Our Mission: to ensure every child has access to a world-class reading teacher.

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 technology scales to put proven instructional methods into.

Our Story

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.

Our Team

Alyssa Jennings

CURRICULUM

Anna Utgoff

PRODUCT LEAD

Annaleah Glick

OPERATIONS LEAD

Ben Koshland

PARTNER SUCCESS

Charity Lee

PARTNERSHIPS

Daniel Ruppert

PARTNER SUCCESS

Dylan Carlone

ENGINEERING

Hannah Imoru

PARTNERSHIPS

Jimmy Longley

ENGINEERING LEAD

Kelly Willian

PARTNERSHIPS

Mark Wasserman

DESIGN

Michael Lombardo

CEO/FOUNDER

Natasha Brown

PARTNER SUCCESS

Nate Strong

PARTNERSHIPS LEAD

Zac Stein

PARTNERSHIPS

Board of Directors

Michael Lombardo

Michael is the Founder & CEO of BookNook, an award-winning social enterprise that uses artificial…

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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…

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 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…

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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…

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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.

Advisory Team

P. David Pearson

P. David Pearson is an important figure in the world of literacy. During his extensive career, he’s developed…

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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…

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 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

Brian Stanley is Interim CEO of Hamilton Families, San Francisco’s leading agency fighting to end family…

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Brian Stanley

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 Fors

Lance is an expert in scaling social enterprise and served as the board chair of Reading Partners from 2007-2015…

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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…

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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.

Shawn Joseph

Shawn Joseph’s passion for equity and social justice has led him to serve in a number of positions in the world of…

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 Shawn Joseph

Dr. Shawn Joseph’s passion for equity and social justice has led him to serve in a number of positions in the world of education. He has been an English teacher, school administrator, central office administrator, and superintendent in Maryland, Delaware, and Tennessee. His most recent work as the superintendent of Metro Nashville Public Schools (Director of Schools), resulted in schools that became more equitable as the district saw accelerated growth for all student groups in both reading and mathematics Pre-K through grade 5. In addition, the number of students at the high school level completing advanced coursework doubled, the number of students earning industry certifications nearly doubled while suspensions dramatically were reduced and new initiatives like STEAM were implemented at both the elementary and secondary level.

Dr. Joseph’s work has garnered him numerous honors and awards and he humbly serves on numerous local and international boards. In 2010, Dr. Joseph was the recipient of the American Educational Research Association’s Outstanding Dissertation Award in the area of Educational Leadership. He was awarded the Ambassador Andrew Young Leadership Award in 2016. In 2018, both Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. and Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc. honored him with the Environmental Leadership Award and the Community Impact Award. In 2019, Dr. Joseph was selected as the Person of the Year by the Tribune Newspaper in Nashville and was the recipient of the Greater Nashville Association of Black School Educator’s Trailblazer Award.

Scott Morgan

Scott joined Wonderschool in November 2018 to recruit great people to advance the company’s mission to…

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Scott Morgan

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.

Let’s Work Together

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See how BookNook can increase reading gains by 2.4x

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