Organization sets sights on deepening impact on childhood literacy

PHILADELPHIA, July 15, 2016 – The West Philadelphia Alliance for Children (WePAC), a nonprofit organization helping to bridge the literacy gap in Philadelphia public schoolchildren by reopening and operating volunteer-run school libraries, has appointed Heather Farber as Executive Director.

An experienced General Manager and Marketing executive, she has held leadership positions at NRG Energy, Barclays, and MBNA America. A resident of Birmingham Township, she has worked in West Philadelphia since 2010.  Previously Farber served on WePAC’s Board of Directors, including two terms as Treasurer. Since March, Farber had been leading the organization in an interim capacity.

“We are so pleased to make this appointment,” said Keith J. Richardson, President of WePAC’s Board of Directors. “Heather is a leader with a firm hand and a light touch, and embodies the passion for literacy and service that we honor. We are confident she will continue to pave the way for WePAC to instill the joy of reading in even more children.” In her short time as Interim Executive Director, Heather reduced operational expense without impacting programming, expanded volunteer engagement, and set in motion an evolution of WePAC’s school partnership model.

“Having the opportunity to combine my business and marketing experience with my passion for literacy and children makes coming to work a treat each day,” Farber said.  “I am honored by the confidence the board has placed in me to lead this organization to new heights.”  Under Farber’s leadership, WePAC will be working on its “Reach for the Stars” initiative, aimed as deepening the organization’s impact by seeing students more frequently and expanding its programming to higher grades.  Currently WePAC’s services focus primarily on children in Kindergarten through third grade.

The vast majority of Philadelphia’s public schools lack a functioning library due to budgetary constraints. Research shows that students from schools with open libraries do better in school and on standardized tests than students from schools without libraries. Organizations like the Annie E. Casey Foundation have concluded that the chances of a child dropping out of school can be predicted by knowing a child’s reading level at the end of third grade.  “We must teach our children to learn to read before they must read to learn. That’s why WePAC has dedicated itself to re-opening and operating school libraries and bringing academic mentoring into our schools,” said Farber.