Board of Directors

Jay Richards, Chairman & Editorial Committee Chair

Jay is the chair of the Editorial Committee and competition judges, and a member of the Executive Committee. He teaches English to 8th graders at Central Middle School in San Carlos, CA. A long-time teacher-consultant to the San Jose Area Writing Project, Jay is a frequent presenter on integrating reading, writing, and technology, including talks at the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) Annual Conference and the National Board’s Teaching and Learning Conference in Washington, D.C. A contributing author to Teaching Writing Grades 7-12 in an Era of Assessment: Passsion and Practice, Jay’s work has also been published in NCTE journals English Journal and Voices from the Middle. He lives in San Carlos with his wife Marianne, also a teacher, and his three children.

Jessica O’Rear, Director & Treasurer

Jessica is a member of the Executive Committee and is Leyla’s mother. She is an accomplished biochemist with numerous publications and patents to her name. Jessica has a master’s degree in Biochemistry from the Johns Hopkins University, and an undergraduate degree from the University of Texas at Austin. She has worked in the biotech industry for many years as a research scientist and is currently working in agbio research. She is a native of Corpus Christi, TX.

Karen Tiegel, Director & Secretary

Karen is a member of the Editorial Committee and a competition judge. She is the Middle School Division Head at The Nueva School in Hillsborough, CA and was one of Leyla’s mentors. Karen has taught for more than fifteen years in public and independent schools in the U.S. and abroad, including stints in Taiwan and Switzerland. She has developed curriculum at the Stanford Project for International and Cross-cultural Education, and holds a master’s degree from Stanford University.

Mary Jo O’Rear, Director

Mary Jo is a member of the Editorial Committee and a competition judge, and she is Leyla’s grandmother. She is the author of numerous books and articles about the history of Texas, including Storm Over the Bay: The People of Corpus Christi and their Port (Texas A&M Press, 2009); and Bulwark Against the Bay: The People of Corpus Christi and their Seawall (Texas A&M Press, 2017). She is a former secondary school instructor in history, economics, and geography, and a former history professor at Del Mar College and Texas A&M University-Kingsville.

Cynthia K. Richey, Director

Cynthia, a retired librarian, is our newest member of the Editorial Committee and competition judge. She earned a B.A. in English and a Masters degree in Library and Information Sciences from the University of Pittsburgh. Cynthia was a youth services librarian in public libraries for 25 years and the Director of Mt. Lebanon Public Library (Pittsburgh) for 19 years. She served as President of the Association for Library Service for Children (a division of the American Library Association/ALA), President of the Pennsylvania Library Association, and Chair of the Pennsylvania Governor’s Advisory Council on Library Development. In 2006, Cynthia received a New York Times Librarian Award. She was designated a University of Pittsburgh Legacy Laureate in 2012, the first librarian to receive that award. She chaired ALA’s 2011 John Newbery Medal Committee. She and her husband moved from Pittsburgh to San Carlos in 2016 to be near their grandchildren.

Betsy Parkhurst, Director

Betsy began as a competition judge and then joined the Editorial Committee. She worked as a technical writer and editor for both hardware and software companies in the Bay Area after receiving a Linguistics degree from Stanford. Through her children, she has gotten involved with several charitable organizations and served on the boards of the school PTAs as well as the Redwood chapter of the Young Men’s Service League. She has been heavily involved with Pied Piper Players, a non-profit community theater organization in San Mateo, since 2005.