People | July 8, 2020

Remembering Luba Botcheva

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On Sunday, June 21, Worldreader lost one of our own. Luba Botcheva, Senior Director of Impact and Evaluation, passed away after a brave battle with cancer. She is survived by two amazing adult sons, whom she loved and cherished. As the cliche goes, words cannot describe Luba’s contributions to our team and Worldreader’s mission. But we will try.

Luba joined Worldreader in 2018 to lead our efforts in research and data insights. She came to Worldreader from the Mental Health Association of San Francisco, where she served as Director of Strategic Projects, Learning and Development. Luba’s deep credentials included an MA in counseling psychology from the California Institute of Integral Studies, a PhD in developmental psychology from Lomonosov Moscow State University, and a postdoctoral fellowship in behavioral studies from Stanford University. 

During her time at Worldreader, Luba led the organization’s shift from simple data reporting to applying data for greater impact.

luba botcheva

Her efforts produced Worldreader’s first global data policy and procedures, including our global key performance indicators (KPIs). She leveraged the organization’s rich digital reading integration expertise to lead a global teacher professional development research initiative in Ghana. Luba will be remembered for helping us recognize time as the most non-renewable resource available to each and every person. She understood that in an ever complex and demanding world, any and all time devoted to reading results in positive development outcomes. 

And while we’ll miss Luba’s expertise, her smile is what we continue to carry in our hearts. Her death is a reminder that the world of work is not just about the services we provide, the products we produce, the reports we write, and the meetings we attend – it is the relationships that sustain us and keep us working together to make the world a bit better each day. 

Luba botcheva

Luba led with her smile. She lit up each room she entered and her spirit radiated a self-described “mother hen” warmth. Yet she was not to be underestimated or dismissed as everyone’s “work mom.” Her intellect was fierce, her standards high. 

Standing only about 5’ 3,” Luba cast the shadow of a giant. When she spoke, we all listened. She had a commanding presence and a gift for breaking down complex concepts into memorable, colorful soundbites. She drew on her theater training when presenting to groups, captivating her audience with analogies. 

She was famous for comparing Worldreader’s KPIs to a Bulgarian salad (like a Greek salad, only far superior as Luba never tired of telling us!). In a Bulgarian salad, tomatoes, cucumbers, and cheese work together, complementing each other and forming something greater than the sum of the parts. Similarly, Worldreader’s KPIs (number of readers, number of books read, and hours spent reading) work together to tell the story of our impact through data. She also had an uncanny ability to look one in the eye and deliver even uncomfortable truths with love. We will miss her stories of growing up in Bulgaria, her love of adventure, her dancing, her ad hoc counseling sessions when we needed support, and most of all her smile. 

We are all better for having worked with Luba. We will carry her spirit with us as we support readers across the globe to build a better world.