First Book Leadership

Kyle Zimmer

President & 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 170 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.


Jane Robinson

Chief Strategy Officer & Chief Financial Officer

Jane serves as the chief strategy officer and chief financial officer for First Book and the First Book Marketplace. 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 its current status as a major litigation firm with multiple offices in the United States. Jane has superior skills in financial management and has provided strategic guidance for First Book and its subsidiaries during a period of unparalleled growth. In addition to her financial role, Jane, together with the CEO, CO and CAO, 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.


Chandler Arnold

Chief Operating Officer

Chandler is responsible for First Book’s day-to-day operations domestically as well as at the global level. 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, and as a management consultant with The 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.


Daniel Stokes

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 has served in a number of marketing and communications roles with a special emphasis on the publishing industry, agencies and non-profit 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.


Becki Last

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 non-profit 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.


Diana Peacock

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.


Bryan Straathof

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.


Chris Stine

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 in IT in a variety of industries, including healthcare, telecommunications, insurance, eCommerce and strategic consulting. Chris holds a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science from Kutztown University.

Board of Directors

Peter Gold

Chairman & Co-founder, First Book
President, The Gold Group, Chtd.

Peter Gold is a co-founder of First Book and has served on First Book’s Board since 1992. As president of The Gold Group, Chartered, Washington, D.C., he represents U.S. and European investment banks and hedge funds on antitrust and regulatory issues that arise in mergers and acquisitions. In addition, he provides counsel related to litigation analysis, legislative developments and distressed situations. Prior to founding The Gold Group in 1994, he was a co-founder of Winthrop, Stimson, Putnam and Roberts’ Washington office, where he managed its Legislative and Regulatory Department. Peter has a JD degree from the New York University School of Law, a master’s from the London School of Economics and Political Science and an undergraduate degree from Cornell University.


Nina Barjesteh

Chief Merchandising Office, rue21

Nina Barjesteh is the Chief Merchandising Office for rue21 in Pittsburgh. Prior to that, 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 studied in Europe and lived in both Europe and Asia. She is passionate about educational cultural exchange opportunities and once served on the Partners of America’s 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.


Dr. Martha Molina Bernadett

Executive Vice President of Research and Innovation; Molina Healthcare, Inc.
Founder, The Molina Foundation

Dr. Martha Molina Bernadett is the eldest daughter of the late Dr. C. David Molina, who founded the first Molina medical clinic to help uninsured, non-English-speaking or low-income individuals and families. Today, Molina Healthcare, Inc. is a Fortune 500, multi-state managed care company headquartered in Long Beach, Calif. As executive vice president of Research and Innovation, Martha is responsible for Molina Healthcare’s long-term planning initiatives to enhance the delivery of health care services.

Prior to this position, she served as a family physician for many years. In 2004, she founded The Molina Foundation in recognition that illiteracy itself is a health risk. The Molina Foundation, which partners with First Book, is committed to supporting literacy and education to overcome health disparities and support the health of children and our communities. Martha has an MBA from Pepperdine University, an MD degree from the University of California, Irvine and an undergraduate degree from California State University Long Beach.


Christopher Cerf

Co-founder & 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 many of its music albums, earning him two Grammy Awards and three Emmy Awards for songwriting and music production. In addition, he has served as the executive producer and music and audio producer of “Between the Lions,” which has twice won the Television Critics’ Award as the nation’s outstanding children’s program. In two independent studies, the program has 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 production of “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.


Kathy Franklin

President, Franchise Development; Lightstorm Entertainment

As president, Franchise Development at James Cameron 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, leading 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 diverse 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

Leslie Goodman is a veteran communications and public affairs consultant who has held high-level posts 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 spanning 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.


William Matassoni

Founder & 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 for over five years a group responsible for innovation, marketing and communications. 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.


Beverly Parker

Vice Chair, Weather Analytics

Beverly Parker is Vice Chair at Weather Analytics, which offers historical, current and forecasted weather conditions for anywhere in the world. She has broad-ranging leadership and general management experience in multi-billion-dollar enterprises, start-ups and turnaround situations. Her leadership roles include being a partner at investment and advisory services firm Voyant Partners; senior vice president of Global Sales and Customer Support for, co-founder and senior vice president of Qbase, and chief marketing officer/ senior vice president of Gartner, Inc. Beverly was also part of many pioneering projects during her 22 years with LexisNexis, a leading global provider of content-enabled workflow solutions including co-founding their Risk Solutions business. She has a bachelor’s degree from the University of Evansville, Indiana.


Karen Kehela Sherwood

Co-chair, Imagine Entertainment

Karen Kehela Sherwood is an independent producer pursuing a wide range of projects in movies and television. After earning her bachelor’s degree in communication studies from UCLA, she joined Imagine Entertainment as Brian Grazer’s assistant and quickly rose up the ranks. She was appointed president of Production in 1992 at the age of 29; five years later, she became co-chairman of Imagine Films. As co-chairman, Karen worked closely with partners Brian Grazer and Ron Howard in the development and production of Imagine Entertainment’s motion picture slate. She also guided the company’s development staff in their tracking, acquiring and shepherding of all Imagine film projects from concept through to their theatrical releases.

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 the tense drama “Inside Man” and the Academy Award-nominated “Frost/Nixon.” Karen also contributed to the summer blockbuster “Angels & Demons,” directed by Ron Howard and starring Tom Hanks, the Ridley Scott-directed “Robin Hood” and “American Gangster,” and “Tower Heist” starring Ben Stiller and Eddie Murphy.

Karen recently helmed the Imagine Writers Lab from 2010-2012. The Lab consisted of nine writers working as both creative executives and staff writers, adapting acquired and original material for Imagine Entertainment, financed by Reliance Big Entertainment. She is now working to get those screenplays produced. One of them, “The Good Lie,” was made in 2013 starring Reese Witherspoon about the Lost Boys of Sudan and a group of them who come to America to start a new life.


Beth Veihmeyer

Co-founder, KPMG’s Family for Literacy

Beth Veihmeyer is an independent public relations and communications consultant. With fellow First Book Board member Susan Flynn, Beth co-founded KPMG’s Family for Literacy initiative in 2008 to combat childhood illiteracy. Through collaboration with First Book, KPMG’s Family for Literacy has provided more than 2 million new books to children in need throughout the U.S. Beth serves on several Boards. She has a master’s degree from the American University and an undergraduate degree from Saint Mary’s College in Notre Dame, Ind.


Kyle Zimmer

President & CEO, First Book

Publishing Committee

Chip Gibson
Laura Geringer
Judith Haut
Senior Vice President & Associate Publisher, Random House Children’s Books
Susan Katz
Former President & Publisher, HarperCollins Children’s Books
Craig Low
President & Owner, Lee & Low Books
Barbara Marcus
President & Publisher, Random House Children’s Books
Kristina Peterson
Director, International Publishing; Workman, Algonquin, and Artisan Books and Calendars; Workman Publishing Co., Inc.
Rick Richter
Literary and Entertainment Agent, Zachary Shuster Harmsworth
Don Weisberg
President, Macmillan Publishers U.S.

Advisory Council

Robin Adelson
Managing Director, Jefferson Awards Foundation
Joan Allen
Vincent Altruda
CEO, Espresso Royale, LLC
Elizabeth Arky
Co-Founder, First Book
Director, Government Relations; Accenture

Jennifer Bohler
Owner, Alliance Management
Meghan Bracken
National Director, Corporate Responsibility – Citizenship; KPMG
Andrea Camp
Harold Clarke
Senior Advisor, The Reader’s Guild, LLC
Principal, Handover Pfist & Clarke
Senior Advisor, Cupcake Digital
Senior Advisor, New Hope Capital, LLC

Libby Doggett
Libby Doggett Consulting
David Dotson
President, The Dollywood Foundation
Deborah Dugan
Deni Frand
Senior Director, External Relations & Communications; Virtual Enterprise International

Gina Goff
Senior Director, Community Involvement; C&S Wholesale Grocers, Inc.
Susan Grode
Partner, Katten Muchin Rosenman LLP
Greg Hoffman
President, Greg Hoffman Consulting
Lisa Holton
President, Classroom, Inc.

Laurence Kirshbaum
Senior Agent, Waxman Literary Agency
Ilene Leff
Independent Management Consultant
Adam Lenkin
President, I Sports & Entertainment
James M. Loy
Senior Counselor, The Cohen Group

Colleen Ludington
Elsa Palanza
Strategic Advisor, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
Project Everyone: Goalkeepers
Carol Rasco
Former President & CEO, Reading is Fundamental
Dr. Carolynn Reid-Wallace
George Washington University

Susan Roman
Dean & Professor, Graduate School of Library and Information Science; Dominican University
Harriett Sanford
President & CEO, The NEA Foundation
John Schreiber
CEO, New Jersey Performing Arts Center
Heather Steinmiller
Senior Vice President & General Counsel, Conner Strong & Buckelew

Jamienne S. Studley
Former Deputy Under Secretary of Education, U.S. Department of Education
Mary Tatum
Tom Tolworthy
CEO & President, Twinlab Consolidated Holdings, Inc.
Randi Weingarten
President, American Federation of Teachers

Ali Wentworth
Actress, Comedian, Author and Producer
Judee Ann Williams
Co-Executive Director, Creative Artists Agency Foundation
Marla Neely Wulf
Grand Vice President, Programming; Pi Beta Phi Fraternity for Women
Joanne Wyss

Karl Wyss
Judith Zimmer
Deputy Director, Street Law, Inc.