Alice Finn Gartell (President): Alice has been General Counsel of the Arizona Education Association for 16 years. 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, BBW Founder Kae Robb asked Alice to buy books for BBW so that its mission would survive. Alice joyously agreed and has been buying thousands of children’s books for BBW ever since. With her daughter Kira Gartell, she also helped deliver books for BBW the last three summers. Although her official title is “President” of the BBW board, Alice prefers her nickname “La Reina de los Libros” or “Queen of the Books.”
Allen Beach (Vice-President): 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. Every summer since, Allen has enjoyed volunteering in Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua, and Panama. Allen also works for MidFirst Bank in Phoenix, AZ and is grateful for their dedication to volunteerism–allowing him to take the time to volunteer every summer. He currently serves as Vice President and works–with the Board–coordinating volunteers 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!
Alex Robb (Vice-President): Alex has been on the board since organization’s inception and was husband to Kae Robb, BBW’s Founder. His role in the organization has varied from computer consultant to Vice-President. Alex is most interested in the fiscal operations of the organization. Currently he is a retired computer programmer and resides in Goodyear, Arizona.
Wendy Finlayson (Secretary): Wendy joined the Books for a Better World Board in August of 2009. She lives in Mesa, Arizona. She moved to Arizona in 2005 to do social work with the Healthy Families program. While in Arizona, she discovered that she loved teaching and decided to go back to school and get her Master’s in Teaching English as a Second Language at ASU. Currently she teaches English Writing, English as a Second Language (ESL) and Spanish at Mesa Community College. She also teaches ESL to adults through Mesa Public Schools. Wendy studied Spanish as an undergraduate at Brigham Young University and continued her study of the language doing volunteer work in several Central and South American countries. She first became involved with BBW in 2007 and she delivered books in Guatemala in 2007, 2008 and 2010 and in El Salvador in 2010.
Jan McLaughlin (Treasurer): Jan joined the board of Books for a Better World in September, 2009. Although she started out her career as a juvenile probation officer, she has worked full-time as an artist since 1987. She is a mother and grandmother and lives with her husband in Phoenix, Arizona. Jan has long been focused on childhood education, having previously served on the boards of Shadow Rock Preschool and a Stepping Stone Foundation (a privately funded program dedicated to family literacy).
Stephanie Goins: Stephanie is the daughter of Kae Robb, Founder of Books for a Better World and is one of the original Board members. A former Spanish teacher, her main occupation is now “mom” to her two young boys, who she is bringing up to be bilingual. She also works alongside her husband on their family business MyWonderfulWalls.com, creating large-scale stencil kits for children’s rooms. Stephanie’s served in the Peace Corps in Guatemala (’96-‘98) and has traveled extensively in Central and South America. In 2002, she joined her mother and other volunteers to help deliver books to the rural schools of Guatemala. She and family currently live in Chattanooga, Tennessee.
Kira Gartell: 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 boyfriend, their two cats, and one dog. She teaches high school mathematics and also plays the French horn in a local orchestra.
Shelby Boyle: Shelby met late founder of BBW, Kae Robb, and BBW Vice President, Alex Robb, in 2001, when she was 14 years old. After extending neighborly arms to one another, she started stuffing fundraising envelopes, answering BBW phone calls, and helping to choose colorful storybooks she knew so well from her childhood. Kae asked Shelby to accompany her later that year to Nicaragua. She jumped up and down with excitement and accepted! From then on, Shelby has managed the Nicaragua project. Kae asked Shelby to take on the El Salvador project in 2004, in addition. Shelby knew she wanted to carry on Kae’s legacy or working with children in Central America and has continued to manage the El Salvador and Nicaragua projects. Shelby graduated from Columbia University – Barnard College in 2009 and is currently working in clinical research with Hepatitis C infected patients.
Amanda June: Joined as a volunteer with Books for a Better world in 2006. She learned about BBW through her high school friend Shelby Boyle who inspired her to be a part of their mission in literacy and education in Central America. Amanda has been involved on the BBW board ever since her trip in 2006. She recently graduated from Arizona State University with a B.S. in Nonprofit Management and Leadership and a Minor in Business. Amanda plans to continue serving on the BBW board and traveling as a volunteer and will begin preparing for graduate school in the near future.