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) lives in South Lake Tahoe with her husband, daughter, dog and cat. She’s 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 at her blog www.ajourneyillustrated.com.
SHIRLEY ESPADA-RICHEY (ASSISTANT REGIONAL ADVISOR) is a wife, mother of four VERY rambunctious children, Story Time presenter for her local library, and Spanish Instructor. She writes picture books and middle-grade fiction. When an idea strikes, she will write it on anything she can get her hands on—receipts, bills, even sugar packets! She loves to dance. Her Puerto Rican side comes through anytime she hears Salsa music. Binge reading is her vice. If not for the Audible app, her house would never get cleaned. Connect with her on Facebook, on Twitter @shirleyrichey, and at www.shirleyespada-richey.com.
CHAD HUNTER (ILLUSTRATOR COORDINATOR) When Chad and his wife were just married, they visited a used office furniture store. They purchased a gigantic 1960s drafting desk so he could draw at home. Now, Chad makes his children’s book illustrations from his Northern California home-studio on that colossal retro desk. He’s a husband and father of four: two married, one in college and one still at home. Chad loves his family, exceptional watercolor brushes, engaging stories, racquetball, lovely type and 72% to 84% dark chocolate. He was honored with the Mentorship Award at SCBWI LA 2018 and is thrilled to be the North/Central California Illustrator Coordinator. Chad has a BFA in Illustration from BYU (Brigham Young University) and an MFA in Visual Arts from MU (Marywood University). You can see his work at www.chadhunterstudio.com. Follow him on Instragram @chadhunterstudio.
JOANNA ROWLAND (MEMBERSHIP COORDINATOR) is from Sacramento, California where she lives with her husband and three children. She teaches in elementary school and writes picture books. Her books include The Memory Box: A Book About Grief, Stay Through The Storm, Always Mom; Forever Dad and The Monstructor. In the summers you’ll find her by the pool, in the mountains, on the coast, or reading behind a good book.
LISA SCHMID (SOCIAL MEDIA COORDINATOR) is an author, a stay-at-home mom, and a pug wrangler. When she is not scaring up ghostly adventures, she is most likely scaring up fun with her husband and son. She lives in Folsom, California, home of the 1849 Gold Rush. Her debut, middle grade novel Ollie Oxley and The Ghost comes out June 18, 2019.
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.