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  • Writer's pictureBenay Hicks

Welcome, Isabel and Ayana!

Our team keeps growing at Book Harvest! We have added two new members to our staff this month. Please help us welcome them to the Book Harvest family!

Isabel Geffner is our new advancement coordinator, who will be working full time to support development and fundraising at Book Harvest. Of her experience ranging from 20 years in book publishing in New York City to completing her master’s degree in social work at the University of North Carolina to community organization and development in the Triangle to work in publishing at the Center for Documentary Studies, Isabel says that “working for and with the love of books and children has been a part of my life for a long time. I hold a deep commitment to social justice and to the fair and equal deployment of resources in our world, and anything I can do to ensure that current and future generations are given every possible tool to succeed and thrive,  I am deeply committed to helping provide, cultivate, nurture, help make happen.” Isabel grew up in a family of New York City public school teachers, and in her own career as a vice president and deputy publisher at Bantam Doubleday Dell (now Penguin Random House), she created a collaborative with the mayor and children’s book publishers to support children in the highest need public elementary schools in each of the five boroughs, deploying people and resources to support school libraries, tutoring programs, and book distribution.

Isabel’s connection with Book Harvest runs deep, as she has known founder and executive director Ginger Young since their paths crossed at the Center for Documentary Studies in 1996. They have remained tangentially connected ever since, and Isabel has watched and supported Book Harvest’s growth since its start in 2011. Of joining the staff, Isabel says, “What has always compelled me about Book Harvest is the vision and tenacity of its founder. I can’t imagine working alongside a more engaged or inspiring colleague.”

Our new administrative assistant is Ayana Thompson, who will be working eight hours per week to support community partnerships. Ayana graduated from North Carolina Central University this past spring with a degree in public relations, and she learned about the opportunity to work at Book Harvest through her previous internship with UNC-TV. Ayana is actively involved in the local community in Durham, particularly in her leadership of the SMART Girls group at the Boys and Girls Club, through which she works with about 15 young women on life skills like teamwork, confidence, and exploring career opportunities, especially those in STEM fields. Ayana has also recently taken on a new role as a board member with the Young Nonprofit Professionals Network of the Triangle.

Ayana sees her work at Book Harvest as “a good way to merge [her] passions for doing work within the communications field and working in [her] community. Books provide opportunities to learn and imagine,” she shares, “and knowledge is the one thing that can’t be taken away from you.” Long-term, Ayana is focused on starting her own nonprofit, called CHANCE, whose mission will be to give people with criminal offenses a second chance, to escape living under stigma and break the family cycle of crime and incarceration. She is particularly passionate about this cause because of her own experience with an incarcerated family member, and she looks forward to learning as much as she can about nonprofit work and development during her time at Book Harvest to inform her future plans to launch CHANCE.

Please help us welcome Isabel and Ayana to our team! If you want to reach Isabel, you can email her at Ayana’s email address is


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