Our Senior Management
David Risher - President and Co-Founder
David Risher is President and co-founder of Worldreader. In 2010 he founded Worldreader after visiting an orphanage’s locked-up library during a year-long, 19-country teaching and learning journey around the world.
David has been driving education and large-scale technological change for over two decades. As a general manager at Microsoft he led the marketing and development of Microsoft first desktop database; as Amazon.com’s Senior Vice President for Retail and Marketing he was responsible for growing the company from $16 million to $4 billion in sales. He served for three years as Board Chair of Barcelona’s Benjamin Franklin International School, is a longstanding member of ESADE Business School’s International Advisory Board, and was elected Professor of the Year at the University of Washington’s Foster School of Business.
David received his AB in Comparative literature magna cum laude from Princeton University, and his MBA from the Harvard Business School. He is a Microsoft Alumni Foundation Integral Fellow and a Draper Richards Kaplan Social Entrepreneur.
“Reading is our only vaccine against ignorance. Education is our children’s best guarantee of a better life.”
His Favorite Books:
As a kid: The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe
As an adult: The Odyssey
Colin McElwee – Co-Founder, Business Development & Strategic Partnerships
Colin is Co-founder of Worldreader and focuses on business development, putting to good use his for-profit and non-profit experience across the globe. Most recently, Colin was the first director of marketing at ESADE Business School in Barcelona, where he helped establish the school’s reputation as a world-class business education provider. Prior to that, he started his career as an economist for several Brussels-based lobbies to the European Commission, and later worked in global marketing in the consumer goods sector for Scottish & Newcastle PLC.
He has two young daughters and like them is an avid reader of books (now there’s a surprise!). Colin has a degree in economics from the University of Manchester and an MBA from ESADE Business School. He is an invited member of the Global Agenda Council on Africa of the World Economic Forum.
His take on reading:
“The images created by the written word make an indelible mark on the mind.”
What got him reading:
Neil Johnston – Interim Director of Development
Neil joins Worldreader from a successful career in the for-profit world. As an executive and an independent consultant, he sourced over $300 million in new revenues from individuals and organizations. He found creative new ways to grow revenue for organizations of all sizes, ranging from startups, such as “Her Interactive” – developer of the award-winning Nancy Drew series of video games, who creates compelling content to draw girls into computing via entertainment, and where Neil’s efforts resulted in a 1500% increase in revenue over two years; to Fortune 200 “Tandem Computers” (now a part of HP/Compaq), where he was instrumental in creating worldwide programs generating over $170mm as Tandem grew from $0.75 million to $2.2. billion.
Neil is a native of Cork City, Ireland, who emigrated to the U.S. with his family when he was 8 years old.
“Oral storytelling was still a significantly active art when I was young. When I moved to the U.S., this led to a love of libraries, where I spent most of my indoor time. The librarians used to regularly forgive my small, chronic, overdue book fees (they would sigh every time I walked in the door).”
As a kid: Tom Swift
As an adult: The 6,528-page “Aubrey/Maturin” novels by Patrick O’Brian. Infinitely re-readable old friends.
Zev Lowe – Director of Research, Product and Business Development
Zev joined Worldreader at the very beginning, jumping right into our first test pilot in Barcelona. Later, he would draw upon that experience to launch many of our other projects in Africa. Zev leads our research team, measuring outcomes and impact; drives Worldreader strategy as we grow and explore new ideas; and serves as lead problem-solver and way-smoother as we tackle a series of “firsts”. Zev entered the world of social enterprise when he left Goldman Sachs in London to serve as a Kiva Fellow in Indonesia, and has not looked back since. In his varied career, he has also worked as an ethnographer, a software architect, and a full-time Aikido apprentice.
Zev has computer science and anthropology degrees from Dartmouth College and a MBA from ESADE Business School. He is currently a Ph.D candidate at ESADE in Social Entrepreneurship and Innovation.
In his words:
“As a kid, reading time was sacred. Nobody would interrupt me — not even to ask me to clean my room! Through reading, I discovered worlds other than my own, and words that kept me company so I was never alone.”
Susan Moody – Director of Marketing and Communications
Susan directs Worldreader’s online strategy, media relations, corporate sponsorship and branding strategies. Prior to Worldreader, Susan did online marketing for various start-ups and companies in Spain and the U.S., including Icon Medialab and Teletech. She wrote two children’s books that teach kids how to appreciate different cultures.
She received a Bachelor of Arts degree from Princeton University and a MBA from IESE.
Books that made her fall in love with reading:
A Wrinkle in Time, and any series she could get her hands on, including The Black Stallion, The Great Brain, Nancy Drew Mystery Stories and The Hardy Boys.
Tina Tam - Director of Operations and Technology
Tina leads Worldreader’s operations and scaling efforts in Ghana, Kenya, and the US. She launched Worldreader’s first projects in Kenya and Uganda and is the Product Manager of Worldreader Kits. Prior to Worldreader, she studied sustainable development and consulted for organizations such as Ashoka and Banorte in areas of micro-finance, impact investing, technology and development and corporate social responsibility. She was a content publishing manager and programmer/writer at Microsoft.
She received a degree in cognitive science with computing specialization from UCLA and a MBA and MS in natural resources from the University of Michigan Erb Institute for Global Sustainable Enterprise.
The books she loved when she was young:
A series on the classical stories behind Chinese idioms, written in Chinese
Heidi Williams – Director of HR, Finance & Control
Charged with keeping our multi-continental house in order, Heidi leads our accounting, human resource and control departments. She is also responsible for developing Worldreader’s infrastructure and policies that allow us to attract and retain the world’s best talent. Heidi started her career in quality, financial and process control at American Express and later went to Bank of America. Recently, she managed quality and process controls at a biomedical materials start-up company, and was a business manager at a small intellectual property law firm.
She holds an English degree from the University of Utah.
What reading means to her:
“Reading is the entire universe and all its knowledge and insight conveniently packaged into something you can carry and enjoy quietly. Thankfully, an e-reader is much lighter than the hardbacks I used to carry!”
Elizabeth Hensick Wood – Director of Digital Publishing & Mobile Platforms
Elizabeth works with authors and publishers, to get a wide variety of the best digital books possible for our e-reader and mobile phone readers. She also oversees the development of Worldreader Mobile, our newest digital platform. Her multinational career has included jobs with Andy Warhol’s Interview magazine in Paris, DDB Needham in Hamburg and Accenture consulting group in London.
Elizabeth has a journalism and communications degree from the University of Florida and a MBA from INSEAD.
What makes a book worth reading:
“A good book for me is one where I constantly stop and think, ‘Wow, how did the author conjure that sentence, that word, that analogy?’ I’ll read great sentences over and over, marveling at the structure and the words.”