Meet the Team

“If you are going to get anywhere in life you have to read a lot of
books.” – Roald Dahl

Executive Team

Leib and his wife, Barb, wanted to address the fact that a mere 34% of fourth graders were proficient readers, and in disadvantaged communities that number was less than 20% – this was over ten years ago when they first launched Kids Read Now. The latest post-pandemic numbers emphasize the need is even greater now than ever.

Leib Lurie

CEO, Co-Founder, & Board President

CEO, Co-Founder, & Board President

Leib Lurie

Leib and his wife, Barb, wanted to address the fact that a mere 34% of fourth graders were proficient readers, and in disadvantaged communities that number was less than 20% – this was over ten years ago when they first launched Kids Read Now. The latest post-pandemic numbers emphasize the need is even greater now than ever.

Creating an attainable solution that would get kids reading more in a nationwide, scalable, affordable, evidence-based, program, that can serve every family in America, was the goal. They’ve since proven the goal is achievable and has been met! Leib is a serial entrepreneur whose prior firm, One Call Now, served 7,000 schools and districts, as well as tens of thousands of community and youth organizations, and Kids Read Now was built on the foundations of outreach to parents.

As well as holding a Masters in Piano Pedagogy and Music Theory, Barb is a veteran classroom teacher, 1-8. Earning endorsements for Teaching Gifted Children K-12 and Teaching Reading K-12, she taught for many years in a variety of settings including classroom (predominately reading/social studies), reading pull-out, and gifted pull-out.

Barb Lurie

Co-Founder & Board Member

Co-Founder, Board Member, & Literacy Committee Chair

Barb Lurie

As well as holding a Masters in Piano Pedagogy and Music Theory, Barb is a veteran classroom teacher, 1-8. Earning endorsements for Teaching Gifted Children K-12 and Teaching Reading K-12, she taught for many years in a variety of settings including classroom (predominately reading/social studies), reading pull-out, and gifted pull-out.

After “retiring” from teaching, she became the third Executive Director of Kids Read Now. She leads the Kids Read Now Book Selection Council and uses her years of teaching experience to ensure children will have the best books to read over the summer. Barb also uses schematic theory to develop each book’s Discovery Sheet for maximum kid and parent engagement.

In her spare time, she loves creating stained glass art, quilting, gardening, knitting, reading, and playing the piano. She enjoys spending time and traveling with her family.

Over the course of his career, Randy has more than 30 years of experience in management, training, project management, strategic planning, and operations. This includes 5 years with AT&T, managing a large midwestern call center, and a start up computer cabling business.

Randy Weddle

Chief Operating Officer

Chief Operating Officer

Randy Weddle

Over the course of his career, Randy has more than 30 years of experience in management, training, project management, strategic planning, and operations. This includes 5 years with AT&T, managing a large midwestern call center, and a start up computer cabling business.

His goal is to continue scaling the company, enrolling more schools in the program and getting more books in the hands of children.

Randy received an MBA in 2011 from Urbana University. Over the last 10 years he has taught business courses at a local university. He and his wife Jackie have lived in Vandalia and Butler Township, Ohio for more than 35 years.

Our Team

Christina has 20+ years of graphic design and marketing communications experience with multiple Inc. 500/5000 companies, building brands from the ground up.

Christina Brownlee

Marketing Director

Marketing Director

Christina Brownlee

Christina has 20+ years of graphic design and marketing communications experience with multiple Inc. 500/5000 companies, building brands from the ground up.

After receiving her Bachelors and MBA degrees, she intentionally chose a career path focused on organizations that make the world a better place. She finds spreading the word about improving literacy for America’s children with Kids Read Now’s proven programs incredibly rewarding.

In her free time, Christina loves to paint, read, take road trips, play with her pups, Parker & Boo, and brag on her Marine son. Christina also teaches marketing and design part time at a local community college and volunteers extensively in her community.

Josh Lurie - Kids Read Now
As one of the Kids Read Now outreach specialists, Josh helps to introduce the program to schools that are in need of a reading program for their students over the summer, and helps keep the teachers, parents and students engaged. Josh has a degree in business management and an associate degree in music education.

Josh Lurie

Partnership Development Manager

Partnership Development Manager

Josh Lurie

As one of the Kids Read Now outreach specialists, Josh helps to introduce the program to schools that are in need of a reading program for their students over the summer, and helps keep the teachers, parents and students engaged. Josh has a degree in business management and an associate degree in music education.

He has a loving wife of 5 years (Bonnie Lurie), and they have 3 beautiful daughters. Josh enjoys growing his coin collection, has a love of the theatre (where he met his wife), and enjoys working with wood. He is a skilled carpenter who builds things like SASS carts for cowboys, custom furniture, and a 35’ long pirate ship playhouse for his daughters.

Lauren Koontz - Kids Read Now
As a Client Success Account manager, Lauren wants to make sure every kid we send books feels that sense of personal connection and excitement with reading and our program by making sure everything runs smoothly. She wants every student that takes part in our program to be able to experience the extensive knowledge, creativity, and fun that books offer.

Lauren Koontz

Partnership Development Coordinator

Partnership Development Coordinator

Lauren Koontz

As a Client Success Account manager, Lauren wants to make sure every kid we send books feels that sense of personal connection and excitement with reading and our program by making sure everything runs smoothly. She wants every student that takes part in our program to be able to experience the extensive knowledge, creativity, and fun that books offer.

Glen Miller - Kids Read Now
Glen’s story starts in the woods as a camper. He continued to camp counselor, education major, Bachelor of Arts in Education, teacher, Camp Director, Master’s degree in Education Leadership, more Camp Director, more teaching, and finally literacy enthusiast as National Outreach Director with Kids Read Now.

Glen Miller

Sr. Director of Outreach

Sr. Director of Outreach

Glen Miller

Glen’s story starts in the woods as a camper. He continued to camp counselor, education major, Bachelor of Arts in Education, teacher, Camp Director, Master’s degree in Education Leadership, more Camp Director, more teaching, and finally literacy enthusiast as National Outreach Director with Kids Read Now.

Glen has dedicated the last 40 years to serving kids, in the great outdoors and in classrooms. Seeing the disparity from one group of people to another during that time reinforced his drive to even the playing field and amplified his dedication to the mission of Kids Read Now.

Glen’s story began sharing nature with kids, where all are on equal footing. He believes that literacy is the means for making that happen outside of the woods. In his spare time, he enjoys wildlife photography and playing music with his band.

Mike Straka - Kids Read Now
Mike was born and raised in the southwest side of Chicago but has migrated south to have more quality time with children and grandchildren. His father worked at Rand McNally so as a child he had a personal library that consisted of three sets of encyclopaedias, Lincoln Library of Essential Information, and about 500 books.

Mike Straka

National Outreach Director

National Outreach Director

Mike Straka

Mike was born and raised in the southwest side of Chicago but has migrated south to have more quality time with children and grandchildren. His father worked at Rand McNally so as a child he had a personal library that consisted of three sets of encyclopaedias, Lincoln Library of Essential Information, and about 500 books.

He has been married for 38 years with three children and ten grandchildren. Mike is a Marine veteran and worked in the police field for seven years, five years as Military Police. He spent 30 years in the office automation field with 14 years in personal sales and 16 years in leadership roles.

His favorite pastime is playing disc golf, which he describes as a nice walk ruined by colorful discs. Mike has been with Kids Read Now since 2019 and strives to bring reading help to the kids that need to most assistance.

Casey Wente - Kids Read Now
Casey has been with Kids Read Now since we were a room within another company housing books in a loft warehouse, and she thinks it’s been exhilarating to be part of the incredible growth that KRN has achieved.

Casey Wente

Outreach Specialist

Outreach Specialist

Casey Wente

Casey has been with Kids Read Now since we were a room within another company housing books in a loft warehouse, and she thinks it’s been exhilarating to be part of the incredible growth that KRN has achieved.

Never before has she felt like a part of the solution, working closely with a group of people who are truly passionate about moving the K-5 literacy needle.

As an Outreach Specialist, Casey acts almost as a mortar between departments, adding research, communicating needs and ideas, and assisting wherever there is a loose end to tie up! She thinks the best part about working at Kids Read Now is knowing that she is helping make a difference in the lives of families.

She has a great love for nature and ecosystems and strives to learn as much as possible about the environment.

Sheila Schurman - Kids Read Now
As a Client Success Account Manager, she loves working with our existing accounts in continuing to provide their students with access to books over the summer.  Reading played a large part in her own childhood and having the opportunity to help other children read is a true joy for Sheila.

Sheila Schurman

Client Success Account Manager

Client Success Account Manager

Sheila Schurman

As a Client Success Account Manager, she loves working with our existing accounts in continuing to provide their students with access to books over the summer.  Reading played a large part in her own childhood and having the opportunity to help other children read is a true joy for Sheila.

One of Sheila’s best childhood memories is going to the library at the end of the school year and signing up for their summer reading program. She would read as many books as possible in order to receive a stamp or a sticker on her reading chart. Knowing that she was one of the top readers every summer at our local library was a great accomplishment!

Chante Alexander - Kids Read Now
Chante is a mother to one 22-year-old son and a grandmother to one 2-year-old girl and a keen traveller, shopper, and volunteer. Chante has a strong background in sales and has always been passionate about community service. She served in the American Red Cross, AmeriCorps, and AmeriCorps VISTA programs where she found a life long passion for helping others.

Chante Alexander

Client Success Account Manager

Client Success Account Manager

Chante Alexander

Chante is a mother to one 22-year-old son and a grandmother to one 2-year-old girl and a keen traveller, shopper, and volunteer. Chante has a strong background in sales and has always been passionate about community service. She served in the American Red Cross, AmeriCorps, and AmeriCorps VISTA programs where she found a life long passion for helping others.

Jackie Weddle - Kids Read Now
Jackie specializes in building the framework and providing training to key staff for Zoho modules and applications. She works closely with the Fulfillment Center team to ensure the inventory system has accurate inventory data. She also works with the HR and Management staff to setup and maintain staffing requirements in Zoho People & Shifts.

Jackie Weddle

Zoho Implementation Specialist

Zoho Implementation Specialist

Jackie Weddle

Jackie specializes in building the framework and providing training to key staff for Zoho modules and applications. She works closely with the Fulfillment Center team to ensure the inventory system has accurate inventory data. She also works with the HR and Management staff to setup and maintain staffing requirements in Zoho People & Shifts. Outside of work, Jackie is a very active person and enjoys pickleball, disc golf, hiking, biking, and spending time with family.

Jim McDonald - Kids Read Now
Jim has been with Kids Read Now since 2019. He has a professional background in Inventory/Personnel Management. Being someone that struggled with reading and comprehension growing up, he understands the importance of improving children’s reading comprehension every day.

Jim McDonald

Fulfillment Center Manager

Fulfillment Center Manager

Jim McDonald

Jim has been with Kids Read Now since 2019. He has a professional background in Inventory/Personnel Management. Being someone that struggled with reading and comprehension growing up, he understands the importance of improving children’s reading comprehension every day. Working for an organization that is helping improve kids’ ability to sit and enjoy a book and make themselves better, that is something that makes him want go to work.

When he’s not hanging out with his family and friends, you might find him watching sports or doing a woodworking project. Jim is a proud father to two sons. His oldest is on his way to college and his youngest will be a junior and playing soccer in high school.

Bonnie Lurie - Kids Read Now
Bonnie works to select and procure all the books that get shipped to our students. She then helps ensure the delivery and shipment of books to the hands of students. Bonnie has a bachelor’s in theater from New Mexico State where she studied many aspects of theater, including script and story analysis.

Bonnie Lurie

Purchasing and Inventory Control Manager

Purchasing and Inventory Control Manager

Bonnie Lurie

Bonnie works to select and procure all the books that get shipped to our students. She then helps ensure the delivery and shipment of books to the hands of students. Bonnie has a bachelor’s in theater from New Mexico State where she studied many aspects of theater, including script and story analysis. She has been working with children in some aspect for over 10 years. Bonnie is a Disney Goofy aficionado and fanatic.

Joy Plunkett - Kids Read Now
Joy’s child’s reading challenge early in life along with her life-long love of books prompted her to volunteer as a reading partner during the first summer reading camp hosted by KRN. Students began the summer recognizing only a handful of words but quickly became fluent readers. A new generation of literacy lovers was born!

Joy Plunkett

Director of Human Resources

Director of Human Resources

Joy Plunkett

Joy’s child’s reading challenge early in life along with her life-long love of books prompted her to volunteer as a reading partner during the first summer reading camp hosted by KRN. Students began the summer recognizing only a handful of words but quickly became fluent readers. A new generation of literacy lovers was born! From this camp, the current data-driven, in-home summer reading program was developed by Barbara and Leib Lurie and is growing nationwide today.

Joy is honored to bring her years of experience in business/human capital management to the organization to direct all aspects of HR operations and contribute to its strategic direction. The passion for the organization’s mission by this team is unsurpassed in any organization she’s worked. When she’s not reading, you’ll find her with her husband, children, grandchildren, and fur babies. She also enjoys traveling, gardening, solving true crime mysteries, writing, and creating new recipes.

Alicia Hatcher - Kids Read Now
An Associate Principal with MLA, Alicia leads our Accounting Support Team as the Controller for Kids Read Now. Specializing in helping startups establish a financial grounding, Alicia’s experience positions her to provide management, payroll, budgeting, forecasting, and staff development for MLA clients.

Alicia Hatcher

Comptroller

Comptroller

Alicia Hatcher

An Associate Principal with MLA, Alicia leads our Accounting Support Team as the Controller for Kids Read Now. Specializing in helping startups establish a financial grounding, Alicia’s experience positions her to provide management, payroll, budgeting, forecasting, and staff development for MLA clients. Alicia joined the MLA team in 2016, providing clients with transactional accounting and analysis, and working capital management.

While she has done accounting work in several industries, including construction, music education, retail, and service, she has also managed customer relations, accounting, budgeting, and forecasting functions. As an accounting administrator with Armcorp Construction in Celina, Ohio, she was responsible for accounts receivable and payable, payroll, and communication with all the company’s vendors and customers.

She also served as a staff accountant for Piqua Steel Company, assisting all account payable functions, monthly and quarterly taxes, and overseeing the cash flow analysis for management. Other work experience includes employee training, inventory control, payroll, preparing schedules and customer service.

A Special Thanks to our Board

Dr. Paul Von Hippel - Kids Read Now
Paul is an associate professor of public policy, sociology, statistics and data science at the University of Texas in Austin, known for his work on summer learning, summer weight gain, research design, replicability of research, and missing data.

Dr. Paul Von Hippel

Dr. Paul Von Hippel

Paul is an associate professor of public policy, sociology, statistics and data science at the University of Texas in Austin, known for his work on summer learning, summer weight gain, research design, replicability of research, and missing data.

He works on evidence-based policy, education and inequality, and the obesity epidemic. He has won three best article awards for his work on education and obesity, as well as the 2019 Leo Goodman Award for contributions to statistical methods within 15 years of receiving a PhD.

Before his academic career, he worked as a data scientist, using predictive analytics to help banks prevent fraud. He holds degrees in statistics and sociology from Ohio State University, as well as degrees in music from Yale and Stanford. He still plays jazz piano.

Dr. Glen Keifer - Kids Read Now
NY Native with decades of K-12 school administration experience and as retired superintendent for Troy City Schools, Glenn understands the complex relationships between staff, teachers, parents, students, and the community. He has his doctorate from The Ohio State University and has been an adjunct professor at OSU.

Dr. Glen Keifer

Dr. Glen Keifer

NY Native with decades of K-12 school administration experience and as retired superintendent for Troy City Schools, Glenn understands the complex relationships between staff, teachers, parents, students, and the community. He has his doctorate from The Ohio State University and has been an adjunct professor at OSU.

He and his wife Becky live in Cincinnati and Florida, but still bleeds Scarlet and Grey.

Josh is owner of Walsh LLC, a business consultancy focused on digital marketing technology and software development. Prior to teaming up with Kids Read Now, John was Editor-in-Chief at Jazz-Library, an educational publication in the music industry focused on developing performance techniques for jazz improvisation.

Josh Walsh

Joshua Walsh

Josh is owner of Walsh LLC, a business consultancy focused on digital marketing technology and software development. Prior to teaming up with Kids Read Now, John was Editor-in-Chief at Jazz-Library, an educational publication in the music industry focused on developing performance techniques for jazz improvisation.

He was also the CEO at The Refinery, a software development and marketing agency based in Cleveland, OH, a company that partners with national brand customers throughout the United States. His interest in The Refinery was acquired in 2021.

As KRN’s Independent Strategic Advisor, Josh is a trusted strategic counselor to our marketing executives. Building upon his experience as CEO of The Refinery, Josh provides expertise in digital marketing and vendor selection.

Jonathan Trunk - Kids Read Now
After graduating from Miami University in 2006, Jonathan spent several years in Chicago working in the commodities markets before moving back to Cincinnati, OH. During his 10 years at Ft. Washington Investment Advisors, Inc., Jonathan led large teams and projects associated with the rapid growth, acquisitions, regulatory changes, and complex transactional activity.

Jonathan Trunk

Jonathan Trunk

After graduating from Miami University in 2006, Jonathan spent several years in Chicago working in the commodities markets before moving back to Cincinnati, OH. During his 10 years at Ft. Washington Investment Advisors, Inc., Jonathan led large teams and projects associated with the rapid growth, acquisitions, regulatory changes, and complex transactional activity.

When he left, Ft. Washington was managing over $47 billion across equity, private equity and fixed income strategies and leveraging many of the tools, teams and strategies Jonathan developed.

In an effort to apply these principles across different industries, Jonathan relocated to Dayton, OH and joined Brixey & Meyer in 2016, where he now leads a team of high-performing business consultants.  They focus on operational excellence, technology strategy and strategic planning for companies ranging from Fortune 500 to pre-revenue startups.

Amanda Close - Kids Read Now
As SVP for Digital Marketplace Development, Amanda provides strategic business development, including e-book channel development, scaled marketing programs, ecommerce, partnerships, marketing platforms, analytics, tools, and training.

Amanda Close

Amanda Close

As SVP for Digital Marketplace Development, Amanda provides strategic business development, including e-book channel development, scaled marketing programs, ecommerce, partnerships, marketing platforms, analytics, tools, and training.

A graduate of Harvard University and the Stern School of Business, Amanda has also held positions of responsibility for Crown Publishing Group, Bertelsmann, Solomon Smith Barney, and Zefer/ Waite & Company.

Todd Imwalle - Kids Read Now
An experienced Vice President of Sales in the technology and construction spaces, Todd brings to the KRN Board his analytical skills, coaching expertise, as well as his vast experiences in government, event management, and team building. He is a strong sales professional with a Bachelor of Science (BS) focused in COM, MGT from University of Dayton.

Todd Imwalle

Todd Imwalle

An experienced Vice President of Sales in the technology and construction spaces, Todd brings to the KRN Board his analytical skills, coaching expertise, as well as his vast experiences in government, event management, and team building. He is a strong sales professional with a Bachelor of Science (BS) focused in COM, MGT from University of Dayton.

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