2015 Walter Grant Judging Committee
Marietta Zacker is the chair of the Walter Grant committee and has experienced children’s books from every angle – teaching, marketing, publishing & bookselling. She thrives on working with authors who make readers feel their characters’ emotions & illustrators who add a different dimension to the story. Among other things, she is a proud Latina and the Agent Liaison for the We Need Diverse Books campaign. @AgentZacker
Saba Sulaiman is the newest agent at Talcott Notch Literary Services, a boutique agency located in Milford, CT. Born and raised in Sri Lanka, she grew up all over South Asia before emigrating to the United States to further her education. She holds a BA from Wellesley College and an MA from the University of Chicago, where she studied modern Persian literature. After working for various magazines and publications in Seattle, Moscow, and Karachi, she entered the trade publishing world through an editorial internship at Sourcebooks. Being a first generation immigrant who is in the process of negotiating her own identity and sense of belonging, she is personally committed to highlighting diverse voices with compelling stories to tell; stories that demonstrate the true range of perspectives that exist in this world, and address urgent and often under-explored issues in children’s fiction with veracity and heart. Follow her on Twitter @agentsaba.
Monica Odom is a literary agent at Bradford Literary Agency. Prior to joining BLA, she was an associate agent and manager of finance and social media at Liza Dawson Associates. Monica earned her Masters in Publishing: Digital & Print Media from New York University, and she holds a B.A. in English from Montclair State University. Monica’s clients include Carol Rossetti, an artist known for her empowering and inspirational feminist illustrations, and Rachel Ignotofsky, who created the illustrated Women in Science biography series that celebrates underrepresented historical women in the STEM fields. Seeking out diverse projects comes naturally to Monica, and We Need Diverse Books holds a special place in her heart. Growing up biracial meant Monica got used to diversity early on, and she thinks it’s important for everyone to have that type of exposure to differences. In her free time, Monica can most often be found with her nose in a book (or handheld screen), out on a bicycle ride, or catering to the various and extensive needs of her spoiled-rotten cats, Sam and Luna. Twitter: @modomodom
Michael Strother is an Associate Editor at Simon Pulse/Simon & Schuster, where he has worked since 2011. After graduating with a degree in English, specializing in Medieval Literature, he entered the world of children’s publishing and hasn’t looked back. In his time at S&S, Michael has made an effort to stretch the limits of publishing in terms of formats, points of view, and diversity. His commitment to diversity in children’s literature comes not from a desire to simply inject diversity where there isn’t any, but to accurately represent the vast expanse of people in the world, and to have books with a range of experiences available to all readers. He can be reached on Twitter, @cupcakeandy, where he talks about books, TV, and desserts.
Andrew Harwell is an Editor at HarperCollins Children’s Books, where he works with middle grade and young adult authors including Noelle Stevenson, Heather Brewer, Madeleine Roux, Dan Gutman, Jasmine Richards, and more. His favorite books are the ones that take risks and play for keeps–books that stretch normative boundaries and reach readers who feel like they exist outside of them. Originally from Georgia, Andrew graduated from the University of Chicago and now lives in Brooklyn. He is the author of the middle grade novel The Spider Ring.
Lisa Cheng is a Senior Editor at Running Press Kids, an imprint of Running Press Book Publishers, which is a member of the Perseus Books Group. She acquires and edits both fiction and nonfiction middle grade, YA, and picture books. She has previously worked at Margaret K. McElderry Books and Atheneum Books for Young Readers at Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing, and also at HarperCollins Children’s Books. She has had the pleasure of working with such authors and illustrators as Emma Trevayne, Eric Devine, Cori McCarthy, Tara Altebrando, Lyn Miller-Lachmann, Maria Andreu, Ethan Long, Toni Buzzeo, Sachiko Yoshikawa, and Connah Brecon.
Michael Bourret is Vice President and Literary Agent at Dystel & Goderich Literary Management, where he began over 15 years ago as an intern while studying film and television production at New York University. In 2009, he relocated to Los Angeles and opened the West Coast office of DGLM. Diversity is an important part of Michael’s list, and his philosophy as an agent has always been to help promote unheard voices in both adult and children’s books.