Julie Hoffman

Julie Hoffman, Ed.D., has taught in rural, suburban, and urban public schools throughout Illinois.  She is an educational researcher, reading specialist, reading coach, English language arts teacher, science teacher, professional book reviewer, and conference presenter with many years of public school teaching and literacy leadership experience. Her research interests include urban education, equity, social and emotional learning, children’s literature, and empathy. She is an advocate for the underserved and unheard. She believes that children’s literature can provide readers with a message of perseverance and hope. Her passion is to help students who have experienced trauma find healing, resilience, and empowerment through their own writing and the writing of others.

Melissa Stinnett
Melissa Stinnett began her career as a first-grade teacher at a private, Catholic School.  Teaching in the K-12 public school system in Champaign, Illinois, afforded Melissa the opportunity to teach students from varying ethnicities and socio-economic backgrounds, ranging from children in project housing to the affluent. With an academic position at University of Wisconsin Oshkosh, funding was received through the prestigious Vander Putten grant with the intention to travel overseas and to create an international program for undergraduate students. Through collaborative efforts working with the Office of International Education, and developing curriculum for this program, groups of students were brought to New Zealand where they were placed in classrooms in Auckland observing key literacy practices such as the “literacy hour” which is prevalent in New Zealand as well as England. The end result of this experience was a published article called “A Teaching Travelogue: Wisconsin Students Travel to New Zealand and Take Teaching Ideas Home!” which was published in WSRA Journal. Prior to work in academia, Melissa was awarded a Fulbright Teacher Exchange where she lived and taught in England for one year as a fourth grade teacher. As Professor at WIU, she has met the challenge of teaching a wide range of courses, spanning from early childhood education, elementary methods, graduate courses, online development, and field supervision.


Cindi Koudelka
Vice President
Dr. Cindi Koudelka is a Curriculum Specialist with National Board Certification in Adolescent Young Adulthood/English Language Arts at Fieldcrest School District and an adjunct professor for Aurora University. Being a bibliophile and school nerd, she is certified in Early Childhood, Elementary, and Special Education, K–12 Reading, and Administration and has taught at all of those levels. She is a youth advocate who believes in the power of literacy to disrupt systemic oppression and strives to grow her own learning with research focused on critical adolescent literacies, educational equity, positioning, and youth participatory action research. Cindi is dedicated to sharing this learning with other educators as she is a member of multiple national and international literacy and research organizations. Through those opportunities, she presents at a variety of conferences, serves as a peer reviewer, and participates in related committees in her efforts to foreground activism, community, and love.  Cindi also believes it is critical that educators give back to the local and state communities, so she has been an active member in IRC as she has been a Council President for both SRL and SRRC, a Regional Director, served on various committees, and currently continues to chair the advocacy committee.

Leslie Forsman
Past President

Leslie Forsman has served as the PreK-12 Librarian for the Triopia CUSD #27 School District for 28 years and counting. During several of those years, Leslie has also held various classroom positions including 3rd/4th Grade Title I Reading, 8th grade Education to Careers, and 7th grade Quest. Recently she was asked to add being a daily 1:1 reading aide for a second grader. For several years she offered her students the chance to participate in "Recess Readers." This was a voluntary participation book club to read and discuss/share several of the Readers' Choice nominees of those years.  Leslie has also been actively involved on the board, tutoring at, and with planning programming for the Arenzville Library and Tutoring Center (ALTC). Leslie is the current Readers' Choice function representative for the Association of Illinois School Library Educators (AISLE). She helps with the creation and promotion of the AISLE's three Illinois Readers' Choice awards (Monarch, Bluestem, and Lincoln) nominee lists. She also serves on the Illinois Reads selection committee. Leslie has also helped promote reading by helping to create the AISLE/LBSS Endowment Fund and its grants of readers' choice nominee sets to libraries across the state.


Melissa Wheeler
Recording Secretary

Melissa Wheeler has taught in a variety of settings over the last 15 years. She took her first teaching job in a small, private school in upstate NY, teaching 1st and 2nd grades. Finding the reading curriculum to be inadequate, Melissa heavily supplemented with materials she purchased herself. Following a passion to bring literacy in a new way to underserved students, she left the private school to work in some of the toughest, lowestperforming inner-city schools in Syracuse. She soon found a permanent classroom at a charter school in the city, where she was a 2nd grade classroom teacher once again. While there, Melissa returned to school to work on her MSED in Literacy, Birth -12th grade. Shortly after obtaining her MSED in Literacy, Melissa moved with her family to Oakland, IL. In 2012, she was hired as the Reading Specialist at the elementary school in that town. This year, Melissa will be teaching 4th grade at Dr. Howard Elementary School in Champaign. She is excited to get to infuse all subject areas with rich literacy opportunities. In the future, Melissa plans to pursue a PhD in Social Justice with a focus on Literacy. She believes that literacy is an essential tool for unlocking social justice and equity, and wants to further its use both domestically and globally through work in the classroom, as well as providing high-quality training to teachers worldwide. Melissa is an active member in ILA and IRC due to her conviction that organizations such as these are key to promoting social justice and equity in schools. She holds that it is essential that all students receive a high-quality education, fueled by rich literacy skills, regardless of their race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, zip code, religious beliefs, or any other conceivable circumstance.


Diana Wilkie
Diana Wilkie has been a reading teacher most of her career either as a classroom teacher or specialist in both the elementary level and high school level.  She has done this both in city and suburban settings.  She is currently the Reading Interventionist at O’Donnell School in Aurora and has been in employed in District 131 since 2005 as a Kindergarten teacher for most of her years but also a 2nd grade teacher and high school reading teacher for two years.  Diana has a passion for reading and great literature.  She creates a safe & loving classroom environment that gives students the freedom to become confident and independent thinkers.  She uses instructional strategies and assessment to meet the needs of all learners within the inclusive classroom.  Diana engages in ongoing self-reflection and personal growth.  She maintains professional standards and is dependable at all times.  She is highly committed to all stakeholders with effective communication.  Diana presented standards-based work with the district report card team at professional conferences.  She worked with the local bookstore to bring many authors to our school.  She continues to learn by attending PD and by having professional conversations with colleagues.


Donna Herman
Director of Membership

Donna Herman has served both the education and business community over the past 30 years. She is actively involved in reading research with a focus on students with disabilities and is currently a Field Supervisor for student teachers with the University of St. Francis. Donna has served as a Special Education Administrator, Instructional Literacy Coach, and special education classroom teacher. She holds an M.S. in Continuing Education & Training Management, M.A. Special Education, M.A. Reading Specialist, Certificate of Advanced Leadership, and Director of Special Education Certification. Additionally, Donna has presented on a wide range of literacy and special education topics at the local, state, and national levels. She has written and published articles on disciplinary literacy and special education, providing a wide range of resources for the school community. Donna currently serves in leadership roles with the Will County Reading Council, Illinois Reading Council, and chairs the Disabled Reader Special Interest group for the International Literacy Association.


Amy Davis
ILA State Coordinator

Amy Davis currently teaches for Eastern Illinois University in the department ofTeaching, Learning, and Foundations in the College of Education. Her specialty is elementary literacy and English as a Second Language where she teaches both undergraduate and graduate students. Some of the courses she teaches in literacy include Developmental Reading in Elementary and Middle Schools,Diagnostic-Prescriptive Reading Instruction, Remediation of Reading Problems, Advanced DevelopmentReading. In ESL, she teaches CLD Instructional Methods and Foundations of Reading: Linguistics andLiteracy. Before joining EIU, Amy was an ESL Learning Coach for Wichita’s USD 259 for two years where she assisted ESL teachers with professional development sessions, observations, and teaching a review course for the Praxis exam to obtain an ESL endorsement. Prior to becoming an instructional coach, Amy was an ESL teacher where she worked with 2nd, 3rd, and 5th grade ESL students developing the irreceptive and productive language skills which included phonology, vocabulary, and reading comprehension development. Before assuming her role as an ESL teacher, Amy spent seven years instructing reading in both 4th and 5th grades and working closely with both the ESL and Special Education teachers.

IRC Staff

Carrie Sheridan
Executive Director
Karen Kortkamp
Public Relations Coordinator
Media and Marketing Coordinator