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Board Members

​​​​​John Corcoran

John is the Founder and President of the John Corcoran Foundation. 


After a successful college basketball career at Texas Western College, John spent 17 years as a teacher in the California School Districts, before pivoting to a real estate developer. At the age of 48, John enrolled in an adult reading program at the local public library, and after some time, publicly shared his secret of illiteracy. Upon learning to read, he became an immense advocate for literacy, traveling the country for speaking engagements, appearing on the Oprah Winfrey Show, and writing three books. 


Almost 40 years later his dedication to literacy has not waned. Through his Foundation, he has introduced evidence-based learning to thousands of students and teachers across America and Canada. He will not stop his mission until every little boy and girl in the world can read, write, and spell - starting with his great-grandchildren.

Thom Fleming

Thom is a dedicated servant to the people of his community. After receiving his Masters in Education, he began his career as a teacher, specializing in special education. Thom has first hand knowledge of the public education system and its ongoing literacy crisis. He has since retired from teaching, and taken up serving as the Pastor of his church. He is also a professional golf instructor.


Whether through his position on the board of the Foundation, through his church, or even on the golf course, Thom takes pride in his community and is dedicated to improving it.

​​​Kathleen Corcoran

Having graduated from California State University, Fresno with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing, Kathleen went to work first as a California Public Health Nurse before pivoting to California Public Schools. For over 50 years she has worked as a nurse in various San Diego County school districts. During that time her life drastically changed when her husband, John, publicly shared his dyslexia and illiteracy. Nonetheless, she supported her husband, and herself became a strong advocate for literacy for all.


Her greatest pride are her 2 children, 6 grandchildren, and 5 great-great grandchildren, with many more on the way!

Colleen Mertes

With a Bachelor of Science in Nursing, Colleen worked in Neonatal Intensive Care and Labor & Delivery. Her work in the literacy field began while she raised a large family and spent time in various volunteer capacities. She began tutoring students for the John Corcoran Foundation in 2010. She teaches adults and children, one-on-one, small-group and in the classroom. After classroom teachers have been trained in evidence based instruction methods she does follow-up coaching. She joined the JCF Board in 2012 and became Executive Director in 2015. 


Her commitment to literacy continues, these days her toddling grandchildren are her youngest students!

Kayla Mertes

Kayla received her bachelor's degree in Communications and French  from Santa Clara University, graduating Summa Cum Laude. She studied at the Sorbonne University in Paris, France, then returning home to become the first Executive Director of the John Corcoran Foundation - growing the organization exponentially and introducing it to school districts all over America. She has personally tutored thousands of students and hundreds of teachers in specialized reading instruction. In 2016 she married her husband Tim, a Commander in the US Navy, and since has been stationed in Japan, DC, and San Diego.


Although her passion for literacy has not changed, she now spends most of her time raising her two children with her husband.

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