Literacy Volunteers of Rensselaer County Announces New Executive Director – troyrecord
TROY, NY – Literacy Volunteers of Rensselaer County (LVORC) announced Friday that Executive Director Judith Smith is retiring. She is replaced by Nancy Benz.
Smith has been part of the LVORC community for a total of 11 years, working as a tutor and volunteer for three years before becoming Executive Director for the remaining eight. She is very proud to have been involved for so long.
“I’m really, really grateful to have had this opportunity,” Smith said. “The overwhelming generosity of our community and our volunteers is so touching.
Smith said the decision to retire came after celebrating a birthday in the fall and a work anniversary at LVORC in December. She felt she had reached a point in her life where she wanted to enjoy more free time.
“I thought it was time,” she recalls. “I had told the board in September that I was thinking about it, and they immediately got to work finding my replacement. I feel like the organization is doing pretty well – they are financially solvent and all programs are working fine.
Upon retirement, Smith plans to travel, work on his family’s genealogy, and catch up on reading. Having spent so many years with LVORC, she has a deeper appreciation for reading and knows it’s not something to take for granted.
“Working with people in our programs has made me really appreciate the fact that I can read,” Smith commented. “Being able to communicate is a gift.”
LVORC hasn’t seen the last of Smith, however. She is quite confident that she will be back, working as a volunteer.
“What we do is improve the lives of others. They’re improving and it’s so important to be a part of that,” Smith said.
Smith knows LVORC is in good hands with Benz, who comes to the organization with years of experience. She is currently a resident of Schenectady and has spent most of her career in nonprofit work. After graduating from SUNY Albany, Benz worked for several companies, including Girls, Incorporated, Planned Parenthood, and Animal Protective Foundation. In fact, his first post-college job was at LVORC, so returning there as the new executive director makes Benz feel like he’s come full circle.
“I’m so thrilled,” Benz said. “It’s a great organization, and I like the education. I love the idea of helping people become more communicative and literate, and the staff and volunteers here are so dedicated. I look forward to working with each of them.
Benz hopes to improve LVORC by trying to find areas that can be even better than they already are.
“I’d like to look at more technology in our programs, like using Constant Contact for email, and find ways to work smarter, not harder,” Benz said. “And I’m going to see if there are maybe things that could be slightly changed to improve the efficiency of our programs. But basically, we will always be the same organization. I look forward to continuing our journey, serving those in need of literary services, and making our programs as effective and strong as possible.
Some of Benz’s long-term hopes for LVORC include exploring multi-year fundraising opportunities and considering new expansions. In the short term, she is looking to recruit.
“We are always looking for more volunteers!” Benz said. “Our tutor training is ongoing and joining is easy. Tutoring sessions are still taking place in public places, and as we are still dealing with COVID, tutoring via Zoom is also an option.
For more information about Rensselaer County Literacy Volunteers, including volunteer opportunities, visit www.lvorc.org.