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.
Jean Ciborowski Fahey,
Jean Ciborowski Fahey, PhD was a parent
and teacher educator as Director of The South Shore Health Systems
Reading Partnership from 2000 to 2017. In this capacity, she taught
expectant parents and parents of newborns about their crucial role
in building their baby's brain for language and [later] reading.
Her work brought her into regular contact with new parents at
discharge, and their infants including parents with babies in the
Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU).
For several years, she taught at Lesley
University's graduate program in language and literacy. In 2013,
she published an innovative parent and teacher education tool,
Make Time for Reading: a story guide for parents of babies and
young children. She used her Massachusetts' Literacy
Champion grant to translate Make Time for Reading into Spanish. In
2016, Toyota and National Center for Families Learning awarded her
$20,000 for Teacher of the Year and subsequently, her book, Make
Time for Reading was translated into Portuguese.
She was formerly the Early Literacy
Research Specialist at the national office of Reach Out and Read,
an international pediatric early literacy intervention, and for 10
years, a literacy consultant for the Massachusetts Family Literacy
Consortium at the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and
During 15 years of work at Boston
Children's Hospital, and Instructor in Pediatrics at Harvard
Medical School, she tested children for reading and other learning
difficulties. She served as educational advocate with Boston Center
for Homeless Families, authored the book Textbooks and the Students
Who Can't Read Them and produced Raising Readers a short film
published on www.getreadytoread.org.
She was lead author of the handbook: Promoting Social and Emotional
Health Through Early Literacy available at www.mass.doe.edu/familylit.
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
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,
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
Randi Walsh, Wethersfield CT, South Easton
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