What We Do

Frank Haas

Read To Me International promotes reading aloud to children through:

  • Presentations and workshops for parents, educators and other interested groups
  • Read alouds at schools and community gatherings
  • National-quality annual conferences
  • Support for parents of young children living in transitional and affordable housing

Our Mission

Share the love and joy of reading aloud.

Goals

  • Ensure that every child is read to every day for at least 10 minutes.
  • Model good read aloud techniques.
  • Promote reading aloud to a broader audience of stakeholders.

History

Read To Me International Foundation is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization incorporated in March 1996 as a result of a partnership created by the Governor’s Council for Literacy and Lifelong Learning and the Rotary Club of Honolulu Sunrise. The Governor’s Council comprised leading members from the business, labor, education, faith-based and community sectors. From 1992-1994 the Council and Rotary embarked on a successful multi-media campaign called “Read To Me,” which resulted in a statewide campaign underscoring the importance of reading aloud. Its message was simple: “Every child in Hawaii will be read to every day for ten minutes.”

As a result of the media efforts, inspired in large part by the teachings of Jim Trelease, author of The Read-Aloud Handbook, a round table was formed which facilitated and promoted reading activities statewide, including the production of a video establishing the why’s and how-to’s of reading aloud; the establishment of read-aloud programs in schools and businesses; presentations in schools, churches, and local communities; refurbishment of libraries; and book donations to schools, organizations, and libraries. Through the support of various partners, with Hawaii Pizza Hut serving as a major sponsor, a number of activities and projects were undertaken.

The program proved to be successful, the multi-media campaign having been adopted in over a dozen states, plus Canada and Malaysia. In March 1996, a nonprofit organization was created by the Rotary Club of Honolulu Sunrise, and in August 1997, Read To Me International Foundation began operating with the support of Hawaii Pizza Hut, Inc. and the State of Hawaii’s Department of Education.

Staff

Lynne Waihee
President

Lynne Waihee

As a youngster, Lynne Waihee found magic in her otherwise mundane life through the world of princesses and princes, fairy tales and fables. In real life, Read To Me International President Lynne Waihee has led a charmed life as a former First Lady of Hawai‘i, during which time she served as the Honorary Chair for the Governor’s Council for Literacy. A former high school English teacher, literacy was a perfect fit for her role as First Lady, and Waihee has now championed childhood literacy’s cause for over 23 years. She recalls with fondness reading in bed to her own children, John IV and Jennifer, and anxiously awaits the day she has grandchildren to whom she can read. Meanwhile, she finds great joy in reading aloud to anyone’s children, and to adults as well . . . including husband John.

Kara Kusunoki
Executive Director

Kara Kusunoki

Kara Kusunoki began her career as a public school teacher. Teaching was an invaluable experience that inspires her to support youth and their caregivers. Kusunoki has worked in the education and healthcare industries with a focus on nonprofit administration. Though she studied finance and politics in college, her passion is reading; she is grateful to have supportive family members and teachers who contributed to her library of books growing up. Kusunoki believes in Read To Me International’s mission because she has experienced how reading aloud stimulates children’s emotional and academic development, and can provide readers different ways to see the world.

Aileen Shin
Development Director

Aileen Shin

Aileen Shin has partnered with several local non-profit organizations to advance their missions and goals. By creating a symbiotic relationship between the Board of Directors, supporters, businesses and the broader community, Aileen has successfully integrated resources to further the missions of these non-profits. Along with creating, coordinating and implementing fundraising efforts, Aileen has worked with leadership teams to meet and monitor financial goals, assist various accreditation processes, and provide guidance for strategic planning.

Shannon Murphy
Executive Administrator

Shannon Murphy

In childhood, Shannon molded her earliest philosophies (and imagination) through the worlds of Dr. Seuss and Maurice Sendak. This led her to consider careers in feline psychology, fox footwear, sailing in the direction of wild things, and other general adventuring. Her quest happily culminated in a career that is a little more exciting – Nonprofit Administration. Having served as Office Manager and Director of Operations with Honolulu nonprofit organizations in the medical research and social service sectors, she comes full circle and turns to her first love – sharing the wonder of reading with a child. She has passed this on to her son (an adventurer in training) and hopes to spread the word to families everywhere!

Shondell Palacio
Mā‘ili Site Assistant

Shondell Palacio

A true Nānākuli home grown resident, Shondell Palacio has spent all of her life in the Nānākuli neighborhood and is a graduate of Nānākuli High School. She has served her community most of her adult life, working with families and caregivers. She is now working part-time with Read To Me International as the Mā‘ili Site Assistant and continues to serve her community by providing tools, tips, and resources to promote reading aloud through the RTM10 Program.

Christopher Bartolome
Intern

Christopher Bartolome

Christopher Bartolome is originally from the Big Island, but has found his journey on O‘ahu as he attends Hawai‘i Pacific University and majors in business. At a young age, he found passion in helping the community as he would pick up trash at the park, host recycling drives, and volunteer at care homes. He figures that no matter how busy a person can be, there will always be time to help those in need as he devotes his time to make a difference one project at a time. He joined Read To Me International to inspire children and adults about the power of literacy and to further educate the next generation of leaders in the world. In his free time, he enjoys reading, hiking, cooking, hanging out with friends and family, and trying new things.

Irene Abut
Intern

Irene Abut

Irene Abut was born and raised on Maui. After graduating high school in 2016 she spent two years studying at Seattle Pacific University before transferring to Hawai’i Pacific University to complete her degree in English. As a child she has always been inspired by the stories that she read, the lessons that they taught, the places that they allowed her to go and the people that they let her be. She joined Read To Me International to not only share the joys of reading to others but also to show the importance of reading in our day-to-day lives. When she’s not in class or at work she enjoys reading novels, writing fiction and creative nonfiction pieces, traveling and learning new things.

Board of Directors

Board Officers

  • President

    Lynne Waihee

    Read to Me International

  • Board Chair

    Jo Anne Vieira

    Community Volunteer

  • Vice Chair

    Mollie Sperry

    Secretary-General, The National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'is of the Hawaiian Islands

  • Secretary

    Wenona Harris

    VP/Director of Project Management, ANTHOLOGY

  • Treasurer

    Ted I. Sakai

    Ted I. Sakai and Associates

Other Members

  • Harold Dias, Jr.

    International Representative, IBEW 1186

  • Jaydence Goya

    MDU Program Manager, Hawaiian Telecom

  • Jean Grice

    DoDEA Pacific PACOM Liaison, Department of Defense Education Activity

  • Frank Leake

    Chef/Professor, University of Hawaii at Kapiolani Community College

  • Marissa Machida

    Vice President & Relationship Manager, Bank of Hawai‘i

  • E. Lynne Kimoto Madden

    Executive Vice President, The Madden Corporation

  • June Nakamura

    Senior Project Manager, Kaula AE, LLC

  • Heidi Pliszka

    VP Account Services, Anthology Marketing Group

  • Hale Takazawa

    Architect

  • JoAnn Tsark

    `Imi Hale—Native Hawaiian Cancer Network