Read Alliance Interviews Partner Mark Moore

Mark Moore discusses his experience as a board member of Read Alliance, a nonprofit organization fighting for children’s fundamental rights to literacy. 

What attracted you to Read Alliance?

I think learning to read is a basic, fundamental right of all children. Children who don’t learn how to read face the prospect of being left behind for the rest of their academic careers. But further, reading is a source of beauty and pleasure in our lives. Providing that to children seemed to be a really worthwhile cause. I didn’t quite realize at first how important the teen tutors were to the equation, but that fell into place quickly. It’s a very easy model to understand and a very elegant model because it provides such profound benefits to both the children and teen leaders at the same time.

How was the pandemic’s onset experienced at the board level?

The pandemic was met by our board the way I would have expected: in a calm, intelligent, non-panicked way. The board has an enormous amount of confidence in the management of Read Alliance. This is not an organization that shut down, wobbled or was at sea. Instead, it came up with a remote program that actually worked. It was proven out very quickly in a pilot phase and rolled out this fall just as schools needed it the most.

What have been your most memorable experiences as a board member?

This may seem a bit pedestrian, but I have come to appreciate, day after day, how well-run Read Alliance is on the management side and on the board side. It’s a place where people are truly dedicated to being effective. This has been proven out by metrics of various kinds but it’s also evident at board meetings, where there is a very effective presentation of information, where everyone keeps to the schedule and where everyone is heard. Then, of course, there’s the more emotionally satisfying side of seeing a Completion Ceremony, or the faces of children learning in the classroom that we get to see during class visits. Knowing people’s resources are being applied intelligently makes the experience very satisfying.

Speaking as Chair of the Governance and Nominating Committee, what do you believe are keys to a healthy board culture?

A very real understanding of and dedication to the organization. That’s the one thing that sort of cuts through any area of disagreement. When you know people are dedicated and care about the organization and its mission, it’s much easier to work together towards a common end. Our board is also blessed with people who are problem-solvers, practical and reasonable-minded. We are a very congenial, results-oriented group.

What has been the greatest challenge during your tenure?

The greatest challenge, to me, is still in front of us: Trying to figure out how to bring the organization beyond the five boroughs of New York City. I think the program has so much to offer in terms of its model, and we want to spread the word. It will be interesting to see whether this type of tutoring and teen leadership can be replicated in geographical areas with different infrastructures and issues.

How does Reavis Page Jump support your role with Read Alliance?

My firm and colleagues are devoted to supporting good causes. For example, we are a women-owned firm and have done quite a lot of work supporting the #MeToo movement—including providing advice to legislators on sexual harassment legislation. There is an expectation at the firm that you do more than provide legal services for hire, and my colleagues are very active in non-profit work of all kinds.

What advice would you have for someone exploring board service?

Do your homework. Learn about the organization. Look very carefully at its mission and whether that mission is of critical importance to the society around us. Then you look to the effectiveness of the organization, then to your expected role and whether you can fulfill it. Ask yourself, “Am I going to be an effective member of the team?” Then, if the fit is right, take the plunge.

To read the interview on Read Alliance’s website, click here.