A Mexican American author, filmmaker and youth literacy activist, Trujillo grew up in impoverished small-town Mathis, Texas with an adopted, Caucasian family riddled with addictions and abuse. Trujillo has since converted those turbulent times to artistic accolades, penning a number of books for teens and children, most notably the Fat Angie series, an ALA Award winner and Choose to Read Ohio selection, and Prizefighter en Mi Casa, a Parents’ Choice Silver Honor winner. Their first picture book, Lupe Lopez: Rock Star Rules, co-authored with NYT bestseller Pat Zietlow Miller, illustrated by award-winner Joe Cepeda, released June 2022 with three more books to follow. Off the page, Trujillo is the co-founder of the nonprofit Never Counted Out whose mission is to offer books and creative mentorship to at-promise youth. eecharlton-trujillo.com
is an award-winning Texas-based author, youth activist, and former educator. As youth activist, she co-founded the nonprofit Never Counted Out to bring book access and creative mentorship to young people around the country. As a veteran educator, she coordinated youth empowerment programs such as Challenge Day and conflict resolution - both designed to give students a deeper understanding of the social and emotional well-being of themselves and those around them. Gia is passionate about creating safe spaces for young people to find and use their creative voice. www.giagordonwrites.com/
Creative Content Director
is the Coretta Scott King honor-winner of Yummy: The Last Days of a Southside Shorty, and Ghetto Cowboy. Ghetto Cowboy, adapted as Concrete Cowboy starring Idris Elba, debuted at #1 on Netflix in 2021. His books have been translated in over 25 countries. They include Tru & Nelle, Grand Theft Horse, Hello, I'm Johnny Cash, and Chess Rumble. In 2017, he was awarded the first of two National Science Foundation grants that sent him to Antarctica which has inspired two forth coming books for middle graders.
Creative Content Strategist / Mental Health
A.S. King has been called “One of the best Y.A. writers working today” by the New York Times Book Review and in 2022, she received the Margaret A. Edwards Award for her significant and lasting contribution to young adult literature. She is the author of many award-winning YA novels, most notably, Michael L. Printz award-winning Dig., and L.A Times Book Prize-winning Ask the Passengers and notable middle grade novels, including the upcoming Attack of the Black Rectangles. She is a faculty member of the Writing for Children and Young Adults MFA program at Vermont College of Fine Arts and spends many months of the year traveling the world speaking about the power of story to high school and university students, educators, and humans who care about the mental health of young people. Learn more at www.as-king.com
Creative Content Strategist
Born and raised in Brooklyn, Torrey grew up in the Red Hook housing projects. He has been a teacher for New York City public schools for nearly 25 years and his fast-paced, compelling stories are inspired by his and his students’ experiences. His popular novels for young readers include What Lane?, which garnered many starred reviews and was cited by Oprah and the New York Times for being an essential book to discuss racism and allyship; Tight, which won the Christopher Award, was an ALA Notable Book, and an NPR and Washington Post Best Book of the Year; and his very first novel, Secret Saturdays which has been in print for over ten years. Learn more at: torreymaldonado.com
Creative Content Stategist
Andrew Smith is the author of several novels for young adults and middle graders, including Winger, Stand-Off, 100 Sideways Miles, and the Michael L. Printz Honor Book Grasshopper Jungle. He lives in a remote area in the mountains of Southern California with his family, two horses, two dogs, and three cats. He doesn’t watch television, and occupies himself by writing, bumping into things outdoors, and taking ten-mile runs on snowy trails.
Gilly grew up in Florida, spent her college years in Israel, and now calls Georgia home. Gilly is co-author, with Kimberly Jones, of the New York Times bestselling, NAACP Image Award nominated I'm Not Dying with You Tonight, as well as the Sydney Taylor Notable Book Why We Fly. Her forthcoming novel, Captain Marvel: Shadow Code, is due out in 2023. In her other life, she is Chief Legal Officer for an advertising agency. When not writing, Gilly enjoys cheering on the Tampa Bay Lightning, exploring Decatur with her three kids, and sampling flavors of French macarons. Visit gillysegal.com for more.
Director of Development
Elly Swartz is the acclaimed author of five middle grade novels. Swartz’s books reflect her commitment to raising awareness about mental health and have been referred to as “toolkit for kid’s hearts.” Her debut novel, Finding Perfect, was named one of the Best Children’s Books About Mental Health by the Child Mind Institute and her most recent book, Dear Student was named to Publishers Weekly 2022 Children’s Books for Mental Health Awareness. Swartz studied psychology at Boston University and received her JD at Georgetown University School of Law. She travels the country meeting with thousands of students each year to empower their own personal narrative. Swartz resides in Massachusetts. Connect with her at ellyswartz.com.
Jo Umans is the founder and former Executive Director of Behind The Book, a literacy organization that develops engaged readers and writers in underserved NYC public schools by designing and delivering programs that are multidisciplinary, culturally responsive, and promote deeper connections to books and heir authors. Previously, she worked in television production for 20 years as a script supervisor and associate director on all kinds of shows including news, sitcom, comedy, variety, and music. For the last five years of her tv career, she was also a part-time school librarian, and ran a visiting-author program at a Manhattan school which inspired her to found Behind the Book. Jo recently left Behind the Book, after 20 years, to pursue new adventures.
Morgan Jackson (Discussion Director) is a high school English teacher in Las Vegas, Nevada. She serves on the Amelia Elizabeth Walden Book Award committee, and chairs ALAN’s Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion committee. She has presented at ALAN and UNLV’s Summit on the Research and Teaching of Young Adult Literature of Young Adult Literature. Morgan is passionate about reading and YA literature. Most of her writing centers around the importance of equitable representation of cultures and identities in YA texts. She is currently pursuing a doctoral degree in Curriculum and Instruction, focusing on literacy.
Pat Zietlow Miller
the NYT bestselling author of 23 books for children. After years of working in communications in corporate America, Pat pivoted to writing full-time for children as well as fostering literacy opportunities in Wisconsin. A frequent speaker at conferences, book events, and libraries, Miller’s love of story and the impact it has on communities makes her one of the best creators in the picture book industry. Her book, Sophie’s Squash, won an Ezra Jack Keats new author honor, a Charlotte Zolotow honor and the Golden Kite Award. Her books Be Kind and Be Strong have been used in classrooms across the country to teach social and emotional learning concepts.
T. Bartlett lives in the Cincinnati area where she works as a fine-art photographer and freelance writer (specializing in marketing and business development). She has a lifelong love of creative writing, specifically poetry, some of which has been published in Studio Kroner's Anthropocene: Poetry about Environment, SOS Art’s For a Better World 2020, 2021, and 2022, Kentucky State Poetry Society’s Pegasus, and The Voices Project.