CELESTE NG

Celeste Ng is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Everything I Never Told You and Little Fires Everywhere. Her third novel, Our Missing Hearts, will be published in October 2022. Ng is the recipient of fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Guggenheim Foundation, and her work has been published in over thirty languages.

Celeste’s most recent book, Our Missing Hearts, is an old story made new, of the ways supposedly civilized communities can ignore the most searing injustice, including censorship. It’s a story about the power—and limitations—of art to create change, the lessons and legacies we pass on to our children, and how any of us can survive a broken world with our hearts intact.

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Photo Credit: Chris Richards
Credit: Kieran Kesner

DR. YOLANDA SEALEY-RUIZ

Dr. Yolanda Sealey-Ruiz is an award-winning associate professor at Teachers College, Columbia University. Her research focuses on racial literacy in teacher education, Black girl literacies, and Black and Latinx male high school students. A sought-after speaker on issues of race, culturally responsive pedagogy, and diversity, Sealey-Ruiz works with K-12 and higher education school communities to increase their racial literacy knowledge and move toward more equitable school experiences for their Black and Latinx students. Sealey-Ruiz appeared in Spike Lee’s 2 Fists Up: We Gon’ Be Alright, a documentary about the Black Lives Matter movement and the campus protests at Mizzou. Her co-authored book (with Dr. Detra Price-Dennis) Advancing Racial Literacies in Teacher Education: Toward Activism for Equity in Digital Spaces (2021). She is the author of the full-length poetry collections Love from the Vortex & Other Poems (2020) and The Peace Chronicles (2021).

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FRANK X WALKER

The first African American writer to be named Kentucky poet laureate, Frank X Walker is Professor of English and African American and Africana Studies and Director of the MFA in Creative Writing program at the University of Kentucky in Lexington, where he founded pluck!: The Journal of Affrilachian Arts & Culture. He has published eleven collections of poetry, including his latest, Masked Man, Black: Pandemic & Protest Poems, and Turn Me Loose: The Unghosting of Medgar Evers, which was awarded an NAACP Image Award and the Black Caucus American Library Association Honor Award. Walker is also the author of Buffalo Dance: The Journey of York, winner of a Lillian Smith Book Award, and Isaac Murphy: I Dedicate This Ride. He coined the term “Affrilachia” and co-founded the Affrilachian Poets group. A Cave Canem fellow, his honors also include a Lannan Literary Fellowship for Poetry.

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SHELLY C. LOWE

Shelly C. Lowe, a citizen of the Navajo Nation, is the first Native American woman selected to lead the National Endowment for the Humanities as chair, a position appointed by President Biden and confirmed by the US Senate. Previously, Lowe served from 2015–2022 as a member of the National Council on the Humanities, an appointment by President Obama.

Lowe’s career in higher education includes roles as executive director of the Harvard University Native American Program, assistant dean in the Yale College Dean’s Office, and director of the Native American Cultural Center at Yale University. Prior to holding these positions, she spent six years as the graduate education program facilitator for the American Indian Studies Programs at the University of Arizona.

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RUTA SEPETYS

Ruta Sepetys is an internationally acclaimed, #1 New York Times bestselling author of historical fiction published in over sixty countries and forty languages. Her novels Between Shades of Gray Out of the EasySalt to the Sea, and The Fountains of Silence have won or been shortlisted for more than forty book prizes, and are included on more than sixty state award lists. Between Shades of Gray was adapted into the film Ashes in the Snow, and her other novels are currently in development for TV and film. Winner of the Carnegie Medal, Ruta is passionate about the power of history and literature to foster global awareness and connectivity.

Sepetys has engaged with NCTE and literacy educators during the pandemic, most recently in a professional learning session discussing the Ukraine crisis.

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MATT DE LA PEÑA

Matt de la Peña is the author of the Newbery Medal-winning Last Stop on Market StreetMilo Imagines the WorldCarmela Full of WishesLove, and A Nation’s Hope: The Story of Boxing Legend Joe Louis, as well as a number of critically acclaimed young adult novels.

In 2016 de la Peña received NCTE’s Intellectual Freedom Award, honoring him for his courage in standing up for intellectual freedom with the NCTE National Intellectual Freedom Award, given for his efforts to fight censorship not only through his words but also through his actions.

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