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September 30, 1999

Ryan Creates Governor's Office On Literacy

SPRINGFIELD -- Governor George H. Ryan today capped literacy month by announcing the creation of the Governor's Office on Literacy.

The Governor's Office on Literacy, created by Executive Order 11, will coordinate literacy programs among the various state agencies and offices in order to maximize state and federal resources committed to reducing illiteracy in Illinois, minimize duplication of effort, and enhance literacy at the state and local level.

"Illinois has been a leader in addressing issues of illiteracy. However, there is still work to be done to have a literate population," Ryan said. "The Governor's Office on Literacy will look for ways to promote the good work being done, as well as to look for needs that are not currently served."

As Secretary of State, Ryan made literacy one of his top priorities. His "Read Together, Grow Together" program promoted the value of parents reading to children and won a national award from the American Library Association. Additionally, his "Workplace Skills Enhancement Program" provided funds to businesses seeking to improve the reading, writing and communication skills of their employees.

"Over the last eight years, the state of Illinois has made great strides," Ryan said. "The goal of this office is to combine our efforts with the secretary of state's office to benefit every individual in the state of Illinois who needs help."

"We commend Governor Ryan for his continued work with literacy," said Secretary of State Jesse White. "Working together, we can reduce illiteracy by providing everyone with the opportunity to learn how to read."

The Governor's Office on Literacy will be assisted by a Governor's Advisory Council on Literacy. Members will be representative of, but not limited to, education, libraries, community based organizations, literacy providers, researchers, business, state government and the public. Appointments to this group will be made in the coming weeks.

Sarah Watson, 42, of Springfield will coordinate the efforts of the Governor's Office on Literacy. Watson, formerly with American General Financial Group, was a member of their human resources management team with responsibility for corporate training/education. In 1999, she earned the Senior Professional in Human Resources designation. Prior to her tenure with American General, Watson spent 15 years in a variety of roles in education, both at the elementary and adult level.


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