The People Behind
The REAL Program

BOARD MEMBERS: Pat Landry, Donna Staller (VP), Dara VanRemoortel, Sarah Kaull (President), Rachel Shwartz, Brad Payne, Betsy Brown, Darryl Ruffen (Treasurer)

Missing: Joe Scianatico, Tricia Gasca (Secretary).

Read a letter from
our founder (2016)


Jan Plourde, M. Ed. founded The REAL Program in 2013 with the mission to improve literacy.

Jan is an award-winning educator, nonprofit leader and businesswoman. She works with children, families and students in many capacities. Jan’s passion to help children and teachers spans over 35 years from First Friends Daycare and The Learning Tree Store to The REAL Program and Developmental Teaching, LLC where she offers teacher plan books and TAPCIN, an online lesson planning software. Teaching and learning are the common threads throughout Jan’s entire career; a notion which she shares generously with her students at North Shore Community College and Salem State University. Jan’s sense of community is evident in her tireless work to help others as founder of the Play it Forward Giving Circle and The REAL Program, a newly formed 501c3, whose mission is to improve literacy. Jan believes in the premise that people really do want to help each other and that technology is a way to strengthen community. Jan blogs, tweets and photo documents this work that can be found at;, and

Jan is the mother of one grown son.


Board of Directors

The Board of Directors is comprised of people who share the passion for teaching, learning, reading, books, educational justice and helping people.


Barbara (Betsy) Brown, M. Ed. (Beverly) is the backbone of The REAL Program as lead mentor and creator of REAL traditions, of the REAL Carnival, and the Cuddle Up and READ campaigns. Betsy taught public school for 40 years. She has one grown son.


Kevin Carey, M. Ed, (Manchester-by-the-Sea) President, is a professor of English at Salem State University and a basketball coach at Glen Urquhart School. Kevin is a published author, poet and documentary producer who grew up in Revere. Kevin is the father of two grown children.


Charles Juliand, BS (Peabody) is a teacher, world traveler and former volunteer at The REAL Program.


Mary Kiene-Gaultieri, BFA (Lynn) is cofounder of LIMA Design, Swampscott. Mary is a former REAL parent, artist and graphic designer.


Kelsey McNiff, PhD (Gloucester) is a professor at Harvard, writer and artist. She is the mother of two sons.


Fred Mathieu, BS (Allston) is a teacher, director of Groton Camps, Director of Washington Street Baptist Church After School Program. Fred grew up in Lynn and he is dedicated to helping others.


Dinorah Mendez, BS (Salem) is founder of A Better Path, a leader in the Dominican community in Lynn, and a teacher. Dinorah is a mother and grandmother who grew up in Lynn after moving from the Dominican Republic.


Judith O’Hare, M. Ed. (Reading) is an internationally-acclaimed puppeteer with nonprofit experience and teacher at all levels. Judith is the director/founder of You and Me Puppets. Judith is mother of three children and grandmother of three children.


Darryl Ruffen, MBA, (Haverhill) Treasurer, is an Ameriprise financial consultant who grew up in Lynn. Darryl is a basketball official and overall fan of the game of basketball. Darryl is the father of two children.


Rachel Schwartz, BA Early Childhood Education, (Gloucester) is the Director of Magic Years School in Manchester-by-the-Sea.


Elizabeth Garcia Yanishevsky, JD (Swampscott), Secretary, is an educator and attorney with a strong interest in helping others. Elizabeth has one child.


The REAL (Reading and Educational Assistance for Learning) Program's mission is to improve literacy in Lynn, Massachusetts.

The REAL Program is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. 
Donate or volunteer today!

The REAL Program, Inc.

Payne Family Literacy House
17 Atlantic Street • Lynn, MA 01902

Director: Jan Plourde • 978-993-4425 •

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