I joined Orange Literacy as Executive Director in 2004 at the urging of a former co-worker and longtime volunteer for Wake County’s Literacy Council. As a native North Carolinian, and an avid reader — and especially having spent a few winters in the wilds of the Dakotas and a few summers in the sticky Mississippi Delta — the thought of being in Chapel Hill, surrounded by books, sounded like heaven.
After earning a BA in English and a Masters in Public Administration, my working life started at the US Department of Commerce, following anti-apartheid legislation on Capitol Hill. Next I worked on trade policy issues for computer hardware and software, first for Commerce and then for ITAA, a Washington-based trade association. When I moved back to NC, I helped form NCEITA, the NC Electronics and Information Technologies Association. In four short years, we grew from a start-up of 30 member companies to an organization of almost 300. At NCEITA, I also helped organize NC NetDay, a volunteer effort to wire K-12 classrooms for internet access. NetDay morphed into ExplorNet, a nonprofit designed to teach high school kids to build the computers necessary to attach to all those wires, and I became their VP of Expansion, helping to find funding and support to take the program into other states.
My original vision of what I’d be doing at Orange Literacy may have been a bit celestial, but the reality I walked into is far richer and far more fulfilling than I could have imagined. And while my job doesn’t actually involve reading books, I find myself surrounded by Orange Literacy students, volunteer tutors, board members and staff for whom the power of literacy and of reading is truly inspirational.
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Diana Daniel-Lorente joined the Orange Literacy staff in May of 2016. She received her bachelor’s degree from the University of Miami with a double major in communications and fine arts. She is a native of Miami, Florida. While living there, she formed friendships with people from various cultures and backgrounds. After graduating college, she became a literacy volunteer and she has been involved with literacy ever since.
Diana also earned a MEd in Adult Education from the University of Georgia. While living in Jacksonville, Florida, she taught ABE for Learn to Read Jacksonville. She also taught ESL, ABE and GED classes at the Women’s Center of Jacksonville. Diana’s focus is always on the student and how to best serve their academic, personal and professional literacy needs. In her spare time, she enjoys writing, vegetable gardening and spending time with her children.
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Heather Bucurel rejoined the Orange Literacy staff in June 2016. She previously worked as the ESOL Program Assistant from 2013-2014 while serving as an AmeriCorps member with NC LiteracyCorps. In the interim, she earned her Master of Arts in Teaching ESL from Meredith College and taught middle school ESL for Durham Public Schools.
A life-long lover of books, languages and writing, Heather began her journey into teaching by earning a Bachelor’s in English Literature from UNC-Chapel Hill. After graduation, she accepted an opportunity to teach English abroad in South Korea. An initial year-long contract soon extended into a five-year sojourn, as she hadn’t yet explored all that Asia had to offer. It was there that she found her passion for working with English language learners, as well as a new appreciation for spicy food!
Originally from all around the world, Heather has called North Carolina home for over twenty years. As a Tar Heel bred, she bleeds Carolina Blue and loves watching college sports. In her free time, she enjoys spending time with friends and family, exploring new hidden gems and seeing how much Sriracha she can tolerate.
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Elgiva joined Orange Literacy in October 2015. As our Civics Education Program Coordinator working on our USCIS grant, she will provide Citizenship classes in Orange, Durham and Alamance Counties. She previously taught ESL at Durham Tech and Durham Literacy Center and coordinated programs at CWS Immigrant and Refugee Program in Durham. She has a certificate in teaching ESL from Duke University and a Master’s degree in English with TESOL from East Carolina University. Originally from the UK, Elgiva relocated to the States in 1998. After living in Massachusetts and California, she settled with her husband and three children in North Raleigh ten years ago. She has no more plans to move anywhere!
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I am a native of Winston-Salem, NC, but I have been in Chapel Hill/Carrboro since beginning studies at UNC in 2007. I graduated from UNC in 2011 with a BA in English and Philosophy. I worked in UNC’s Wilson Library as an undergraduate and beyond, and I went on to receive my MLS from UNC’s School of Information and Library Sciences in 2014. I began volunteering at Orange Literacy as an Adult Basic Education tutor in 2015, and I am grateful for the opportunity to expand my contributions to this important organization.
When I am not at the office, I am able to mostly stay out of trouble by bartending at night. I devote what free time I have to rock-climbing indoors and outdoors, playing chess with strangers on the internet, tinkering with my bikes, and watching as much NBA as possible. But I’m not a hipster.
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