James LaRue, Director, Office for Intellectual Freedom, American Library Association
James LaRue is the Director of the Office for Intellectual Freedom at the American Library Association, and the Executive Director and Secretary of the Freedom to Read Foundation. Author of The New Inquisition: Understanding and Managing Intellectual Freedom Challenges, LaRue is a frequent speaker on a host of library-related topics.
Shumeca Pickett, Founder & Principal Consultant, Alfred Dewitt Ard
Shumeca Pickett is the Founder and Principal Consultant of Alfred Dewitt Ard, a Chicago-based research and consulting firm that collaborates with a cross-section of people and organizations to create just and sustainable neighborhoods, enterprises, and systems. She is a Leadership Greater Chicago Fellow and a World Business Chicago Fellow alum.
Joy E. Triche, President & Publisher, Tiger Stripe Publishing
Joy Triche is the founder and publisher of Tiger Stripe Publishing. Through Tiger Stripe, Joy seeks to develop books that celebrate diverse people and works with writers and illustrators from diverse backgrounds to bring stories to life in the form of print and electronic children’s books. Before launching Tiger Stripe in 2012, Joy spent more than 18 years in educational publishing as an editor and managing editor. Joy lives in Chicago with her husband and three children.
Dr. Nicole A. Cooke, Assistant Professor, The School of Information Sciences, The University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign
Nicole A. Cooke is an Assistant Professor at the Graduate School of Library and Information Science at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She holds an M.Ed in Adult Education from Penn State, and a Master of Library Science degree and a Ph.D. in Communication, Information and Library Studies from Rutgers University, where she was an American Library Association (ALA) Spectrum Doctoral Fellows. She was named a “Mover & Shaker” by Library Journal in 2007 and was the 2016 recipient of the ALA’s Equality Award. Her research and teaching interests include human information behavior (particularly in the online context), critical cultural information studies, and diversity and social justice in librarianship (with an emphasis on infusing them into LIS education and pedagogy).
Jeff Deutsch, Director, Seminary Co-op Bookstores, Inc.
Jeff Deutsch is the Director of the Seminary Co-op Bookstores, Inc., which includes 57th Street Books, located in the Hyde Park neighborhood. Both stores are unique and valued places of discovery, Chicago institutions where browsing and conversation are nurtured. Prior to joining the Seminary Co-op Bookstores, Inc., Jeff was the Director of the Stanford University Bookstore Group and the University of California, Berkeley Bookstore. While he has many book recommendations, Jeff thinks that Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass should be required reading for humanity.
Amy Koester, Youth & Family Program Supervisor, Skokie Public Library
Amy Koester is a public librarian currently working at Skokie Public Library. She writes about programs and issues in youth librarianship as the Show Me Librarian, and she leads online courses and workshops across the country on topics ranging from STEAM and media mentorship to developmentally appropriate programming and parent engagement. Amy’s work has been featured in School Library Journal, Children & Libraries, and LibrarySparks.
Curt Matthews, Founder and Chairman of the Board, Chicago Review Press/Independent Publishers Group
Thirty-five years ago, while teaching 19th-century American literature at Northwestern University, Curt published a book of translated Japanese poetry, which led to other, more salable titles, and finally to a career in publishing. Curt is the founder and Chairman of the Board of Chicago Review Press which currently publishes about 80 new titles a year, and of Independent Publishers Group (IPG), the first and now the second-largest independent press distributor. IPG distributes thousands of new titles each year, including academic and university press lists, hundreds independent publishers of all sizes, a fast-growing catalog of Spanish-language books, and Trafalgar Square, which sells titles from almost all of the major UK publishers, including Penguin/Random House UK, into the US market.
Andrew Medlar, Assistant Chief, Technology, Content & Innovation, Chicago Public Library
Prior to his work at Chicago Public Library, Andrew Medlar worked at Brooklyn Public Library and Dayton Metro Library, and has served on many book award committees including the Caldecott, Laura Ingalls Wilder, and Society of Midland Authors. He has taught graduate courses at Dominican University’s Graduate School of Library Information Science and the University of Illinois at Chicago and been named Librarian of the Year by The Spanish Institute for Foreign Trade-Spanish Association of Publishers Guilds. Andrew has a Master of Library Science degree from Rutgers University and is the Immediate Past President of the Association for Library Service to Children.
Veronda J. Pitchford, Director of Membership Development & Resource Sharing, Reaching Across Illinois Library System (RAILS)
Veronda J. Pitchford is the Director of Membership Development and Resource Sharing for the Reaching Across Illinois Library System (RAILS), a regional consortium that serves over 1,300 academic, public, school and special libraries. She is the program director for the eRead Illinois Axis 360 program, a shared e-book collection for over 400 libraries across Illinois. Her next step in spreading digital awesomeness across the library planet is to explore innovation and experimentation of discovery and delivery of self-published, independent and simultaneous use e-book content for libraries. She started her illustrious professional career as a Gap salesperson who also worked part time in a local record store. She serves as the co-share of the Association of Specialized and Cooperative Library Agencies (ASCLA) Consortial E-Book Interest group. She was named a Library Journal Mover and Shaker in 2005.
Donna Seaman, Editor, Adult Books, Booklist
Donna Seaman is the Editor, Adult Books, for Booklist, published by the American Library Association; current chair of the selection committee for the Andrew Carnegie Medals for Excellence in Fiction and Nonfiction, a member of the advisory council for the American Writers Museum, and a recipient of the James Friend Memorial Award for Literary Criticism and the Studs Terkel Humanities Service Award. Her author interviews are collected in Writers on the Air: Conversations about Books.
Felicia Shakespeare, Library Media Specialist, Chicago Public Schools
Felicia Shakespeare is a bestselling author, brand strategist, motivational speaker and an award winning library media specialist. Her new book You Are Your Brand: Building from the Inside Out was released the summer of 2016. Shakespeare became a career changer in 2004 and has worked in the education sector in various capacities as teacher, teaching library media specialist, central office administration, and consultant. She has also provided professional development training to teacher leaders and school leaders. She was inducted into the Librarian Hall of Fame for two consecutive years for her contributions to the profession. Shakespeare holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Business, Master of Arts in Teaching, Master of Education, and is currently a doctoral student pursuing her PhD in Information Studies.