Co-Regional Advisor, Rona Shirdan Equity and Inclusion Team Member Rona has always loved children’s books but after attending her first SCBWI conference, she knew what she wanted to be when she “grew up.” She can usually be found going through a pile of picture books ranging from poetry and fiction to STEM. She has a special fondness for new writers and hopes to encourage and support them while in her role as Co-RA. Rona is a freelance writer, proofreader/copy editor, and sensitivity reader. She works with The Highlights Foundation as their Customer Experience Coordinator and Ambassador. She is also an active supporter of diversity in children’s literature—especially picture books!
Co-Regional Advisor, Laura Parnum Equity and Inclusion Team Member Laura writes quirky and humorous middle grade novels and is a freelance fiction copyeditor. She is also an SCBWI critique group leader, volunteers as an elementary school library assistant, has led book groups and provided reading support for third graders, and has volunteered at Mighty Writers in Philadelphia as a mentor for students writing high school and college application essays. Her novel, Peril at Price Manor, is due to release in summer 2023.
Assistant Regional Advisor, Kristen Stroccia Webinar Coordinator Kristen began writing poetry in the second grade. This often meant that when her five siblings were playing together, she would disappear for hours down to the creek or up into her favorite apple tree to write. But her love of words led to a love of world languages that led to teaching French, Spanish and ELD (formerly ESL). SCBWI found her cultivating this love for words in children of all ages and dreaming of continuing the writing journey began at age seven. Now she’s working to add MG & YA speculative novels to her handful of magazine publications. When not writing and revising, she can be followed on road trips around the country with her husband and seven children, trying to reach the ever-elusive states of Washington, Oregon, Alaska and Hawaii.
Illustrator Coordinator, Berrie Torgan-Randall Berrie has been passionate about children’s literature since she was a little girl, and has fed her desire by becoming a children’s librarian and by pursuing a career as an illustrator and writer of children’s books. She is looking forward to making connections with professionals while organizing events for illustrators who are on a similar journey of creating beautiful and meaningful picture books.
PAL Coordinator, Lindsay Bandy Peer Mentorship Co-Coordinator Lindsay’s favorite thing about SCBWI is the warmth and friendship she’s found here in Eastern PA. SCBWI has taken her from total newbie to agented and published author, supporting her with industry knowledge and awesome friends who give expert advice, hugs, critiques, encouragement, and wine as needed. Her YA Fiction is represented by agent Cate Hart at the Harvey Clinger Literary Agency, and she has several poems forthcoming with Highlights Hello.
Critique Coordinator and Meet & Greet Coordinator, Heather Stigall Heather is a picture book-obsessed wife and mother of five (six, if you count the dog). She was born and raised a Jersey girl but has called eastern Pennsylvania her home for most of her adulthood. When she’s not writing, critiquing, or reading picture books, you can find her working out, sewing, baking, or involved in children’s shenanigans and probably dreaming up stories while doing all of those things.
Field Trip Coordinator, Virginia Law Manning Virginia attended the Winter Conference in N.Y.C. just months after joining SCBWI. It was an overwhelming and inspiring start. Since then, she’s learned so much from attending SCBWI workshops and conferences, having her work critiqued by peers and professionals, and most of all by reading! When Virginia’s not in her studio creating picture books, she works as the library coordinator and an assistant teacher at Crossing Cooperative Nursery Schools. One of the great joys in her life is sharing her love of children’s books with others.
Good News & Social Media Coordinator, Joanne Roberts Joanne spent many afternoons sitting beside her parents’ bookcase, reading until her legs fell asleep. Everything she owned was covered in drawings of superheroes, princesses, and cartoon characters. While her career path took several non-literary turns, she always had one foot in children’s publishing. Now a published writer, she is currently pursuing the coveted title of author/illustrator. As Good News and Social Media Coordinator, her hope is to encourage every member on their journey, celebrate the big and the small steps, and partner with libraries and indie bookstores to pay it forward in the Eastern PA region and across the world.
EasternPennPoints Blogmaster, Kristen Rashid Kristen is a board certified art therapist, licensed professional counselor, and Asian-American picture book writer from Philadelphia, PA. She has been leading two critique groups for PB creators for many years, and is the recipient of a 2023 12×12 Challenge scholarship. Kristen’s writing often has SEL components with a STEAM focus, and features kids of color engaging in their everyday lives. She draws story inspiration from her child art therapy work, and from her two daughters with whom she regularly enjoys bedtime read alouds, car ride audio books, family critique group meetings, and library visits.
Peer Mentorship Co-Coordinator, Alison Green Myers Equity and Inclusion Team Member Alison is an avid reader, poet, and writer. She has served as a classroom teacher, literacy coach, curriculum writer, and school director. She is the Program Director for the Highlights Foundation, a National Writing Fellow, and an active member of the Society of Children’s Books Writers and Illustrators. A Bird Will Soar is her first book for middle grade readers and is the recipient of the 2022 Schneider Family Book Award.
Equity and Inclusion Team Member, Joy Ogbonnaya Growing up, Joy’s dad almost always had a book in hand he was reading from or writing in. Joy became intrigued by books and began pulling books out of her dad’s book shelves to read. Her love for reading naturally sparked a love for writing. Joy has published nonfiction Christian books for young people, and articles focused on social justice and education. Joy is an educator, originally from Nigeria is currently writing multicultural children’s books that celebrates people and cultures in the world and centers the voices and experiences of immigrant children in the US. Joy continues to be in awe of the work that SCBWI does but particularly holds dear the opportunity to be a part of the Equity and Inclusion team of Eastern PA SCBWI, working alongside amazing team members who are advocating for and lifting the work of marginalized creators.
Equity and Inclusion Team Member, Jenny Krumrine Before Jenny became a children’s author, she was a scientist. When her children were born, she chose her new career. She writes about things that have always been important to her: science, nature and what it means to live an inspired, kind, happy life. She’s interested in encouraging and teaching children to become good stewards of our planet. What could happen if we don’t take care of planet Earth? Check out her story in Cricket Muse, March 2020: “Trial in Absentia.”
Equity and Inclusion Team Member, Cherise Shane Cherise is a Philadelphia native, lifelong learner, love scholar, language lover, and woman of the word. She loves music, alliteration, and all things artistic, so she incorporates the arts to build inspiration, innovation, and interchange in almost everything she does. Cherise is passionate about using her spoken as well as written voice to empower people with tools of effective communication and purposeful living, loving, learning, and laughing. She loves to use journal writing, especially, and has been an avid writer since elementary school. She is the proud super wifey queen mommy Ph.D.-to-be (SWQMPhD2b) of Dr. D.M. Shane (SHKDPhD) and four beloved girls also known as the A-team (SBPDPhD2b) (Hello! Our acronyms are like super-human versions of SCBWI—lol). Cherise along with her family are aspiring actors, authors, artists, articulators, architects, and agents of change, learning to embrace their gifts unapologetically and with grace.