The board of directors of Literacy Nassau, a Wantagh-based nonprofit that provides language-building programs to children and adults, recently promoted two current board members. Judy Beckman, of Merrick, was named board president, and Sean Miller, of Bellmore, is the organization’s new treasurer. They will each serve a two-year term.
What sets Literacy Nassau’s board apart from other nonprofits, Executive Director Karen Micciche said, is that its members not only function as a governing body, but are actively involved in the organization as well.
“What they bring to the table so far surpasses the functions of a typical board member,” Micciche said. Beckman and Miller “each bring their own wealth of experience from their professional lives and lend it to us as amazing volunteers.”
While working as a certified financial planner for the past 30 years, Beckman said she looked for ways to give back to her community. Before joining Literary Nassau in 2015, she was executive director of the Nassau Easterseals, a nonprofit that aids children and adults with disabilities, and also served on the boards of pro-women and financial service organizations, and Kiwanis International.
Before her career in finance, Beckman worked as an English teacher, helping high school students express themselves through writing. When she heard about Literacy Nassau, she said, “How can I help?”
Beckman previously served as the board’s treasurer and vice president, but said she is “privileged” to serve in her new role. “It’s an honor” to be president, she said. “I think of all the organizations I’ve been a part of, and I’m most proud of this one. It has a direct impact on people’s lives, and you can see the results locally.”
As president, Beckman has instituted half-hour presentations at each board meeting to inform the group about Literacy Nassau’s programs, “specifically dyslexia and its effects,” she said.
The organization’s goal, Beckman said, is to reach dyslexic individuals as early as possible to ensure they get the help they need. “In this age of technology, most people are committed to phones and iPads, and that social interaction is being lost,” she said. “The difficulty with this is it’s not always recognizable if someone has dyslexia or is in trouble, so it’s really important to get that message out — that this is something that can be fixed.”
Miller first became involved with Literacy Nassau through his position at TD Bank — he is the store manager of the Floral Park location. As he led financial seminars for the nonprofit’s advanced English as a Second Language classes, he realized the crucial work of the organization.
“Teaching English, reading and writing to people who are new to the country is extremely important — it’s a key fundamental to being a part of society,” Miller said, adding, “It’s very easy for a child with dyslexia to get engulfed by the system, but the one-on-one help that they’re receiving [has] great value to the child in that situation.”
Miller has served as a board member since 2017, and has a 13-year background in banking. As treasurer, he is responsible for conducting annual audits, monitoring profit gains and losses and ensuring that the nonprofit adheres to its bottom line.
Thanks to Miller, TD Bank has pledged to sponsor Literacy Nassau’s second Dyslexia Dash at Wantagh State Park on May 2. The event will raise money and awareness for the organization’s donation-based tutoring center for children with dyslexia, Micciche said.
The next two years
Beckman and Miller said they look forward to continuing to spread the word about Literacy Nassau’s services over the next two years. Miller noted its upcoming (un)Scrabble event on March 31. At the fundraiser, teams compete in short, timed rounds to arrange words from Scrabble tiles. The team that forms the highest-scoring words in each round is the winner.
“It’s about bringing people out and raising awareness that we’re here to help,” he said. “The more people that know, the more people we’ll be able to reach.”
Micciche commended Beckman and Miller’s commitment to expanding the nonprofit’s scope. “Judy’s leadership experience ... is unparalleled, and Sean has a great financial background,” she said. They “can see the bigger picture of where we are going and how we can get there, and I’m excited to be able to see even more of their contributions in these leadership capacities.”
For more information about Literacy Nassau or to volunteer, visit literacynassau.org. To inquire about services, call (516) 867-3580.