First Book

Equal access to quality education for children in need

First Book Leadership


Kyle Zimmer

President and CEO

color photo of kyle08In 1992, Kyle Zimmer, then a practicing attorney, was volunteering at a soup kitchen in Washington, DC. Realizing that the kids she was working with had no books in their lives, she set out with two friends to build a market-driven solution to ensure all children have access to critical books and resources.

More than 20 years and 150 million brand-new books later, Kyle continues to lead First Book, the nonprofit social enterprise she co-founded to ensure that local schools and community programs across the country serving children from low-income families would have a steady supply of the brand-new, high-quality books they so desperately need. Over the years, the organization has built upon its tradition of ‘collaborative disruption’ with for profit and nonprofit partners to serve children in need. First Book has now evolved to address the essential needs for educational equality, including training materials for educators, non-perishable foods, winter coats, school supplies, and an expanded spectrum of resources focused on the basic needs of children from low-income households.

Under Kyle’s leadership, First Book has built the largest and fastest growing network of schools and programs serving children in need across the United States and Canada – over 275,000 at last count – and growing by more than 5,000 per month.

First Book has pioneered groundbreaking new models, including the First Book National Book Bank, which serves as the nation’s largest clearinghouse for new books donated by publishers, and the First Book Marketplace, an award-winning, self-sustaining program that purchases new books and makes them available to educators and program leaders at unprecedented prices. First Book is continually innovating, and has branched into school supplies, digital resources, non-perishable foods and winter coats to meet the needs of the members of the First Book Network.

Kyle’s commitment to innovation and collaboration has earned her a reputation as a social sector leader. She currently serves as a member of the Board of Directors for Dr. Seuss Enterprises, L.P., which is responsible for protecting and overseeing the integrity of Dr. Suess books, properties, licensing and related products, and of the Board of Directors for Ashoka, which works to support the finest social entrepreneurs in more than 70 countries. She also serves on the Youth Venture Board of Directors and as a member of the board for James Patterson’s ReadKiddoRead.

Kyle is a passionate advocate for social entrepreneurship, educational equity, and the importance of literacy to further economic competitiveness and global understanding. Among her awards are the Jefferson Award for Outstanding Public Service Benefitting the Disadvantaged (2016), Peggy Charren/Free to Be You and Me Award from the Ms. Foundation for Women (2016), the Campaign for Grade Level Reading Pacesetter Honors (2016), the Library of Congress David M. Rubenstein Prize (2015), the National Book Foundation's Literarian Award (2014) and the National Education Association Foundation’s Award for Outstanding Service to Public Education (2013). Kyle was featured in the opening plenary on stage at the 2015 Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) America, and was also featured onstage by President Bill Clinton at the 2013 Clinton Global Initiative. She was a presenter at the University of Oxford’s “Power Shift: Forum for Women in the World Economy” at the Saïd Business School at Oxford and she also is a regular lecturer at the Wharton School of Business and Columbia Business School. She participated in the World Economic Forum in Dubai in 2014, and was a presenter and blogger at the World Economic Forum in Beijing in 2012. She served as a member of the World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Council on Social Entrepreneurship, and was featured as a presenter at the World Economic Forum in Davos in 2010. In 2009, Kyle was honored as a Carle Honors Angel Award recipient. She was named the first-ever American Marketing Association Nonprofit Marketer of the Year in 2008 and Outstanding Social Entrepreneur of the Year in the United States in 2007 by the Geneva-based Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship. She is currently serving as a member of the World Economic Forum’s Global Council on Values.

Jane Robinson

Chief Financial Officer

Jane serves as the chief financial officer for First Book and the First Book Marketplace. Jane had a distinguished career with law firm Zuckerman Spaeder, where she served as CFO for two decades as it evolved from a small firm to its current status as a major litigation firm with multiple offices in the United States. Jane has superior skills in financial management and has provided strategic guidance for First Book and its subsidiaries during a period of unparalleled growth. In addition to her financial role for First Book, Jane, together with Kyle Zimmer and Chandler Arnold, serves on the executive management team, overseeing all operations and strategic development for the organization. Jane has a degree in Math and Physics from Arcadia University and she did graduate work at the University of Arizona's Optical Sciences Center.

Chandler Arnold

Chief Operating Officer

Chandler is responsible for First Book’s day-to-day operations domestically as well as at the global level. Chandler, along with First Book’s CEO and CFO, also serves on First Book’s executive management team, overseeing the strategic development for the organization.

Prior to joining First Book, Chandler worked in marketing for The Coca-Cola Company, where he focused on customer segmentation and strategy, and as a management consultant with The Boston Consulting Group, where he advised corporations on profit maximization, public-private partnerships, and organizational design.

Chandler holds an MBA from the Graduate School of Business at Stanford University, where his work centered on harnessing the power of the private sector to advance social change. Chandler is also the founder of the Harvard Emergent Literacy Project and graduated magna cum laude from Harvard University.

Marilynn Jacobs

Senior Advisor, Marketing and Communications

Marilynn leads First Book's Marketing and Communications team in developing integrated marketing, branding and content strategies to raise awareness of the organization’s products and services for programs serving children from low-income families, as well First Book’s position as a global leader in social entrepreneurship. Marilynn has also been a member of the First Book Advisory Board since 2001.

Prior to joining First Book, Marilynn has served in a number of marketing and communications roles with a special emphasis on the publishing industry, agencies and non-profit organizations. As the Vice President/General Manager for Reader’s Digest, she served as the product management and operational lead for all online and offline Reader's Digest-branded platforms in the U.S. and Canada, and for the North American Business Development and Books & Music divisions. She was the lead marketing executive for the launch of O, The Oprah Magazine and Every Day with Rachel Ray magazine, helping to garner both of those titles industry awards and sales records.

Marilynn holds a MA in Arts Management from the University of Michigan and a BS in Communications from Northwestern University.

Becki Last

Senior Vice President, Engagement

Becki Last leads First Book's efforts to register new schools and programs across the country, keep our existing network engaged and active and bring First Book’s resources to more kids that need them. She comes to First Book from a successful career in strategic marketing for companies like USA TODAY, Time Warner Cable, Sprint Nextel and MCI. Becki holds an MBA from the University of Maryland.

Carey M. Palmquist

Senior Vice President, Ecommerce

Carey Palmquist is responsible for assisting First Book's leadership team execute on new ideas for growth strategy and innovation. Carey joined First Book after 4+ years as Executive Director of Operation Warm, a national non-profit providing brand new coats to low-income children. Prior to joining the non-profit sector, Carey served as Vice President of Operations for a state-of-the-art, multi-billion dollar cancer treatment company where she was responsible for all operational aspects of the company's flagship treatment center in Oklahoma City. She has also served in the capacity of human resources executive in the healthcare, technology, and financial industries. Carey serves on the board of The Institute for Global Youth Development Programs, holds a Master's of Management from Cambridge College and is a certified Six Sigma Green and Black Belt.

Diana Peacock

Senior Vice President, Development Alliances

Diana provides strategic oversight for First Book’s corporate strategic alliance, philanthropic foundation, individual giving and community-based fundraising initiatives. In her role, she builds partnerships and ventures for First Book to help the organization meet its ambitious goals for social impact. She also cultivates new business relationships, collaborating with leaders across sectors to ensure all children and youth have access to critical resources they need to learn and thrive. In addition, Diana was selected by the Impact Center as one of 25 leaders to participate in the 2015 Women’s Executive Leadership Program.  Diana brings 15 plus years of consulting experience in the nonprofit, corporate and public sectors with organizations such as Community Wealth Partners, Accenture and the Department of Homeland Security. She graduated from Wake Forest University with a BA in Economics, and holds both an MBA and MA in Arts Administration from Southern Methodist University.

Bryan Straathof

Senior Vice President, Finance

Bryan joined First Book in 2012 with more than 15 years of financial management experience in both the nonprofit and governmental sectors. A CPA, Bryan spent five years as the Director of Finance for the Forest Trends Association, an environmental nonprofit based in Washington, DC. Prior to that, he oversaw financial management operations for international development projects at the National Cooperative Business Association, the Citizens Development Corps and at the headquarters of the Peace Corps. Bryan graduated from the University of Maryland with a degree in finance.

Daniel Stokes

Senior Vice President, Administration

Dan manages the organization’s Human Resources department, oversees day-to-day operations at First Book’s headquarters, and is involved in other projects at a strategic and operational level.

Before joining First Book, Dan spent his career in accounting, working for publishing and media companies in New York, and the Children’s National Medical Center in Washington, D.C. He spent a decade with the Jewish Community Center of Greater Washington, eventually heading up their Accounting and Human Resources departments.

Dan holds a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration, a Master’s degree in Human Resources and an MBA, all from the University of Maryland.

Chris Stine

Senior Vice President, Information Technology

Chris leads First Book's Information Technology team in delivering new technology projects to support strategic organizational initiatives as well as IT operations, maintenance and infrastructure.

Prior to joining First Book, he consulted for IBM and was a Sr. Director in eBay Enterprise where he led Product Development and Service Delivery teams concentrating on full service ecommerce implementations. While at eBay Enterprise, Chris led the new store implementation teams for more than 30 large brick and mortar retailers such as Calvin Klein, Nautica, Timberland and Mattel.

He has 20+ years experience in IT starting as a software engineer, moving through increasing levels of management responsibility in a variety of industries including Healthcare, Telecommunications, Insurance, eCommerce and Strategic Consulting. Chris holds a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science from Kutztown University.


Innovation in Publishing

Price is the #1 barrier to book ownership Our innovative model knocks down that wall.

Innovation in Publishing

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First Book works through existing community programs, literacy efforts and schools to provide an ongoing supply of wonderful new books and reading materials.

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