dynamic environment of the South Whidbey Community Center.

Mary Lou has lived on Whidbey Island since 2007 and loves the natural beauty of the island, as well as running on its trails and exploring the scenic back roads on her bicycle.


Samantha Baldwin

Office Assistant

Samantha was born and raised on South Whidbey Island, and is a graduate of South Whidbey High school class of 2015. Samantha has been a part of the Readiness To Learn team since June of 2018 working as an office assistant.

Samantha is currently a student at Edmonds Community College working towards her transfer degree. Samantha enjoys spending time with family and friends, going on nature walks, and playing soccer.


Randall Haller