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Committee Members

Today's Committee comprises more than 35 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.

Jina M. Accardo holds an M.S. Ed. in reading and literacy education from Bank Street College. She is currently working as a substitute classroom and library teacher at the Bank Street School for Children, and, on the side, freelances as both a reading tutor and copy editor.  

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. She is a storyteller for Brooklyn Public Library’s Hospital Storytelling Program.  


Rita Auerbach, a retired school librarian, is chair of ALA's 2018 Laura Ingalls Wilder Award Committee. She also serves on the Anne Izard Storytellers' Choice Award Committee. She has chaired ALA's Caldecott and Notable Children's Books Committees, and has served on the Newbery, Coretta Scott King, Batchelder, Ezra Jack Keats and New York Times Best Illustrated Children's Books Committees. As a storyteller, she 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 earned a Ph.D. in Musicology but changed careers many 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.


Sheila Browning received her MS degree in Early Childhood Education from Bank Street in 1970 and began her teaching career at PS 3, an alternative public school in Greenwich Village. In 1977, she was a founding member on the staff of PS 234 in TriBeCa where she taught Grades K-3, was trained and served as a Reading Recovery Teacher, and worked as a part-time Librarian. After her retirement from the NYCDOE in 2004, Sheila had a small private tutoring practice. Returning to Bank Street in 2017, 47 years later, brings her career full circle, a most meaningful next chapter.


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 blogger (, a Librarian for We Need Diverse Books, and a member of the 2016 Newbery Committee.  Allie began her career working as a bookseller at Politics and Prose Bookstore in Washington, DC.

Christina Clark has a bachelor's degree in Art History from Smith College and a Master's degree in Education from Harvard University.  She has lived in China, the Netherlands and the UK where she received a Post Graduate Degree in Education from the University of London.  Christina has been an elementary and middle school teacher and has taught in both the British and the US school systems.  She helped design the middle school program at the Neighborhood House Charter School in MA.  Christina served on the Board of Rhyl Primary School in London and Hong Kong Academy in China.


Mary Clark is a retired school librarian and technology coordinator, still active on ALSC committees and leading childrens' 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 worked as a school librarian for 32 years; a majority of that time in New Jersey high schools where she encouraged students to become life-long readers. Deborah designed curriculum for secondary school students and specialized in both the research process and information literacy. She received a Master’s degree in Library and Information Services from Rutgers University.


Linda Colarusso studied children’s book illustration with Natalie Babbitt and spent many years as a fine artist and arts administrator.


Ayanna Coleman is the Director of Marketing at Tanglewood Publishing as well as the Founding Agent of Quill Shift Literary Agency. 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 and Information Science from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, with a concentration in youth services.


Carmen Colón is an Advisor and Instructor at the Graduate School at Bank Street College of Education. She has been an Educational Consultant in Curriculum Development in Dual language, General and Special Education practice and Getting ready for Pre-K: An Institute for Educators. Previously she has been an Early Childhood educator and after school Spanish teacher.


Becky Eisenberg is a 9/10s teacher at the Bank Street School for Children. Becky has a passion for teaching reading and for children's literature. She received an M.S.Ed. in Teaching Literacy and Childhood General Education from Bank Street College. Becky's favorite young readers are her two children. 


Gillian Engberg is an editorial consultant and children's literature specialist who works with schools, libraries, publishers, and other organizations focused on children's literacy and health. Previously, she was the editor of Book Links magazine, as well as the editorial director of books for youth at Booklist, the review journal of the American Library Association. She has served as a consultant for numerous youth literature and audiobook award committees.


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 the annual list.


Helen Freidus is newly retired from the faculty of the Bank Street College Reading and Literacy Program where she taught for the past 25 years.  She has conducted research and published about the uses of digital pedagogy in constructivist classrooms, knowledge development of pre-service and in-service teachers, and early childhood literacy development.  Her understanding of early literacy has taken a quantum leap in the past few years as she has watched her grandchildren follow diverse pathways through the world of story.


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.


Melinda Greenblatt has been a librarian for over 40 years. She was the Chief Librarian of the Information Center on Children’s Cultures, a service of the U.S. Committee for UNICEF, where she began her long-standing study of diversity in children’s literature. Through the Library Power and Library Connections programs, she created better school libraries throughout the NYC public school system and the Archdiocese of NY. Most recently, she was the Director of Briarcliff Manor Public Library.   She has served on the Newbery and Pura Belpré committees for the American Library Association and currently reviews children’s and YA literature for Kirkus Reviews, The Horn Book Guide, and Shelf Awareness, an online newsletter. She is happy to rejoin the Children’s Book Committee in 2017, having previously served from 2005 – 2011.


Linda Greengrass was the Children's Librarian at Bank Street for over 15 years. She then became the director of the Bank Street Library, a position she held for eleven years. She has served on the Children’s Book Committee for more than 35 years and is currently co-chair of the Committee.


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. 


Andee Jorisch is a retired NYC elementary school teacher, having worked in Washington Heights, teaching 5th and 6th graders for 35 years. Book groups with her classes were her favorite. She taught at the Workshop Center for Open Education at City College, participated in the Lincoln Center Institute and the Metropolitan Opera program. She also worked with the Council on the Environment on Student Energy Projects, and was part of the Goddard Riverside Camping program.


Mollie Welsh Kruger has been an early childhood and elementary school teacher in New York City for over twenty 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, 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 is now an Assistant Principal for Kindergarten to Second Grade at Academy of the City in Woodside, Queens.  After earning her masters in curriculum development from Bank Street, she has taught elementary grades in NYC independent schools, directed early childhood programs and taught community college students, and bachelor’s and master’s candidates education courses.  She began her interest in children’s literature while a senior at Smith College. 


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 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 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. He is an at-large member of the Committee.


Muriel Mandell is the author of a dozen books for children that have been translated into more than a dozen foreign languages. She's 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, with a a Masters from the Columbia School of Journalism, she worked as a reporter, magazine editor and   Washington correspondent for  Overseas News Agency.  In recent years she has written and adapted more than 50 stories for an app for young children. She has been on the CBC since 1984 and has been an editor of the annual list.


Roberta S. Mitchell, Ed. D., 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.


Edna Moy-Rome is an 8/9s Teacher at Bank Street School for Children. She is a graduate of Northeastern University and Bank Street College of Education where she received her Masters degrees in Curriculum Development and Educational Leadership respectively.  She is involved in her work with 8/9s curriculum, training Assistant Teachers and loves reading books to her 8/9s students. She has lead faculty workshops at the Bank Street College and School for Children on Mindfulness practices in everyday life.


Karina Otoya-Knapp is the Assistant Head of the Lower School and Director for Curriculum and Professional Learning at The Spence School.   She is a graduate of the University of Chicago where she received her Bachelors and Masters Degrees.  She also holds a Ph.D from UCLA. Karina loves to read children's books and to share them with her students and teachers at Spence, and to her own three children.


Kathryn L. Payne holds a PhD in Germanic Languages and Literatures with a specialty in World War II children’s literature. She has also 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 semi-retired, 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 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.


Jaïra Placide is the Associate Director at New York University’s Institute of African American Affairs. She has taught composition, introduction to literature, and children’s literature courses at Medgar Evers College/CUNY and taught creative writing, fiction, and children’s book writing classes at the Frederick Douglass Creative Arts Center in New York City. Prior to NYU, she worked in children’s book publishing for over a decade. Her past employers are William Morrow, HarperCollins, and Walt Disney. She is also the author of the young adult novel Fresh Girl, an American Library Association Best Book for Young Adults and winner of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators’ Golden Kite Award.


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 as well as creates and delivers educational programs for students concerning the historic Revolutionary homes in her community.


Martha Rosen has been a member of the Book Committee for fifteen years. She 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 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 holds a master’s degree in elementary education and one in reading and literacy.  She is involved in elementary education teaching 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.


Dale Singer recently retired as a psychotherapist working with adolescents and adults. She is presently involved in a prison education program, working with inmates at Sing-Sing Correctional Facility. She admires the work of the committee and is delighted to share her reactions to the amazing literature for children.


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 thirty years in public and private elementary schools in Boston and mid-coast Maine. She is currently doing literacy support and tending the library at her daughter's school, Juniper Hill School in Alna, Maine, and regularly travels to NY to attend CBC meetings.

Hadassah Tannor is a psychologist/learning disabilities specialist with an M.A. 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 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.  She has been a committee member for over 25 years.


Margaret Tice is the head librarian at Magen David Yeshivah (grades 1-8) in Brooklyn, NY, and is also an adjunct professor at the Queens College Graduate School of Library & Information Studies. 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. 


Morika Tsujimura is a 7th grade Math and Science teacher at Bank Street School for Children, having previously taught Kindergarten and 4th grade. Her other volunteer roles include mentor at iMentor, Dog Captain at the ASPCA, Master Composter through the NYC Compost Project hosted by the New York Botanical Garden, and member of the Diversity Committee for the New York State Association of Independent Schools (NYSAIS).


Leslie Wagner began her career in California as a criminal defense attorney specializing in juvenile court matters. She subsequently moved to New York where she became a legal writer and editor. She is now a part-time lawyer and a full-time parent.


Cynthia Weill is trained as an art historian and worked as both an educator and in humanitarian assistance.  She holds 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. She is the current director of the Center for Children’s Literature at Bank Street.


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


Shara Zaval is the Marketing Manager for Picture Books at Scholastic Press. Formerly, she served as the U.S. Publicity and Marketing manager for Faber & Faber and worked as the editor for and, websites that review and celebrate children's literature. In her spare time, Shara is a freelance editor and volunteers with Girls Write Now, a New York City-based mentoring program for young writers.

Todd Zinn has a Bachelor’s degree in History from Bates College and a Master’s degree in Elementary Education from Wheelock College. He has spent much of his career in education, mostly teaching 5th and 6th grades and as a member of an independent school admission office, but he also has a residential real estate license and a passion for home staging, organizing, and design. Todd is a parent at the Bank Street School For Children. He is currently working to expand and enhance the Children’s Book Committee’s Young Reviewers Program.