Society of
Children's Book Writers
and Illustrators

Meet Our Volunteers

Are you interested in getting more involved in our region? Fill out our Volunteer Interest Form or apply to one of our current positions here.

Co-Regional Advisors: Erin Teagan and Valerie Patterson

Erin Teagan is the author of The Friendship Experiment (HMH), Survivor Girl (Clarion), and two Girl of the Year series, Kira Bailey and Luciana Vega, for American Girl. She has a background in science and uses her experience from the lab in her books. She loves sharing the best and most interesting (and most dangerous and disgusting) parts of science with kids. Erin lives in Virginia with her family, a droopy hound dog named Beaker, and a bunny that thinks he’s a cat.

 Valerie O. Patterson is the author of two novels for young readers, both published by Clarion, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt: THE OTHER SIDE OF BLUE (2010), and OPERATION OLEANDER (2013), a Junior Library Guild selection. Her non-fiction has appeared in such publications as The Writer and the North Carolina Literary Review. Valerie currently serves as co-Regional Advisor for the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI), Mid-Atlantic region.  She also is a member of the Children’s Book Guild of Washington DC. She has an MFA from Hollins University.

Contact Erin and Val

Illustrator Coordinator: Tami Traylor

Tami grew up exploring the woods and waterways of historic, central Virginia. All those leafy, green hours spent along the James River stirred a lifelong fascination with the natural world that echoes in her illustration and writing. Through her work, she seeks to spark, in young readers, that same sense of curiosity and wonder she had as a child. She graduated from Virginia Commonwealth University School of Arts with a BFA in Communication Arts and Design and worked as a graphic designer for much of her adult life. She’s been a member of SCBWI since 2005, serving as the co-editor/graphic designer of the Highlighter, a quarterly newsletter serving SCBWI’s Mid-Atlantic region, from 2007-2021. She currently serves as the region’s Illustrator Coordinator. She lives in Chesterfield, Virginia with her family, two feline studio mates, and a two very hungry guinea pigs. When she’s not illustrating or feeding guinea pigs, she’s walking in the woods or working at the library. 

Contact Tami


PAL Coordinator: Nicole Green

Nicole is the winner of the 2019 SCBWI Emerging Voices Award for the YA category and enjoys planning programs of interest to our published and listed members. She is a Pitch Wars and Author Mentor Match mentee alum. She writes mostly YA horror, suspense, and dark contemporary stories. If she’s not writing YA, she’s probably reading it. Outside of reading and writing, she enjoys spending time in the Blue Ridge Mountains and the Shenandoah Valley as well as visiting entirely new places. She has always been a big supporter of local kidlit authors and looks forward to continuing to be a resource for them in her role as PAL Liaison.

Contact Nicole


Fall Conference Planning Committee: 

Daphne Dador | Co-Chair

D.C. Dador is a science fiction & fantasy author whose stories feature BIPOC characters who explore the dark and unknown. Her writing can be found in the anthology, When Other People Saw Us, They Saw the Dead and forthcoming Reclamation from Outland Entertainment. D.C. is a Filipino-American writer who resides in Northern Virginia where she enjoys exploring historic (sometimes haunted) sites with her family. Her novels are represented by Tara Gonzalez at Erin Murphy Literary Agency. She can be found on Twitter @dcdador. 


Lee Gjertsen Malone | Co-Chair

Lee is the author of contemporary realistic middle grade novels including The Last Boy at St. Edith’s, (2016, Aladdin/S&S) which was a Massachusetts Book Award Must Read, a Sakura Award finalist, and a Nutmeg Award finalist, and Camp Shady Crook, (2019, Aladdin/S&S) which was a Junior Library Guild selection. A recent transplant from New England to Northern Virginia, Lee is also a freelance editor, writing instructor, and journalist who has written for a range of publications for adults and children including Muse, Odyssey, Faces, American Banker, Financial Planning, Cambridge Scout, and the Boston Globe. In her spare time she likes spending time outdoors, playing with her many pets, and traveling to national disasters as a shelter manager for the American Red Cross— but her secret dream is moving to London and qualifying for the Great British Baking Show.

Kelly Pavelich | Coordinator

Kelly is a writer and mental health advocate in Arlington, VA. She’s published in the Global Societies Journal and Night Picnic, a bilingual literary journal, and is working towards her Professional Certificate in Creative Writing from UC San Diego. 

Katie Sivinski| Coordinator

Katie is a writer, mom, and former preschool and elementary teacher.  She also spent some time on the administrative side of education coordinating professional development for teachers.  Katie’s writing focuses on nature and science, finding yourself, and the complex emotions involved in being a kid.  Her other hobbies include native plant gardening and discovering fun activities to do with her three kids. 

Contact Fall Conference Planning Committee


Equity & Inclusion Team:

Hanh Bui| Co-leader

Hanh Bui is a children’s book writer. She believes in the power of storytelling to inspire kindness and connection in the world. Her stories are based on her early refugee experiences and Vietnamese heritage. Her picture books will be published by Macmillan Feiwel & Friends in 2023 and 2024. She is grateful to add her voice with other diverse authors to share stories that amplify the importance of inclusivity and positive representation in children’s literature.

Contact Equity & Inclusion Team


Highlighter Journal Team:

Denise Taranov | Highlighter Editor, content

Denise is the Editor for our Mid-Atlantic region’s Highlighter journal, and collaborates with contributors to develop content for each issue. She also facilitates an SCBWI-member writing critique group in the Falls Church-Alexandria area called “NoVA Story Builders” and participates in the Mid-Atlantic Illustrators’ Critique Group. Denise is a consultant, writer, designer and illustrator in the DC metro area. She graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with degrees in International Relations, English and Spanish.

Lauren Loucas | Highlighter layout

Lauren is the layout designer for the Mid-Atlantic region’s Highlighter journal, and collaborates with content and copy editors to assemble each edition. She also participates in the Mid-Atlantic Illustrators’ Critique Group. Lauren is a freelance illustrator and designer, as well as a part-time Adoptions Counselor at Animal Welfare League of Arlington in Virginia. She graduated from Ohio University with a Bachelor’s degree in Journalism, and from Corcoran College of Art + Design with a Master’s in Interior Design. 

Korena Di Roma Howley | Highlighter copyeditor

Korena is a freelance writer, editor, and copyeditor. She began her career at National Geographic, where she wrote and edited science, travel, and photography content. She currently reports on science news for multiple outlets and serves as contributing editor for the American Institute of Physics, primarily covering physics education and diversity, equity, and inclusion in the field. She lives in Williamsburg, Virginia, with her husband and three-year-old kidlit muse.

Contact Highlighter Team


Social Media Coordinator: Olivia Fisher

Olivia is a freelance editor and children’s book writer with an English degree from BYU-Idaho. She has worked as an editor for over two years where she’s helped both self-published and traditionally published authors make their stories shine. When Olivia isn’t working, she can often be found dreaming about living in a treehouse or chasing down her two young boys. She enjoys curling up with a book, watching Star Wars, writing her next adventure, and trying to live in the state of child-like wonder that we all secretly, or not so secretly, miss. Follow her adventures on Twitter or Instagram.


Nonfiction Workshop Coordinator: Marcie Flinchum Atkins   

Marcie is a teacher-librarian by day and a children’s book writer in the wee hours of the morning. She holds an M.A. and M.F.A. in Children’s Literature from Hollins University. She is the author of Ancient China (ABDO, 2015), “Rookie Get Ready to Code” series (Scholastic Children’s Press, 2019) and Wait, Rest, Pause: Dormancy in Nature (Millbrook Press, 2019). She also muses about mentor texts and making time to write at You can follow her on Twitter @MarcieFAtkins and read about her #writerlife on Instagram at @marciefatkins.

Contact Marcie


Critique Group Coordinator: Terry Catasús Jennings

Terry landed in the United States on September 11, 1961 after a short flight from Cuba. On September 12th, she was enrolled in seventh grade in an American school. Her family, including her father who had been jailed during the Bay of Pigs invasion, was now in a free country. The only catch for twelve-year-old Terry was that she could count in English and recite the days of the week and the months of the year, but not much more. Often being the only Cuban in her school—even through college—Terry knows what it’s like to be the new kid on the block. She is delighted to have the opportunity, with DEFINITELY DOMINGUITA, to portray a typical child of immigrants—no different than her peers—other than she loves the classics (like Jennings did as a child) and thinks Cuban food rules.

Contact Terry


Volunteer Coordinator:  Liza Parfomak

Liza is a science fiction and fantasy writer who draws on her Polish heritage for her stories. She holds her Ph.D. in Public Policy from George Mason University, with a concentration in Science, Technology, and Innovation – sometimes it comes in handy when she writes. Sometimes it doesn’t.    

Contact Liza