Philadelphia, December 13, 2010 – Mayor Michael A. Nutter appointed Dr. Judith Renyi as the new Executive Director of the Mayor’s Commission on Literacy (MCOL). Dr. Renyi will
oversee the MCOL’s work with a variety of City departments, the Free Library of Philadelphia, literacy groups, community organizations,religious leaders and adult learners to support and expand
literacy services and education opportunities for adults. The MCOL will recommend policies, programs and services to the Free Library of Philadelphia to ensure that adults are provided literacy
services so they are better prepared to perform in a competitive workforce. In addition, the MCOL will work closely with the Mayor’s Office of Civic Engagement and Volunteer Service, led by
Chief Service Officer Catherine Wolfgang, to implement literacy programming to compliment the Free Library of Philadelphia’s efforts.
“Philadelphia is facing a serious literacy crisis and under Dr. Renyi’s leadership, I’m confident the Commission will continue its collaborative work with the Free Library of Philadelphia to provide quality literacy and education services to our communities,” said Mayor Nutter. “Our regional economy can only be as strong as our citizens who must be well prepared to face the challenges of the 21st century workforce.”
“We want to significantly raise the number of Philadelphians who are ready to take their place in the knowledge economy, said MCOL Executive Director, Dr. Judith Renyi. “I want to scale up the Commission’s scope, our reach and impact on literacy in Philadelphia and hope the upcoming National Summit on 21st Century Literacy will help Philadelphia take the lead in addressing this great national cause.”
Siobhan Reardon, President of the Free Library of Philadelphia said, “A recent University of Pennsylvania Fels Institute of Government study found that, because of the work of the Free Library, more than 14,000 individuals learned to read or taught someone else to read over the past year, enhancing their quality of life and adding a remarkable $21.8 million to the city’s economy. The Free Library of Philadelphia’s ongoing collaboration with the Mayor’s Commission on Literacy will prepare more Philadelphians to contribute to a successful and prosperous future for our city.”
Since 2007, Dr. Renyi served as Dean of the Schools of Graduate and Professional Studies at Rosemont College, overseeing the development and growth of adult education, to include online, in-person, and blended graduate and undergraduate degrees. She received a Ph.D. in English at the University of Pennsylvania. Dr. Renyi served as Assistant Dean for the Liberal Education Program at New York University and has served as a Fellow of the New York University Humanities Council. She served as Executive Director of the Philadelphia Partnership of Education, Director of Collaboratives for Humanities and Arts Teaching, President/Chief Executive Officer of the NEA Foundation for the Improvement of Education, and Senior Vice President of the Academic Partnerships for the American College of Education. Dr. Renyi has also served as President and Chief Executive Officer of Prevent Child Abuse America. Her salary of $130,000 will be funded by the Free Library Foundation.
The Free Library of Philadelphia offers a wide variety of literacy and education activities in its 54 locations across Philadelphia, including GED classes, English-as-a-Second Language (ESL) conversation groups, workforce readiness programs, computer literacy classes, small business development classes, cultural programming and civic engagement initiatives. Representatives from the Mayor’s Commission on Literacy and the Free Library of Philadelphia will join members of the education, nonprofit, business community and other partners at the National Summit on 21st-Century Literacy: Philadelphia 2011, which will take place in Philadelphia from November 14- November 15, 2011. Attendees will participate in panel discussions and workshops that will focus on improving the local and national literacy rate and the services that are available to the public.
The Department of Labor estimates that illiteracy costs businesses and taxpayers $225 billion a year through workplace accidents, lost productivity, unrealized tax revenues, welfare payments, and crime. The Philadelphia Workforce Investment Board estimates that by 2015, nearly 120,000 vacancies will be created in higher-level managerial and professional jobs in the City, while by 2030 there will be 600,000 Philadelphians lacking the skills to compete in the economy.