Autumn Weil, Executive Director of Blue Ridge Literacy Council for the past five years, has been named Executive Director at International House in Charlotte, a much larger organization with a similar mission.

Her last day at the Literacy Council in Hendersonville is May 29.

“We are excited for Autumn as she moves forward in her career,” said Board President Keith Johnson, “but we’re feeling the loss for our organization. Autumn has developed strong leadership skills and helped us grow significantly during her time here. She was very committed to our mission. We will miss her.”

Weil also serves as the president of the Western North Carolina chapter of the Association of Professional Fundraisers and is the funded agencies’ representative on the United Way Board.

For most of its 30 years the Blue Ridge Literacy Council served adults in Henderson County with programs including English as a second language, basic literacy for native speakers with educational deficits and citizenship classes.

During Weil’s tenure the Literacy Council expanded its mission and built collaborations with other organizations. The Board adopted a new mission statement that supports a broader view of literacy than language acquisition: “We transform lives by cultivating literacy skills that promote economic and social success.”

“A stronger community because literacy is highly valued” expresses a new vision.

A family literacy program designed to help Latino preschoolers be kindergarten ready was established and is positioned for growth through a partnership with Henderson County Public Schools. Senior literacy programs featuring Medicare workshops and digital literacy classes were launched in partnership with Council on Aging and Henderson County Public Library. An afterschool program to help at risk youth referred by the court is a partnership with the Juvenile Crime Prevention Council.

Last year the Blue Ridge Literacy Council’s service area was extended to Transylvania County, which lacked a literacy program.

Jan Lanier, currently Program Manager, was appointed Interim Executive Director for 90 days beginning June 1.

“Jan has worked closely with Autumn for four years and was instrumental in organizing the family literacy program, which she supervises,” said Johnson. “She has a strong professional background in literacy programming. We are grateful to her for accepting additional responsibilities.”

A search committee is accepting applications for the Executive Director position until June 5. The job description and details are available here.

One of our most important goals as an organization is to facilitate improvement in our students’ employability skills. Some of our students come to us with very specific work-related goals. Teresita, for example, is a registered nurse in Costa Rica, and she wants to continue that career as she makes her life in the United States. When she came to us looking for a tutor, we talked about this goal. We were able to find a tutor who retired from nursing and was happy to work with Teresita using health-related texts. Please click here to watch a brief and inspiring video from Sheila and Teresita.


This is a course taught over 4 sessions to help those enrolled or preparing to enroll in Medicare, or those providing care to a loved one who utilizes Medicare, understand how to navigate today’s increasingly complex healthcare system. Each session builds upon the previous session.Topics will include Healthcare Access Points, Insurance/Medicare, Billing and Explanation of Benefits. Call the Etowah Library to to sign up! 828.891.6577. View the flyer!

The sessions are from 10:00 am - 11:30 am on the following dates:

August 28
September 11
September 25
October 9

*This FREE program is made possible with funds provided by the Community
Foundation of Henderson County through the Richard J. and Betty A. Scott Estate.

Maria de Lourdes and her daughter, Geraldina, participated in Blue Ridge Literacy Council’s September 2018 Family Literacy class. The following paragraphs are excerpts from her evaluation of the class:

The most informative thing we’ve learned in our Family Literacy classes was to read daily with our children and to sing to them. The information about healthy food for children was new to me. I learned about resources available in the community that can help my family. There are places I didn’t know about. I am going to be better prepared for the time when my child enters school.

My daughter is more social with the other children and less timid now that she has participated in the class. She has started asking me to read to her during the day. She plays more with books and pretends to be reading. The children are very well cared for and they have learned a lot in this class.

I would like the class to last longer. I would like to attend an English class, but I can’t now because I don’t have anyone to watch my daughter.

Additionally, Maria de Lourdes reported that she feels she can more effectively make plans for her family’s goals. She feels more prepared to teach her child the basic skills needed for her to enter kindergarten, like counting and learning colors and letters. She understands more about what the school will expect from her daughter, and she feels more confident in being able to advocate for her daughter when she enters school.

United Way JanAnd Autumn

The donation was used to fund a required training for Jan Lanier, our staff person who facilitates the Family Literacy classes. Abriendo Puertas, the curriculum we use for Family Literacy, published a new edition and is requiring facilitators to receive the update certification. Jan attended the excellent training in late June, and will be implementing the new edition in our next session.

Here is an article from Times News.