In 2012, Pat and Mary Duff joined the Read to Lead community as donors because they were inspired by possibilities. The possibility to help students see the connection between school and their future. The possibility to leverage technology to address shortcomings and gaps in the existing school curriculum. The possibility to make learning more exciting. 

For Mary, Read to Lead’s mission deeply resonates with her experiences and brings her back to her childhood in New Jersey. She was the first female in her family to go to college, and she thought her only career choices were to become a nurse or teacher.

“I could have benefited greatly from a program like Read to Lead,” she said. “I am happy to see the young people are being introduced to a plethora of opportunities in Read to Lead. It’s important for them to know the career choices are endless and the sky’s the limit!” 

When asked what skills and traits are essential to leadership, Pat and Mary shared that in their experience, listening skills, the ability to foster community and collaboration, and adaptability are three of the most important. Through their generous, long-time support of Read to Lead, they have played a critical role in empowering students with opportunities to develop those leadership qualities. 

Pat and Mary were inspired by our founder Lewis Bernard’s vision and compassion from the very early days – when making students “the boss” was just an idea. As they look ahead, they are excited to see Read to Lead continue scaling its impact across the nation, and are also thrilled to support the development of new career worlds and learning experiences for students to explore. 

Their hope is that middle school students “come away from Read to Lead with an increased confidence, vision, and an understanding of what might be possible for them in the future.” Indeed, with their incredible generosity and commitment to Read to Lead, students can have access to windows of opportunities where they see what is possible in their future.

About Read to Lead

Read to Lead, created by the nonprofit organization, Classroom Inc., uses the power of game-based learning to empower middle school students to build literacy, life, and career skills. Teachers can sign up for a free account to get started!