The BookNook Team

California to Maine to Texas. Educators and engineers. The BookNook team spans the country and brings together a wide variety of skills and backgrounds with the goal of serving our partners and driving success for students.

Alyssa Jennings


Annaleah Glick


Charity Lee


Daniel Ruppert

Partner Success

Dylan Carlone


Jimmy Longley


Michael Lombardo

CEO + Founder

Natasha Brown

Partner Success

Nate Strong


Zac Stein


Board of Directors

Michael Lombardo

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 Selke

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.

Ralph Smith

Mr. Smith is currently the Managing Director for the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading, a national, philanthropic collaborative leading the charge to close the reading opportunity gap for children across the United States. The Campaign’s partner networks include hundreds of public, private, and nonprofit sector organizations, including the National League of Cities, United Way Worldwide, and the America’s Promise Alliance. At the state and local level, the Campaign works with governors, mayors, school boards, superintendents, teachers, chambers of commerce, and many others across 44 of the 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands.Mr. Smith also has significant and broad experience in the education sector. He served on the boards of the education technology pioneer LeapFrog Enterprises Inc. and Nobel Learning Communities Inc. (the largest network of independent elementary schools and preschools in the United States), and he was a Special Counsel and Chief of Staff for the Philadelphia School District. As an active leader in philanthropy, he has served as board chair of the Council of Foundations and served on other boards, including Venture Philanthropy Partners, the Alliance for Early Success, and the Wells Fargo Foundation.

Clara Brenner

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.


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

Dr. Robert Simmons serves on the Executive Leadership Team of the Campaign for Black Male Achievement and previously was a Senior Advisor to Reading Partners for Strategy and Innovation. Prior to that, Robert was Chief of Innovation and Research for the District of Columbia Public Schools (DCPS) where he earned national recognition as one of the groundbreaking leaders in the empowering males of color movement. A former classroom teacher in Detroit, Robert has also served on the faculty of Loyola University in Baltimore and Eastern Michigan University. He holds an Ed.D. from Hamline University.

Brian Stanley

Dr. Brian Stanley is the Executive Director of the Oakland Public Education Fund, the primary nonprofit affiliate of the Oakland Unified School District. Brian previously served as Director of Programs at the San Francisco Education Fund and Director of Youth Engagement and an adjunct faculty member at St. Mary’s College. He holds an Ed.D. from Mills College.

Lance Fors

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.

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