Society of
Children's Book Writers
and Illustrators

Volunteer Bios



Co-Regional Advisors

Co-Regional Advisor
Laura Byrd wrote her first picture book in high school, “My Tummy Grumble,” but never considered writing professionally. Based on her first attempt, she believes that was a good thing. That all changed in 2005 when she joined the SCBWI. She now writes picture books and young adult novels and has sold her work to Highlights and The Friend magazines. She has 5 children, 2 cats, 1 husband, and no room left on her bookshelves. Find her on Twitter, @TheWriteByrd.
Co-Regional Advisor
Kim-Kasch Kim Kasch has been married for 30 years, she’s a mother of three, and was a foster parent for disabled children for 5 years. She’s written articles for Pockets, Skipping Stones, Romantic Homes, Birds & Blooms, Today’s Christian Woman, Woman’s Touch, Guide, Winner, Wee Ones, Our Family, The Writer, IRT, Good Old Days, Writer’s Digest, The Black Lily, Outer Darkness, and Herb Quarterly. Read some of her articles at and stop by her blog at



Advisory Committee (AdCom)

Art and Layout Editor – Newsletter
Jenny Schrader grew up outside of a very small town (pop. 8) in Kansas (yes, she’s a real farmer’s daughter), but moved to Portland to attend Reed College in the 90s, so she figures she’s a true Oregonian now. Especially since she married a Portland native. (Although every real native she meets informs her that it doesn’t count.)

She spends much of her time writing, gardening, taking care of her “farm” (one dog, one cat, and the chickens), doing far too much knitting, traveling (though never enough), and working for the fabulous glass artist Roger Thomas at Roger Thomas Glass. Although it’s not really working. Most of it is making sure he’s not watching YouTube videos of cats and theremin players while he’s supposed to be in the studio throwing glass around.


Critique Coordinator
Joan DiCicco is an Oregon children’s writer and former college career counselor originally from the Boston area. She writes picture book biographies and historical young adult fiction. Her first book, Inventor Garrett Morgan, will be published January 2019 by Lee & Low Books. She and her husband live in Portland and have adopted several retired racing greyhounds and have been host-parents to numerous Japanese students over the years. When not writing, Joan is most likely browsing book stores and antique shops, or hosting one of her writing critique groups.


Good News and Articles Editor – Newsletter
facebookWeb300cropped Arlene Williams is the author of the award-winning Dragon Soup and Tiny Tortilla, plus Tales from the Dragon’s Cave and other books. She received a Master’s degree in English from the University of Nevada, Reno, and writes picture books, non-fiction, middle grade, and young adult. As a graphic designer, she also enjoys creating digital art. She has been writing for decades and could never imagine life without stories running through her thoughts and dreams. She loves exploring the forests of the Pacific Northwest, hunting for photos and inspiration.


Event Coordinator

Jefna M. Cohen:

“I grew up in a family of artists in Tacoma, Washington. During my childhood I tried to catch my cat at work as Clandestine World Mastermind (I never did. He was very good at his job). I also spent a good deal of time contemplating talking mud and trying to contact the leader of all flies, Gorcher. As an adult, much of that remains the same. I will add to that list that I am a parent, an elementary school teacher, writer, fledgling illustrator and SCBWI member since 2014. If you know how to get ahold of Gorcher, please do get in touch.”


Illustrator Coordinator
Robyn2 Robyn Waters began her professional art career at the age of fourteen when she drew a series of portraits of the Beatles and the Rolling Stones, printed them on her architectural father’s blueprint machine and sold them at her high school for 50 cents a piece–score! The rest of her life has waltzed around a fairly similar ballroom, until recently, when she decided to create stories to partner up with her art. Now she’s ambidextrous, and delighted to have a full dance card!

Our SCBWI Oregon website logo and our banner were designed by Robyn.


Illustrator At Large
Sheryl Murray Sheryl Murray is an illustrator and writer living in Portland, Oregon with her two daughters, two cats and a head full of characters and stories just begging to be told.

To see more of her work and say hello, visit her illustration website at

Library/Bookstore Liaison
Picture Download3 bw 021611 1210 Talia Heath is a freelance editor, author, and aspiring illustrator. She has a degree in writing and children’s literature. She has worked in the children’s acquisition department of Ooligan Press and as the children’s buyer for an indie bookstore. Her work has appeared in various children’s magazines. Manuscripts she’s reviewed have been published with such houses as Simon and Schuster, Macmillan, and Sleeping Bear Press.


Newsletter Editor
Barbara Herkert is the author of three picture book biographies: Sewing Stories, Mary Cassatt: Extraordinary Impressionist Painter and A Boy, a Mouse, and a Spider. She is represented by Karen Grencik at Red Fox Literary. She lives on the Oregon Coast with her family and spends creative time in a log cabin in Central Oregon.

The Next Level Coordinator
Kelly_Garrett When not writing YA fiction, Kelly Garrett spends a lot of time playing soccer, hiking, and exploring Portland with her black lab. One area Kelly does not excel at is keeping a current bio photo, as her hair regularly changes style and length as if by magic.  You can find her online at and on twitter as @garrett_kelly. Her tweets are split between writing, the Portland Timbers, and bacon. Her debut young adult novel, The Last To Die, was published by Poisoned Pen Press in 2017.


PAL Communicator (currently on leave)
unnamed Debby Zigenis-Lowery is a fantasy novelist, folktale reteller, and fledgling poetry-nonfiction author who has been a member of SCBWI Oregon for over twenty years. She is a member of two critique groups, and among her credits are folktale retellings (including “The Frost King’s Dowry” and “Sean O’Halloran and the Faerie Lord” in Cricket magazine). In addition, her middle grade novel, Set in Stone, won honorable mention for juvenile fiction in a previous years Willamette Writers Kay Snow Writing Contest. Debby loves to read, write, and encourage writers. When not working, she can be found indulging in her latest addiction, Pinterest. “Come visit my digital museum,” she says. “I love to collect images and inspiration for writing projects, as well as information for readers, writers, teachers, and creativity junkies.” It is her pleasure to be able to support our SCBWI Oregon family of writers.

PAL Publicity Coordinator & PAL Communicator

Roz_Marlin Roz Malin is a writer and artist. She has co-edited the small press magazine, Renaissance Fan, and published 2 party cookbooks, Maws and Food Jazz. She also is a contributing author two Oregon Archaeology Society books on Rock Art of Oregon. Roz writes middle grade fantasy and is also working on a children’s non-fiction book on how archaeologists record and preserve Native American Rock Art. Along with SCBWI, she is a member of Willamette Writers and the Portland Screenwriters and Film Critique Group.



SW Washington Liaison/Nonfiction Liaison
Christy head shot Christy Peterson is an expert spider remover, weed grower, and pug smuggler. She is also a nonfiction writer. Her book, 24 Hours in a Salt Marsh (Cavendish), came out in August 2017. Her work has been featured in ASK Magazine, Boy’s Quest, and at the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry. She also writes for Heinemann and ABCMouse.

You’ll find her online at She tweets from @Tweetstreefrogs and is on Instagram @cultivatingwonder.


SM Ford 2015-sm Sue Ford writes for children under her maiden name, Susan Uhlig. She has sold two projects to Schoolwide. She’s the author of four picture books, including: Belling the CatThe Fox and the Crane, and My Shadow for Unibooks (Korea) for their English as a foreign language program and seven readers for Compass Media (Korea). She’s also sold over 160 magazine pieces for children and adults and is an instructor for the basic magazine course for the Institute of Children’s Literature.

Sue’s an SCBWI Regional Advisor Emerita.

Website: Twitter:  @susanuhlig


The Write Direction Coordinator & Book Sales Coordinator
Deb Bartsch is creatively inspired by little ones, life, love and nature, plus a sweet pastry, or two.

“I write and draw both fiction and nonfiction from a kid’s eye view of the world. My debut picture book, Crow Spirit, will be published in 2019 by Clear Fork Publishing!

“I love SCBWI and learn so much from all of you. Truly blessed and very grateful to be in this tribe of beautifully creative people.”


You can also find her here:

Youth Outreach Coordinator
Rosanne Parry is the author of the award-winning novels Heart of a Shepherd, Second Fiddle, and Written in Stone, and the picture book Daddy’s Home. She lives in an old farm house in Portland where she and her husband are raising four children, three chickens and five kinds of fruit. She writes in a treehouse in her back yard.

Read more on her website, and/or follow her on Twitter @RosanneParry.



SCBWI oregon connections

treeConnections Representatives


Cidney Swanson  is a full-time writer of Young Adult Sci-Fi and Fantasy including The Rippler Series and The Saving Mars Series. SAVING MARS was named to Kirkus Reviews Best of 2012 and was an honor book for the SCBWI Spark Award. When she’s not writing, Cidney is distracted by shiny things such as books with raised foil covers, macarons in jars, and stars set against an inky night sky. She is conversant in the following geekdoms: Star Trek, Shakespeare, and Ballet. Cidney is a popular speaker at schools and conferences where she encourages audiences to laugh both at and with her. She lives in Eugene, Oregon with her husband, three kids, two cats, a dog, and entirely too much rain. Cidney Swanson

Doreen Grace Kester is a graduate of the Institute of Children’s Literature and has a Bachelor’s degree of Fine and Applied Art from the University of Oregon. Her professional background includes teaching art, copy writing, illustration and graphic design. You can find Doreen’s Young Adult novel, Seven Weeks, on Amazon, and she is currently working on illustrations for a series of picture books. Doreen lives in Eugene with her husband, daughter, and a ferocious papillon. Doreen Grace Kester Bio Portrait

Kristin J. Ammerman loves chocolate, Pinterest, and reading middle grade and YA fiction at 2 a.m., with a proper English romance movie playing in the background. She wirtes epic middle grade (she claims it’s going to be “a thing”), sometimes dabbles in YA and HA sci-fi/fantasy novels, and enjoys writing short sories. When she’s not driving her three kids to school or sports practices, you can find her on the board of Deep Magic E-zine, project managing Picture Book Summit, harassing her writing colleagues at Eugene Writer’s Anonymous about their plots, writing literary blog posts for or trying to train her chicken to stop pooping on the porch. Ammerman Profile Pic