Advisors

Great Stories Club

ALA is grateful to the librarians, humanities scholars, authors, racial healing practitioners and others who have served as trusted advisors to the Great Stories Club program.

MK AsanteMK Asante is a best-selling author, award-winning filmmaker, rapper and professor who CNN calls “a master storyteller and major creative force.” MK is the author of four books, including Buck: A Memoir, which was praised by Maya Angelou as “a story of surviving and thriving with passion, compassion, wit, and style.” Buck made the Washington Post best-seller list in 2014 and 2015 and is a NAACP Image Award finalist. MK is a prize-winning filmmaker and a Sundance™ Screenwriting Fellow for the movie adaptation of Buck.

MK studied at the University of London, earned a B.A. from Lafayette College, and an M.F.A. from the UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television. MK has given distinguished lectures at Harvard, Yale, Stanford, as well as hundreds of other universities. He has toured in over 40 countries and was awarded the Key to the City of Dallas, Texas. Called “the voice of a new generation” by Essence, he has been featured on the CBS Early Show, VH1, NPR, The Breakfast Club and MTV. He was selected as “100 History Makers in the Making” by MSNBC The Grio and his inspirational story “The Blank Page” is featured in the #1 New York Times best-seller, Chicken Soup for the Soul: 20th Anniversary Edition. MK’s essays have been published in USA Today, Huffington Post, San Francisco Chronicle and the New York Times.

Described by Vibe magazine as “brilliantly complex,” MK is a Hip Hop artist who has performed globally and collaborated with King Mez, 9th Wonder, Talib Kweli and others.

MK is a Distinguished Professor-in-Residence at the MICA School of Ideas in India and a tenured professor of creative writing and film at Morgan State University.

Great Stories Club theme: What Makes a Hero? Self, Society, and Rising to the Occasion

Wini AshoohWini Ashooh is a youth services/teen specialist librarian at the Central Rappahannock Regional Library System in Virginia. She provides library services to the teen residents at the Rappahannock Juvenile Center (RJC) in Stafford, Virginia. The RJC is an 80-bed facility that provides secure incarceration for court-ordered youth, crisis intervention, substance abuse and counseling services.

Great Stories Club theme: Deeper than Our Skins: The Present Is a Conversation with the Past

Andrew AydinAndrew Aydin is creator and co-author of the #1 New York Times best-selling graphic memoir series March, which chronicles the life of congressman and civil rights icon John Lewis. Co-authored with Rep. Lewis and illustrated by Nate Powell, March is the first comics work to ever win the National Book Award, and is a recipient of the Will Eisner Comics Industry Award for "Best Reality-Based Work", the Robert F. Kennedy Book Award Special Recognition and the Coretta Scott King Book Award Author Honor. The Washington Post heralded the completion of the March trilogy, saying, "The closest American peer to Maus has arrived."

An Atlanta native, Andrew was raised by a single mother and grew up reading and collecting comic books. After college, he took a job with Congressman Lewis where Andrew learned that the civil rights legend had been inspired as a young man by a classic 1950s comic book, Martin Luther King & The Montgomery Story. They discussed the impact that comic books can have on young readers and decided to write a graphic novel together about the civil rights era. Collaborating with artist Nate Powell, the March trilogy was born in 2013.

Today, Andrew serves as Digital Director & Policy Advisor to Congressman Lewis in Washington, D.C. A graduate of Trinity College in Hartford and Georgetown University in Washington, Andrew wrote his master’s thesis on the history and impact of Martin Luther King & The Montgomery Story. His best-selling graphic novels March: Book One, March: Book Two, and March: Book Three are taught in middle schools, high schools and colleges across the country. Andrew lectures at schools and universities, participates in reading programs with incarcerated youth, serves as a national project advisor to the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) for the Great Stories Club (GSC): Reading and Discussion for At-Risk Youth, has taught classes on script writing at the Smithsonian, and has appeared as a guest on the Rachel Maddow Show, Morning Joe, CBS This Morning, NPR, CNN, the BBC and many other outlets.

Andrew's other works include the 2016 X-Files Annual (IDW), the 2016 CBLDF Annual Liberty (Image), and an upcoming issue of Bitch Planet (Image), as well as articles for the Atlanta alt-weekly Creative Loafing and the Southern Poverty Law Center's Teaching Tolerance Magazine.

Great Stories Club theme: Growing Up Brave on the Margins: Courage and Coming of Age

Laura BatesLaura Bates is Professor of English at Indiana State University. She enjoys teaching a wide range of courses, from Children's Literature to World Literature, Shakespeare, and Crime and Punishment. With a Ph.D. (University of Chicago, 1998) in comparative literature, her academic training involved classic world literature alongside contemporary texts and theory. Her dissertation focused on Shakespearean reception, directed by internationally respected scholar David Bevington. She is the author of Shakespeare Saved My Life: Ten Years in Solitary with the Bard (2013, Sourcebooks) and has spent more than 20 years working as a volunteer and an instructor in prisons in Chicago and Indiana.

Great Stories Club theme: Structures of Suffering: Origins of Teen Violence and Suicide

Edith CampbellEdith Campbell is an assistant librarian in the Cunningham Memorial Library at Indiana State University. As part of the Reference and Instruction team, she serves as the liaison to the Bayh College of Education. Edith was elected to the 2018 YALSA Printz Award Committee and has been appointed the ALSC Sibert Committee from 2019-21. She is on the advisory board for the online peer-reviewed journal, Research on Diversity in Youth Literature. Her research interests include the visibility of Black girls in young adult literature and implementing mind and brain research in library practices. She blogs to promote literacy, decolonization and social justice in young adult literature at CrazyQuiltsEdi. Edith received her B.A. in Economics from the University of Cincinnati and M.L.S. from Indiana University.

Great Stories Club theme: Deeper than Our Skins: The Present Is a Conversation with the Past

Maria Sachiko CecireMaria Sachiko Cecire is Director of Experimental Humanities and Assistant Professor of Literature at Bard College in New York. Her areas of specialization include children's literature, medieval literature and its reception, media studies, and cultural studies. Prior to joining Bard’s faculty in 2010, she taught at Oxford University. Maria holds a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Chicago, as well as a Master of Studies and a Doctor of Philosophy from Oxford University. Her publications include essays in "Anglo-Saxon Culture and the Modern Imagination," "Arthurian Literature XXVIII," "The Journal of Children's Literature Studies" and "Studies in Ethnicity and Nationalism." She received a Rhodes Scholarship in 2006.

Great Stories Club themes: Deeper than Our Skins: The Present Is a Conversation with the PastWhat Makes a Hero? Self, Society, and Rising to the OccasionHack the Feed: Media, Resistance, Revolution

Vanessa Centeno Vanessa “Chacha” Centeno is a youth services librarian with the Sacramento Public Library. She is best known for her work with immigrant and refugee families, advocacy for at-risk youth and diversity representation in libraries. Before her career as a librarian, Vanessa worked with chronic homeless populations and interned with her local Juvenile Probation Department while completing a Baccalaureate Degree in criminology & criminal justice. She has brought services to at-risk communities through partnerships with groups serving youth in special education, and by advocating for change in policy and service to foster and group home youth. Vanessa was raised amongst family with diverse Chicano and American Indian backgrounds and credits her grandmothers for teaching resilience and nurturing her love for younger generations. She enjoys storytelling and believes it teaches and preserves culture while healing the wounds of generational trauma. She is an enrolled member of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma. 

Great Stories Club theme: Deeper than Our Skins: The Present Is a Conversation with the Past

Angelina CortesAngelina M. Cortes is a reference librarian and diversity trainer at Sno-Isle Libraries in the rural Snohomish and Island counties of the Pacific Northwest. She provides cultural competency, diversity and inclusion training to internal employees of 21 community libraries in the area. She has worked in private, academic and public libraries as a cataloger, archivist and special librarian. Angelina is a partner with the Social Justice Education Around Technology (S.E.A.T.) Institute based out of Washington’s Puget Sound area. Angelina holds a Master of Library and Information Science from the University of Washington at Seattle and a Bachelors of Spanish and Latin American Literature and Creative Writing from the Evergreen State College in Olympia, WA.

Great Stories Club theme: Finding Your Voice: Speaking Truth to Power

Anna CvitkovicAnna Cvitkovic is a Teen Librarian with the San Francisco Public Library (SFPL). She runs the library at Log Cabin Ranch, a detention facility for teenage boys within the Juvenile Probation Department, where youth have discovered an unlikely passion for knitting. She also leads library outreach programming for youth experiencing parenting, homelessness and other challenges, and has developed the first SFPL program specifically for transitional-aged youth (TAY). In her spare time, Anna loves roller-skating, nail art and reading in the sun, and is a terrible but enthusiastic gardener.

Great Stories Club theme: Growing Up Brave on the Margins: Courage and Coming of Age

Joslyn Bowling DixonJoslyn Bowling Dixon is the assistant director for the Prince William Library System, serving Prince William County, Virginia. Joslyn has a depth of public library knowledge that spans 20 years of extensive management experience and  includes supervising service to children and young adults in urban and suburban public library systems In Illinois, Maryland, the District of Columbia, and Virginia. Joslyn serves on the Coretta Scott King Awards Executive Committee as the chair of the Marketing Committee and has presented at ALA national and regional conferences on the subject of spaces, places and literature for teens, as well as the need for civil discourse on race using the public library as an effective catalyst and platform for change. Joslyn has a B.A. in English from Hampton University and earned her MLiS in 2008 at Dominican University.

Great Stories Club theme: Finding Your Voice: Speaking Truth to Power

Ally DowdsAllyson Dowds is the Youth Technology Librarian for Teen Central at the Boston Public Library. In this role, Allyson coordinates efforts to bridge the technology gap among urban youth by working with and for youth to identify community partners as well as design and implement a STEAM-based curriculum within and beyond the walls of the library. Prior to this work, Allyson served as a Library Manager in the Massachusetts Department of Corrections, working with both incarcerated men and woman since 2009. During her tenure, she established several humanities programs for inmates, including the first Art Group, a family literacy program in conjunction with a local public library, as well as a Poetry Group that was co-convened with a Pushcart Prize winning local poet. Also, she facilitated a regular reading and discussion program called ABLE MINDS (Altering Behaviors through Literary Exploration and Moderated Inquiry-based Discussion Sessions). Ally holds a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism from Loyola University of Chicago, and an MLIS from Simmons College.

Great Stories Club theme: Empathy: The Cost of Switching Sides


Anna Mae DuaneAnna Mae Duane is Associate Professor of English at the University of Connecticut. She is the author of Suffering Childhood in Early America: Violence, Race and the Making of the Child Victim (UGeorgia, 2010); the editor of The Children’s Table: Childhood Studies and the Humanities (UGeorgia, 2013); Child Slavery Before and After Emancipation: An Argument for Child-Centered Slavery Studies (Cambridge 2016), and the co-editor of Who Writes for Black Children?: African American Children’s Literature Before 1900 (University of Minnesota Press, 2016). She is also the co-editor of Common-place: The Journal of Early American Life. Her essays have appeared in American Literature, The Cambridge History of the American Novel, Studies in American Fiction, and African American Review. Her work has been supported by a Fulbright award, as well as fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities, Yale’s Gilder Lerhman Center for the Study of Slavery, Resistance, and Abolition. 

Great Stories Club theme: Empathy: The Cost of Switching Sides

Nicholas Higgins is the Director of Outreach Services at the Brooklyn Public Library, where he directs a unique suite of services including the Services for Older Adults department, Correctional Services, Immigrant Services, and outreach to individuals and families experiencing homelessness. From 2009 to 2013, he oversaw The New York Public Library’s Correctional Services department, developing several new programs including a New York veterans oral history project, an early literacy and book recording program for incarcerated parents, and Library School, a 12 week literature class offered for men in federal prison. In 2012, he was named Deputy Director of Outreach Services for NYPL, a position created to expand services to older adults, veterans and individuals with disabilities. Nick began his career in 2006 at the Brooklyn Public Library, delivering targeted library services to children with disabilities, war veterans, job seekers and formerly incarcerated Brooklynites while serving as librarian and Acting Manager of Volunteer Resources. He received an MLS from the Pratt Institute and a B.A. in British Literature from Hunter College.

Great Stories Club theme: Hack the Feed: Media, Resistance, Revolution

Dushaw HockettDushaw Hockett is the founder and executive director of Safe Places for the Advancement of Community and Equity (SPACEs), a Washington, DC-based leadership development and community building organization dedicated to bridging the gap between what people imagine and what they achieve. A native New Yorker who now resides in Maryland, Dushaw has over 20 years of experience in community building and organizational development. He's the former Director of Special Initiatives for the Center for Community Change (CCC), a 40-plus year old national social justice organization founded in the memory of the late Robert F. Kennedy.  During is 12-year tenure at CCC, Dushaw led projects focused on affordable housing, immigration and race.  

Great Stories Club theme: Truth, Racial Healing & Transformation

Nosheen Hydari, LMFT, is a Psychotherapist at Community Counseling Centers of Chicago (C4), Cook County Jail Mental Health Transition Center, and Northside Center for Relationship Counseling. In her role at C4, Nosheen has provided crisis services to hundreds of children and adults in severe psychiatric distress, many who are victims of trauma and experiencing suicidal thoughts/behaviors and self-harm. At Cook County Jail, she provides therapy to inmates with the goal of reducing recidivism often caused by a lack of resources and safe alternatives for individuals who entered into the correctional system and have not been able to transition out. In her role as a Private Practice Psychotherapist at Northside Center for Relationship Counseling, Nosheen utilizes her bicultural upbringing as a first-generation South Asian American immigrant in helping clients overcome constraints in their relationships. Nosheen trained in Systemic Therapy at Northwestern University's The Family Institute. In 2014, she was selected by The White House as a Champion of Change under President Obama's program honoring individuals working at the community level on gun violence prevention.

Great Stories Club theme: Structures of Suffering: Origins of Teen Violence and Suicide

Jenn MannJennifer Mann is the Teen Librarian for the Ypsilanti District Library. She has been a librarian for the past 15 years. She has been committed to youth advocacy and social justice issues for the past 25 years, including the role as a teacher, Director of Education and researcher. Jennifer conducted archival research for the 2013 documentary American Revolutionary: The Evolution of Grace Lee Boggs. She has also volunteered as a book reviewer for School Library Journal for two years and worked on the Michigan Family History Search Project as a database indexer. As a youth librarian, Jennifer has presented at the Michigan Library Association’s annual conference, and spearheaded The Library’s Network (TLN) book drive for the Grace Lee Boggs’ School in Detroit. She has implemented numerous youth and teen programs funded through many grants, including starting a Teen Science Café, a social issues book club at an alternative high school, and secured a YALSA grant for technology training for teen interns.

Great Stories Club theme: What Makes a Hero? Self, Society, and Rising to the Occasion

Susana MorrisSusana M. Morris is an Associate Professor of Literature, Media, and Communication at the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta and co-founder of the popular feminist blog, The Crunk Feminist Collective. Susana is the author of Close Kin and Distant Relatives: The Paradox of Respectability in Black Women’s Literature (UVA Press 2014) and co-editor, with Brittney C. Cooper and Robin M. Boylorn, of the anthology, The Crunk Feminist Collection (Feminist Press 2017). Susana is also series editor, along with Kinitra D. Brooks, of the book series New Suns: Race, Gender, and Sexuality in the Speculative, published at The Ohio State University Press. Currently, she is a Digital Integrative Liberal Arts Center Fellow at Georgia Tech working on her latest book project, Electric Ladies: Black Women, Afrofuturism, and Feminism.

Great Stories Club themes: Finding Your Voice: Speaking Truth to PowerGrowing Up Brave on the Margins: Courage and Coming of Age

Mee MouaMee Moua is the Principal of Interdependent Group, LLC, which provides training, facilitation and coaching support for individuals and organizations in planning, leadership, and transformation. She is passionate about democracy building, heart leadership and making visible the interconnectedness among peoples. She is currently a governance coach to a cohort of newly elected local and State officials and a consultant to the W.K. Kellogg Foundation as a law and policy expert and a racial healing circle facilitator. She is the immediate past President and Executive Director of Asian Americans Advancing Justice-AAJC, a leading national civil rights organization based in Washington, D.C. Prior to her work in Washington, DC, she was an attorney in private practice in St. Paul, Minnesota and a member of the Minnesota State Senate.  

Great Stories Club theme: Truth, Racial Healing & Transformation

Nate PowellNate Powell is a New York Times best-selling graphic novelist born in Little Rock, Arkansas in 1978. He began self-publishing at age 14, and graduated from School of Visual Arts in 2000. His work includes March, the graphic novel autobiography of Congressman and civil rights icon John Lewis; You Don't Say, Any Empire, Swallow Me Whole, The Silence Of Our Friends, The Year Of The Beasts, and Rick Riordan’s The Lost Hero. Powell is the first and only cartoonist ever to win the National Book Award.

His work has also received a Robert F. Kennedy Book Award, two Eisner Awards, two Ignatz Awards, two Harvey Awards, a Coretta Scott King Author Honor Award, four YALSA Great Graphic Novels For Teens selections, a Best American Comics selection, and has been a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize.

Nate has discussed his work at the United Nations, as well as on MSNBC’s The Rachel Maddow Show and CNN. His books have been placed on school curriculum in over 40 states, and his animated illustrations in the Southern Poverty Law Center's Selma: The Bridge To The Ballot documentary will reach roughly one million students in 50,000 schools across the nation. He currently speaks about comics as a part of the American Library Association's Great Stories Club.

From 1999 to 2009, Nate worked full-time providing support for adults with developmental disabilities alongside his cartooning efforts. He managed underground record label Harlan Records for 16 years and performed in punk bands Soophie Nun Squad and Universe. He lives in Bloomington, Indiana. Nate is currently writing and drawing his next book, Come Again (Top Shelf, 2018), and drawing Two Dead with writer Van Jensen for Gallery 13.

Great Stories Club theme: Empathy: The Cost of Switching Sides

Laura RogersLaura Rogers is Director of the Writing Center and Assistant Professor, Department of Humanities at Albany College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences. She teaches a wide range of courses, including Contemporary American Literature, American Women Writers, Crime and Punishment, and Fiction and Film. Her research interests are writing center theory and practice, critical literacy, 19th-century American women writers, feminist film theory and prison literacies and pedagogies. In partnership with the onsite library, Laura served as the local scholar for several Great Stories Club programs at the Greene Correctional Facility in Coxsackie, New York. She has been engaged in correctional facility literacy education since 1984. Laura holds a Doctor of Arts in English from the State University of New York at Albany.

Great Stories Club theme: The Art of Change: Creation, Growth, & Transformation

Amira ShabanaAmira Shabana is the managing school librarian for Barrington Middle School in Barrington, Illinois. Since 2009, she has worked as a school librarian at the elementary school level, junior high level, and now, high school level. She has worked in a variety of library settings — school, public,and special libraries including the Art Institute of Chicago-Ryerson & Burnham Libraries. Her academic achievements include a B.A. in history and art history from the University of Illinois, a Masters of Library Information Science from Dominican University and a Reading Specialist endorsement from the University of Illinois at Chicago. She is currently part of the reader panel for the Illinois State High School Reading List Abe Lincoln Teen Choice Award and a member of the Art Institute's Teacher Action Panel. Amira is passionate about social justice, educational equity and the opportunity to turn this passion into action as a member of ALA’s Implementation Team.

Great Stories Club theme: Finding Your Voice: Speaking Truth to Power

Mike WengerMichael R. Wenger is an adjunct faculty member in the Department of Sociology at The George Washington University, where he teaches classes on race relations and institutional racism. He also serves as a senior consultant on race relations with the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. In this capacity, he provides guidance on the Truth, Racial Healing and Transformation effort of the Foundation and has facilitated racial healing circles at the conferences of several large organizations, including Independent Sector, the Association of American Colleges & Universities, the American Library Association, and Virginia’s Commonwealth Commission on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. He was recently named as a senior fellow at the Association of American Colleges & Universities (AAC&U).  

Great Stories Club theme: Truth, Racial Healing & Transformation