Meet Our Center Staff
Stop on by for a tour of the Center during weekday hours. We love to show the place off.
Executive Director of Readiness to Learn Foundation 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.
SWCC Operations Facilitator
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.
RTL Administrative Assistant; Family Support Specialist
Mary has lived on South Whidbey since ’89 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 ’11.
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. 🙂
Family Resource Center Coordinator
Lauri Johnson started with Readiness To Learn in April 2008 and continued through June 2015. She took a short sabbatical from regular office hours and continued to facilitate support groups and individual projects. In November 2017 Lauri returned to the full spectrum of the work as the SWCC started to take form.
Lauri is certified to facilitate several parent and family education programs such as Positive Discipline, Growing up Again, Strengthening families and Nurturing Parent Program. Lauri is a lifelong learner and has a passion for working with people and helping them along side their journey.
Volunteer and Family Support Specialist
Cailyn Murray has worked for Readiness to Learn since Feb. of 2017. She grew up on Whidbey Island and is a 2002 graduate of Western Washington University’s Human Services program where her studies focused on the principals of family support and school based programming.
Before returning to South Whidbey in 2007 to have a family, Cailyn worked in supported living services for adults with developmental disabilities, helping people to to feel connected and involved in their community and daily life. Cailyn enjoys spending time with her husband Ken, their darling daughters Ada and June and her naughty dogs, Rocco and Flash.
Aidan joined Readiness To Learn in December 2016 as a volunteer for the Holiday House program and he was approached by Gail Lavassar to help manage and update the RTL website. He stayed as a volunteer for a year and a half as a tech support specialist and help for creating the community center and he joined our staff in June of 2018. He is currently a student at South Whidbey High School as of fall of 2019 and is taking a computer science course at Sno-Isle Tech Skills Center.
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.