Introducing the MCBD Board of Advisors! These fine folks were hand-picked based on their commitment and passion for diversity in children’s literacy are on the front lines of education and community building.
Amanda Hsiung-Blodgett is the founder of Miss Panda Chinese, an online Chinese language, and cultural resource that provides engaging and playful communicative teaching materials for parents and educators. She has been teaching Chinese and ESL for over 15 years and has extensive international teaching experience with children in Canada, Ecuador, Morocco, Taiwan, and the United States. Amanda is registered and director-qualified with Hawai’i Careers With Young Children (PATCH), and received the highest possible score on the Chinese Proficiency Test administered by the Foreign Service Institute of the U.S. Department of State. She is a member of the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL), and the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC). Amanda graduated from Shih Hsin University and The University of Texas at Austin.
Kenneth Braswell has spent over 27 years in the service of family and community. Husband and father of 5, Braswell continues to see the world through the eye of his own children. In 2004 he created Fathers Incorporated (FI). With national and international missions; the agency has provided capacity building services to thousands of organizations working to ensure that fathers contribute to the healthy well-being of their children. FI is currently the prime contact for National Responsible Fatherhood Clearinghouse. Braswell is the author of “When The Tear Won’t Fall: One Man’s Journey Through The Intimate Struggles of Manhood and Fatherhood.” He is also the author of three children’s books Daddy, There’s A Noise Outside and Daddy Is Feeling Blue and “Daddy’s Family Tree”. In addition to writing books, Mr. Braswell is also the creator of three powerful documentaries: “Spit’in Anger”, “Dark Hearts” and “A Queen’s Discovery. He is a much sought-after keynote speaker, presenter, trainer and media consultant on issues related of Faith, Family & Fatherhood; with an intentional focus on Black Men and Boys.
His current work is focused on literacy and his program; Real Dads Read (RDR). The work is aimed at pre-school and school-aged children (0-18) and their fathers/male caregivers with the goals of 1) encouraging children to develop a love of reading, 2) improving children’s literacy skills and educational outcomes, and 3) strengthening bonds between fathers/caregivers and their children. Real Dads Read is a two-generation approach to engaging and improving outcomes for both men and the children for which they are responsible.
You can follow on Twitter – @braswellkenneth and online at www.kennethbraswell.com
Deirdre “Deedee” Cummings is a licensed attorney and therapist in Louisville, KY. She is a graduate of the first Historically Black College for women in the country, Bennett College in Greensboro, NC and the Louis D. Brandeis School of Law at the University of Louisville. Deedee holds a Bachelor’s of Psychology, a Master’s of Education in Counseling Psychology, and a Juris Doctorate degree. Over her career spanning more than two decades, she has experienced how easy it is for us to become discouraged, even to the point of giving up. Working in foster care proved especially tough. Deedee began writing books as a way to help process the trauma of this work, and also has assisted dozens of foster children with writing their own stories. She focuses her writing on powerful, inspiring, and uplifting messages intended to center us, connect us, motivate us, and remind us all to begin again. Deedee and her husband Anthony experience a wide range of growing pains with three children ranging in age from 9 to 25! You can learn more about her and her work on her website makeawaymedia.com.
Becky is has been the Project Manager for the MCBD initiative since Day One and she can honestly say that she loves her job. As the mom to two beautiful kids, she is the voice of “invisible disabilities” like ADHD, severe anxiety, and childhood eating issues. Her oldest son is also adopted, and she is as proud as proud could be to be an adoptive mommy. She also has her very first diverse picture book coming out in the Fall of 2018 through Audrey Press Publishing. Connect with Becky at Becky (at) Multiculturalchildrensbookday.com
Julia is a children’s librarian and young adult novelist. Her first novel, Seven Stones, was published in March 2015. She holds a degree in English Education and is currently pursuing her Masters in Library and Information Science. At her library, Julia hosts Baby Lapsit, Romp & Rhyme Storytime, a mother-daughter book club, a kids’ Lego club, and just has too much fun doing her job in general. When she isn’t reading or writing, Julia can be found twisted into a variety of yoga poses, checking out the latest storytime blogs, cooking dynamite vegetarian food, or biking with her husband. You can find her on her website julialeebooks.com where she authors The Open Book blog.
Pam considers herself a champion of the underdog and protectorate of multicultural children’s literature. She holds a degree in English Writing, a post-baccalaureate certificate in Elementary Education, and a Master’s degree in Library and Information Science. Pam can often be found singing many of The Wiggles songs while simultaneously reading a book in rhyme and drinking coffee. She reviews books at Unconventionallibrarian.com, guest posts on Good Enough Mother, hosts adult and tween book clubs and literary tea parties where she dons a tutu and tiara.
Maritza Martinez Mejia
Maritza Martinez Mejia, Colombian poet, writer and speaker who lives in Florida. She is the founder of Proyecto de Escritura LuzDelMes an online Group whose objective is to create bridges of communication and collaboration between English and Spanish authors and Cultural Promoter of “Desayuno Literario Internacional LuzDelMes” to promote Bilingual Literature.
For her service to the community, she is the award recipient of the Crystal Apple Award 2006. Maritza received the Virtues Christian Poetry Award 2015, Latino Book Awards for Best Translation English to Spanish, and Best eBook non-fiction 2016. Nominated to the Carmen Luisa Pinto 2016, Author’s Talk Book Show 2017 and Foundation Somos Poetry 2018. Collaborator to Radio Sion, NY at the “El Mágico Mundo de los libros”, Visítame Magazine and Southern Writer’s Magazine.
Six bilingual books published, Vanilla and Chocolate (2012 & 2017), Grandma’s Treasure (2014), Poems, Thought s and more (2015), and memoir Hazel Eyes (2010) translated into Spanish as Ojos Avellana (2016), Luz del mes (2018).
Graduated from Colegio Mayor de Cundinamarca in Commerce and Foreign Language, A.S. in Travel Industry Management from Broward State College, and obtained a Bachelor’s Degree in Humanities and Certificate in Women’s Studies from Florida Atlantic University.
Member of Florida Writer’s Association, South Florida Writer’s Association, Multicultural Children’s Book Reviewer and Academia Norteamericana de Literatura Moderna Internacional Capitulo Florida.
Rochelle “Ro” Menendez
As an Elementary School Library Media Specialist at Dr. J C Cannaday Elementary School in Mesquite, TX, Ro Menendez has a larger-than-life presence on and offline and a heart as big as the state she lives in. Passionate about books, diversity, literacy, and committed to the education of children, Ro has over 10 years of experience, in a variety of demographics. As a facilitator of learning in all content areas in an inclusive learning setting, she strives to teach the whole child and provide real-world encounters to students as part of their learning and development. Connect with Ro via DonorsChoose.org or on her always-vibrant Instagram and Twitter accounts.
Jodi Murphy is the founder of Geek Club Books, a creative nonprofit with an autism education and empowerment mission. She is also the co-founder for Zoom Autism Magazine, a quarterly digital magazine for the autism community, and a regular contributor to The Mighty news media, Dandelion Moms, Teachers with Apps and Care.com. Previously, she was a freelance marketing specialist working for clients in a variety of industries, a journalist in the design/luxury lifestyle industry, and co-founder of Nesting Newbies, one of the first independent lifestyle digital magazines. Her most important role and her life’s passion is being the mother of two adult children—one who is on the autism spectrum. Her focus is on affecting change through storytelling and technology. Her dream is a world where those on the autism spectrum are valued and given every opportunity to shine using their talents and abilities. www.geekclubbooks.com
Erik S. Weibel
Erik Weibel is a sixteen-year-old tenth grader that loves to read. He started his blog, This Kid Reviews Books when he was nine and is still blogging. Erik writes a monthly book review column for a local free newspaper, is a former Scholastic Kid News Corps Reporter and is a freelance writer for magazines and newspapers. Erik is a long time supporter of Multicultural Children’s Book Day and an inspiration to young (and old!) authors everywhere.