Society of
Children's Book Writers
and Illustrators

2019 Conference Faculty

The following faculty will be presenting at the 2019 SCBWI Kansas / Missouri SCBWI Middle of the Map Conference, Nov. 1-3, in Overland Park, KS. The faculty agents, editors, art director, authors, and illustrators will be doing manuscript critiques and portfolio reviews for conference attendees on Friday evening, Nov. 1, at the conference hotel.


Quressa Robinson
Alexandra Levick
Alyssa Henkin


Katie Heit
Trisha de Guzman
Sarah Jane Abbott

Art Director:

Jim Hoover

Authors & Illustrators:

Giselle Anatol, Sue Gallion, Niki Lenz, Kelly Light


Faculty Bios

Sarah Jane Abbott

Sarah Jane Abbott, editor
Paula Wiseman|Beach Lane

Sarah Jane Abbott is an associate editor for Paula Wiseman Books and Beach Lane Books at Simon & Schuster. She started her career at S&S as a publicity assistant before joining Paula Wiseman Books and Beach Lane Books as editorial assistant in 2014. She is also on the editorial board of Simon & Schuster’s She has had the pleasure of working on books such as The Boy, the Boat, and the Beast by Samantha M. Clark and Blue & Bertie by Kristyna Litten. She loves quirky, character driven picture books with a lot of heart; non-fiction picture books, especially about little-known, strong women; and unique, literary middle grade novels.

Giselle Liza Anatol

Giselle Liza Anatol, author/editor

Giselle Liza Anatol is a professor of English at the University of Kansas. She has edited three collections of essays on popular literature for children and young adults: Reading Harry Potter (Greenwood, 2003) Reading Harry Potter Again (ABC-CLIO, 2009) and Bringing Light to Twilight: Perspectives on the Pop Culture Phenomenon (Palgrave, 2011). She is also the author of a book entitled The Things That Fly in the Night: Female Vampires in Literature of the Circum-Caribbean and African Diaspora (Rutgers UP, 2015), which explores the skin-shedding, bloodsucking soucouyant figure from the Trinidadian folklore of her youth, as well as representations in recent fiction for adults. Anatol has published articles and book chapters on writing for young people by Langston Hughes, Virginia Hamilton, Jacqueline Woodson, and Danielle McClean. An essay on juvenile life writing is forthcoming in the Cambridge University Press History of African American Autobiography, and a piece on Cynthia Kadohata’s Kira-Kira, is forthcoming in a collection about Newberry Award winners.

Trisha de Guzman

Trisha de Guzman, associate editor
Farrar, Straus, Giroux Books for Young Readers/Macmillan

Trisha de Guzman is an Associate Editor at Farrar, Straus, Giroux Books for Young Readers/Macmillan. She is actively building her list of picture books, middle grade, and young adult novels, and select nonfiction books and graphic novels, and is especially interested in publishing books by and about people from the margins. She was born in Manila, Philippines.

Sue Lowell Gallion

Sue Lowell Gallion, author

Sue Lowell Gallion is the author of Pug Meets Pig and Pug & Pig Trick-or-Treat (Beach Lane Books/Simon & Schuster), which both received starred reviews from Publishers Weekly. Her latest books are the Tip and Tucker early reading series (Sleeping Bear Press), co-authored with KS/MO SCBWI’s Ann Ingalls. Sue is an SCBWI success story. She joined SCBWI in 2008 and became active in the region, continued to work on her craft, and sold her first picture book through a manuscript critique at the SCBWI LA conference in 2013. She has four books scheduled to release in 2020 and 2021. Sue is the former regional advisor of the KS/MO region. She lives in Leawood with her dog, Tucker.

Alyssa Henkin

Alyssa Henkin, agent
Trident Media Group

After earning her Bachelors from the University of Pennsylvania, Alyssa fulfilled a childhood dream that she professed on a home video at the age of six: move to New York and work with books. In 1999, Alyssa began her career in editorial at Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers. Here she found “kindred spirits” who loved Anne of Green Gables as much as she did and a kids book space that was rapidly growing. In late 2006 Alyssa (and her inner-entrepreneur) headed to Trident to expand the firm’s children’s book business. Over twelve years, hundreds of deals, and numerous bestsellers and award-winners later, Alyssa still delights in nurturing her books at every stage. From editing and idea-honing to collaborating with marketing, foreign, dramatic, merchandising, and audio partners, Alyssa works hard to ensure longevity for her authors’ work. She represents multiple award-winning and bestselling authors, including Julie Berry, Ruth Behar, Jen Bryant, and R.J. Palacio, whose novel Wonder has been on the New York Times Bestseller list since it came out in 2012 and was turned into a feature film by Lionsgate which came out in 2017.

Jim Hoover

Jim Hoover, art director
Viking Children’s Books

Jim Hoover is an Art Director at Viking Children’s Books. A graduate of Rhode Island School of Design in Illustration, Jim has been in publishing now for twenty years. He speaks regularly at SCBWI and has designed and art directed hundreds of books including: PICTURE BOOKS (Tea Party Rules with K. G. Campbell, Shy with Deborah Freedman, Ella with Marcos Chin, Bus! Stop! with James Yang) NOVELS (Nnedi Okorafor’s Akata Witch books, Max Brallier’s New York Times best-selling series The Last Kids on Earth) NONFICTION (National Book Award Finalist Elizabeth Partridge’s Marching for Freedom, Printz Award-winning John Lennon: All I Want Is the Truth, and the up-coming Boots on the Ground, and the children’s book adaptation of Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth) Jim lives in Brooklyn with his wife and son.

Niki Lenz

Niki Lenz, author

Niki Lenz lives in Kansas City, Missouri, with her husband and children. She studied elementary education at Southwest Baptist University and taught kindergarten for six years. She enjoys reading, travel, glamping, polka dots, red lipstick, and oldies music. Bernice Buttman, Model Citizen is her first novel. Follow her on Twitter at @NikiRLenz or visit

Alexandra Levick

Alexandra Levick, agent
Writers House

Alexandra Levick has worked with a wide range of established New York Times bestsellers, national award winners, and debut clients. After graduating from the University of Rochester with a degree in English focused on Creative Writing, Alexandra attended New York University where she received her Masters of Science in Publishing with a specialization in Content Development. Prior to Writers House, she spent time at Sterling Lord Literistic, in publicity at Bloomsbury, and as a bookseller for Barnes and Noble. Today, she is building a broad list and works on everything from picture books to speculative adult fiction. Find her on Twitter @AllieLevick.

Kelly Light

Kelly Light, author/illustrator

Kelly Light lives in Amherst, MA but grew up down the shore in New Jersey surrounded by giant pink dinosaurs, cotton candy colors, and Skee-Ball sounds. She was schooled on Saturday-morning cartoons and Sunday funny pages. She picked up a pencil, started drawing, and never stopped. Kelly is the author/Illustrator of the Louise series. Louise Loves Art and Louise and Andie, The Art of Friendship are the first two picture books in the series. Louise Loves Bake Sales and Louise and The Class Pet are the first readers in HarperCollins’ I Can Read program. Kelly has also illustrated Elvis and the Underdogs and Elvis and the Underdogs: Secrets, Secret Service, and Room Service by Jenny Lee, and The Quirks series by Erin Soderberg. Kelly is back to work on new books. Life sometimes throws curveballs. Sometimes, Life throws everything and the kitchen sink. The only way out, sometimes is through…pencil in hand, Kelly is drawing her way out. She Thanks EVERYONE for the support, from the bottom of her heart.

Katie Heit, editor

Katie Heit edits nonfiction picture books and chapter books, as well as select fiction picture book titles. She edits books by Sandra Markle, Monica Robinson, and Nick Seluk, among others. She is actively building her list and is interested in books that approach nonfiction in a unique, kid-friendly way.



Quressa Robinson, agent
Nelson Literary Agency

Quressa Robinson joined Nelson Literary Agency in 2017 after working at a previous agency as an editor for five years. She is originally from San Francisco, but has been living in New York City for over a decade. As a New York based agent, she is eager to build her MG, YA, and Adult lists. When not curled on her couch reading, she plays video games, enjoys too much TV-mostly Sailor Moon and Harry Potter (Slytherin!), eats delicious things, drinks champagne, hangs out with her very clever husband, and adds another “dramatic” color to her lipstick collection. Quressa is also a member of the 2017-2019 WNDB Walter Grant Committee and holds an MFA in Creative Writing: Fiction from Columbia University.