We are excited to introduce a cohort model to our Read in Color® program. Twice yearly, we will open applications to organizations interested in participating in a Read in Color cohort. A selection committee of Little Free Library staff and stakeholders will review applications and invite the strongest applicants to participate in a six-month cohort experience. Let’s meet the selection committee for the Fall 2023 Read in Color cohort!
Dennis Bagneris, Jr. (he/him) is a program officer for the W.K. Kellogg Foundation in Battle Creek, Michigan. In this role, he works in the foundation’s priority place of New Orleans to support thriving children, working families, and equitable communities. Bagneris provides leadership and oversight for on-the-ground execution of the foundation’s programming efforts. This involves, in part, screening and recommending grants for funding while maintaining strong, authentic relationships with grant seekers and grantees.
Tameka Fryer Brown (she/her) is a picture book author who writes to sow seeds of self-love, pride, and inclusion in the hearts of children. Her book, Around Our Way on Neighbors’ Day, was one of the first titles selected for the Little Free Library’s Action Book Club™. Tameka is a member of Read In Color’s Diverse Books Advisory Group and was a guest on the inaugural episode of Little Free Library Unbound. Tameka’s literary affiliations include The Brown Bookshelf, Black Creators Headquarters, and KidLit in Color.
Michelle Hudgins (she/her) is an accredited communications strategist, with nearly 30 years of marketing, branding, and PR experience. Currently, she serves as Senior Vice President of Communications & Marketing for NeighborWorks America, a national nonprofit that creates opportunities for people to live in affordable homes, improve their lives, and strengthen their communities. Her passions are travel, film, cuisine, and culture. She is an active and proud alum of Hampton University, serving as president of the Northern Virginia Chapter (2020 Chapter of the Year), and 2nd Vice President and President-elect for the Middle Atlantic Region of The National Hampton Alumni Association, Inc.
Jordan Tanski (she/her) joins the Read in Color initiative with ten years of experience in the literacy nonprofit world. After teaching reading in her hometown, she moved to Washington, DC to pursue early childhood education policy and advocacy work. In her current role, she leads Everybody Wins DC’s three programs, all of which increase access to books for historically underrepresented communities and in turn, build a love of reading and learning for families and their children. While improving equitable access to education isn’t the only way to tackle our country’s history of racial and economic injustice, it’s the best way she knows how to invest in the Metro DC community she now calls home.
Yenny Yang (she/her) is the founder of Read4Unity; a literacy nonprofit with a mission to expand access to K-12 diverse books in classrooms and community libraries in “book desert” areas nationwide. Read4Unity was humbled to be selected as one of Little Free Library’s Read in Color partners in 2021 to help increase access to diverse books in Atlanta. They are excited to expand this work in 2023 and beyond to include other communities in Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, Washington DC, and Texas.
Shelby King | Little Free Library – Director of Programs
Shelby King (she/her) oversees Little Free Library’s programs – all of which provide no-cost book-sharing boxes and books to communities where books are scarce. She has been with the organization for 8 years and has worn a lot of hats during her time with LFL. Her favorite role has been working with partner organizations across the country to expand book access. She lives in Hudson, Wisconsin with her husband, two elementary-aged kids, her pitbull Pepperoncini, and guppies. Shelby loves reading YA fiction, hosting parties, getting tattoos, and works hard to make sure the people she connects with feel valued and seen.
Lexie Neeley | Little Free Library – Program Manager, Read in Color
Lexie Neeley (she/her) has been a member of the Little Free Library team since 2019. With several years of experience working closely with stewards (and being a steward herself) and program execution, Lexie is known to ask, “How can I help?”. She lives and works in St. Paul, Minnesota with her dog, Petunia, and enjoys reading, cooking, and engaging with communities to foster meaningful connections.