Literacy Hero Award 2014 Winner – Karen Williams


Each and every day, ordinary people do extraordinary things to promote literacy in our communities. With these awards, we celebrate the selfless acts of regional heroes who champion the cause of literacy in San Joaquin and Stanislaus counties.


For the past 18 years, Karen Williams has served as the executive director of LearningQuest – Stanislaus Literacy Center. Williams oversees the health and welfare of the organization under the leadership of its board of directors. Her primary responsibilities include contract negotiations and compliance, budget management, program performance, employee management, fundraising and public relations.
Williams is the first and only executive director of this organization since its formation in 1995, when it evolved from a Volunteer Center program. In those early months, two part-time employees organized all services, which included volunteer tutors for students and a prison-based education program to help inmates.
Under Karen’s leadership, Literacy Center programs grew and services expanded. In 1998, the first Family Literacy Program and a Drop-In Learning Center were added. In 2001, the Stanislaus Literacy Center partnered with the Stanislaus County Library to form “Reading Works,” bringing more funding and volunteers to the organization. Today, programs also provide GED preparation and English classes for non-native speakers.
Since 1996, the program has grown from a $68,000 budget and two part-time employees to over $1.8 million budget with 55 employees. The organization, which was serving 50 adults per year in 1996, now serves over 1300.
In 2012, the organization moved to a new location at 1032 Eleventh Street in Modesto. At the same time, the organization underwent a name change to LearningQuest – Stanislaus Literacy Centers, which better communicates the fact the organization provides literacy, GED, and ESL education for adults, rather than just literacy.
For her achievements, Williams was honored with a MEDAL fellowship from California Literacy; she was also chosen as the 2005 Literacy Network’s recipient of the Jean and Clyde Dunlap Award for her outstanding contribution to literacy.
Before taking this position, Karen earned her Bachelor’s Degree from Fort Hays State University in Hays, KS in Communications with an emphasis in Journalism. She and her husband then became editors and publishers of a weekly newspaper in western Kansas. After taking a break from employment to raise three sons, Karen worked part-time for Visiting Nurses in Lawrence, Kansas, before the family moved to Turlock, California, where she began her career in non-profit management. She has been married for 34 years and has three grandchildren.
Read more about Karen’s work at LiteracyQuest –

Contact Info for Karen Williams: 1032 11th St. Modesto, CA 95354 Phone: 209-522-0656 work /Email: Website: