Spring Spirit 2021 Faculty
Talia Benamy is an associate editor at Philomel Books, where she focuses on everything from picture books to middle grade and young adult novels. She has worked on books by Hillary and Chelsea Clinton, Sonia Sotomayor, Kamala Harris, Temple Grandin, Jane Yolen, Abigail “Astronaut Abby” Harrison, Julie Hedlund, and Dev Petty. She sees books as having the amazing power to shape the way kids see the world around them and their ability to impact it, and she looks for manuscripts that have the potential to do just that.
Amanda Bullock is director of public programs at Literary Arts, a nonprofit literary center in Portland, Oregon. She curates and directs the annual Portland Book Festival, the largest general interest book festival in the Pacific Northwest. She also curates and directs Portland Arts & Lectures, the largest subscription-based literary lecture series in the country, and various special events, as well as The Archive Project radio show and podcast. Prior to joining Literary Arts, she was director of public programming at Housing Works Bookstore Cafe, a nonprofit social enterprise in downtown New York City, where she curated, publicized, and produced 200+ events annually. She is the co-founder of Moby-Dick Marathon NYC, and has previously worked as a bookseller and in book production.
Naomi Kinsman is the award-winning author of Spilled Ink, A Writer’s Notebook, and the From Sadie’s Sketchbook series. She is the founder and Executive Director of Society of Young Inklings, an organization that empowers young writers. Over the past twenty years, Naomi has developed Writerly Play, an improv-based writing methodology that brings joy, deep inquiry, and play into the writing process. Naomi has a MFA in Writing for Children from Hamline University. Visit Naomi’s website at www.naomikinsman.com or connect on Twitter and Instagram @naomikinsman.
Ellice Lee is the Art Director of Philomel Books, an imprint of Penguin Young Readers Group, where she designs fiction and non-fiction picture books, board books and novels. She has worked with award-winning talent including Alexandra Boiger, Rafael Lopez, Loren Long, Le Uyen Pham, Christian Robinson, Kadir Nelson, Ed Young, and Floyd Cooper. Titles she has worked on have appeared on the New York Times best-seller lists (most recently, 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. Learn more at https://www.penguin.com/publishers/philomel/.
Dr. Virginia Loh-Hagan is an author and educator. She’s currently the Director of the APIDA (Asian Pacific Islander Desi American) Center at San Diego State University (SDSU). Previously, she directed the Liberal Studies program and served in various leadership roles in teacher education at SDSU’s College of Education. Prior to working at SDSU, she was a K-8 teacher. She has a B.A. in English and a Masters in Education from the University of Virginia. Upon graduation, she received the “Outstanding Woman Scholar in Education” award. She earned her Doctorate in Education with an emphasis in Literacy from SDSU-USD in May 2008; her dissertation was a qualitative study on the cultural authenticity of Asian-American children’s literature. She is the 2016 recipient of California Reading Association’s Marcus Foster Memorial Award for outstanding achievement in reading. She’s the Cover Editor and Book Nook columnist for “The California Reader,” the premiere professional journal for the California Reading Association. She has over 300 books out in the world. She especially likes to write about her Chinese-American heritage. After all, she was born on Flag Day in the Year of the Dragon. She also likes writing about strong women and girl power. In addition, she writes books about things that geek her. This includes monsters, weird bodily noises, urban legends, hot dogs, and anything on the odd side. In addition to writing and teaching, she has coordinated various author events at conferences/festivals as well as kidlit award committees. She lives in northern San Diego with two non-trained naughty dogs and one semi-well-trained husband. Find her on social media!
Andrea J. Loney is an award-winning author of children’s picture books. Her works include TAKE A PICTURE OF ME, JAMES VAN DER ZEE (Winner of the Lee & Low Books New Voices Award and an NAACP New Image Award Nominee), BUNNYBEAR (Albert Whitman & Company and on the ALA Rainbow List), and DOUBLE BASS BLUES (Random House Knopf and a Junior Library Guild Selection). She is also a proud faculty member of the Highlights Foundation and at SCBWI events nationwide. You can find Andrea at andreajloney.com or @andreajloney on Twitter, Instagram, or Pinterest.
Mitali Perkins has written many books for young readers, including Between Us and Abuela (2020 Charlotte Huck Honor Book), Forward Me Back To You (one of 2019 SLJ’s and Kirkus’ Best YA Books of the Year), You Bring the Distant Near (nominated for a National Book Award, six starred reviews), and Rickshaw Girl (adapted into a film by Sleeperwave Productions), all of which explore crossing different kinds of borders. Mitali also writes about light topics like poverty, immigration, child soldiers, microcredit, and human trafficking, thanks to living overseas for many years and studying Political Science at Stanford and Public Policy at U.C. Berkeley. Her goal in fiction is to make readers laugh or cry, preferably both, as long as their hearts are widening. She lives and writes in the East Bay. You can find Mitali online at www.mitaliperkins.com, on Twitter @MitaliPerkins, or on her Facebook Author Page (Author Mitali Perkins).
Kaitlyn Leann Sanchez is a mom, wife, agent with Red Fox Literary, middle school math teacher, and picture book author. She’s also the proud co-creator and co-host of the Spring Fling Kidlit Contest and Kidlit Zombie Week as well as creator and co-host of the Kidlit Fall Writing Frenzy Contest. In her free time, she loves to play soccer, binge-watch TV shows, and, of course, read, especially when she’s all cozied up with her husband and daughter reading together. (Note: As an agent, Kaitlyn represents picture books, chapter books, middle grade, and young adult novels.)
Please follow my clients on social media: https://kaitlynleannsanchez.com/literary-clients/
Becoming an architect was Mina Witteman’s childhood dream but all her drawing invariably ended in words. For years she tried to escape the pull of fiction. But fiction is stronger than reality and eventually, she had no choice but to answer its call: she had to write. Her middle grade debut Deedee’s Revenge came out in the Netherlands in 2005, quickly followed by more middle grade novels. Her latest middle grade series Boreas is praised by readers, teachers and librarians alike. The first book Boreas and the Seven Seas was elected focus title for the 2019 Dutch National Children’s Book Week, an honor that brought the book into every classroom, library and bookstore in the country.
Mina writes in English and in Dutch, works as an editor and a translator. She is the Youth Program Manager for the Bay Area Book Festival and her aim is to create a platform for children’s writers and illustrators, while giving their readers center-stage too. In addition, she teaches at the Dutch School of Silicon Valley. She teaches creative writing to children, teens and adults and she mentors published and pre-published writers. She lives in Berkeley, California. You can find her at minawitteman.com.