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Justin Chanda, Senior Vice President & Publisher

Justin Chanda

Justin Chanda
Senior Vice President & Publisher

Justin Chanda joined the editorial staff at Simon & Schuster in 2005 after an eight-year stint at HarperCollins. A graduate of New York University, Justin was named publisher of the S&S Books for Young Readers imprint in 2007 and McElderry Books and Atheneum Books for Young Readers in 2009. He oversees the publication of nearly three hundred and fifty titles per year ranging from the youngest picture book to the edgiest YA. He is keenly interested in publishing books that are equal parts commercial and literary, books that make a contribution to the tradition while truly entertaining kids. Aside from having the honor of working with the best editorial staff in the industry, he also has the opportunity to edit some of its best talent, including the likes of: Patricia MacLachlan, Peter Brown, Jessie Sima, E. R. Frank, Mike Lupica, S.J. Kincaid, Carter Goodrich, Aaron Reynolds, Michael Ian Black, Karma Wilson, Debbie Ridpath Ohi, and Morgan Matson. Justin is also an adjunct instructor for the NYU Graduate Publishing Program.

Anne Zafian, Vice President & Deputy Publisher

Anne Zafian

Anne Zafian
Vice President & Deputy Publisher

Anne Zafian spent the first half of her publishing career at what was then the Time Warner Book Group— now known as Hachette—selling both adult and children’s books to every kind of domestic customer. She cut her teeth on children’s books with TW’s Little, Brown Books for Children, as well as TW’s distribution client, Hyperion Books for Children. Together these experiences fostered her love of children’s publishing, and in 2004, she joined S&S’s sales team, once again overseeing sales of both adult and children’s books, eventually managing our entire Distributor Sales and Retail Marketing team. In 2008, Anne made the move from sales to the Publisher’s office, where, as Deputy, she focuses largely on working with the Publisher and the sales, marketing, publicity, and supply chain teams to help usher our books into the world, from cradle to…NOT the grave. Working to get books into the hands of booksellers, children, parents, teachers, and librarians—and doing so with a dynamic list of books and authors—is her favorite job, ever.

Kendra Levin, Editorial Director

Kendra Levin

Kendra Levin
Editorial Director

Kendra Levin joined Simon & Schuster as Editorial Director of Books for Young Readers in 2019. She began her career at Scholastic, then spent fourteen years at Viking Children’s Books, an imprint of Penguin Young Readers, where she edited a wide range of children’s literature including the National Book Award longlisted New York Times bestseller SHOUT by Laurie Halse Anderson, New York Times bestsellers Girls Who Code by Reshma Saujani and Rebel of the Sands by Alwyn Hamilton, Indie Bestsellers Lovely War by Julie Berry and Orphan Monster Spy by Matt Killeen, and many others. Her books have received such awards as the Printz Honor (The Passion of Dolssa by Julie Berry), the Theodor Seuss Geisel Award (Don’t Throw It to Mo! by David A. Adler), the Society of Illustrators Gold Medal (The Lost House by B.B. Cronin), and more. She is drawn to editing books for all ages that empower young people and that transport readers deep into an under-explored world, subculture, mythology, or time period. She loves form-challenging fiction of all genres, and has a weakness for stories of true love and for puns—the worse, the better. A regular contributor to Psychology Today, Kendra has been moonlighting as a certified life coach since 2008 and is the author of self-help book The Hero Is You. Visit her at KendraCoaching.com, follow her @KendraLevin, and see a complete roster of the books she’s edited here.

Krista Vitola, Senior Editor

Krista Vitola

Krista Vitola
Senior Editor

Krista Vitola is a Senior Editor at Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers. Before coming to S&S, Krista had been an editor at Delacorte Press, an imprint of Random House Children’s Books for nine years. A few of the authors she is lucky to work with are Anne Bustard, Donna Gephart, Shanna Miles, Kelly Yang and Stuart Gibbs.  

Krista gravitates toward picture books and chapter books that make her laugh and place a huge smile on her face. These books explore the everyday with a comedic and outlandish sensibility while teaching its reader in the process. Her young adult taste leans toward novels that have a ton of heart and explore coming of age experiences in a unique setting or format, like Sia Martinez and the Moonlight Beginning of Everything by Raquel Vasquez Gilliland, Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo and anything by Laurie Halse Anderson. If Krista could live solely in the middle-grade bubble, she would, and you will find that most of her list focuses on this age range. Krista adores middle-grade with a ton of heart, lyrical writing, and characters that reveal the inner kid in all of us. Some of her favorite authors are Lauren Wolk, Laurel Snyder, Soman Chainani, Sharon Draper, Hena Khan, and Kate DiCamillo.  Krista also does non-fiction middle grade that focuses on her two passion outside of editing: running and animals.  

On weeknights, Krista is obsessed with beating her time on the mini New York Times crossword puzzle, watching ruthless business-focused dramas such as Succession and Billions, and dancing to country music while performing any necessary household chore. When Krista is not reading, she is running outdoors with her son, eating whatever delicious treats are available and drinking red wine (most times in that order, sometimes all at once). She is a graduate of Villanova University. Follow he @Kav_Tepedino.

Nicole Ellul, Senior Editor

Nicole Ellul

Nicole Ellul
Senior Editor

Nicole Ellul joined Simon & Schuster in February of 2012 after previous roles with Bloomsbury Children’s Books and the picture book publisher, Sleeping Bear Press. She has edited a variety of books including New York Times bestsellers Love & Gelato and Love & Luck by Jenna Evans Welch and The Wicked Deep by Shea Ernshaw, along with Indie Next List titles such as the space opera Sky Without Stars (Jessica Brody and Joanne Rendell) and Winterwood (Shea Ernshaw), and has been overjoyed editing the critically acclaimed Jenn Bennett romances. During her editorial career, she also had her dreams come true with the honor of working on books by the immensely talented Jodi Picoult, Philippa Gregory, and R.L. Stine. Nicole is looking to acquire commercial fiction that is plot driven with lyrical writing but is also escapist, sprinkled with magic, and utilizes setting as another character. She gravitates towards romance, light fantasy, and magical realism in YA but is looking especially for atmospheric, magical adventures in middle grade. She has a soft spot for stories set during the summer, on the beach, and have structural hooks, not to mention anything touching on witches and the witching world. A former college volleyball player, Nicole graduated with a BA in History and English Language and Literature from Grand Valley University located in Grand Rapids—one of the vibrant artistic hubs in her home state of Michigan.

Deeba Zargarpur, Editor

Deeba Zargarpur
Editor

Deeba Zargarpur enthusiastically joined the Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers and Salaam Reads editorial team in March 2020. A graduate of Drexel University, Deeba began her editorial career at Disney-Hyperion and Freeform, imprints at Disney Publishing Worldwide, where she worked on both middle grade and young adult titles. Then, she took a detour into book packaging, where she created and edited a wide range of children’s and adult literature. Her aim is to acquire commercial books that empower young people from diverse backgrounds. As a self-taught polyglot, Deeba’s love of literature across various languages stemmed from the tales spun throughout her childhood. She is always on the hunt for stories that inspire a sense of magic and wonder, plot lines that challenge traditional assumptions about morality, and strong character arcs that redefine what it means to be the hero of your own story. Deeba is also the founder of Writers of Afghan Heritage, an initiative that advocates, supports and mentors diverse Afghan voices in mainstream publishing, due to launch in late 2020. Follow Deeba on Twitter and Instagram at @deebazargarpur.

Catherine Laudone, Associate Editor

Catherine Laudone

Catherine Laudone
Associate Editor

Prior to joining Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers in March 2013, Catherine graduated with a BFA in Writing, Literature, and Publishing from Emerson College and completed several internships at children’s publishing houses and literary agencies, including HarperCollins and Sourcebooks. She has the privilege of working with talented authors and illustrators such as Janice Lynn Mather, Rebecca Kim Wells, Hanna Cha, Apryl Stott, Kaz Windness, Reina Luz Alegre, Jennifer Gennari, and Lauren Spieller. Catherine is currently acquiring young adult, middle grade, and picture book titles for her list. She loves commercial and literary contemporary YA and MG stories with a strong narrative voice and original hook. She also likes historical and fantasy YA/MG stories with lush world building, and the occasional YA psychological thriller as well. When it comes to fiction picture books, Catherine loves stories with clever twist endings, or that put a fresh spin on timeless themes or concepts, and she tends to lean more toward stories with a classic-feeling illustration style. For nonfiction picture books, she is looking for stories featuring diverse role models and untold real-life legends. Catherine’s current wish list includes stories featuring underrepresented voices within the special needs community; friendships; siblings’ and parent-child relationships; intergenerational relationships; magical realism; themes such as self-acceptance and embracing one’s identity; as well as characters dealing with typical “firsts” (i.e. first crush, first period, first kiss), and/or with unusual hobbies or passions. When not reading for work or pleasure, Catherine can be found watching Gilmore Girls reruns while enjoying a cup of chocolate tea. Follow her on Twitter at @CatherineLaud

Amanda Ramirez, Assistant Editor

Amanda Ramirez

Amanda Ramirez
Assistant Editor

Amanda Ramirez joined S&S BFYR in 2016. Prior to that, she was an editor for several literary magazines; a writer for online news, pop culture, and lifestyle outlets; a dedicated children’s bookseller; and—for almost a decade—a food service manager. Amanda received her MFA in creative writing in 2017. She supports Kendra Levin and Nicole Ellul.   Amanda is looking for commercial fiction for young adult and middle grade audiences, as well as graphic novels for all ages. She loves fresh and fun romps filled with romance, hi-jinks, and dynamic characters. If it’s queer, she’s interested. Amanda gravitates toward contemporary realism, but loves adventure of all kinds as long as they’re grounded with modern elements. Amanda is not a good match for issue-driven books, historical fiction, poetry or novels in verse, anthologies, or picture books and chapter books.    A native Brooklynite living on Long Island, she can be found napping anytime, anywhere. Learn more about Amanda’s taste at amandaisabelramirez.com and follow her on Twitter at @AmandaIsA_Ram, where she talks entirely too much.

Alyza Liu, Assistant Editor

Alyza Liu

Alyza Liu
Assistant Editor

Alyza Liu joined the Simon & Schuster team in August 2017, where she assists Justin Chanda and Denene Millner. Prior to Simon & Schuster, Alyza was an intern at a variety of publishing houses and agencies, and graduated magna cum laude from NYU, where she majored in East Asians Studies and minored in English and Studio Art.   Alyza is primarily acquiring books about marginalized characters, or characters from the Global South. Having grown up on Asian dramas, she’s a fan of escapist, atmospheric, emotionally intense, and character driven YA across a range of genres. She likes to describe her taste as being “murder and makeouts and nothing in between”—as long as it’s on either extreme of the light-to-dark range. In middle grade, she’s looking for projects that strike the same notes as Studio Ghibli films, Steven Universe, and Over the Garden Wall, as well as heavily-illustrated STEAM nonfiction. In picture books, she’s acquiring biographies of historically overlooked figures, including Sacheen Littlefeather, Thomas Sankara, and Grace Lee Boggs, among others. She’s also especially keen on translated genre fiction from Asia, Africa, and Latin America.  Find out more about Alyza’s taste and wishlist at alyzaliu.com, and talk to her about Buzzfeed Unsolved, angsty postcolonial speculative fiction, and wuxia as praxis @AlyzaLiu.

Dainese Santos, Editorial Assistant

Dainese Santos

Dainese Santos
Editorial Assistant

An alumna of NYU’s publishing program, Dainese joined the team as an editorial assistant in 2019. She graduated with a B.A. in English Literature from the University of California, Riverside, and will never let you forget that she’s a born and bred Southern Californian. As a daughter of Filipino immigrants, she dedicates her career to providing a platform for creators of color, and is interested in stories that encompass the full range of BIPOC experiences, no matter the age range or category. She especially loves stories that are warm and joyful. Her sweet spot is contemporary fiction, YA romance in particular. Having been raised on Nora Ephron, 2000s romcoms, and Asian dramas, she’s a sucker for meet-cutes, wacky premises, and things that are fun and frothy. She also loves family stories, especially about big extended families who are meddling but well-meaning—because she’s someone with first-hand experience in that field. While she’s not the best fit for deep speculative fiction, she loves magical realism, historical premises with contemporary sensibilities, and folklore, and is looking for stories that are rooted in the traditions of underrepresented cultures; but, as with everything else regarding her taste, there must be joy and warmth at it center.  

If on the off chance you’d like to talk to her about something other than books, Dainese can talk your ear off about: K-pop; anime; shōjo manga; improv comedy podcasts; movie podcasts; her mom’s ghost stories; Asian dramas; spy movies; and pop culture criticism. Find her on Twitter @chanceofdain

Lucy Ruth Cummins, Executive Art Director

Lucy Ruth Cummins

Lucy Ruth Cummins
Executive Art Director

Lucy Ruth Cummins is an art director who has happily spent the last fifteen years crafting jackets and interiors for picture books, middle grade books, and young adult novels. Her design work has frequently appeared on the New York Times bestseller list. She is most known for her packages for novels by Jenny Han, Morgan Matson, Becca Fitzpatrick, Tommy Wallach, Andrew Smith, and Stuart Gibbs (whose covers she also illustrates!). She has worked on numerous award-winning picture books with talented illustrators, including Jon Klassen, Alice Provensen, Bruce Eric Kaplan, Ben Clanton, Gemma Correll, and Mark Pett. She is also a published author and illustrator in her own right.

Laurent Linn, Art Director

Laurent Linn

Laurent Linn
Art Director

Laurent Linn collaborates with both noted and new illustrators—including Tomie dePaola, Debbie Ridpath Ohi, Bryan Collier, and Amy June Bates—on picture books, middle grade, and teen novels. Laurent is on the Board of Advisors for the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI), is Artistic Advisor for the annual Original Art exhibit of children’s book illustration at the Society of Illustrators in New York, and is also an illustrator and author himself. He began his career as a puppet designer/builder in Jim Henson’s Muppet Workshop, creating characters for various productions, including the Muppet Christmas Carol and Muppet Treasure Island films. With Henson over a decade, he worked primarily on Sesame Street, becoming the Creative Director for the Sesame Street Muppets, winning an Emmy Award. You can find him on Twitter/Instagram/Facebook and at LaurentLinn.com.

Chloe Foglia, Art Director

Chloe Foglia

Chloe Foglia
Art Director

Chloe Foglia joined Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers and Paula Wiseman Books in 2007. She has been art directing and designing young adult, middle grade, and picture books for the imprints’ dynamic lists since then. Chloe began her publishing career at HarperCollins Children’s Books several years after graduating from the Rhode Island School of Design. She has had the privilege of collaborating with many kind and accomplished people including Elizabeth Baddeley, Daniel Miyares, Scott Magoon, and Matthew Cordell. One of the things Chloe enjoys most about her job is welcoming new talent into the world of children’s books.

Krista Vossen, Art Director

Krista Vossen

Krista Vossen
Art Director

Krista Vossen has been designing books for a looong time. She started out her design career in the adult trade cover division at Penguin Random House, but eventually made her way over to the kids’ table at Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers and Paula Wiseman Books (with a brief stint in the Atheneum/McElderry group). Here, she has designed, art-directed, and redesigned a wide range of books, from picture books to teen. She has had the privilege and pleasure of collaborating with several talented illustrators, including (but not limited to) Iacopo Bruno, Elizabeth Baddeley, Lori Richmond, Tim O’Brien, Yuko Shimizu, Paula Franco, Eric Comstock, Kate Forrester, and Asaf Hanuka. She can wholeheartedly say she loves doing what she does.