Carl Sandburg Dinner Guest Authors
Elizabeth Berg is the author of many bestselling novels, including Night of Miracles and Open House (an Oprah’s Book Club selection). Durable Goods and Joy School were selected as ALA Best Books of the Year. Berg’s work has been published in 30 countries, and three of her novels have been adapted into television movies. She is the founder of Writing Matters, a quality reading series dedicated to serving author, audience, and community. She lives outside Chicago.
Carol Lavin Bernick author of Gather As You Go and CEO of Polished Nickel Capital Management, is the former executive chairman of the Alberto Culver Company. While dramatically growing the company to over $3 billion in sales, she instituted a nationally recognized cultural overhaul profiled in the Harvard Business Review. Bernick is the chair-elect for Tulane University and serves on the Northwestern Memorial Healthcare board and Executive Committee of the Chicago Community Trust, among others.
Lee Bey is a photographer, writer, lecturer, and consultant whose work deals in the documentation and interpretation of the built environment—and the often complex political, social, and racial forces that shape spaces and places. Bey is the author of Southern Exposure: The Overlooked Architecture of Chicago’s South Side, a book that showcases his writing and photography. Bey is also an expert on architecture, architectural history, and the development of cities.
Amy Bizzarri is the author of Discovering Vintage Chicago, The Best Hits on Route 66, 111 Places That You Must Not Miss in Chicago, and 111 Places That You Must Not Miss in Chicago with Kids. A Chicago Public Schools teacher with 20+ years of experience and a Master of Arts in education with a focus on bilingual education, Bizzarri believes that learning is best accompanied by a big dose of fun. When she isn’t writing, you’ll find her on her bicycle, exploring her beloved hometown of Chicago with her two children.
Ron Bliwas is the author of The Last of the Crazies, a memoir about his friend and former head of the Eicoff agency, Alvin Eicoff, which was published in 2019. For over 30 years, Bliwas was Eicoff CEO and President. In this capacity, Bliwas helped Eicoff become one of the top10 advertising agencies in Chicago. Bliwas was selected for the Direct Marketing Association’s Hall of Fame and was inducted into the Hall during the DMA’s fall 2007 annual conference.
Greg Borzo is an award-winning journalist; his books include Where to Bike Chicago, The Chicago L, and Lost Restaurants of Chicago. His book Chicago’s Fabulous Fountains profiles more than 130 outdoor public fountains that constitute a veritable free, outdoor public museum showcasing the Windy City’s art and architecture, history and culture.
Margena A. Christian, Ed.D is a distinguished lecturer in English at the University of Illinois at Chicago. She is a former EBONY magazine Senior Editor and a former JET magazine Features Editor. Dr. Christian was the only person in the history of Johnson Publishing Company to have written for EBONY, JET, EBONY Man, EBONY South Africa, EBONY Fashion Fair, and EBONY.com. She is the author of Empire: The House That John H. Johnson Built.
Rich Cohen is the author of several New York Times bestsellers including The Last Pirate of New York; Monsters;The Fish That Ate the Whale; and The Chicago Cubs: Story of a Curse. He is a co-creator of the HBO series Vinyl and a contributing editor at Vanity Fair and Rolling Stone. Cohen has won the Great Lakes Book Award, the Chicago Public Library Foundation’s 21st Century Award, and the ASCAP Deems Taylor Award for outstanding coverage of music.
Michelle Cox is the author of the multiple-award-winning Henrietta and Inspector Howard series, a romantic suspense saga set in 1930’s Chicago. The series has received starred reviews from both Library Journal and Booklist and has received praise from Kirkus, Publishers Weekly, and Foreword, among many others. Cox also pens the wildly popular Novel Notes of Local Lore, a weekly blog dedicated to Chicago’s forgotten residents.
Elizabeth Crane is the author of six works of fiction. She is a previous recipient of the Chicago Public Library Foundation’s 21st Century Award. Her work has been featured on NPR’s Selected Shorts and adapted for the stage by Chicago’s Steppenwolf Theatre. Her debut novel, We Only Know So Much, has been adapted for film, and her second novel, The History of Great Things, was released in 2016. Her fourth collection of stories, Turf, was released in 2017 from Soft Skull Press.
Alison Cuddy is the Marilynn Thoma Artistic Director of the Chicago Humanities Festival. She has more than 15 years’ experience developing cultural programs for diverse audiences, including 10 years at the NPR affiliate in Chicago, where she gained a national profile as the host of WBEZ’s flagship program Eight Forty-Eight. Originally from Winnipeg, Manitoba, Cuddy has an M.A. in English from the University of Pittsburgh, and a B.A. in cinema studies from Montreal’s Concordia University.
Sandra Delgado is a writer, actor, and producer best known for her play La Havana Madrid, a sold-out and critically acclaimed hit at Steppenwolf and Goodman Theatre, and most recently in a co-production with Teatro Vista and Collaboraction. She is an Illinois Arts Council Fellow in Literature, a recipient of the 3Arts Award, Joyce Award, TCG Resident Actor Fellowship, and two DCASE and 3Arts 3AP Project grants. Her co- adaptation of Ibsen’s A Doll’s House is running at Writers Theatre through December 2019.
Owen Deutsch is a Chicago native who, after a 20 year career as a fashion photographer, retired in 1986 to devote full time to Loft Development Corporation. In 2002, he was introduced to birding and he was hooked. Deutsch was back in the beauty business, but this time it was birds in front of his lens. Deutsch travels the world in pursuit of his passion, and his website is a way of sharing his love of birds.
Rachel De Woskin is the author of five novels: Banshee; Someday We Will Fly; Blind; Big Girl Small, and Repeat After Me; and the memoir Foreign Babes in Beijing, about the years she spent in Beijing as the unlikely star of a Chinese soap opera. She has a forthcoming poetry collection, and Hollywood development deals for Foreign Babes in Beijing and Banshee. Her work has appeared in The New Yorker, Vanity Fair, and numerous journals and anthologies. She’s an Associate Professor of Practice at UChicago and an affiliated faculty member in Jewish and East Asian Studies.
Barnaby Dinges has been writing professionally for nearly 40 years and has authored features for the Chicago Reporter, Chicago Sun-Times, and Chicago Reader. He also worked for many years in Illinois politics and international public relations. He lives in Northfield, Illinois with his wife, Vicky. Ragged Run is his debut book.
Michael Dorf is the coauthor of Clear It With Sid! and a lawyer and adjunct professor at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. He was Congressman Sidney Yates’s special counsel in Washington and remained his lawyer and campaign chairman. He directed Chicago’s first Cultural Plan under Mayor Harold Washington. As one of Illinois’ prominent election lawyers, his clients have included former President Barack Obama and Mayor Lori Lightfoot. He graduated from Chicago Public Schools, the University of Chicago, and Columbia University Law School.
Rita Dragonette is an award-winning former public relations executive. The Fourteenth of September, her debut novel, was released in September 2018. It has received multiple awards from the Beverly Hills Book Awards, the American Fiction Awards by American Book Fest, the National Indie Excellence Awards, and the Hollywood Book Festival. She hosts a literary salon series and is currently working on two new novels and a memoir in essays.
Thomas Dyja is the author of three novels, including Play for a Kingdom, winner of the 1998 Casey Award as Best Baseball Book of the Year. His nonfiction includes The Third Coast: When Chicago Built the American Dream, winner of the 2013 Heartland Prize and Chicago Public Library’s 2015 selection for its One Book, One Chicago program. He is currently working on a book about New York mayors, from Koch to Bloomberg.
Judson Everitt is an assistant professor in the Department of Sociology at Loyola University Chicago. In Dr. Everitt’s book, Lesson Plans: The Institutional Demands of Becoming a Teacher, he examines how new teachers make sense of education policy and its impact on their transitions into the teaching profession. His current research includes a study of medical education, in which he examines how changes in healthcare institutions pose new challenges to future doctors.
Beth Finke the recipient of a writing fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts, Finke is the author of three published books. Her latest, Writing Out Loud, is a whimsical look at how leading memoir writing classes for older adults in Chicago helps her continue enjoying a fun, creative, and pleasurable life in the city. Finke lives in the Printers Row neighborhood of Chicago with her husband, Mike Knezovich, and her Seeing Eye dog, Whitney.
Gina Frangello is the author of three novels, including A Life in Men, which is currently being developed into a Netflix television series to be directed by Charlize Theron. Frangello’s fourth novel, Every Kind of Wanting appeared on several “best of” lists following its release in 2016, including in Chicago Magazine and the Chicago Review of Books. After more than 20 years of teaching at universities across the country, Frangello has just returned to UIC’s Program for Writers to complete her Ph.D.
Linda Gartz is a six-time Emmy-honored documentary producer and author of Redlined: A Memoir of Race, Change, and Fractured Community in1960sChicago.Her TVwork has aired on all major networks and Investigation Discovery. Linda’s educational videos include Begin with Love, hosted by Oprah Winfrey and Grandparenting, hosted by Maya Angelou. Gartz has been published in local and national magazines and newspapers, including the Chicago Tribune. She earned her B.A. and M.A.T. from Northwestern University.
James Goettsch is the chairman and co-CEO of Chicago-based architecture firm Goettsch Partners as well as the namesake design partner. His global body of work features high-rise office, hotel, residential, and mixed-use developments; corporate headquarters facilities; and institutional buildings. He was elevated to the esteemed American Institute of Architects College of Fellows in 1988. In 2019, the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat conferred on him the Lynn S. Beedle Lifetime Achievement Award.
Max Grinnell is a writer and chronicler of the urban condition. He is the author of three books about Chicago and his writings on cities have appeared in the Chicago Reader, the Chicago Tribune, The Guardian, The Boston Globe, and the Hyde Park Herald. He is the author of Hyde Park, Illinois and 24 Great Walks in Chicago. He teaches urban studies in Boston and Chicago.
Susan Hahn is the author of nine books of poetry, two produced plays, and two novels. Among her awards are a Guggenheim Fellowship, Pushcart Prizes in poetry and fiction, The Society of Midland Authors Award, and a Jeff Award Recommendation. She was the editor of TriQuarterly Literary Magazine for fourteen years and the inaugural writer in residence at The Hemingway Foundation from 2013–2014.
Joel Hall is a Chicago dance legend and founder and artistic director emeritus of the Joel Hall Dancers & Center. Before becoming a dancer, he was a pioneer in the gay rights movement. His revelatory essay, Growing Up Black and Gay, was initially published in 1972. In celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Rebellion, The New York Public Library and Penguin Classics republished the essay this year in The Stonewall Reader. Learn more at www.joelhall.org.
Kate Hannigan writes fiction and nonfiction for young readers. Her middle grade historical fantasy CAPE, Book 1 in the League of Secret Heroes series from Simon & Schuster/ Aladdin, features a trio of superhero girls who team up with real-life women of World War II—the first programmers, brilliant code crackers, barrier-breaking pilots, and daring spies—who were doing their own heroic things. Visit Hannigan online at katehannigan.com.
Esther Hershenhorn The appositive Teaching Author describes Esther Hershenhorn perfectly. She authors picture books, middle grade fiction and nonfiction, including S IS FOR STORY, while teaching Writing for Children at Chicago’s Newberry Library and the University of Chicago’s Writer’s Studio. Helping others tell their stories, especially to children, is truly her story. She proudly considers her writers and students her “storied treasures.” Esther also advocates for children’s book creators through the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators.
David Hoekstra is a Chicago author, WGN-AM weekend radio host and documentarian. His latest book The Camper Book (A Celebration of a Moveable American Dream) is available on Chicago Review Press. He also wrote The People’s Place (Soul Food Restaurants and Reminiscences From the Civil Rights Era to Today), The Supper Club Book, and Disco Demolition (The Night Disco Died) with Steve Dahl. He co-produced the documentary The Staple Singers and the Civil Rights Movement, nominated for a 2001 Chicago/Midwest Emmy Award. Dave was a 2013 recipient of the Studs Terkel Community Media Award.
Jonathan Holloway is the provost at Northwestern University and a professor of history and African American studies. He specializes in post-emancipation United States history with a focus on social and intellectual history. He is the author most recently of Jim Crow Wisdom: Memory and Identity in Black America Since 1940. He is an elected member of the Society of American Historians and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
Sharon Hoogstraten is a photographic storyteller, best known for her portraits of Potawatomi Indians and her Emmy award winning program opens for WLS and WTTW. She served as a judge for legendary Chicago Book Clinic, produced children’s animated short films, and principal photography for major book publishers. Sharon’s retrospective of the renowned farmers market that propelled Chicago’s food scene to national attention, Green City Market – A Song of Thanks, celebrates its 20th anniversary and founder Abby Mandel.
Israel Idonije is a former NFL player, an entrepreneur, humanitarian and author who created The Protectors and DreamKidz Adventures. The Protectors comic story is about a chosen handful of professional athletes who learn they are blessed with more than elite athletic ability. His children’s books I Love Me, I Love Football and I Love Numbers are part of the DreamKidz Adventures series. Through fun, vibrant stories a diverse group of characters teach concepts of love, confidence and inclusion.
Melissa Isaacson is an award-winning sportswriter, author, and public speaker as well as the author of State: A Team, a Triumph, a Transformation. In more than 30 years on the job, she has covered every major US sports championship as well as the Olympics. Isaacson was the Tribune’s first woman beat writer assigned to cover the Bulls and Bears, and she covered the Michael Jordan–led Bulls over their six NBA titles.
Chris Jones is the chief theater critic and Sunday cultural columnist for the Chicago Tribune and the Broadway critic for the New York Daily News. He appears on CBS-2 Chicago every Friday and has been an adjunct professor at DePaul University for two decades. A proud Chicago resident for most of his adult life, Chris has a Ph.D. from Ohio State University. Rise Up: Broadway and American Society from ‘Angels to America’ to ‘Hamilton’ is his second book.
Dennis Judd is a professor emeritus at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Judd has published numerous books and professional articles on city politics and urban development. His most recent book, coauthored with Costas Spirou, is Building the City of Spectacle: Mayor Richard M. Daley and the Remaking of Chicago. In 1998 he received a Career Achievement Award from the American Political Science Association (APASA). In 2012, the APASA’s annual Best Book Award was named in his honor.
Larry Kanfer is a photographic artist who challenges himself to find the subtle beauty in the everyday. He has drawn praise from ARTNews, Washington Post, and others for his remarkable ability to identify what people love about a place and convey that in two dimensions. To date, eight coffee table books of Larry Kanfer images have been published, including the classic Prairiescape, On Second Glance, Illini Loyalty, Chicagoscapes, and A Prairie State of Mind.
Britteney Black Rose Kapri is a poet, teaching artist, and Slytherin from Chicago. Currently she is an alumna turned Teaching Artist Fellow at Young Chicago Authors. Her debut poetry collection, Black Queer Hoe, was published in 2019. She has also been published in volumes one and two of The BreakBeat Poets, Poetry Magazine, Vinyl, Day One, Seven Scribes, The Offing, and Kinfolks Quarterly. She is a 2015 Rona Jaffe Writers Award Recipient.
Mark Kelly is Commissioner of the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events, which presents and promotes high-quality free festivals, exhibitions, performances and holiday celebrations each year in parks, the Chicago Cultural Center and other citywide venues. Kelly previously served as Vice President for Student Success at Columbia College Chicago. He is the founder of the Wabash Arts Corridor initiative and created the artistic vision for the Arts in the Dark Halloween Parade.
Mikki Kendall is a writer and speaker whose work has appeared in the Washington Post, The Boston Globe, The Guardian, TIME, Ebony, Essence, and more. She has discussed race, feminism, violence in Chicago, tech, and pop culture in various forms of media, as well as at universities across the country. A veteran, she lives in Chicago with her family. Her books Amazons, Activists, and Abolitionists and Hood Feminism are forthcoming from Penguin Random House.
Karl Klockars has written about food, travel, and beer since 2008, which is about when his wife introduced him to Bell’s Oberon. He is also the co-founder of GuysDrinkingBeer.com, covering beer news around the Midwest. His book, Beer Lovers Chicago, is an overview of the area’s craft beer scene, from breweries and brewpubs to the best beer bars and bottle shops. If you’re buying, he’ll take a porter or a pale ale.
Lucy Knisley is a critically acclaimed and award-winning comic creator. She specializes in personal, confessional graphic novels and travelogues.
Alex Kotlowitz is the author of four books, including his most recent, An American Summer, which The New York Times called, “Unforgettable.” The New York Public Library selected his first book, There Are No Children Here, as one of the 150 most important books of the 20th century. His work has appeared in the New Yorker, The New York Times and on This American Life. His honors include the 2019 Harold Washington Literary Award, an Emmy Award, two Peabody Awards, and the Heartland Prize for Nonfiction. He teaches at Northwestern University.
Mary Robinette Kowal is the author of Ghost Talkers, The Glamourist Histories series, and the Lady Astronaut duology. She is a cast member of the award-wining podcast Writing Excuses and a four-time Hugo Award winner. Her short fiction appears in Uncanny, Tor.com, and Asimov’s. Kowal, a professional puppeteer, lives in Nashville. You can visit her online at maryrobinettekowal.com.
Mary Kubica is The New York Times bestselling author of five suspense novels. Her novels have been translated into over 30 languages and have sold over two million copies worldwide. She’s been described as “a helluva storyteller,” by Kirkus Reviews, and “a writer of vice-like control,” by the Chicago Tribune. Her next book , The Other Mrs., has been optioned by Netflix for a feature film. Look for it in February of 2020.
Dr. Susan Smith Kuczmarski is a globally recognized authority and speaker on values-based leadership. Trained as a cultural anthropologist, she has done extensive research on the question of how leadership skills are learned and put into practice. She has been a guest lecturer at the Kellogg School of Management for over ten years, and is the Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Chicago City Day School. She is the author of six award-winning books, three on leadership (e.g. Lifting People Up: The Power of Recognition, co-authored with Tom Kuczmarski), and three on families (e.g. Becoming a Happy Family: Pathways to the Family Soul).
Tom Kuczmarski is president and founder of the global consulting firm Kuczmarski Innovation and an internationally recognized expert in the innovation of new products and services. Mr. Kuczmarski teaches Leading and Sustaining a Culture of Innovation at the Kellogg School of Management, and is the co-founder of Chicago Innovation, a year-long series of events and programs geared towards educating, connecting and celebrating innovators and entrepreneurs in the Chicago-region. He is the author of seven books on innovation and leadership, including his most recent book, Lifting People Up: The Power of Recognition, co-authored with Dr. Susan Smith Kuczmarski.
Julia Kuo is a Taiwanese American illustrator who has worked with The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and Google. Kuo was the visual arm of Chicago’s 2017 March for Science and has had the honor of being an artist in residence at Banff Centre for the Arts in 2014 and 2017. Her latest book is Heroism Begins with Her: Inspiring Stories of Bold, Brave, and Gutsy Women in the U.S. Military.
Bill Kurtis is an author, television journalist, news anchor, and producer. Currently he is heard on Wait, Wait…Don’t Tell Me on NPR, and as a host of Through the Decades on the Decades Channel. His book, Death Penalty on Trial: Crisis in American Justice, analyzes the ethics behind the death penalty. His other books include We Interrupt This Broadcast, The Prairie Table Cookbook, and Bill Kurtis on Assignment.
Michael S. Lewis, M.D. has published five books, including the award-winning One World: A View of Seven Continents, seen on PBS TV; Seeing More Colors, about his mentor Abraham Maslow; and children’s books Eagle Eyes and Invitation to Joy: Birds of the World. As an orthopedic surgeon with the Chicago Bulls, he has earned two championship rings. His forthcoming book is What I’ve Learned After I Thought I Knew Something: Lessons from World-Class Athletes and Enlightened Teachers.
Paul Lisnek is the political analyst for WGN-TV, anchors Politics Tonight on CLTV, hosts the podcast Behind the Curtain for WGNPlus, and hosts Broadway Backstage for Comcast. He is the author of 14 nonfiction books. Assume Guilt is his first work of fiction about Illinois political corruption. Hero Matt Barlow has already been contracted to return in a new adventure called Assume Treason, due out in 2020.
Thomas Maier is an award-winning author, journalist, and television producer. A former reporter for the Chicago Sun-Times, Maier’s new book Mafia Spies tells how two Chicago gangsters Sam Giancana and Johnny Roselli were recruited by the CIA to kill Cuba’s Fidel Castro during the Cold War. This fall, his book All That Glitters tells about the rivalry of fabled magazine editors Anna Winter and Tina Brown and how America’s supercharged celebrity culture gave rise to Donald Trump. Maier’s book Masters of Sex was the basis for the Emmy Award-winning Showtime drama that ran for four seasons. His other books include When Lions Roar: The Churchills and the Kennedys; The Kennedys: America’s Emerald Kings; and Dr. Spock: An American Life.
Juan Martinez is the author of Best Worst American, a story collection published by Small Beer Press and the inaugural winner of the Neukom Institute Award for Debut Speculative Fiction. Martinez lives in Chicago and is an assistant professor at Northwestern University. His work has appeared in many literary journals and anthologies, including Glimmer Train, McSweeney’s, Huizache, Ecotone, NPR’s Selected Shorts, Mississippi Review, and elsewhere.
Brendan Mathews is the author of This Is Not a Love Song, which includes two stories that appeared in The Best American Short Stories. His novel The World of Tomorrow was longlisted for the Center for Fiction First Novel Prize and chosen as an Honor Book by the Massachusetts Book Awards. A former Fulbright Scholar to Ireland, Matthews has received grants from the Massachusetts Cultural Council, Sustainable Arts Foundation, and Sewanee Writers Conference.
Bill Mathis began writing following careers with the YMCA of Metropolitan Chicago and SOS Children’s Villages Illinois. Mathis’ work with diverse constituencies and his upbringing as a preacher’s kid influence his work. Face Your Fears, his first novel, deals with disability, LGBTQ issues, and family. The Rooming House Diaries – Love, Life & Secrets, shares the lives of immigrants and the marginalized forming chosen families against the backdrop of 20th century Chicago history in Back of the Yards.
Eric Charles May is an associate professor in the fiction writing program at Columbia College Chicago. May is the author of the novel Bedrock Faith, which was named a Notable African American Title by Publishers Weekly, and a Top Ten Debut Novel for 2014 by Booklist Magazine. A 2015 recipient of the Chicago Public Library Foundation’s 21st Century Award, May is a former reporter for the Washington Post.
Elizabeth McChesney is the director of children’s services and family engagement for Chicago Public Library. She is a 31-year veteran of CPL and believes passionately in its role in transforming children’s lives. She has gained national attention and earned numerous awards for her work in summer learning in libraries. She is responsible for all the Library’s early childhood strategies; school-age services and programs; the transformation of the Thomas Hughes Children’s Library; and CPL’s mobile outreach team, the STEAM Team. She is also known for her work to provide support to teachers, childcare workers, and parents: all of this is work supported by the Chicago Public Library Foundation. Summer Matters: Making All Learning Count is her second coauthored work.
Jane Mersky Leder is an award-winning author and journalist whose first edition of Dead Serious was named a YASD Best Book for Young Adults. Other titles include Thanks For The Memories: Love, Sex, and World War II and The Sibling Connection. Leder’s feature articles and essays have appeared in publications, including Psychology Today, American Heritage, and the Chicago Sun-Times. Her latest personal essay about her brother’s suicide can be found on entropy.com.
Michael J. Miles Imagine Bach on the banjo. Imagine a roots music string band and a four-piece orchestra coming together to cover Pink Houses. Imagine a performance piece that mixes music, poetry, politics, and theater. Or stop imagining and just check out the real thing. Musician. Writer. Educator. Folk music hunter-gatherer. Boundless genre-bender. Michael J. Miles. Miles has published a dozen books with Hal Leonard and Mel Bay publications, and 6 CDs for Right Turn On Red Music, including tonight’s feature entitled col•lage.
Kate Moore is The New York Times bestselling author of The Radium Girls, which won the 2017 GoodReads Choice Award for Best History and was named a Notable Non-Fiction Book of 2018 by the ALA and a Book of the Year by Chicago Public Library. A British writer based in London, Moore writes across a variety of genres, including biography, crime, and gift, and has had multiple titles on the Sunday Times bestseller list.
Natalie Moore is WBEZ’s South Side Reporter, where she covers segregation and inequality. Her enterprise reporting has tackled race, housing, economic development, food injustice, and violence. Moore is the author of The South Side: A Portrait of Chicago and American Segregation, winner of the 2016 Chicago Review of Books Award for nonfiction and a Buzzfeed best nonfiction book of 2016. She is the 2017 recipient of Chicago Public Library Foundation’s 21st Century Award.
Dr. Dipika Mukherjee Mukherjee’s work includes Ode to Broken Things (longlisted for the Man Asia Literary Prize) and Shambala Junction (Winner, UK Virginia Prize for Fiction). She has mentored Southeast Asian writers for over two decades and has edited five anthologies of Southeast Asian fiction. She is contributing editor for Jaggery and frequently writes for World Literature Today, Asia Literary Review and Chicago Quarterly Review, as well as a literary column for The Edge, Malaysia. www.dipikamukherjee.com
Nami Mun is the author of Miles from Nowhere and winner of the Whiting Award, the Pushcart Prize, and the Chicago Public Library Foundation’s 21st Century Award, as well as a finalist for the Asian American Literary Award and the Orange Prize for New Writers. Her work can be seen in numerous publications, including The New York Times, Granta, Tin House Magazine, and Tales of Two Americas: Stories of Inequality in a Divided Nation. She teaches creative writing at Stanford and Northwestern universities.
Alec Nevala-Lee is a Hugo Award Finalist for Astounding: John W. Campbell, Isaac Asimov, Robert A. Heinlein, L. Ron Hubbard, and the Golden Age of Science Fiction which was named one of the best nonfiction books of 2018 by The Economist. He is currently at work on a biography of the architectural designer Buckminster Fuller.
José Olivarez is the son of Mexican immigrants and the author of the book of poems, Citizen Illegal, a finalist for the PEN/ Jean Stein Award and a winner of the 2018 Chicago Review of Books Poetry Prize. Citizen Illegal was named a top book of 2018 by NPR and the New York Public Library. In 2018, he was awarded the first annual Author and Artist in Justice Award from the Phillips Brooks House Association.
Eric Oliver is Professor of Political Science at the University of Chicago. He has written numerous books and articles on subjects like suburbanization and American civic life, the politics of obesity, why Americans believe in conspiracy theories, and whether liberals and conservatives name their children differently (they do). His most recent book, Enchanted America, locates the source of America’s current civic turmoil in the growing gap between people who rely on intuitions versus reason in understanding the world.
Molly Page is a writer and Chicago tour guide who turned a passion for living life as a tourist into her career. She’s a devoted consumer of culture, a perpetual student of Chicago’s history and architecture, and the author of 100 Things to Do in Chicago Before You Die. Follow adventures at mollypg.com and connect on Instagram @mollypg.
Elise Paschen is the author of The Nightlife, Bestiary, Infidelities (winner of the Nicholas Roerich Poetry Prize), and Houses: Coasts. She is, most recently, the editor of The Eloquent Poem as well as Poetry Speaks, Poetry in Motion, and other anthologies. Her poems have been published in the New Yorker, Poetry Magazine, and numerous anthologies including The Best American Poetry 2018. Paschen teaches in the M.F.A. writing program at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.
Audrey Petty is a native South Sider, author of poetry and prose featured in such publications as Callaloo, the Best Food Writing anthology, Oxford American, and Columbia Review, and editor of High Rise Stories: Voices from Chicago Public Housing. Her latest essay, Between the Lake and Emmett Till Road, was recently published in The Chicago Neighborhood Guide. Petty is director of the Odyssey Project at Illinois Humanities.
Ron Rapoport was a sports columnist for the Chicago Sun-Times and sports commentator for NPR’s Weekend Edition Saturday for more than two decades. A winner of the Ring Lardner Award for Excellence in Sports Journalism, he is the author of more than a dozen books on sports and show business. His latest book is Let’s Play Two: The Legend of Mr. Cub, The Life of Ernie Banks, the definitive and revealing biography of one of baseball’s most iconic, beloved—and misunderstood—heroes.
Rachel Ruiz is the author of eight children’s books, including her debut picture book, When Penny Met POTUS. Ruiz was inspired to write her first book after working as a video producer for Barack Obama’s re-election campaign in 2012, and observing her young daughter’s curiosity about the word “POTUS.” Her first graphic novel, Martin Luther King Jr.: A Graphic History of America’s Great Civil Rights Leader (Great Lives) was released in June 2019.
Erika L. Sánchez is the daughter of Mexican immigrants. A poet, essayist, and fiction writer, she is the author of a young adult novel, I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter, a 2017 finalist for the National Book Award for Young People’s Literature and instant New York Times Bestseller. She was a 2017- 2019 Princeton Arts Fellow and the 2018 recipient of the Chicago Public Library Foundation’s 21st Century Award.
Ellen Sandor is a new media artist and Founding Director of (art)n, with works in the permanent collection of the Smithsonian Institution among others. As a visiting scholar of culture and society at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, she co-edited New Media Futures: The Rise of Women in the Digital Arts. In 2014, she received an honorary doctorate from SAIC and was 2016 artist in residence at Fermilab.
Fred Sasaki is Chicago bred. He works as art director for Poetry magazine and co-curator of exhibitions for the Poetry Foundation. He edited Who Reads Poetry with Don Share, Jun Fujita: Oblivion with Katherine Litwin, and publishes Sasaki Family Zines with his closet friends. He also collaborates with Homeroom Chicago, Revolving Door Arts, and the Prison + Neighborhood Art Project.
Jon Seidel joined the staff of the Chicago Sun-Times in 2012, and he was assigned in 2015 to cover Chicago’s federal courthouse. He is also the author of Second City Sinners. Seidel was born in Pennsylvania but has spent the majority of his life in the Midwest, graduating from Indiana’s Ball State University in 2004 before moving to Illinois.
Anupy Singla is the author of the bestselling titles The Indian Slow Cooker, Vegan Indian Cooking, and Indian for Everyone, all of which have been among the top-selling Indian cookbooks since their release. She is the founder and CEO of Indian As Apple Pie, a company that creates and sells custom spice blends as well as unique home goods. Singla blogs at Indian As Apple Pie and her writing has been featured in many print and online outlets.
Pete Souza provides behind-the-scenes photographs from the White House and beyond. Souza was the Chief Official White House Photographer for President Obama and Director of the White House Photography Office the entirety of the Obama administration. His book, Obama: An Intimate Portrait, was published in 2017 and debuted at #1on The New York Times bestseller list and is one of the best-selling photography books of all time.
Ruth Spiro is the author of the bestselling Baby Loves Science board book series, published by Charlesbridge. Her new picture book series, Made by Maxine, sold at auction to Dial. Spiro hopes her books inspire kids to observe the world, ask questions, and dream big. Recent appearances include The World Science Festival, Chicago’s Museum of Science & Industry, Toddler Tuesday at the Mall of America, and the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books.
Costas Spirou serves as senior associate provost and professor of sociology and public administration at Georgia College & State University, Georgia’s public liberal arts university. In 2017, he was named a fellow by the American Council of Education at Georgia Institute of Technology. His scholarship focuses on mayoral leadership, public policy, and urban affairs. Spirou is completing a book titled Anchoring Innovation Districts: The Entrepreneurial University and Urban Change with Johns Hopkins University Press.
Megan Stielstra is the author of three collections, most recently The Wrong Way to Save Your Life, named 2017 Book of The Year in nonfiction from the Chicago Review of Books. Her work appears in The Best American Essays, New York Times, Chicago Tribune, Poets & Writers, The Believer, Longreads, Tin House, and elsewhere. She is a company member with 2nd Story and teaches creative nonfiction at Northwestern University.
Teri Turner is a lifelong, passionate foodie, who believes that food unites people. Food is Turner’s love language. Her cookbook, No Crumbs Left: Recipes for Everyday Food Made Marvelous, teaches how to bring magic to your everyday cooking. Her simple approach to getting people into the kitchen, rolling up their sleeves, and cooking is contagious. Food and travel blogger, online personality, and podcast host, Turner divides her time between Chicago and Northern California.
Scott Turow is a writer and attorney. He is the author of 11 best-selling works of fiction, including his first novel, Presumed Innocent (1987). His newest novel, Testimony, was published by Hachette/Grand Central Publishers in May 2017. He has also written two non-fiction books about his experiences in the law, and his novels have been the basis of several films, including the movie Presumed Innocent. His books have sold more than 40 million copies around the world.
Luis Alberto Urrea is the author of 17 books, including The House of Broken Angels, a finalist for the 2018 National Book Critics Circle Award in fiction. A Guggenheim fellow and Pulitzer finalist, Urrea has also won an Edgar Award, a Lannan Literary Award, and an American Book Award. His novel, Into the Beautiful North, is a current selection for the NEA’s Big Read Program, and his books have been featured in more than 200 community/college reading programs.
George Van Dusen served as director of suburban operations for Congressman Sidney R.Yates from 1973 until the congressman’s retirement in 1999, when Van Dusen became Mayor of Skokie, Illinois, a post in which he continues to serve. He is an adjunct professor at Oakton Community College, teaching American government and history. Mayor Van Dusen is the coauthor of Clear It with Sid! Sidney R. Yates and Fifty Years of Presidents, Pragmatism, and Public Service.
Chris Ware is the author of Jimmy Corrigan – the Smartest Kid on Earth and Building Stories, which was deemed a Top Ten Fiction Book by The New York Times and Time Magazine. A regular contributor to the New Yorker, his work has been exhibited at the MoCa Los Angeles, the MCA Chicago and the Whitney Museum of American Art, and an eponymous monograph was published by Rizzoli in 2017. His Rusty Brown was just published.
Dr. Bess Williamson is a historian of design and associate professor at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Her book Accessible America: A History of Disability and Design tracks the concept of “access” as a keyword for the role of design in securing civil rights for disabled people from the end of World War II to the present day.