Keynote Speakers

March 16-17, 2020

  • Tiffany Jackson

    Tiffany Jackson

    Keynote speaker on Monday, March 16, 2020

    Tiffany D. Jackson is the author of critically acclaimed YA novels including the Coretta Scott King — John Steptoe New Talent Award winning Monday’s Not Coming, the NAACP Image Award-nominated Allegedly, and Let Me Hear A Rhyme.

    Tiffany grew up in Brooklyn Heights but also count places like Fort Greene, Far Rockaway, East New York, and Kingston, Jamaica as her home. She attended Hendrick Hudson High School in Montrose, NY, she received her bachelor of arts in film from Howard University, and her master of arts in media studies from the New School University.

    With over a decade of experience in the television industry, Tiffany has worked at various networks and media companies including National Geographic (focused on documentaries such as Lockdown, a prison subculture series) Roc Nation, BET, FUSE, BBC AMERICA, and EPIX. From managing live events, concerts, festival showcases such as BET AWARDS and SXSW Music Showcase, to TV series, specials, and pilots such as FUSE: TOP 20 Countdown, Trending 10, The Hustle: After Party Live and in-studio concert series to producing hip-hop documentaries and artist promotional spots. In 2009, she wrote and directed the short horror film, The Field Trip, receiving praise in the film festival circuit.

    The Brooklyn native is a lover of naps, cookie dough, and beaches, currently residing in the borough she loves, most likely multitasking.

    • Matt Laney

      Matt Laney

      Keynote speaker on Monday, March 16, 2020 

      I’m a dad, church minister, martial artist, writer, story lover, with a thing for big cats. Naturally, all that would meld one day in a book for young readers. After three years of scratching out a sentence or two between parenting, sermon writing, watching baseball, and the occasional catnap, the first book appeared.

      Favorite sport teams: Tigers and Lions
      Favorite  foods: Sushi
      Favorite TV show: My Cat From Hell
      Favorite book: The Chronicles of Narnia
      Favorite superhero: Black Panther
      Desired superpower: Purring
      Favorite pet: Our dog, Boots. Cats? Don’t have any. Wife is allergic. But Boots loves Pride Wars as you can see.

      OK, I like cats, but not that much! And anyway, my characters are two-legged, lion-human hybrids. Actually the only true statements above are about the dog and favorite book. I’m a crazy Red Sox fan who loves cookie dough above all other foods, rarely watches TV, loves Spider-Man and would like to end world hunger as my superpower. Visit Matt’s website at


      • Carmen Deedy

        Carmen Deedy

        Keynote speaker on Tuesday, March 17, 2020.

        Carmen Agra Deedy is the author of eleven books for children, including The Library Dragon, The Cheshire Cheese Cat, Martina the Beautiful Cockroach, and 14 Cows for America, a New York Times Best-seller.  A new picture book, The Rooster Who Would Not Be Quiet! (Scholastic Press) was released in 2017.  Her personal stories first appeared on NPR’s All Things Considered; funny, insightful, and frequently irreverent, Deedy’s narratives are culled from her childhood as a Cuban refugee in the all-but-sleepy Southern town of Decatur, Georgia. She is also host of the four-time Emmy-winning children’s program, Love That Book!

        An award-winning author and storyteller, Ms. Deedy is also an accomplished lecturer, having been a guest speaker for both the TED and TEDx Conferences, the Library of Congress, Columbia University, The National Book Festival, Kennedy Center, among other distinguished venues. In the fall of 2016, she opened the Art of the Book Lecture Series, for the Smithsonian Libraries, and was a keynote speaker at the Association of International Baccalaureate Schools of Costa Rica Conference.

        Carmen’s newest picture book, Rita and Ralph’s Rotten Day (Scholastic Press), illustrated by Pete Oswald, will be released on March 3, 2020.   

        • Laurel Snyder

          Laurel Snyder

          Keynote speaker on
          Tuesday, March 17, 2020

          Laurel Snyder is the author of seven critically acclaimed novels for children including Orphan Island, My Jasper June, Penny Dreadful, Bigger than a Bread Box, Any Which Wall, Up and Down the Scratchy Mountains OR The Search for a Suitable Princess, and Seven Stories Up. Laurel is also the author of numerous picture books including Hungry Jim, Swan, the Life and Dance of Anna Pavlova, Charlie and Mouse, The Forever Garden, The King of Too Many Things, and Baxter, the Pig Who Wanted to Be Kosher. Her books have won the Theodore Seuss Geisel Medal, the Sydney Taylor Medal, the Orbis Pictus Honor, the E.B White Readaloud Honor, the Parents Choice Silver, the Golden Kite Honor, and been long-listed for the National Book Award.

          Laurel grew up in Baltimore, Maryland, and went to college at the University of Tennessee-Chattanooga. She’s a graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and a former Michener-Engle Fellow. She teaches in the MFAC program at Hamline University and in the creative writing department at Emory University.

          These days, Laurel lives in Atlanta, Georgia with her husband, two boys, and several badly-behaved cats. She gardens badly, shelves books at the school library, and finds her sons to be a constant source of inspiration. (When asked for a comment, the boys admitted that they find Mom to be “a bit of a nag.” But Laurel is comfortable with that.)