Past Conference Speakers

Lorena German

Lorena Germán is a two time nationally awarded Dominican American educator focused on anti racist and anti bias education. She’s been featured in the New York Times, NPR, PBS, Rethinking Schools, EdWeek, Learning for Justice Magazine, and more. She published The Anti Racist Teacher: Reading Instruction Workbook, and Textured Teaching: A Framework for Culturally Sustaining Practices about curriculum & lesson development focused on social justice. She’s a co-founder of #DisruptTexts and Multicultural Classroom. Lorena is also the Chair of NCTE’s Committee Against Racism and Bias in the Teaching of English. She lives in Tampa, Florida where she is a mami and wife- two of her most important roles.

LaMar Timmons Long

LaMar Timmons-Long is a vibrant educator who believes that every student deserves access to an equitable and transformative educational experience. He believes in the possibilities that education provides to young people. His main work centers around ethnic studies, Afrofuturism, anti-racist education, intersections between literacy, social justice, and language, as well as students experiencing disabilities.  He has served as the Scondary-Representative at Large for NCTE and is a current member of the Diversity Committee. LaMar is a round SUNY Buffalo State University alum and teaches high school English in his hometown of Brooklyn, NY. He is also an adjunct professor at Hunter College in the School of Education.

Jacqueline Woodson Photo: Jireh Deng

Jacqueline Woodson received a 2023 Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship, 2020 MacArthur Fellowship, the 2020 Hans Christian Andersen Award, the 2018 Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award, and the 2018 Children’s Literature Legacy Award, and was the 2018–2019 National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature. Her New York Times bestselling memoir, Brown Girl Dreaming, won the National Book Award, the Coretta Scott King Award, a Newbery Honor, and the NAACP Image Award. Her books for young readers include Coretta Scott King Award and NAACP Image Award winner Before the Ever After, New York Times bestsellers The Day You Begin and Harbor Me, Newbery Honor winners Feathers, Show Way, and After Tupac and D Foster, and Each Kindness, which won the Jane Addams Children’s Book Award. She lives in Brooklyn, New York, with her family.

Kelly Gallagher

Kelly Gallagher is a literacy education author and consultant, specializing in the teaching of English Language Arts for grades 4-12. Informed by a 35-year teaching career working with culturally diverse, underrepresented students, Kelly has developed and shares an ever-evolving body of work that helps teachers engage and empower even the most reluctant readers and writers.

Kelly is the former president of the Secondary Reading Group for the International Literacy Association and the singular author of several professional development books valued by educators and education schools worldwide, including Readicide and Write Like This. His most recent books include 180 Days and 4 Essential Studies, both co-written with Penny Kittle.

Follow Kelly on Twitter @KellyGToGo and visit him at

Ileana Jiménez

Ileana Jiménez is a leader in the feminism-in-schools movement and is the founder of and creator of the #HSfeminism and #K12feminism hashtags.

An English teacher-activist for 25 years, she has taught high school and graduate students, as well as emerging and established teachers critical feminist pedagogies, curricula, and activism. Her high school courses have included classes on Black and Latina feminisms; queer literature; Latinx literature; and a course on Toni Morrison’s Beloved.

Her courses for college and masters students focus on gender, sexuality, and school as well as feminist and queer pedagogies in the English classroom. Ileana’s doctoral research in the English Education program at Teachers College, Columbia University, includes women of color feminisms in schools; intersectional pedagogies; feminist digital and school-based activisms; and feminist research methodologies.

In 2011, she received a Distinguished Fulbright to interview queer youth in Mexico City. Globally, she has presented workshops for teachers in Argentina, Australia, Greece, India, Mexico, and the UK. She has published in Gender in an era of post-truth populism: Pedagogies, challenges and strategies (2022); Meridians: feminism, race, transnationalism (volume 1, 2016); Radical Teacher (vol. 106, 2016); One Teacher in Ten in the New Millennium: LGBT Educators Speak Out About What’s Gotten Better… and What Hasn’t (Beacon, 2015); SLUT: A Play and Guidebook for Combating Sexism and Sexual Violence (2015); The Feminist Utopia Project: Fifty-Seven Visions of a Wildly Better Future (2015); and Youth Sexualities: Public Feelings and Contemporary Cultural Politics (2018). She received her B.A. in English Literature at Smith College, and an M.A. in English Literature at Middlebury College. She can be found on Twitter and Instagram @feministteacher.

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. 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 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.”

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 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.

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 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.
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.

Jill Bialosky

Jill Bialosky is the author of four acclaimed collections of poetry, most recently The Players. Her poems have appeared in The New Yorker, The New York Times, The Kenyon Review, and The Atlantic, among others. She is the author of three novels, most recently, The Prize, and a New York Times bestselling memoir History of a Suicide: My Sister’s Unfinished Life. She is an editor at W. W. Norton & Company where she oversees the Norton poetry list and lives in New York City. In 2014 she was honored by the Poetry Society of America for her distinguished contribution to poetry.

In “POETRY WILL SAVE YOUR LIFE” (Atria Books; August 15, 2017), poet, novelist, and New York Times bestselling author Jill Bialosky takes a wholly original approach to memoir, refracting her life through the prism of poems that have shaped, inspired, and helped her make sense of the world around her. At once highly personal and marked by keenly observed universal themes, Bialosky’s probing exploration touches on both familiar poetic classics and lesser-known gems that have had special significance.

“Poems are made from the lives lived, borne out of experiences and shaped by solitary thought,” Bialosky writes. “Like a map to an unknown city, a poem might lead you toward an otherwise unreachable experience, but once reached, you recognize it immediately….This memoir is also a form of mythmaking, for experiences are heightened, altered and shaped by the form in which they are told….and the poems I present provide to a certain extent a window into my way of thinking and associating. Such is the mystery and wonder of a poem.”

Bialosky’s lifelong immersion in poetry began in the fourth grade with the discovery of Robert Frost’s “The Road Not Taken.” An awkward child whose father died before she was old enough to remember him, Bialosky finds that the poem speaks to her of an alternative life where her father had lived and her mother was happy and offered her a way to think about her own path she might forge. As her life progresses from girlhood to adolescence to adulthood and motherhood, poems bear witness to her experiences, large and small, to the ways in which we live in the world and to our shared humanity. Emily Dickinson provides insight into questions of faith, Sylvia Plath illuminates the mysterious pull of depression, Louise Gluck on envy, James Wright and Keats on first love. Poems offer signposts for the significant moments in a life—sexual awakening, leaving home, the loss of a parent and the deaths of a child, the joys of motherhood, a sister’s suicide, a mother’s aging, the day in New York City when the Twin Towers fell.

Bialosky frames each poem with its Life and Afterlife—chronicling how the poem spoke to her at a formative time and also how its meanings and implications have deepened for her over time. As an acclaimed poet and editor herself, Bialosky moves beyond the personal to investigate the essence of what makes these poems more widely significant, explicating the art of poetry for readers who will surely find their own connections to these poems—and to others and in doing so demystifies poetry and makes a compelling argument for its necessity in our lives.

With equal parts candor, empathy, and passion, Jill Bialosky shows how intricately tied poetry is to our own experiences and, at the same time, offers a celebration of the power of an enduring art form. “POETRY WILL SAVE YOUR LIFE” is a singularly moving and illuminating work from “a fearless and clear-eyed and compassionate writer” (George Howe Colt, author of November of the Soul).

Liz Rosenberg
Liz Rosenberg

Liz Rosenberg is the author of five books of poems, six best-selling novels, and more than 30 award winning books for young people of all ages. She has won an IRA Choice Award, The Patterson Prize, and served on the National Book Award committee for Young People’s Literature, and for more than 20 years wrote a book review column in the Boston Globe.

She teaches English and Creative Writing at SUNY Binghamton, where she won a Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching. Her newest books are HOUSE OF DREAMS: A Biography of L. M. Montgomery (Candlewick Press) and INDIGO HILL, a novel (Lake Union Books).

Kwame Alexander
Kwame Alexander

Kwame Alexander is a poet, educator, and the New York Times Bestselling author of 24 books, including The Crossover, which received the 2015 John Newbery Medal for the Most Distinguished Contribution to American Literature for Children, The Coretta Scott King Author Award Honor, The NCTE Charlotte Huck Honor, the Lee Bennett Hopkins Poetry Award, Passaic Poetry Prize. Kwame writes for children of all ages. Some of his other works include picture books, Animal Arc and Surf’s Up; novels Booked, The Playbook, He Said She Said and the forthcoming Solo. Kwame believes that poetry can change the world, and he uses it to inspire and empower young people through his Page-To-Stage Writing Workshop published by Scholastic.

A regular speaker at schools and conferences in the U.S., he also travels the world planting seeds of literary love: Singapore, Brazil, Italy, France, Shanghai, and recently, Alexander led a delegation of 20 writers and activists to Ghana, where they delivered books, built a library, and provided literacy professional development to 300 teachers, as a part of LEAP for Ghana, an International literacy program he co-founded. In 2015, Kwame served as Bank Street College of Education’s Inaugural Dorothy M. Carter writer-in-residence. The Kwame Alexander Papers, a collection of his writings, correspondence, and other professional and personal documents is held at the George Washington University Gelman Library.
Visit him at

Constance Hale
Constance Hale

A few things about me… I have written five books altogether, with three of them on writing (the first is Wired Style, the second is Sin and Syntax, and the third is Vex, Hex, Smash, Smooch). The latter is intended as a romp through the history of language and, in particular, English. It is filled with ideas to play with in your writing. Sin and Syntax is a subversive guide to grammar and good writing and contains “catechisms”—quirky grammar quizzes and writing prompts. Wired Style was intended to fill gaps back in the early days of the Web. The books have gotten me dubbed “Marion the Librarian on a Harley, or E. B. White on acid.” That works.

If you are a writer or a lover of all things syntactical, you might also be interested in my eight-part series on sentences for “Draft,” in the Opinionator area of The New York Times. (The essays there by other writers are awesome.)

My other books, though, are an intellectual coffee-table book on hula titled The Natives Are Restless and a picture book for children, set in Hawaii‘, called Iwalani’s Tree. I also write articles on politics, culture, history, and travel, as well as essays on everything from the name I share with my grandmother and my odd taste in food. (More on all my work at
I grew up in Hawaii, speaking “proper” English at home and Hawaiian creole (or “Pidgin”) with friends. This weird bilingualism explains my fascination with language, which didn’t stop there. I left the islands to get a Bachelor’s degree in English Literature from Princeton, after which I spent a few years writing short stories and performing monologues in dim San Francisco coffeehouses. I can’t say I went straight after that, but I did earn a masters from the Graduate School of Journalism at UC Berkeley, after which I worked as a reporter and editor at the Gilroy Dispatch, the Oakland Tribune, and the San Francisco Examiner. I really started dabbling in the idiosyncrasies of the mother tongue, though, while copy chief at Wired.

Freelance writing suits my personality, as I have eclectic interests. I’ve written about Latin plurals and Latino culture, Berkeley politics and Hawaiian sovereignty. My stories have appeared in newspapers from the Los Angeles Times to the Miami Herald, as well as in magazines like The Atlantic, National Geographic Adventure, Afar, Smithsonian, Health, and Honolulu. I love the travel essay as a form, and have been published in many anthologies including France, A Love Story (Seal Press) and Best Travel Writing 2006 (Travelers’ Tales).
I am as passionate about editing and teaching as I am about writing. I worked at Wired Books and today edit for Harvard Business Press. I have also directed conferences for mid-career journalists, including the Nieman Conference on Narrative Journalism in 2008 and 2009, and the East Meets West conference in 2012 and UC Berkeley’s Latest in Longform conference in 2014, 2015, and 2016. I run an annual writers retreats in Hawaii in spring and speak and teach all over the place. I am a founder of The Prose Doctors, an editor’s collective, and work one-on-one with many published writers. And, almost every day, I work at the San Francisco Writers’ Grotto.

Oh, and if you’ve heard that I dance a damned good hula, I do.

Elfrieda H. Hiebert
Elfrieda H. Hiebert

Elfrieda “Freddy” Hiebert (Ph.D., University of Wisconsin) has had a long career as a literacy educator, first as a teacher’s aide and teacher of primary-level students in California and, subsequently, as a teacher educator and researcher at the universities of Kentucky, Colorado-Boulder, Michigan, and California-Berkeley. Her research, which addresses how fluency, vocabulary, and knowledge can be fostered through appropriate texts, has been published in numerous scholarly journals and books.

Through documents such as Becoming a Nation of Readers (Center for the Study of Reading, 1985) and Every Child a Reader (Center for the Improvement of Early Reading Achievement, 1999), she has contributed to making research accessible to educators. Hiebert’s contributions to research and practice have been recognized through awards such as theAmerican Educational Research Association’s Research to Practice Award (2013).

Gae Polisner

Gae’s most recent young adult novel, The Memory of Things, has been a hit in middle and high school classrooms across the country since its publication last fall. The Memory of Things is set on 9/11/01 in New York City; it follows a sixteen year-old high school student named Kyle, who is evacuated from Stuyvesant High School after the twin towers are hit.

During his trek home across the Brooklyn Bridge and in the midst of chaos, he finds a girl his age who is disoriented and covered in ash. Although she is a complete stranger and he is trying to escape the frantic scene around him, Kyle decides to take her into his home and tries to help her reunite with her family. While trying to assist this girl in finding her family, Kyle is also anxiously awaiting a reunion with his own family because his mother and sister are in California and his father is an NYPD detective who is on the scene at ground zero.

The Memory of Things is a coming-of-age story about the formation of an unlikely friendship between Kyle and this mysterious girl that unfolds during a national tragedy. These two young strangers must support one another in order to persevere through this immeasurable tragedy. Ultimately, The Memory of Things focuses on maintaining hope, finding unity and resilience in times of unimaginable tragedy, and social responsibility to strangers, family, and the community.

In addition to writing The Memory of Things, Gae is also the author of several other young adult titles, including The Summer of Letting Go and The Pull of Gravity. Gae is very well-connected in the world of higher education, and she even co-hosts teachers Write!, a virtual writers’ camp for teachers and educators. She has been enthusiastically received by middle and high school English and social studies teachers; she has even done speaking engagements and classroom Skype sessions with middle schools and high schools across the country.

Some of the topics that Gae frequently speaks on are the importance of memory, and how students can gain empathy through literacy (including through reading historical fiction). She believes that empathy is key to being a good citizen. We also featured the memory of things at the 2016 NCTE annual convention, and educators flocked to our booth to pick up copies and gush about Gae. Given this year’s theme, she’s a perfect fit.