John E. Harmon, Sr., National Black Chamber of Commerce Chairman, Joins First Book Board of Directors

Apr 30, 2014, 14:16 ET from First Book

WASHINGTON, April 30, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- John E. Harmon, Sr., chairman of the National Black Chamber of Commerce and president and CEO of the African American Chamber of Commerce of New Jersey, has joined First Book's Board of Directors.  A nonprofit social enterprise, First Book tackles the profound lack of high quality books and educational resources for children in need, which contributes to the achievement gap for children in low-income communities.

"Having worked with First Book on pilot projects in New Jersey and nationally, I have seen the power of First Book's model and collaborative approach to energize communities and elevate the quality of education for our children," said Harmon. "In order to have a strong workforce for tomorrow, it is imperative that all of our children have the resources they need to be fully literate and engaged.  First Book's initiatives, from the First Book Marketplace to the Stories for All Project, are making books accessible and relevant to children in need and the educators and programs that serve them.  I look forward to utilizing my knowledge, experience and network to support First Book's important work."

In the U.S. alone, an estimated 32 million children – almost half of all children – are growing up in low-income households where books are scarce.  One study found that while children from affluent communities have access to about 13 books on a daily basis, in the poorest neighborhoods, there was only a single book for every 300 children.                                             

"John is an astute business and community leader who shares our belief in the power of education and our commitment to bring critical resources to help all children succeed in school and in life," said First Book Board Chairman Peter Gold.  "We look forward to working with John to further First Book's mission."

Harmon has served as founder, president and CEO of the African American Chamber of Commerce of New Jersey since 2007.  In 2014, he was named chairman of the National Black Chamber of Commerce, which has 150 U.S. affiliate chapters and more than 15 international affiliates.  Prior to his role as a chamber executive, Harmon worked in the banking industry at The Bowery Savings Bank and Chemical Bank, where he established The Affordable Housing Loan Program.  Following his banking career, he founded Harmon Transfer, Corp., a transportation company.  Harmon earned a bachelor's degree in business management from Fairleigh Dickinson University and an associate degree in business administration from Mercer County Community College.  He is currently completing a chamber executive management program at Villanova University, sponsored by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.  

About First Book
First Book is a nonprofit social enterprise that has distributed more than 115 million books and educational resources to programs and schools serving children from low-income families throughout the United States and Canada.  By making new, high-quality books available on an ongoing basis, First Book is transforming the lives of children in need and elevating the quality of education. For more information, please visit us online or follow our latest news on Facebook and Twitter.

Brian Minter

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SOURCE First Book