President, Co-founder, and CEO
In 1992, Kyle Zimmer, then a practicing attorney, was volunteering at a soup kitchen in Washington, D.C. Realizing that the kids she was working with had no books in their lives, she set out with two friends to build a market-driven solution to ensure all children have access to critical books and resources.
Now 25 years and 175 million brand-new books later, Kyle continues to lead First Book, the nonprofit social enterprise she co-founded to ensure that local schools and community programs across the country serving children from low-income families would have a steady supply of the brand-new, high-quality books they so desperately need. Over the years, the organization has built upon its tradition of ‘collaborative disruption’ with for profit and nonprofit partners to serve children in need. First Book has now evolved to address the essential needs for educational equality, including training materials for educators, non-perishable foods, winter coats, school supplies, and an expanded spectrum of resources focused on the basic needs of children from low-income households.
Under Kyle’s leadership, First Book has built the largest and fastest growing network of schools and programs serving children in need across the United States and Canada.
First Book has pioneered groundbreaking new models, including the First Book National Book Bank, which serves as the nation’s largest clearinghouse for new books donated by publishers, and the First Book Marketplace, an award-winning, self-sustaining program that purchases new books and makes them available to educators and program leaders at unprecedented prices. First Book is continually innovating, and has branched into school supplies, digital resources, non-perishable foods and winter coats to meet the needs of the members of the First Book Network.
Kyle’s commitment to innovation and collaboration has earned her a reputation as a social sector leader. She currently serves as a member of the Board of Directors for Dr. Seuss Enterprises, L.P., which is responsible for protecting and overseeing the integrity of Dr. Seuss books, properties, licensing and related products, and of the Board of Directors for Ashoka, which works to support the finest social entrepreneurs in more than 70 countries. She also serves on the Youth Venture Board of Directors and as a member of the board for James Patterson’s ReadKiddoRead.
Kyle is a passionate advocate for social entrepreneurship, educational equity, and the importance of literacy to further economic competitiveness and global understanding. Among her awards are the Jefferson Award for Outstanding Public Service Benefitting the Disadvantaged (2016), Peggy Charren/Free to Be You and Me Award from the Ms. Foundation for Women (2016), the Campaign for Grade Level Reading Pacesetter Honors (2016), the Library of Congress David M. Rubenstein Prize (2015), the National Book Foundation’s Literarian Award (2014) and the National Education Association Foundation’s Award for Outstanding Service to Public Education (2013). Kyle was featured in the opening plenary on stage at the 2015 Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) America, and was also featured onstage by President Bill Clinton at the 2013 Clinton Global Initiative. She was a presenter at the University of Oxford’s “Power Shift: Forum for Women in the World Economy” at the Saïd Business School at Oxford and she also is a regular lecturer at the Wharton School of Business and Columbia Business School. She participated in the World Economic Forum in Dubai in 2014, and was a presenter and blogger at the World Economic Forum in Beijing in 2012. She served as a member of the World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Council on Social Entrepreneurship, and was featured as a presenter at the World Economic Forum in Davos in 2010. In 2009, Kyle was honored as a Carle Honors Angel Award recipient. She was named the first-ever American Marketing Association Nonprofit Marketer of the Year in 2008 and Outstanding Social Entrepreneur of the Year in the United States in 2007 by the Geneva-based Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship. She served as a member of the World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Council on Values from 2013-2016.
Chief Strategy Officer and Chief Financial Officer
Jane serves as the chief strategy officer and chief financial officer for First Book and the First Book Marketplace. She has provided strategic guidance for First Book and its subsidiaries through unparalleled growth. Prior to joining First Book, Jane had a distinguished career with law firm Zuckerman Spaeder, where she served as CFO for two decades as it evolved from a small firm to a major litigation firm with multiple offices in the United States. In addition to her financial role at First Book, Jane serves on the executive management team overseeing all operations and strategic development for the organization. Jane has a degree in math and physics from Arcadia University and she did graduate work at the University of Arizona’s Optical Sciences Center.
Chief Operating Officer
Chandler is responsible for First Book’s day-to-day domestic and global operations. Chandler, along with First Book’s CEO, CSO/CFO and CAO, also serves on First Book’s executive management team, overseeing the strategic development for the organization.
Prior to joining First Book, Chandler worked in marketing for The Coca-Cola Company, where he focused on customer segmentation and strategy. He worked as a management consultant with Boston Consulting Group, where he advised corporations on profit maximization, public-private partnerships, and organizational design.
Chandler holds an MBA from the Graduate School of Business at Stanford University, where his work centered on harnessing the power of the private sector to advance social change. Chandler is also the founder of the Harvard Emergent Literacy Project and graduated magna cum laude from Harvard University.
Chief Administration Officer
Dan manages the organization’s Human Resources department, oversees day-to-day operations at First Book’s headquarters, and is involved in other projects at a strategic and operational level.
Before joining First Book, Dan spent his career in accounting, working for publishing and media companies in New York, and the Children’s National Medical Center in Washington, D.C. He spent a decade with the Jewish Community Center of Greater Washington, eventually heading up their accounting and human resources departments.
Dan holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration, a master’s degree in human resources, and an MBA, all from the University of Maryland. Dan, along with First Book’s CEO, CSO/CFO and COO, also serves on First Book’s executive management team, overseeing the strategic development for the organization.
Marilynn G. Jacobs
Senior Advisor, Marketing and Communications
Marilynn leads First Book’s marketing and communications team in developing integrated marketing, branding, and content strategies to raise awareness of the organization’s products and services for programs serving children from low-income families, as well First Book’s position as a global leader in social entrepreneurship. Marilynn has also been a member of the First Book Advisory Board since 2001.
Prior to joining First Book, Marilynn served in a number of marketing and communications roles with a special emphasis on the publishing industry, agencies, and nonprofit organizations. As the vice president/general manager for Reader’s Digest, she served as the product management and operational lead for all online and offline Reader’s Digest-branded platforms in the U.S. and Canada, and for the North American Business Development and Books & Music divisions. She was the lead marketing executive for the launch of “O, The Oprah Magazine,” and “Every Day with Rachel Ray” magazine, helping to garner both of those titles industry awards and sales records.
Marilynn holds a Master of Arts in arts management from the University of Michigan and a Bachelor of Science in communications from Northwestern University.
Senior Vice President, Network Engagement
Becki Last leads First Book’s efforts to register new schools and programs across the country, keep our existing network engaged and active and bring First Book’s resources to more kids that need them. She comes to First Book from a successful career in strategic marketing for companies like USA TODAY, Time Warner Cable, Sprint Nextel, and MCI. Becki holds an MBA from the University of Maryland.
Carey M. Palmquist
Senior Vice President, eCommerce
Carey Palmquist is responsible for assisting First Book’s leadership team execute on new ideas for growth strategy and innovation. Carey joined First Book after more than four years as executive director of Operation Warm, a national nonprofit providing brand new coats to low income children. Prior to joining the nonprofit sector, Carey served as vice president of operations for a state-of-the-art, multi-billion dollar cancer treatment company where she was responsible for all operational aspects of the company’s flagship treatment center in Oklahoma City. She has also served in the capacity of human resources executive in the healthcare, technology, and financial industries. Carey serves on the board of the Institute for Global Youth Development Programs, holds a Master of Management from Cambridge College, and is a certified Six Sigma Green and Black Belt.
Senior Vice President, Development Alliances
Diana provides strategic oversight for First Book’s corporate strategic alliance, philanthropic foundation, individual giving, and community-based fundraising initiatives. In her role, she builds partnerships and ventures for First Book to help the organization meet its ambitious goals for social impact. She also cultivates new business relationships, collaborating with leaders across sectors to ensure all children and youth have access to critical resources they need to learn and thrive. In addition, Diana was selected by the Impact Center as one of 25 leaders to participate in the 2015 Women’s Executive Leadership Program. Diana brings 15 plus years of consulting experience in the nonprofit, corporate, and public sectors with organizations such as Community Wealth Partners, Accenture, and the Department of Homeland Security. She graduated from Wake Forest University with a Bachelor of Arts in economics, and holds both an MBA and Master of Arts in arts administration from Southern Methodist University.
Senior Vice President, Finance
Bryan joined First Book in 2012 with more than 15 years of financial management experience in both the nonprofit and government sectors. A certified public accountant, Bryan spent five years as the director of finance for the Forest Trends Association, an environmental nonprofit based in Washington, D.C. Prior to that, he oversaw financial management operations for international development projects at the National Cooperative Business Association, the Citizens Development Corps, and the Peace Corps. Bryan graduated from the University of Maryland with a bachelor’s degree in finance.
Senior Vice President, Information Technology
Chris leads First Book’s Information Technology team in delivering new technology projects to support strategic organizational initiatives as well as IT operations, maintenance, and infrastructure.
Prior to joining First Book, he consulted for IBM and was a senior director at eBay Enterprise, where he led product development and service delivery teams concentrating on full-service eCommerce implementations. While at eBay Enterprise, Chris led the new store implementation teams for more than 30 large brick and mortar retailers such as Calvin Klein, Nautica, Timberland, and Mattel.
He has more than 20 years of experience across multiple industries, including healthcare, telecommunications, insurance, eCommerce, and strategic consulting. Chris holds a Bachelor of Science in computer science from Kutztown University.
Board of Directors
Dr. Martha Molina Bernadett
Chairman, First Book Board of Directors
President and Founder, The Molina Foundation
Family physician and healthcare executive Dr. Martha Molina Bernadett has worked for three decades creating innovative programs to reduce disparities in access to education and health in communities across the country. As president of the Molina Foundation, she has partnered with First Book, Imagine Science, Cooperative Extension, 4-H, and Code for America to reach more than 7 million children and families.
Dr. Bernadett served as executive vice president and chief innovation officer for Molina Healthcare, a Fortune 200 company, where she led major initiatives to transform the delivery of healthcare services. Using big data analytics to create digital solutions, she supported enterprise operations. She has consulted for hospitals, health systems, and municipalities across the nation. Dr. Bernadett founded the Molina Institute for Cultural Competency to reduce the barriers faced by providers and patients with diverse cultural and linguistic backgrounds. In addition to corporate leadership, Dr. Bernadett has served as principal investigator and delivered research, programs, and solutions for the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Governors Association, and First5 California.
Chief Merchandising Officer, rue21
Nina Barjesteh is the chief merchandising officer for rue21 in Pittsburgh. Prior to joining rue21, she served as vice president, general merchandise manager of women’s apparel at Target Corporation. She received her Bachelor of Science in business at the Carlson School of Management, University of Minnesota.
Nina has lived abroad in both Europe and Asia. She is passionate about educational cultural exchange opportunities and previously served on Partners of the Americas’ board. During that tenure, she organized a student exchange program for high schools in Minnesota and Uruguay. She spends most of her free time with her three children; Olivia, Lucas, and Nicolas.
Co-founder and President, Sirius Thinking Ltd.
Christopher Cerf is an Emmy- and Grammy-award winning author, composer-lyricist, voice actor, and record and television producer. Since 1970, he has been a regular contributor to Sesame Street, creating award-winning music and lyrics and producing music albums, earning him two Grammy Awards and three Emmy Awards for songwriting and music production. In addition, he served as the executive producer and music and audio producer of “Between the Lions,” which twice won the Television Critics’ Award as the nation’s outstanding children’s program. In two independent studies, the program also demonstrated success in helping kids – including those at the highest risk of literacy failure – to learn how to read. He also co-created the PBS Kids show, “Lomax, the Hound of Music.” His other award-winning work includes editing and producing “Marlo Thomas and Friends’ Free To Be…A Family” book, album, and TV special; and “Thomas’ Thanks & Giving: All Year Long,” a book and CD about generosity and sharing.
Chris has co-authored many books including “Encyclopedia Paranoica” (Simon & Schuster, 2012), and “The Official Politically Correct Dictionary and Handbook” (Villard, 1993). Earlier in his career, Chris spent eight years as a senior editor at Random House and as a contributing editor for National Lampoon. He earned his bachelor’s degree in English from Harvard University.
President, Franchise Development, Lightstorm Entertainment
As president for Franchise Development at James Cameron’s and Jon Landau’s Lightstorm Entertainment, Kathy Franklin oversees global brand strategy and management for the “Avatar” franchise. She leads expansion of the reach and impact of “Avatar” – and its three sequels in development – across all categories and platforms in partnership with 20th Century Fox.
Prior to joining Lightstorm in 2011, Kathy was vice president of global franchise development for Disney Consumer Products, where she lead brand management of the Disney Princess, Disney Fairies, “Cars,” and “Toy Story” franchises. She earlier served as vice president of marketing and communications for Disney’s corporate citizenship division, and was responsible for Disney’s domestic and international relationships with its signature children’s charities. She directed cause-related marketing campaigns and other charitable programs tied to specific Disney business units, as well as all related marketing and public relations strategies. Before coming to Disney in 1998, Kathy held a range of positions in finance, education, and design. She received an A.B. degree from Princeton University and an M.A. from the Teachers College, Columbia University.
Leslie Goodman is a veteran communications and public affairs consultant who has held high-level positions with a Fortune 500 company, two U.S. presidents, a California governor, and numerous issue campaigns. She began her career in broadcast journalism in New York City after earning a bachelor’s degree from Stanford University.
Most recently, Leslie served as senior vice president, corporate citizenship and philanthropy, for The Walt Disney Company, leading policy and strategy development worldwide. Her responsibilities included community outreach, ethical sourcing, environment and conservation, volunteer engagement, and strategic philanthropy – including The Walt Disney Foundation and Disney’s Worldwide Conservation Fund. Leslie and her team created a new global strategy and brand position for Disney Citizenship and developed the Magic of Healthy Living campaign, including the launch of new advertising standards that banned ads for junk food products on Disney media channels intended for children. She also introduced a new philanthropy strategy, including an employee matching gift program, to increase the impact of the company’s charitable giving.
In 2013, Disney earned the #1 ranking in the U.S. Reputation Institute Survey of 150 U.S. Companies. Disney outperformed its peers across all dimensions of reputation with the biggest lead in governance and citizenship.
Leslie joined the Walt Disney Company in 2001, leading the communications and public affairs strategy for nine years for the Walt Disney Parks and Resorts worldwide, which included five of the world’s leading family vacation destinations across three continents, the top-rated Disney Cruise Line, Disney Vacation Club, Adventures by Disney, and Walt Disney Imagineering, which creates and designs all parks, resorts, and attractions.
Founder and CEO, The Glass House Group
Bill Matassoni started his career in management consulting in 1980 when he joined McKinsey & Company, where he was a partner for almost 20 years, focusing on the marketing of professional services. During this time, he was responsible for building McKinsey’s reputation and protecting its brand, which included publishing the McKinsey Quarterly. He was also responsible for much of McKinsey’s internal communications, including the creation of McKinsey’s systems to manage and disseminate its practice knowledge.
Bill left McKinsey to join Mitchell Madison Group, a strategy consulting firm he helped to take public through its sale to USWeb/CKS in 1999. He then joined the Boston Consulting Group, where he headed a group responsible for innovation, marketing, and communications for more than five years. After retiring from BCG, Bill founded the Glass House Group, a consulting firm that helps professional service firms on branding and marketing issues. Bill earned an MBA and undergraduate degrees at Harvard University.
Karen Kehela Sherwood
Co-chair, Imagine Entertainment
Karen Kehela Sherwood is an independent film and television producer. After earning her bachelor’s degree in communication studies from UCLA, she joined Imagine Entertainment, where she served as president of production and later as co-chairman of Imagine Films. As co-chairman, Karen developed and produced Imagine Entertainment’s motion picture slate, in addition to guiding the company’s development team in tracking, acquiring, and shepherding all Imagine Film projects from concept to theatrical release.
In 2001, Karen executive-produced “A Beautiful Mind,” directed by Ron Howard and starring Russell Crowe and Jennifer Connelly. The film won four Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Director.
She served as producer alongside Brian Grazer on “Blue Crush,” and as executive producer on “Inside Man” and the Academy Award-nominated “Frost/Nixon.” Karen also contributed to “Angels & Demons,” directed by Ron Howard and starring Tom Hanks; “Robin Hood” and “American Gangster,” directed by Ridley Scott; and “Tower Heist,” starring Ben Stiller and Eddie Murphy.
Karen also helmed the Imagine Writers Lab from 2010-2012, a group of nine writers financed by Reliance Big Entertainment that adapted acquired and original material for Imagine Entertainment. She is currently working to move the scripts to production. “The Good Lie,” starring Academy Award-winner Reese Witherspoon, was completed in 2013.