Wise Readers to Leaders – Staff 2017-11-09T22:12:09+00:00





After practicing law for many years and having children of her own, Andrea realized her true calling was to help children. She began by leading her daughter’s Girl Scout troop. After joining forces with her then teenage daughter to form a girls club for inner city girls to instill in them a love of learning and strength of self, she joined the Advisory Board of the Para Los Ninos charter school. She also used her legal skills to help unaccompanied child immigrants escaping abuse and neglect in their country of origin gain legal residency.

Andrea’s experience with the girls club offered her a firsthand look at the impact she could have on literacy and self esteem through commitment to these students in a positive and safe environment, with a high mentor to student ratio. With her family’s experience developing the girls club, Andrea was confident that they could scale the concept to Wise Readers to Leaders while galvanizing the Jewish community to live its values.

Andrea serves as Chair of the Board of the Wise Readers to Leaders, on the Board of USC Hillel. where she is Vice-Chair of Development, and as a Women’s Philanthropy Vice-Chair of the Jewish Federation. She has served on the Executive Board of both Curtis School and Harvard-Westlake School Parents’ Associations and was the founding Co-President of the Sisterhood at Stephen Wise Temple.

Andrea graduated Cum Laude from the USC Marshall School of Business in Finance in 1983 and received her JD from Loyola Law School in 1986.

RABBI RON STERN RABBI RON STERN – Teen Advisor and Co-Founder

Rabbi Ron Stern has been serving Stephen Wise Temple for 17 years. He was ordained from Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in 1990. In addition to serving as a pastoral, pulpit and educational rabbi of Stephen Wise he also directs the Center for Social Justice. Rabbi Stern is charged with the task of broadening and deepening the Social Justice mission of the congregation. He has expanded the reach of the congregation into several partnership organizations including: The Fulfillment Fund, Imagine LA and LA Voice. As a member of the LA Voice/PICO organizing network, Stephen Wise has become a major voice in the interfaith community working to achieve justice for all of Los Angeles’ citizens. Wise seeks to leverage our network of relationships with the Mayor, the City Council, the School Board and LAUSD board members to advance these vital causes.

Our commitment to strong public education leads us to establish of coalitions with Latino and Black communities in our city. By far, the most meaningful work that Wise has done in recent memory is to establish the Wise Readers to Leaders. This represents one more step towards realizing the vision of establishing this congregation as a force for meaningful, progressive change in the city of Los Angeles.


Olivia LaViolette was born and raised in Los Angeles, and studied Sociology and Anthropology at Kenyon College in Ohio. After graduating in 2013, Olivia lived in the northeast region of Thailand to teach English as a second language at an all-girls government school. Olivia then earned her Master’s in Social Work at Columbia University of New York in 2016. During her program, Olivia worked to close the opportunity divide amongst young adults from low-income communities across NYC by connecting them with internships and mentors at Fortune 500 companies. She then created curriculum for middle-school girls of color from low-income neighborhoods in NYC that was centered around leadership, social justice, healing, and the arts. Most recently, Olivia worked with youth in the foster care system as a case manager at a group home in Hollywood.

Olivia prioritizes creating a holistic program that meets scholars where they are by listening to the needs and wants of participants and their families, as they are the experts of their own narratives.


Nicole Soriano has always had a passion for working with children. Prior to graduating from the University of Colorado Boulder in May 2015, she worked at several summer camps in Southern California. After receiving her BA in Psychology, Nicole began working at Wise Readers to Leaders for her first summer. In her role at the Milken site, she was able to encourage each scholar’s love for reading every day. In addition, she contributed to the “behind the scenes” action by working directly with the Site Coordinator to ensure the smooth operation of the program. Her experience that summer inspired her to want to improve the lives of children through the power of education. She is excited to be able to do just that in her new position working for the organization year round. Nicole is now the Development and Programming Associate for Wise Readers to Leaders. In her new role, she will assist in all of the organizational and developmental tasks that go in to making this amazing program a reality. In addition, Nicole held the position of Site Coordinator at our Milken site for Summer 2016.

As she continues to work for us, she will be attending Phillips Graduate University to receive her Masters Degree in Marriage Family Therapy. Nicole is so excited to be part of this wonderful organization whose ultimate goal is giving back to the community by educating the next generation!

NINA BERGER NINA BERGER – Teen Volunteer Coordinator

Nina Berger graduated from the University of Arizona and received her degree in Elementary Education. In her senior year at The University of Arizona she student taught in a first grade class at a title one school in Tucson. She began working for Readers to Leaders after her freshman year of college and that is what helped guide her in perusing her career in Education. She then went on to work another 3 years where she was a Literacy Leader, assistant site coordinator, then the Site Coordinator for the Milken campus. Nina has a strong passion for working with children and loves positively influencing our scholars. She is excited to continue to be a part of our growing program as our JLL advisor and help teach our teen volunteers how to advocate for social justice and help make a difference in their communities.