By Ginger Young, Executive Director
I am one lucky gal. In the seven years that I have had the privilege of serving as the Executive Director of Book Harvest, I have had a sensational board chair walking shoulder to shoulder with me through all kinds of adventures – some thrilling, some scary, many unknown.
Our first three board chairs – Megan McCurley, Michele Lynn and Trudy Smith – helped our organization and me pursue our big dreams, taking us from a mere idea, with operations being run out of the trunk of a minivan, to a bustling organization with a fulltime staff pushing double digits, hundreds of volunteers, and audacious ambitions for our community’s children and families. Megan, Michele and Trudy are bold, brilliant leaders – and our organization flourished under their expertise.
When it came time to tap our next board chair, I dared not expect that Book Harvest could again be so fortunate.
Turns out I should have expected. Tabitha Blackwell, who has served on our board since 2013, was elected Book Harvest’s Board Chair by the Board of Directors earlier this month. She brings to this leadership role a rich history of nonprofit activism and capacity building and a lifelong commitment to literacy.
I am excited to share with you a bit about Tabitha. She was born and raised in Roxboro, North Carolina. Growing up in a small town, she learned the importance of community. Her longtime dream of being a lawyer led her to college at Campbell University. Looking back, she thinks the smartest thing she has ever done was taking a year off before heading to law school. Instead, she worked as a case manager for 9- to 18-year-olds in Baltimore for an AmeriCorps program. Tabitha took this as an opportunity before dedicating her life to public interest law to get to know the people she desperately wanted to help. However, the more she worked with the youth and their families, the more she knew the nonprofit sector was where she wanted to be.
Tabitha has worked with several innovative nonprofits with great missions, including KaBOOM!, Goodwill Industries International, and a dear friend of Book Harvest’s, First Book. Since 2014, she has served as Director of Youth Forward, which supports local organizations helping young people (ages 5-20) develop into career- and college-ready citizens by distributing grant funds, providing technical assistance, and facilitating networking opportunities and collaborations. Tabitha believes that building healthy nonprofits helps create strong communities. This belief is echoed in her work every day.
Tabitha is also the mom of one-year-old Safia, a brilliant ray of sunshine who loves reading and who keeps her family connected to kids’ books in the most immediate way, with storytime every night. Safia has patiently attended many a Book Harvest board meeting and is loved by board and staff alike (as is her amazing mom!).
When I asked Tabitha why she stepped up to lead Book Harvest, she replied,
I am excited to play a small role in such an amazing organization that inspires kids across the Triangle to explore the wonder found in reading. I am beyond grateful to support a mission that wants every kid to be able to answer without hesitation, ‘what book are you reading right now?’
And we are beyond grateful that you are our new Board chair, Tabitha!