“In July 2013, our family moved from New York, NY to Scottsdale, AZ. As a new mom in a new city where the average daily temperature reaches 105 degrees in July, I was desperate to find indoor activities for my young son. One of our favorites quickly became storytime at the Scottsdale Public Library. I was aware of the importance of reading and talking with children during their critical development years, but was amazed to learn how little I knew about the science of early literacy and childhood development.
While I was struggling to find new books that were age-appropriate and engaging for my son — who was quickly growing from a baby into a toddler — I came up with the idea for Primary Book Club. The idea was to create a service for parents to discover new books and learn about the principles of early literacy and childhood development from a variety of experts.
Our mission is to help parents of pre-“school-aged” children (0-5 years) develop a learning environment and culture around literacy. That’s our primary goal. Significant resources are devoted to achieving literacy objectives in our schools. Limited resources are available to help parents lay the foundation before their children enter the formal school system. This is where we want to help. We launched in September, 2014.”
CREATED BY: Erin Witmer, Founder
Erin is the founder of Primary Book Club. Erin most recently worked as the Director of Hedge Funds for Willett Advisors, an investment firm in New York, NY. Prior to joining Willett, Ms. Witmer was an Associate with Lovett Miller & Co., a venture capital firm in Tampa, Florida. She began her career with Goldman Sachs & Co. in New York and London after graduating magna cum laude from Georgetown University. While at Georgetown, she also served as co-captain of the women’s swim team and participated in the DC Reads tutoring program. Erin currently lives in Scottsdale, Arizona with her husband, a retinal surgeon, and their son.
WRITTEN BY: Ted Bauer, Content Director
Ted works with Primary Book Club to create original content and engage our community through various social platforms. He has previously worked at Teach for America, ESPN, and PBS, predominantly in the content and social media space. He graduated from Georgetown University with a degree in Psychology and received a Masters degree in Organizational Leadership from the University of Minnesota. He currently lives in the Fort Worth, TX area working in marketing for Virtuoso, a luxury travel company. He considers his work with Primary Book Club to be excellent research for when he has kids of his own.
ILLUSTRATED BY: Scott Gladd, Art Director
Scott is a freelance art director living in Erie, PA, and has created many of the visual elements you see on the site. Although he has been in the design field for over 10 years, he only just made the transition to full-time freelance two years ago in order to explore his passion more freely. What began as a small logo exercise with Primary Book Club has blossomed into a full branding relationship that is ongoing and ever-evolving. This project has especially meant a lot to him as he has a wife and two small children, and a lot of the visuals on the site are based off of items he shares with them.
OUR ADVISORY BOARD
Marie Raymond, Early Literacy Coordinator for the Scottsdale Public Library System
Marie Raymond is the Early Literacy Coordinator for the Scottsdale Public Library system where she oversees programs and services for children birth to 5 years old and their adult caregivers. She has a varied background in education and the arts with a strong focus in creating quality educational programs that are accessible for all families. Marie has combined her knowledge and expertise of early childhood and arts education in her work as a Youth Museum Specialist at the Arizona Museum for Youth and as Educational Outreach Coordinator and Early Childhood Program Manager for The Music School of the Rhode Island Philharmonic Orchestra. She has also taught Grades PK – 4 in both private and public educational settings. Marie has a Master of Arts in Teaching degree from Rhode Island College and a Bachelor of Arts degree in Music and French from Providence College. She also studied for one year at the Université de Fribourg, Switzerland where she did supplementary course work at the Conservatoire de Fribourg.
Alan Taylor, Vice President of Leadership and Learning, Southwest Human Development
Alan Taylor has been with Southwest Human Development for over 25 years. His areas of experience and expertise include design, delivery and evaluation of training programs for a wide range of adult learners, early childhood leadership development, administration and supervision.
Alan has been responsible for contracts with numerous multi-state and regional training programs designed to deliver training and technical assistance to Head Start, child and other early education programs throughout the western United States. Other programs within his department include programs that support young children’s early language and literacy development, provide a wide range of training and technical expertise to child care programs, as well as support for Quality First!, Arizona’s Quality Improvement and Rating System.
Alan has a long-term commitment to supporting Father Involvement and helping parents learn the importance of reading to their children. A member of the National Association of Young Children, Alan was actively involved in a systems change project in Eastern and Central Europe that assisted in the redesign of early childhood education systems.
Ginger Ward, CEO of Southwest Human Development
Ginger Ward is the Chief Executive Officer of Southwest Human Development, which she founded in 1981 with six employees serving 175 families. Today, Southwest Human Development is Arizona’s largest nonprofit dedicated to early childhood development, with almost 800 employees serving 135,000 young children and families each year.
Under Ginger’s direction, Southwest Human Development has established a national reputation for leadership and high-quality programs and services in the early childhood fields of education, mental health, family support, disabilities services and training. Ginger has made a significant contribution to the early childhood field in Arizona by ensuring that the latest best practices and research are used to create programs and educate parents, professionals and policy makers about the importance of children’s earliest years to later development.
Ginger sits on a variety of boards and committees charged with forming policy on, and improving services for, children and families. Current positions include the ZERO TO THREE National Board of Directors, the American Academy of Pediatrics - Arizona Chapter Board of Directors, BUILD Steering Committee, Educare Arizona Board of Directors, the Arizona State Department of Economic Security Child Care Advisory Committee, the Health Advisory Committee of Children’s Action Alliance, the Healthy Families Steering Committee, and Early Childhood Advisor to the Junior League. Past positions include the City of Phoenix Human Services Commission and the Ryan House Board of Directors.