2017 Conference Speakers

Keynote and Special Speakers

Please join us in Chicago, IL next July as we welcome our invited speakers - Lesléa Newman and Penny Mickelbury.



Keynote Speaker - Lesléa Newman

Lesléa Newman is the author of 70 books for readers of all ages including many books for and about the LGBTQ community. Her titles include the children’s classic, Heather Has Two Mommies, the short story collection, A Letter to Harvey Milk; the humor collection,Out of the Closet and Nothing to Wear; the teen novel-in-verse October Mourning: A Song for Matthew Shepard; the board books Mommy, Mama, and Me and Daddy, Papa, and Me, the novelT he Reluctant Daughter; the poetry collection,I Carry My Mother; and the children’s books,The Boy Who Cried Fabulous, Donovan’s Big Day, and A Fire Engine for Ruthie.


Nine of her books have been Lambda Literary Award Finalists. Other literary awards include poetry fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Massachusetts Artists Foundation; a Money for Women/Barbara Deming Memorial Fiction-Writing Award; two American Library Association Stonewall Honors; a Massachusetts “Must Read” award; the James Baldwin Award for Cultural Achievement; an Alice B. Award career medal; A Golden Crown Literary Society Award in Poetry; and a Canadian Academy of Cinema and Television Gemini Award. From 2008 – 2010, she served as the poet laureate of Northampton, MA. Currently she is a faculty member of Spalding University’s low-residency MFA in Writing program. Her children’s book, Sparkle Boy, will be published in 2017.  Visit www.lesleanewman.com.




Special Speaker - Penny Mickelbury

Penny Mickelbury’s 11th and 12th books—Belle City, a novel of historical fiction, and That Part of my Face, a collection of short stories--are both non-mysteries that join her collection of ten published mystery novels in three successful series: The Carol Ann Gibson Mysteries (winner of a Gold Pen Award by the Black Writers Alliance) The Mimi Patterson/Gianna Maglione Mysteries (twice Lambda Literary Award finalists), and the Phil Rodriquez Mysteries. 2016 will see new entries in both the Carole Ann Gibson and the Mimi/Gianna series.


Also an accomplished playwright, Mickelbury’s play The Black Family Robinson was one of three plays that inaugurated the Inglewood/Willie Agee Playhouse (Los Angeles) Staged Reading Series in 2016 and last year she was the recipient of an Ethel Woolson Lab, a competitive honor, for her play Hush Now, which received a staged reading at Atlanta’s Alliance Theatre Black Box. Hush Now also received a staged reading as part of the Fountain Theatre’s (Los Angeles) New Works festival. Her play Waiting for Gabriel was the second-place winner in the Theodore Ward Competition and was part of the TriBeCa Film Studio’s (New York) Staged Reading Series.


She was a co-founder of Alchemy: Theatre of Change, a young people's’ acting company in New York City. Mickelbury was a pioneering newspaper, radio and television journalist based primarily in Washington, D.C. She taught journalism at the Los Angeles Leadership Academy, a charter middle school, and was a Coordinator with the Los Angeles Public Library’s Adult Literacy Program. Mickelbury was a resident writer at Hedgebrook Women Writers Retreat, and is a recipient of the Audre Lorde Estate Grant. Visit www.pennymickelbury.com.

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