Society of
Children's Book Writers
and Illustrators

Faculty Bios



Faculty offering workshops can be found below. To see the bios for all critiquers, check out the Critiquer Bio sidebar page.


Keynote Speaker

Charlie Price, Author and Coach

Charlie PriceCharlie Price books have received excellent reviews and several recommendations from the American Library Association. In 2011, his third book, The Interrogation of Gabriel James, was awarded the Edgar Award for Best Young Adult Mystery. His next book, Desert Angel, was optioned by a major TV and film company. Mr. Price is published by Random House in the United Kingdom and Thierry Magnier in France.





Jessica Dandino Garrison, Executive Editor, Dial Books for Young Readers

Jessica Dandino Garrison, FacultyJessica Dandino Garrison is executive editor at Dial Books for Young Readers. She has worked with New York Times bestselling and/or award-winning authors Jandy Nelson (I’ll Give You the Sun), Kimberly Brubaker Bradley (The War I Finally Won), Jack Cheng (See You in the Cosmos), Huntley Fitzpatrick (My Life Next Door), Deborah Underwood (the Here Comes Cat series), and Jacky Davis and David Soman (the Ladybug Girl series), as well as recent and upcoming debut authors Helena Fox (How It Feels to Float) and Shana Youngdahl (As Many Nows As I Can Get). Across all genres, Jess looks for nuanced and layered MG and YA fiction that has something to say. She seeks fresh voices, underrepresented points of view, a deep emotional pull, pacey storytelling, rich themes, and genre writing that transcends genre. A dose of moral ambiguity never hurts, nor does a shot of humor. Jess is drawn to character-driven picture books that meld humor and empathy.


Mekisha Telfer, Associate Editor, Roaring Brook Press

Mekisha Telfer, FaculyMekisha Telfer is an associate editor at Roaring Brook Press (Macmillian), where she is building a list of picture books, middle-grade, and young adult novels. She got her start in publishing in 2014 as an editorial assistant with Simon and Schuster BFYR/Salaam reads and has also worked briefly at Glasstown Entertainment. Some titles she’s had the privilege of working on include the New York Times bestselling Emergency Contact by Mark H. K. Choi, I Wanna Be Where You Are by Kristina Forest, The Gauntlet by Karuna Riazi, and Stuart Gibb’s Moon Base Alpha series. Mekisha is committed to supporting unrepresented voices and is always on the hunt for character-driven stories with a mix of humor and heart.


Stephen Fraser, Senior Agent, Jennifer De Chiara Literary Agency

Stephen Fraser, CritiquerStephen Fraser, senior agent at The Jennifer De Chiara Literary Agency, has been voted top agent for both picture books and middle grade fiction. Stephen has been an agent for 14 years. His clients have won awards such as the Newbery Honor Medal, PEN International Award, and the Edgar. With more than twenty-five years’ editorial experience at major publishers including Harper-Collins, Simon & Schuster, and Scholastic, Stephen has edited such creative talents as Mary Engelbreit, Gail Gibbons, Michael Hague, Ann Rinaldi, Kathryn Lasky, and Brent Hartinger. He is a graduate of Middlebury College in Vermont with a degree in English Literature and has a Master’s Degree in Children’s Literature from Simmons College in Boston.


Ann Rose, Agent, Prospect Agency

Ann Rose, CritiquerAnn is one of Prospect Agency’s newest agents, but she isn’t new to publishing. Over the last few years she has been exploring this field by working and mentoring with literary agents in various capacities. Everything she has experienced, from editorial work to the magic of finding the perfect match between author and editor, has hardened her resolve to join this wonderful profession. Now she’s thrilled to be building her own list and is actively seeking clients ready to grow amazing careers with her. Ann’s perfect manuscript is a character-driven story that isn’t afraid to push boundaries. She loves an unlikeable character — even though she is incredibly likable herself! Ann is the author of YA books Road to Eugenica (18) and Breakout (19), from Entangled Teen, and writes under the pen name A.M. Rose.


Mary Kole, Book Editor

Mary Kole, CritiquerFormer literary agent Mary Kole provides consulting and developmental editing services to writers of all categories and genres, working on children’s book projects from picture book to young adult, and all kinds of trade market literature, including fantasy, sci-fi, romance, and memoir.

She holds an MFA in Creative Writing and has worked at Chronicle Books, the Andrea Brown Literary Agency, and Movable Type Management. She has been blogging at since 2009. Her book, Writing Irresistible Kidlit, a writing reference guide for writers of middle grade and young adult fiction, is available from Writer’s Digest Books.


Nancy Brennan, Art Director, Penguin Random House

Nancy Brennan, CritiquerNancy Brennan is the art director at Viking Children’s Books and is celebrating her 17th year with Viking.  During her many years in graphic design she has worked with a diverse range of clients including professional sports teams and Grammy-nominated recording artists. However, her real passion is for children’s books, and at Viking she oversees all facets of the process from commissioning illustrators and art direction to cover and interior design. Nancy’s work can be seen across the entire spectrum of books for young readers including YA, nonfiction, middle grade, board books, and, of course, picture books. She has developed many award-winning books with illustrators including Molly Idle, Juana Medina, Gianna Marino, Divya Srinivasan, E.B. Lewis, and Sophie Blackall. You can see a sampling of her work at


Jessixa Bagley, Award-winning Author/Illustrator

Jessixa Bagley, CritiquerJessixa Bagley is children’s book author/illustrator. Her love of books and storytelling are inspired by classic storybooks and her childhood experiences in the Pacific Northwest. Her fine art background and BFA in painting and printmaking informs her art sensibilities. Jessixa’s debut picture book, Boats for Papa, has won numerous awards including the Washington State Scandiuzzi Children’s Book Award and a SCBWI Golden Kite Award for picture book writing. Her picture book Laundry Day is the winner of a 2018 Ezra Jack Keats Honor Award for Writing. She lives in Seattle with her husband and son.


Jessica Brody, Author of Save the Cat! Writes a Novel and More

Jessica Brody, FacultySince discovering the Save the Cat! plotting methodology, Jessica Brody has sold more than 17 novels to major publishers. Her credits include 52 Reasons to Hate My Father, A Week of Mondays, The Chaos of Standing Still, Better You than Me, the Unremembered trilogy and Sky Without Stars (a sci-fi re-imagining of Victor Hugo’s Les Misérables). She is now the author of the bestselling plotting guide, Save the Cat! Writes a Novel (based on the original screenwriting guides) and is frequently hired by Disney Press to plot and write books based on popular Disney franchises like Disney Princess Lego and the Descendants. Her books have been translated in over 23 countries and two are currently in development as major motion pictures. Visit her online at


Faculty Panelists

Alexis Fajardo, Award-winning Author/Illustrator

Alexis Fajardo, FacultyAlexis Fajardo is an Eisner award winning editor and cartoonist.  A student of the classics, Lex has created a unique blend of comedy, literature, and high adventure in his graphic novel series, Kid Beowulf. When he’s not drawing comics, Lex works for them as senior editor at the Charles M. Schulz Studio in Santa Rosa, California, where he has edited the monthly Peanuts comic books by Boom Studios, written exhibition material for the Charles M. Schulz Museum, and most recently won the 2018 Eisner Award for Best Archival Project for Celebrating Snoopy published by Andrews McMeel. In 2018 Lex was selected as a National Writing Juror for the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards.


Arree Chung, Picture Book Author/Illustrator

Arree Chung, facultyArree Chung is an author and illustrator of picture books and middle grade novels. His books have received starred reviews from Kirkus, School Library Journal, and have been highlighted on NPR’s best books.

Mixed, Arree’s latest picture book, uses simple color theory to discuss diversity, acceptance and inclusion. Mixed is published in 11 countries and was named to Kirkus’ best books of 2019. Arree’s “Ninja!” series is also a popular choice amongst young readers.


Lisa Ramee, Middle Grade Author

Lisa Ramee, FacultyLisa Moore Ramée was born and raised in Los Angeles and now lives in Northern California with her husband, two kids, two obnoxious cats, and more yard than she can control. She earned a BA in Speech Communications from San Francisco State (go Gators!) and a MA in English Literature (focusing on Creative Writing) from Cal State East Bay. She worked for several years in publishing, for the Walt Disney Company, first in comics, and then with licensed publishing. While there, she co-penned The Little Mermaid, jr. graphic novel, and the writing bug took up permanent residence. She is a devotee of Top Chef and Project Runway and often tries to work the shows into her plots. A Good Kind of Trouble is her first novel.


Randy Ribay, Young Adult Author

Randy Ribay, FacultyRandy Ribay is the author of the YA contemporary novels Patron Saints of Nothing (Kokila/PRH 2019), After the Shot Drops (HMH 2018), and An Infinite Number of Parallel Universes (Merit/Simon Pulse 2015). He was born in the Philippines, raised in the Midwest, and is a graduate of the University of Colorado and the Harvard Graduate School of Education. After a decade on the East Coast, he now lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with his wife and two dog-children, where he teaches high school English. Visit his website at and follow him on Twitter and Instagram @randyribay.



Headshot Photographer

Di Starr

Di Starr, FacultyDi Starr is a fine art photographer with a long-time exhibition record. Most recently she has been represented by a wonderful photography gallery whose owner promised Ansel Adams she would always exhibit contemporary work. Di’s painted photographs appear in both public and private collections, including hospitals, medical and dental offices, and private residences across the United States, as well as in Milan, Rome, London, and Paris. She also enjoys capturing the very best in people while doing family, portrait and event photography. To see her fine art, visit For samples of headshots she has taken, click here.


Program Subject to Change Without Notice

Thank you to John Ledda for our gorgeous conference masthead!