SCBWI

Society of
Children's Book Writers
and Illustrators

2021 Conference Faculty Bios

Austin SCBWI Writers & Illustrators Working Conference 2021

Learn about the faculty for the Austin SCBWI 2021 Writers & Illustrators Working Conference, listed below in alphabetical order.


Crystal Allen, Author
Crystal Allen is the author of five middle-grade books, all published by Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins. Her accolades include the 2018 SCBWI Sid Fleischman Humor Award for The Magnificent Mya Tibbs: The Wall of Fame Game; starred reviews from Publishers Weekly, Kirkus, and School Library Journal; inclusion on Kirkus Best Books and Chicago Public Library Best Books; and books on multiple summer reading and state book award lists, including the Texas Bluebonnet. She is a committee member of The Brown Bookshelf, Co-Director of Kindling Words East, and a speaker for numerous conferences, workshops and retreats. Her forthcoming book, Between Two Brothers, will release in the Fall of 2022. Crystal lives in Sugar Land, Texas with her husband, Reggie, and two sons, Phillip and Joshua.
Read our Q&A with Crystal


Crystal Allen
Crystal Allen


Karen Boss, Editor at Charlesbridge
Karen Boss is an editor at Charlesbridge. She holds an MA in Children’s Literature from Simmons University and is a mentor for their MFA program. Karen also has an MA in higher education administration and worked at colleges and in the nonprofit sector for 15 years. She edits fiction and nonfiction picture books, middle grade, and YA. Karen is really looking forward to travelling abroad again someday, and she misses planning “Auntie Karen adventures” for her four nieces (Sonia, 13; Sage, 10; Olive, 6; and Morgan, 3).
Read our Q&A with Karen


Karen Boss
Karen Boss


Kat Brzozowski, editor at Macmillan
Kat Brzozowski is a senior editor at Feiwel & Friends, an imprint of the Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group (MCPG). She joined MCPG after seven years at Thomas Dunne Books, a division of St. Martin’s Press, where she acquired and edited fiction and non-fiction for teens and adults. Kat is passionate about young adult fiction with complicated characters (especially female characters), and is drawn above all to a strong voice, realistic dialogue, and a great hook. For sci-fi and fantasy, she prefers stories that are rooted in our world but with a twist (more “Minority Report” than Star Wars). She’s also looking for non-fiction for teens and young adults that expose readers to new worlds and new points of view as well as timeless middle grade novels and clever, funny picture books.
Read our Q&A with Kat


Kat Brzozowski
Kat Brzozowski


Joanna Cárdenas, senior editor at Penguin Random House
Senior Editor Joanna Cárdenas has worked on such critically-acclaimed and award-winning books as The First Rule of Punk by Celia C. Pérez and Stand Up Yumi Chung by Jessica Kim. Joanna is co-founder of the Representation Matters Mentor Program for aspiring editors of color. In 2015, she was an honoree of Publishers Weekly’s Star Watch, which identifies book publishing talent making waves in the industry. She is looking for books across age categories, genres, and formats that center joy, creativity, and imagination; explore our roles as global citizens; use comedy to deconstruct big life questions and events; and celebrate romantic and platonic love. Follow her on Twitter: @joannananamc.
Read our Q&A with Joanna


Joanna Cárdenas
Joanna Cárdenas


Adrianna Cuevas, Author
Adrianna Cuevas is the author of The Total Eclipse of Nestor Lopez and Cuba in My Pocket. She is a first-generation Cuban-American originally from Miami, Florida. A former Spanish and ESOL teacher, Adrianna currently resides outside of Austin, Texas with her husband and son. When not working with TOEFL students, wrangling multiple pets including an axolotl, and practicing fencing with her son, she is writing her next middle grade novel.
Read our Q&A with Adrianna


Adrianna Cuevas
Adrianna Cuevas


Jenny Elder Moke, Author
Jenny Elder Moke writes young adult fiction in an attempt to recapture the shining infinity of youth. Her debut novel, HOOD, released in 2020 and was a JLG Selection, a Mayor’s Book Club selection, and received critical acclaim. Her new series kicks off in 2021 with CURSE OF THE SPECTER QUEEN. When she is not writing, she’s gathering story ideas from her daily adventures with her two irredeemable rapscallions and honing her ninja skills as a black belt in Tae Kwon Do. Jenny lives in Denver, CO with her husband and two children.
Read our Q&A with Jenny


Jenny Elder Moke
Jenny Elder Moke


Adria Goetz, agent at Martin Literary & Media Management
Adria Goetz is a literary agent with Seattle-based Martin Literary & Media Management. She specializes in picture books, middle grade, adult fiction, and graphic novels. She represents books for both the general market, and the Christian market. She graduated from the University of Washington with a Bachelor’s degree in English with a Creative Writing emphasis, as well as the Columbia Publishing Course. In 2019, she was selected as a 2019 Publishers Weekly Star Watch Honoree. She was recently proud to represent Taste Your Words by Bonnie Clark, The Ugly Doodles by Valeria Wicker, The Ocean Calls by Tina Cho, No Ordinary Thing by G.Z. Schmidt, and Halal Hot Dogs by Susannah Aziz. Adria lives in an old Victorian farmhouse with her husband Alex and their two darling cats, Maple and Mulberry. To learn more about Adria and what she is (and isn’t) looking for, check out her wish list at adriagoetz.com. She tweets at @adriamgoetz.
Read our Q&A with Adria


Adria Goetz
Adria Goetz


Susan Graham, agent at Einstein Literary
Susan Graham (they/them/theirs) joined Einstein Literary Management as an assistant in 2015 and now has a growing list of author and illustrator clients. They hold a Master’s Degree in Children’s Literature and a Master’s Degree in English from Simmons College. They currently live in Brooklyn with their two cats, appropriately named Chicken and The Crocodile.
Read our Q&A with Susan


Susan Graham
Susan Graham


Bethany Hegedus, Author
Bethany Hegedus’ children’s picture books include the award-winning Grandfather Gandhi and Be the Change: A Grandfather Gandhi Story, both co-written with Arun Gandhi (grandson of Mahatma Gandhi), as well Alabama Spitfire: The Story of Harper Lee and To Kill a Mockingbird, Rise!: From Caged Bird to Poet of the People: Dr. Maya Angelou, Hard Work But It’s Worth It: The Life of Jimmy Carter and most recenlty Huddle Up! Cuddle Up!–an ode to family, football and bedtime. She holds an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from VCFA, is the Founder and Creative Director of The Writing Barn, a writing retreat and workshop space in Austin, Texas and is host of the popular Courage to Create podcast.
Read our Q&A with Bethany


Bethany Hegedus
Bethany Hegedus


Britta Jensen, Author
Britta Jensen’s YA novel Eloia Born won the 2019 Writer’s League of Texas YA Discovery Prize. The sequel, Hirana’s War released last year. Many of her stories explore themes of persevering through disability, parental separation and the intersection of various cultures on new worlds. For the past sixteen years she has taught creative writing and edited books for both traditional and indie authors. She has received numerous awards for her innovative teaching of creative writing in New York City, South Korea and Germany. She enjoys mentoring writers and editing books with The Writing Consultancy and Yellow Bird Editors and is adjunct faculty at St. Edwards University.
Read our Q&A with Britta


Britta Jensen
Britta Jensen | Photo: Peter Domican


Jason June, Author
Jason June (it’s a two-name first name, like Mary-Kate without the hyphen or the Olsen twin) is a genderqueer writer mermaid who loves to create picture books that mix the flamboyantly whacky with the slightly dark, and young adult contemporary rom-coms full of love and lust and hijinks. When not writing, JJ zips about Austin, Texas. He loves dinosaurs, unicorns, Pomeranians, and anything magical that takes you to a different world or time. JJ is a tried and true Laura Dern stan, and he is actively looking for an Andalite friend. ​His picture books include WHOBERT WHOVER, OWL DETECTIVE, illustrated by Jess Pauwels, and PORCUPINE CUPID, a queer-inclusive Valentine’s Day story, illustrated by Lori Richmond, both from Margaret K. McElderry Books/Simon & Schuster. For under-the-sea whimsical adventures, check out the MERMICORN ISLAND chapter book series from Scholastic! And get ready for JAY’S GAY AGENDA, Jason June’s debut YA, queer rom-com, coming June 1, 2021 from HarperTeen!
Read our Q&A with Jason


Jason June
Jason June


Carol Kim, Author
Carol Kim is the author of several fiction and nonfiction books for kids. Before her children were born, she had a career in public policy, and specialized in environmental issues. Over time it became clear her favorite part of her jobs always involved any kind of writing. She finally wised up and embarked on a career as a writer and author instead. Carol enjoys researching and uncovering little-known facts and sharing what she learns with young readers. A second generation Korean American, she also loves creating stories that share Korean culture beyond kimchi and K-Pop. She lives in Austin, Texas with her family. Learn more at her website: CarolKimBooks.com.
Read our Q&A with Carol


Carol Kim
Carol Kim


Kari Lavelle, Author
As a writer and speech pathologist, Kari Lavelle loves words! Her debut picture book with illustrator Nabi H. Ali, We Move the World, published by HarperCollins, will be out in May 2021. She lives in Austin, Texas with her two children, two dogs, and one husband. Learn more about Kari and her books at karilavelle.com.
Read our Q&A with Kari


Kari Lavelle
Kari Lavelle


Véronique Lefèvre Sweet, associate art director at Little, Brown Books
Véronique Lefèvre Sweet is Associate Art Director in the picture book team at Little, Brown Books for Young Readers. She was born and raised in France, and has been working in publishing in New York City for nearly 16 years. She has art directed and designed a large variety of books from fiction to non-fiction picture books, chapter books, and middle grade, and has been fortunate to work with talented authors and artists including John Rocco, Tom Lichtenheld, Obert Skye, David McPhail, and Zachariah Ohora, among others. She loves collaborating with artists, and discovering new talent.
Read our Q&A with Véronique


Véronique Lefèvre Sweet
Véronique Lefèvre Sweet


LeUyen Pham, Author
LeUyen Pham is the award-winning and critically acclaimed illustrator of more than one hundred books for children. LeUyen (pronounced Lay-Win) is the New York Times bestselling illustrator of the Julianne Moore’s picture book series, Freckleface Strawberry, Kelly DiPucchio’s picture book Grace for President, and Shannon and Dean Hale’s middle grade series Princess in Black. LeUyen is also the illustrator of God’s Dream by Archbishop Desmond Tutu, the Alvin Ho series by Lenore Look, the Vampirina Ballerina picture book series by Anne Marie Pace, and The Boy Who Loved Math by Deborah Heiligman. Her more recent books include Caldecott Honor Book Bear Came Along by Richard Morris and her self-authored Outside, Inside, a recollection of our year in lockdown. LeUyen is the author and illustrator of Big Sister Little Sister, There’s No Such Thing as Little, A Piece of Cake, All the Things I Love About You, and The Bear Who Wasn’t There. She has also contributed to the Piggy and Elephant Like Reading! book series with her book The Itchy Book. She is also the co-creator, along with Shannon Hale, of the groundbreaking bestselling graphic memoirs Real Friends and Best Friends. Born in Vietnam, LeUyen and her family fled Vietnam in the final days of the Vietnam War. Growing up in Southern California, LeUyen always loved to doodle and draw, but her mother insisted she become a lawyer. For two years, LeUyen attended UCLA, where she majored in political science. Fortunately, the head of the art department spotted her artistic talent and helped her change course. LeUyen got an interview at the prestigious Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, won a scholarship to pay the tuition, and spent the next three years in an accelerated program and earned a degree in illustration. Following school, LeUyen worked as a layout artist for DreamWorks Feature Animation, and illustrated books on the side. Her first picture book was Can You Do This, Old Badger? and was written by Eve Bunting. These days, LeUyen lives in Los Angeles with her husband Alex (who is also an artist), and their two adorable sons, Adrien and Leo. She also has a cat named Sardine and a gecko named Kumquat. She adores traveling and speaking, but given her way would spend all her time making Star Wars-themed birthday cakes.
Read our Q&A with LeUyen


LeUyen Pham
LeUyen Pham


Jarrett Pumphrey, Author/Illustrator
Jarrett Pumphrey is an award-winning author and illustrator. He makes children’s books with his brother Jerome. Their author-illustrator debut, THE OLD TRUCK, received seven starred reviews and was named a “Best Book of 2020” by PW, Kirkus, The Horn Book, Booklist, BookPage, The Washington Post, NPR, Shelf Awareness, Amazon, and others. Their highly-anticipated follow-up, THE OLD BOAT, releases in 2021 from Norton Young Readers.
Read our Q&A with Jarrett


Jarrett Pumphrey
Jarrett Pumphrey


Jerome Pumphrey, Author/Illustrator
Jerome Pumphrey is an award winning author and illustrator. He is also a graphic designer for the Walt Disney Company. He makes children’s books with his brother Jarrett. Their author-illustrator debut, THE OLD TRUCK, received seven starred reviews and was named a “Best Book of 2020” by PW, Kirkus, The Horn Book, Booklist, BookPage, The Washington Post, NPR, Shelf Awareness, Amazon, and others. Their highly-anticipated follow-up, THE OLD BOAT, releases in March 2021 from Norton Young Readers.
Read our Q&A with Jerome


Jerome Pumphrey
Jerome Pumphrey


Vanessa Roeder, Author/Illustrator
Vanessa Roeder is an award-winning author—illustrator, a painter, and a crafty mess-maker. A former muralist, she now spends her time making books for children. Her work is created with layers of paper, acrylic paint, colored pencils, thread, trinkets, and a little bit of digital magic. In addition to making art, she loves teaching art, acting in plays, and speaking at schools, conferences, libraries, and bookstores any opportunity she gets. She lives in Austin, TX with her husband, three kids, and two hairy dogs who continually feed her ideas for the next story.
Read our Q&A with Vanessa


Vanessa Roeder
Vanessa Roeder


Kelly Starling Lyons, Author
Kelly Starling Lyons is an award-winning author, teaching artist and a founding member of The Brown Bookshelf. Her 17 titles for children span easy readers, picture books, chapter books, fiction, nonfiction, and series.They include Caldecott Honor winner Going Down Home with Daddy, Sing a Song: How Lift Every Voice & Sing Inspired Generations, Dream Builder: The Story of Architect Philip Freelon, Tiara’s Hat Parade and the Jada Jones and Ty’s Travels series. Find out more at www.kellystarlinglyons.com.
Read our Q&A with Kelly


Kelly Starling Lyons
Kelly Starling Lyons


Pat Zietlow Miller, Author
Pat Zietlow Miller knew she wanted to be a writer ever since her seventh-grade English teacher read her paper about square-dancing skirts out loud in class and said: “This is the first time anything a student has written has given me chills.” (Thanks, Mrs. Mueller! You rock!) Pat started out as a newspaper reporter and wrote about everything from dartball and deer-hunting to diets and decoupage. Then, she joined an insurance company and edited its newsletter and magazine. Now, she writes insurance information by day and children’s books by night. She has 11 picture books currently available and 11 more coming out over the next few years. Her picture book BE KIND was on the New York Times bestseller list for 10 weeks, and SOPHIE’S SQUASH won a Golden Kite Award, an Ezra Jack Keats New Writer Honor and a Charlotte Zolotow Honor. Pat has one wonderful husband, two delightful daughters and two pampered cats. She lives in Madison, Wisconsin. You can follow Pat on Twitter at @PatZMiller or on Instagram at @patzmill. She also blogs about children’s books with other kidlit creators at Picture Book Builders (www.picturebookbuilders.com)
Read our Q&A with Pat


Pat Zietlow Miller
Pat Zietlow Miller

Learn from these publishing professionals at the Austin SCBWI 2021 Writers & Illustrators Working Conference.