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2023 Faculty CLOSE UP

Onsite Faculty


Sarah Aronson

Sarah Aronson began writing for kids and teens when someone in an exercise class dared her to try. Since then, she has earned an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts, and published books for kids and teens including Beyond Lucky, The Wish List, Just Like Rube Goldberg, illustrated by Robert Neubecker, and Brand New Bubbe, illustrated by Ariel Landy. Sarah's next title is a picture book biography of Bella Abzug, called Abzuglutely! (Calkins Creek, Astra Publishing). When Sarah is not writing or reading (or making great soup or riding her bike), she is talking to readers about creativity, writing, social action, and of course, sparkle power! She loves working with other writers in one of her classes at the amazing Highlights Foundation. If you like writing tips, sign up for her weekly newsletter on the writing process at her website:

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Maryn Arreguín

Maryn Arreguín is a Senior Art Director at Sourcebooks Kids. She has 20 years of experience working in the children’s publishing and product space. She has art directed numerous award-winning books, including New York Times Bestselling Why a Son Needs a Dad and Why a Son Needs a Mom, as well as Pura Belpré Honor Book, Barefoot Dreams of Petra Luna. She is most excited for the new early graphic novel series, Pup and Dragon, which she helped develop, brand, and design. When she’s not chasing her dreams, Maryn loves to adventure with her husband, son, and rambunctious golden doodle, Luna

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Doug Cenko

Doug lives in Chicago with his wife and daughter. His most recent book release is VIKING STRONG, published by Viking Children's Books. Doug is also the author and illustrator of VIKING IN LOVE, LITTLE MONSTER TRUCKS GO!, MY PAPA IS A PRINCESS and the upcoming SOMEBODY NEEDS TO DO SOMETHING ABOUT THAT MONSTER.

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Kelly Delaney

Kelly Delaney is an Editor at Crown Books for Young Readers, where she acquires and edits books for young readers of all ages. She has a master’s degree in Publishing: Digital and Print Media from NYU and has been at Random House Children's Books for twelve years. Books she has edited include Americanized: Rebel Without a Green Card by Sara Saedi, Lucy and Linh by Alice Pung, and Grandma's Purse by Vanessa Brantley-Newton, and she has been fortunate enough to work with many of her favorite authors, from R.J. Palacio and Markus Zusak to Anita Lobel and Norton Juster. At Crown, she focuses on books by and about marginalized creators, characters, and communities.

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Reese Eschmann

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Adriana Hernandez Bergstrom

Adriana Hernández Bergstrom is a Cuban American mixed-media illustrator who loves creating charming characters, heartfelt paintings, and sweet imagery for kids and kids-at-heart. Her work can be found on greeting cards, wrapping paper, and in books. She is the author and illustrator of ABUELITA AND I MAKE FLAN (Charlesbridge, 2022), the upcoming TUMBLE (Scholastic, 2023) and COUNTDOWN FOR NOCHEBUENA (Little, Brown, 2023). When Adriana is not flipping flans or chasing tumbleweed, she’s back in her studio staring out the window at the palm trees and rocket launches.

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Saritza Hernández

Saritza Hernández of the Andrea Brown Literary Agency came to agenting from a publishing industry background and has been a literary agent for 12 years. Based in Orlando, Florida, she is a passionate advocate of the BIPOC & LGBTQIA+ communities. She enjoys fresh voices in Children’s and Adult commercial fiction and select non-fiction.

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Esther Hershenhorn

The descriptive appositive TeachingAuthor describes Esther Hershenhorn perfectly. She authors award-winning picture books, middle grade fiction and nonfiction while teaching Writing for Children at Chicago’s Newberry Library and the University of Chicago’s Writer’s Studio. Helping others tell their stories, especially to children, is truly her story. She proudly considers the writers and students she’s been honored to teach, coach, seed and feed the past 25 years her “storied treasures.” A veritable SCBWI Poster Child who advocates for children’s book creators, Esther served 17 years as the Illinois Chapter’s Regional Advisor, 10 years on SCBWI’s Board of Advisors and currently as SCBWI-Illinois’ Regional Advisor Emerita. To learn more about Esther, visit You can also read Esther’s blog posts at

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Hannah Hill

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Brian LaRossa

Brian LaRossa (he/him) is an executive art director in the hardcover picture book group at Scholastic Inc., the world’s largest publisher and distributor of children’s books. After hours he teaches a course on critical writing for The City College of New York and is a mentor in the We Need Diverse Books mentorship program. He lives and works in New York City.

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Alice McGinty

Alice B. McGinty ( delights in igniting imaginations. As the award-winning author of over 50 children’s books, she makes fiction and non-fiction accessible, engaging, and fun. Her books include 2022 JLG Selection and Chicago and New York Public Libraries Best Book of 2022, Bathe the Cat; 2021 ALA Notable Book, JLG Selection and Norman A. Sugarman Honor Book, The Water Lady: How Darlene Arviso Helps a Thirsty Navajo Nation; and 2019 JLG Selection, The Girl Who Named Pluto: The Story of Venetia Burney. A frequent presenter and recipient of the Prairie State Award for Excellence in Writing for Children, Alice also serves as the Regional Advisor Emerita of the Illinois Chapter of SCBWI, runs Words on Fire Writing Camp for Teens, and is a book reviewer and writing coach.

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Michael Leali

Michael Leali is a writer, educator, and lover of all things story. His debut middle grade novel, The Civil War of Amos Abernathy, was a Lambda Literary Award finalist and winner of the Golden Kite Award. He is also the author of Matteo and the forthcoming The Truth About Triangles. He earned his MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts. He currently lives in Oakland, California. Learn more about Michael at


Natasha Tarpley

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D. Ann Williams

D. Ann Williams (they/them) is an Associate Agent (kidlit) at Emerald City Literary Agency, a freelance editor and sensitivity reader with 10+ years of experience, and a writer. They have worked with all Big 5 publishers, medium-sized publishers, Amazon, We Need Diverse Books, and self-published/indie authors on a variety of adult, kidlit, and academic projects. As a writer they are a 2023 Tin House fellow, a 2021 Voodoonauts Fellow, and the winner of the 2021 Sisters in Crime Eleanor Taylor Bland Award. When not reading, writing, or editing, they spends their time baking, traveling, and dabbling in photography.

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Alex Willan

Alex is the author-illustrator of Unicorns Are the Worst!, Dragons Are the Worst!, Yetis Are the Worst!, Elves Are the Worst! and the Jasper & Ollie series, as well as the illustrator of Got Your Nose, written by Alan Katz. Alex lives in Chicago with his dog, Harley. Visit him online at

Offsite Faculty

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Adam Blackman

Adam is an author, editor, dad, partner, and rescuer of bunnies. (Well, a bunny.) His journey to kidlit began the day his son came home from school feeling ashamed of his beloved pink sparkly shoes. Seeing his child's need for more acceptance inspired a story and ended up reshaping his writing and editing practice. He has an MFA in Fiction from Sarah Lawrence College and is represented by Natascha Morris of Tobias Literary Agency. More at and on X @Adamdblackman.

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Maria Dismondy

Founder of the publishing company, Cardinal Rule Press, Maria Dismondy inspires and educates others in the book industry. Her background in early education and research enables her to touch lives the world over while speaking in schools, community forums, and at national conferences. When Maria isn’t working, she can be found embarking on adventures throughout southeast Michigan and beyond, where she lives with her husband, three book-loving children and two furry dogs.

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Nicole Ellul

Nicole Ellul joined Simon & Schuster in February of 2012 after previous roles with Bloomsbury Children’s Books and the picture book publisher, Sleeping Bear Press. She has edited a variety of books including New York Times bestsellers Love & Gelato, Rachel Lynn Solomon’s See You Yesterday, The Witch Haven by Sasha Peyton Smith and The Wicked Deep by Shea Ernshaw, along with Indie Next List titles such as the space opera Sky Without Stars (Jessica Brody and Joanne Rendell) and Winterwood (Shea Ernshaw). She has been overjoyed editing the critically acclaimed Jenn Bennett romances, along with recently working on a non-fiction for teens that explores mental and emotional wellness through magic and mystical practices (something that interests her VERY much). During her editorial career, she also had the honor of working on books by the immensely talented Jodi Picoult, Philippa Gregory, and R.L. Stine. A former college volleyball player, Nicole graduated with a BA in History and English Language and Literature from Grand Valley University located in Grand Rapids—one of the vibrant artistic hubs in her home state of Michigan.

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Karen Granada

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2023 PWID