Executive Bios

Barri_Evins_HS_SQ.jpgBarri Evins, Founder and Executive Director

Barri grew up in home where hands-on philanthropy was an integral part of everyday life. Cases of food were hauled to Head Start in the family station wagon. Her family adopted a family in Appalachia and sent Christmas gifts, clothes, and food. Her mother headed numerous nonprofit organizations and devoted thousands of hours to one-on-one mentoring with at-risk children. Barri credits her mother with showing her the effectiveness of hands-on involvement and how rewarding it can be to take action to improve the world.

Barri attended Northwestern University, graduating with dual degrees in Human Development and Social Policy and Theatre. After moving to Los Angeles, she became a film industry executive, ultimately serving as President of Debra Hill Productions. Barri has also worked as a successful marketing consultant for both businesses and nonprofits.

In 1993, Barri founded the nonprofit BETTER WITH BOOKS with the two-fold goal of improving the lives of children living below the poverty line through literacy and creating opportunities for volunteers to get hands-on and face-to-face with those in need. Barri believes active philanthropy is transformational for all involved. It supplants our helplessness and hopelessness in the face of society’s problems with a sense of empowerment and restores our belief that one person can make a difference. This vision for social change inspired her to create innovative and effective programs and generate avenues for meaningful and productive involvement for volunteers. Barri is most proud of BWB's work with kid volunteers, paving the way for the next generation of social activists.

The annual BWB Holiday Book Giveaway has placed over 150,000 brand new books into the hands of needy children. Children are given a brand new book chosen especially for them. For most, this is the first book they have ever owned. BWB has built 280 libraries for Head Start Centers, created personal libraries for children who were victims of Hurricane Katrina and provided libraries for nonprofits serving underprivileged children.

Barri has applied business techniques, marketing acumen, and her film industry relationships to the traditional nonprofit approach to grow and promote BWB. She forged strategic alliances with companies as well as international literacy organizations, persuaded film and sports stars to create original bookmark art to raise funds and convinced famous authors to donate cases of books.

Barri has been honored by the Western Center for Law and Poverty, received the James Patterson PageTurner Award and was named one of the Top Ten Mensches of the Year in 2006 by the LA Jewish Journal. This recognition is truly meaningful, but for Barri the greatest joy is putting a book into the hands of a child and seeing their eyes light up. At that moment, she knows she’s found her own way to perpetuate her mother’s legacy.



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Better With Books
Providing brand new children's books to underserved communities