"Hello and thank you for taking an interest in The REAL Program. I am deeply honored to have the trust from families, community leaders, volunteers of all ages and from all communities and parts of my life to help me in my conviction that literacy is a key ingredient for success. I am an early childhood educator, a MASS Literacy Champion, a business person, a professor, a mother, a publisher, a software developer, a daughter and a sister." – Jan Plourde
Jan Plourde is the Executive Director of The REAL Program, Inc, a non-profit organization which aims to elevate literacy, social skills, and good nutrition for underserved children and families – this in accord with its community-based service-learning model that offers experiential teaching and learning opportunities, book distribution, homework assistance, social programs, and enrichment activities in Lynn.
Jan founded The REAL Program in 2013. Under her leadership, REAL (Reading, Education Assistance and Learning) has cemented itself in its home at 17 Atlantic Street, Lynn; collected and distributed over 150,000 children’s books; placed over 40 little free libraries in Lynn and 12 more in surrounding towns; and provided Before Home experiences for children who mostly attend the Brickett School. Jan, a resident of Beverly, teaches early childhood education at North Shore Community College, and she is the president of Fulton Publishing/Developmental Teaching, LLC that publishes teacher plan books. She is an honors graduate of Salem State University and Lesley University.
Secretary on Executive Board
Director on Advisory Board
"I have known Diane for a while now. First, as our newest board member and, more recently, as my co-mentor in our ongoing work with the REAL kids. We have worked together virtually and we find ourselves highly compatible. I feel the same way about her as a member of the board. Her enthusiasm comes through in everything she does. She is ready to tackle anything that we as a board have tried to accomplish for our kids and their families. She contributes her ideas and thoughts that we have presented as a group and that is so essential to make this program work. As the longest standing board member, I have seen her fit right in with the way that this program functions and step up to all of the needs of The REAL Program. She is an asset to this board and will only become more so as she continues to work with this program. It is great to have her on board!" – Betsy Brown
Diane began her career in 1985 as a Financial Internal Auditor with E.F. Hutton Company and, when they were acquired by Shearson Lehman Brothers, moved to the Investment Advisor Group where she worked as an Assistant Portfolio Manager. She later worked in the same capacity at Campbell Cowperthwait & Co., a boutique money manager firm, where she was promoted to Analyst and Portfolio Strategist. In 1990, she became a Certified Financial Analyst and, when Campbell Cowperthwait & Co. was acquired by U.S. Trust, was promoted to a Senior Portfolio Manager position. With U.S. Trust, she created an internal mutual fund called the U.S. Trust Optimum Growth Fund. In 1996, Diane started Optimum Growth Advisors in Marblehead, MA. The company was sold to Atlanta Capital Group in December 2012 and she continued to work in the same capacity in the ACG Optimum Growth Investment Strategy Product. Diane left in 2017 after completing her buy out contract and is currently a consultant, working to help and educate people in their personal financial management.
Inspired by decades of volunteer work serving children and the community, Diane founded Someone Else’s Child in 1997 to help kids in need. As a student in high school and college, she worked at a nursery school and day care center. She has served the greater Boston area as a Big Sister, a Sunday School teacher, and as a volunteer with Women in Community Service, Gregg House Preschool, Girl’s Inc., My Brother’s Table, and Lifebridge. In addition to her leadership of Someone Else’s Child, she also serves as a committee member for The Wang Theatre and Thompson Island Outward Bound Camp.
Diane graduated from Boston College in 1985 with a double major in Economics and Psychology.
Michael Christian has served as Managing Director of Someone Else’s Child, Inc. (SEC) for over 20 years. The foundation supports children’s causes throughout the U.S. and Africa, with areas of emphasis including education, literacy, arts, health, economic justice, and collaborative efforts with other similarly-minded non-profits. SEC’s mission is to inspire and encourage children/teens to become involved in their community and to actively participate in helping others in need.
Mike currently serves on several non-profit boards including the Boch Center/Wang Theater, Boston Explorers, The REAL Program, The Museum of Justice, and the Council of Insurance Agents and Brokers.
Mike is also the founder and Chairman of Risk Strategies, a leading national insurance brokerage firm. In his role as Chairman, Mike works with Risk Strategies' senior team, private equity partner, and the board of directors on strategic initiatives.
He was the Chief Executive Officer of Risk Strategies from 1997 to 2019. He led the company from its start-up beginnings into a top national risk advisor/broker with revenues of over $600M. Mike utilized private equity extensively over the past 12 years to build Risk Strategies, resulting in four successful recapitalizations. Prior to Risk Strategies, Mike held several leadership positions with Jardine Insurance Brokers, including serving on the U.S. Board of Directors, AON and Alexander & Alexander.
Mike majored in Philosophy at the University of California in Santa Barbara.
"What can I say about Rachel?! Rachel is this selfless woman who gives it her all. When it comes to The REAL Program she goes above and beyond to make sure that the plans we have are well executed. She is always smiling and the way she talks to people is really pleasing to the eyes. She takes her time to talk and listen. Rachel is amazing, caring, compassionate and a great woman to be on the board with, the flavor that she bring to the program cannot be duplicated. Rachel is one of a kind!" – Martine Georges
"Cristina and her husband are true believers and dedicated to the sometimes-elusive American dream. Cristina studied economics and she is making her career in the world of finance. She is a dedicated board member who serves on the finance committee, of course. The REAL Program is fortunate to have this Lynn resident involved and supporting the community." – Jan Plourde
"Betsy Brown brings a wealth of teaching experience and knowledge as REAL lead mentor. She taught in Beverly Public Schools and she continues to teach at The REAL Program. The kids love her, respect her and they always ask for Mrs. Brown. She especially loves poetry and she shares this love with the children." – Narayan Plourde
Robert (Narayan) Plourde
"Narayan brings a quietly unique, effective, and quietly thoughtful perspective to the Board. Nepalese by birth, brought to this country at age four by his adoptive parents, and now in his late twenties, Narayan has an intuitive sense of how to navigate life’s challenges in a culture where one may well feel marginalized or out-of-mainstream, and where things are not always easy. He sets his course in accord with what he absorbs as an avid reader, discovers through his active curiosity, perceives artistically through his photography—and is motivated by his solid work ethic and a deep sense of kindness and compassion." – Marc Winer
"Marc is the guy who is like the deep well: he is a true listener and a compassionate teacher who speaks and writes with measure. He has a great deal of experience as a non-profit board leader, board member, community member, teacher, parent, and grandparent. We take none of it for granted but we are surely going to listen and learn." – Jan Plourde
"I have had the pleasure of knowing and working with Sarah for the past couple of years now. Sarah brought with her a fresh perspective, experience, and the ability to communicate her ideas in a way that stimulates real thought. She is an innovating thinker, a clear communicator, and her passion to invest in our kids is simply contagious. Sarah’s tireless work and willingness to do whatever it takes to create The Real Program’s vision into a reality has been proven through her efforts and her strong belief in investing in our community. Her involvement with our nonprofit has been transformational and The Real Program has evolved in large part due to Sarah’s skills around envisioning and catalyzing positive change." – Cristina Andrei
"I met Raisa Ferreras for the first time during the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic. Our foundation wanted to help buy and donate food and grocery gift cards to the families at Real. She was there to meet us to collect the items. I had never met her and the first time that I did I immediately connected with her. She had a big smile on her face and she greeted me warmly and openly. She has been the same ever since our first encounter. Raisa is a caring and giving person. She goes the extra mile to help others and does so in a kind and thoughtful way. She has worked very hard at completing her education while volunteering at the Real Program. She has done so much for the Real Program in these past few months to help the families and be available to get the things they need." – Diane Christian
"I am so proud to know Martine Georges. This young woman is bright, determined, and capable of so many great things. Her children are, too. Martine is a board member and a recent college graduate (while working full time and raising her two children). Martine and her husband show their children and the REAL family what commitment is all about. Martine is a fabulous photographer, too!" – Jan Plourde