MEET OUR TEAM
LitLab is made up of passionate individuals who are not only knowledgeable about early learning, but also things like hiking, teaching, technology, finances, and volunteering. Our multi-lingual team hails from various geographical backgrounds—bringing a bit of the world into our work. But there is one language we all have in common: The Passion For Early Learning.
Laura Gonzalez Reed
CEO & Co-founder
Finance & Operations Manager
Business Development & Growth Manager
Board of Directors
At LitLab, our Board of Directors is committed to building a non-profit that is information rich, efficient in program delivery, accountable, unique, cutting-edge, and inclusionary of our stakeholders.
Mialisa T. Bonta, Founder & Former CEO
Mialisa Bonta is the CEO and Founder of LitLab. She brings with her nearly 20 years of education and youth development experience in the non-profit sector. Her inspiration to launch birth LitLab emerged while she was the Executive Director of Bring Me A Book working on innovating the manner in which parents and caregivers interacted with technology to teach children to read. She quickly realized that although the method of delivering information to children is always evolving, innovation in the space of connecting parents and caregivers to children in the learning process has been overlooked. LitLab was started to embrace interactive learning through the fusion of technology, learning, innovation and parent and caregiver support. Prior to Bring Me A Book, Mialisa was operating her independent firm, Oyen Consulting, where she worked with clients on strategic planning, scaling programs, and exploring best use of educational technology tools. Prior to this she served as CEO of The Breakthrough Collaborative, a national youth development and education non-profit with affiliates in over 28 sites throughout the country and in Hong Kong. Prior to this, she served as Associate Director at Stupski Foundation, a philanthropic organization committed to improving the quality of public education by developing the capacity of urban school district leaders. Mialisa also served as Program Resource Officer at The San Francisco Foundation. There she conducted grant making and worked with donors to fund nonprofit organizations in the areas of early childhood education, K-12 school reform, youth development, and family support. Mialisa’s formative professional experiences were in early childhood education as a childcare provider, and in bilingual education, child advocacy and community development. She began her professional career in non-profits with Leadership, Education, and Athletics in Partnership (LEAP), a nationally recognized youth leadership program based in Connecticut. Mialisa hails from Bronx, NY and pursued her B.A. at Yale College, an Ed.M. from Harvard Graduate School of Education, and a J.D. from Yale Law School. Mialisa stays connected to her east-coast roots through her service as Board Vice Chair for the Campaign for Community Change. She is actively engaged in her local community in Alameda along with her husband, Assembly member Rob Bonta, and their three children, Reina (age 16), Iliana (age 10), and Andres (age 6) (all avid readers).
Ush Patel, Board Chair
Ush primarily focuses on finding and evaluating investment opportunities and the strategic direction of the company. He brings extensive experience in operations, product development and technology to VKRM and its portfolio companies. Most recently he has been advising a number of portfolio companies including Kidaptive, PowWow and the various Indus International Schools. Previously, he helped launch Apara Global Services and developed its client base to enable growth in its European and Middle East business. Prior to that, Ush was a senior technology manager with Merrill Lynch for 7 years where, he was instrumental in the development and implementation of key operational processes that form the underpinning of his group’s success today. Ush has a Bachelor’s degree in Mathematics and Management from King College London and a Masters in Computer Science and Engineering from University College London.
Lea Anne Borders, Board Member, Secretary
Lea Anne Borders is a founder and principal of Bookelicious LLC. Bookelicious is a startup dedicated to inspiring children to read by finding great books that match each child’s personal interests, age and reading ability, and making those books available through online purchase and school and local libraries. Ms. Borders has also served as an advisor to Silicon Valley startups since 1998. Prior to Bookelicious she was general counsel for MyWire, Inc. an online media retail startup, where she led development efforts to create online multi-media products including Let’s Cook! Life Skills for Kids on the Autism Spectrum. A former partner at Cooley LLP, a Silicon Valley-based law firm known for its expertise in the areas of venture capital and technology transactions, Ms. Borders holds an MS in Management from Stanford University Graduate School of Business, a JD from the University of California Hastings College of Law, and a BA in Political Science from the University of California, Los Angeles.
Mike Knych, Board Member, Treasurer
Mike oversees accounting, financial analysis, risk management and cash management for Asset Management Company and Its portfolio. He focuses on financial transactions, policies and procedures related to Asset Management Company’s family office operations. Mike is responsible for funding the venture, non-profit and wealth management functrons of AMC. He has over twenty years of experience in venture capital, private equity, startup company management and investment banking. Prior to joining Asset Management Company, Mike worked with Trimingham, Inc. where he provided special services to underperforming and distressed middle market companies. He holds a BA. in Economics from Colgate University.
Caitlin Roberson, Board Member
Caitlin Roberson is a storyteller and entrepreneur, who most enjoys merging the two. In her mid 20’s, Caitlin started and sold a content marketing agency that served dozens of technology companies, including Google and LinkedIn. After spending a year with the parent company, Skyword, Caitlin left to join acclaimed venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz as a partner. Caitlin advises early-stage startups and non-profits and is honored to serve on LitLab’s Board of Directors. She enjoys painting, cooking, and sprinting at the track — and is excited for her first book, entitled “30 Ways to Happy”, to be published in late 2015.
Josh Wright, Board Member
Josh Wright is an Executive Director at ideas42, the preminent non-profit focused on applying behavioral science for social good. At ideas42 Josh is focused on work in financial services, economic mobility, education, and healthcare. Josh has extensive experience in the for-profit, non-profit, and public sectors; industry experience in financial services, media and entertainment, housing, and youth development; and functional expertise in business strategy, new business development, and new venture creation. Immediately prior to joining ideas42, Josh headed up the Office of Financial Education and Financial Access at the United States Department of the Treasury. Previously, Josh held positions at the Center for Community Change, Booz Allen and Hamilton’s Commercial Management Consulting business, and was a Senior Executive at Bertelsmann’s Random House, Inc. In addition, Josh served for two terms as an elected City Council member for the City of Takoma Park Maryland. He holds a BA from Wesleyan University and an MBA from the Yale School of Management, with concentrations in Business Strategy and Finance.
Industry Advisory Board
EARLY LEARNING CHAMPIONS
LitLab’s Advisory Board are early learning champions who have come together to help advise our team and guide the community conversation, so that LitLab can make this the moment that the world focuses on educating our youngest minds using the most effective resources available.
Jason Boog is the author of “Born Reading: Bringing Up Bookworms in a Digital Age.” He worked as a journalist and editor at Mediabistro for five years, and his writing has been featured on NPR and in the Los Angeles Review of Books, The Believer, and Salon. Visit him at Born-reading.com.
Cen Campbell is a children’s librarian and the founder at LittleeLit.com. She has driven a bookmobile, managed branch libraries, developed innovative programs for babies, young children and teens, and now supports children’s librarians to serve as media mentors in their communities. She was named Library Journal Mover & Shaker in 2014 for her work on LittleeLit.com.
Cen hails from not so sunny Dublin, Ireland. She joined Google in 2003, focusing on managing operations and teams in advertising, fraud and payments. Currently, she is with Google Fiber. Being an avid reader, mixed with a desire to give something back to her new home of the Bay area, led her to this exciting opportunity to work with LitLab’s LitTab program.
Chris has had a 25 year career in Human Resources working with a number of Fortune 500 organizations. Formerly Senior Vice President, Human Resources at Charles Schwab & Co., Chris also has held senior management HR positions with Universal Studios, Levi Strauss & Company, and Bank of America. She is now the proprietor of Children’s Book Gallery, an antiquarian bookshop in San Francisco specializing in antique children’s books of charm, character and color. She also writes contemporary children’s picture books, and is the curator of a landmark exhibition in New York City called “One Hundred Books Famous in Children’s Literature.” Chris has served on a variety of national and international nonprofit boards, where she is active in HR, strategic planning, leadership, and board governance work. She received a BA from Stanford University and attended the Stanford Graduate School of Business.
Ken Maxey is Director of Government Affairs at Comcast Cable, having joined Comcast in January 2010. He has over 12 years of experience working as a community relations professional throughout California. As President of the San Francisco chapter of the National Association of Multi Ethnicities in Communications, he has recruited and coordinated new members from Facebook, Cisco and Pandora. His knowledge combined with strong ability to work with diverse organizations and leaders is one of the unique attributes he takes pride in. Mr. Maxey has expertise in a wide range of areas, including policy development, outreach, operations, intercultural communications and nonprofit partnerships. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in History and Political Science from Notre Dame De Namur University; an M.A. in International Conflict Resolution from American University; and an M.P.A., specializing in Urban Development and Policy, from Howard University.
Ann O’Leary directs the Children and Families Program at Next Generation, which includes spearheading “Too Small to Fail”—Next Generation’s joint initiative with the Clinton Foundation to help parents and businesses take meaningful actions to improve the health and well-being of children ages zero to five — developing a national research portfolio, and leading policy activities in California. Ann also serves as a Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress where she writes about work-family policies. Ann previously served as a lecturer in health law at UC Berkeley School of Law, Executive Director of the Berkeley Center on Health, Economic & Family Security at UC Berkeley School of Law, a Deputy City Attorney for the city of San Francisco, Legislative Director to Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, and led the children and family policy team on the White House Domestic Policy Council under President William J. Clinton. She also served as a member of the Obama-Biden Presidential Transition Team, advising the incoming administration on early childhood education issues. Ann is a member of the board for KQED, Northern California’s public news provider, and the East Bay Community Law Center, a legal aid clinic for low-income community members in Berkeley, California. She earned a bachelor’s degree from Mount Holyoke College, a master’s in education policy from Stanford University and a law degree from the University of California, Berkeley, School of Law. Ann is a resident of Oakland where she lives with her husband, Goodwin Liu, Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of California, and their two children, Violet and Emmett.