November 10, 2022
Book Harvest is growing! Over the last couple of months we grew by four new employees and it’s time for you to meet them. Introducing: Alison Sever Westbrook (Associate Director of Talent and Culture), Bria Davenport (Events and Development Manager), Malika Butler (AmeriCorps/LiteracyCorps Member), and Siobhan Powers (AmeriCorps/LiteracyCorps Member).
Alison Sever Westbrook, Associate Director of Talent and Culture
Though I grew up in the Northeast, I came to Book Harvest from an environmental education non-profit in Chapel Hill. Most of my professional life I’ve been involved with experiential education, mentoring and directing programming for teens and young adults ages 15-28 who are finding their bearings outside of the classroom, whether at summer camp, on a cultural immersion trip overseas, or on their yoga mat. I’m a 500-hour Certified Yoga Teacher (CYT-500) and a trained wilderness trip leader with an award-winning background in gap year program development. Reading voraciously is a thread that has tied together my work, life, and travel experiences. Though magical realism is probably my go-to, I also adore reading a poet’s memoir, like those by Joy Harjo and Saeed Jones. I’m a total language nerd, having grown up in a multilingual household, earned my Bachelor’s degree in Linguistics, and studied languages with several Indigenous homestay communities overseas. I’m thrilled about the work that Book Harvest does in Durham and beyond, but what excites me most is how much people love to work here. I’m enjoying getting to know the staff community and I’m committed to supporting the cultural development of our team and, as we grow, ensuring that all staff continue to consider Book Harvest a wonderful, nourishing, and meaningful place to work. I live in the small Haw River community of Saxapahaw, where you can find me turning the compost at the community garden, canoeing on the river during golden hour, or co-hosting a food-centric event with my foodie hubby at our home.
Bria Davenport, Events and Development Manager
When I was a student at Rogers Herr Middle School, there was an opportunity to become a Library Assistant/Intern in our media center; being able to help run the school book fair really helped me connect my love for books & my want to make every day a party! I am so thrilled to join the Book Harvest team as the Events & Development Manager and be able to continue my spark for making everything a party! I have been working with children since I was 16 years old all over Durham but for the past 6 years, my middle school students at Student U have known me best as Ms. Bria! Working every day to provide a space for middle school students to get what they need & even some of their wants was a constant joy I’ll never forget. Outside of my work with Student U programming, I have been able to host many community events since returning to the area after my college career at NC A&T State University & I am so happy to blend my work in this role. If I am not having a good time with the kiddos, you can definitely find me in the aisles of any store looking for deals & cute clothes! Being a Durham Native, a product of Durham Public Schools & part of a long family legacy of the Hillside community, continuing my work for my community at Book Harvest brings me so much joy & pleasure! I am so excited about the wonderful work we will get to do together!
Malika Butler, AmeriCorps Member
Hello – my name is Malika Butler, and I am a NC LiteracyCorps member that works with Books on Break. I am thrilled to become one of the newest members of Book Harvest. I have always had a love for books and as a researcher, I understand the importance and necessity of literacy education. I graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in elementary education from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (Go Heels!) and I received my Master’s degree from Indiana University- Bloomington. During my time as a graduate student, I co-authored several peer-reviewed journal articles. Much of my research investigates the socio-political cultures of North Carolina HBCUs. I am a proud longtime resident of Durham, and I am excited to be working with an organization that provides a diverse range of culturally relevant books to our local school communities. My favorite season is fall because that means it’s Homecoming Season (s/o HBCUs) and I get to enjoy candy corn!
Siobhan Powers, AmeriCorps Member
Hello! My name is Siobhan Powers and I am a NC LiteracyCorps member that has joined Book Harvest’s Book Babies team. I’ve just graduated from undergrad earlier this spring and moved back to Durham to take some time to work before attending graduate school. Before coming to Book Harvest, I worked predominately in surveying and data analysis. My most recent role was at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association where I created a survey and consolidated database for NOAA Citizen Science projects across the country. Before I evened joined Book Harvest, I deeply admired their work. I am very passionate about creating a fun and unburdened learning environment that can encourage both a child and their family to take an active role in their education. For this reason I am very excited to be working with the Book Babies team, where this exemplified.