Leah Lakins is the founder and chief creative officer of Fresh Eyes Editorial Services. As an experienced editor and writer, she specializes in creating books and other non-fiction publications. She is a proud native of Baltimore, Maryland and an even prouder alumna of two of its finest institutions, Western Sr. High School and Morgan State University. She also holds a master’s degree in Publishing from The George Washington University. She is passionate about mentoring the next generation of content creators and empowering others to share their stories.
Gilbert Ford holds a BFA in illustration from Pratt Institute and an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults at Vermont College of Fine Arts. He lives and works in Brooklyn, NY where he has illustrated many New York Times bestselling middle grade novels and also award-winning picture books. He is the author/ illustrator of non-fiction picture books The Marvelous Thing That Came from a Spring and How the Cookie Crumbled. His debut middle grade novel he wrote and illustrated, entitled The Treasure Inside, will hit the shelves in 2020. His books have been selected by the Junior Library Guild, the Society of Illustrators’ Original Art Silver Medal, Bank Street Cook Prize Honor, Bank Street Irma Black Honor, Orbis Pictus Honor, NSTA Best Stem Book, and others.
Mariam Bazeed is an Egyptian immigrant, writer, and performance artist living in a rent-stabilized apartment in Brooklyn. An alliteration-leaning writer of prose, poetry, plays, and personal essays, Mariam received their MFA in Fiction from Hunter College in 2018. Mariam’s award-winning play, Peace Camp Org—available in anthology from Oberon Books, UK—has been presented at La Mama Theater, NYC (2017); the Arcola Theatre, London (2018); and The Wild Project, NYC (2018). To procrastinate from facing the blank page, Mariam curates and runs a monthly(ish) world-music salon and open mic in Brooklyn, and is a slow student of Arabic music.
Adelia Davis is a Detroit native who graduated from the University of Michigan Ann Arbor where she studied biopsychology, cognition, and neuroscience. She received the Wallenberg Fellowship that allowed her to carry out a global self-directed service project. She chose to spend a year in Cape Town, South Africa observing the similarities of black representation in children’s literature in comparison to the United States. She ran reading clubs and empowerment programs to promote a positive self-image in black youth in Cape Town, and has since returned to Detroit and begun similar youth programming around mentorship, storytelling, self-esteem, and literacy.
Matthew L. Thompson is a poet from Cleveland, Ohio, and an MFA candidate in Poetry at The New School. He wants his writing to fight, cry, moan, grieve, listen, shout, and be a varied and full communication of his interior. You can find his work in The Seventh Wave, Juked Poetry, James Franco Review, and elsewhere. He currently lives in Brooklyn, NY and is getting his life. Join him on his blog, Unlearning Monday.
Nina Crews has written and illustrated many energetic stories for young children including One Hot Summer Day, The Neighborhood Mother Goose and Below. She uses photographs and photo collages to create distinctive illustrations. Her work has been recognized by the ALA Notable Committee, Cooperative Children’s Book Council, Junior Library Guild, and Bank Street College of Education. Her latest book is Seeing Into Tomorrow: Haiku by Richard Wright. She lives in Brooklyn, New York, with her husband and son.
An Na (Chair) is the author of four novels, including The Place Between Breaths, The Fold, Wait for Me, and A Step from Heaven, which was a National Book Award Finalist and won the Michael L. Printz Award. Her honors include the International Reading Association Award and the Parents Choice Gold Award, and her books have been named as ALA Best Books for Young Adults and New York Times Notables. She teaches at Vermont College of Fine Arts in the Writing for Children and Young Adults MFA.
Megan Stockton is a poet and publisher living in Detroit, Michigan. She is a co-editor at Weekday, an annual literary journal, and is a member of Problem Press, a collaborative writing and publishing project. Stockton’s writing has appeared in Monster House Press, BigBig Wednesday, The Stool, Bearings: Works About Boundaries, Hypocrite Reader, and is forthcoming in Flint Magazine. She is currently working on her Masters of Creative Writing at Eastern Michigan University.
Lilliam Rivera is an award-winning writer and the author of children’s books including her latest young adult novel, Never Look Back (September 2020) by Bloomsbury. Her work has appeared in The Washington Post, New York Times, and Elle, to name a few. A Bronx, New York native, Lilliam currently lives in Los Angeles.