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Dr. Sally Zoll is the Chief Executive Officer of United Through Reading based in San Diego, California. Upon hearing she was selected for the Alumni Hall of Fame, she said, “Such wonderful memories of Greenfield! I am humbled by this honor and in awe of the other honorees!” They are also impressed with Sally’s accomplishments.
With degrees from Purdue University and the University of San Diego, Sally has specialized in education working as a teacher, professor, and in corporate management for educational organizations. Her activities and honors are significant and extensive. She reflects on the educational foundation that began in Greenfield, “I know without a doubt that the wonderful experiences that I had from Mrs. Daugherty in first grade until graduation from Greenfield High School cemented my love of education and my desire to pursue education as a career. From teaching first grade to serving as a high school administrator, from teaching college to developing educational software, from the corporate world to the nonprofit arena, I have never lost my love of education.”
Sally has provided steady leadership and talent to build a once small grassroots organization into a nationally recognized service provided to military families. Since becoming CEO of United Through Reading Sally has directed her energy to help active-duty military families during difficult separations by enabling deployed service members to stay engaged in their children’s lives by reading stories on video from ships, bases, and medical centers around the world. It is one of the top quality-of-life programs throughout the Navy and Marine Corps and is establishing a solid program base in the US Army, Reserve, National Guard, Air Force, and Coast Guard. More than 1.5 million military family members have benefitted.
As part of an extended military family, Sally has experienced first-hand the difficulties of life for children separated for extended periods of time from a parent. She encouraged her daughter-in-law to have her son record stories for his child prior to his mobilization to Iraq—before she knew anything about United Through Reading.
Under Sally’s leadership, United Through Reading has been honored by the White House’s Joining Forces Initiative and USO World Headquarters; approved as a pilot program at naval medical facilities; received the Navy Region Southwest Champion Award; and awarded the Innovators in Reading Prize from the National Book Foundation. Sally has been honored by House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner for work in education and the military at the 2014 State of the Union Address. She has also garnered recognition with the Women Who Mean Business Award by San Diego Business Journal; the Tribute to Women & Industry Award from YWCA; and Tech Titan’s CEO of Emerging Company Award in North Texas. She has also been named Outstanding Female Entrepreneurs in the Southwest US from Springboard Enterprises and ComputerWorld Honors Program Laureate.
Likewise, Sally’s community service also centers on her passion for education. She has served as a consultant, facilitator and peer reviewer for the federal Department of Education since 1986. In addition, she has served on a number of nonprofit boards including the United States Academic Decathlon, the Coronado Schools Foundation, and the Coronado Hospital Foundation. Sally has been involved with the Intel Hurricane Education Leadership Program, providing leadership to schools impacted by the hurricanes of 2005. In 2007, she chaired the American Heart Association’s Go Red for Women event hosting 800 women in Southern California for an educational day about heart health.
Returning to Greenfield as part of the Alumni Hall of Fame has sparked some nostalgia for Sally and great reflection on her upbringing in this community. “What a special, special time that was. Things were simple; parents were in charge; I came home when the street lights came on; and I don’t remember anyone bullying anyone.
“I loved going to school every single day! Starting off the morning with Mr. Greenland in Concert Choir was a joy and he was a hoot, white socks and all! And what wonderful experiences we had putting on musicals and plays. Those are fond, fond memories. He got the most out of a small cast of characters, every time. Mr. Wise and Mr. Harpring made math come alive for me. They always had time, patience, and kind words. And they loved math! How lucky to have been touched by that passion.
“I thank Mrs. Hayes everyday for being able to keyboard as opposed to hunt and peck! Who knew that the skills learned in her typing class would be used endlessly, day-in, day-out in 2014? And God bless Ms. Gray for thinking she could get one iota of athletic ‘anything’ out of this extremely un-athletic person!”
Expressing the importance of her time in this community, Sally states, “I have been exceptionally blessed in friends, family, and career since my childhood in Greenfield and I know it isn’t an accident. The solid, grounded foundation I received in this middle-America small town gave me a sense of belonging, a sense of purpose, and an understanding that, having been given so much, I must give back. Above all else, I am eternally grateful to my parents, Mel and Odetta Draper, who would be over the moon knowing I was receiving this honor and to my husband, Jimmie Zoll, who has a burning passion for education and has continually encouraged me to think and act outside the box.”