Director, Corporate Communications, Legg Mason
Mary Athridge is Managing Director, Corporate Communications for Legg Mason, Inc. In that role, she works with the senior leadership at Legg Mason and at its principal investment subsidiaries to develop and implement communications strategies to enhance brand value and drive business initiatives. She also has oversight responsibility for financial and transaction communications, crisis communications and investor communications support. Ms. Athridge joined Legg Mason from Citigroup Asset Management in the transaction to acquire that business from Citigroup in December, 2005. Previously, she was with Salomon Smith Barney and Salomon Brothers, and began her career in Washington in political positions in the White House and U.S. Small Business Administration. She has a B.A. from Georgetown University and a M.B.A. from George Washington University. She is also on the Board of the Angelica Patients Assistance Program. Ms. Athridge lives in New York City.
Senior Vice President, Catterton Partners
*Board Vice Chair
Ms. Baldwin is the Senior Vice President of Marketing at StriVectin, an independent prestige skincare company, and a member of the operating team at Catterton Partners, a consumer/retail private equity firm. Previously, Ms. Baldwin held several senior marketing positions at LVMH, Inc. and The Estee Lauder Companies, and began her career in finance as a member of the Consumer/Retail Group at Apax Partners and the Communications, Media and Entertainment team at Goldman, Sachs & Co. Ms. Baldwin has been involved in her New York City community from a very young age, starting as a volunteer at a food pantry in elementary school, as a founding employee of the 9/11 United Services Group, and most recently as a member of Juniors Undertaking Manhattan Pleasures, a program organized by the Grand Street Settlement House. She earned an A.B. magna cum laude in Social Studies from Harvard College, received her M.B.A. with honors from The Wharton School of The University of Pennsylvania, and currently lives in Manhattan with her husband and son.
Vice President, Strategic Business Development, Konica Minolta
Kay Du Fernandez is the Vice President, Strategic Business Development for Konica Minolta, a leader in advanced document management technologies and IT services. Prior to joining Konica Minolta, Ms. Fernandez spent over twelve years at Toshiba America Business Solutions, holding positions in all aspects of product management, including Vice President of Marketing. Kay has a bachelor of arts degree from the University of California, San Diego and a masters of business administration from Pepperdine University. She currently serves on the board of directors for the Orange County Ballet Theater (OCBT) and is a supporter of Oceana. She has also led the marketing efforts at St. Mary's School, a 501(c)(3) International Baccalaureate Day School in Aliso Viejo, California. Ms. Fernandez is passionate about reading and cultivating our future generation of business and technology leaders. She resides in Franklin Lakes, NJ with her husband, Frank, and three daughters.
Partner, Crestview Partners, LLC.
Adam Klein is a Principal at Crestview Partners, a value-oriented private equity firm. He works with the energy team and specializes in oil-field services and unconventional energy investments. Prior to Crestview, Adam worked as an analyst at Centennial Ventures where he evaluated, executed and monitored investments in early to mid-stage companies across multiple industries, as well as at Compass Partners and Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette. Adam is currently a director of FBR & Co, Select Energy Services, Silver Creek Oil & Gas, Synergy Energy and Texoma Transportation and Crude Marketing. He is also a board observer at Samsom Resources. Adam received his A.B. cum laude from Harvard College and his M.B.A. from Harvard Business School. He lives in New York City with his wife and two children.
Partner, Quinn Emmanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, LLP
Evangeline Shih is a partner at the law firm of Quinn Emanuel Urquhart and Sullivan LLP. She works with the life sciences practice group and specializes in Hatch-Waxman litigation on behalf of innovator pharmaceutical companies. Prior to Quinn Emanuel, Evangeline was a partner at the law firm of Jones Day. She has been recognized as a “Rising Star” Super Lawyer and Super Lawyer in New York since 2011. She has also been a member of the Advisory Board for the Fordham Law Neuroscience and Law Center since 2015. Evangeline received her A.B. from Princeton University and her J.D. from Fordham Law. Her interest in books stems from childhood summers spent at a county public library in Indiana where her father was the Library Director. She lives on the Upper East Side in Manhattan with her husband David Decima, who is a partner at a Houston-based energy fund, and their two young sons.
Senior Partner, Blank Rome LLP
Robert Stein is a senior partner at the law firm of Blank Rome LLP and is co-chair of the Firm’s Financial Services, Restructuring and Bankruptcy Practice Group. Bob primarily represents senior secured lenders in leveraged acquisition financings and recapitalizations. He has previously been a partner at the law firm of Wolf Block LLP and in-house counsel at Bankers Trust Company and at Manufacturers Hanover Trust Company. Bob earned his undergraduate degree from Cornell University and his law degree from Albany Law School at Union University, and brings strong management and analytical skills developed over the past 30 years of his legal practice. He has had an abiding interest in addressing through early childhood education the needs of disadvantaged children. Bob is the proud father of three grown children and one son-in-law and resides in Manhattan with his wife Paula, who is the Director of Development for the Randall’s Island Park Alliance.
Managing Director, HFF
Graham Stephens is a Managing Director for HFF, one of the largest and most successful commercial real estate capital intermediaries in the country. He is primarily responsible for investment sale transactions throughout New York and the Tri-State area. Mr. Stephens’ main focus is on office and retail properties. Prior to joining HFF, he was a Managing Director on the capital markets team at Cushman & Wakefield (f/k/a Cassidy Turley & DTZ). Prior to that, he was with Eastdil Secured’s New York City institutional sales team. Mr. Stephens began his commercial real estate career at RBS Greenwich Capital's real estate finance group. He is a member of Urban Land Institute’s New York District Council Advisory Board. Mr. Stephens has a BA from Hamilton College and resides in New York City with his wife Lauren. They are active members in the NY Public Library Young Lions Program and a Patron of the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Apollo Circle.
President of Sales Division, Sussman Sales
Ron is the President of the Sales Division for Sussman Sales Company, a leader in K-12 digital and print sales distribution that has served New York City schools for over 40 years. In 2011 he helped launch Lightswitch Learning, a national K-12 sales organization that has recently published several best-sellers in the parent engagement arena. Mr. Sussman graduated from Binghamton University with a Bachelor of Arts in sociology and currently lives in New York City. Ron had a 60-23 career record for Binghamton University Tennis. Sussman Sales was recognized in 2011 as one of "Inc.com's Fastest Growing Companies."
Director of Business Development, Yorke Construction
Owner, Keep Me Company
Talent Acquisition, Ogilvy & Mather Advertising
Event Planner, Emblem Health
Partner, Holland & Knight
Co-President and CEO, So Smart! Productions
Professor, New York University
Partner, Inter-Atlantic Group
President, Sirius Thinking Ltd.
Professor, Language and Literacy
Michigan State University
Vice President, Education Partnerships
Mary Lou Fulton College of Education
Arizona State University
Professor, Educational Studies
School of Education
University of Michigan
Former Assistant Secretary of Elementary and Secondary Education (2001-2003)
*Chair of the President's Early Childhood Education Board
Director, Early Childhood National Center for Children in Poverty
Mailman School of Public Health
Assistant Professor, Early Childhood,
Elementary, and Literacy Education
Montclair State University
Amanda Hirsh is the Executive Director of Books for Kids since November 2012. She comes to Books for Kids from the Montclair Kimberley Academy in Montclair, New Jersey, working on alumni events, annual giving, and new initiatives, and before that as a Sales Representative for children’s books at HarperCollins Publishers. Amanda graduated from the University of Pennsylvania, where she studied Comparative Literature, and the Trinity School in New York, where she currently serves as a class representative, raising money for the Trinity Fund. Amanda lives in New York City with her husband and son.
Lisa transitioned from a career in finance to non-profits and education in 2008. Since then she has directed and developed UPK - 8th grade programs focused on literacy in NYC elementary and middle schools. Lisa is passionate about creating partnerships with schools, community and corporate organizations, as well as mentoring her teams of educators. She has designed and led Professional Development and family workshops and has extensive expertise in monitoring and evaluating the effectiveness of grant-funded literacy programs. Lisa has worked with ExpandEd Schools, Edison Learning, and Sports & Arts in Schools Foundation. Lisa graduated from Rowan University where she earned a B.A. in Political Science. A voracious reader herself, Lisa resides in Astoria with her many, many books.
Development and Operations Associate
Christie Steele is the Development and Operations Associate at Books for Kids. Christie oversees the fundraising initiatives of Books for Kids as well as office operations. Christie graduated from James Madison University in Harrisonburg, VA where she earned a B.A. in Theatre and Dance. Prior to Books for Kids, she worked in University Operations at James Madison University as a Student Manager and also held a summer internship as an Administrative Intern at the Adirondack Theatre Festival, a non-profit theatre festival in Glens Falls, NY. Christie lives in North Bergen, NJ and is currently an active member of NYC's Empire A Cappella.
Samantha works as a Library Specialist with Books for Kids. Samantha earned her bachelor's degree from Ohio University in Adolescent to Young Adult English Language Arts and received her master's degree in Literacy from New York University. Samantha has worked with students of all ages in a variety of environments, where she aims to convey her passion for literacy while fostering confidence, efficacy, and growth. Samantha has previously taught middle school and tenth grade English Language Arts in Jersey City, New Jersey. Currently, Samantha is also a Literacy Specialist with Keys to Literacy, where she creates individualized, targeted lesson plans for each of her students.
Sam graduated from Ithaca College where she studied Theatre, English, and Creative Writing. She has a background in non-profit theatre arts administration, previously interning at HERE, Primary Stages, Transport Group, and the Hangar Theatre. Sam is especially interested in reaching young audiences and has a passion for engaging children in arts and literature, believing that every child should have access to material that challenges and inspires them.
Chelsea works as a Books for Kids Library Specialist in Manhattan. She received her bachelor’s degree in Journalism from the University of Missouri and received her master’s degree in Library and Information Science from Queens College. Chelsea has loved reading and writing from a young age and is specifically passionate about children’s literature. She focused her graduate degree classes on library service to children and young adults. Chelsea loves seeing the enthusiasm young children have for books and is dedicated to spreading literacy skills and a love of reading among the children she works with.
Jackie works as a Books for Kids Library Specialist in Brooklyn and Manhattan. She earned her bachelor's degree from New York University, her elementary teaching degree from St. Bonaventure University, her master's degree in Children's Literature from Hollins University and she is now pursuing a second master's degree in Library and Information Science through the University at Buffalo. Jackie has taught most elementay grades, but she also has a special passion for working with emergent readers. "I have always imagined that paradise will be a kind of library." Luis Borges' quote continues to inspire her in her work and as a parent to share her personal and professional love of children's books, libraries and education with everyone around her.
Hannah Kowalczyk-Harper is a Library Specialist at Books for Kids working in the Mario Batali Foundation libraries in Las Vegas, NV. She graduated from the University of Wisconsin—Madison with an Elementary Education degree. Following graduation, Hannah followed her love of literacy to Malaysia and Singapore where she visited locations that serve as cultural and historical backdrops in books, particularly works penned by local authors. She has taught literacy to children in a variety of schools and worked at multiple libraries.
Juliette Portnoy has worked as a Library Specialist with Books for Kids in Los Angeles, CA since April of 2016. Juliette graduated with a BS in Sociology from the University of Pennsylvania and a Masters in Social Work from Columbia University. Juliette’s experience working with at-risk populations ranges from casework in foster care to working as a counselor in various school settings. As a mother, Juliette is passionate about early education and the importance of teaching literacy from the earliest age possible. Juliette finds nothing more gratifying than helping families bond through endeavors that are enriching for the mind and soul.