Committee Members

Today's Committee comprises more than 40 members, all volunteers from various professions and backgrounds concerned with children and books. Members use their skills and expertise to foster the unique point of view bequeathed to us by our founding organization, namely how books can affect young readers, and what books can do for them.

Marilyn Ackerman
Marilyn Ackerman retired from New York Public Library’s BookOps and Brooklyn Public Library after serving as a children’s materials selector, branch librarian, and curriculum materials specialist.  A member of the Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC), a division of the American Library Association (ALA), Marilyn has been a member of the Newbery, Caldecott, Batchelder, and Carnegie Medal/Notable Children’s Videos committees.  She has spoken about her experiences serving on the Newbery Committee to Mock Newbery groups at New York City schools.  

Rita Auerbach
A retired school librarian, Rita Auerbach currently serves on the Ezra Jack Keats Awards Committee which honors new authors and illustrators of picture books, the Anne Izard Storytellers' Choice Award Committee, and ALA's Coretta Scott King/Virginia Hamilton Lifetime Achievement Award Committee. She is a member of the Board of ALA's Association for Library Service to Children. She has also chaired ALA's Caldecott and Notable Children's Books Committees, and has served on the Newbery, Coretta Scott King, Batchelder and New York Times Best Illustrated Children's Books Committees. She co-founded ALA's Storytelling Discussion Group and has told stories at the Connecticut Storytelling Festival, the Hans Christian Andersen statue in Central Park, and the Museum of Natural History, and she has taught storytelling to teachers and librarians throughout the metropolitan area.

Alice Belgray
Alice Belgray earned a PhD in musicology but changed careers over 25 years ago. She studied children’s literature and worked as a children’s book editor for several major publishing firms. She later joined the Children’s Book Committee, which she chaired from 1997 to 2011.

Jennifer M. Brown
Jennifer M. Brown began her career editing and marketing children’s books at what was then Harper & Row. She has taught K–3 at the Buckley School in New York and was the children’s reviews editor at Publishers Weekly for nine years. She is now the children’s editor for Shelf Awareness, an e-newsletter to the book trade, and also the director of the Center for Children’s Literature at Bank Street. 

Allie Jane Bruce
Allie Jane Bruce is Children's Librarian for Bank Street College, where she guides students into becoming independent library users and lifelong lovers of reading. A graduate of the Pratt Institute, with a Master’s in Library Media Studies, Allie is a member of the 2016 Newbery Committee and a Librarian for We Need Diverse Books.  Allie began her career working as a bookseller at Politics and Prose Bookstore in Washington, DC.

Mary Clark
Mary Clark is a retired school librarian and technology coordinator, still active on ALSC committees and leading children’s book groups (the Young Critics Clubs) at Perrot Memorial Library in Old Greenwich, CT. In her early career, Mary worked internationally as an AMI certified Montessori teacher.

Deborah E. Cohen
Deborah E. Cohen worked as a school librarian for 32 years; a majority of that time at the secondary level. As an instructor in both the research process and information literacy, she has designed instructional curriculum based on Common Core Standards. Deborah has a particular interest in encouraging students to read for pleasure. She received a Master’s degree in Library and Information Services from Rutgers University

Linda Colarusso
Linda Colarusso studied children’s book illustration with Natalie Babbitt and spent many years as a fine artist and arts administrator. She now works full time as the assistant to the upper school coordinator at the Bank Street School for Children. 

Ayanna Coleman
Ayanna Coleman is the Librarian and Manager of Events and Programs at the Children’s Book Council and Every Child a Reader as well as the Founding Agent of Quill Shift Literary Agency LLC. In each role she creates partnerships inside and outside of children’s publishing to help wonderful, diverse books reach the readers who crave them. Ayanna has a bachelor’s degree in marketing and a master’s in library science from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, with a concentration in youth services.

Nicole Deming
Nicole Deming is Communications Director at the Children’s Book Council – the national non-profit trade association for children’s book publishers – and Every Child a Reader, a 501(c)(3) literacy non-profit dedicated to instilling a lifelong love of reading in children. Previously, she worked in publicity/marketing at Candlewick Press and in creative development at FamilyFun Magazine.

Becky Eisenberg
Becky Eisenberg has been teaching in independent elementary schools for 10 years, and she currently teaches the 9/10s at the Bank Street School for Children. Becky has a passion for teaching reading and for children’s literature. She received an MSEd in teaching literacy and childhood general education from Bank Street College of Education. Becky’s favorite young reader is her son.

Margery Fisher
Margery Fisher served as the library media specialist at Coleytown Middle School in Westport, CT, for 25 years. During that time, she guided the automation of the library, assisted with the change from junior high to middle school, served as advisor to the student government and began a service program for students. Since her retirement, she has been a member of the Children’s Book Committee and has been an editor of its annual list.

Alexandra Grannis
Alexandra Grannis is a learning disabilities specialist who works with children who have difficulty in learning to read. She is interested in promoting the best children’s literature for all students, but especially for the children she teaches. She is co-director of the Young Reviewers Program.

Linda Greengrass
Linda Greengrass was the director of the Bank Street Library for 11 years. Previously, she was the children’s librarian at Bank Street for over 15 years. She is co-chair of the Children’s Book Committee.

Todd Jackson
Todd Jackson was a learning specialist in the Bank Street School for Children for 20 years. Upon retirement from the SFC, she joined the Children’s Book Committee, where she is co-director of the Young Reviewers program. She works to enrich the language arts and library program at the Cornelia Connelly Center, a private middle school for low-income girls on the Lower East Side. 

Rebecca Johnson
Rebecca Johnson has been an elementary school teacher since 2000. She is currently co-librarian of the lower school library at Saint Ann’s School, an independent school in Brooklyn Heights, where she shares books from the Children’s Book Committee with 300 eager readers.

Mollie Welsh Kruger
Mollie Welsh Kruger has been an early childhood and elementary school teacher in New York City for over 20 years. While working on her doctorate, she became engaged in deeper conversations regarding literacy and, thus, children’s literature. Currently, Mollie is on the graduate faculty of Bank Street College of Education in the Reading and Literacy Program and is co-chair of the Children’s Book Committee.

Patricia Lakin
Patricia Lakin, a former elementary school teacher, is a full-time writer of children’s books. She has written over 50 children’s books, one of which is the middle-grade biography Steve Jobs: Thinking Differently. She makes frequent school visits where she shares her writing experience and also gives writing workshops to students and teachers.

Caren Leslie
Since being a student at Smith College, Caren Leslie has been passionate about children's literature.   Her area of interest is fairy tales and introducing math concepts through children's literature.  After graduating from Bank Street, she has been an educator for all of her adult life. Her extremely diverse work history includes teaching in charter schools and independent schools, teaching education courses in colleges, and directing preschools. 

Ann Levine
Ann Levine earned a Master’s degree from Bank Street College of Education after a career in magazine publishing. She taught at the Weekday School and the School at Columbia, and became program director at Preschool of America. Ann is currently assistant manager at Bank Street Book Store.

Elizabeth Levy
Elizabeth Levy has been writing children’s books since 1971, with over 100 books published, including the Something Queer Mysteries, illustrated by Mordicai Gerstein, and My Life as A Fifth Grade Comedian. Recently she has been continuing Paula Danziger’s Amber Brown Series with Bruce Coville. She does frequent school visits and also loves to write with children, working on stories with children from the Bronx to India.

Laurent Linn
Laurent Linn began his career as a puppet designer in Jim Henson’s Muppet Workshop. With the Muppets for 11 years, he became the creative director for Sesame Street, winning an Emmy Award. Currently, Laurent illustrates, serves on children’s book review and awards committees, and is the art director at Simon & Schuster.

Muriel Mandell
Muriel Mandell is the author of a dozen books for children that have been translated into more than a dozen foreign languages. She has taught in New York City from kindergarten to graduate school, and, as assistant to the director of communications arts of the NYC Board of Education, she wrote manuals for the teaching of both writing and reading. Earlier, she worked as a reporter and magazine editor and served as a Washington correspondent for an overseas news agency. She now writes and adapts stories for an app for young children. She has been on the Children’s Book Committee since 1984 and has been an editor of its annual list.

Roberta S. Mitchell, EdD
Roberta S. Mitchell, EdD, has taught elementary grades and special classes in a gifted program. At Barnard College, she has served as Lecturer in Education and Student Teaching Supervisor. She has also taught classes at Hunter College, Pace University and Marymount Manhattan.

Kathryn L. Payne
Kathryn L. Payne holds a PhD in Germanic languages and literatures with a specialty in World War II children’s literature. She has been a classroom teacher in the NYC public schools, working with challenged and at risk students, as well as teaching German and research skills at the college level. Now semiretired, she still works as a researcher and is writing a YA novel and a comprehensive bibliography of World War II children’s literature.

Susan Pine
Susan Pine retired from the New York Public Library after a career as a branch children’s librarian and materials specialist in the Office of Children’s Services, where she was responsible for book selection, assisted in staff training, and edited the yearly publication Children’s Books—100 Titles for Reading and Sharing. She also edited The Black Experience in Children’s Books, New York City summer reading lists, and brochures for New York State Parent-Child Grants. Susan is a member of ALSC, where she has served on the Caldecott, Sibert, and Batchelder committees. She currently reviews for Kirkus Reviews

Martha Rago
An art director and designer, Martha Rago is currently the creative director at Random House Children’s Books. Martha has held top creative positions at Farrar, Straus and Giroux, Henry Holt and HarperCollins and has worked with many award-winning artists and authors in her publishing career. 

Michael Ramirez
Michael Ramirez is a published children’s book author and playwright. She was an artist-in-residence at the 92nd Street Y, served as a writing juror for Scholastic’s Art & Writing Awards for Best Teen Writing, and has taught children’s book writing and publishing courses throughout New York. Michael has explored over 42 countries and has set foot on all seven continents. A social worker with an MPA, she works with injection-drug-using, foster care, and homeless HIV+ street kids in New York City. 

Ellen Rappaport
Ellen Rappaport is a science librarian as well as a certified school library media specialist.  She has worked as a librarian for pharmaceutical companies as well as for public educational systems that provided library services to disadvantaged and gifted youngsters. She has presented at a variety of literacy conferences and writes for electronic educational newsletters. She serves on the board of literacy and social emotional learning development groups.

Martha Rosen
Martha Rosen was a library media specialist at the Edgewood School in Scarsdale, NY, for 23 years and continues as a part-time children’s librarian at the Scarsdale Public Library. 

Elizabeth Segal
Elizabeth Segal earned a master’s degree in early childhood and elementary education from Bank Street College of Education and is currently a freelance proofreader, copy editor, and fact-checker.

Charissa Sgouros
Charissa Sgouros holds master’s degrees in elementary education and in reading and literacy. She has been involved in elementary education for a number of years, teaching (and learning from) children, teachers, and teachers-to-be. Charissa is the author of the picture book A Pillow for My Mom and is currently a learning specialist at LREI.

Nan Shipley
Nan Shipley has been a Bank Street School for Children parent since 1998. She is a literary scout in the movie industry, finding books to adapt for film.

Susan Stires
Susan Stires was an instructor/advisor in the Reading and Literacy Program at Bank Street College of Education Graduate School, where she taught courses in language acquisition, literacy development, and children’s literature. She also taught at Teachers College, Columbia University, and was a literacy staff developer in New York City public schools. She taught for 30 years in public and private elementary schools in Boston and midcoast Maine.

Hadassah Tannor
Hadassah Tannor is a psychologist/learning disabilities specialist with an MA in school psychology. She is a founder and director of the Children’s Learning Improvement Center, specializing in the diagnosis and remediation of learning disabilities.

Jane Thompson
Jane Thompson was a NYC public school teacher in East Harlem for 30 years.  She helped develop the Title III program for her district and ran literature and writing after-school programs. She has developed a literature curriculum and taught teachers about approaches to literature for New York State. She has also worked with arts programs such as the Lincoln Center Institute and the Metropolitan Opera school program for many years.  In addition she has studied and lived in the Philippines, Mexico, and Guatemala and has traveled extensively.

Margaret Tice
Margaret Tice is the head librarian at Magen David Yeshivah (grades 1 -8) in Brooklyn, NY, and is also an adjunct professor at both the Queens College Graduate School of Library & Information Studies and the School of Communication and Information at Rutgers University. A children’s librarian in the New York metropolitan area for over 35 years, Margaret was the Coordinator of Children’s Services at The New York Public Library from 2001-2009.  Margaret is active in the American Library Association and has served on the Newbery, Notable Video and Carnegie Committees.

Leslie Wagner
Leslie Wagner began her career as a criminal defense attorney specializing in juvenile court matters. She is now a part-time immigration lawyer and a full-time parent.

Dr. Scyatta Wallace
Dr. Scyatta Wallace is a psychologist/teen expert with a PhD in developmental psychology. She is a CEO/founder of Janisaw Company, a curriculum design firm specializing in leadership development and life skills programs/curriculum for teen girls/young women. She is widely published and writes a weekly blog for teen girls/young women. She is also an associate professor of psychology at St. John’s University, where she teaches and mentors students.

Cynthia Weill
Cynthia Weill is trained as an art historian and worked as both an educator and in humanitarian assistance.  She hold’s a doctorate from Teachers College Columbia University.  She completed her dissertation work in Oaxaca, Mexico where she worked closely with artisans to  collaboratively develop a series of bilingual children’s books.

Rivka Widerman
Rivka Widerman, lawyer, teacher, storyteller, and artist, has been a member of the Children’s Book Committee since 1997.