Gaston Literacy Council Staff

Linda McConnell

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Linda McConnell, Executive Director, joined GLC in 2017, after a “long” career with the State of NC, including 23 years as Pre-K Director for Gaston County Schools. She is a graduate of NC State, and completed a graduate degree at Univ. of Tennessee – Knoxville.

Linda recognizes the importance of quality education and its role in personal success and the vitality of our community. She is proud to be a part of the legacy of GLC and celebrates the diversity of both students and staff at GLC.

In her “spare time,” rather an oxymoron when describing Linda, she keeps busy running and walking, hiking, kayaking, reading, baking (and eating!), NFL football, and enjoys traveling anywhere, especially the NC mountains! One of her proudest moments is completion of a full marathon in 2014!  She is “Mom” to Mollie and Patrick, and grandmother to Lucas, Liam, and Maggie. Linda attends First United Methodist Church and is a member of the Rotary Club of Gastonia.


Kelly Link

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Kelly Link is Assistant Director of GLC and a long-time instructor. She has over 20 years of experience working in Adult Education and Literacy.

Kelly began as an Adult Education instructor at Gaston College before coming to GLC in 2005. She initially came to GLC to coordinate the English as a Second Language (ESL) program. Later she began overseeing the Adult Basic Education program in addition to the English as a Second Language programs. Kelly continues to oversee all programs and compliance.

Kelly has a BA from East Carolina University and a MA from UNC Charlotte. She is a native of Lincoln County and loves all outdoor activities. She regularly keeps herself busy on her family’s farm tending to a vineyard and a menagerie of animals.

Donna Watson

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Donna Watson, Lead ESL Instructor, joined GLC in 2012 and has over thirteen (13) years experience in adult education.

Donna graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts from UNC Charlotte. She is a former employee of Gaston County Schools where she held several positions. As a Parent Specialist, Donna earned national recognition for planning successful parent involvement events in the community. During this time, she also volunteered with GLC as a reading tutor.

Prior to joining GLC, Donna taught reading in the Adult Basic Education department of Gaston College. Her passion is helping lower leveled students achieve level gains. She loves to see their enjoyment and excitement of learning English, and see their fears of a new language transform into a new self-confidence!

Donna enjoys dancing, history, documentaries, traveling and serving in her church’s missionary department.

Elizabeth McLean

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Elizabeth is an Adult Education Instructor at Gaston Literacy Council. She began her involvement with GLC while working as a volunteer in 2017, and quickly became a favorite of the students.

Elizabeth holds a Bachelor of Arts in Spanish and a Master of Teaching in Foreign Language Education from the University of Virginia. While pursuing her degrees, she studied abroad in Valencia, Spain. After teaching Spanish for the Clover School District, Elizabeth completed an endorsement to her Master’s Degree in English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) through the College of Charleston.

When she is not working to serve her community as a sustainer of the Junior League of Gaston County or as a member of the Next Gen giving circle of Gaston Community Foundation, she enjoys essential oils, reading, tennis, and spending time with her husband and two boys in Gastonia.

Delta Sanders

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Delta Sanders, our Funds Development Coordinator, has a passion for purpose! A veteran non-profit professional, she has worked for several local and nationally-affiliated organizations. She has been equally active as a volunteer who shares her time and skills in numerous capacities. She is co-founder and current Board Chair of Elements of Empowerment, Inc.

Her dedicated community service earned her the 2014 Belmont Citizen of the Year Award and the 2018 Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Humanitarian Award. She joined Gaston Literacy Council, Inc. in 2017. Delta is delighted to use her non-profit experience and energy at Gaston Literacy Council, Inc.

Her pastimes are movies, reading and learning new things. Delta has the love and support of husband Gene and daughters, Diamond and Tuscany.

Annie Anthony

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Annie Anthony, Co-Coordinator of Reading Soul Mates,  first started working with Gaston Literacy Council as a Reading Soul Mates volunteer in 2017. She loved the experience, the students, as well as the philosophy and happily joined the GLC staff in 2019.

Annie enjoys recruiting and training volunteers to provide the encouragement and motivation needed to enhance the literacy skills and self-esteem of second grade students here in Gaston County.

Annie graduated with a BA in Psychology from Belmont Abbey College. She is a mother to three wonderful children and has spent over twenty years volunteering in various capacities throughout the community. When not promoting children’s literacy or spending time with family, Annie can be found reading, walking, or cooking.

Merry Penegar Deely

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GLC was fortunate to “find” Merry Deely in 2018 and as Co-Coordinator of the Reading Soul Mates Program, she is an integral part of Gaston Literacy Council.

Merry is a graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with a degree in Early Childhood Education. She also holds a Masters Degree in Education from UNC Charlotte. She has been involved in some form of Education for over 25 years. She was a classroom teacher with Gaston County Schools for 11 years, with her most recent year at Belmont Central Elementary teaching 4th grade.

Merry took several years off to raise her children and during that time she worked as a part time substitute teacher and ran a Horseback Riding Lesson and Camp program on her family farm, combining her two loves of children and horses!!

Merry enjoys yoga, hiking, riding horses with her identical twin sister and spending time with dear friends and her very loving family!

2023-2024 Board of Directors

Executive Committee:

Donna Lockett, Chair

Pauline Styers, Vice Chair

Lucille Rinehart, Secretary

Chris Mills, Treasurer

Mary Massey, Immediate Past Chair



Donyel Barber, Kintegra

Ana Barreto-Mathews, Piedmont Community Charter School

Mary Robin Bell, Retired

Jami Gibson, Community Volunteer

William Gross, Retired Public Health

Angela Harris, Kelbry Properties

Christa Heilig, Community Volunteer

Carrie Minnich, Belmont Abbey College




Laurel Morris, Retired Library Professional

Jane Pearson, Community Volunteer

Jason Shoemaker, Mullen, Holland & Cooper, PA

Susan Stacey, Retired Educator

Beth Stanforth, Retired Optician

Cynthia Stitt, Community Volunteer

Pauline Styers, Community Volunteer

Regina Taylor, Attorney