The Team

Kenya Nelson Stevens

Director

Kenya Nelson Stevens became the Director of Ride For Reading in December, 2016. Kenya is originally from Ohio, and has enjoyed an active lifestyle of walking, running and cycling in Nashville for over 20 years.

As an Accountant, Kenya has supported both nonprofit and for profit organizations to implement, build and expand systems and successful programs, both while working at University School of Nashville and with clients of KNS Accounting Solutions. Kenya completed both her undergraduate and graduate degrees in Business and Accounting at Belmont University.

“I appreciate the impact of reading and an active lifestyle…both have the power to change the trajectory of children’s lives.”

      Mathew Portell

      Ride For Reading Founder

      Mathew Portell founded Ride for Reading in 2008 while serving as a 4th grade teacher in Metro Nashville Public Schools. Not only is Mathew still an integral part of Ride for Reading, but he also continues to contribute positively to the lives of children in Nashville, TN by serving as the Assistant Principal at Glencliff Elementary School.

          Graham Gerdeman

          Board Chair

          Graham earned his bachelors of science in Biology from Eckerd College in St. Petersburg, FL in 1995. Working first in marine biology, he moved back to his native Middle Tennessee in late 1999 and spent 12 years working in healthcare at Vanderbilt University (Laboratory Supervisor/Computer Systems Analyst). He also served on the Vanderbilt  Medical Center Staff Advisory Council for 8 years.

          Graham now works as a freelance photographer and is a technological assistant / videographer at the Nashville Jazz Workshop (NJW), a non-profit music school and performance space in East Germantown – and is active in the local music and visual arts scene. He serves on the NJW Advisory Board, as well as the Board of Directors of the Harpeth Trace Services Association (HTSA).

          An avid cyclist, Graham has volunteered with Ride for Reading for many years and is currently the Chair of Ride for Reading.

              John Gore

              Board Vice Chair

              John Gore is a professional engineer and vice-president at Barge Cauthen & Associates in Nashville, Tennessee.  John grew up in Nashville and attended Hillsboro High School.  He is a graduate of Tennessee Tech University, and has been working in the field of civil engineering since 1998.  John specializes in urban in-fill and redevelopment projects throughout middle Tennessee.  He is also LEED certified and has extensive experience in sustainable site design, as well as projects focusing on walkability, alternative transportation, and low-impact storm water design.   John joined the Board of Ride for Reading in 2013. He enjoys riding and racing bicycles and lives in East Nashville with his wife Pippa, and their two daughters.

                  Pat Dewaratanawanich

                  Treasurer

                  Pat earned her Bachelor of Business Administration from Belmont University and her Master of Management in Health Care from Vanderbilt University Owen Graduate School of Management. Pat is a Certified Fraud Examiner, and a seasoned healthcare and finance professional.
                  Pat came to Nashville, TN in 1983 as a refugee from Laos. Pat has two adult children and her passion is to help children become healthy and literate.

                      Kathy Ganske, Ph.D.

                      Board Member

                      Kathy Ganske, Ph.D. is Professor of the Practice of Literacy at Vanderbilt University. A few of her professional areas of interest include the development of vocabulary, spelling and phonic knowledge; the teaching and cross-curricular integration of writing; and literacy reform efforts. The questions that drive her research and scholarship extend from these areas and how to enable teachers to implement new practices.

                      Ganske is the author or coauthor/editor of numerous books on word study, writing, comprehension, and struggling readers and writers. She chairs the Vocabulary Special Interest Group for the American Education Research Association and is Chair-Elect of the Middle Tennessee Reading Association. Her work is grounded in a rich background of elementary classroom experience that encompasses teaching primary through upper elementary grades in various regions of the country and in extensive professional development work with practicing teachers.

                      When she has time, she enjoys nature walks at nearby Radnor Lake, bicycling, dabbling in poetry writing, and playing bridge. She is delighted to be a new member of the Board for Ride for Reading.

                          Dr. Tesia Wilson

                          Board Member

                          Dr. Tesia Wilson is a native of Nashville, TN. She began her teaching career with Metropolitan Nashville Public schools in 2003. Tesia completed her Bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education in 2002. She received her Masters from Tennessee State University in 2005 in Administration and Supervision. She also received her Educational Specialist degree in Educational Leadership from Middle Tennessee State University in 2010. Lastly, Dr. Wilson received her doctoral degree in Learning Organizations and Strategic Change from Lipscomb University in December 2014.

                          Tesia is married with two beautiful children. She is currently employed as the Assistant Principal at Park Avenue Enhanced Option School. Prior to this appointment she served as a classroom teacher, new teacher mentor and instructional coach. Additionally, in 2010, she received the distinguish honor of being selected Teacher of the Year at her school. She believes that books stir the senses, inspire imagination, and spark a love of reading that will last a lifetime. For this reason, she supports the notion that one of the most precious gifts we can give a child is a book.

                              Jeremy Pardue

                              Board Member

                              Jeremy Pardue is a Financial Planner at Waddell & Reed in Nashville, TN. Jeremy is Nashville native, and attended McGavock High School. After high school he joined the United States Navy where he was assigned to the Naval Special Warfare Teams were he served for 8yrs as a Corpsman both in the Active duty and Reserve components. During that time he also studied various universities remotely.  Jeremy was originally introduced to Ride for Reading through cycling. Having grown up in a low income family, and area his first book delivery was to the elementary school he attended as a child. Jeremy enjoys restoring and modifying cars, mountain biking, and spending time with wife Danielle, and 2 border collies.

                                  Troy Williams

                                  Board Member

                                  Troy first became involved in Ride For Reading through bicycling friends and later when his son Tyler wanted to participate with Nashville schools through book donations and delivery rides. After attending events and deliveries for 4 years, he was encouraged to participate in helping to shape the future through the RFR board.  Troy works with Vanderbilt Health as Vice President for Population Health.  He is a Colorado native and grew up doing cool things outside and now gets to do those same activities with his kids. He previously served the Nashville Habitat For Humanity team in developing a strategic plan for 2020 by working with their board and executive staff and also served in the Oasis bike workshop. After 6 moves and various states, he’s settled into Tennessee and likes the community that bicycling, reading and volunteering builds.  Troy was educated at San Diego State University and later Vanderbilt’s Owen School.  He and his family now reside in Brentwood, where they hope to stay.

                                      Angie Bianchi

                                      Social Media Coordinator

                                      Angie was born and raised outside of Cleveland, OH, but has lived in Nashville for the past nine years.  She studied communications, and works in television.  She is an active volunteer, who has worked with the Frist Center, Nashville Film Festival, and Belcourt Theatre.  She loves soccer, and her two rescued dogs.