READ TO ME FOUNDATION
"Today a reader..Tomorrow a leader"
Read To Me Foundation
Born in Italy, Dondino came to the United States with his family in pursuit of a better way of life. Because he did not speak English upon his arrival to America he learned many English words through his singing talents by mimicking the lyrics to hundreds of American songs.
Because of his struggles as a non English speaking child, Dondino knows the importance of reading, writing and spelling. He understands how reading books can give a child a strong and secure foundation for their future.
Dondino made a significant mark in the entertainment world and has vowed to give back to society through helping others. As a professional singer and entertainer he is an active member of Variety, the children's charity, and serves as one of the principal entertainers for the annual Variety Telethon fund raiser of Iowa. In addition, Dondino contributes his time and musical talents to many other charities, including the Read To Me Foundation.
Read To Me Foundation
Donna was raised in the West Texas town of Lubbock,Texas. She grew up the middle child of three children and was educated in the field of Child Development. Her father was a musician during the Big Band era.
Donna has spent most of her adult years working in the Convention and Entertainment industry, and has been partners with Dondino for over 20 years. As the script writer and producer of Dondino's television show, she learned what the public wants to see and hear from an audience perspective.
Combining the creativeness of Dondino and the artistic talents of illustrator Juan D Varela, she has helped create a new children's television division for READ TO ME FOUNDATION. The HOLA HOWDY, weekly TV show will be a fun experience for the child viewer, their family and friends.
HONORARY CELEBRITY MEMBER
Nathan Best was born December 13, 1960 in North Miami Beach, Florida to Nathaniel Best Sr. and Dorothy Best. At the age of three, Nathan’s mother had him and his five sisters singing. Nathan’s mother was a recording artist on Chess record label out of Chicago, Illinois. At the age of five years old, Nathan’s mother had him to lead the song, “I want Jesus to walk with me” on her record album. From that point Nathan began touring with his mother, father, and sisters. They toured with the great quartets of the 60’s and the 70’s (The Five Blind Boys, The Volinares, the Soul Stirrers, etc.). At the age of twelve Nathan began playing the piano for his Dad’s church.
Nathaniel became one of the members of the legendary group, The O’Jays. In 1993 he replaced Sammy Strain of the O’Jays. Nathan says that it was a tremendous learning experience because he was able to learn about the music business. Before Nathan became a member of the O’Jays, he sang for the Edwin & Walter Hawkins and the Love Center Choir. He also served as the keyboard player and background vocalist for the group Levert and the music director for Ms. Miki Howard. Nathan has worked on Sinbad’s Summer Jam Festival, on HBO, New York Undercover, Robert Townsend’s TV, Dick Clark’s Rockin’ in the New Year, and in a host of arenas around the world.
Nathan is a former member of the famous Quartet Group, The Fairfield Four. The group was inducted into two (2) Hall of Fame’s in 1999. Nathan led the vocal track along with the group’s bass singer, Isaac Freeman, for two songs in the hit comedy movie, “Oh Brother, Where Art Thou” (which starred George Clooney and was released on December 18, 2000). In 2001 there were two soundtracks released from the movies which sold over 4 million copies and are still selling. The soundtrack won Album of the Year at the Country Music Awards held on November 7, 2001. In addition, Nathan and the other members of the Fairfield Four were the only African Americans ever to win Album of the Year at the County Music Awards.
At the 44 Annual Grammy Awards held on February 27, 2002, Nathan also received three Grammy Awards:
(1) Album of the Year (presented by Janet Jackson & Gloria Estefan),
(2) Soundtrack of the Year, and
(3) Best Folk Album of the Year
Because of the calling on Nathan’s life to preach the gospel and his heart for mission work in other countries, Nathan decided to leave the group. Nathan emphasizes “there is nothing like doing what God wants me to do. I’ve never been happier in my whole life and I’m complete now with Christ in my life. There is just no turning back!”
BOARD OF DIRECTORS
* Sad news.....our special board member Don Usherson has passed away. He was a special friend and Board Member of Read To Me Foundation and will be forever missed. May our love and prayers be with you as you make your final journey to your maker and beautiful family awaiting you. Thank you for all your support as a Read To Me Foundation Board Member and as a friend.
Las Vegas, Nevada
Author/artist representative, comedy writer, national TV talk show host, consultant for world wide entertainment media, film and TV projects and productions.
Journalist, host of television’s “Everyone’s a Critic,” Don has been one of Las Vegas’ most widely read, listened to and watched entertainment journalist in 2 decades. A former hotel-casino critic for the LV Review Journal, Gaming Today and the LasVegan, he hosted the nationally televised “Las Vegas at Night” show, Don learned the entertainment industry as Public/Publicity Relations Director for the old MGM (now Bally’s) and the Tropicana Hotel as well as for many entertainers and production shows, including Legends in Concert.
Don Usherson has written over 2,000 columns about the “Entertainment Capital” and is in tune, in touch and on top of the entertainment scene. The manager and production consultant for local and out-of-town entertainers and production companies, he has the experience, sources and contacts.
Streeterville Chamber of Commerce
Gateway to Chicago, Streeterville is home to much of the city's world-renowned shopping, dining, museums, architecture, theater, music, as well as the number one tourist attraction "Navy Pier." Mable will be honored on November 6, 2009 with the prestige Trailblazer Award.
Mable has been in the Event planning business for over 18 years. She has done work for some of Chicago's high profile politicians, including Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White, and Illinois U.S. Senator Dick Durbin. She is one of the planners of choice, especially for Las Vegas bling affairs, which has included the launch of Nike town NFL Super bowl party ( Jacksonville, Florida), Las Vegas" NBA All Star 2007" week long athletes parties, grand opening of the hottest night clubs on the strip, after-fight parties for Oscar de la Hoya, and the late Godfather of soul, James Brown, at the House of Blues. Mable has arranged the gala and the entertainment for trade shows for major Corporate Companies.
She has a BA degree in Education, and has taught school in both Las Vegas and Chicago She understands the importance of reading. In fact, reading and collecting books is one of Mable's favorite enjoyments.She has received numerous awards; her latest as Honorary Chair for the 2009 Illinois/Indiana Step out to Walk for the American Diabetes Association.
Greater Des Moines
Becky Gruening, is the Director of the Greater Des Moines Film Commission. She has been with the Greater Des Moines Convention and Visitors Bureau since 1991. Becky has been involved with the hospitality industry since 1971 holding various positions at in hotels and attractions.
At the Bureau, Becky has been the director of the tour and travel department, and has overseen one staff member, two visitor centers, and volunteer program prior to her starting the Film Commission at the CVB.
Past Leadership Roles:
State Board Positions include;
Travel Federation of Iowa – President, board member, Chair of several committees, Legislative District Leader program
Iowa Group Travel Association – Founder of IGTA (1982), President, board member, Chair of several committees
Received the Iowa Tourism Leadership Award in 2005
On a National Level;
First elected Destination Marketing Organization (DMO) member to serve on the NTA’s Board of Directors and Executive Council.
A volunteer and speaker at the NTA’s annual conventions
Served on the NTA’s Market Development Council for three years
DMO Council for three years
NTA’s Grassroots Legislative Network
Travel Industry of America (TIA National Council
Gary served 3 ½ years in the Air Force during Vietnam, and after returning home graduated from Baylor University. Upon graduation from Baylor he began a 22 year career with Pitney Bowes earning various positions as Vice President of a 22 state area of the US. Later in his career he accepted a position as President of Working Capital, based in California for 3 ½ years. Desiring to go back to Texas, he accepted a position as Director of Sales & Marketing for Baylor University. After several years with the Baylor University it was time to move closer to grand children. The next move was to Fort Worth, Texas where Gary began a new career as a landman for XTO Energy.
On a personal note, it should be noted that Gary was the only Baylor graduate that won the “Most Dedicated Baylor Fan Award” 2 times (once as a student and also in 2006 as an Alumni).
(L to R: Judge Ken Starr, President Baylor University and Gary Simpson)
Gary introduced Read To Me Foundation at the "Baylor Alumni event" at the Colorado University vs Baylor game in Denver, Colorado
Gary is also the proud Uncle of two world famous entertainment stars; Jessica Simpson and Ashlee Simpson. His brother,Joe Simpson, is President of Papa Joe Records (a division of Geffen Records) and is the father of Jessica and Ashlee Simpson. Joe has executive produced a TV series for ABC called “Women’s Murder Club” staring Angie Harmon, “The Newly Weds” for MTV, the Ashlee Simpson Show for MTV, an ABC Christmas Special., "The Price of Beauty" for VH1,2 movies, and now Joe Simpson lands comedy at Nickelodeon.
A native of Minnesota, David has called Iowa his home for the last 30 years. David graduated from the American Institute of Business (Des Moines, IA) with a degree in accounting. For over twenty years, he has worked for several small businesses in accounting and controller positions. The father of a son with learning disabilities, David knows the importance of reading as the foundation for a good education, and will bring to Read To Me Foundation the support necessary to achieve the fight for Literacy in America.
Georgia was born and raised in Texas, graduating college from Texas Tech University in Lubbock, Texas, with a BA degree in Child Development. She has been teaching in public and private schools for over thirty years. As a teacher and specialist in the child development industry, she knows first hand the importance of teaching our children to read early. She also knows how a child is affected throughout their lives if "illiterate". Georgia's knowledge of the demands and needs of both public and private schools will assist the Read To Me Foundation to better serve the school industry with bilingual (English/Spanish) books, and to help enable teachers to support reading to their young students through the Read To Me Foundation book donation programs.
Las Vegas, Nevada
Hola Howdy Television Show
Artist /Graphic Artist
Born in Chihuahua, Mexico, and educated in Mexico City, Juan took his first mail-order drawing lesson as a young teen and later received his diploma in Commercial Art from the Mexican National University. He is a gifted graphic designer, and is in high demand as a portrait and mural painter. Juan has made colorful scenes of Mexico in his mural works for Mexican restaurant chains, such as Macayo's in Tucson, Phoenix, Az., and Las Vegas, Nevada, as well as Tamales Dona Maria in Las Vegas. In addition to the Mexican restaurant murals, he has painted kids scene murals for several Burger King restaurants in Las Vegas, Nevada, and worked in Mexico as the Director for numerous Hanna Barbera projects for Scooby -Doo.