69th Annual NYSEC Conference Speakers

Laurie Halse Anderson
Laurie Halse Anderson

Laurie Halse Anderson

Laurie Halse Anderson is a New York Times bestselling author whose writing spans young readers, teens, and new adults. Combined, her books have sold more than 8 million copies. She has been nominated three times for the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award. Two of her books, Speak and Chains, were National Book Award finalists, and Chains was short-listed for the prestigious Carnegie Medal. Laurie was selected by the American Library Association for the 2009 Margaret A. Edwards Award and has been honored for her battles for intellectual freedom by the National Coalition Against Censorship and the National Council of Teachers of English.

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In addition to combating censorship, Laurie regularly speaks about the need for diversity in publishing. She lives in Philadelphia, where she enjoys cheese steaks while she writes. Her favorite job in the world is being a mom and grandmother. She also loves college basketball, hanging out in the woods, running, gardening, and watching the snow fall.

Brendan Kiely
Brendan Kiely

Brendan Kiely

Brendan Kiely is The New York Times bestselling author of All American Boys (with Jason Reynolds), The Last True Love Story, and The Gospel of Winter. His most recent book is Tradition (Simon & Schuster, 2018). Kathleen Glasgow raves, “Tradition is a stunning, timely, and deeply poignant novel about the culture of sexual violence. Sure to spark necessary conversations, this is 2018’s must-read young adult novel.”

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Known for his activism around racial justice, feminism, and intersectionality, Kiely, a former high school teacher, is the kind of YA writer who meets young people where they live, and engages them in the most compelling social issues of our time. Remembering his own introduction to books and reading, Kiely reminisced “Some of my oldest memories are my father taking me for long walks in Cambridge, Massachusetts, going from bookstore to bookstore to bookstore. We did that every Sunday because my mother worked the night shift at Mass General Hospital, so my dad needed to get me out of the house so she could sleep. For me, going to bookstores was kind of like going to church on Sunday mornings.”

His work has been published in ten languages, received a Coretta Scott King Author Honor Award, the Walter Dean Myers Award, the Amelia Elizabeth Walden Award, was twice awarded Best Fiction for Young Adults (2015, 2017) by the American Library Association, and was a Kirkus Reviews Best Books of 2014.

Originally from the Boston area, he now lives with his wife in New York City.

Kevin Lewis
Kevin Lewis

Kevin Lewis

Kevin Lewis is the author of many children’s picture books for toddler and early elementary grades including the classics Chugga-Chugga Choo-Choo and My Truck is Stuck (both illustrated by Daniel Kirk), Halloween favorite The Runaway Pumpkin, Lot at the End of My Block, Dinosaur Dinosaur, Tugga-Tugga Tugboat, and Not Inside This House.

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Kevin grew up on his grandparents’ farm in Rembert, South Carolina. Around the third grade, he fell in love with books, and by middle school, Kevin was a bit of a reading recluse. Books carried him through high school and Erskine College, where he studied English. A children’s literature course he thought would be an easy three credits ignited his passion for children’s books, a passion that led him to New York City and his first publishing-related job at the legendary bookstore, Books of Wonder.

For over two decades, Kevin has been one of the most highly regarded children’s book editors in the industry. At Scholastic Inc., he worked with Dav Pilkey on the original Captain Underpants. At Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, where he served as an Editorial Director, Kevin worked with a veritable who’s who of authors and illustrators including Laurie Halse Anderson (Fever 1793, Chains), Spike and Tonya Lee (Please Baby Please), Tony DiTerlizzi and Holly Black (The Spiderwick Chronicles), Derek Anderson and Lauren Thompson (Little Quack), Alex Sanchez (Rainbow Boys), Jim Benton (Franny K. Stein) Angela Johnson, Kadir Nelson, Cynthia Rylant, and Loren Long. As an Executive Editor at Disney Press, Kevin developed and produced the Vampirina Ballerina series and edited books by Matthew Cordell, Barney Saltzberg, and Chris Barton.

In 2018, Kevin became an agent for the Erin Murphy Literary Agency, primarily focusing on writer-illustrators and diverse voices.

These days, Kevin lives in Newburgh, New York in a two hundred year old farmhouse with his husband, Phil and dog named Kat. Most of the time, you’ll find him gardening in the yard, biking around the Hudson Valley, or sitting on the back porch (which often doubles as his office).

Kate Roberts
Kate Roberts

Kate Roberts

Kate Roberts is a national literacy consultant, top-selling author, and popular keynote speaker. She taught reading and writing in Brooklyn, NY and worked as a literacy coach before joining the Teachers College Reading and Writing Project in 2005, where she worked as a Lead Staff Developer for 11 years.

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Kate’s latest book, A Novel Approach, asks how we can teach whole class novels while still holding onto student centered practices like readers workshop. She is also the co-author of Falling in Love with Close Reading (with Christopher Lehman), DIY Literacy (with Maggie Beattie Roberts), and she co-wrote two Units of Study books on Literary Essay. Her work with students across the country has led to her belief that all kids can be insightful, academic thinkers when the work is demystified, broken down and made engaging. To this end, Kate has worked nationally and internationally to help teachers, schools, and districts develop and implement strong teaching practices and curriculum.