Meet Our Team

SCBWI Mid-Atlantic

Meet Our Volunteers

Are you interested in getting more involved in our region? Fill out our Volunteer Interest Form or apply to one of our current positions here.

Co-Regional Advisors: Erin Teagan and Valerie Patterson

Erin Teagan is the author of The Friendship Experiment (HMH), Survivor Girl (Clarion), and two Girl of the Year series, Kira Bailey and Luciana Vega, for American Girl. She has a background in science and uses her experience from the lab in her books. She loves sharing the best and most interesting (and most dangerous and disgusting) parts of science with kids. Erin lives in Virginia with her family, a droopy hound dog named Beaker, and a bunny that thinks he’s a cat.

Valerie O. Patterson is the author of two novels for young readers, both published by Clarion, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt: The Other Side of Blue and Operation Oleander, a Junior Library Guild selection. Her non-fiction has appeared in such publications as The Writer and the North Carolina Literary Review. Valerie currently serves as co-Regional Advisor for the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI), Mid-Atlantic region. She also is a member of the Children’s Book Guild of Washington DC. She has an MFA from Hollins University. Contact Erin and Val 

Assistant Regional Advisor: Nicole Green

Nicole is the winner of the 2019 SCBWI Emerging Voices Award for the YA category. She enjoys planning programs for our members. She is a Pitch Wars and Author Mentor Match mentee alum. She mostly writes YA thrillers and mysteries. If she’s not writing YA, she’s probably reading it. Outside of reading and writing, she enjoys spending time with family and traveling. She has always been a big supporter of local kidlit creators and looks forward to continuing to be a resource for them in her role as Assistant Regional Advisor . Contact Nicole.

Illustrator Coordinator: Tami Traylor: Tami grew up exploring the woods and waterways of historic, central Virginia. All those leafy, green hours spent along the James River stirred a lifelong fascination with the natural world that echoes in her illustration and writing. Through her work, she seeks to spark, in young readers, that same sense of curiosity and wonder she had as a child. She graduated from Virginia Commonwealth University School of Arts with a BFA in Communication Arts and Design and worked as a graphic designer for much of her adult life. She’s been a member of SCBWI since 2005, serving as the co-editor/graphic designer of the Highlighter, a quarterly newsletter serving SCBWI’s Mid-Atlantic region, from 2007-2021. She currently serves as the region’s Illustrator Coordinator. She lives in Chesterfield, Virginia with her family, two feline studio mates, and a two very hungry guinea pigs. When she’s not illustrating or feeding guinea pigs, she’s walking in the woods or working at the library. Contact Tami 

PAL Coordinator: Pat Tanumihardja

Born in Jakarta and raised in Singapore, Patricia (Pat) Tanumihardja writes fun, heartwarming stories that often reflect her multicultural upbringing in Southeast Asia. Pat’s Chinese Indonesian parents encouraged her appetites for both delicious foods and good books, resulting in a writing career that spans both cookbooks and children’s books. Her debut picture book RAMEN FOR EVERYONE, an indie bookstore favorite and a JLG Gold Selection, was followed by JIMMY’S SHOES—THE STORY OF JIMMY CHOO, SHOEMAKER TO A PRINCESS, and THE SUGAR PLUM BAKERS—A TALE OF 12 HOLIDAY TREATS. Pat lives in Northern Virginia with her husband and son. You can find her on Twitter and Instagram: @ediblewords and online: Don’t be shy to hit her up for some favorite recipes, or share yours! 


Webinar Coordinator: Maureen Egan: Maureen lives in Richmond, VA and is a member of 12 x 12 and has studied at Highlights with both poets and picture book gurus. She has sold poems to Highlights and most recently, Cricket. She wrote Insiders’ Guide to Richmond and Richmond’s Culinary History (the latter with a co-author) and has had essays and features in Southern Living, The Washington Post and others. She was awarded a 2022 Baron Creative Writer fellowship from the American Antiquarian Society to research a STEAM nonfiction children’s book about a 19th century portraitist and diarist. She’s been an English teacher, a freelance writer, a magazine columnist and a creator and owner of a food events business which produced the award-winning food festival, Fire, Flour & Fork. Contact Maureen 

Fall Conference Planning Committee:

Co-Chair: Celeste Dador 

Celeste is a writer who loves writing stories about kids finding magic in their ordinary world, especially black and brown ones. She’s an Author Mentor Match and WriteMentor alum and also appeared as a finalist for the pilot episode of "America's Next Great Author." As a first-generation Filipino-American, she enjoys weaving her heritage into her tales. Her short stories have been published by Outland Entertainment and Haunt Publishing. When not writing or volunteering for SCBWI she’s exploring historic (often haunted) sites with her family. Celeste resides in Virginia, but will always be a California girl at heart. You can find Celeste on Twitter/IG: @dadorwrites and learn more about her books at:

Co-Chair: Lee Gjertsen Malone

Lee is the author of contemporary realistic middle grade novels including The Last Boy at St. Edith’s, (2016, Aladdin/S&S) which was a Massachusetts Book Award Must Read, a Sakura Award finalist, and a Nutmeg Award finalist, and Camp Shady Crook, (2019, Aladdin/S&S) which was a Junior Library Guild selection. A recent transplant from New England to Northern Virginia, Lee is also a freelance editor, writing instructor, and journalist who has written for a range of publications for adults and children including Muse, Odyssey, Faces, American Banker, Financial Planning, Cambridge Scout, and the Boston Globe. In her spare time she likes spending time outdoors, playing with her many pets, and traveling to national disasters as a shelter manager for the American Red Cross— but her secret dream is moving to London and qualifying for the Great British Baking Show.

Coordinator: Kelly Pavelich

Kelly is a writer and mental health advocate in Arlington, VA. She’s published in the Global Societies Journal and Night Picnic, a bilingual literary journal, and is working towards her Professional Certificate in Creative Writing from UC San Diego.

Coordinator: Katie Sivinski

Katie writes picture books and young adult stories that explore our connections to nature and the complex feelings of being a kid. A former elementary and preschool teacher, she now works as a Youth and Family Educator at a public botanical garden. In her free time, she volunteers as a Virginia Master Naturalist and works at transforming her yard into a native plant habitat. She lives in Virginia with her family.

Contact Fall Conference Planning Committee 

Equity & Inclusion Team:

Co-leader: Hanh Bui

Hanh Bui is a children’s book writer. She believes in the power of storytelling to inspire kindness and connection in the world. Her stories are based on her early refugee experiences and Vietnamese heritage. Her picture books will be published by Macmillan Feiwel & Friends in 2023 and 2024. She is grateful to add her voice with other diverse authors to share stories that amplify the importance of inclusivity and positive representation in children’s literature.

Co-leader: Maha Addas

Contact Equity & Inclusion Team **

Highlighter Journal Team:

Denise Taranov | Highlighter Editor, content: Denise is the Editor for our Mid-Atlantic region’s Highlighter journal, and collaborates with contributors to develop content for each issue. She also facilitates an SCBWI-member writing critique group in the Falls Church-Alexandria area called “NoVA Story Builders” and participates in the Mid-Atlantic Illustrators’ Critique Group. Denise is a consultant, writer, designer and illustrator in the DC metro area. She graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with degrees in International Relations, English and.

Korena Di Roma Howley | Highlighter copyeditor Korena is a writer, editor, and children’s author. Her debut picture book, Sarang Saves the School, will be released by Candlewick in 2025. Korena reports on science news for multiple outlets and serves as contributing editor for the American Institute of Physics. She lives in Williamsburg, Virginia, with her husband and four-year-old kidlit muse. 

Contact Highlighter Team 

Social Media Coordinator: Tracey Kyle: Tracey is a retired secondary-school teacher, a certified yoga instructor and the author of six rhyming picture books. She holds a B.A. in Spanish and French from Skidmore College and an M.A. in Spanish from George Mason University. Her first book, Gazpacho for Nacho (Two Lions, 2014), was inspired by her time studying in Madrid, Spain. She lives in Northern Virginia with her husband and two super-cute cats, and enjoys reading and cooking when she’s not working on a new story. Find her on Instagram @AuthorTraceyKyle.

Nonfiction Workshop Coordinator: Marcie Flinchum Atkins: Marcie is a teacher-librarian by day and a children’s book writer in the wee hours of the morning. She holds an M.A. and M.F.A. in Children’s Literature from Hollins University. She is the author of Ancient China (ABDO, 2015), “Rookie Get Ready to Code” series (Scholastic Children’s Press, 2019) and Wait, Rest, Pause: Dormancy in Nature (Millbrook Press, 2019). She also muses about mentor texts and making time to write at You can follow her on Twitter @MarcieFAtkins and read about her #writerlife on Instagram at @marciefatkins. Contact Marcie

Indie and Self-publishing Coordinator: Joyana Peters: Joyana is the self-published author of the award-winning YA historical fiction books, The Girl in the Triangle and The Girl From Saint Petersburg. She loves exploring history and sharing stories about overlooked empowered women who fought for change. She got her MFA in Creative Writing from the University of New Orleans and has also published non-fiction articles in publications nationwide. She is also a member of the Independent Book Publishers Association and currently serves as the Indie and Self-Published Coordinator for the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI), Mid-Atlantic region. Joyana lives in Virginia with her family and her furry Yellow Lab muse, Gatsby. 

Critique Group Coordinator: Terry Catasús Jennings: Terry landed in the United States on September 11, 1961 after a short flight from Cuba. On September 12th, she was enrolled in seventh grade in an American school. Her family, including her father who had been jailed during the Bay of Pigs invasion, was now in a free country. The only catch for twelve-year-old Terry was that she could count in English and recite the days of the week and the months of the year, but not much more. Often being the only Cuban in her school—even through college—Terry knows what it’s like to be the new kid on the block. She is delighted to have the opportunity, with DEFINITELY DOMINGUITA, to portray a typical child of immigrants—no different than her peers—other than she loves the classics (like Jennings did as a child) and thinks Cuban food rules.

Contact Terry

Volunteer Coordinator: Liza Parfomak: Liza is a science fiction and fantasy writer who draws on her Polish heritage for her stories. She holds her Ph.D. in Public Policy from George Mason University, with a concentration in Science, Technology, and Innovation – sometimes it comes in handy when she writes. Sometimes it doesn’t.   Contact Liza

Website Editor: Louise Pisano SImone: Louise writes middle grade novels and pircture books drawing on her background in humanrights advocacy, teaching history, and writing and her love of the natural world. You can visit her at

Member Profile

Valerie Patterson
Co-Regional Advisor
Erin Teagan
Co-Regional Advisor
Nicole Green
Assistant Regional Advisor
Tami Traylor
Illustrator Coordinator
Patricia Tanumihardja
Maureen Egan
Celeste Dador
Kelly Pavelich
Katie Sivinski
Hanh Bui
Denise Taranov
Author, Illustrator
Korena Howley
Tracey Kyle
Author, Educator
Christian Bailey
Marcie Atkins
Louise Simone