Libby Doggett, Former Deputy Assistant Secretary at the U.S. Department of Education, Joins First Book Board of Directors

Julie Baker Finck of the Barbara Bush Houston Literacy Foundation, British Robinson of the Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy, Ralph Smith of the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading, and Ginger Young of Book Harvest to join First Book Advisory Council

WASHINGTON (February 27, 2019)— First Book, the nonprofit social enterprise committed to equal access to quality education, today announced that pre-eminent early childhood education advocate and former U.S. education official Libby Doggett is joining the First Book Board of Directors. Doggett, who started her career as a bilingual education teacher in her home state of Texas, served as the deputy assistant secretary for policy and early learning at the U.S. Department of Education from 2014-2017.

“The breadth and depth of Libby’s expertise is invaluable to forwarding First Book’s mission, but it is her commitment that makes her truly extraordinary,” said Kyle Zimmer, president, CEO, and co-founder of First Book. “Libby has dedicated her entire career to ensuring that all kids, no matter where they are from, have access to a quality early childhood education, something that we know is a gamechanger for children growing up in low-income communities. We are so grateful she is joining our board, and we are very much looking forward to all we can accomplish together.”

Prior to her tenure at the U.S. Department of Education, Doggett worked to build political and public support for data-driven education investments at the Pew Charitable Trusts, in addition to directing Pre-K Now, a 10-year campaign to advance high-quality, voluntary pre-kindergarten for all three- and four-year-olds, and working with the National Head Start Association. A former classroom teacher, she holds a doctorate from the University of Texas in early childhood special education.

“Access to quality education should not be a privilege based on where you were born,” Doggett said. “And from an economic perspective, we have too much to lose if we don’t make a concerted effort to ensure children from low-income communities have the opportunity to develop their full potential. I’m glad to have the opportunity to contribute to First Book’s mission and work. The urgency around it increases every day.”

Doggett will join the eight-member First Book board immediately.

First Book also expanded its Advisory Council. New members include Julie Baker Finck, president of the Barbara Bush Houston Literacy Foundation; British Robinson, president and CEO of the Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy; Ralph Smith, managing director of the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading; and Ginger Young, president and CEO of Book Harvest (biographies below).

Advisory Council Bios

Julie Baker Finck, Ph.D., president of the Barbara Bush Houston Literacy Foundation, has more than 20 years of experience in the field of K-12 education. Prior to this role, Dr. Finck served on the executive leadership team of the Houston Independent School District as Chief Academic Officer and Chief Major Projects Officer. She has served in leadership positions at both a regional and state level in Ohio leading large-scale education reform initiatives. Prior to her move to Houston, she served as a senior director at Battelle for Kids, a national nonprofit organization. Dr. Finck began her career as a middle school teacher in Kentucky. She earned her Doctor of Philosophy in education administration from Ohio State University.

British Robinson, president and CEO of the Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy, is a visionary leader with more than 20 years of experience leading initiatives in international and domestic health, corporate social responsibility, public-private partnerships, government relations, and advocacy and policy development. Her extensive experience includes leadership roles at Women for Women International, Susan G. Komen®, the U.S. Department of State/U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), and as the founding CEO of the Women’s Heart Alliance. Robinson holds a master’s degree in government from Johns Hopkins University and a bachelor’s degree in public policy and business administration from George Washington University, and has received an honorary doctorate from Fairfield University. She also serves on the boards of the Center for Migration Studies, Jesuit Refugee Service/USA, and the Mercy Health Clinic, and on the advisory council of the Inter-American Foundation.

Ralph Smith is the managing director of the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading, an effort to increase rates of third grade reading proficiency for children from low-income families that includes a network of more than 390 communities — with 4,100 local organizations and more than 520 state and local funders. Previously, as senior vice president for the Annie E. Casey Foundation, Smith led initiatives to help communities improve child outcomes by strengthening families and neighborhoods. Smith taught as a member of the law faculty at the University of Pennsylvania for two decades, during which time he also served as chief of staff and special counsel for the School District of Philadelphia, and as a senior advisor to Philadelphia’s mayor. Smith led efforts to design and implement the school district’s landmark voluntary desegregation plan, negotiate some of the nation’s first education reform-driven teacher contracts, and develop Children Achieving, a district-wide blueprint supported by the Annenberg Challenge.

Ginger Young is the founder and executive director of Book Harvest, a North Carolina-based nonprofit organization that provides books and ongoing literacy support to families and their children from birth and that serves as a model for communities committed to ensuring that children are lifelong readers and learners. She is a member of the Board of Directors of Hill Learning Center, an organization committed to transforming students with learning differences into confident, independent learners. She is a founding member of the steering committee of Durham’s Campaign for Grade-Level Reading. Young received her undergraduate degree from Harvard College and has an MPA from the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.


About First Book

First Book believes education offers children in need the best path out of poverty. Through a sustainable, market-driven model, First Book breaks down barriers to quality education by making new, high-quality books and educational resources, including sports equipment, winter coats, snacks, and more, affordable to its member network of more than 400,000 registered educators who exclusively serve kids in need. Since 1992, First Book has distributed more learning materials than any other program of its kind: 175 million books and educational resources, worth more than $1.5 billion, reaching more than 5 million children annually.

First Book also expands the breadth and depth of the education field through a family of social enterprises, including First Book Research & Insights, its proprietary research initiative, and the First Book Accelerator, which brings best-in-class research to the classroom via relevant, usable educator resources.

Eligible educators, librarians, providers, and others serving children in need can sign up at For more information, please visit or follow the latest news on Facebook and Twitter.

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