Society of
Children's Book Writers
and Illustrators

Meet The Team

Louisiana and Mississippi have been aligned as a region since 2013, a natural fit as the two states share a rich cultural, literary, and artistic past.

CherylMteamCheryl Mathis, Co-RA, joined SCBWI in 2007 and became ARA in 2011. Her adult short stories have been published both online and in print literary journals, including THEMA and Broadkill Review. Two of her kiddo shorts are published in Bayou Bogeyman Presents: Hoodoo and Voodoo (Pelican 2016), a middle-grade anthology of scary stories. Along with her writing partner, Laura Roach Dragon, she is a past Honor recipient of the Sue Alexander Award. Her day job is Paralegal and Assistant Office Manager, and much of the rest of her days are spent reading and writing middle grade fiction. She has been a frequent visitor of the Rocky Mountains ever since her two sons moved from below sea level to the Mile High City. Along with her husband and black cat Walter, she lives near the shores of Lake Pontchartrain where she can frequently be found walking while writing in her head. Cheryl became Regional Advisor in 2015.

SCampbell2Sarah Campbell, Co-RA, lives in Jackson, Ms. She joined SCBWI in 2002 when she was a stay-at-home mom with three boys, trying to continue a writing career that until then had been focused on newspaper writing. Following the old adage “write what you know,” she decided to put the hours and hours she was spending reading children’s books to her sons to professional use. After several tentative forays into fiction, she went back to what she was trained to do – nonfiction – and a skill she developed as a teenager – photography – and sold her first story to Highlights. A contract with Highlights’ trade book imprint, Boyds Mills Press, followed. Sarah’s three picture books are all ALSC Notable Children’s Books; Wolfsnail is a Theodor Seuss Geisel Honor Book and Mysterious Patterns is a Cook Prize Honor Book. Sarah’s husband, Richard, is the co-photographer for all three books and designs Sarah’s website. They met at Oxford University, where Sarah was studying on a Rhodes Scholarship. Sarah is a longtime volunteer with SCBWI; she became Assistant Regional Advisor in 2015 and is now Co-Regional Advisor.

VHhippieVirginia Howard, IC, has been a member of SCBWI since 1996. She is editor of THEMA literary journal, now in its 31st year (2019), and works part time for Louisiana State University Medical Alumni Association as alumni magazine editor, graphic designer, and tiger artist. She illustrated the picture book, Timothy Hubble and the King Cake Party, by Anita Prieto (Pelican Publishing, 2009), and has two published murder mysteries, co-authored with her sister-in-law under the pseudonym H. O. Ward. Two of her short stories were published in a middle-grade anthology, Bayou Bogeyman Presents: Hoodoo and Voodoo (Pelican 2016). Her new picture book, The Wind Plays Tricks, illustrated by Charlene Chua, will be released by Albert Whitman & Company on March 1, 2019.

GAteam2Gary Alipio, ARA, joined SCBWI after the turn of the millennium when he decided to share the stories he wanted to read as a kid. Fast forward four dogs, two cats, and one daughter later, and he now has two short stories in Bayou Bogeyman Presents: Hoodoo and Voodoo along with his middle grade debut The Craziest Fishing Tale on the Bayou both with same Pelican Publishing. You can find him taking in the NOLA culture and hanging with his family all around town. Follow him on twitter/instagram: @garygalipio

DragonTeam1Laura Roach Dragon, Manuscript Coordinator, joined SCBWI in 2007 hoping to learn how to get her middle-grade novel traditionally published. Hurricane Boy was published by Pelican Publishing seven years later. It went on to win an SCBWI Crystal Kite. She is also published in the literary magazine, THEMA. In her regular life, she’s a psychotherapist and has worked in the children’s unit at a New Orleans area hospis a middle-grade anthology of scary stories, an anthology written with her fellow SCBWI authors. She always dreamed of writing, but without SCBWI’s meetings and conferences, she feels it never would have happened.

Marti Dumas, Outreach Coordinator, is a mom, teacher, writer, and creative entrepreneur from New Orleans.  An expert in childhood literacy, Marti has worked with children and teachers across the country for the last 15 years to promote an early love of reading both in and out of the classroom. Her best-selling Jaden Toussaint, the Greatest series combines literacy with STEM skills, and humor, and adds much-needed diversity to the children’s chapter book landscape. Her latest book, Jupiter Storm, is a middle-grade fantasy that is already being heralded for its skillful combination of science, family, and magic.


KaczmarekGinny Kaczmarek, Critique Group Coordinator, writes, edits, and reviews literature for kids and adults. After earning an MFA from the University of New Orleans, she served as the poetry editor for Literary Mama and as a reviewer for Kirkus Reviews. Her publications include Calyx, The Oxford American, Rattle, Stinkwaves, Women’s Review of Books, as well as several anthologies. She lives in New Orleans with her family and blogs at


HardyteamSarah Frances Hardy, PAL Coordinator. With a juris doctorate cum laude from the University of Mississippi School of Law, a Bachelor of Arts in fine art from Davidson College (Class of 1991), and subsequent studies at Parsons School of Design in New York and Paris, Sarah Frances Hardy took an early retirement from practicing law to paint and write full time. As a painter, Sarah Frances showed in galleries throughout the Southeast as well as New York, and her paintings were chosen by Steve Wynn for his corporate collection at the Beau Rivage Resort in Biloxi, Mississippi. Sarah Frances’s first children’s book Puzzled by Pink which she both wrote and illustrated was published in April of 2012 by Viking Children’s Books. Her subsequent books Paint Me! and Dress Me! were published by Sky Pony Press in 2014 and 2015. Dress Me! was chosen as a featured selection in the Children’s Book of the Month Club. She is currently working on illustrated middle grade novels as well as other picture books.Sarah Frances lives in Oxford, Mississippi, with her husband John and three daughters where she serves as Vice-Chairman of the City of Oxford Historic Preservation Commission, the Friends of the J.D. Williams Library Board, and the Oxford Lafayette County Literacy Council Board. She is an active member of St. Peter’s Episcopal Church.


Courtney Warren, Membership Coordinator, is a writer for her local newspaper The Bolivar Commercial, a storyteller instructor, and an English teacher in Mississippi. She graduated from Hollins University with a master’s degree in Children’s Literature and is an active member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. She loves to read just about anything placed on the shelves but has a special place in her heart for the Harry Potter series. When she is not writing about herself in third person, she loves reading picture books to her students and writing stories based in the Mississippi Delta. She lives in the Madison, MS area with her football coach husband Brett and spunky toddler Berit. She can often be found drinking Earl Grey tea from a very prissy teacup and blogging at