NIKKI SHANNON SMITH (Co-REGIONAL ADVISOR and CONFERENCE COORDINATOR) Nikki Shannon Smith is an author, second grade teacher, wife, and mother of two. Her first book, The Little Christmas Elf (Random House, Little Golden Books) published in 2011. In addition to picture books, she writes chapter books and young adult novels. One of her passions is bringing more diversity to children’s books, and many of her retweets are from #WNDB (We Need Diverse Books) and from others who share this goal. She is an experienced presenter of school visits and conference workshops. She steals time for all things writing related, but hasn’t been arrested for it yet. You can find her on Facebook, twitter @nikki2smith, and at www.NikkiShannonSmith.com.
KRISTEN SCHWARTZ (Co-REGIONAL ADVISOR) has been illustrating and designing professionally for over 30 years, but didn’t discover that she and her illustrations belonged in children’s publishing until after her daughter was born. Being transported to magical lands while reading picture books was a life changing experience and she and her daughter all but lived at the library checking out stacks of books. Kristen still spends a lot of time checking out books at the library, but now that her daughter is in college, the librarians have caught on that the picture books are all for Kristen. When not at the library she’s exploring the forests of Tahoe for story inspiration. Visit her at www.kristenschwartz.com and follow her on Instagram kristen_schwartz.
Originally from Ohio and a lifelong Browns fan, ANTHONY TONG (ASSISTANT REGIONAL ADVISOR) has lived in Northern California for over 25 years, working in engineering design and management. He loves picture books and the shared read aloud experience. Tony authored several self-published titles, illustrated by wonderful SCBWI illustrators, and is querying manuscripts for traditional publication. His stories focus on humor, heart, STEM, and Asian American #ownvoices.
CHELSEA ALAMEDA (ASSISTANT REGIONAL ADVISOR) grew up moving around the world as an Air Force dependent, but now lives in Clovis, California with her husband, two young daughters, and their growing menagerie of pets. She is a certified teacher with a Masters in Education, who has loved teaching children of all ages, from pre-school to high-school. It has been her honor to be a member of SCBWI for the past five years. She has a passion for literacy, good storytelling, and the limitless possibilities the world of reading can open up for children.
AMY ALTSTATT (ILLUSTRATOR COORDINATOR) is an ESL teacher and mother of two very goofy little girls. Amy has wanted to be an artist since she read the book “Rainbow Goblins” by Ul de Rico in 1986. Children’s books have always been the driving inspiration for Amy’s artwork, and she has been collecting them long before she had children as an excuse. Amy’s picture book career is just getting started. With 3 self-published picture book titles, “Completely Rainbow,” “King’s Beloved Colors,” & “Boswell Foxington & the Secret of the Stars,” Amy hopes to author and illustrate hundreds more. Completely Rainbow won a Royal Dragonfly Book Award in 2016. Amy’s work can be found on Instagram @Daisymoon_illustration or by going directly to her website amyaltstatt.com.
SHEILA ALFORD (MEMBERSHIP COORDINATOR) may live in Northern California, but she’s a southern girl at heart. She grew up just outside the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in East Tennessee. Sheila mainly writes picture books, but she recently dove in to writing a middle-grade mystery novel and loves it. When she’s not writing, she loves traveling to far-flung places, dog sitting Bichon Frisés, or reading any kind of mystery. You can also find her exploring California with her husband Chris and spending time with her two grown children.
ANGELICA R. JACKSON (SOCIAL MEDIA COORDINATOR) is a writer, artist, and avid naturalist living in the Sierra foothills of California. She is currently owned by a reformed-feral tabby cat and two adorable rescued dogs. She is an active volunteer in the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators’ CA North/Central region, where she previously served as the Illustrator Coordinator. She is the author of the award-winning Faerie Crossed young adult urban fantasy series, and her photos are collected in Capturing The Castle: Images of Preston Castle (2006-2016). For more on her current projects, see her website at http://angelicarjackson.com or her photographs at www.AngelicaRJackson.photography. Find her on Twitter @angelicarjaxon and Facebook.
KIMBERLY A. GORDON BIDDLE (EQUITY AND INCLUSION TEAM LEADER) was raised in a small village in Illinois by a single parent in poverty. She currently lives in a suburb in California. Her nose was always in a book as a child. She began writing fiction some time ago, but her first book was published in 2017. She mostly writes picture books, but is venturing into middle grade novels. She writes realistic, contemporary fiction. She taught college students for 28 years. She received career awards from her alma maters University of Redlands and Stanford University. Her first fiction book, LaDonna Plays Hoops, was a finalist in the 2019 American Fiction Awards. Her second fiction book, LaDonna’s Easter in Paris, was released in 2020. Her third one, Darlene’s Double Dutch Dreams, will be released in 2021. She has benefitted tremendously from being a member of SCBWI. She is happy to volunteer for an organization that has given her so much. She is a wife and mother of one son. She has a pet cat named pumpkin.
MARTHA LONGSHORE (WEBMASTER) writes young adult and middle grade fiction. She also designs and maintains websites—sadly not including her own, which is in dire need of updating. She lives with her daughter and sweet, though demented, pets, in the far reaches of the North/Central region, so she’s happy to have a way she can volunteer online.