Founders Awardee Spotlight: Lili Ann Zisook

WITS is proud to honor 14 individuals who laid the foundation for creating the organization we are today.


“WITS is such a special program. I’m so glad that it has flourished in the way that it has because it is something that affects so many lives.” Lili Ann Zisook, a former teacher, has been involved with WITS as volunteer, Board Member, and Emeritus Director over the past 25 years.

Lili Ann’s passion for helping students drew her to WITS. Bringing her own classroom experience, Lili Ann began supporting classrooms of young students as a WITS Classroom Reading Tutor at Sojourner Truth Elementary. “I did a lot of reading tutoring, helping the teachers, and being there to support the kids. I gave a lot of extra hugs too.” Lili Ann valued the opportunity to be a resource for teachers and students. Naturally trust developed and “the teachers relied on me a lot and I really appreciated that.”


Lili Ann continued to volunteer with WITS through the Mid-Day Mentoring program, sharing the joy of reading with Third graders at Jenner Academy. As a member of the Board of Directors, she supported fundraising events, and helped to build the volunteer network as corporations and young professionals began getting involved with WITS. While there have been many highlights, including receiving the Annual First Edition Award for passionate WITS community members, and getting to know many outstanding people, it is the times with students that are Lili Ann’s favorite WITS memories. “I always loved walking into the classroom and seeing the kids’ faces light up when they saw that we returned. That never got old. I was always just as excited as they were.”


At 25 years, Lili Ann is thrilled at how much WITS has grown and expanded its reach. When reflecting back, she is reminded of an Oprah quote that embodies the volunteer spirit of WITS, “if you learn you must teach, and if you get you must give.” It is this enthusiasm and support of Lili Ann and other dedicated WITS community members like her that continues to help WITS build communities and empower readers.