Society of
Children's Book Writers
and Illustrators

2022 SCBWI Ohio North Conference: Faculty

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2022 Conference Faculty

We are so excited to share the fantastic faculty assembled for the 2022 SCBWI Ohio North conference! This year’s conference will feature both on-site conference faculty and off-site critique faculty. 






Kirk Benshoff, Associate Creative Director, First Second Books/Macmillian (he/him/his)

Kirk Benshoff is a Graphic Designer/Associate Creative Director at Macmillan managing the design department for First Second and handling the graphic novels for Farrar, Straus and Giroux, Roaring Brook Press, Holt, and Feiwel and Friends. His experience spans over twenty years designing comics, trade books, magazines, logos, illustrations, websites, and more. He’s worked on books like DRAGON HOOPS by Gene Yang, SHUNA’S JOURNEY by Hayo Myazaki, STUCK RUBBER BABY by Howard Cruze. Kirk manages a dream team of designers and works with some of the most talented sequential art creators in the world. He also actively designs and art directs his own projects as well. Kirk’s goal is to perfect the graphic novel workflow to allow creators the most freedom in creating their comics while maintaining a predictable structure for the publisher, keeping costs to a minimum, moral high, and a deep focus on quality. Kirk’s approach centers around author care, determining objectives, “Proof of Concept” pages to flesh out the details, staying on or under budget, on time, all while having fun making the books. He lives in Brooklyn with his wife and two children who keep stealing his comics.

Kirk’s Conference Sessions: 

Comics: Industry Overview and Recommended Workflow and Best Practices (Saturday Breakout)

Expand Your Thinking for Comic Stories (Saturday Breakout)

Kirk’s Critique Preferences:

Kirk will critique illustrator portfolios and accept post-conference submissions.


Orlando Dos Reis, Editor, Scholastic (he/him)

Orlando Dos Reis is an editor at Scholastic, acquiring primarily middle-grade and young adult fiction, and was a PW Star Watch 2019 honoree. He got his B.A. in creative writing from Virginia Tech and his M.A. in English with a concentration in literature for children and young adults from Kansas State University. Orlando began his career in publishing at Abrams before moving to Scholastic. He lives in New York City. Examples of books Orlando has acquired and edited include TARNISHED ARE THE STARS and FIRE BECOMES HER by Rosiee Thor, as well as THE HAUNTING by Lindsay Duga.

Orlando’s Conference Sessions:

Editor’s Perspective on the Journey to Publication (Saturday Breakout)

The Editor/Agent Relationship with Agent Saba Sulaiman (Saturday Lunch Panel)

Orlando’s Critique Preferences:

Orlando will critique middle grade and young adult. Orlando will accept post-conference submissions.


Becky Gehrisch, Author/Illustrator & Executive Director at Bookling Media (she/her)

Becky Gehrisch is the founder and Executive Director of Bookling Media, an independent press redefining the kidlit publishing industry, book by book! Bookling Media focuses on picture books created by author-illustrators. Becky has an art degree from The Ohio State University. She has served as the Illustrator Coordinator for the Central and Southern Ohio SCBWI chapter. Since Bookling Media’s start in 2020, Becky has built and led the team through the publication of their premiere title and is now focusing on maturing the company’s supply chain and distribution capabilities.

Becky Gehrisch’s Conference Session:

The Myths and Truths of Independent Publishing: Sorting Out Facts from Fiction with Author Florenza Lee  (Saturday breakout panel)

Becky’s Critique Preferences:

Becky will critique picture book manuscripts, dummies, art portfolios, and accept post-conference submissions from author-illustrators.


Mallory Grigg, Senior Art Director, Macmillian Children’s Publishing Group (she/her)

Mallory Grigg is an award-winning art director and designer who started her career at Penguin Random House before moving on to Simon & Schuster, HMH, Alloy Entertainment, and Cider Mill Press. Now she is a Senior Art Director at Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group in New York City. She has lectured at SCBWI, CBIG, the Highlights Foundation, and universities across the country. When she’s not making books, she’s reading them, writing, painting, boxing, and playing fetch with her rescue pup, Birdie. 

Mallory’s Conference Sessions:

Discover Your Publishing Niche: Unpacking Formats, Defining Categories, and Figuring Out Just How You Fit In (Saturday Breakout)

Art Director Panel with Kirk Benshoff (Saturday lunch panel)

Mallory’s Critique Preferences:

Mallory will critique illustrator portfolios and will receive post-conference postcard mailings.


Elizabeth Law, Senior Editor, Holiday House (she/her)

In college, Elizabeth Law dreamed of becoming a children’s book editor, and so she moved to New York upon graduation and did just that. She worked at Viking Children’s Books for 18 years, starting as an Editorial Assistant and rising to Associate Publisher, then at Simon & Schuster and Egmont USA as Publisher before holding her current position at Holiday House as Senior Editor of Backlist and Special Projects. Elizabeth has a soft spot for contemporary middle grade and young adult fiction in particular, such as debut novelist Polly Farquhar’s Itch or Dan Gutman’s Houdini and Me. She also likes anything funny or scary, and picture books on unusual or interesting topics. Finally, she always has a soft spot for doll and dollhouse books. She runs a freelance editorial business on weekends at, and tweets a lot about the children’s books @elawreads.

Elizabeth’s Conference Sessions:

Participatory Picture Book Workshop Intensive Featuring Your Work-in-Progress (Friday afternoon; Conference add-on)

Give ‘Em The Hook! Mastering the Crucial Skill of Getting an Editor or Agent’s Attention: Picture Book Edition  (Saturday breakout)

Give ‘Em The Hook! Mastering the Crucial Skill of Getting an Editor or Agent’s Attention: Middle Grade Edition  (Saturday breakout)

Elizabeth’s Critique Preferences:

Elizabeth will critique picture books, middle grade, young adult, nonfiction, and illustrator portfolios. Elizabeth will accept post-conference submissions.


Florenza Denise Lee, Author (she/her)

Florenza Lee is the author of interactive, engaging Children’s books focusing on Social Emotional Learning. She is also a publisher, narrative coach, speaker, radio talk show host, Master Storyteller, wife, and mother. She is a proud member of SCBWI, REACH, Inc., IBPA, InScribe Digital, AALBC. She graduated from Ashford University and is currently enrolled at Grand Canyon University. Florenza and her husband, CSM (Ret US Army) Trefus Lee, have been married for nearly 38 years and reside in Chagrin Falls, Ohio. Their daughters, Jessica and Missy, call Las Vegas, Nevada, and Chagrin Falls, Ohio home. Florenza has published sixteen children’s books under her given name and several under her pen name. Several of her titles are available on Epic which serves over fifty million school age readers. Find out more at

Florenza’s Conference Session: 

The Myths and Truths of Independent Publishing: Sorting Out Facts from Fiction with Author-Illustrator Becky Gehrisch (Saturday breakout panel)

Florenza’s Critique Preferences:

Florenza will offer critiques. Details coming soon!


Miranda Paul, Author & Agent, Erin Murphy Literary Agency (she/her)

Miranda Paul is an award-winning author of more than a dozen fiction and nonfiction books for children. She has received starred reviews and Junior Library Guild distinction for several titles, including One Plastic Bag, Water is Water, I Am Farmer, Nine Months, and Little Libraries, Big Heroes. Her book, Whose Hands Are These? was an ILA Teacher’s Choice and her edited poetry collection, Thanku: Poems of Gratitude, was a 2020 ALA Notable title. She is a co-founding member of We Need Diverse Books and a literary agent with Erin Murphy Literary Agency. More at and

Miranda’s Conference Sessions:

Nonfiction of Now:  Tackling Contemporary Subjects in Kidlit (Friday Intensive; Conference add-on)

Ask the Agent (Saturday Breakout)

Nonfiction Picture Books of Now: Tackling Contemporary Subjects (Saturday Breakout)

Miranda’s Critique Preferences:

Miranda will critique picture books, middle grade, young adult, nonfiction, and illustrator portfolios. Miranda will accept post-conference submissions.



justin a. reynolds, Author (he/him)

justin a. reynolds has always wanted to be a writer. Opposite of Always, his debut YA novel, was an Indies Introduce Top Ten Debut, a School Library Journal Best Book of 2019, translated in 19 languages, is being developed for film by Paramount Players, and was recently adapted into a popular Webtoon. His second YA novel, Early Departures, published to critical acclaim and was a Kirkus Reviews Best of 2020. His debut middle grade graphic novel, Miles Morales: Shock Waves was an Indie bestseller. justin is also the co-founder of the CLE Reads Book Festival, a Cleveland Book Festival for middle-grade and young adult writers. But, of course, the highlight of his literary career was the featured appearance of his debut middle grade novel It’s the End of the World and I’m in My Bathing Suit in the prestigious Scholastic Book Fair catalog. For more information visit justin’s website.

justin’s Conference Sessions:

The Anatomy of Story (Friday Intensive; Conference add-on)

The Voice In Your Head (Saturday breakout)

Unflatten Your Character (Saturday breakout)

Our Creative Journey is Not One Size Fits All (Saturday Closing Keynote)


Blythe Russo, Author-Illustrator (she/her)

Blythe Russo is an author-illustrator currently living just outside Cincinnati, Ohio. When she’s not drawing, you can find her sewing, building puppets, or in the kitchen on a never-ending quest for the perfect chocolate chip cookie recipe. You can visit her at

Tricia Springstubb, Author (she/her)

Tricia Springstubb is the award-winning author of picture books, a chapter book series, and many middle grade novels.  Tricia’s latest middle grade novel, The Most Perfect Thing in the Universeis a Junior Library Guild Gold Standard selection. Her most recent picture book, Khalil and Mr Hagerty and the Backyard Treasures, is an ALA Notable Book; Readers Digest called it one of the hundred best books for children ever written. A frequent speaker at schools, libraries and conferences, she lives and works in Cleveland Heights. More information about Tricia and her books is available at

Tricia’s Conference Sessions:

On the Cusp: Writing the Middle Grade Novel (Friday Intensive; conference add-on)

Where Have You Been? Where Are You Going? The Power of Place in Fiction (Saturday breakout)

Tricia’s Critique Preferences:

Tricia will critique picture books and middle grade.



Saba Sulaiman, Agent, Talcott Notch Literary Services (she/her/hers)

Saba Sulaiman is an agent at Talcott Notch Literary Services, a boutique agency located in Milford, CT. She holds a BA in Economics and Middle Eastern Studies from Wellesley College and an MA from the University of Chicago, where she studied modern Persian literature. Being an immigrant who is constantly negotiating her own identity and sense of belonging in a place she now calls “home,” she is committed to championing books by writers from marginalized communities with compelling stories to tell; stories that demonstrate the true range of perspectives that exist in this world, and address urgent and often underexplored issues in both fiction and non-fiction with veracity and heart. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram @agentsaba and learn more about her at 

Saba’s Conference Sessions:

Tackling (and Surviving!) the Query Trenches (Saturday breakout)

The Editor/Agent Relationship with Editor Orlando Dos Reis (Saturday Lunch Panel)

Saba’s Critique Preferences:

Saba will critique picture books, middle grade, young adult, and all nonfiction. Saba will accept post conference submissions.


Andrea Wang, Author (she/her/hers)

(Photo credit: Elaine Freitas Photography)

Andrea Wang is a double 2022 Ohioana Book Award finalist and has been described by the Ohioana Library Association as “one of America’s most acclaimed authors of children’s books.” Her book Watercress was awarded the Caldecott Medal, a Newbery Honor, the Asian/Pacific American Award for Literature, and a Boston Globe-Horn Book Honor. Her other books, The Many Meanings of Meilan, Magic Ramen, and The Nian Monster, have also received awards and starred reviews. Her work explores culture, creative thinking, and identity. Andrea holds an M.S. in Environmental Science and an M.F.A. in Creative Writing for Young People. She lives in Colorado with her family.

Andrea’s Conference Sessions:

Do the Thing that Scares You: Taking Risks to Forge Connections (Saturday Opening Keynote)

Think Outside the Arc: Non-traditional Plot Structures in Picture Books (Saturday Breakout)

Andrea’s Critique Preferences:

Andrea will critique fiction and nonfiction picture books and fiction middle grade. (Andrea is not the best fit for rhyming picture books or novels in verse.)




Maria Barbo, Executive Editor, HarperCollins Children’s Books (she/her)

Maria Barbo kicked off her editorial career at Scholastic Inc. and is currently an Executive Editor with HarperCollins Children’s where she acquires high-concept books and series for young readers of all ages and generates ideas for new series and publishing programs. When not editing or reading, she can be found agility-training with her pup, biking toward the ocean, or painting in a small corner of her NYC apartment.

Maria’s Critique Preferences:

Maria will critique fiction and nonfiction picture books, as well as middle grade fiction with a special interest in humor, magic, and adventure. Maria also loves middle-grade contemporary realistic with an authentic voice. Her tastes for both middle-grade and picture books tend toward commercial, funny, and uplifting rather than poignant, touching, or tough topics. Maria is also happy to also review illustrator portfolios (for written critiques only).


Winsome Bingham, Editor, Reycraft Books (she/her)

Winsome Bingham is a soul food connoisseur and master cook (at dinner parties, reunions, and get-togethers). She is a teacher by trade, an author and editor by choice, and a disabled military veteran by circumstance. She received both bachelor’s and master’s degrees in education and an MFA in Writing For Children and Young Adults. She has more than 15 years of teaching experience. You can find her editing on a deck while waiting patiently with a camera to capture a submarine shooting out of the water. She’s always acquiring manuscripts written with musicality and cadence.

Winsome’s Critique Preferences and Timeslots

Winsome will critique fiction and nonfiction picture books, early transitional chapter books, and middle grade. She will accept post-conference submissions.

Winsome’s Zoom critiques are available on:

Wednesday, September 21, 6:15 pm – 6:30 pm eastern
Wednesday, September 21, 6:35 pm – 6:50 pm eastern
Wednesday, September 21, 7:00 pm – 7:15 pm eastern
Wednesday, September 21, 7:20 pm – 7:35 pm eastern
Wednesday, September 21, 7:40 pm – 7: 55 pm eastern


Jemiscoe (Jem) Chambers-Black, Associate Agent, Andrea Brown Literary Agency (she/her)

Before Jemiscoe “Jem” Chambers-Black joined Andrea Brown Literary Agency in 2020, she was an assistant director for film and television. Her love for books prevailed, and she went back to school to study English Literature and creative writing in fiction and earned her MFA. She represents adult fiction, YA, MG, picture book authors (by referral only), and illustrators.

Jem’s Critique Preferences and Timeslots:

Jem will critique middle grade, young adult, and illustrator portfolios.

Jem’s Zoom critiques are available on:

Tuesday, September 20, 5:30 pm – 5:45 pm eastern

Tuesday, September 20, 5:50 pm – 6:05 pm eastern

Tuesday, September 20, 6:10 pm – 6:25 pm eastern

Wednesday, September 21, 5:00 pm – 5:15 pm eastern

Wednesday, September 21, 5:20 pm – 5:35 pm eastern



Connor Danilson, Editorial Assistant, HarperCollins (she/her)

Connor Danilson is an editorial assistant at HarperCollins, where she’s worked for more than two years editing a wide range of formats, including picture books, board books, early readers, and a variety of novelty formats. She worked on Ty’s Travels: Zip, Zoom! written by Kelly Starling Lyons and illustrated by Niña Mata which won a Geisel Honor and Gigi and Ojiji by author/illustrator Melissa Iwai which received two starred reviews. Connor interned at top children’s literary agencies and scouting agencies. She has a certificate in Basic Manuscript Editing from The University of Chicago, a MA in Creative and Cultural Industries from King’s College London, and an undergraduate degree from the University of St Andrews in Scotland. Follow Connor on Instagram @connor_edits_books.

Connor’s Critique Preferences and Timeslots

Connor will critique picture book and board book manuscripts. She’s interested in seasonal stories; humor; environmental concerns; diverse representation; quirky fun; social emotional learning; neurodiversity; and deaf culture.

Connor’s Zoom critiques are available on:

Tuesday, September 20, 1:00 pm – 1:15 pm eastern
Tuesday, September 20, 1:20 pm – 1:35 pm eastern
Wednesday, September 21, 12:00 pm – 12:15 pm eastern
Wednesday, September 21, 12:20 pm – 12:35 pm eastern
Wednesday, September 21, 12:40 pm – 12:55 pm eastern


Andrea Hall, Senior Acquisitions Editor, Beaming Books (she/her)

Andrea Hall is a Senior Acquisitions Editor with Beaming Books. She is passionate about stories that reflect real life, showcase underrepresented people or events, and stories with a social/emotional focus.  A few of her recent acquisitions include THE POSTCARD PROJECT by Maggie Lauren Brown, SOMETIMES SHY by Julie Bliven, FLIPFLOPI by Linda Ravin Lodding and Dipesh Pabari, and ONE SMALL THING by Marsha Diane Arnold. Andrea holds a BA in English/creative writing from Miami University in Ohio. She is also the author of She’s on the Money. Follow her on Twitter: @andreadonall.

Andrea’s Critique Preferences 

Andrea is providing written critiques only. She will critique fiction and nonfiction picture books, as well as nonfiction for older readers. She will accept post-conference submissions.



Carina Licon, Editorial Assistant, Henry Holt Books for Young Readers (she/her)

Carina Licon grew up in a border town in West Texas and now lives in Brooklyn, New York with her 8-pound guard dog. Carina began her publishing career as an Editorial Intern at St. Martin’s Press before becoming an Editorial Assistant at MTV Books. She is very happily now an Editorial Assistant at Holt BFYR, focusing on acquiring books that lift a mirror to the experiences of diverse children and young adults who feel big things–love, grief, joy, and everything between.

Carina’s Critique Preferences and Timeslots

Carina will critique picture books, middle grade, and young adult. She is open to critiquing anything but enjoys contemporary, the spooky and atmospheric, mystery, grounded fantasy, intergenerational BIPOC stories, romance with lots! of! angst!, and stories about mental health. (She is not a best fit for in-verse or complex, high fantasy novels.)

Carina’s Zoom critiques are available on:

Tuesday, September 20, 12:00 pm – 12:15 pm eastern
Tuesday, September 20, 12:20 pm – 12:35 pm eastern
Tuesday, September 20, 4:00 pm – 4:15 pm eastern
Tuesday, September 20, 4:20 pm – 4:35 pm eastern
Tuesday, September 20, 4:40 pm – 4:55 pm eastern


Jenny Ly, Assistant Editor, HarperCollins Children’s (she/her)

Jenny Ly is an assistant editor at HarperCollins Children’s. She edits a variety of picture books, middle grade, young adult, and licensed programs like The Smurfs. She has worked with authors and illustrators like Beatrice Alemagna, Elise Gravel, M-E Girard, and Merrill Rainey. She assisted on the #1 NYT bestseller Strange Planet: the Sneaking, Hiding, Vibrating Creature by Nathan Pyle. Before joining HarperCollins, she was an indie bookseller in California. Jenny is seeking funny, whimsical picture books and contemporary MG and YA, with an emphasis on diverse voices.

Jenny’s Critique Preferences and Timeslots

Jenny will critique picture books, middle grade, young adult, and nonfiction. She is specifically interested in middle grade. She will accept post-conference submissions.

Jenny’s Zoom critiques are available on:

Thursday, September 22, 7:10pm – 7:25 pm eastern
Thursday, September 22, 7:35 pm – 7:50 pm eastern
Thursday, September 22, 8:00 pm – 8:15 pm eastern

Friday, September 23, 12:35 pm-12:50 pm eastern
Friday, September 23, 1:00 pm-1:15 pm eastern


Sarah Rockett, Senior Editor, Sleeping Bear Press (she/her)

Sarah Rockett is a senior editor with Sleeping Bear Press, specializing in picture books. She’s worked with seasoned, award-winning authors, as well as new authors on their first books. Sarah loves a good story well-told and lives in Michigan with her family. 

Sarah’s Critique Preferences and Timeslots

Sarah will *critique picture books and is interested in bios/history, humor, nature/environment, and joy. *(Sarah will accept post-conference submissions only from conference participants who sign-up for one of her critiques.)

Sarah’s Zoom critiques are available on:

Monday, September 19, 12:00 pm – 12:15 pm eastern
Monday, September 19, 12:20 pm – 12:35 pm eastern

Tuesday, September 20, 7:15 pm – 7:30 pm eastern
Tuesday, September 20, 7:35 pm – 7:50 pm eastern
Tuesday, September 20, 7:55 pm – 8:10 pm eastern


Parrish Turner, Editorial Assistant, HarperCollins (he/him)

Parrish Turner hails from Georgia. Turner’s work has been featured on Buzzfeed, Slate, Culture Trip, Gertrude PressThe Rumpus, and more. He was a 2014 Lambda Literary Fellow and received his MFA from The New School in 2017.  As a lover of children’s literature, he is especially excited about helping young readers discover new parts of the world they have yet to encounter. He is out of Brooklyn and is always on the lookout for a great cup of tea. 

Parrish’s Critique Preferences and Timeslots

Parrish will critique picture books (fiction and nonfiction), as well as middle grade. He loves diverse representation, quirky and fun stories, and distinct characters.

Parrish’s Zoom critiques are available on:

Monday, September 19, 6:00 pm – 6:15 pm eastern
Monday, September 19, 6:20 pm – 6:35 pm eastern
Monday, September 19, 6:40 pm – 6:55 pm eastern
Monday, September 19, 7:00 pm – 7:15 pm eastern
Monday, September 19, 7:20 pm – 7:35 pm eastern