Press Releases

Thea DeRosa Cerra Named Executive Director of the Cleveland Kids’ Book Bank

Succeeds co-founder Judy Immerman Payne

CLEVELAND, OH (August 20, 2020) – The Cleveland Kids’ Book Bank (CKBB) has named Thea DeRosa Cerra, who has held leadership positions in several Greater Cleveland nonprofit organizations, to succeed its retiring executive director and co-founder, Judy Immerman Payne.

Cerra, who most recently served as director of development for the Group Plan Commission, also worked at City Year Cleveland and the Greater Cleveland Food Bank in a variety of management positions.

“Thea’s programming, management, team-building and fundraising skills, combined with her passion for our mission of fostering literacy and a love of reading, are a perfect match for the Kids’ Book Bank,” said Judi Kovach, board chair and co-founder. “We’re excited to have Thea lead us as we get ready to mark our five-year anniversary and plan for the next five years of making a difference in the lives of Cleveland’s children.”

Cerra, who has a degree in urban studies/nonprofit management from Cleveland State University, also is a graduate of Neighborhood Leadership Cleveland and the Cleveland Leadership Center’s Bridge Builders program and has been a National Urban Fellow. She begins her work at the CKBB August 24.

“My career has focused on serving Northeast Ohio, helping residents that live in under-resourced communities. The mission of the Kids’ Book Bank speaks to me because it does that by giving free books to children, opening the door for them to learn, imagine and begin creating their future,” Cerra said. “I look forward to building on the strong foundation that has been laid by its founders, board, staff, volunteers and partners.”

About the Cleveland Kids’ Book Bank
The mission of the Cleveland Kids’ Book Bank is to foster improved literacy and a love of reading by providing free books to children in need. Through partnerships with hundreds of government agencies, nonprofit organization and schools, CKBB has distributed more than 2.7 million free books to children in need since it was founded in early 2016. Additional information about the organization is available at


Contact: Leslie FitzSimmons
Phone: (216) 392-2548


Our books are keeping kids reading and ready for school!

The Bookmobile is Making Waves Hooray for our partners at the Chesterland Rotary who are running the Bookmobile again this… more

We’ve reached a major milestone this month— 2 million children’s books distributed!

The Giving Tree Keeps on Giving Books are more than words—they bring us back to our own childhoods. One of… more

The spring rain hasn’t damped our spirits – or our efforts – to get books into the hands of kids in need!

Half a Million Books to CMSD We recently surpassed 500,000 books given to Cleveland Metropolitan School District students —a major… more

Don’t miss out on any of our updates. Sign up for our newsletter and you’ll stay in the loop.