Advisory Board

Advisory Board Members.

Yong-Son (Suya) Basta, MD

Dr. Basta was born in Korea and came to the United States at 13 years of age.  She graduated from St. Andrews High School in Middletown, DE in 1983 and Bryn Mawr College with a Bachelor's Degree in Spanish in 1987.  She attended medical school at the College of Physicians and Surgeons at Columbia University obtaining her MD in 1994, and completed her residency in pediatrics at Mt. Sinai Hospital in 1998.  Fluent in Korean and Spanish, Dr. Basta has been in practice in Fairfield county since 1998 and is currently at Rainbow Pediatrics in Stamford.  She is on the medical staff at Stamford, Norwalk and Bridgeport Hospitals.  Dr. Basta has enthusiastically joined the Advisory Board in 2017 to continue her commitment to family literacy and Reach Out and Read.  She is married with three children, two college students and one a high school senior.  She is a lifelong runner, an avid fan of crossword puzzles, and enjoys drawing and painting in her spare time.

Carol Benjamin, BSN, Newington, CT

Carol Benjamin is a retired nurse manager whose last position was the Practice/Nursing Manager in the Primary Care Center (PCC) at Connecticut Children's Medical Center in Hartford, CT.  She worked closely with Dr. Catherine Wiley, Medical Director for the PCC, Connecticut Medical Director, Reach Out and Read, and one of the earliest supporters of Reach Out and Read in Connecticut. Carol understands the value of the Reach Out and Read program and is an enthusiastic advocate for it.  In addition to her position in the Primary Care Center, she has held a number of leadership positions in her nursing career which have all focused on obstetric and pediatric care.  In her retirement, Carol is involved in a number of volunteer activities. She just completed a term as president of her synagogue - Temple Sinai in Newington, participates in the Retail Food Pickup program through Foodshare, is a reading mentor for elementary school children, and is a docent at the New Britain Museum of American Art.  Carol attended the University of Michigan and received her BSN from Spalding University in Louisville, KY.

Renée Casey, MD, FAAP

Renée Casey earned her Bachelor of Science degree from Yale University in 1999. She received her Master's Degree in Neuroscience from the University of Hartford in 2002 and then received her M.D. from the University Of Vermont College Of Medicine in 2007. She completed her residency training in Pediatrics at Connecticut Children's Medical Center at the University of Connecticut in 2010. She is Board Certified in Pediatrics and is currently practicing as the clinical site coordinator of Main Street Pediatrics at Optimus Health Care, Inc. in Bridgeport. 

Jillian Puzzo, West Hartford, CT

Jillian Puzzo earned a bachelor's degree in Marketing and her education certification from Central Connecticut State University.  Using her experiences in sales, advertising and classroom teaching, she built a career as an entrepreneur and team leader with the international accessories brand Stella & Dot. Jillian is a wife, mom of two, avid home cook, dog lover, dedicated yogi and voracious reader. She is a budding bookstagrammer and has big dreams to one day open a bookstore. She has organized the annual Scholastic book fair for 6 years at her children's elementary school and is passionate about spreading her love of reading with everyone she meets.  She has held various roles on the board of the Mother's Connection of Farmington Valley, her church Vestry, and currently on the Hartford Hospital Auxiliary Board.  

Tish Rabe, Mystic CT

Tish Rabe is a bestselling children's book author who has written over 160 books for children including titles for Sesame Street, Disney, Curious George, Blues Clues, Clifford, Bear in the Big Blue House and Huff and Puff among many others. In 1995 she was selected by Dr. Seuss Enterprises to create The Cat in the Hat's Learning Library, a series of non-fiction science books for early readers written in Seussian rhyme. A television series based on these books, The Cat in the Hat Knows a Lot About That! premiered on PBS Kids in 2010. Ms. Rabe is a tireless advocate for childhood literacy and travels across the country doing school author visits where she encourages students to read and write. Her passion for encouraging caregivers to read to their children inspired her to write an interactive board  book "Love You, Hug You, Read to You!" that includes questions caregivers can ask their children- a proven way to promote a child's healthy development and lifelong love of reading. The bilingual Spanish/English version "Te amo, te abrazo, leo contigo!" was released in December, 2015. Trained as a professional singer, Ms. Rabe sings her "Reading and Writing" song during her school visits and is the narrator and singing voice of Disney Princess and Bambi book and audio recordings.

Leslie E. Sude, MD, Madison, CT

Dr. Leslie E. Sude is a pediatrician in New Haven, Connecticut, where she serves as Assistant Clinical Professor to the Yale School of Medicine and sees patients at Chapel Pediatrics in Hamden.  A graduate of Bryn Mawr College and The Medical College of Pennsylvania, she completed her residency in pediatrics at C.S. Mott Children's Hospital of the The University of Michigan.  She has a professional interest in child development and treating children with behavior and emotional disorders and regularly collaborates with schools and mental health professionals.   She is a passionate supporter of Reach out and Read and has been a participating physician for over two decades.   She lives in Madison, Ct, where she serves on the board of the Madison Land Conservation Trust, has raised two daughters, and enjoys hiking with friends and her devoted dog, Scruffy.  

Debra Thibault, Southington, CT

Debra Thibault is the district literacy and social studies coordinator for the Berlin, CT Public Schools. Debra began her career as a Spanish teacher at Irving Robbins Middle School in Farmington, CT.   A few years into her career, she became certified to teach reading and serve as a reading consultant. She continued her work at Irving Robbins in literacy for a total of 28 years.  Debra held numerous teacher leadership positions in Farmington. Her work in Berlin has provided her with ten years of experience in K-12 literacy leadership. She graduated from Central Connecticut State University with a Bachelor's Degree in Spanish, a Master's Degree in reading, and University of Hartford with a 6th Year in educational administration. She also completed the Executive Leadership Program at the University of Connecticut. Debra understands the importance of early literacy and parent involvement in their child's education. She has opportunities on a daily basis to be in classrooms and observe children learning to read and write. Debra knows how beneficial it is for children to have books and parents that read to them before they start school.

Randi Walsh, Wethersfield CT, South Easton MA

Randi Walsh is an innovative leader of nonprofit programs with extensive knowledge and experience in early literacy, child development and education, early intervention, family support and parenting education.  She has worked throughout her career in Massachusetts at the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children and Families First Parenting Programs.  She has developed partnerships with literacy-based programs in diverse, inner-city communities throughout Massachusetts, served on the statewide Massachusetts Family Literacy Consortium and collaborated on the development of city-wide literacy initiatives. Randi currently supports the anti-poverty work of Cradles to Crayons in Brighton, Ma.  She was raised in Connecticut where her family still resides.  Randi received her B.A. in Psychology from Mount Holyoke College and earned her M.A. in Early Childhood Development and Counseling Psychology from Boston College.

  Local Connecticut Impact
72 Reach Out and Read Programs
39,418 Children Served Annually
73,078 Books Distributed Annually
U.S. Totals
4.7 million
children served annually

Reach Out and Read's thousands of doctors and nurses promote early literacy and school readiness to young children and their families in all 50 states. Each year, medical providers at the nearly 5,000 Reach Out and Read program sites nationwide distribute 6.5 million books to children and invaluable literacy advice to parents.

Contact Reach Out and Read
Reach Out and Read National Center
89 South St, Suite 201
Boston, MA 02111