board of directors

Books for a Better World has a very talented all-volunteer board of directors from a variety of different backgrounds, located all over the United States. We meet around a kitchen table and via webcam, and our unwavering focus is to bring books and school supplies to the deserving children in our partner countries. We invite you to learn more about us and what we do.


Kira Gartell 
President
Kira has volunteered for Books for a Better World since 2004, starting by helping her mom, Alice, with buying and organizing books, but continuing on to travel to El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras to deliver those books to rural areas. As a board member, she is excited about helping Books for a Better World reach more children.  Kira currently lives in Bloomington, Indiana with her husband, their two cats, and one dog. She teaches high school mathematics and also plays the French horn in a local orchestra.


  Kate Eaton
Vice President and Secretary
Kate Eaton is a professor of Marketing in the W. P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University, where she also received her Ph.D. in 2012. Her academic research and interests include service design and healthcare innovation. Her passions include sharing the joy of reading with others and promoting cross-cultural understanding. Kate’s love of cultural exchange started at a young age, starting with a Hands Across the Border exchange during 7th grade. Since then, Kate has been an exchange student several times, and has traveled extensively throughout Mexico and Central America, first volunteering with Books for a Better World in Nicaragua in 2004. Kate currently lives in Chandler, AZ with her husband and two children.


Suzanne Perkett 
Treasurer
Suzanne began volunteering with Books for a Better World in 2012, traveling to Guatemala & El Salvador for the first time with her friend & co-worker, Kira. She had studied abroad in Chile previously and learned that volunteering with Books for a Better World was more than just an experience that would help her practice her Spanish again. Getting excited for helping the schools much in need in Central America, Suzanne has continued to travel to Guatemala in the summers, bonding with the Reyes family and bringing books to schools in their area. Suzanne graduated from Indiana University with degrees in Math, Spanish, and a Masters in Education. She taught high school math for three years, and has recently decided to pursue an actuarial career. Residing in Evansville, Indiana, she is currently studying to pass her first few exams while working at Deaconess Hospital as a finance counselor. Suzanne has been a member of the board since 2015 and plans on continuing to travel as a volunteer while preparing for internships and job opportunities.


  Allen Beach 
International Relationships Coordinator
Allen got the itch to volunteer for Books for a Better World shortly after returning from a two-year church mission in Guatemala. He was introduced to the organization in Winter 2006 by Jose Mendez who was President of the Board and an Arizona State University Professor. After one summer of book deliveries in Guatemala he knew that Books for a Better World would become a big part of his life. Almost every summer since, Allen has enjoyed volunteering in Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua, and Panama. Allen resides in San Diego, California with his husband, Luis. After nearly twelve years working in retail banking, Allen is now a Customer Happiness Agent at GoFundMe. He currently serves as International Relationships Coordinator and enjoys facilitating volunteerism and involving himself in the community to fulfill the Books for a Better World mission of improving literacy and inspiring children in the countries it serves!




Lauren Slocum
Fundraising Chair
Lauren started volunteering for Books for a Better World after working with Allen Beach at GoFundMe. Her background in assistant-teaching poetry workshops, tutoring ESL students, and volunteering for Small Press Distribution in Oakland ignited her passion for helping others which ultimately led to her activism in the non-profit world. She studied Creative Writing at San Francisco State University after working her way through community college at Palomar College in San Marcos, California, and Harold Washington College in Chicago, Illinois. While pursuing her Associates degrees, she focused heavily on Spanish and Social Sciences. As a child, Lauren had an active and rampant imagination; she strongly attributes this to two of her favorite pasttimes: reading and regularly playing outside. Through volunteering for Books for a Better World, she hopes to expose children in other countries to the importance of fiction, creativity, and self-exploration. Lauren currently resides in La Mesa, California, where she works on the Product Team for GoFundMe and lives with her fiancé Jesse and their cat Stevie Nicks.







  Lisa Schuring
Volunteer Coordinator
Lisa first volunteered for Books for a Better World in 2014 when she and son Nick served as Books for a Better World ambassadors in El Salvador for Nick’s Eagle Scout project. The experience was transformative and she knew she had to make Books for a Better World a bigger part of her world.  Lisa served a service mission for her church in the Dominican Republic in 1987-1988 and graduated from Brigham Young University with a BA in Spanish and a minor in International Relations in 1990.  Currently she is an ESL tutor at Sage Creek Elementary where she tutors and tracks 30 adorable K- 6th grade ESL students.  She has always loved children’s literature and uses it as an important tool in helping her ESL students become proficient in English. She and her daughter Aubrey traveled with Books for a Better World to Honduras and Nicaragua in 2015 where she fell further in love with this wonderful organization and the beautiful Central American children it works to benefit.  Lisa resides in Mapleton, Utah with her husband Dan and their five children.




Dayna Tanner
Education Chair
Dayna fell in love with the children of Central America with her first step into a tiny school in the mountains of Honduras. Within minutes, Alice Gartell looked at her and said, “You are hooked, aren’t you?” Dayna was hooked, and still is! She became a Books for a Better World volunteer in 2017, shortly after retiring from 20 years of teaching Kindergarten and Special Education. Dayna earned a Bachelor of Science Degree from Brigham Young University and a Master’s of Education degree through Southern Utah University. She also carries teaching endorsements in English as a Second Language, Special Education, Early Childhood Education, Elementary Mathematics, and is trained in Reading Recovery. She is passionate about the process of literacy and teaching children to read. Dayna admires the teachers of Central America who do so much with so little and is grateful to be a part of providing books and inspiration to both teachers and students.
  Alice Finn Gartell
Book Coordinator
Alice retired after 18 years as General Counsel of the Arizona Education Association. She graduated from Arizona State College of Law, summa cum laude, in 1989.  Alice’s passion is promoting literacy and reading. She loved to read as a child and is dedicated to bringing books to children who have none. In 1999, Alice began giving children’s books and raising funds for a small library in Akumal, Mexico, that had less than 50 children’s books. That library, Hekab Be Biblioteca, now has over 4,000 children’s books and a vibrant literacy program for children and adults.  Before her death in 2004, Books for a Better World Founder Kae Robb asked Alice to buy books for Books for a Better World so that its mission would survive.  Alice joyously agreed and has been buying thousands of children’s books for Books for a Better World ever since. With her daughter Kira Gartell, she has also helped deliver books for Books for a Better World since 2007. Although her official title is “Book Coordinator” of the board, Alice prefers her nickname “La Reina de los Libros” or “The Queen of the Books.”


 
Chelsie Wilkes
Board Member
Chelsie was first introduced to Books for a Better World through her friends Wendy (a former Board member) and Alice. All three were volunteer reading tutors for adults seeking to improve their literacy skills. As soon as she heard Wendy’s and Alice’s stories as well as saw their passion for improving literacy in Central America, Chelsie knew that she wanted to be a part of this great organization. She had the opportunity to deliver books to schools in Honduras with Books for a Better World during the summer of 2018 and loved every minute of it! Chelsie has been an elementary school teacher in Arizona for the past 7 years. She earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Early Childhood Education from Arizona State University and her Master’s of Education in Literacy from American College of Education.