Reading Power Leadership and Staff

Reverend Gordon Butcher, DMin, Co-Founder 

Rev. Dr. Butcher, a Presbyterian minister and literacy activist, collaborated with Dr. Hender in launching Reading Power, Inc. in 2003. He is a founding member of the Board of Directors and became the President in 2005.

For 41 years, Rev. Butcher achieved much as a pastor of the Presbyterian Church including mission outreach in Lake Forest and, in Chicago, the establishment of a literacy program for Latino and Balkan immigrants.

He and his family now reside in California.

Mary Jane N. Hender, EdD, Co-Founder

Dr. Hender is the co-founder and former Executive Director of Reading Power, Inc. as well as past board Vice President.

For five and a half years, Dr. Hender recruited, trained and supervised the volunteers and the professional staff. As a teacher for 20 years, Dr. Hender taught students in kindergarten through the master's degree level including serving as a public school reading specialist coordinating early intervention programs.

Dr. Hender's research focused on struggling readers, specifically those who are bi-cultural.

Rebecca Mullen, MSEd,

Executive Director of Programs

Rebecca Mullen is a certified reading specialist with a Master in the Science of Education in Reading degree from Illinois State University, where she also received her B.S. in Elementary Education. Prior to joining Reading Power, Ms. Mullen served as coordinator of the Mary and Jean Borg Center for Reading and Literacy, a tutoring program at I.S.U. in Normal, IL.

Rebecca's broad classroom experience includes teaching positions in preschool, kindergarten, second, and sixth through eighth grades, throughout Illinois, as well as in Eastbourne, England, Los Angeles, and San Francisco. She has designed and implemented interactive, student-centered, technology-driven language arts curricula, including: writing and reading workshops, literature circles, blog writing, and website design through teaching methods based on theory and experience.

She co-authored an article, with Dr. Linda Wedwick, Avoiding the Digital Abyss: Getting started in the classroom with YouTube, digital stories and blogs (2008) in The Clearinghouse: A journal of educational strategies, issues and ideas. In 2008, Ms. Mullen was the recipient of the LaSalle, County (Illinois) Excellence in Education Award, and in October 2013, she was inducted into Illinois State University's College of Education's hall of fame as the first Outstanding Young Alumni award recipient. She is currently enrolled in the Cultural and Educational Policy Studies graduate program at Loyola University Chicago.

Joanie Alley, MSEd, Professional Tutor

Joanie Alley is a reading specialist with a Master of Science in Education – Reading degree from the University of Wisconsin – Madison, where she also received her Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education, K-8 certification (which included a semester of student teaching in Exeter, England).

Mrs. Alley’s classroom experience includes several years as a second grade teacher. On a recent mission trip to Chennai, India she was asked to hold seminars in their schools to help teachers teach reading. Joanie has been tutoring for Reading Power’s literacy program for the past ten years.

Cheryl DePaul, MAT, Site Coordinator

Cheryl DePaul received her Master of Arts in Teaching from National- Louis University with a certification in kindergarten through ninth grade. Her area of concentration was reading. Mrs. DePaul taught elementary education in northern Illinois prior to joining Reading Power in 2006.

Cheryl began her tenure with Reading Power as a volunteer, and then became a professional tutor. Later, she established the program at Forrestal School in the capacity of a Site Coordinator. Forrestal Elementary School currently services students in grades K-2.


Marla Guziec, Site Coordinator 

Marla Guziec received her B.S. in Elementary Education, EMH-TMH, Learning Disabilities, and Social Emotional Disorders from Illinois State University. 

Mrs. Guziec's classroom experience includes teaching positions in primary TMH and second grade. Marla has been with Reading Power from the start and began as an A.J. Katzenmaier volunteer.

She was a professional tutor at Green Bay School for six years as well as Kindergarten Coordinator for two. She then was Site Coordinator of South School for three years and is currently the first and second grade Site Coordinator at Forrestal School. 

Marion Schmidt, Site Coordinator

Marion Schmidt is a Certified K-8th Teacher in Illinois and Texas. Marion studied Literacy at the Neuhaus Education Center, which focuses on language learning differences.

Mrs. Schmidt has seven years experience with Reading Power. She began as a volunteer, spent two years as a professional tutor and then became a Site Coordinator at AJK. Currently, Marion is Site Coordinator at North School for the first and second grade program.

Marion taught 4th grade for several years in Houston, Texas, prior to joining Reading Power. She is married and has three college-aged daughters. She enjoys the outdoors, boating, gardening, and reading.

Kathryn Nattier McFarland, PhD

Chief Executive Officer and Chairman of the Board

Dr. McFarland’s career spanned 30 years at Abbott, and she advanced to Divisional Vice President of Research and Development. She was involved in the development of many drugs including ones to treat cancer, HIV, thyroid disease, and lipid disorders. During her tenure at Abbott, Kathy also developed a passion for mentoring and creating programs to remove barriers to allow people to achieve their full potential.  Upon her retirement, she continued this passion and became a tutor for Reading Power. 

Kathy joined the Reading Power Board of Directors in 2013 and became CEO and Chairman of the Board in 2014.  Her vision is to serve all of the North Chicago kindergarten, first, and second grade students who need Reading Power's support with effective programs and to expand our programs into pre-kindergarten and to other districts.  Dr. McFarland received her PhD in organic chemistry from the University of Missouri.

Daniela Cruz, Administrative Assistant 

Daniela Cruz serves Reading Power as Administrative Assistant.  Daniela joined Reading Power in 2014. She graduated from Waukegan High School in 2008. Prior to joining Reading Power, Daniela worked as a property manager in downtown Chicago for five years.

Daniela is thrilled to be a part of the dynamic work at Reading Power. She strongly believes that all children deserve to reach their intellectual potential. With her Latino background, she understands very well the educational challenges many children face. Daniela is fluent in both Spanish and English, and her future goals include getting her master’s degree in accounting.