Book Harvest is governed by a Board of Directors whose wide array of talents and deep commitment to our cause nourish our vision of books and literacy support for all children!
Executive Director, Executive Service Corps of the Triangle
Born and raised in Atlanta, Trudy Smith came to Durham for college, went back to Atlanta, lived in Japan, and years later, is back in Durham as Executive Director of the Executive Service Corps of the Triangle. ESC provided early support and guidance to Book Harvest back when it was running out of the founder’s garage. Trudy is married with three children; her oldest daughter was one of Book Harvest’s first interns, and all three of her children have volunteered with Book Harvest in the summer. “When my oldest went to her first book distribution, she returned home so moved by the act of being able to give books to children who did not know the joy of owning books…yet.”
The Velveteen Rabbit. made a powerful impression on Trudy; “It was such a pure story of the love of a child for her stuffed animal with great lessons of acceptance and authenticity. It is so much deeper that I knew at the time.“
Branding and Marketing Consultant
Marketing consultant and copywriter, avid reader, and music lover Holly Brown moved around a lot as a kid (Texas, Oklahoma, Indiana and Kansas) before landing in North Carolina in 1976. Though she kept thinking she’d leave, she’s happily here in Durham with her husband, son, and a mischievous but lovable Labrador. In 2012, while helping out with an early Book Harvest brochure, she glimpsed Ginger’s passion and the towers and towers of books being stored in her basement — and Holly was hooked. “The power of a book. The power to learn, to grow, to connect, to thrive. All thanks to the pages of a book. And that’s what Book Harvest is really all about for me.”
“I wanted to be a writer from an early age and was a total tomboy who loved spy stories and mysteries – just like Harriet in Harriet the Spy. This book offered up a great lesson on the power of friendship and the fragility of trust…and, of course, using your gifts for good instead of evil.”
Sandy Heard can’t quite decide what she wants to do when she grows up — but that’s half the fun. Having been raised in North Carolina, then venturing to work in New York City after UNC, she landed right back in the Triangle years later, where she’s enjoyed over two decades of entrepreneurship. She loves solving complex puzzles and creating game plans to propel thoughts, products, companies and causes forward. She also likes helping children move forward, both her own four and the many who turn to Book Harvest to discover the magic, inspiration and escape that books brought to her as a child and continue to bring to this day.
“I think I read Little Women so many times the pages started to fall out. I still remember each and every family member and what they brought to the group. I loved the rebellious Jo best!”
CPA, Hughes, Pittman, & Gupton, LLP
Broken Arrow, Oklahoma — where Candace Engles grew up — was a far cry from Chicago and New Orleans, places she later lived as an adult. Her desire to explore new places may have been sparked by her passion for Nancy Drew mysteries. “I loved the Nancy Drew series. She made me want to be more adventurous and she gave me the confidence to ask questions.” And while she loves bread making and anything animal-related — Candace and her husband are parents to three “fur babies” — it seems that travel, travel, travel is what pleases her most. Oh, and the complete delight she sees in a child’s eyes when she receives a book from Book Harvest and the child “lights up like a Christmas tree!” It’s those moments that make her proudest of the organization she’s wholeheartedly committed to.
“Ginger’s passion is contagious and is what brought me into the organization…I’ve been the Treasurer since 2012.” And since her day job is as a licensed CPA, that role seems a pretty good fit for Candace!
Director, Youth Forward
Tabitha (that’s a LONG “i”) Chantel Blackwell of Youth Forward joined the Book Harvest board in 2013 because it afforded her an opportunity to once again work with a literacy-based organization — something she had done earlier in her career, when she was on staff at the international social enterprise First Book. “The Poky Little Puppy was the character that changed me the most. The puppies in that book taught me that sometimes the best adventures are just on the other side of the fence.” That early reading experience gave her the curiosity to go out and find adventures on her own.
Living in Washington, DC for eleven years, Tabitha has managed to visit every state but Alaska! “If you asked her, my mom would say I’ve never met a stranger. And while she diligently tried to teach me not to talk to strangers, I have always seen them as people who I’ve yet to get to know.” Still, with most of her family still residing in Roxboro, maybe there is no place like home….and we’re glad she’s back here in Durham to stay.
Early Childhood Literacy Consultant and Instructor
Retired financial advisor
Whether it’s volunteering at the Triangle Radio Reading Service, being an active member of the Durham Lions Club, or driving performers to and from the American Dance Festival, former Marine James Cronin likes to be of service. “When I was old enough to understand I was adopted, my folks read to me a book called We Choose You that illustrated the adoption process step by step. I was probably only three or four but I can still picture it. Even though my mom was legally blind and read Braille (plus the state sent those huge 78 rpm records in big green boxes), there were always books in the house. Later, I went to kindergarten in Mrs. Watt’s attic where I was exposed to even more books and read all the time.”
Still a voracious reader, Jim gets pleasure working the book drives, delivering boxes where needed, and serving on the Book Harvest Finance Committee.
Founder, Clear Voice Partners
Former Vice President and General Counsel, UNC Systems
Karlene Fyffe Phillips
Family Literacy and Community Services Manager, Durham County Library
Senior Strategic Advisor – Duke University Health System
Brent Garber is Director of Strategic Planning at Duke University Health System, and he loves helping people. He grew up in Thomasville Georgia, spent his college years in Durham, made his way to the cities of Atlanta and Nashville, and returned to Durham in 2008. Married, with two lovely girls (and a dog), Brent came to Book Harvest in 2015 by way of Board member Dan Kimberg. “The first time I attended a Books on Break event at Glenn Elementary I wasn’t sure what could top the excitement I saw in the students’ eyes, but then seeing the enormous crowd of supporters at the Battle of the Bands that summer made me even prouder of the work that Book Harvest does.”
“Where the Red Fern Grows was one of the first chapter books I remember reading and truly enjoying. It taught me how immersive and entertaining the reading experience can be.”
Founder and Executive Director, Student U
As Founder and the inaugural Executive Director of Student U, a college-access organization that believes all students in Durham have the ability to succeed, Dan Kimberg knows the importance of literacy and of creating a pipeline of support to ensure a pathway to college. “When I hear about Book Babies families coming together and forming a community, I feel a great level of excitement. These families recognize the power they have to create change within their own homes and for the community as a whole.” Dan grew up in Ardsley, New York, and moved to Durham for college in 2003. He has been with Book Harvest from its earliest days. He believes that Book Harvest has a role to play in ensuring that all our community’s children can succeed.
“Jonas from The Giver made me feel that it was okay to see the colors of the world and feel emotions fully.” Dan, his wife, and his daughter (who is obsessed with reading!) are experiencing the colors of New York City, where his wife is based for her medical school residency.
Dr. Bert L’Homme
Superintendent, Durham Public Schools
Heidi Hillman Tyson
Community activist and volunteer
Growing up Highland Park, Illinois, getting married, and raising three daughters, Heidi Hillman Tyson tells us that moving to Chapel Hill in 2006 brought her to a “compassionate and passionate community” — but compassionate and passionate are words that best describe her. In 2012, Heidi began organizing and recruiting volunteers for Book Harvest. In 2013 she continued expanded her work until she was leading volunteer efforts in three high schools and one middle school. “I’m a big believer of the power of our youth. I enlisted my 7th grade neighbor, and in a one-week period, his school had contributed over 7,500 books to Book Harvest!”
“Miss Rumphius sent me a very important message: make the world more beautiful. Each time I read it aloud to my girls, I would end by saying ‘…and you know what? I’ve already made the world a more beautiful place — by bringing you three into it.’ I‘ve been a stay-at-home mom for 20 years, and I know I’ve made the world a better place because of my children.” And we know Heidi’s also made our world a better place.