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SCBWI Marvelous Midwest 2024 Conference

Apr 12, 2024 - Apr 14, 2024

The River Center, 136 East 3rd Street, Davenport, Iowa

Early Bird Registration and Manuscript Critique Sign-ups end Thursday!

Written MS Critique Deadline Extended Sign up by February 29! If you already registered and want to add a critique, just click the "Register" button above to add one now! (Manuscripts must be submitted within 24 hours of purchase to allow faculty sufficient time to critique the work.)

Early Bird Registration Now Open Through February 29! If you are not yet a member of SCBWI, please log in before registering for the conference. If you are a member but haven't logged into the new website experience yet, please do so before registering for the conference.


February 16th, 2024 - Book Form due (to have your book included in the conference bookstore).

February 29th, 2024 - Website URLs due for Illustrator Website Review Panel.

March 15th, 2024 - Pitches due for Ready or Revise Pitch Panel.

VENUE: The RiverCenter 136 E 3rd St Davenport, IA 52801

*This conference is in-person only. No recordings will be made or provided. 


IF YOU ARE A STUDENT: Before registering, contact <patriciawiles@scbwi.org> to request a Student Coupon Code to enter at the end of registration to receive the Student Rate. Use MMW24 Student in the subject line.

Early Bird Registration: January 12th - February 29th

Price with SCBWI Membership $295

Standard Price $345

Student Price with SCBWI Membership $265

Student Standard Price $315

Regular Registration- Opens March 1st (if there are still spaces available)

Price with SCBWI Membership $320

Standard Price $370

Student Price with SCBWI Membership $290

Student Standard Price $340


By Air: Quad City International Airport

By Car: If you are interested in sharing a ride or a room, and would like to find possible carmates or roommates fill out the form HERE.

Click HERE to see room share/ ride share survey results and start planning your trip to Marvelous Midwest 2024!


This event was made possible in part by a regional grant from SCBWI.

Our Marvelous Faculty


Scroll through to see our Marvelous Faculty!

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Foyinsi Adegbonmire, Editor, Feiwel & Friends, an imprint of MacMillan Children's Publishing Group

Foyinsi Adegbonmire is an Editor at Feiwel & Friends, an imprint of Macmillan Children's Publishing Group. She acquires Middle Grade and Young Adult fiction, from contemporary to mystery to grounded science-fiction, and enjoys lighthearted stories with conversational narrative voices. She was named a 2021 PW Star Watch Honoree and her acquisitions include New York Times-bestseller Ace of Spades by Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé. When not reading or thinking about her very large TBR pile, she can be found watching Black sitcoms from the 90s/early 2000s, obsessing over bullet journaling, or being sucked into Twitter (@Foyinsi_Pub).

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Laurie Keller, Author and Illustrator

Laurie Keller is an author and illustrator of many books including Arnie the Doughnut, The Scrambled States of America, Do Unto Otters, Open Wide: Tooth School Inside, Potato Pants! and Theodor “Seuss” Geisel Award recipient, We Are Growing! She has illustrated books for other authors including the Marty Frye Private Eye books by Janet Tashjian, I Am the Shark! and Bears Are Best! by Joan Holub and Pluto Gets the Call by Adam Rex. When Laurie isn’t making books, she enjoys traveling, reading, hiking, camping, playing with her cats and playing the banjo…not at the same time. Her cats HATE her banjo. So do her neighbors.


Zeke Peña, Illustrator

Zeke Peña is a Xicano storyteller and cartoonist from El Paso, TX. His work is a mash-up of political cartoon, border rasquache and Hip Hop culture that addresses identity, politics, ecology and social justice. He recently illustrated the NY Times Bestselling book Miles Morales Suspended: A Spider-Man Novel by Jason Reynolds. He has received several awards for his book illustrations in My Papi Has a Motorcycle (Kokila, 2019) and Photographic: The Life of Graciela Iturbide (Getty Publications, 2017). He received a degree in Art History from the UT Austin in 2005 and is self-taught in the studio. His work is in several collections of American and Latine art including the Smithsonian American Art Museum, National Museum of Mexican Art, and The Billy Ireland Cartoon Museum. Zeke is currently writing and illustrating a picture book about growing up in the Chihuahuan desert.


Jennifer Swanson, Author

Science Rocks! And so do Jennifer Swanson’s books. She is the award-winning author of over 45 nonfiction books for children, a teacher, STEAM blogger, and an award-winning STEAM podcast host. Jennifer's passion for science resonates across her entire STEAM-focused brand, for which she has received many awards particularly for her books Footprints Across the Planet and BEASTLY BIONICS, which both won Gold Florida Book Awards, her Save the Crash-test Dummies which won a Parent’s Choice Gold Award, as well as her Outdoor School: Rocks, Fossils, and Shells book which was a Kirkus Best Book for 2021. Jennifer has presented at multiple SCBWI regional conferences, the Highlights Foundation, National NSTA conferences, the Atlanta Science Festival, the World Science Festival, and the Library of Congress’ National Book Festival. You can find Jennifer through her website www.JenniferSwansonBooks.com


Adria Goetz, Literary Agent, KT Literary

Adria Goetz is a Senior Literary Agent and Illustration Coordinator at KT Literary. Adria got her start in publishing as an intern at Martin Literary Management in 2013 and began agenting in 2016. She represents picture books, middle grade, graphic novels, and adult fiction. She graduated from the University of Washington with a Bachelor’s degree in English with a Creative Writing emphasis, as well as the Columbia Publishing Course. In 2019, she was selected as a Publishers Weekly Star Watch Honoree. Adria has eclectic taste but particularly enjoys projects that are tinged with magic, have so much heart you can practically hear their heartbeat, and have a compelling, commercial hook. She was recently proud to represent Indie bestseller THE CHRISTMAS BOOK FLOOD by Emily Kilgore and Kitty Moss, as well as THE OCEAN CALLS by Tina Cho, GIRLS ON WHEELS by Srividhya Venkat and BATTER ROYALE by Leisl Adams. In her spare time she can be found rewatching Gilmore Girls for the millionth time, listening to Taylor Swift, and dreaming about the mossy stone cottage in the woods she would like to live in one day. You can read Adria’s full manuscript wishlist at adriagoetz.com. She accepts submissions exclusively through QueryManager: querymanager.com/AdriasTreasureTrove


Gary D. Schmidt, Author

Gary D. Schmidt lives in rural Michigan, outside Grand Rapids--which means, in addition to his writing and teaching, he is always gardening or doing repairs in the 200-year old farmhouse in which he lives. As far as the writing, he is the author of the Newbery Honor-winning THE WEDNESDAY WARS and the Printz Honor- and Newbery Honor-winning LIZZIE BRIGHT AND THE BUCKMINSTER BOY, as well as novels such as OKAY FOR NOW; PAY ATTENTION, CARTER JONES; ORBITING JUPITER; JUST LIKE THAT; and most recently, THE LABORS OF HERCULES BEAL. His picture books include SO TALL WITHIN: SOJOURNER TRUTH'S LONG WALK TOWARD FREEDOM and ALMOST TIME. For almost forty years he taught creative writing at Calvin University and Handlon Prison, and now is trying out the life of a full-time writer.

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Carter Hasegawa, Editor, Candlewick Press

Carter Hasegawa is an editor at Candlewick Press. He loves to work on picture books but is open to all formats. Some of his favorite, non-Candlewick books include: Watercress, My Papi Has a Motorcycle, One Boy Watching, Last Stop on Market Street, Tar Beach, A Chair for My Mother, Two White Rabbits, and many, MANY others. Originally from Seattle, he now lives in Boston with his wife and two young sons. Acquiring: I love realistic picture books; I can’t seem to read enough of ’em, although I am open to all genres/formats. I especially love stories with characters and themes outside the mainstream and that could be mirrors or windows for young readers; and generally I like stories of friendships, families, new experiences, and heroic adventures.


Linda Stephen, Publicist, Author, and Illustrator

Book publicist, author and illustrator Linda Stephen has launched publicity campaigns for 10 publishers and more than 100 children’s books including national award-winners Juneteenth for Mazie and Jars of Hope. She helps book publishers, authors and illustrators to amplify book news and connect to new audiences. Stephen has 20 years of experience in media relations and public relations for Fortune 500s, nonprofits, authors, artists and publishers. Her storytelling work has resulted in thousands of interviews, news articles, and speaking events for her clients. Stephen is also the illustrator and co-author for the origami picture book The Day We Went to the Park, which won the 2021 Nebraska Book Award for illustration. This non-gender-specific story invites readers to a discovery day outside. The illustrations reflect the richly diverse communities in which we all live and include people of different ethnicity, race, ability, age and gender. Learn more at LindaStephen.com or UnfoldingCommunications.com.


Helen Frost, Author and Poet

Helen Frost is the author of two collections of poetry, eleven novels-in-poems, eight nature-themed picture books, two plays, and a book about teaching writing. Each of her novels-in-poems has received one or more honors. Among them: a Michael L. Printz honor for Keesha’s House (2003), the Lee Bennett Hopkins Award and the Michigan Mitten Award for Diamond Willow (2008), the William Allen White award for Hidden (2011), the New York Historical Society Children’s History Book Prize for Salt (2013), a National Endowment for the Arts Poetry Fellowship, based on The Braid (2006), and, for All He Knew (2020), the 2021 Scott O’Dell Award for Historical Fiction. Helen lives in Fort Wayne, Indiana. Learn more at www.helenfrost.net.


Jill Esbaum, Author

Jill Esbaum lives on a family farm 20 minutes from Davenport. She’s the author of 19 published picture books, both fiction and nonfiction; a nutty graphic early reader series, Thunder & Cluck; and two dozen wildly varied nonfiction titles for National Geographic Kids and other publishers. Hot off the press is Bird Girl - Gene Stratton Porter Shares Her Love of Nature with the World. Many more works are in the publishing pipeline. Find her online at www.jillesbaum.com and www.picturebookbuilders.com


Saritza Hernandez, Literary Agent, Andrea Brown Literary Agency

A Literary Agent at the Andrea Brown Literary Agency, Saritza is a self-professed geek who loves romance novels, Star Wars, Star Trek, and tabletop gaming. Her love of great storytelling is what has driven her work in the publishing industry for the past 20 years. An avid coffee drinker with an audiobook obsession, Saritza enjoys several cups of strong Cuban coffee while escaping into worlds and stories from all walks of life. A passionate advocate of the BIPOC & LGBTQ+ communities, she enjoys fresh voices in Middle Grade, Young Adult, and Adult genre fiction. Her client titles include: Does My Body Offend You? by Mayra Cuevas (2022), Unexpecting by Jen Bailey (2023), and Lambda Literary Finalist and 2017 NYPL Book of the Year, Dreadnought by April Daniels.

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Mallory Grigg, Senior Art Director, Macmillan Children's Publishing Group

Mallory is a Senior Art Director at Macmillan Children's Publishing Group where she's had the pleasure of working on Mike Curato's graphic novel, Flamer, Katy Rose Pool's Age of Darkness series, and Karamo Brown's I Am Perfectly Designed. She's also worked on a number of NYTimes bestsellers, including Natalie Portman's Fables and Emmanuel Acho's Uncomfortable Conversations with a Black Boy. Previously, Mallory has worked at Penguin Random House, Simon & Schuster, HMH, Alloy Entertainment, and Cider Mill Press, and has lectured at SCBWI, CBIG, the Highlights Foundation, and universities across the country. A sixth-generation Texan who's forsaken the motherland to live in Brooklyn, NY, she loves making art, cooking and baking, writing, and playing fetch with her rescue pup, Birdie.

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Sherri L. Smith, Author

Sherri L. Smith writes contemporary, speculative, and historical fiction novels, as well as nonfiction and comics. Her historical novels The Blossom and the Firefly and Flygirl have respectively been awarded the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators Golden Kite and California Book Awards Gold Medal. Sherri’s books appear on multiple state lists and have been named Amelia Bloomer and American Library Association Best Books for Young People selections. She has worked in film, animation, comic books, construction, and a monster factory, and holds certificates in the Art of Archetypal Fairy Tale Analysis, Enchantivism, and Applied Mythology. She is a member of the Two Trees Writers’ Collaborative and the founder of Story Forest, a liminal space where writers follow the old tales to find their own paths. Currently she teaches in the MFA in Children's Writing program at Hamline University. Her new nonfiction book with Elizabeth Wein, American Wings: Chicago’s Pioneering Aviators and the Race for Equality in the Sky, comes out in January 2024. Learn more at www.sherrilsmith.com │ Instagram: @rhymeswithcapri

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Brett Duquette, Executive Editor, Little Bee Books/Yellow Jacket

Brett Duquette is the Editorial Director for Little Bee Books/Yellow Jacket. His list strives to provide children the opportunity to see themselves thriving in the world while also educating and empowering them to help shape its future. He currently acquires picture books, board books, and middle grade novels in a wide array of genres. Brett is perhaps most proud of his collaboration with GLAAD to help represent LGBTQ+ families in children’s literature. Brett believes that books have the power to affect meaningful change and is looking to help creators bring like-minded projects to publication. He believes in moral publishing and is always looking for titles that uplift and inspire, as well as those that call out injustice. Brett lives in a cozy Brooklyn apartment with his partner and toddler. Pronouns – any/all


Charlotte Wenger, Literary Agent, Prospect Literary

Charlotte Wenger is a literary agent in the Boston area with Prospect Agency. Prior to joining Prospect, she was an associate editor at Page Street Kids and also served on the national advisory board of the Mazza Museum. She earned her Master of Arts in Children’s Literature from Simmons College (now University) and has since mentored a number of their MFA in Writing for Children students. Charlotte is drawn to children's literature and art for all ages—board books through YA, but especially picture books. You can find her on Twitter at @WilbursBF_Char and learn more about her on her website, www.charlottewenger.com.


Ellice Lee, VP, Senior Art Director, Philomel/Viking/Flamingo Books

Ellice Lee (she/her) is VP, Senior Art Director of Philomel/Viking/Flamingo Books and has been at Penguin Young Readers for 7 years and in publishing for 19. She manages a design team of 7 and designs for all ages—from board books to picture books, chapter books to YA novels, and both fiction and non-fiction. Ellice has worked with award-winning talent including Alexandra Boiger, Oliver Jeffers, Rafael Lopez, Loren Long, Le Uyen Pham, Christian Robinson, Kadir Nelson, Angela Dominguez, Ed Young, and Floyd Cooper. Titles she has worked on have appeared on the New York Times best-seller lists, such as Just Ask! by Sonia Sotomayor and She Persisted by Chelsea Clinton, featured in New York magazine, TIME magazine and have won Caldecott honors, Coretta Scott King awards, as well as being a finalist for the National Book Award. Ellice loves working with talent who have a compelling story to share—from the political to the social to the inane.


Rahele Jomepour Bell, Illustrator

Rahele Jomepour Bell’s illustrations have appeared in To Change a Planet by Christina Soontornvat (2023 Green Earth Book Award) and The Treasure Box ( 2023 Bologna Illustration Exhibition award) and Our Favorite Day of the Year by A. E. Ali (Kirkus Best Picture Books of the Year), among many others. She has received a number of awards and honors for her work. Rahele loves making pictures for books, inviting children to experience freedom and peace through images and words. She is an assistant professor of illustration program at KCAI and works as a full time freelancer in her home studio called Rahele Studio.


Chloe Burgett, Illustrator

Chloe Burgett is a children's book illustrator living in Lincoln, Nebraska with her husband, Seth, and her orange cat, Pencil. Her work includes Big, Bold, Beautiful Me by Jane Yolen and Maddison Stemple-Piatt, Cooler than Lemonade by Harshita Jerath, Potatoes for Pirate Pearl by Jennifer Concepcion, and Etta Extraordinaire by Charnaie Gordon and Roda Ahmad. Her favorite books respectfully portray children as the competent, brave, and resourceful human beings they are, with words to match. Chloe loves visiting school classrooms and libraries to read her books and share the art of visual storytelling! In her spare time, Chloe enjoys gardening, playing guitar, making stop motion videos, painting, baking, and organizing. To see more of Chloe’s behind the scenes illustration work, signup via her website to join her monthly newsletter list.

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James Solheim, Author

James Solheim’s books have been published by Simon & Schuster, HarperCollins (Greenwillow), Penguin Random House (Philomel), and Lerner (Carolrhoda), with editions by Scholastic and Houghton Mifflin. Most recently he is the author and illustrator of Eat Your Woolly Mammoths! from Greenwillow. The Wall Street Journal and PBS included It’s Disgusting—and We Ate It! in their lists of best books for getting boys to read. It was an American Bookseller Pick of the Lists and a Blue Ribbon Book of The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books. His picture book Born Yesterday from Philomel was a multi-year choice of Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library, with 446,000 copies donated to children across the U.S. and beyond. A Junior Library Guild selection, it was a Children’s Choice book for the CBC and International Literacy Association—with children themselves choosing it as a favorite. His poetry for adults was published in Poetry, Poetry Northwest, and other prominent magazines, and includes long poems in The Kenyon Review, Chicago Review, and Northwest Review. He has written shape-note music that has appeared in The Missouri Harmony. His awards include a Pushcart Prize, an Ingram Merrill Grant, and others.

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Lesa Cline-Ransome, Author

Lesa Cline-Ransome is the author of numerous non-fiction and historical fiction titles for picture book, chapter book, middle grade and young adult readers and her work has been named to ALA Notable Books and Bank Street Best Children’s Book lists. Her verse biography of Harriet Tubman, Before She Was Harriet was nominated for an NAACP image award and received a Jane Addams Honor, Christopher Award and Coretta Scott King Honor for Illustration. Her debut middle grade novel, Finding Langston, won the Scott O’Dell Award for Historical Fiction and received the Coretta Scott King Award Author Honor. The companion novels Leaving Lymon and Being Clem complete the Finding Langston trilogy. For Lamb is her debut YA historical fiction novel set in Jim Crow Mississippi. A 2022 NAIBA Legacy Award recipient, Lesa has received numerous honors and awards including NAACP Awards , Kirkus Best Book, New York Public Library Best Book, SLJ Best Book, CBC Choice Awards, two Top 10 Sports Books for Youth, and an Orbis Pictus Recommended Book. She is currently an SCBWI Advisory Council member and host of KidLitTV's Past Present: Giving Past Stories New Life. She lives in the Hudson Valley region of New York with her husband and frequent collaborator, James Ransome and their family. Visit her at www.lesaclineransome.com.


James E. Ransome, Author, Illustrator

James E. Ransome has been honored with the 2023 Children's Literature Legacy Award by the American Library Association in recognition of his exceptional contributions to Children's Literature. With a career spanning over 33 years, James has illustrated more than 70 books. His passion for drawing was kindled in Rich Square, NC, and as a teenager, he moved to Bergenfield, NJ, before pursuing a BFA from Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, New York. Ransome's remarkable talent has garnered him numerous accolades, including the prestigious Coretta Scott King Awards, a Boston Globe-Horn Book Honor, ALA Notables, a Jane Addams Award, and NAACP Image awards. He has also showcased his artistry through murals displayed at notable locations such as the Children's Museum of Indianapolis, Poughkeepsie's Adriance Memorial Library, and the Underground Railroad Museum in Cincinnati. In recent years, James has extended his artistic prowess to create theater posters for Washington DC's Arena Stage. Furthermore, his illustrations have been featured in the History Channel Documentary "Black Patriots: Heroes of the Civil War," narrated by James' childhood basketball idol, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. He resides in New York state alongside his wife and frequent collaborator, author Lesa Cline-Ransome.


Saba Sulaiman, Sr. Agent, Talcott Notch

Saba Sulaiman is an agent at Talcott Notch Literary Services, a boutique agency located in Milford, CT. She holds a BA from Wellesley College and an MA from the University of Chicago, where she studied modern Persian literature. In children’s fiction, she is building her Picture Book, Middle Grade and Young Adult lists, and is particularly (although not exclusively) interested in contemporary realistic stories. Being an immigrant who is constantly negotiating her own identity and sense of belonging in a place she now calls “home,” she is committed to highlighting more diverse voices with compelling stories to tell; stories that demonstrate the true range of perspectives that exist in this world, and address urgent and often underexplored issues in both fiction and non-fiction with veracity and heart. Follow her on Twitter @agentsaba and learn more about her at sabasulaiman.com


Teresa Ho Robeson, Author

Teresa Robeson is the APALA Picture Book Award-winning author of QUEEN OF PHYSICS (illus. Rebecca Huang); TWO BICYCLES IN BEIJING (illus. Junyi Wu); and WHO IS TIBET’S EXILED LEADER? THE 14TH DALAI LAMA (illus. Angela Poon). She’s a part of the anthologies, NONFICTION AUTHORS DIG DEEP and NO WORLD TOO BIG: YOUNG PEOPLE FIGHTING GLOBAL CLIMATE CHANGE. Her upcoming works include CLOUDS IN SPACE: NEBULAE, STARDUST, AND US (MIT Kids/Candlewick; illus. Diana Renjina), WHO SMASHED HOLLYWOOD BARRIERS WITH GUNG FU? BRUCE LEE (Penguin Workshop; illus. Ryan Inzana), and several more yet-to-be-announced books.

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Carrie A. Pearson, Author

Carrie A. Pearson is the author of several nonfiction children’s books – many drafted on the sandy shore of Lake Superior in Marquette, MI, where she lives. She holds a BA in early childhood education and was a former early education teacher before she became a full-time word wrangler. Carrie is an SCBWI regional advisor emerita, a school/library/bookstore presenter, and is involved with several literacy and book access organizations, including as a steering committee member of the SCBWI Impact and Legacy Fund. Carrie would love to connect with you through her website www.carriepearsonbooks.com, and on Instagram at @carrieapearson.author.

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Elizabeth Gilbert Bedia, Author

Elizabeth (Liz) Gilbert Bedia is the author of Bess the Barn Stands Strong named one of the “Superlative Books of 2020” by BookPage and a 2021 SCBWI Crystal Kite Finalist, Arthur Wants a Balloon, Balloons for Papa named a 2022 SCBWI Crystal Kite Finalist and A Dinosaur’s Day picture book series from DK/PRH. After working as a researcher, educator, and audiologist, Liz now loves spending her days creating stories for children. Liz lives in central Iowa with her family and two enormous dogs who keep her in stitches most days. For more information, visit: https://elizabethgilbertbedia.com.


Candace Camling, Illustrator and Author

Candace Camling lives in Des Moines, Iowa where she writes and creates artwork in her attic studio. She earned a BFA in illustration and digital media from Kendall College of Art & Design. For her, being an illustrator means getting to solve visual problems, learning about new topics constantly and trying to bring a little joy into the world. Her favorite things to read are non-fiction picture books, graphic novels, and anything with a hint of magic. Candace has won many awards in juried shows and contests. She has also worked with a wide variety of clients and collaborators. She has illustrated over a dozen picture books; some being through traditional means and others through indie publishing. She has written and illustrated one picture book. Candace Camling has been a member of SCBWI since 2008. She is currently the Illustrator Coordinator for the state of Iowa.

Event Details


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Important Information (Safe Space, COVID & Cancellation/Refund Policies)




Rideshare / Roomshare

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Hotels & Venue Information

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Keynotes, Panels, & Breakouts




Written Manuscript Critiques


Manuscript Contest


Art Show


Portfolio Showcase


Portfolio Reviews


MMW Conference Book Store


Meet & Critique


Ready or Revise Pitch Panels


Friday Night Social, Costume Party and Art Contest


Illustrator Social


MMW Schedule


Included Meals



If your questions aren't answered in the Conference Guide, please reach out! For Registration questions Contact Cindy Johnson: iascbwi.registrar@gmail.com. For Other Conference questions email Carrie Pearson at carrieapearson906@gmail.com or Jodi McKay at michigan-ra@scbwi.org