Staff Members

Staff Members

(photo by Bill Hamblen)
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Extensions: (512) 472-1791 Emily: 106; Donna: 108; Jill: 104: Wayne: 110; Amanda S: 101; Mariela: 102; Lili: 103; Cynthia: 107; Bill: 102.


Amanda Brawner
Events Manager

Amanda comes to BookSpring with several years of experience in event planning and fundraising. A graduate of Claremont McKenna College, Amanda has found a home in Austin’s non-profit sector. With a background in public relations, information, technology, political campaign fundraising, community engagement and voter database management, she brings a plethora of skills to execute the annual Read-A-Thon program. Amanda joined BookSpring in July 2014.

Emily Ball Cicchini Executive Director

Emily Ball Cicchini
Executive Director

Emily has 20 years of leadership in non-profit agencies and educational institutions running a variety of creative writing, arts integration, multimedia technology, and inclusive early childhood pre-literacy programs. She holds a BFA from DePaul University and an MFA from the University of Texas at Austin, where she was a James A. Michener fellow, and has earned professional certificates in program planning and grant writing, capital campaigns, high-tech fundraising, and advocacy for non-profits. She joined BookSpring in February 2015. (more …)

Lili new pic

Lili Cantu
Facilitator, Early Childhood

Lili has a BA in Latin American Studies from Brown University, and primary teaching certification from the Association Montessori Internationale. After gaining some classroom experience, she joined Reading Is Fundamental of Austin in 1997 as Infant and Preschool Program Director. She became the Program Director in 2000. In both of those roles, she wrote much of the curriculum currently used by BookSpring’s RIF component. After the birth of her daughter in 2002, Lili continued working for RIF, now BookSpring, on a part-time basis, organizing Parent Book Clubs and updating the curriculum. Lili has continued to serve BookSpring in this critical community engagement role since 2008.

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Donna Ellis
Controller/Business Manager

Donna has a BBA in Accounting from Texas State University and holds CPA licenses in California and Nevada. She is currently working on CPA reciprocity certification in Texas. Donna brings more than 20 years of financial management, knowledge, and experience as an accounting manager, controller and auditor in the private and public sectors. Donna joined BookSpring in March 2014.

Jill's Headshot 2016

Jill Gonzalez
Director of Programs & Early Childhood

Jill has her BS in Elementary Education from St. Norbert College and her MA in Language and Literacy from U.T. Austin. During her 20 years as an educator, she has taught children from first through eighth grade. Since 1996 she has been a master reading teacher, working exclusively with students struggling to learn to read. Jill served as a board member for RIF of Austin from 1998-2003, actively leading the Program and Leadership teams. Jill’s role as Director of Programs includes the coordination and management of the Early Childhood programs, as well as supervising the other BookSpring programs. She works closely with librarians, preschool directors, teen parent educators, and home based literacy providers to ensure the quality implementation of all programs. Jill joined BookSpring in July 2010.


Wayne Holstine
Partner Manager, Schools & Libraries

Wayne graduated in May 2014 from the University of Texas Moody College of Communication with a degree in Communication Sciences and Disorders. Wayne started as a work study student with BookSpring in the fall of 2010. Throughout his time at U.T., he worked with all of the programs of Bookspring and is extremely knowledgeable about book acquisition, distribution and partner services. He is eager to share his love of reading and literacy with the children of Austin and Central Texas. Wayne officially joined BookSpring as a full-time staff member in June 2014.

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Cynthia Ivey
Partner Manager, Clinics & Health

Cynthia has a background in social work, human resources, office management, client relations, and marketing. She earned a BA in Psychology and a Health Information Technology and Health Information Exchange Certificate from the University of Texas at Austin, and a Foundations of Organizational Ombudsman Practice Certificate from the International Ombudsman Association. She also enjoys baking and is a gluten free pastry chef. Cynthia joined BookSpring in January 2015.

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Amanda Shaver
Partner Manager, Communities & Volunteers

Amanda obtained a bachelor’s degree in social work from Texas A&M-Central Texas. Due to her passion for education, she also went on to earn her teaching certification. Amanda worked as a high school English teacher in Killeen, Texas before she married and moved to Austin. Once in Austin, Amanda worked for Communities in Schools (CIS) where she first heard about BookSpring and its mission. Amanda joined BookSpring in July 2012.

marielaMariela Rodriguez
Partner Manager, Community & Volunteer

Mariela has a BA in Communications from Texas A&M International University. She has two years of experience as a reporter at a South Texas publication. Mariela moved to Austin in 2014 to serve with the AmeriCorps program A Community for Education (ACE). She worked as a bilingual literacy tutor in a title one school. During her AmeriCorps service, she also volunteered with BookSpring. Mariela joined BookSpring as a full-time staff member in July 2016.


Joan Wabschall
Chief Development Officer

 Joan is a Registered Nurse with a Master of Science Degree and a Bachelor of Science in Nursing Degree from The Ohio State University. She has over 30 years of senior management experience in pediatric healthcare settings and with early literacy programs. Joan co-founded the Reach Out and Read program at Inova Fairfax Hospital for Children in Virginia and has been a certified physician trainer for the program since 1995.  Joan has held numerous roles at BookSpring including Board Member, President-Elect, and Executive Director. Joan has completed the Introduction to Fundraising Course by the Association of Fundraising Professionals. She has a proven track record in fundraising to support non-profit missions through donor cultivation, direct mail appeals, fundraising events, and grant writing. Joan’s hobbies include rubber-stamping, knitting, and reading. Her favorite children’s books are “Green Eggs and Ham” and “The Phantom Tollbooth.”