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April 24, 2023 (LAKE BLUFF, Ill.)  – Today, Bernie’s Book Bank announced it has appointed Kristen Daniels as Executive Director, a new role to the organization who creates pathways to success through free, quality books for children. CEO Darrin Utynek and Founder Brian Floriani will focus their attention on national expansion as Daniels will oversee the Chicago operations and funding the mission locally.

“Bernie’s Book Bank is dedicated to national expansion and ensuring the continued success of our Chicago operation, and having an exceptional Executive Director is paramount to the success of the organization. Kristen’s background is a natural fit for Bernie’s Book Bank and her leadership will facilitate local growth to ensure every Chicagoland child owns books. I am thrilled to welcome her to the team!”

Darrin Utynek

Chief Executive Officer

Daniels brings deep non-profit experience to Bernie’s Book Bank. She previously served as Senior Director of External Relations at Saint Viator High School. Her responsibilities included oversight of fundraising, communications, alumni relations, and Board management. Prior to Saint Viator High School, Daniels held a variety of leadership roles at non-profits including Clearbrook, YMCA, and USA Swimming Foundation. As Executive Director, Daniels will apply her diverse experience to lead the Chicago office and advance the mission of Bernie’s Book Bank.

“As a business leader, a neighbor, and most importantly, as a mother to three young children – I know full well the power of book ownership. To be a part of Bernie’s Book Bank team and to share the gift of reading, creativity, and confidence with children in the local community, is a dream come true.”

Kristen Daniels

Executive Director

Board of Directors Chair, Lia Douglas, expressed her enthusiasm for what the role means to the growth of Bernie’s Book Bank.

“The storied history of Bernie’s Book Bank can be traced through three distinct phases: Our start-up phase, led by our founder, Brian Floriani. A period of acceleration and scale led by our CEO, Darrin Utynek. Now, Kristen is poised to take our flagship to the next level (reaching its growth potential across Chicagoland), so that Darrin and Brian can confidently look to our future – a period of national expansion. I look forward to working with Kristen, Brian and Darrin on our next chapter.”

Lia Douglas

Board of Directors Chair

Founded as a 501(c)(3) in September of 2009, Bernie’s Book Bank creates pathways to success through book ownership. The organization empowers children to explore new ideas, gain knowledge and strengthen reading skills with free, quality books. Bernie’s Book Bank sources, processes, and distributes eight free books annually to children, ages birth through sixth grade, through Title I schools and early childhood programs. With the support of generous donors and volunteers, Bernie’s Book Bank is transforming children’s stories.