New York, NY – September 28, 2018 – The CBC Diversity Committee is proud to announce
the winners of the inaugural CBC Diversity Outstanding Achievement Awards. These
awards will be given annually to professionals or organizations in the
children’s publishing industry who have made a significant impact on the publishing
and marketing of diverse books, diversity in hiring and mentoring, and efforts
that create greater awareness with the public about the importance of diverse
The winners were announced at the CBC Annual Meeting in New York City on September 27, and an official ceremony and conversation with the winners will take place on October 24 at a CBC Forum event. The winners will each select an organization to receive one thousand dollars’ worth of children’s books in their name.
Shifa Kapadwala, the CBC Diversity Committee’s moderator, said: “The committee had the great joy and responsibility of reviewing nominations from across the children’s publishing community. In making their selections, the committee has summarized the accomplishments of these inspiring people and organizations.”
The 2019 winners are:
Saraciea J. Fennell, Publicist, Tor
After closing out a successful Kickstarter campaign in early 2018, Tor publicist Saraciea Fennell spearheaded the Bronx Book Festival and The Bronx Is Reading, a literacy program that runs in tandem with the festival and targets underserved schools in the area. Saraciea also serves as a steering member in both the POC and Latinx in Publishing groups, reaffirming her commitment to diversity in children’s publishing both inside and out.
Jennifer Loja, President & Publisher, Penguin Books for Young Readers
As President and Publisher of Penguin Young Readers Group, Jen Loja has demonstrated exemplary allyship by supporting diverse voices across PYRG’s publishing program and encouraging diversity and inclusion in hiring. She has shown how publishing executives must work to create space for their teams to bring stories from the margins into the light.
Jason Low, Publisher, Lee and Low Books
Since 1997, Jason Low, of Lee & Low Books, has lead the effort to publish multicultural children’s books. Some of the company’s efforts for increasing diversity on many fronts have been: the New Voices and New Visions Awards for debut authors of color, the first Diversity Baseline Survey to establish an industry benchmark, and the Lee & Low and Friends Scholarship with Simmons College, which alleviates financial obstacles for PoC considering publishing careers.
Beth Phelan, Literary Agent, Gallt & Zacker Literary
In 2016, Beth Phelan, an accomplished literary agent and social media influencer, created a Twitter pitch event aimed at acquiring stories written by marginalized authors and centering the experiences of marginalized characters. With over 80 authors signed by agents, #DVPit is a big success. In addition to being the creator and moderator of #DVPit, Beth actively supports young publishing professionals of color across the industry, and regularly promotes books and authors from marginalized backgrounds.
Phoebe Yeh, VP & Co-Publisher of Crown Books for Young Readers/Random House Children’s Books
More than a few people in this industry can point to a conversation or encouraging word of support from Phoebe Yeh as a cornerstone of their careers. Kwame Alexander, Ellen Oh, Lamar Giles, and Soman Chainani all made their novel debuts with Phoebe behind them. Recently, she published the groundbreaking collection We Rise, We Resist, We Raise Our Voices. If it were not for Phoebe, the fight for diversity in children’s books would be years or even decades behind what it is today.
We Need Diverse Books
We Need Diverse Books (WNDB) was created in 2014 to address the lack of diversity in the children’s publishing landscape. Spearheaded by founder Ellen Oh and COO Dhonielle Clayton, WNDB has worked tirelessly to acknowledge and encourage diversity in the industry, launching efforts such as the Walter Awards, the Walter Grant, Internship Grants, and WNDB in the Classroom, which gives free diverse books to low-income schools nationwide. WNDB actively creates space for diversity to thrive while starting vital conversations about representation, voice, and inclusion.
About CBC Diversity
CBC Diversity is dedicated to increasing the diversity of voices contributing to children’s and young adult literature — encouraging diversity of race, gender, geographical origin, sexual orientation, and class among both the creators of and the topics addressed by children’s literature. The CBC Diversity Committee organizes speaking events and roundtable discussions, contributes to the CBC Diversity website and newsletter, and develops ways to expand the CBC Diversity Initiative within the industry and out in the communities.
About the Children’s Book Council (CBC)
The Children’s Book Council is the nonprofit trade association for children’s book publishers in North America. The CBC creates reading lists, supports book award programs, and brings together dozens of prominent national organizations who advocate for reading by children and teens. CBC’s signature charitable arm is Every Child a Reader, home of Children’s Book Week, the National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature, and Get Caught Reading.
Media Contact: Shifa Kapadwala, Publicity Manager, Children’s Book Council, Shifa.Kapadwala@cbcbooks.org