She received her BA and MAT from the University of Chicago and went on to teach high school English in both the suburbs of Chicago and the New York City Public Schools. After she left the classroom, she worked in education non-profits, helping to create more than seventy small high schools in New York City and fought to secure billions of dollars in public school funding throughout New York State.
Love, Hate, & Other Filters, Samira’s searing debut novel, marks the first time a Muslim author’s work of realistic fiction has ever appeared on the New York Times Bestseller list. Internment received six starred reviews; Entertainment Weekly called it a “terrifying, thrilling, and urgent” read. Samira’s work is often informed by her own encounters with racism, the alarming rise in hate crimes throughout the United States, and her steadfast belief in the power of hope and human connection. Learn more about her and her works at her official website!
Laura Packer is deeply committed to performing, coaching, teaching and facilitating storytelling for individuals and organizations. She believes that storytelling is among the most powerful means of human expression and connection; an effective tool for problem-solving and community building; and she strives to widen the world, build relationships and empower through story.
With over 25+ years workshop and teaching experience, her journey includes the National Council of Teachers of English; The Power of Words Conference; National Storytelling Conference; Massachusetts Institute of Technology; The Writers’ Place; New England Folk Festival; Northlands Storytelling Conference; Tejas Storytelling Conference; grades 4-12; colleges; public and private workshops for adults.
Co-Chair and Chair of Sharing the Fire 2000-2002 oldest storytelling conference in the U.S. Founder and host monthly storytelling series at Bestseller’s Bookstore in Medford, Massachusetts 1997-2007; host Story Lab at Club Passim 1997-2008; host Forever Blue Storytelling 2009-2010. Founder and host Speak Up, Kansas City; 2013-2014. Co-founder and co-host Liar’s Game, Minneapolis, 2017-2019. Self-produced several large storytelling events. Past board member of the National Storytelling Network; past board member for the League for the Advancement of New England Storytelling. Current board member of StoryArts of Minnesota
Author From Audience to Zeal: The ABCs of Finding, Crafting, and Telling a Great Story and The Five Critical Organizational Stories. She maintains several blogs including http://www.truestorieshonestlies.blogspot.com. Featured articles in Storytelling magazine; HearSay; Desmond Tutu Peace Foundation and others.
NicStone is an Atlanta native and a Spelman College graduate. After working extensively in teen mentoring and living in Israel for several years, she returned to the United States to write full-time.
Nic's debut novel for young adults, Dear Martin, was a New York Times bestseller and a William C. Morris Award finalist. She is also the author of the teen titles Odd One Out, a novel about discovering oneself and who it is okay to love, which was an NPR Best Book of the Year and a Rainbow Book List Top Ten selection, and Jackpot, a love-ish story that takes a searing look at economic inequality. Clean Getaway, Nic's first middle-grade novel, deals with coming to grips with the pain of the past and facing the humanity of our heroes. Her latest novel is a sequel to Dear Martin: Dear Justyce.
Tiffany D. Jackson is the author of the critically acclaimed, NAACP Image Award-nominated Allegedly, Monday's Not Coming, and the forthcoming Let Me Hear a Rhyme(HarperCollins/Katherine Tegen Books). A TV professional by day, novelist by night, she received her bachelor of arts in film from Howard University and her master of arts in media studies from the New School. A Brooklyn native, she is a lover of naps, cookie dough, and beaches, currently residing in the borough she loves, most likely multitasking. You can visit her online at www.writeinbk.com.
Alan Gratz is author of a number of novels for young readers. His first novel, Samurai Shortstop, was named one of the American Library Association’s Top Ten Best Books for Young Adults. His second novel, Something Rotten, was an ALA Quick Pick for Young Adult Readers. His first middle grade novel, The Brooklyn Nine, was one of the ALA’s Top Ten Sports Books for Youth and Top Ten Historical Books for Youth, and his middle grade Holocaust novel Prisoner B-3087 was one of YALSA’s Best Fiction for Young Readers and has won eight state awards. He is also the author of the YA thriller Code of Honor, a YALSA Quick Pick for Reluctant Readers, the middle grade historical thriller Projekt1065, and the League of Seven trilogy. Born and raised in Knoxville, Tennessee, home of the 1982 World’s Fair. After a carefree but humid childhood, Alan attended the University of Tennessee, where he earned a College Scholars degree with a specialization in creative writing, and, later, a Master’s degree in English education. He now lives with his wife Wendi and his daughter Jo in Asheville, North Carolina, where he enjoys playing games, eating pizza, and, perhaps not too surprisingly, reading books.
Michelle Cuevas graduated from Williams College and holds a master of fine arts degree in creative writing from the University of Virginia. She is the author of acclaimed picture book and national bestseller The Uncorker of Ocean Bottles (illustrated by Erin E. Stead), Smoot A Rebellious Shadow (illustrated by Sydney Smith), The Town of Turtle (illustrated by Catia Chien), and several children’s novels including The Care and Feeding of a Pet Black Hole, and Confessions of an Imaginary Friend. She lives in Western Massachusetts. Read more about Michelle at MichelleCuevas.com.
Erin Downy Howerton, MA, MSLIS manages youth services at the Advanced Learning Library in Wichita, Kansas. She has worked with young people since 2000 in both library and school settings and has presented and published about library collections, intellectual freedom, and technology topics concerning youth.
Jay Asher's debut YA novel, Thirteen Reasons Why, is a #1 New York Times and USA Today bestseller. In 2017, it was released as a Netflix original series. His second YA novel, The Future of Us, was co-authored with Printz-honor winner Carolyn Mackler. His third YA novel, What Light, was released in 2016. And, his first graphic novel, Piper, was released on Halloween in 2017. His books are published in 40 languages. Jay Asher tells about his journey. He says, "Stories take readers and writers to the most unexpected places."
Sam Weller, the award-winning, best-selling authorized biographer of legendary author Ray Bradbury illuminates the life of Bradbury, one of the 20th Century's most prolific and visionary creators. Weller spent an unprecedented amount of time working with Bradbury, author of numerous classics, including The Martian Chronicles and the 1953 classic Fahrenheit 451, a book that challenged the decline of intellectual culture in 1950s America. Weller drew parallels to the present day and challenged the educational status quo and municipal differences to the power of reading, writing, and the word. Sam Weller gained a singular insight into Bradbury's joyful approach to reading, writing, and creating. While Bradbury's formal education ended at high school, his discoveries into the creative process reverberate and connect to 21st-Century teachers and students.
Bill Konigsberg is the award-winning author of several books for young adults, including the highly praised Openly Straight and The Porcupine of Truth which won the 2016 Stonewall Book Award in the Young Adult category. Before he switched to full-time novel writing, Bill was an award-winning journalist who wrote extensively about the world of sports. Bill lives in Chandler, Arizona with his partner. Visit him at billkonigsberg.com and follow him on Twitter: @billkonigsberg
Stacy Whitman is the founder and publisher of Tu Books, an imprint of Lee & Low Books that publishes diverse middle grade and young adult fiction. Books she has edited include American Indian Youth Literature YA Award title Killer of Enemies by Joseph Bruchac, Perfect Liars by Kimberly Reid, and Summer of the Mariposas by Guadalupe Garcia McCall. In 2013, Stacy founded the New Visions Award, which honors a new unpublished writer of color. Stacy is a founding member of the CBC Diversity Committee and currently serves as a Publisher Liaison to We Need Diverse Books. She holds a master’s degree in children’s literature from Simmons College. Prior to launching Tu Books, she was an editor for Mirrorstone, the children’s and young adult fantasy/SF imprint of Wizards of the Coast. She has edited elementary school textbooks at Houghton Mifflin, interned at the Horn Book Magazine and Guide, and spent a brief stint in grad school working as a bookseller. You can find her on Twitter at @stacylwhitman.
Laura Packer knows that the best way to the truth is through a good story. Whether folktale or true, epic or flash, her stories captivate and amuse audiences in venues as varied as schools and theaters, assisted living facilities and arts festivals, private events and on the streets. Laura has told, taught, ranted, raved, consulted and considered storytelling around the world. When she isn’t telling, she runs venues, coaches, writes, and helps people and organizations find their stories, hone their vision and use their voices to make the world a better place. She is the winner of the 2010 National Storytelling Network Oracle Award and the 2012 League for the Advancement of New England Storytelling Brother Blue Award. For her story and more, go to www.laurapacker.com. For her blog go to www.truestorieshonestlies.blogspot.com. And to learn more about her organizational storytelling work go to www.thinkstory.com.
Jacqueline Woodson is the new Young People's Poet Laureate and the 2014 National Book Award Winner for her memoir in verse, Brown Girl Dreaming. The book also received a Newbery Honor, the NAACP Image Award, a Sibert Honor for nonfiction and was short-listed for the LA Times Book Prize. The author of thirty books for young adults, middle graders and children, she is also a four-time Newbery Honor winner, a three-time National Book Award finalist, and two-time Coretta Scott King Award winner. Her books include Hush, The Other Side, Each Kindness, Beneath a Meth Moon, the Caldecott Honor Book Coming On Home Soon, Feathers and Miracle’s Boys, which received the LA Times Book Prize and was adapted into a miniseries directed by Spike Lee. Jacqueline is also the recipient of the Margaret A. Edwards Award for lifetime achievement for her contributions to young adult literature, the winner of the Jane Addams Children's Book Award, and was the 2013 United States nominee for the Hans Christian Andersen Award. She lives with her family in Brooklyn, New York.
Sarah Bagby. As owner of Watermark Books & Café, Sarah Bagby is passionate about healthy communities and the state of the publishing industry. , Sarah serves on a number of industry boards, including the American Booksellers Association and the Alliance for Main Street Fairness. Watermark Books is Wichita’s premier independent bookstore, voted the city’s best by the Wichita Eagle in 2013, and has served the community for 37 years.
Dr. Howard Pitler, Ed.D. is the Chief Program Officer of McREL International. He joined McREL in 2003 as the Director of Educational Technology. Dr. Pitler served as McREL’s Director of Educational Technology, Senior Director of Field Services, and now as McREL’s Chief Program Officer. Prior to coming to McREL he spent 29 years in K-12 education as a teacher, assistant principal, elementary school principal, and middle school principal in Wichita, Kansas. Under his leadership, his elementary school was featured as an innovative program by WIRED Magazine, recognized as one of the Top 100 Schools in America by Redbook Magazine, and named an Apple Distinguished Program.
Taylor Mali is one of the most well-known poets to have emerged from the poetry slam movement and one of the original poets to appear on the HBO series “Def Poetry Jam.” A four-time National Poetry Slam champion, he is the author of two collections of poetry and a book of essays, “What Teachers Make: In Praise of the Greatest Job in the World.”In April of 2012, Mali completed a 12-year project of convincing 1,000 people to become teachers and marked the occasion by donating 12 inches of his hair to the American Cancer Society. Years ago he was the official voice of Burger King.