BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Brett Cohen, Chair
President, Quirk Books
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
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.
Melissa Ash, Board Member & 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.
Since 2004, John has been assisting independent, private, and charter K12 schools primarily in Philadelphia, New Jersey, and Washington, D.C. with their infrastructure and classroom technologies – from the wires in the ceilings, to the SmartBoards on the walls. Beyond Tree House Books, John has been an active volunteer firefighter with Wyndmoor Hose Company for almost two decades and manages finances for the department, serves on the board of Blossom Philadelphia – who provides programs and services for children and adults with severe and complex intellectual and physical disabilities, and is often found volunteering with local animal rescue organizations such as New Leash on Life or the Animal Care & Control Team of Philadelphia. He holds a bachelor’s degree in computing technology from Drexel University and various certifications in rescue and emergency services.
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.
Charles Ireland, Board Member & Chair, Programming Committee
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.
Kristin Kiser, Board Member & Chair, Philadelphia Literacy Day
Publisher, Running Press
Grace Manning, Board Member
Social Impact and Administration, Saxby's
Grace Manning is the Manager of Social Impact and Administration at Saxbys, a hospitality company that runs a chain of almost 30 cafes and is focused heavily on transforming education through their Experiential Learning Program at higher ed universities. In her role, she manages all of the company's community outreach, partnerships, scholarship programs, and social impact work throughout the neighborhoods that Saxbys' serves. With a background in education, she believes in the positive effect that teaching cultural and social responsibility early on can have on student outcomes and communities as a whole. Grace was a volunteer with Tree House Books all through her undergraduate time at Temple University, became reacquainted with the program in 2018, and shortly after joined the board. She is also on the Chamber of Commerce's Roadmap for Growth Education Subcommittee and is an active big sister for Big Brother Big Sisters.
Yuliya Ostapenko, Board Member
Yuliya is a licensed CPA specializing in nonprofit sector at CliftonLarsonAllen (CLA). She has over 11 years of experience in public accounting with Deloitte and has recently joined CLA practice in Plymouth Meeting, PA. Yuliya’s technical experience includes compliance with US GAAP, SOX, SEC regulations, PCAOB, AICPA, and governmental auditing standards. She has been serving nonprofit sector since 2007 with clients including major institutions of higher education in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. Yuliya holds a bachelor’s degree in environmental engineering from Odessa Environmental University and a bachelor’s degree in business with the concentration in accounting, finance, and international business from Drexel University. In the past, Yuliya has been involved with Susan G. Komen 3-Day Walk as a member of support crew. Yuliya joined Tree House Books board in 2018.
Past Board Members
Star Bocasan Little