Brett Cohen, Chair
President, Quirk Books

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Brett is president of Quirk Books, an independent book publisher based in Philadelphia, best-known for the international best sellers Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, and other strikingly unconventional books. Brett graduated from The Pennsylvania State University and has enjoyed a career in developing and driving business strategy for emerging companies. He is an author and active member of the Association of American Publishers (AAP) Trade Executive Committee. In addition to Tree House, Brett is also currently serving as President of the SCI Board, a non-profit dedicated to sharing the summer camp experience with children from under-represented backgrounds.


Cassandra M. Bailey, Vice Chair

Board Chair Emeritus

Principal, Slice Communications

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Cass is the president and CEO of Slice Communications, an agency in Philadelphia with fully dedicated public relations and social media teams that provides clients with actionable content and data-oriented approaches. With a background in international politics, economics, and philosophy, communications has become her passion. She is deeply involved with her community, serving not only Tree House Books, but also Hopeworks 'N Camden, and the Red Cross Philadelphia Leadership Council. Cass graduated from The Catholic University of America with a degree in international politics, economics, and philosophy.


Jennifer Egmont, Secretary
Director of Initiatives and Knowledge Management, Economy League of Greater Philadelphia

Jennifer's work at the Economy League of Greater Philadelphia brings together leaders and organizations across all sectors to address the most challenging issues facing the Greater Philadelphia region. She has led projects on a broad range of issues, including economic development, city and state budget analysis, and transportation funding. Most recently, her focus has been on pre-K and K-12 education policy and research. She holds a bachelor's degree from Indiana University and an MPA from Rutgers University. She has been a member of the Tree House board since 2014.


Andrew Starfield, CFBS, Treasurer
Financial Planner, First Financial Group


Andrew is a Financial Planner with MassMutual Greater Philadelphia (MMGP). He works with individuals and small businesses to help them protect their most important assets, accumulate wealth, and make sound financial decisions for their futures. He has a national practice that is dedicated to working with SBA lenders and their borrowers, leveraging MMGP's QuickCloseSM program. Andrew is active in the community. In addition to Tree House Books, he works with The Williams Syndrome Association and the Lafayette Alumni Association, He has been recognized nationally by MassMutual for his service to Tree House Books as a Community Service Award Winner in 2015. He has also received the Norman Rowley Award for his success in business. 


Kathryn Hastings, Ed.D.
Assistant Professor and Director of Reading Programs, Loeb School of Education, Eastern University

Kathy is a professor in the education department at Eastern University where she is the director of reading programs and teaches literacy courses in both the undergraduate and graduate programs. Her areas of interest include early literacy, critical literacy, and culturally responsive and socially just teaching practices. In 2014, Kathy and her students became involved at Tree House, and in 2015 she joined the Board, where she is a member of the program committee. In addition, Kathy serves on the instructional strategy committee of the Read by 4th campaign. 


Melissa Ash, Board Member

Co-chair, Fund Development Committee

Executive Council of Team First Book Philadelphia

Melissa Ash has been an active member of the community, working with various organizations across the Philadelphia area to help promote literacy and guide students through the college application process.  She has led several college application and essay workshops at Mighty Writers, helping high school students navigate through the college admissions process and prepare their essays.  Finally, Melissa serves as the District Enrollment Director for Dartmouth College, coordinating their Philadelphia alumni interviewing program.  Prior to her work in the community, Melissa was the Director of Strategic Alliances for Destination Maternity where she built and managed highly successful partnerships with leading companies including Huggies, Similac, Fisher Price and Parenting magazine. She graduated from Dartmouth College with a degree in English.


Holly Auer, Board Member

Corporate Director of Communications for Penn Medicine

Prior to coming to Penn, Holly spent the early part of her career as a newspaper health care reporter, during which time she specialized in coverage of underpublicized issues relating to vulnerable populations including women, children, minorities, and low-income families. She previously worked for The Buffalo News, The Post & Courier in Charleston, S.C. and the Scripps Howard News Service in Washington, D.C., and freelanced for magazines including Glamour, Self and Prevention. She is the recipient of numerous national and statewide awards for her writing and editing as both a journalist and a public relations professional, and twice was awarded the Association of American Medical Colleges’ top prizes for excellence in communications and public relations, including for her leadership of the book project To Spread the Light of Knowledge: 250 Years of the Nation’s First Medical School. She is a graduate of Syracuse University, where she majored in magazine journalism, and she earned a master’s degree in bioethics at Penn.


Charles Ireland, Board Member

Chair, Programming Committee

Independence Media/Mind TVDirector of Learning and Market Research, MiND TV

Mr. Ireland has been a learning technology leader for over 20 years and his experience spans public and private industries. He brings a unique blend of practical and theoretical learning to Tree House Books. As a Principal in the Philadelphia School District and Director of Learning for a television station, he has led large teams focused on child and adult learning with a special focus on S.T.E.A.M. (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math) using relevant and engaging learning strategies (edutainment). He holds a Bachelor’s degree from Cheyney University of Pennsylvania and a Master’s degree from Lehigh University. He has been a board member since 2017.

Interested in joining our Board of Directors? Contact Cassandra Bailey at

Kristin Kiser, Board Member

 Chair, Philadelphia Literacy Day


Past Board Members

Gregory Bonaparte

Wanda Brooks

Catherine Cavella

Jason Breinin

Johnathan Davis

Barbara Easley-Cox

Miriam Edelstein

Melody Holmes

Yvonne King

Indira Lawson

Star Bocasan Little

Samantha Lyons

Lisa Nwankwo

Bruce Schimmel

Edward Swenson

Max Tuttleman

Jonathan Weiss