Board of Directors

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!

Trudy Smith, Chair
Executive Director, Executive Service Corps of the Triangle

Trudy Smith 2015Born and raised in Atlanta, Trudy Smith came to Durham for college, went back to Atlanta, lived in Jathe-velveteen-rabbitpan, and years later, is back in Durham. She has served as Executive Director of the Executive Service Corps of the Triangle, which provided early support  and guidance to Book Harvest back when it was running out of the founder’s garage.  Trudy’s 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.

Holly Brown, Vice Chair
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, harriet-the-spywhile 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, Secretary
Strategic Planning ConsultantLittle Women

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!”

Candace Engles, Treasurer
CPA, Hughes, Pittman, & Gupton, LLP

Candace Engles 2Broken 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 — nancy-drewCandace 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!

Tabitha Blackwell
Director, Youth Forward

TabithaTabitha (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 sometimesthe-poky-little-puppy 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.

Vidya Canales
Literacy expert and former early childhood educator

With a long and rich history of community involvement and service, Vidya Canales comes to Book Harvest with long-held and well-lived experience in service, leadership and activism.  She has been an Early Head Start Teacher and Family Advocate at a Durham Montessori program and a Health Educator Assistant at El Centro Hispano.  This follows service with the NC CORPS and AmeriCorps T.E.A.C.H. programs.  But what really defines Vidya is her inner sense of serenity and the love, respect, and intentionality she brings to every interaction she has – especially with her two lively and spirited daughters.  She joins the Board with a deep commitment to our work:  “My background spans education, health, and human services over fifteen years with an emphasis on providing effective oral and written communication to people from all walks of life. As a perennial student and engaged parent, I bring my passion for non-profit leadership, a strong work ethic, and experience working in a cultural, linguistic, and social background to further Book Harvest’s mission and vision.”

Christie Cavanaugh
Early Childhood Literacy Consultant and Instructor

Christie Cavanaugh has been an educator for well over three decades, teaching in early childhood settings, special education in elementary grades, and higher education.  Most of her career has been focused on preparing future teachers and providing ongoing professional development to educators in the areas of language and literacy, with a particular focus on at-risk children and their families.  While she is currently teaching in the Specialized Education Services department at UNC-Greensboro, she works with school districts and state departments around the country, is a published author, and presents research and trainings nationally and internationally.  An avid runner, she first found out about Book Harvest from a running buddy, and she recalls, As soon as I walked through the door, (embarrassed as I was attending a meeting in my running clothes—after I ran), I felt “at home” surrounded by books and just knew that becoming involved in Book Harvest was a perfect fit for me.”  That was six years ago, and Christie has been part of the Book Harvest family ever since.

 When asked about her favorite book as a child, she recalls, “My mind drifts to one about Helen Keller (I don’t remember the exact one). As a child, I recall feeling so struck by what she accomplished and under what conditions, that I found myself thinking about the meaning of “no limits.” Perhaps, this had more of an impact on my career choice as a special education teacher (which I decided in 6th grade) than I realized! I also wonder if this is why I am drawn to reading memoirs or books that feature characters that overcome obstacles.”


Jim Cronin
Retired financial advisor

croninjim0614-2Whether 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.


Karlene Fyffe Phillips
Family Literacy and Community Services Manager, Durham County Library

 Karlene Fyffe Phillips embodies all the stellar qualities of a children’s literature book lover: she has a keen sense for the very book that satisfies a child’s curiosity, a warmth that instantly engages families and children alike, the innate intuition for what brings community members together to share the love of books, and years of experience managing library programs that promote literacy.  For nearly 20 years, Durham has been blessed with Karlene’s leadership within our County Library system.  More than that, she’s been an active leader in all the systems that affect our children, serving on committees with Durham Public Schools, Durham’s Partnership for Children, among others.  With a Masters in Divinity and a whole other career working in the health services arena as a guide to information and resources for patients – with many years spent working at the nationally renowned Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Hospital in New York City – Karlene brings a spirit of caring and compassion to everything she does.


Dan Kimberg

Founder and former Executive Director, Student U

dankimbergAs 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 comingthe-giver 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.


Ann Leininger

Project Manager, AECOM

Ann grew up in Maryland, went to college in California and landed in North Carolina in 1990.  She has spent 29 years as a project manager at AECOM managing environmental compliance projects.    Ann is married with a son and three cats.  Her project management skills came in handy when she first started working with Book Harvest in April 2015.  Book Harvest participated in the Triangle Corporate Battle of the Bands, and Ann chaired the logistics committee to support Book Harvest’s fundraising efforts.  Since then she has chaired theImage result for watership down Dream Big Book Drive committee, joined the Development Committee and is supporting our Book Babies team leader in planning the first Book Babies graduation on June 9, 2018 to fete our first cohort of Book Babies.

“My favorite book is Watership Down.  A great story of adventure and perseverance.  I re-read it every 5 years or so and it never fails to engage me the way it did the first time I read it.”

Dr. Bert L’Homme
Former Superintendent, Durham Public Schools


When it comes to knowing about books and literacy in school systems – not to mention educational leadership, instruction, curriculum development, and policy – it’s hard to find someone more qualified than Dr. Bert L’Homme.  Just recently retired as Superintendent of Schools of the Durham Public Schools System, he has a resume that spans more than 40 years and includes associations with Children’s Defense Fund and City Lights School in DC, Harvard University and Notre Dame.  But it came as quite a surprise to us to learn that Dr. L’Homme was not only a Staff Sergeant in the US Air Force – but a Respiratory Therapist in Maryland and Rhode Island!  His wisdom, leadership, and experience are an incomparable asset to Book Harvest.


Lou Rollins
Director of Special Projects, Duke’s Office of Durham and Regional Affairs

Image result for lou rollins duke

For nearly 30 years, Lou Rollins has been working to improve the quality of life for all the people of Durham.  In her roles at Durham Technical Community College and now at Duke University, she has supported community-based organizations by providing guidance and leadership, support and resources.  From her leadership service with Durham’s YMCA to the Nasher Museum of Art, from the Kiwanis Club to Voices Together, she has been devoted to infusing the lives of the children and adults in Durham with enrichment and opportunity.  But what Lou love best?  “My favorite project, bar none, is to serve as liaison between the Scripps National Spelling Bee and the 60 participating students in our Durham region.”


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 MissRumphiusBookCoverbegan 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.