Board Members of the South Sound Reading Foundation These are the professionals who generously donate their time and experience to help further our mission.

Our board members are passionate about literacy!

Thank you Anne Wilson for sharing why you joined South Sound Reading Foundation.

Thank you Olympia Soroptimists for sharing! Videography by Creative 24
Thank you Olympia Soroptimists for sharing! Videography by Creative 24

Executive Board

Ruth Conn (she/her) - Pediatrician and Community Volunteer, President

I received Nancy Drew “The Secret of the Wooden Lady” from my aunt for my tenth birthday, and from then on I had my nose in a book and my mind traveled far and wide!

I joined SSRF as a volunteer and later a Board member because I love children, I love books, and I want children to have the opportunity to love them as I have!


Derek Bumrungsiri (he/him) TwinStar Credit Union Division Manager, Vice President

My favorite children’s book is The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein.  The message still resonates with me today, as it did when I first heard it in elementary school.    

Having a young son, I see the impact that reading 20 minutes day has on his development and academic achievement. I joined the board to support access to books for all youth in the communities we serve.

Brenna English (she/her), Griffin Schools, Treasurer

My favorite kid's books are The Nancy Drew Series, I loved them all!  We did not have many books in my house growing up, so I was always so excited to see a new book in the series at the school library. 

I joined the board because I believed in the foundation goal to put book in the hands of kids, supporting the love of reading.


Rick Peters (he/him), Senior Deputy Prosecuting Attorney, Secretary

The book that got me hooked is The Hobbit. New worlds, amazing story, real stakes.

Besides a safe and healthy home life, nothing to me is more important to a child's development than learning to read. Being excited about reading is even better. 

Jim Justin (he/him) - Government Relations Consulting INC, Past President

My favorite kid's book is Monkey with a Tool Belt. What kid doesn’t love monkeys, a tool belt, and a banana cannon?

I joined the board because I believe a good education opens all doors for all kids and adults. A good education starts with strong reading skills.

Jim Justin



Amanda N. Adrian (she/her) - Graphic Designer, Marketing Coordinator, Former Reading Educator

Dicey’s Song by Cynthia Voigt was THE BOOK for me. I was about eleven years old when I first met Dicey Tillerman, a resourceful and resilient oldest sister, who found herself in charge of her three siblings after being abandoned by their mother. Dicey was believable and relatable, and I felt like I was on the journey to find safety for herself and her siblings right along with her.This book revealed to me who I am as a reader: someone who loves realistic fiction, strong character development, and books about complex and interesting families. These traits are hallmarks of all of my favorite books to this day. And Dicey’s Song? It’s still just as good today as it was when I was a young reader.

Books can be a source of learning, a way to understand and appreciate others, and a place of comfort. Having access to quality books is key to growing passionate and compassionate readers, something I value deeply as a lifelong reader and as a former educator. This is why I believe so strongly in the mission and work of the South Sound Reading Foundation.

Susan Gifford (she/her) - Director of Communications, Olympia School District 

I can still remember checking out my first library book from school in first grade -- an ABC book of animals, with a red cover, and a shiny protective book cover that crinkled when you opened the book. I was hooked on reading.  This is also how my kids discovered Dibble and Dabble -- at their school library. They checked it out and were hooked, so we bought a copy for each of them. During COVID, when we couldn't be together, I videoed myself reading the book to my grandkids so they could hear Nana's voice reading our family favorite.

I joined the SSRF as a liaison for the Olympia School District and enjoy working with such a dedicated group of people who strive to make reading accessible and fun for all children and families.


Karen Johnson (she/her) -  Executive Director of Elementary Education, North Thurston Schools

My favorite books is, Thank You Omu! it’s about everyone in the neighborhood dreaming of tasting Omu’s delicious stew. 

The South Sound Reading Foundation truly understands the importance of instilling a love of literacy in our children at an early age, so they become literate as adults. As the director in charge of literacy for North Thurston Public Schools, I see first-hand how our students benefit from our partnership with the South Sound Reading Foundation. 

Mary Ellen Jones (she/her) - Reading Advocate, Fisher Jones Family Dentistry

My favorite children’s book is The Napping House by Audrey and Don Wood. This was a favorite in our family for the sweet rhythmic storytelling and the stunning illustrations.

Joy, curiosity, and enthusiasm for reading starts from those very first books shared with children.  Sharing is what reading allows, as well as time together, new experiences, entertainment, learning, adventure, and more.

I am on the board of the South Sound Reading Foundation because I believe every child deserves the opportunity to explore their imagination, relationships, and the world through reading.


Tanya Murray (she/her) - SPSCC, Adjunct Faculty

I have soooo many favorite children's books. The Mr. Putter series, by Cynthia Rylant, is high on my list because they make you feel good. Every time. The Giver, by Lois Lowry, because it makes you think about thinking. Forever.


It is what books offer us--pleasure, joy, challenge, empathy, knowledge, power, connection--that motivates me to serve on the SSRF board. I want to be a part of helping all children have access to these opportunities. I feel certain the world is better when children are well read. 

Mike McGauly (he/him) - Shareholder, Strader Hallett, PS

I’ll admit that I had to be bribed to start reading. I couldn’t sit still long enough to spend time with a book and reading was difficult for me. But around sixth grade that changed.  My sixth grade teacher started reading time after lunch and introduced us to The Hobbit.  I was hooked.  And once I got hooked I would spend hours reading.  It was great to be able to dream of new worlds and different characters.  Now I find that reading helps calm my mind at the end of the day.

It has also become one of the special times that I get to spend with my wife.  We find a book (usually a mystery these days) and read to each other out loud almost every day. I would encourage everyone to read with someone they love every day.


Audrey Perry (she/her) - Education Advocate

My favorite YA novel is The Martian, by Andy Weir. This book combines my love of outer space, science, humor, and good storytelling, coming together to create a book that I just couldn’t put down. When my own kids were struggling to find good books to read, I put this one in their hands, and just like me, they were hooked.

I didn’t read much as a kid, opting instead for the quicker, easier TV set as a means of entertainment, and that is something I’ve regretted most of my life. Reading is important not just for building brain cells and rich vocabularies, which it does in droves, but in opening our minds to other possibilities, opportunities, and ways of thinking about about the world. Reading builds empathy and inspires us in countless ways. By putting books like The Martian in my kids’ hands, I’m making them better humans, and that makes me feel like a better parent.

Cynthia Pratt (she/her) - Poet Laureate, City of Lacey

I loved The Brothers Grimm Fairy Tales, Unabridged! Was it scary? Well of course! But that was the point. It’s like Harry Potter’s appeal today, and the illustrations were exquisite.

I serve on the SSRF Board because it puts books in the hands of children, especially those that may not have the kind of library with which I grew up. It allows kids to imagine “see” places they have never been before.

Liz SSRF Board Photo

Liz Selsor (she/her) - Community Health Investment Manager, Providence, Southwest Washington and Alaska Regions

Green Eggs and Ham and my mother were the dynamic duo that taught me to read at the age of three, sparking a passion that has defined the rest of my life. I forced Mom to read this book to me so many times that I knew the words by heart and learned to identify them on the page.

Reading has brought magic to my life ever since, and that is the gift the South Sound Reading Foundation gives to the children of our community. It is my honor to serve on the board of this organization, which provides kids with a sense of wonder and adventure, unlocks mysteries and vast emotions, opens doors and imaginations, and introduces characters and stories that have the power to change lives.

Anne Wilson (she/her) - Attorney at Bean, Gentry, Wheeler & Peternell, PLLC 

The books that got me hooked on reading were The Black Stallion series by Walter Farley.  My amazing grade school librarian, Mrs. Standiford, led me to them.  A desert island, a wild horse, a shipwreck - an adventure that keeps you on the edge of your seat but ends well.  I wanted to be a jockey after that and wished for a horse every year when I blew out the birthday candles, to no avail...

I joined the board of South Sound Reading because learning to read and having access to books changed my life.  I want all kids to have that opportunity, and South Sound Reading provides it to many who otherwise would not know the joy of owning their very own book.  


Dick Pust - Board Member Emeritus, Media Partner, FTEmag and MIXX 96