LiTeach participants- Use all lowercase to download: www.living-libraries.com/liteach
Kristina “Kristi” Cruise is the proud Founder, President and CEO of LiVING LiBRARIES. She is also a loving wife and mother of 2 Superhuman LiLi’s named Nate and Vivianna. Cruise started her professional career in broadcast journalism. After graduating from the University of Florida Telecom program, she worked for more than a decade in news and weather for TV stations in Florida, Tennessee, Virginia, Ohio and North Carolina, garnering multiple awards from the Associated Press, Society for Professional Journalists and the Radio and Television News Directors Association.
During the recession of 2008, while covering a story at an under-stocked food pantry in Cincinnati, Ohio, Cruise conceived the idea for what became one of the largest, and most efficient book up-cycing organization in the country. With full support from her dynamite husband, Cruise left the broadcast world in 2010 to this organization full time. From a single book drive with Classroom Central and distribution event at Crisis Assistance Ministry, Cruise paved the way to make it the single largest and most efficient book up-cycling distributor in the Charlotte region, one that uses volunteers to collect and process 30,000 books a month. These donations go to area children for free via 90 different non-profit partners and programs, changing lives every step along the way. Cruise retired as CEO in early 2019 after winning numerous local and national awards and accolades for her innovation and leadership. Awards include:
In 2020 during the height of the COVID-19 lockdown, Cruise created and piloted LiYo Literacy Yoga Fusion, a new way to #PowerREAD and learn in the 21st Century. Learn more about LiYo Literacy Yoga Fusion here.
Continual improvement and personal cultivation is an absolute must for Cruise. In 2014 Cruise received her certificate of Non-Profit Business Management from Wake Forest University. She also completed the life-changing Executive Leadership Course at the Center for Intentional Leadership. She was a member of Next Stage's first CULTIVATE cohort in 2018, and also successfully completed Deloitte and Flynn Health Holt's Women's Leadership CORP, Third Sector Leadership (TSL) and CREW Athena leadership models.
Cruise is a certified yoga instructor and teaches yoga, mindfulness and meditation at Life Time Athletic in Waverly. Cruise loves to travel with her family during her spare time and believes that work/ life balance is key to being a fierce female in the 21st century. She is active in the Junior League of Charlotte and Women’s Impact Fund.
Alina Ounheuan, a Charlotte, NC based graphic designer, heads up social media efforts for Living Libraries and its related brands, The LiLi Key and LiYo Literacy Yoga Fusion. Alina has been in the print and digital design world for over 8 years. During her career she has worked with B2B and B2C clients including; Hitachi, Volvo Trucks, 704 Games, and Cosamin.
As a designer, she enjoys helping brands achieve their goals; whether it’s from building a trade show booth or launching a product campaign. Having experience with a variety of design opportunities, Alina has adapted to a handful of work environments and has grown her design and concept skills. She is consistently looking for ways to improve her design knowledge along with finding new ways to problem-solve. In her free time, she enjoys stepping away from the computer and still staying creative by working with hands-on crafts; crocheting, painting, photography, etc.
Elizabeth McNamara is a veteran teacher of young children and an educational consultant. McNamara earned her M.Ed in Early Childhood Education from The Ohio State University and taught grades 1-3 in Union County Public Schools, outside of Charlotte, NC, for 9 years. While in Union County, she mentored Beginning Teachers and Student Teachers, developed 21st Century global curriculum for the district, and led professional development workshops for faculty. During this time, McNamara also traveled to Peru and Costa Rica to teach pre-school and lead workshops with local teachers, as a World Affairs of Charlotte Council Scholar and with the Global Educators Leadership Program at World View, UNC Chapel Hill.
McNamara then became the Director of Educational Technology for an Independent School near Charlotte, where she helped develop the school's iPad 1-to-1 program rollout and curriculum, and supported faculty, staff, and students in healthy digital citizenship practices and incorporating technology use into academic projects, while leading change in online coursework and adapting new Learning Management Systems. She was invited to join the Discovery Place STEM Fellows in 2015. McNamara now consults on STEM-related and literacy projects, and serves as an independent American Red Cross CPR/First Aid Instructor.
McNamara is mom to an awesome pint-sized LiLi, Kathryn, and enjoys traveling with her husband and family.