Staff Members

Meet the BookSpring Staff

Email info@bookspring.org for general inquiries. 
Dial (512) 472-1791

Phone Extensions:  

Executive Director ext. 106 • Finance Director ext. 120 • Communications Director ext. 102 • Program Director ext. 110 •  Development Manager ext. 104 • Program Associate ext. 103 • Volunteer Coordinator ext. 105 • Early Childhood Coordinator ext. 101 • Finance and Development Assistant ext. 100

Emily Ball Cicchini

Emily Ball Cicchini, PhD
Executive Director 

Emily balances BookSpring’s hopeful vision for the future with its strong tradition of promoting reading in the home. She’s inspired by the critical work of sustaining a steady stream of the right books to the right kids at the right time. She has over 30 years of experience in nonprofit and education sectors, including leadership roles with Texans for the Arts, VSA Arts of Texas, and Zach Theatre. Her work drives a strong interest in social justice for access to knowledge for all and a deep passion for language and stories. As a lifelong learner with an MFA and Ph.D. from the University of Texas at Austin, she loves poetry and enjoys gardening and space-watching with her family.

Caroline Sellars
Finance Director

Caroline comes to BookSpring with over 10 years of nonprofit experience as a staffer and a board member. With experience as a grant accountant, she’s always looking at how the little details come together to tell a bigger story. She knows the real work happens on the front lines, so she enjoys supporting program staff behind the scenes to reach their mission. Her favorite books to read to her daughters are Good Night, Gorilla, and anything by Sandra Boynton.

Mariela RodriguezMariela Rodriguez
Communications Director

Mariela has been the Communications Director since 2018 and oversees the communication strategies that advance BookSpring’s efforts to build early literacy in Central Texas. Mariela manages book drives, media outreach, social media, web marketing, and initiatives to increase community awareness on the importance of book ownership and families reading together at home. She grew up in Laredo, Texas, and has a BA in Communication from Texas A&M International University. During her AmeriCorps service with Literacy First, she discovered the importance of children developing reading skills to realize their full potential. At BookSpring, she has learned the importance of book choice and its impact on a child’s motivation to read. She enjoys spending quality time with her family and friends when she’s not at work. Her favorite children’s book is The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros.

Shannon ThorneShannon Thorne
Program Director

Shannon Thorne is BookSpring’s Program Director. She grew up in Cape Town, South Africa, and taught Pre-K for over 10 years. Shannon designed an evidence-based program to promote children’s emotional well-being and resilience for children ages 4 – 6. She applies her love of data to all aspects of our Rx (healthcare), Ed (education), and Go (community) programs. Shannon is devoted to cultivating our partnerships in Central Texas. She began as a dedicated BookSpring volunteer when she first arrived in the United States. Shannon enjoys executing program strategies while engaging our community in the power of books and reading. 

Bianca Paz-Cisneros
Development Manager

Bianca grew up in Brownsville, Texas, and has a BA in Communication and a minor in writing. After college, she decided to pursue a life of nonprofit work. Having all four of her parents dedicated their lives to educating children, Bianca was instilled the importance and joy of reading and writing from a very early age. She’s thrilled to be a part of the BookSpring team working to build up literacy in Central Texas. Bianca enjoys gardening, crafting, and spending time with her friends, family, and 5 fur-babies in her spare time. Her favorite children’s book is Chicka Chicka Boom Boom by Bill Martin, Jr. and John Archambault.

Trent Kennedy
Program Associate

Originally from Cleveland, Ohio, Trent comes to BookSpring with four years of teaching and tutoring experience. As an English Language Arts and Reading teacher, he learned how important it is for every student to access high-interest books. He is excited to become part of BookSpring and expand children’s libraries in Central Texas. As a child, Trent’s favorite series was Magic Tree House. Trent enjoys petting his cats, drinking coffee, and listening to music in his spare time.

Volunteer CoordinatorJessy Morris
Volunteer Coordinator

Jessy Morris is the Volunteer Coordinator for our organization who recruits, trains, and oversees all BookSpring volunteers. She helps manage book donation requests and coordinates with our partners to connect the books we receive with those who need them. Before joining this staff, Jessy worked as a Literacy Tutor through AmeriCorps, helping students in first and second grade improve their reading skills. Outside of her role at BookSpring, she likes to make new clothes, repurpose secondhand items into unique pieces, play guitar, and practice yoga. Her favorite children’s books are the Madeline series.

Early Childhood CoordinatorIdali Reyes
Early Childhood Coordinator

Idali plans, coordinates, and delivers programs that build early literacy and cultivate family engagement in reading through community partnership collaborations. Originally from El Paso, she moved to Austin shortly after graduating from the University of Texas at El Paso with a BA in History. Idali was a tour guide with the State Preservation Board and served as a bilingual tutor with Literacy First, helping 2nd, and 3rd-grade students develop their reading skills in Spanish. She was a dedicated BookSpring volunteer before joining the organization as an Early Childhood Coordinator. Idali enjoys cooking, painting, and spending quality time with loved ones and her dog when she’s not in the office. Her favorite books included Heidi and the Bailey School Kids series growing up.

Sarah HillSarah Hill
Finance and Development Associate

Sarah brings her knack for organization to BookSpring by handling the little things that keep the wheels turning. A native Austinite, she grew up surrounded by overstuffed bookshelves and believes every child should have that same opportunity. As a kid, some of her favorite books included Go, Dog, Go!, and Stellaluna. She graduated from the University of Texas at Austin in 2020 with a passion for precision and a love for literature. When she’s not working at BookSpring, Sarah enjoys editing manuscripts, gardening, and painting.

Alex Geremonte
Family Literacy Program Aide (UT Work-Study)

Alex is a sophomore English major at the University of Texas at Austin. As an aspiring librarian and author, he is thrilled to share her love of reading alongside Bookspring’s mission of encouraging early literacy in children. You can find him reading, writing, and exercising in his spare time.

Eduardo E- UT Work StudyEduardo Escarcega
Family Literacy Program Aide (UT Work-Study) 

Eduardo is currently a student at the University of Texas. He is majoring in computer science. During his spare time, he enjoys being adventurous. Anything involving the outdoors, you can sign him up. Eduardo has a toy poodle and a Goldendoodle at home, and his goals are to one day have a ranch with cattle and horses. Eduardo’s goal working for BookSpring is to help the team reach their mission and bring a whole new world through reading to children. His favorite books growing up were the Bones series.

Katya Katya Winkeler
Equal Heart AmeriCorps Member

Katya was born and raised in Moscow, Russia. She graduated from the Academy of Oil and Gas Production with a degree in mechanical engineering. Since 1993, Katya has resided in Austin. She is married with three children. Before Covid, she worked part-time in a preschool. When the preschool closed, she began volunteering for BookSpring, sorting books. Katya’s favorite children’s book is “Fire track!” by Ivan Ulz. She likes to dance, read, do puzzles and walk her golden doodle.

Jami McCormackJami McCormack
Equal Heart AmeriCorps Member

Jami has supported early learners and readers in many roles over the years. Having served as a teacher, early childhood administrator, and classroom quality evaluator, Jami is passionate about supporting children and families in their learning journeys. A strong proponent of reading of all kinds, (comic books, cereal boxes, recipes, really anything), she believes in the power of reading to instill a sense of curiosity that can sustain a love of words, books, reading, and learning throughout life. Jami creates visual art, food of all kinds, and gardens indoors and out when not reading. Her favorite children’s book is Miss Rumphius by Barbara Cooney.

Jacob WhiteheadJacob Whitehead
Equal Heart AmeriCorps Member

Jacob grew up in Houston, Texas, and has a BS in mathematics from the University of Texas at Austin, with a certificate in applied statistical modeling. He is currently an MBA student at Texas State University. In his free time, he enjoys reading, watching movies, playing saxophone, and camping. He hopes to aid Bookspring in their goal to bring more reading to children early on. His favorite children’s books growing up were The Tale of Peter Rabbit and The Giving Tree.


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