(part of a new monthly series)

How did you first hear or learn about Books for Keeps?

I first learned about Books for Keeps from a former Board Member, Joe Hill, who suggested I volunteer during Book Distribution.  I was immediately sold!  I loved seeing the excitement of the kids who were getting books.  It was like we were giving away candy, but we were giving them books!

Why did you choose to serve on the Books for Keeps’ board?

I am a huge advocate of early childhood reading and truly believe teaching kids to read – and to love books – at an early age sets them up for the rest of their lives.   Books for Keeps does just that.  By letting children who may not have access to books choose books based on their interests, I believe it teaches them to enjoy reading.  It is important to separate required reading in schools from reading for pleasure.

Have you worked with other non-profits in the past? Which ones?  

I have been involved with many non profit organizations in Athens.  My primary focus has been United Way of NE Georgia where I volunteered over 25 years and served a Chairman of the Board for three years.  Before that, I served in several roles including Campaign Chair  and Womens Leadership Chair.  I am a huge supporter of the Dolly Parton Imagination Library program managed by United Way in Athens that also supports early childhood reading.  I believe the DPIL progrtam and Books for Keeps compliment each other and provide all of the kids in Athens Clarke County the reading opportunities they need to be successful  in school and in life.

What strengths are you bringing to Books for Keeps?  

I retired from Athens First Bank and Trust, now Synovus, as Executive Vice President almost three years ago.  I managed Retail Banking which involved working with Branch Managers and their teams across our five state footprint.  Leading these team members and ensuring they had the tools they needed will help me identify opportunities for Books for Keeps. My role at Athens First working with the management team in strategic development for bank growth will help me as well.   I continue to serve on the bank Board of Directors.

I am excited about the opportunities to grow Books for Keeps by continuing to expand the Board and create more structure. When I retired from the bank I became very particular about where i wanted to volunteer my time.  Since I am such an advocate for early childhood reading  , and the difference reading can make in a persons life, Books For Keeps was a logical choice and I was honored when they asked me to serve on the Board.   I believe my experience with United Way and working with the various agencies they support will provide  me insights to help Books for keeps organizationally.  My bank leadership experience and the years I spent in strategic planning should help me on the Board as well as we look for the best ways to grow and expand the program.

Do you have a keen childhood memory related to a particular book? Or an experience with reading – to yourself or to a loved one?

My Mom taught me to read when I was 4.  Starting kindergarten already knowing how to read gave me so much confidence in school!  I was very much ahead of the other kids my age and this allowed me to excel.  I continued this tradition and taught my son to read when he was three.  He loved any book about sports and the Harry Potter Series made him a reader for life.  I on the other hand,  loved  the Nancy Drew series.  I think I read every one of those books!  We both love to read to this day and share books on a regular basis.  I joined Books for Keeps to encourage other kids to experience the love to read for their whole lives.  The earlier you start reading for pleasure, the more you want to read, and the greater impact reading will  have on your life..

What is your absolute favorite book? 

I basically love all books but tend to focus on best selling authors like Nelson DeMille and John Grisham when reading for pleasure.  I love all mystery type books = probably stems from my early years reading Nancy Drew!  I have several friends that love to read and I take their book recommendations seriously.  My retirement has allowed me time to join a Book Club and I look forward to expanding my reading selections through the club.