Keynote Speakers

Benjamin Alire SáenzBenjamin Alire Sáenz is an acclaimed writer for adults and teens. His novel Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe won a Printz Honor Award, the Pura Belpre, Lambda, and Stonewall Book Awards. Mr. Sáenz lives in El Paso, Texas. His most recent book, The Inexplicable Logic of My Life, was released in March and has already received three starred reviews.
Reshma SaujaniReshma Saujani, Founder and CEO, Girls Who Code; Author, Girls Who Code: Learn to Code and Change the World (Viking Books for Young Readers, August 2017)


Lunch Speaker

Barry LygaBarry Lyga is the author of several acclaimed young adult novels, including Bang, After the Red Rain, the “I Hunt Killers” trilogy, and his debut, The Astonishing Adventures of Fanboy and Goth Girl. Barry lives and writes in New Jersey. @barrylyga

Panelists & Moderators


Amy Rose CapettaAmy Rose Capetta studied theater at the Stella Adler Studio as a teenager before spending four years in a Shakespeare troupe. She holds a BA in Theater Arts from the University of California at Santa Cruz and an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts. Echo After Echo is her first book with Candlewick Press. She lives in Vermont.
Brandy ColbertBrandy Colbert was born and raised in the Ozarks and earned a bachelors degree in journalism from Missouri State University. Her debut novel, Pointe, won the 2014 Cybils Award for young adult fiction and was named a best book of 2014 by Publishers Weekly, BuzzFeed, Book Riot, the Chicago Public Library, and the Los Angeles Public Library. Her second novel, Little & Lion, will be released this August 8. Brandy lives in Los Angeles where she works as a copy editor for magazines and books. @brandycolbert
Katie GreenKatie Green is an author and illustrator living in the southwest of the UK. Katie grew up in the London suburbs and moved to Bristol in 2002 to study, where she stayed for 10 years and re-cultivated her love of drawing. She completed a degree in Biology before studying Sequential Illustration, graduating with first class honours in 2009.
Her graphic memoir, Lighter Than My Shadow, was a degree project that grew. The completed work, some 500 pages, took almost 5 years to complete and chronicles her descent into – and recovery from – disordered eating and sexual abuse. Katie now lives in Devon with her partner and their rescue dog, Jack.
Sandhya MenonSandhya Menon is the author of When Dimple Met Rishi. She was born and raised in India on a steady diet of Bollywood movies and street food, and blames this upbringing for her obsession with happily-ever-afters, bad dance moves, and pani puri. Now she lives in Colorado, where she’s on a mission to (gently) coerce her husband and children watch all 3,220 Bollywood movies she claims as her favorite. Visit her online at SandhyaMenon.com.
Tanya Lee StoneTanya Lee Stone has received many awards and honors for her books, including an NAACP Image Award for Courage Has No Color, a Robert F. Sibert Medal for Almost Astronauts, and a Golden Kite Award for The Good, the Bad, and the Barbie. Her articles and reviews have appeared in School Library Journal, the Horn Book Magazine, and the New York Times. She is best known for her passion for telling little-known or unknown true stories of people who have been missing from our histories. Stone went to Oberlin College and now teaches writing at Champlain College. You can find her online at tanyastone.com, on facebook.com/tanyastone, and on Twitter at @TanyaLeeStone.
Lisa WilliamsonLisa Williamson was born and grew up in Nottingham. She studied drama at Middlesex University and since graduating has worked as an actor on stage and TV. Between acting jobs Lisa temped in offices across London, typing stories when no one was looking, one of which eventually became her debut novel The Art of Being Normal. Lisa now lives in North London with her boyfriend.
Kelly JensenKelly Jensen is a former librarian turned editor for the Book Riot, the largest independent book website in North America. She is the editor of Here We Are: Feminism For the Real World, which has earned 5 starred reviews, strong reviews in the Chicago Tribune, the Washington Post, Teen Vogue, Bust Magazine and the Globe and Mail, and was selected as a Junior Library Guild title. Kelly has been writing about YA books, reading, and librarianship at her blog Stacked for over eight years, and she’s contributed to several additional books. When not writing or editing, Kelly is working toward her yoga teacher certification and offers workshops on writing creative nonfiction to teens.

Finding Refuge/Immigration

Melissa de la CruzMelissa de la Cruz is the #1 New York Times, #1 Publishers Weekly and #1 IndieBound bestselling author of novels for readers of all ages, including The Isle of the Lost and Return to the Isle of the Lost. Her books have topped the USA TODAY, Wall Street Journal and Los Angeles Times bestseller lists and have been published in more than twenty countries. Today she lives in Los Angeles and Palm Springs with her husband and daughter.
Alan GratzAlan Gratz is the acclaimed author of several books for young readers, including Prisoner B-3087, which was named to YALSA’s 2014 Best Fiction for Young Adults list; Code of Honor, a YALSA 2016 Quick Pick; Projekt 1065; and The Brooklyn Nine, which was among Booklist‘s Top Ten Sports Books. Alan lives in North Carolina with his wife and daughter. Look for him online at www.alangratz.com.
Marcus SedgwickMarcus Sedgwick was born and raised in Kent in South East England, but now lives in the French Alps. His books have won and been shortlisted for many awards; most notably, he has been shortlisted for Britain’s Carnegie Medal six times, has received two Printz Honors, for Revolver and The Ghosts of Heaven, and the 2014 Printz Award for Midwinterblood.
Ibi ZoboiIbi Zoboi was born in Port-au-Prince, Haiti and holds an MFA in Writing for Children & Young Adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts. Her writing has been published in The New York Times Book Review, the Horn Book Magazine, and The Rumpus, among others. Her debut novel, American Street, was published by Balzer + Bray, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers and has received five starred reviews. She now lives in Brooklyn with her husband, and their three young children. You can find her online at www.ibizoboi.net.
Marge PellegrinoAward-winning author and teaching artist Marge Pellegrino‘s essays, articles and poetry have been published in regional and national publications. All her children’s books are available in Korean and her early chapter book Too Nice is also published in Chinese, Polish and Arabic. Journey of Dreams won the Judy Goddard Award for young adult literature and was honored on nine lists including Smithsonian Notable Books, Southwestern Books of the Year 2009 and Américas Award Commended List, 2010. She is the Writer in Residence for the Pima County Public Library this summer and runs programming for the Owl & Panther expressive arts program.

Reaching Reluctant Readers

LJ AlongeLJ Alonge has played pick-up basketball in Oakland, Los Angeles, New York, Kenya, South Africa, and Australia. Basketball’s always helped him learn about his community, settle conflicts, and make friends from all walks of life. He’s never intimidated by the guy wearing a headband and arm sleeve; those guys usually aren’t very good. As a kid, he dreamed of dunking from the free-throw line. Now, his favorite thing to do is make bank shots. Don’t forget to call “bank!”
Michael CurrinderMichael Currinder grew up in Saint Louis, Missouri, where he ran track and cross-country, earning him a scholarship to the University of North Carolina–Chapel Hill. Running Full Tilt is Michael’s debut novel and is a hybrid of his collective experiences as a talented high school runner and his close, yet complicated, relationship with his older autistic brother. “Running became an outlet that eventually led me from soccer to cross-country to track. I still run today.” Michael is working on his second novel, set in Central America and focusing on a group of teens on a summer service learning trip. As things unravel they learn more about themselves and about what it’s like living in the developing world. Michael coaches high school track and middle school cross country at the American School in Tokyo, Japan. He has been an international educator for close to two decades, having lived in China, Taiwan, and the Philippines. Find Michael on Facebook at Facebook.com/mike.currinder.
Gina DamicoGina Damico is the author of Hellhole, Wax, and the grim-reapers-gone-wild books of the “Croak” trilogy. She has also dabbled as a tour guide, transcriptionist, theater house manager, scenic artist, movie extra, office troll, retail monkey, yarn hawker and breadmonger. A native of Syracuse, New York, she now lives in Los Angeles with her husband, two cats, one dog, and an obscene amount of weird things purchased from yard sales. Visit her website at www.ginadami.co.
Amy LukavicsAmy Lukavics lurks within the forested mountains of Prescott, Arizona, along with her husband and two precious squidlings. When she isn’t reading or writing creepy stories, she enjoys cooking, crafting, and playing many video games. She is the author of Daugters Unto Devils and The Women in the Walls.
Jason ReynoldsJason Reynolds is the author of the critically acclaimed When I Was the Greatest, for which he was the recipient of the Coretta Scott King/John Steptoe Award for New Talent; the Coretta Scott King Honor books The Boy in the Black Suit and All American Boys (cowritten with Brendan Kiely); As Brave As You, his middle grade debut; and National Book Award finalist Ghost, the first in a four-book series about kids on an elite track team. Jason recently moved to Washington, DC, but before that spent many years in Miles Morales’s very own Brooklyn, New York.
Kim TurrisiScreenwriter Kim Turrisi won a Daytime Emmy for her work on Venice: The Series and wrote for ABC Family’s webisode series Pretty Dirty Secrets, a companion to smash hit Pretty Little Liars. She lives outside Los Angeles, where she is director of special projects for the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. Just a Normal Tuesday ​is her debut novel.​
Allison DennyAllison Denny is a librarian at the Arlington Public Library and has worked in libraries in north Texas for five years. Her programming has supported community-wide reading, like summer reading club, author visits, and book clubs. She loves science fiction and is generally reading three or more books at a time.

Social Justice & Equity

Sarah CarrollSarah Carroll currently splits her time between a houseboat in Dublin and travel abroad. She recently returned from five years in Tanzania, where she founded and ran a hostel while working to support local community projects. She continues to promote ethical overseas volunteering through her blogs and films while planning her next book. The Girl in Between is her debut novel.
Dick LehrDick Lehr is the co-author, with Gerard O’Neill, of Black Mass, a New York Times bestseller about Boston crime boss Whitey Bulger. His most recent book is The Birth of a Movement, which Booklist deemed in a starred review “a remarkable look at the power of mass media and the nascent civil rights movement at a pivotal time in American history.” The book was adapted into a PBS documentary that aired on the network’s primetime show, Independent Lens, in February 2017. Dick Lehr is a former reporter for the Boston Globe and now teaches journalism at Boston University. He lives near Boston.
Lilliam RiveraLilliam Rivera is the author of The Education of Margot Sanchez and is a 2016 Pushcart Prize winner. She is a freelance writer with work in Tin House, the Los Angeles Times, and Latina, among others. Originally from the Bronx, New York, Lilliam now lives in Los Angeles with her family. Visit her at LilliamRivera.com.
Nic StoneNic Stone is a native of Atlanta and a Spelman College graduate. After working extensively in teen mentoring and living in Israel for a few years, she returned to the United States to write full-time. Dear Martin, her first novel, is loosely based on a series of true events involving the shooting deaths of unarmed African American teenagers. Shaken by the various responses to these incidents—and to the pro-justice movement that sprang up as a result—Stone began the project in an attempt to examine current affairs through the lens of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s teachings.
You can find her fangirling over her husband and sons on Twitter and Instagram at @getnicced or on her website nicstone.info.
Renée WatsonRenée Watson is the author of the teen novels, Piecing Me Together, which has received 4 starred reviews, This Side of Home, and two acclaimed picture books, Harlem’s Little Blackbird and A Place Where Hurricanes Happen. Her middle-grade novel, What Momma Left Me, debuted as an ABC New Voices Pick.
In the summer of 2016 Renée launched I, Too, Arts Collective, a nonprofit committed to nurturing underrepresented voices in the creative arts. She launched the #LangstonLegacy Campaign to raise funds to lease the Harlem brownstone where Langston Hughes lived and created during the last twenty years of his life. Her hope is to preserve the legacy of Langston Hughes and build on it by providing programming for emerging writers. She lives in New York City.
Hannah GómezHannah Gómez is a former school librarian and current adjunct faculty member at Emporia State University’s School of Library and Information Management. A former member of We Need Diverse Books, she is passionate about social justice and equity in the kidlit and YA world. In her free time, she is a fitness instructor, writer, and freelance editor. She is a PhD student in history and critical theory of children’s and adolescent literature at the University of Arizona. Visit her website at shgmclicious.com or on Twitter @shgmclicious.

How To

Erik BermanWhile some claim that he just never grew up, San José Public Library’s Teen Librarian, Erik Berman, likes to think he’s doing what he loves by helping teens learn, grow, and explore new technologies and ideas. In 2016 Erik worked with a group of local teens to design and build the TeenHQ, a brand new teen space complete with a fully functional recording studio, makerspace, and gamer lounge (an effort earning him a nod as a 2017 Library Journal Mover & Shaker). He is currently developing the Life Skills Academy program to teach essential life skills to teens.
Rosemarie BrockDr. Rose Brock is an assistant professor in the Library Science Department of the College of Education at Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, Texas. As a 20+ veteran educator, her passion and research interests focus on audiobooks, books for youth, library space planning, and programming. Dr. Brock is also the co-founder of GUYS LISTEN, part of the national literacy initiative GUYS READ. In 2014, The Texas Library Association awarded her with the Siddie Jo Johnson Award for Outstanding Library Service to Children in Texas. Rose has served on a number of national and state book awards committees and also freelances for several publishers where she creates educational marketing materials for books. In 2015, she helped launch the North Texas Teen Book Festival, winner of the 2017 ALA John Cotton Dana Award.
She can be found on Twitter and Insta @reallyrosebrock and her email is rosebrock@shsu.edu.
Lindsey TomsuLindsey Tomsu is the new Teen Librarian at the Algonquin Area Public Library District in Algonquin, IL. Previously, she created and lead a nationally-recognized Teen Advisory Board as the Teen Librarian at the La Vista Public Library in La Vista, NE, for eight years. When not working with teens, she is a historian who researches and writes about the cultural importance of youth series books.
Kristin TrevinoKristin Treviño is a teen services librarian at the Irving Public Library, coordinating YA collection development, programming and author visits. She is also the co-founder of the North Texas Teen Book Festival and co-host of the Adventures in YA podcast. If you can manage to peak past the massive stacks of books, journals, notebooks and papers on her desk, you will usually find Treviño designing a new teen booklist or flyer, while plotting yet another author visit or program idea. You can find her on twitter @kristin_trevino and Instagram @ktrevin0.
Amy WyckoffAmy Wyckoff works for Beaverton City Library in Beaverton, Oregon as the Youth Services Lead Librarian. She provides engaging programming for teens, tweens, and children and especially loves offering all things STEAM to help young people develop a love of these fields at an early age. She previously worked for Charlotte Mecklenburg Library for five years as a Teen Services Librarian and later the Manager of The Loft at ImaginOn. She graduated from the MLS program at Indiana University–Bloomington in 2008.
Dawn AbronDawn Abron is the Teen Services and Creative Space Coordinator at the Zion-Benton Public Library in Zion, IL. In addition to managing teen programming and collection development, Dawn co-created and manages her library’s makerspace. She has presented educational sessions focusing on teen programming at two ALA Annual conferences. You can find Dawn’s library programs at teenservicesdepot.wordpress.com.

On a Budget

James GiangregorioJames Giangregorio earned an MLIS from Florida State University in 2012 and has served as the Teen Services Coordinator for Virginia Beach Public Library (VBPL) since 2014. He oversees and coordinates teen programs and services across all 10 VBPL branches. He leads a system-wide Teen Services Team, working to ensure that teens have opportunities, programs, information and materials to help them meet lifelong learning, cultural and recreational goals. Some highlights of his tenure have been the creation of VBPL’s first teen library card and tripling participation in in the Teen Summer Reading program. In 2016, James was awarded the Up & Comer Award by the Virginia Library Association for innovations in service culture. His work in designing and implementing the Sphero Code Club after-school outreach to teens also contributed to VBPL receiving the Innovative Outreach Program award by the Virginia Public Library Directors Association.
Karen JensenKaren Jensen is the creator and administrator of Teen Librarian Toolbox, a School Library Journal networked blog. She is also the YA Coordinator for The Public Library of Mount Vernon and Knox County in Ohio.
Brian MayerBrian Mayer is a Gaming and Library Technology Specialist who works with 22 school districts across 5 counties in rural Western New York. He collaborates with classroom teachers and school librarians to incorporate games, game experiences and game design into the classroom to support state and national learning standards. Brian writes, speaks and provides workshops on the value and application of games in education and has authored several books and numerous articles on the subject. He is also the designer of the award-winning board game Freedom: The Underground Railroad and was named a 2015 Library Journal Mover & Shaker for his work utilizing games in education. You can learn more at http://brianmayer.games.
Liesl ToatesLiesl Toates is a Library Technology Specialist at the Genesee Valley Educational Partnership. She provides technology-related professional development and resources to teachers and school library media specialists, facilitates the distance learning program for students, and coordinates the Media Library. She annually organizes a Digital Media Festival for K-12 students in NYS, and has just finished her tenure as President of the New York State Educational Media and Technology Association. Most recently she has been developing escape room experiences, and maker and coding lessons for teachers and PreK-12 students.
Kristina HolzweissKristina A. Holzweiss is a middle school media specialist on Long Island, New York. She shares ideas and resources about her school library and makerspaces on her website bunheadwithducttape.com. Kristina was named the School Library Journal Librarian of the Year in 2015. She is also the winner of the 2015 NYSCATE Lee Bryant Outstanding Teacher Award and 2015 Long Island Technology Summit Fred Podolski Leadership and Innovation Award. Kristina was also selected by the National School Board as a 2016 – 2017 “20 to Watch” emerging education technology leader.