Meet the Fall 2024 Read in Color Cohort Selection Committee

By Sarah Nelson

We are excited to continue our cohort model for our Read in Color® program. Twice yearly, we open applications to organizations interested in participating in a Read in Color cohort. A selection committee of Little Free Library staff and stakeholders reviews applications and invites the strongest applicants to participate in a six-month cohort experience. Let’s meet the selection committee for the Fall 2024 Read in Color cohort!

Emily Benz – Little Free Library

Emily Benz joined the Little Free Library team in January 2024 and brings with her experience in book publishing and marketing. In her most recent work in book publishing, she was proud to be part of efforts to publish more books by writers from historically underrepresented communities. Emily is passionate about decolonizing her own bookshelf and learning from diverse perspectives. She is excited to join the Read in Color selection committee for the Fall 2024 cohort and help bring access to diverse books to more communities in need.

Angela French – Imagination Library of Washington

Angela French is a fun, energetic, and passionate nonprofit professional that finds immense joy and motivation helping people and communities thrive. Born and raised in the small town of Chehalis, Washington, Angela began her career in the nonprofit sector, dedicating more than 14 years to her local United Way as the Development Director. Angela’s deep passion for expanding book access and increasing literacy opportunities for young children lead her to her current role as Director of Marketing for United Ways of the Pacific Northwest and the Imagination Library of Washington, the statewide partner of Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library. She is a firm believer that young individuals should have every chance to succeed and flourish in the modern world. By introducing children to books from an early age, it can pave the way for significant achievements as they begin school and progress through life. In her spare time, Angela enjoys spending time with family and friends, volunteering in her community, and relaxing at the beach with her 14-year-old Yorkshire Terrier, Sasha.

ReGina Newkirk Rucci – 904WARD

ReGina Newkirk Rucci joined 904WARD in April 2021. In her role, she works with corporations and nonprofit organizations to develop tailor-made solutions to help them create a more equitable and inclusive workplace that is more productive and profitable. She also works with partner organizations to address the roots of disparities in our communities, such as health equity, environmental justice, and removing systemic barriers. She has over twenty-five years of experience working in and addressing the barriers faced by marginalized populations and communities of color. She began her career in banking, where she helped establish the Diversity Department, roles, and corporate values for First American National Bank in Nashville, TN. ReGina was born in Fort Collins, CO, and raised in Nashville. She graduated with highest honors from New York University with a B.F.A. in dramatic writing. She received her master’s degree in communications from the University of Tennessee. She has also received her Diversity and Inclusion certification from Cornell University.

Rhianna Scyster – 904WARD

Rhianna Scyster serves as the Community Equity and Policy Manager at 904WARD, where she manages community-based programming and the organization’s policy and advocacy efforts. She is a fervent novel reader, passionate about learning the stories of historically marginalized and underrepresented communities. Rhianna is able to combine her personal and professional passions by leading the Little Free Diverse library initiative at 904WARD, ensuring the community members have access to diverse literature and perspectives. 

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, WI with her husband, two elementary-aged kids, and her pitbull Pepperoncini. 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 partner and her dog, Petunia. She enjoys reading, cooking, and engaging with communities to foster meaningful connections.

Learn more about Read in Color and check out our Read in Color recommended reading lists.

Skip to content