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  • Writer's pictureBenay Hicks

Roll Call! Meet Our New Team Members

Book Harvest has been busy increasing our capacity and expanding our team. Below are the FIVE new full time employees who started since the fall! We are so fortunate to have them on board as we work toward literacy and justice for all.


Please enjoy today's blog as Kai, Anneke, Connor, Smrithi, and Caitlin introduce themselves!


Kai Hill, Literacy Coach

Kai has 12+ years of experience working in youth education. Kai is a trained interpreter and translator, working in English, Spanish, and French.


Their love of language and education has led them to study and work in Spain, France, Brazil, Reunion Island(Indian Ocean), and Costa Rica. They studied at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill for undergrad and have resided in the Triangle for the past 7 years.


Kai is thrilled to join the Book Babies Team because they love working with children and families and are passionate about educational access. Kai's favorite children's book is the Lorax and they love climbing and biking in their free time.

 

Anneke Oppewal, School Engagement Manager

Originally from Johnson City, Tennessee, I have called the Triangle "home" for more than 20 years! Raised a Tar Heel, I also attended UNC Chapel Hill for my undergraduate and Master's studies. Part of my studies included a six-month long study-abroad in Quito, Ecuador. After graduating, I worked for 8 years as a middle school Spanish teacher in a public school in Orange County. One of the greatest honors of my time teaching was being recognized as my district's Teacher of the Year. During this time, I was able to take on a greater role of advocating for students, teachers, families, and schools. My passion for ensuring that students and educators have the tools and resources that they need to thrive has led me to the School Engagement Manager role at Book Harvest.


In my role with Book Harvest, I work closely with the School and Family Engagement Team. I am honored to be responsible for supporting and growing our education-based partnerships. Some of the key programs I oversee and support are Books on Break, Classroom Libraries, and Bridge to School. Outside of work, I love to spend time with loved ones. Some of my favorite activities include trying new restaurants, paddleboarding on a local lake, running, hiking, working in a local community garden, and planning my next trip. I am working on my ukulele skills so that I can strum along at Book Harvest storytimes!

 

Connor Kirkfarmer, Director of Development

Young people and their families are our most powerful assets in realizing transformative change for our community. This truth has grounded my professional journey, and I’m so excited to join Book Harvest for my next chapter of supporting children and families to excel and lead.


I launched my career at Student U empowering first-generation college students in Durham Public Schools as an educator and fundraiser. I led revenue growth throughout my tenure and honed my skills as a fundraiser. In my role as Director of Development at Book Harvest, I will serve donors and supporters in making meaningful, transformative investments to impact families through storytelling and relationship-building. I am honored and thrilled to get to know Book Harvest’s smart and committed donors at this incredible inflection point for the organization.


I graduated as an Honors Laureate from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with a dual degree in English and Nonprofit Leadership and Management. I am also a Certified Fund Raising Executive (CFRE). When not organizing for a more just and equitable world, I regularly volunteer with Southern High School, where my Spouse teaches and directs the theatre program. If you read this and would like to send me a note, I would love to hear from you! My email is connor@bookharvest.org.

 

Smrithi Swaminathan, Talent Specialist

Hello! My name is Smrithi, I am the Talent Specialist at Book Harvest. Working here has truly been a fulfilling experience! As a mother and a first-generation immigrant, I have been mindful of the choices I made for myself, and I am glad I found Book Harvest where I get to work with a very talented, passionate group of people who are making such an impactful difference in the lives of so many children.


I grew up in a household with an abundance of books and I strongly believe that it has opened my mind and helped me understand so many facets of life better without actually experiencing it firsthand. We live in a time where broader technological, political, and social forces are trying to pull us apart, but the power of reading and a sound education can change that.


Outside of work, you can find me running behind my children, checking out new restaurants, or reading a book. And yes hanging out with people I love!

 

Caitlin Georgas, Book Babies Manager

I am Caitlin Georgas, the new Book Babies Manager. I have enjoyed reading with children since I was a young babysitter in Edmond, Oklahoma. My love of children, families, and languages has followed me through life and my career in Waco, Texas, Tetovo, North Macedonia, and here to Durham, North Carolina for the past 12 years. Locally I have worked with the Orange County Adolescent Parenting Program and most recently with Family Connects Durham at the Center for Child and Family Health. I got my Bachelor of Social Work from TCU and my Master of Social Work from the University of Texas in Arlington.


I am excited to join the Book Harvest and Book Babies team. I find that my values and guiding principles are beautifully aligned with those of Book Harvest and I'm thrilled to be part of a thriving organization! I live in Durham with my husband, two kids, and two cats. When I'm not at work I can be found running, reading, playing Taco Cat Goat Cheese Pizza with my kids, and trying out new restaurants. Some recent favorite reads are The Hero of This Book by Elizabeth McCracken, Click Clack Moo, Cows that Type by Doreen Cronin, and the Wings of Fire series my nine year old daughter has shared.


I am grateful to be with Book Babies and I look forward to seeing you soon!

 


You can view Book Harvest's entire team on our Leadership page.


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