BookNook is on a mission to ensure equitable access to rigorous and engaging instruction through technology innovation
FOCUSED ON SUCCESS
We are focused on supporting children and families in traditionally disenfranchised communities. Our founding team comes almost entirely from schools, nonprofits, social-good technology, and government.
DESIGNED BY EDUCATORS
We believe that the best programs are designed by people who have roots in the classroom. Both our instructional strategy and our curriculum come from experienced educators who have seen first hand what works best for students.
BASED ON RESEARCH
Our approach is grounded in multiple rigorous studies, and cultivated by a team of nationally recognized experts who are both practitioners & researchers. Our patented technology scales to put proven instructional methods into practice.
After building a national children’s literacy nonprofit with a strong base of evidence, our founder launched BookNook out of the belief that only through technology can rigorous programs truly scale. After a small pilot in the San Francisco Bay Area in 2016, BookNook has quickly spread across hundreds of schools and after-school programs, throughout dozens of states.
FINANCE & OPERATIONS
Laura De Casas
Oliver Enrique Rodriguez Leon
CHIEF OF STAFF
Board of Directors
Michael is the Founder & CEO of BookNook, an award-winning social enterprise that uses artificial…
Michael Lombardo is the Founder & CEO of BookNook, an award-winning social enterprise that uses artificial intelligence and other adaptive technologies to support reading skill growth at school, at home, and in the community. Previously, he served as CEO of Reading Partners, building it into one of the largest children’s literacy nonprofits in America and publishing seminal research on volunteer-based reading programs that was accepted into the What Works Clearinghouse at the US Department of Education.
A frequent author on subjects of education policy, social entrepreneurship, and nonprofit governance, Michael also serves as a Social Entrepreneur in Residence at Stanford University and is a founding Advisory Council member of the My Brother’s Keeper Alliance, President Obama’s signature initiative focused on supporting boys and young men of color.
Wes enjoys rolling up his sleeves to help mission-driven entrepreneurs realize their vision for building…
Wes enjoys rolling up his sleeves to help mission-driven entrepreneurs realize their vision for building high-growth world-changing companies. Wes has 15 years of venture capital and financial advisory experience with Good Capital’s Social Enterprise Expansion Fund, William Blair, and Ernst & Young’s Mergers & Acquisitions group.
He earned an MBA from the Haas School of Business at UC Berkeley and a BBA from the University of Michigan. Wes has volunteered with organizations around the globe, which has fueled his passion for applying his business skills to build a better world.
He lives in Oakland, CA with his wife and three young kids and enjoys road cycling in the East Bay hills and Sunday trips to the farmers market.
Clara is co-founder and Managing Partner of the Urban Innovation Fund, a venture capital firm that invests in…
Clara is co-founder and Managing Partner of the Urban Innovation Fund, a venture capital firm that invests in the future of cities. The fund provides seed capital and regulatory support to entrepreneurs solving our toughest urban challenges – helping them grow into tomorrow’s most valued companies. Previously, she co-founded Tumml, a startup hub for urban tech.
The organization has provided 38 startups with seed funding and mentorship, and hosts thought leadership events around urban innovation. In 2014, Forbes listed her as one of its “30 Under 30” for Social Entrepreneurship. Clara’s work energizing urban entrepreneurship has been featured in numerous press outlets, including MSNBCand TechCrunch, among others. She serves on the Board of Tumml, as well as the Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) Bay Area Local Advisory Committee. Clara earned her MBA from MIT Sloan and BA from NYU.
Shayna is a community builder focused on collective action for greater social impact. She uses innovation and collaboration, and the power and commitment of a Fortune 400 company, to close equity gaps to transform our communities
As a Social Impact Investment Director, she’s had the opportunity to build, invest and amplify sustainable, durable social enterprises through capital investments, strategic partnerships, and programs.
Shayna has a specific interest in equity and social justice in education through innovation and collaboration.
• social innovation can reshape our social systems and invigorate public-private partnerships.
• empathy is a force that moves business forward.
• individuals and corporations have a responsibility to build a world that is stronger, more equitable and more sustainable than how we found it.
• there is beauty in diversity and in the exchange of ideas, cultures, and vantage points – as long as the exchange is done respectfully and from a place of understanding.
• opportunity is not enough without an ecosystem that creates pathways, guides the journey, and provide inclusive networks to succeed
Felipe Sommer is the co-founder, of Nearpod, Inc., a mobile platform empowering educators to create learning experiences that engage and inspire millions of students
around the world. He obtained a BA in economics from the University of Buenos Aires,Argentina, and received an MBA from the University of California, Berkeley Haas School of Business.
For ten years, Felipe invested his time in management consulting for financial services and start-ups at Accenture. In 2004, as an entrepreneur, he founded Livin’ Interactive which focuses on custom experiential marketing solutions. His passion for technology and education fueled his desire to empower teachers and engage students with a mobile solution. In 2012, Nearpod, Inc. was founded, beginning his journey as President and co-founder. He now impacts multiple organizations as a board member, advisor and angel investor.
Felipe is a philanthropist at heart, improving the quality of life for others, be it through education, entrepreneurship or community service in any capacity. Family is his number one priority. He takes pride in being an Argentinian, a father of three boys, and a husband to his beautiful wife, Paula. Felipe’s hobbies include world travel, sports and mentorship
Jennifer started her career as a classroom teacher in Chicago where she taught history for 7 years in traditional district schools. She moved to Silicon Valley in 2000 to attend Stanford University and was inspired by all of the entrepreneurs working on their ideas. She found a way to use her teaching experience to support these founders. She worked at NewSchools Venture Fund, an organization founded by John Doerr and Brook Byers, for 9 years and learned the craft of venture capital. She also co-created and taught the popular course Innovations In Teaching at Stanford University for 3 years.
This year, Jennifer is on the teaching team for Lean Launchpad ENGR 245 at Stanford. She co-founded her first fund NewSchools Seed Fund in 2011, her second, Reach Capital I in 2015, Reach II in 2018 and Reach III in 2020. Reach backs amazing and often unlikely entrepreneurs who are passionate about bringing cutting edge technology into education. The Reach portfolio of 100+ companies are creating new opportunities for people everywhere who might think of themselves as underdogs due to background or other challenges. Jennifer has sat on the boards of Nearpod, Ellevation Education, Desmos, Outschool, BetterLesson, and BookNook and is heavily involved in TeachFX, Derivata, and Sketchy.
Verjeana is a bold, transformative leader with over 30 years of experience as a strong advocate in legal, educational, and public safety arenas. As an accomplished attorney and skilled negotiator, she is known for her effectiveness in bringing divergent groups to the table to tackle contentious, yet necessary issues to achieve common goals. She has worked with multiple complex bureaucracies including education systems, state and national nonprofit organizations, government agencies and labor unions.
As the Chief Transformation Officer for the National School Boards Association (NSBA), Verjeana leads the organization’s equity, equality, and social justice efforts.
She served as a 23-year Department of Corrections professional, retiring at the rank of Lt. Colonel, and was an adjunct college professor at the University of Maryland, University College (UMUC), where she taught in a variety of disciplines including criminology/criminal justice, juvenile justice, race and crime, and a host of other legal and behavioral science subjects.
In addition to her distinguished public service career, Verjeana maintains an accomplished record as a qualified consultant/facilitation expert. Having served in numerous leadership roles, she is attuned to diverse audiences, respects the importance of cultural competence, and has great appreciation of the value of cross-sector collaborations within communities.
P. David Pearson is an important figure in the world of literacy. During his extensive career, he’s developed…
P. David Pearson
P. David Pearson is an important figure in the world of literacy. During his extensive career, he’s developed state tests, and is an expert in literacy assessment.
Along with writing and co-editing numerous books and articles about research and practice, Pearson has served in leadership roles in the International Reading Association and the National Council of Teachers of English.
He was inducted into the Reading Hall of Fame in 1990. Currently, Pearson is a faculty member in the Language and Literacy program at UC Berkeley’s School of Education, where he also served as dean of the school for nine years.
Robert Simmons serves as Managing Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion and is responsible for leading the design and implementation of Share Our Strength’s diversity framework, and subsequent goals, metrics, and assessments that support a diverse, equitable, and inclusive workplace. Robert provides organization-wide leadership and partners closely with staff across the organization, soliciting and utilizing input from others to build a meaningful and sustainable approach to DEI.
Prior to joining Share our Strength, Robert was a teacher, school administrator, school district administrator and tenured professor where his research illuminated the lived realities of historically marginalized communities.
Nominated twice as the Walt Disney National Teacher of the Year, Robert has completed fellowships with the Woodrow Wilson Fellowship Foundation and the Fulbright Memorial Fund. Robert continues to teach at American University where he focuses on antiracism, education policy and leadership. As a member of the Diversity Scholars Network at the National Center for Institutional Diversity housed at the University of Michigan, Robert serves on the boards of Black Girls Code and the Latinx Education Collaborative, as well the leadership council for Echoing Green’s Black Male Achievement Fellowship. Robert earned a doctorate in education from Hamline University and is a proud Detroiter.
Brian Stanley is Interim CEO of Hamilton Families, San Francisco’s leading agency fighting to end family…
Brian Stanley is Interim CEO of Hamilton Families, San Francisco’s leading agency fighting to end family homelessness. Prior to that he served as Executive Director of the Oakland Public Education Fund, where he refined and strengthened program strategy, used data to deepen impact, and led the implementation of two strategic plans. A second generation native San Franciscan, Brian thinks the Bay Area is the best place in the world to live and has been here his entire life. After graduating from Oakland High School, he earned his undergraduate degree at Saint Mary’s College of California and his Doctorate in Educational Leadership from Mills College. He currently lives in West Oakland with his wife and two sons.
Lance is an expert in scaling social enterprise and served as the board chair of Reading Partners from 2007-2015…
Lance is an expert in scaling social enterprise and served as the board chair of Reading Partners from 2007-2015, during the organization’s rapid national scaling phase.
He currently chairs the board of the New Teacher Center, which under his leadership has become the foremost teacher mentoring organization in the nation supporting nearly 200,000 educators across the country.
He also chairs the Silicon Valley Children’s Fund and serves as Vice-Chair of Strive Together, the nonprofit credited with launching the collective impact movement in the US. Previously, Lance was the founder and CEO of Third Wave Technologies, building it into a leading biotechnology company. He holds a BA from UC Berkeley and a PhD from CalTech.
Dr. David P. López
Dr. David P. López is the executive director of The Center for Latino Education and Innovation.
Dr. López brings more than 35 years of experience in preschool to higher education to the role as he continues to work to expand access to affordable, quality education for Latinos and other underserved students.
Prior to his current role, he served as The National Hispanic University’s President and Chancellor from 2003-2013.
Scott joined Wonderschool in November 2018 to recruit great people to advance the company’s mission to…
Scott joined Wonderschool in November 2018 to recruit great people to advance the company’s mission to ensure every child has access to early education that helps them realize their potential.
Previously, Scott founded Education Pioneers in 2003 to build a diverse network of leaders dedicated to transforming education so that all students receive a quality education. He led the organization for 15 years to advance its mission while recruiting and training 4,000+ leaders to drive impact in education.
Scott began his career teaching social studies and leadership at St. Jude High School in Montgomery, Alabama, through the University of Notre Dame’s ACE Program. He later served as the legal counsel for Aspire Public Schools, where he worked with the management team and school leaders to open and operate small, high-quality, college prep charter schools in low-income neighborhoods.
Scott graduated summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa in government from the University of Notre Dame, received his Master of Arts in Teaching from the University of Portland, and earned his law degree from Stanford Law School. He is a Draper Richards Kaplan Entrepreneur, a board member of Beyond 12, a Pahara-Aspen Education Fellow, and the recipient of the 2017 Notre Dame Award for Outstanding Contributions to Catholic Education.
Ellen founded New Teacher Center in 1998 to scale high quality teacher induction services to a national audience…
Ellen founded New Teacher Center in 1998 to scale high quality teacher induction services to a national audience. NTC has reached over 250,000 teachers across the country. Ellen retired as CEO in August, 2018 and is an independent educational consultant.
Ellen is widely recognized for her work in beginning teacher development and school reform. She has extensive experience in public education, having previously served as Director of Teacher Education at the University of California at Santa Cruz and worked as a bilingual teacher. Ellen has been named the 2014 Brock International Prize in Education Laureate, became a Pahara-Aspen Education Fellow in 2013, an Ashoka Fellow in 2011, and is a recipient of the 2011 Skoll Award for Social Entrepreneurship. Ellen has also co-authored many publications, including Keys to the Classroom and Keys to the Secondary Classroom, New Teacher Mentoring: Hopes and Promise for Improving Teacher Effectiveness, and Blended Coaching: Skills and Strategies to Support Principal Development.
For more than twenty years, she has pioneered innovative approaches to new teacher development, research on new teacher practice, and the design and administration of teacher induction programs. She is recognized as a passionate advocate for our nation’s teachers and for the students they teach.