Claudia Guadalupe Martínez’s debut novel, The Smell of Old Lady Perfume, received the Paterson Prize for Books for Young People, the Texas Institute of Letters Best Young Adult Book Award, and an Americas Award Commendation. Her sophomore novel Pig Park won the Texas Institute of Letters Best Young Adult Book and the NACCS Tejas Foco Young Adult Fiction Award. Her debut picture book, Not A Bean, illustrated by Laura González received multiple starred reviews and was named a Best Book of the Year by Bank Street College of Education. She also authored The Movie Novel for DreamWorks’ animated film, Spirit Untamed. Claudia grew up in sunny El Paso, Texas, where she learned that letters form words from reading the subtitles of old westerns with her father. She now lives and writes in Chicago.
Jodi Meadows wants to be a ferret when she grows up and she has no self-control when it comes to yarn, ink, or outer space. Still, she manages to write books. She is the coauthor of New York Times bestsellers MY LADY JANE, MY PLAIN JANE, and other books in the Lady Janies series. She lives in rural Virginia. Her Substack can be found at https://jodimeadows.substack.com/
Rhett Miller is a critically-acclaimed singer-songwriter known for fronting the popular alternative country band Old 97’s and as a solo artist who has released six albums. Miller has authored short stories, essays and articles that have appeared in a range of publications including Rolling Stone, Bookforum, Sports Illustrated, McSweeny’s, The Atlantic, and Salon. His first book, No More Poems!, was published by Little Brown Books for Young Readers.
Bronx native, Afro-Latina, and illustrator on Monique Fields’ debut picture book Honeysmoke: A Story About Finding Your Color, Yesenia is a freelance toy designer and illustrator. Her work has been featured on various media outlets such as SyFy and NBC News. Her author-illustrator debut, Stella’s Stellar Hair, is set to release in January 2021.
Serena Molloy is a secondary school teacher living in Galway, West Ireland. She takes inspiration for her writing from her colourful classroom experience and her own children, who educate her daily. Serena particularly enjoys writing for young adults.
A former writer and producer at NBC News and The Today Show, Montalbano is the author of the middle-grade novel Breakaway. She is a longtime soccer player and coach, and her writing has been featured on the New York Times’s Motherlode blog and elsewhere
Oscar-winning actress, Moore won an Emmy, a Golden Globe, and Screen Actors Guild award for her portrayal of Sarah Palin in the HBO film Game Change. Her Freckleface Strawberry books are the basis for an Off Broadway show that opened in 2010. Her book Freckleface Strawberry and the Dodgeball Bully was a New York Times Bestseller.
Maria Ingrande Mora is the Content Director at Big Sea, a web design and digital marketing firm based in St. Petersburg, Florida, and was previously the Parenting Editor at the digital media company SheKnows, where she contributed over 300 articles on topics covering feminism and health. As a queer woman and the parent of a neurodiverse child, she’s passionate about representation and inclusivity in kidlit. Maria is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators.
Luma Mufleh, immigrant, Muslim, gay, entrepreneur, mother, introvert, leader, and speaker, is best known as "Coach" by the students and families for whom she founded the first network of middle and high schools for refugee kids in the United States. She writes from her own experiences of both struggle and privilege, with a combination of humor, humility, and inspiration.
Cole Nagamatsu's fiction has appeared online and in print at Tin House, cream city review, West Branch, Bartleby Snopes, PodCastle, Gingerbread House Literary Magazine, Timber Journal, and other publications. She is the editor-in-chief of Psychopomp Magazine and is a visiting assistant professor of Creative Writing at St. Olaf College in Minnesota.
Catherine Newman is a beloved and widely read parenting blogger and author of Waiting for Birdy (Penguin) and Field Guide to Catastrophic Happiness (Little, Brown). Her work has been published in numerous publications, including The New York Times, Real Simple, O Magazine, and Whole Living.
Maya Soetoro-Ng is the Director of Community Outreach and Global Learning for the Matsunaga Institute for Peace and Conflict Resolution at the University of Hawaii in Manoa. She holds a Masters degree in Secondary Education from NYU and a PhD in Multicultural Education from the University of Hawaii. Her first picture book, The New York Times bestselling Ladder to the Moon (Candlewick), was inspired by her young daughter Suhaila’s questions about her grandmother Ann Dunham, the mother of Maya and of our forty-fourth president, Barack Obama. Maya is an advocate for community service and peace education. Her debut young adult novel is being published by Candlewick.
Emma Otheguy is the author of the picture books Martí’s Song for Freedom/Martí y sus versos por la libertad, illustrated by Beatriz Vidal, which received five starred reviews, was named a Best Book of the Year by Kirkus Reviews, School Library Journal, and the New York Public Library, and was the recipient of the International Literacy Association’s Children’s and Young Adult Book Award in Intermediate Nonfiction, and A Sled for Gabo, illustrated by Ana Ramirez Gonzalez, which was an NCTE Charlotte Huck Recommended Book and a Best Book of the Year by the Chicago and New York Public Libraries and Parents Latina magazine. Her middle-grade novels include Silver Meadows Summer, which was called “a magnificent contribution to the diversity of the new American literature for young readers” by Pura Belpré-winning author Ruth Behar; Secrets of the Silver Lion: A Carmen Sandiego Novel; and Sofía Acosta Makes a Scene. Emma also co-authored The Madre de Aguas of Cuba: Unicorn Rescue Society middle grade fantasy with Newbery Honor-winner Adam Gidwitz.
Elvis Presley is one of the most influential pop culture figures of the 20th century. Often referred to as the "King of Rock and Roll", Elvis’ commanding voice and charismatic stage presence unleashed a musical and cultural revolution that changed the world forever. Over the course of his career, Elvis was nominated for 14 Grammy Awards (3 wins), sold over 1 billion records world-wide, received the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award, and was named One of the Ten Outstanding Young Men of the Nation by the United States Jaycees. In addition to his musical accolades, Elvis starred in 33 films and made numerous television appearances. Today Elvis continues to inspire musicians, fashion designers, and social influencers and captivate audiences around the world.
Nick Pyenson is a paleontologist at the Smithsonian Institution where he studies the evolution and ecology of whales. Along with his scientific collaborators, he has named over a dozen new fossil species, discovered the richest fossil whale graveyard on the planet, and described an entirely new sensory organ in living whales. He has received the highest research awards from the Smithsonian for his work, including the Secretary’s Research Prize and a Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers from President Barack Obama’s Administration. Pyenson is also a member of the Young Scientists community at the World Economic Forum, and the father of two young kids.
Suhasini Raj is an award winning journalist, who has worked for over a decade as an investigative journalist with Indian and international news outlets. She joined The New York Times in 2014 and has reported extensively on stories ranging from the rise of Hindu nationalism under Prime Minister Narendra Modi, to how the country has reeled under the effects of Covid 19 to climate change, amongst others. Prior to her time at The New York Times, Ms. Raj worked undercover on a story that exposed a bribe-taking scheme involving eleven members of India’s Parliament. As a result of her reporting, the politicians were expelled from their positions. Ms. Raj is originally from Lucknow, in the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, where she also attended university. She is married with one son, and enjoys classical music — and a good story!
Jodi Rodgers is a qualified sexologist, counsellor, and special-education teacher with 30 years’ experience working within the education, disability, and sexuality fields. She is featured as the relationship specialist on Love on the Spectrum, Netflix’s hit docuseries that follows autistic people on their search for love. With her unique combination of qualifications and experience, Jodi has developed counseling and training programs for neurologically diverse individuals and their support networks. Her private practice, Birds and Bees, helps neurodivergent people learn about the complex areas of sexuality and relationships and, even more fundamentally, how to create love and connection.
A novelist, playwright, and screenwriter, Rudnick has written three books and frequently writes for The New Yorker. His articles and essays have also appeared in the New York Times, Vogue, Esquire, Vanity Fair, and Spy. His screenplays include InandOut and Addams Family Values, and his plays include I Hate Hamlet. Using the pseudonym Libby Gelman-Waxner, Rudnick wrote film criticism for Premiere magazine.
Katheryn Russell-Brown is a children’s book author, Professor of Law, and Director of the Race and Crime Center for Justice at the University of Florida. She is the author of the picture book biographies Little Melba and Her Big Trombone, illustrated by Frank Morrison, which received the Coretta Scott King Honor for Illustration, the Eureka! Honor Award, and was named a Best Book of the Year by Kirkus Reviews, School Library Journal, and the Center for the Study of Multicultural Children’s Literature; A Voice Named Aretha, illustrated by Laura Freeman, which was named a Best Book of the Year by The Brown Bookshelf; and She Was the First! The Trailblazing Life of Shirley Chisholm, illustrated by Eric Velasquez, which won the 2021 NAACP Image Award and was named a Best Book of the Year by Kirkus Reviews and The Chicago Public Library, and included in the Rise: A Feminist Book Project List. Katheryn was born in New York City and grew up in Oakland, California. She lives in Gainesville, Florida.
Aminah Mae Safi is the author of four novels, including Tell Me How You Really Feel (Feiwel & Friends) and the forthcoming Travelers Along the Way: a Robin Hood Remix (Feiwel & Friends, 2022). She’s an erstwhile art historian, a fan of Cholula on popcorn, and an un-ironic lover of the Fast and the Furious franchise. Her writing has been featured on Bustle and Salon and her award-winning short stories can be found in Fresh Ink (Crown Books) and the forthcoming Freshman Orientation (Candlewick Press, 2023).
Isaiah Stephens is a freelance illustrator and animator located in Lowell, MA. He studied Media Arts and Animation at the New England Institute of Art, and has illustrated book jackets for the Italian translation of The Hunger Games, the novel The Devil Came East, and others.
Melanie Sumrow received her undergraduate degree in Religious Studies and has maintained a long-term interest in studying social issues. She also holds a Juris Doctorate and has practiced both criminal and civil law for over sixteen years, with many of the criminal cases involving teenagers.
Sarah Stewart Taylor is a fiction writer and journalist who lives with her family on a farm in Vermont; her published mysteries include the Maggie d’Arcy series, starting with The Mountains Wild, the Sweeney St. George mystery series (the first book in the series, O’ Artful Death, was nominated for an Agatha Award for Best First Novel), The Expeditioners series of adventure novels for middle grade readers, and Amelia Earhart: This Broad Ocean, a graphic novel for younger readers, which was nominated for an Eisner Award.
Phuc Tran is a tattoo artist and co-owner of Tsunami Tattoo in Portland, Maine, where he also teaches Latin at Waynflete School. He has taught Latin, Greek, German, and Sanskrit at independent schools in New York and Maine and is a former instructor at Brooklyn College's Summer Latin Institute. See his TEDx talk on “Grammar, Identity, and the Dark Side of the Subjunctive” here. His first book, Sigh, Gone, is the winner of the 2021 Maine Literary Award & 2020 New England Book Award.
Allison Varnes taught English in special education for eight years, and once had to convince administrators that The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe was not an actual endorsement of witchcraft. She is currently a Ph.D. student in English Education at The University of Tennessee, where she also supervises beginning English teachers during their internship year.
Rona Wang is currently a math major at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. For her short stories, she has been named a HerCampus 22 Under 22 and nominated for the Best of the Net Anthology. She is originally from Portland, Oregon, and as a second-generation Chinese American she loves to write stories that reflect the Asian American experience. You Had Me at Hello World is her debut YA novel.
The Rev. Dr. Raphael G. Warnock serves as the Senior Pastor of the historic Ebenezer Baptist Church of Atlanta. He also has served at the Sixth Avenue Baptist Church of Birmingham, the Abyssinian Baptist Church of New York City, and Baltimore’s Douglas Memorial Community Church. The Rev. Dr. Warnock holds degrees from Morehouse College and Union Theological Seminary, and is the author of The Divided Mind of the Black Church. In January 2021, Dr. Warnock became Georgia's first Black senator.
Janelle Washington is a self-taught papercut artist who discovered her passion for the art form after graduating with a BFA in Fashion Design and working as a children's wear designer for 12 years. Her work explores Black culture and themes related to history, identity, family, and feminine beauty. All her papercuts and silhouettes are created using an Exacto knife and a single piece of paper. She then incorporates colorful tissue paper, thread, and gold leaf to add color and dimension to her designs. West African Adinkra symbols in her artwork convey traditional wisdom.
Janelle’s work has been exhibited at the National Children's Hospital, Martha Spak Gallery in Washington, DC, the National Institute of Health Clinical Center inBethesda, MD, and The Virginia Museum of Contemporary Art in Virginia Beach, VA, among many others. She has commissioned silhouettes housed at the SmithsonianNational Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, DC, and created art installations for the historic St. Paul's Episcopal Church in Richmond, VA.Her work has been published in O, The Oprah Magazine, and Country Living magazine. She is a member of The Guild of American Papercutters, where she served on the board, the Book/PrintArtist/Scholar of Color Collective,Art Impact USA, and Ikouii.
Janelle lives and works in Virginia with her husband, where she enjoys reading science fiction books from the library and researching new ideas for papercuts.
Tony Weaver, Jr. is founder and CEO of Weird Enough Productions, a new media production company dedicated to creating positive media images of black men and other minority groups, and the creator of the educational webcomic The UnCommons, whose curriculum is used by over 40,000 students per month. Tony has been the recipient of the Leadership Prize and the Black Excellence Award, participated in the NBCUniversal Fellowship Program and the Peace First Fellowship, is a TEDx speaker, and was one of Forbes’ 2018 “30 Under 30” honorees—the first comic book writer to ever make the list.
Molly Webster, a graduate of NYU’s Science Writing Program and an award-winning journalist, is a Senior Correspondent at WNYC’s Radiolab. She is an accomplished writer having contributed to Scientific American, National Geographic Adventure, and Wired. Most recently she presented a TED Talk about her research on sex chromosomes.
Maya Wei-Haas is an award-winning reporter at National Geographic. She writes about all things science and has a particular affection for rocks and reactions. Maya pursued a bachelor's in geology at Smith College and then won an NSF fellowship to support her Ph.D. work in Earth Science at the Ohio State University. She's traveled the world in the name of science, scooping ice melt from the top of Antarctic glaciers and hauling up sediments from Svalbard lakes. She made the jump to journalism with the AAAS Mass Media Fellowship. Now she's working to bring these types of adventures—and the science that surrounds us—to all. In 2019, she was honored with AGU's David Perlman Award for Excellence in Science Journalism for her story about the discovery of a submarine volcano's birth. In addition to National Geographic, her work has appeared at Smithsonian.com and EOS. She's working on a forthcoming children's book about the amazing things that rocks can reveal with Phaidon Press.
Kelvin Wong was featured on Love on the Spectrum, Netflix’s hit docuseries that follows autistic people on their search for love, where he met Jodi Rodgers, the relationship specialist who consulted with the show’s participants about the potential romantic partners they were meeting. A talented illustrator, Kelvin collaborated with Jodi Rodgers on the graphic novel, LET’S MEET.
Jenna Yoon is a debut author and has spent equal amounts of time living in Korea and the U.S. She holds a BA in Art History from Wellesley College, and a MA in Korean Art History from Ewha Woman’s University. Lia Park and the Missing Jewel is her middle grade debut.