GET TO
KNOW US:

About Our Storytellers

Rev. Edward A. Hailes Jr.

Author

Edward A. Hailes Jr. is an experienced civil rights attorney and an ordained Baptist minister. He recently retired from his position as the Managing Director and General Counsel for Advancement Project, a national, policy and legal action group that creates strategies for achieving universal opportunity and a racially just democracy. His legal career included key, successful roles at the NAACP and at the U.S Commission on Civil Rights where he led across many advocacy platforms. Hailes earned degrees at Howard University as an Honors Program graduate and the Howard University School of Law. He is a member of the District of Columbia Bar, has served on several nonprofit boards of directors, and served as an Adjunct Professor at Georgetown University Law Center.

Jennifer Lai-Peterson

Author

Jennifer Lai-Peterson is a civil rights attorney, legal strategist, and movement lawyer. A litigator and former union and community organizer, Jen served for nearly eight years as senior attorney in the Power and Democracy Program at Advancement Project where she focused on the federal Right to Vote Initiative as well as state-based voting rights restoration efforts. Jen is a member of the California Bar and a graduate of UCLA School of Law and the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She lives in Virginia where she is a proud member of the Political Action Committee of the NAACP Fredericksburg Branch and a supporter of Hamkae Center, a Virginia-based Asian American civil rights organization. Jen believes deeply in the power and leadership of everyday people in protecting and advancing multiracial democracy in the U.S. and abroad.

Laura Atkins

Author

Laura Atkins is a children's book author, editor, teacher, and the director of the Manzanita Children’s Book Community. She co-wrote Fred Korematsu Speaks Up, winner of several awards including the Carter G. Woodson Award and the Jane Addams Honor Award. She and co-author Stan Yogi have spoken to over 8,000 students at over 50 schools. She also co-wrote Biddy Mason Speaks Up with poet Arisa White, which won a Nautilus and Independent Publisher Book Award. Laura worked at Children's Book Press and as an editor at Lee & Low Books and is a freelance editor. With an MA in Children's Literature from Roehampton University in London, and an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts, Laura lives in Berkeley, CA. She is passionate about equity and true access to all voices in children’s publishing.

Srimalie Bassani

Illustrator

Srimalie Bassani lives and works in Italy. As a child, she developed a passion for drawing and painting and was always encouraged in her artistic expression. Srimalie can often be found at her desk with a stack of books, a cup of tea, and her fat cat Dusty. When she's not painting you'll find Srimalie in her kitchen cooking a new delicious dish for her parents and friends.

Shuli de la Fuente-Lau

Author

Shuli de la Fuente-Lau (she/her) is a mama, educator, and lover of noodles and lots of spice. She is the author of How We Eat and Siblings Are Love. Born in Malaysia, she grew up in California. She is passionate about the intersection of picture books, identity, and important conversations. She currently lives in Singapore with her partner, two daughters, and their three cats.

Ann Jaafar

Illustrator

Ann Jaafar is an illustrator and digital designer who is commonly known as the paperbag girl on social media. She has established a masked identity for herself, and is now known as an artist who celebrates her anonymity to focus people on her art rather than her appearance or personal life. Beneath the paperbag is a girl who started her love for doodling while pursuing a diploma in actuarial science. Ann’s doodles are a medium for her to express her thoughts and feelings. She finds inspiration everywhere and in almost anything, even food!

Naoko Takei Moore

Author

Originally from Tokyo, Japan, Naoko Takei Moore is a renowned donabe (Japanese clay pot) and Japanese home-cooking expert based in Los Angeles, California. She is the author of the cookbook DONABE and the owner of TOIRO, a unique shop in West Hollywood specializing in donabe and hand-selected Japanese artisan kitchenware and tableware. Naoko's work has garnered attention from major outlets like the New York Times and the Los Angeles Times. Naoko’s mission is to share the rich Japanese food culture and the joy of donabe cooking worldwide through her shop and various culinary activities. See her work @mrsdonabe on social.

Yoko Baum

Illustrator

Yoko Baum, a Japanese illustrator based in Portland, Oregon, boasts extensive experience in the industry. Armed with a BFA, she dedicated several years to the children's books sector. Today, her passion lies in editorial, advertising, and publishing illustration. When not immersed in her craft, Yoko finds joy in cooking and baking for her sons, summer hikes, and occasional winter knitting, weaving nature's abundance into vibrant 2D visuals.

Ty-Juana Taylor

Author

Ty-Juana Taylor is an endless learner. Born and raised in the small town of Smiths Grove, Kentucky, Ty-Juana received her Masters Degree in Social Welfare and a PhD. in ethnomusicology from UCLA. While always hungry for knowledge, she thinks of herself as being more than just a scholar. Ty-Juana understands the value of community, the power of advocacy, and the importance of valuing the marginalized. She is  a proponent of "Because of them, we can" and that echoes in all of her work. Ty-Juana believes it is essential that she uplifts the voices and stories of people of color and the marginalized in all that she does as an educator, advocate, and therapist. 

Jade Johnson

Illustrator

Jade Johnson is a New Orleans based illustrator. After receiving her BFA in Illustration from the Savannah College of Art and Design, she taught visual arts in non-profit arts education programs until hanging up her apron in 2021. Her work has been recognized by Creative Quarterly, Applied Arts, and the Society of Illustrators. @jadejohnsonillo

Vanessa Lee Christensen

Author

Vanessa Lee Christensen graduated with an M.A. in Education & Human Development from the George Washington University in Washington, D.C. She is daughter to an American father and Taiwanese mother and grew up in Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Thailand. More recently, Vanessa lived in Japan where she worked in education with children. Her inspiration for Baby Go! is based on her travels and life abroad. Vanessa currently lives in the beautiful state of Minnesota with her husband and three young children.

Audrey Lee

Illustrator

Audrey Lee is an illustrator, designer and art director from Los Angeles. Her work is highly influenced by the vibrant spirit of her community, her love for color and expressive shapes, her role as a mother, and the power of visual storytelling. She continues to explore a variation of styles and mediums to create work that she hopes will uplift, nurture and inspire others. 

Michael Martinez

Author

Michael Martinez is a former elementary school teacher, a father, and the founder of LA Compost. Growing up in Los Angeles, he was amazed at the ways in which his family could repair and restore everyday items that he assumed were destined for the trash. He loves riding his bike, eating tacos, and “staycations” with his family. He is fascinated with life within the soil, and honored to know so many people who are cultivating joy above it.

Hannah Abbo

Illustrator

Hannah Abbo is a self-taught, award-winning illustrator from the United Kingdom. She currently lives with her partner, child and cat in Lisbon, Portugal. When she's not drawing she loves gardening, rollerblading and knitting.

Collin Hall

Author

Collin Hall is a dad, creative and biracial Korean-American living out of Austin, Texas with one dog, two children, three chickens and no time. Collin started writing Mostly Me shortly after his first daughter was born with the hope to provide her a foundational way to approach multiracial identity and learning to claim her own space.  He is a decent gardener, mediocre fly angler, adequate husband, and bedtime story reader extraordinaire. 

Crystal Dawn Chaffee

Illustrator

Crystal is a biracial Filipino-American artist based in the beautiful Pacific Northwest. She loves to paint, make drawings, move, and drink a lot of coffee. Crystal has a passion for bringing stories to life with memorable characters both on the page and on screen. In her artwork, she takes inspiration from her observations of nature, everyday life, and her love for bold mid century design. She enjoys exploring the use of shape, color, and texture, while also using her experience in animation to add rhythm in her illustration work.

Amira Humes

Author & Illustrator

Amira Humes is a Filipino-Black illustrator, pattern artist, and food enthusiast based in Milwaukee. She has no fear in embracing her inner child and loves bright, bold colors and appreciating the things in life that feel magical. In her art, she enjoys illustrating food and embraces the unique beauty of the endless cultures the world holds.

Kim Thai Nguyen

Illustrator

Kim Thai Nguyen is a Vietnamese-American artist, currently based in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Kim is most passionate about communicating and connecting with others through illustration and design. She especially loves drawing characters and food while using delicate lines and bright colors. She hopes her artwork in A Very Asian Guide to Vietnamese Food helps readers of all ages learn more about her culture and gather inspiration for their next meal.

Catherine Nguyen

Author

Cat Nguyen is a native of Houston, Texas and the daughter of two Vietnamese refugees. When she became an aunt and later a mom, Cat searched high and low for books in English about Vietnamese food and traditions without much success. She decided to write a book for Vietnamese-American families like her own. Cat works as a lawyer focusing on education and civil rights. She is a co-founder of VietLead, a non-profit that aims to connect and protect communities of color. She lives in Philadelphia with her husband, daughter, son, and their two cats.

Julie Ajinkya

Author

Julie Ajinkya is a mom, equity advocate and professor of public policy who works to make sure that college is a true possibility for any student who wants to pursue a higher education. She was born and raised in New Jersey, but grew up traveling between the U.S. and India, where much of her large, extended family lives. She enjoys cooking and creating and lives in Washington DC with her partner and two boys.

Aditi Kakade Beaufrand

Illustrator

Aditi Kakade Beaufrand is an Indian illustrator based in France. She likes experimenting with bright and happy colours. She grew up reading fairytales, watching animated films imagining adventure stories. Likewise her style is an embodiment of her Indian heritage and western culture. She loves animals and taking long walks on the beach but is never too far from a pencil and paper to draw her perception of the world.