David Risher – CEO and Co-Founder
David Risher is CEO 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 an an invited member of the Clinton Global Initiative, a Microsoft Alumni Foundation Integral Fellow and a Draper Richards Kaplan Social Entrepreneur. Read David’s full bio here.
“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 and Senior Director, Strategic Partnerships
As co-founder of Worldreader, Colin focuses on developing and growing key partnerships, 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 has previously acted as an invited member of the Global Agenda Council on Africa of the World Economic Forum (WEF) and in 2016 Colin was recognized as one of the Social Entrepreneurs of the Year by the Schwab Foundation of the WEF.
His take on reading:
“The images created by the written word make an indelible mark on the mind.”
What got him reading:
Shannon Atkinson – Chief Financial Officer
Prior to joining Worldreader, Shannon was CFO at Raising A Reader, a national US program for young readers and their families. Before that she spent 17 years as CFO at SETI Institute, a non-profit scientific organization studying all aspects of life in the universe. In both of these roles Shannon, with the help of stellar teammates, lead all business aspects of the organizations such as strategy, finance, grant administration, HR, Board relations, and compliance.
Shannon believes that administration and business services are the behind-the-scenes “heart” of any organization and that one of the main goals of these functions is to improve effectiveness and efficiency of our daily work. Her professional mission statement is to provide impeccable administrative support and valuable strategic insight to guarantee the success of the organization and the cause it is dedicated to serve.
“Masterminds and Wingman” by Rosalind Wiseman, which is one woman’s take on the social structure among boys.
Clara Miralles Codorniu – COO & General Counsel
Clara works to bring efficient and effective systems to implement Worldreader’s programs guaranteeing full compliance while ensuring the team retains the creative spark that drives Worldreader’s culture. She leads our core infrastructure team- Finance, HR, Legal, Regional Leadership, Administration and Systems & Operations- ensuring our global infrastructure appropriately supports our programs and operations across geographies. Clara’s legal passion is keeping abreast of the international and national regulators efforts to articulate legal responses to the digital revolution
She has a law degree from the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona and a master’s in international and European law, with a specialty in international trade and investment law, from Universiteit van Amsterdam.
The best book ever given to her:
The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov
Sarah Jaffe – Director, M&E & Interim CPO
Sarah leads efforts around educational program design and monitoring and evaluation (M&E) for Worldreader’s early reading programs. She also heads the cross-departmental education working group, convening expertise across the organization and drawing on best practices in the field of education to inform Worldreader’s overall strategy.
Sarah’s career in international education began in a two-room schoolhouse in Costa Rica where she served as a public school teacher and founded a community library. Sarah has previously held positions at the Inter-American Development Bank, the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), the Earth Institute at Columbia University, and Room to Read. Sarah received a Master’s in Public Administration from Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs and studied International Relations and English at the University of California, Santa Barbara.
Book she reads at least once a year:
Jitterbug Perfume, by Tom Robbins.
Nadja Borovac – Director of Communications
Nadja directs Worldreader’s marketing and communications strategies including online, branding, media relations, design, corporate sponsorships and social media. Previously, she worked in the B2B and B2C sector as a global communications and social media specialist, working with companies such as Unilever, Siemens and ConnectPR.
Nadja is a native of Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, but moved to the United States with her family when she was 12 years old. She now resides in Barcelona, Spain and hopes to soon be reading digital books in Catalan. She has a mass communications degree from University of California, Berkeley and a Masters in marketing and sales from ESADE and Bocconi.
Books that drew her in:
Song of Solomon, Of Mice and Men and Beowulf
Brian Gougherty – Director of Development
Brian and his team are the glue between Worldreader and its donors. Be it generous individuals and families, philanthropic foundations, or enlightened corporations, the goal is always to make sure supporters are informed, engaged, and well-loved for the contributions they provide.
Brian’s past fundraising experience spans the arts, education, and environment. With a Bachelor of Arts degree in History from the University of Michigan and experience as a newspaper reporter and freelance journalist, he believes fervently in the power of sharing stories and ideas to change people’s lives.
“As a young kid I used to watch my older brother read the newspaper everyday after school and my mom curl up to a novel each night before she went to bed. They taught me that I could use reading to become smarter and more connected to the world, or to dream deeper and detach from it.”
Ashley Hill – Director of Global Human Resources
Ashley has over 20 years of experience in the education sector, and has a deep passion and commitment to lifelong learning. Her broad experience includes program management, leadership development, employee relations, HR and payroll, talent acquisition, systems, technology, and operations. Ashley has experience in leading teams in the nonprofit, corporate, and public sectors and has specifically helped organizations scale. She is excited to support the talented people of Worldreader in growing, attracting, and retaining staff and volunteers.
Favorite books from 2016 include:
”Go to Sleep” (Ashley is the proud mama of a rambunctious two year old), “The Vegetarian” by Han Kang, and “Commonwealth” by Ann Patchett.
Zev Lowe – Senior Director, Global Insights
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.”
Dror Matalon – Director of Technology
Dror and his team develop and manage the software and technology we need to process, maintain, and analyze the books that make up Worldreader’s collection. With over 20 years of software development and coding experience, Dror has built technology groups and teams from scratch and is a seasoned manager of teams all around the world.
In his most recent role before Worldreader, Dror managed the technical groups at TaroWorks, a Grameen Foundation based subsidiary that provides Android based offline data collection tools. He’s always been passionate about education and literacy and holds an elementary school teaching credential.
Most recently, he read Of Human Bondage, Pygmalion, and inspired by a visit to Boston, Fiske’s The American Revolution.
Joan Mwachi-Amolo – Director, East Africa
Joan Mwachi-Amolo manages the Worldreader portfolio in Kenya and greater East Africa. She is responsible for the strategic objectives and policies in the country office. Joan is an experienced educator, having started her career in the classroom setting and progressing on to designing and implementing training programs and capacity-building initiatives around non-formal school systems in impoverished communities. She has expertise in designing programs and tools for start-up organizations. Prior to joining Worldreader, Joan was the Regional Support Manager, Operations, at Bridge International Academies, a Nairobi-based organization that builds a network of ultra-low cost private primary schools.
Joan received a Bachelor of Education degree and a Master in Education Administration degree, both from Kenyatta University.
She is inspired by the book “An Enemy Called Average” by John L Mason, which motivates her to do more than average in every aspect of her life.
Periša Ražnatović – Director, Lifelong Reading Programs
Periša is responsible for the design and implementation of programs designed to drive educational impact among pre-readers and lifelong readers. He is also focused on consolidating Worldreader’s institutional knowledge from Mobile Reading to Children and Gender Parity projects.
Periša holds a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science from Singidunum University as well as Master’s degrees in Development Studies from the International Institute of Social Studies of the Erasmus University Rotterdam and in International Relations from the Institut Barcelona D’Estudis Internacionals.
Authors that get him self-debating all night:
Irvin D. Yalom and Antonio Gramsci
Susan Rimerman- Director, Content
Susan and her Content team are responsible for acquiring, curating, and optimizing the books our readers love. She works with publishers and authors from all around the world to find the right books for parents, students, teachers, and lifelong readers in developing countries.
Before Worldreader, Susan spent 20 years in book publishing at Simon & Schuster, HarperCollins, Lonely Planet, and Pearson in editorial, design, and production positions. She also drove market development efforts for Blurb, the global self-publishing platform.
Her favorite books of 2016 include:
The Bridges of Constantine, by Ahlem Mosteghanemi and The Strangeness in My Mind, by Orhan Pamuk.
Jeremy Simon – Director, School & Library Reading Programs
Jeremy started in international education in Zambia where he managed preschool and vocational education programs. Prior to Worldreader, he was a manager with the global education practice at Chemonics International where he led knowledge management and proposal development initiatives with a focus on USAID-funded reading projects, and helped to manage multi-million dollar projects in Africa and Asia.
Jeremy holds a B.A. in Religion and Law & Society from Oberlin College and an Ed.M from the Harvard Graduate School of Education with a focus on international education policy.
His favorite author is:
Gabriel Garcia Marquez.
Wendy Smith – Director, Pre-Reading Programs
Wendy comes with over 15 years of experience working on education and child protection programs in development and conflict and affected countries. Wendy has worked for many international organizations (CARE, SCF, NRC, IRC, World Vision) strengthening early childhood and basic education programming.
Wendy currently sits on the INEE Steering Committee and hopes to help us support pre and life-long reading in both low-resource and fragile contexts. She holds dual French/American nationality and attended Colombia University Teachers’ College for her graduate studies.
As a mother of three, her favorite books are children’s books! “It is the only thing I have time to read anymore. My favorite children’s author at present is Kate DiCamillo. Anything she writes is gobbled up by me and my kids.”
Heidi Williams – Director of Accounting and Administration
Working within the Finance Team, Heidi oversees US accounting and audit and global cash management. She also has responsibility for global administration, working behind the scenes to ensure that we’re efficient and effective and implementing processes that govern our general business operations. Having also served as our first Director of Finance and Human Resources, Heidi has been involved with the development of all aspects of our infrastructure from the earliest stages.
Prior to joining Worldreader as one of our very first volunteers, she worked in financial
services and business management but attributes her keen organizational skill to the time she spent away from the workforce raising, and reading to, her two children. Heidi holds a BA in English Language and Composition from the University of Utah.
Books she has enjoyed re-reading with her teenagers:
Fahrenheit 451, The Great Gatsby, The Life of Pi.
Mike Wilson – Director, Product
Mike is responsible for developing and continuously improving Worldreader’s suite of mobile applications designed to drive literacy and education outcomes among pre-readers and lifelong readers. His previous work experience includes leading the development of Kinect Sports Rivals for Xbox at Microsoft and most recently leading the development of Despicable Me: Minion Rush.
Mike is a Business Studies graduate from the Nottingham Business School.
In his own words:
“Books have always captured my imagination and given me the knowledge, desire, and courage to meet any challenge head-on. I look forward to bringing these same experiences to people all over the world.”
Carol Williams – Director, West Africa
Carol oversees the Worldreader portfolio of programs in Ghana and neighboring West African countries. She leads strategic planning and program expansion for the region. Carol has over a decade of experience helping organizations scale up, build effective teams and manage performance. She started her career in financial services working for Bank of America and Goldman Sachs before transitioning to education with Goizueta Business School, Emory University. Most recently, she was part of the executive team at Ashesi University in Ghana.
She received a bachelor of science from Hampton University and an MBA from The Fuqua School of Business, Duke University.
The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle is a recent read which is now on her top list of must read books. In her words… Being present and appreciating every moment of life is the best gift we can give ourselves and others”.