Mayor Nutter on Monday named Judith Renyi as his new $130,000-a-year executive director of the Mayor's Commission on Literacy.
The high-level appointment - Renyi until now was dean of the Schools of Graduate and Professional Studies at Rosemont College - is in keeping with Nutter's vow to revamp the commission to boost Philadelphia's "serious literacy crisis," as the mayor puts it.
In her new role, Renyi will be the point person for expanding adult-literacy programs currently run by several city departments, the Free Library of Philadelphia, individual literacy groups, and community and religious organizations.
Nutter announced his intention to overhaul the commission, which has been largely inactive in recent years, during his budget speech last March. The mayor named 16 board members to the commission in September.
The commission is tasked with recommending policies and programs to the Free Library, where the commission is based. The library already offers several literacy and education programs.
A charitable group that supports the Free Library, the Free Library Foundation, is funding Renyi's salary. Diane Inverso, who as director of education managed the commission until now, will remain in that role.
"I want to scale up the commission's scope, our reach and impact on literacy in Philadelphia, and hope the forthcoming National Summit on 21st Century Literacy will help Philadelphia take the lead in addressing this great national cause," Renyi said in a statement.
Philadelphia will host the national literacy summit next November.
While at Rosemont, Renyi oversaw adult education programs, including online, in-person, and blended graduate and undergraduate degrees. Previously, she was assistant dean for the liberal education program at New York University, and executive director of the Philadelphia Partnership of Education.
Last year, a report on illiteracy by the U.S. Department of Education, based on 2003 data, estimated that 22 percent of Philadelphians cannot read or write well enough to handle even elementary school material. That means they are unable to add deposits into a bank account or read a doctor's instructions about medical care.