Veteran children’s book executive Lisa Holton will become president of Classroom, Inc. on July 23. The New York-based nonprofit organization’s mission is to close the achievement gap for low-income adolescents by using technology and the world of work to engage, teach, and inspire. Since its inception in 1991, Classroom, Inc. has served 700,000 students and 10,000 teachers across the country.
Holton was most recently the founder and CEO of digital development studio Fourth Story Media, which focuses on creating children’s media which can be accessed across multiple platforms. The company partnered with HarperCollins to kick off The Amanda Project, a collaborative interactive fiction series aimed at teen girls. Earlier this year, Holton was set to join Callaway Digital Arts as v-p of content development; at that time Callaway said it would be acquiring some Fourth Story Media properties. In May, Callaway announced a change in direction, shuttering its New York offices and relocating all operations to San Francisco. In the wake of that shift, the acquisitions will not take place. Holton says Fourth Story Media will not actively develop new projects going forward and its original ownership and property rights will remain unchanged.
Prior to launching Fourth Story, Holton was president of the Scholastic Trade and Book Fair divisions where she oversaw a number of digital initiatives, guided the publication of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, and conceived and developed the interactive book-and-online-game series The 39 Clues. Holton has also previously held top positions at HarperCollins Children’s Books and Disney Global Children’s Books.
Holton is active in the nonprofit sector as well, holding a seat on the board of the New York Women’s Foundation which works for economic and social justice for women and girls, the board of the Carle Museum, and the advisory board of literacy organization First Book.
Though she is technically stepping away from the publishing world, Holton says her new position will allow her to continue her work on behalf of children’s literacy, a cause to which she has long been devoted. “Over the years, my experiences in children’s books have fueled my passion to find innovative ways to reverse the growing disparity in our educational system,” Holton said via email. “Classroom, Inc. is one of the pioneers in using technology to improve literacy, and to connect academics to real world skills for underserved kids. I am thrilled to be joining their mission to end the achievement gap.”