BookMentors was started by a group of friends who cared about the fact that many children in high poverty schools and communities do not have adequate access to children’s and young adult's literature.
Jennifer Soalt has worked as a teacher, reading specialist, literacy coach, and ELA curriculum director in urban and suburban schools. She holds a Ph.D. in English literature from University of Virginia, and an M.Ed. in language and literacy from Harvard Graduate School of Education. Two of her favorite children's books are D'Aulaires' Book of Greek Myths and D'Aulaires' Book of Norse Myths.
Board of Directors
David Bienvenu has worked as a programmer and software architect in the Silicon Valley for over 25 years at several companies, including Metaphor, Collabra, Netscape, and Mozilla. He is the co-creator of the Thunderbird e-mail client. He currently works at Google. His favorite children's books are the Freddy the Pig series.
Debra Hannula is an attorney. She has worked as a public defender, a Judge Pro Tempore, and as the Director of Legal Services for a battered women’s shelter. She is the current Executive Director of BookMentors. She is also the chair of the KellyAnnBrown Foundation. Winnie the Pooh stories were childhood favorites.
Charles Harvey is a professor of Environmental Science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He has built field programs in Bangladesh and Borneo to study arsenic contamination of drinking water and carbon fluxes from tropical peat forests. His favorite young adult fiction includes His Dark Materials and The Earthsea Trilogy.
Yuri Ivanov is a research scientist working in Artificial Intelligence and Robotics. He has been involved in large community and technology projects since 2001. He has two children who keep his view of the world more or less up to date. His favorite young adult books are The Little Prince, Holes, and Monday Begins on Saturday.
Eric Martincavage has served in the U.S. Coast Guard for 20 years. He was part of the hazardous materials cleanup team for Hurricane Katrina, and teaches ship board firefighting. He was also an English major and writes short stories about his life at sea. Eric is a member of the Three Affiliated Tribes of the Fort Berthold Indian Reservation: Mandan, Hidatsa, and Arikara Nation in North Dakota. He also serves as a director on the Kelly Ann Brown Foundation. His favorite childhood book is Where the Wild Things Are, and as a young adult loved The Old Man and the Sea.
Emil Sotirov is BookMentors' web product manager and team leader. He also develops the website's architecture, interface and overall user experience. He has been a software/web product architect since 1994. Emil co-founded People Networks, Aidpage, and IDILOGIC. A favorite book from his college years is Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance.
Virginia Sotirova creates the visual identity and web design for BookMentors. She has helped nonprofits with web design and development since 2000, when she founded Zayko. A favorite book from her childhood is: Born Free: A Lioness of Two Worlds (Story of Elsa).
Val Valchev develops the BookMentors software platform. Val is a "full-stack" system engineer and programmer, who recently developed the latest version of Aidpage. He has worked at ProPeople, People Networks, Aidpage, and IDILOGIC. One of his all-time favorites is The City and the Stars.
Stamen Georgiev is responsible for the front-end programming of BookMentors. Companies he has worked for include Telerik, Everbread, Lessno, and Aidpage. He loves The Hobbit, Dune, and The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.
Elena Petrova works on the front-end of the BookMentors' site. She has worked at Telerik, Everbread, and Publicis. Her favorite books are The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Three Men in a Boat, and The Little Prince.
Social Media Team
Grace Huang is an alumna of ABC News and Scientific American. She has worked as an editor, writer, and researcher. On frequent childhood trips to her neighborhood library, she lost count of how many times she borrowed the All-Of-A-Kind Family series. Her hands-down favorite among her prized Laura Ingalls Wilder boxed set was Farmer Boy, which tells the story of the author's husband as a youth.
Michelle Quach is a recent graduate of Harvard University, where she ran the Crimson's student life blog and volunteered with Harvard College Stories for Orphans. She is interested in working in nonprofit communications and development. As a kid, her favorite book was In the Year of the Boar and Jackie Robinson.
Jenna Harvey is responsible for managing BookMentors' Facebook page. She is a student of international development and has worked extensively in Central America. She loves biographies and non-fiction, but also loves getting lost in epic fantasy novels. She could read The Lord of the Rings trilogy over and over and never get tired of it.