Society of
Children's Book Writers
and Illustrators

Meet Our Volunteers

Regional Advisor: Ellen R. Braaf (

Ellen R. Braaf has been a columnist and feature writer for ASK magazine since it was launched in 2002 through a partnership between the Cricket Group (Carus Publications) and Smithsonian magazine. She has published fiction, nonfiction, and humor for children and adults in publications as diverse as The Washington Post, Woman’s Day, Odyssey, and Soap Opera Digest. PowerKids Press (Rosen) published her six-book Science Detectives series, written under the name Ellen René. Titles include: INVESTIGATING WHY LEAVES CHANGE THEIR COLOR, INVESTIGATING VOLCANIC ERUPTIONS, and INVESTIGATING SPIDERS AND THEIR WEBS. An educator for over twenty-five years, Ellen has taught a wide range of subjects from microbiology and human reproductive physiology for college students to language arts for first graders. She teaches for The Writer’s Center headquartered in Bethesda, MD, where she served on their Board of Directors for ten years.    

Illustrator Coordinator: Joan Waites (

Joan Waites has been illustrating for the Children’s market for over twenty years, publishing more than 45 titles for the trade and educational markets. Illustrated works have won the following awards: Teacher’s Choice Award, IRA/CBC Children’s Choice Award, IRA/NCSS Notable Social Studies Trade Book, Honor Title, Storytelling World Awards, Louisiana Young Readers Choice Award Ballot, and a Benjamin Franklin Award. A former adjunct faculty member of the Corcoran Museum School of Art and Design, Joan now operates her own art teaching studio for children, (Purple Crayon Studio). She has served as the Mid-Atlantic SCBWI Illustrator Coordinator for the past 13 years, is a member of the Children’s Book Guild of Washington D.C., The Picture Book Artist’s Association, and The National Association of Art Educators. www.

Newsletter Co-Editors:  Tamara Traylor and Dionna Mann  (Contact email:

Tamara Traylor is an illustrator, designer and visual storyteller. Stories have been part of her life from earliest memories—tales woven in the Appalachian narrative tradition. Primarily, she works in a mixture of traditional and digital media, trying to keep the overall feeling of the work lyrical and loose, allowing the drawing show through, and emphasizing line and form without feeling “digital.” Occasionally, she works in pencil, ink, coquille board, watercolor, gouache and scratchboard. No matter the medium, she strives to create compelling, narrative imagery that exceeds the expectations of her clients. A creative professional for close to 18 years, she respects tight deadlines and hold ethics and professionalism in high regard.  She is inspired by mid-century illustration, Russian lacquer miniatures, analog photography, old cities, abandoned buildings, junk shops, ephemera and, of course, all the tales that are told that touch the heart and spark the imagination. That’s her story; what’s yours?

Dionna Mann:   Dionna was born in Chicago, but grew up in the Windy City’s south suburbs where her imagination placed her onto her bike and into the woods on all-day-make-believe adventures. As a young woman, Dionna called South Bend, IN her home, and it was on the lawn of the University of Notre Dame where her husband proposed. Since then, Dionna has lived in rural Virginia with her family. She is delighted to have raised her three (most-talented!) children in such a beautiful place–surrounded by Blue Ridge Mountains, friendly smiles, and howdy-dos. For over ten years, it’s been Dionna’s privilege to have worked within her local school system as a teacher’s assistant and substitute teacher. As a freelance journalist, Dionna has worked on editorial assignment for Charlottesville Family magazine, covering a wide-range of topics. Dionna’s kidlit work has appeared in LADYBUG, and was placed with HIGHLIGHTS for Children. Dionna has been a Mid-Atlantic SCBWI member since 2005. Her role as Highlighter Co-Editor began January 2017, and she couldn’t be more thrilled! She can be found celebrating all things kidlit on her blog.

Newsletter Copy Editor: Susan VanHecke

Susan VanHecke, now writing as Susan Wood, is an award-winning author of books for children and adults. Her titles for young readers include ESQUIVEL! SPACE-AGE SOUND ARTIST, (Charlesbridge, illustrated by Duncan Tonatiuh), a Pura Belpré Honor and ALA Notable Children’s Book; UNDER THE FREEDOM TREE (Charlesbridge, illustrated by London Ladd); RAGGIN’ JAZZIN’ ROCKIN’: A HISTORY OF AMERICAN MUSICAL INSTRUMENT MAKERS (Boyds Mills), an ALA Notable Children’s Book; ROCK ’N’ ROLL SOLDIER (HarperTeen, with Dean Ellis Kohler); and AN APPLE PIE FOR DINNER (Two Lions, illustrated by Carol Baicker-McKee). Forthcoming children’s books include THE SKYDIVING BEAVERS: A TRUE TALE (Sleeping Bear, illustrated by Gijsbert van Frankenhuyzen) and AMERICAN GOTHIC: THE LIFE OF GRANT WOOD (Abrams, illustrated by Ross MacDonald). Susan is also a professional copyeditor, which means when she’s not writing her own books, she’s helping publishers polish their authors’ work for publication. Susan is represented by Caryn Wiseman of Andrea Brown Literary. She lives in Norfolk, Virginia. 

Fall Conference Co-Chairs: Erin Teagan and Valerie Patterson

Erin Teagan, at the age of eighteen, shocked her parents and friends when she declared she’d become a scientist so she could later become a writer. After all she got a 110% in high school biology, so she must have known what she was doing.  And she also knew that in science, especially when working on research drugs, bringing your work home could actually be punishable by law.  This left lots of time to work on her novel after work. Erin lives in Virginia with her own two little mad scientists, a ninety pound lap dog, and a husband that regularly puts himself in danger with all of his extreme sports. She is represented by Marie Lamba of the Jennifer De Chiara Literary Agency. Her first novel, THE FRIENDSHIP EXPERIMENT, is forthcoming from Houghton Mifflin Harcout, November 2016.  

Valerie O. Patterson’s second novel for young readers, OPERATION OLEANDER was published by Clarion, an imprint of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt in March of this year. It is a Junior Library Guild selection for 2013. Her first novel for teens, THE OTHER SIDE OF BLUE, was published by Clarion in 2009 and was nominated for an Agatha Award. Valerie has an MFA from Hollins University and is a former recipient of an SCBWI Work-in-Progress grant. She grew up in Florida near the Gulf of Mexico and now lives in northern Virginia where she writes and practices law.

Nonfiction Workshop Coordinator: Marcie Flinchum Atkins   

Marcie Flinchum Atkins is an elementary school librarian by day and writes for kids in the wee hours of the morning. She is the author of ANCIENT CHINA (ABDO, 2015) and holds an M.A. and M.F.A. in Children’s Literature from Hollins University. Marcie writes picture books, novels, poetry, and nonfiction. She lives with her husband and two children in Fairfax. 

PAL Event Coordinator: Lezlie Evans

Lezlie Evans is the author of nine award-winning picture books. Her titles include WHO LOVES THE LITTLE LAMB, illustrated by David McPhail, SOMETIMES I FEEL LIKE A STORM CLOUD,  and CAN YOU GREET THE WHOLE WIDE WORLD:12 Common Phrases in 12 Different Languages. Lezlie has six children and three grandchildren. Also a member of the Washington D.C. Children’s Book Guild, she enjoys teaching creative writing and public speaking.  You can read more about her and her titles at

Critique Group Coordinator:  Terry Jennings

Terry Catasús Jennings is an award-winning author of children’s non-fiction and fact-based fiction. Her work has appeared in The Washington Post, Long Island Newsday, The Reston Connection (weekly family humor column), and Ranger Rick. She is a contributor to the Science and Technology for Children and Science and Technology Concepts series published by the National Science Resource Center, a consortium between the Smithsonian Science Education Center. Her books include: THE WOMEN’S LIBERATION MOVEMEN: 1960-1990 (Mason Crest, 2013); GOPHER TO THE RESCUE! A VOLCANO RECOVERY STORY (Sylvan Dell, 2012); and CHANGES(Science and Technology for Children Series, 2010)

SCBWI Message Boards Moderator: Anne Marie Pace

Anne Marie Pace’s first two picture books, NEVER EVER TALK TO STRANGERS (2010; illustrated by Guy Francis) and A TEACHER FOR BEAR (2011; illustrated by Mike Wohnoutka) were published by the Firefly Club of Scholastic Book Clubs. She is also the author of VAMPIRINA BALLERINA, illustrated by LeUyen Pham and published by Disney-Hyperion (2012), and its sequel, VAMPIRINA BALLERINA HOSTS A SLEEPOVER (2013). A former writing teacher, Anne Marie has taught at all levels from middle school to community college. Her published work includes stories, poetry and non-fiction to such magazines as Highlights for Children, Wee Ones, On the Line, and My Friend, and over sixty book reviews for the Children’s Literature Comprehensive Database. A recipient of a Barbara Karlin Grant Letter of Merit in 2009, Anne Marie is represented by Linda Pratt of the Wernick & Pratt Agency.

Charlottesville Event Coordinator: Hannah Barnaby (

Hannah Barnaby worked as a children’s book editor, independent bookseller, and book reviewer before becoming the first children’s writer-in-residence at the Boston Public Library. Her first young adult novel, WONDER SHOW, was a William C. Morris Award Finalist and her second, SOME OF THE PARTS, received a starred review from Publisher’s Weekly. She made her double picture book debut in 2017 with BAD GUY (S&S), illustrated by Mike Yamada, and GARCIA & COLETTE GO EXPLORING (Putnam), illustrated by Andrew Joyner, which was named a Best Book of 2017 by Bank Street College. Hannah holds an MA in Children’s Literature from Simmons College and an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from Vermont College. She teaches writers of all ages in Charlottesville, VA, where she lives with her family. Hannah is also available to hire for freelance manuscript critiques. 

Roanoke Event Coordinator:  Cyndy Unwin (

Tidewater Event Coordinator: Vanessa Barger (

Vanessa Barger earned an undergraduate degree in Graphic Design, (with a minor in Medieval and Renaissance Literature) and a Masters in Technology Education. An SCBWI member since 2010, she has articles published in Altered Arts Magazine and has had artwork displayed in galleries in Ohio and online. Vanessa currently teaches engineering, practical physics, drafting, and other technological subjects to high school students in Virginia’s Hampton Roads area.  When not writing or teaching, she’s a bookaholic, movie fanatic, and loves to travel. She is married to a fabulous man and has one cat, who believes Vanessa lives only to open cat food cans. Often found baking when she should be editing, Vanessa is also a member the Virginia Writer’s Club and the Hampton Roads Writers. Her middle grade novel, “Super Freak” (Month9Books), was published in October 2015. For more information, go to the SCBWI Holiday 2015 Book Launch Party  or to

Volunteer Coordinator:  Poppy (Liza) Parfomak (

Poppy (Liza) Parfomak holds her Ph.D. in public policy from George Mason University, with a concentration in science, technology and innovation. Many of her tales draw from her studies, but in a non-boring, kid-friendly way.    

Mid-Atlantic Region Social Media Coordinator: TBD


SCBWI Mid-Atlantic_Volunteer Interest Survey_2017

(Click above link to access Volunteer Interest Form)