Robert Paponetti, Executive Director
Robert E. Paponetti currently serves as the Executive Director of The Literacy Cooperative of Greater Cleveland. In this capacity, Mr. Paponetti works to improve the literacy levels of the residents of Cuyahoga County by integrating literacy into community initiatives, aligning literacy services with employer needs, and identifying best practices around standards of quality and accountability. Other initiatives include providing professional development and training opportunities to literacy instructors, piloting kindergarten readiness services, and raising the level of awareness and implications of low literacy.
Prior to joining The Literacy Cooperative, Mr. Paponetti served as the Vice President of Cuyahoga Community College’s Workforce and Economic Development Division and the Executive Director of the Workforce Solutions Division. In his capacity, he developed, implemented and directed a wide array of workforce preparation initiatives and training programs that supported regional economic growth. Mr. Paponetti incorporated innovative workplace literacy and contextualized learning components into the training curriculum that met the needs of the business community.
As the Director of Cuyahoga County’s Department of Workforce Development, Mr. Paponetti guided workforce preparation systems and skills upgrading activities for County residents. He also managed the County’s “One-Stop” which was recognized as the first certified center in Ohio to have multiple partnerships housed together to provide all needed services for job seekers and employers. During this time, Mr. Paponetti was the Executive Director of the 35-member Cuyahoga County Workforce Investment Board that included many of the County’s business, education, and civic leaders.
Mr. Paponetti also served as a Director of Workforce Development for both CGI Group, Inc. and ORION Consulting where he designed and operated workforce training programs customized to meet the needs of employers combining both technical skills and workplace success skills.
Mr. Paponetti is a member of the United Way of Greater Cleveland Executive Committee and Board of Directors, Co-Chair of the United Way Self Sufficiency and Basic Skills Investment Committee, member of the Executive Council of the Ohio Workforce Coalition, member of the Ohio Skills Bank Healthcare Sub-Committee, member of the American Association for Adult and Continuing Education, member of the Commission on Adult Continuing Education, and President of the Lutheran Metropolitan Ministry Homeless Services Advisory Board.
email: Robert Paponetti
Laureen Atkins, Director for Adult Literacy & Career Pathways
Laureen Atkins serves as the Director for Adult Literacy & Career Pathways. Prior to joining The Literacy Cooperative, Laureen was a Social Program Administrator in the Office of Health & Human Services division of Cuyahoga County where she managed a $4.5 million federal grant. While at Cuyahoga County, she was Deputy Director of Workforce Development for six years and oversaw the operation of the Employment Connection One-Stop System with responsibilities including evaluating and reviewing service delivery; monitoring compliance to federal and state regulations; providing oversight for regional and multiple partner grant-funded projects; and overseeing program budgets and expenditures with an operating budget of more than $20 million. Ms. Atkins also worked for the Center of Career Pathway Development for Cuyahoga Community College’s Workforce and Economic Development Division. As Director III, she oversaw and managed the staff of literacy and workplace success skills programs. Her private sector work includes 13 years as a consultant and manager with CGI Information Systems and Management Consultants. In her role as Manager of workforce development programs, she obtained funding to implement and manage occupational training, workplace readiness, and job search programs. In addition, she worked with employers to develop supervisory and leadership programs and to conduct job analysis.
Ms. Atkins graduated Summa cum Laude from Myers University with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration-Human Resource Management Specialization. In 2003, she was awarded the title “Adult Educator of the Year” by the Greater Cleveland Adult Education Council.
email: Laureen Atkins
Kate Klonowski, Director for Early Literacy
Kate Klonowski is the Director for Early Literacy. Previously, Kate was the Executive Director of the Urban Scholastic Media Initiative and was actively involved in creating, supporting and sustaining student journalism projects through interscholastic collaboration. She serves on the Community Outreach and Awareness Committee for Defending Childhood—a countywide initiative under Attorney General Eric Holder to provide a safety net for children who are victims, witnesses, and perpetrators of violence. Kate has worked as an educator in public, private and higher educational institutions and is the Vice President of the Ohio Scholastic Media Association. Kate attended the College of Wooster for her undergraduate degree in English and Secondary Education, has a Master’s in Education from Northern Arizona University in Educational Technology, and is currently pursuing her Ph.D. at Kent State University in Cultural Foundations of Education.
Elaine Yeip, Program Assistant
Elaine joined The Literacy Cooperative with more than 22 years of experience as a development professional and office manager. Her career began as a Campaign Associate with United Way of Greater Cleveland. She has worked with the former Citizens League of Greater Cleveland and more recently with The City Club of Cleveland where she served as the Director of Development and supported the Student and Youth Forum Programs. Elaine holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communications from John Carroll University.
email: Elaine Yeip
Christine Lee, Training & Communications Consultant
Christine has fifteen years of experience in adult education. She has worked as an ESOL instructor at the Jewish Community Center and Parma ABLE, as well as the Davidson County Adult Education Program in Nashville, Tennessee. Her prior work as refugee resettlement case worker at Catholic Charities and her experience as an exchange student to Brazil strongly shaped her interest and commitment to serving non-English speakers. In addition to ESOL, Christine has worked over six years as an instructor, coordinator and trainer at Seeds of Literacy, a community based adult education program that utilizes volunteer tutors. She has assisted hundreds of students in their efforts towards their GED and participated in the training and development of countless tutors.
Christine holds a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology and Latin American Studies from Kent State University. She is a certified Proliteracy trainer, a certified conflict resolution mediator, and an alumni of the Jesuit Volunteer Corps.
email: Christine Lee