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Get to know the staff of the Children’s Book Council.

Carl Lennertz, Executive Director

Carl has held executive positions at several publishing houses and non-profits. He was VP of Marketing at Knopf for 10 years and held marketing positions at HarperCollins and Little, Brown. He organized over 2,000 national author tours and oversaw bestselling book campaigns as well as debut launches. He published a book with Random House and has edited over 25 books. Lennertz taught marketing at the University of Denver for 11 years. His non-profit and association work includes the ABA (working on a national campaign for independent bookstores), World Book Night US (where 250,000 free books were handed out to people in need each year on April 23), and now as the CBC and Every Child a Reader Executive Director for six years. He has lived in upstate NY’s Adirondacks since 2019. Favorite non-work things: Liverpool FC, chocolate, and vinylLPs.

Shaina Birkhead, Associate Executive Director

Just having celebrated her 10th anniversary at the CBC, Shaina’s focus is on creating, growing, and maintaining programs and partnerships that support the work of the CBC’s member publishers, increase awareness of children’s books, and address important topics affecting the industry at large. Her main responsibilities have been the coordination of the National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature program and of the national Children’s Book Week, now celebrating its 103rd anniversary. Before her work at the CBC and Every Child a Reader, Shaina received a BFA in Dance from UNC-Greensboro and had an exciting career in restaurant service and management. Shaina’s fascination with and adoration of creators in many disciples fuels her own passion for books and for making things with her hands. She lives in Atlanta and welcomed Theo and Ruby into the world in 2020 and 2021. Favorite non-work things: Coney Island, collecting books, and making things (like quilts).

Laura Peraza, Head of Membership, Partnerships, & Design

Laura is a curious designer, communicator, and strategic thinker with experience in innovative visual content, digital technologies, copywriting, and project management. She has conducted the organization’s digital media design, as well as overseen a redesign of CBC’s website and a restructuring of CBC’s Award processes. She now brings her interpersonal skills and over a decade of experience in the nonprofit sector and publishing to support CBC membership management and Every Child a Reader donor partnerships. She previously worked at World Book Night US, Vintage Español, Open Road, and a law firm. She is a chronic lifelong learner with studies in law, journalism, advertising, publishing, and digital media. Fluent in English and Spanish, with some French, she currently resides in Miami. Favorite non-work things: meditation, museums, and triathlons.

Sommer Wissner, Program Coordinator

Sommer’s love of children’s literature peaked after finding a copy of the Grimm’s Book of Fairytales with the text block bound upside down! She received a BA in English with a specialty in Writing and Editing at Auburn University while working at NewSouth Books. She attended the Denver Publishing Institute and then made the move to New York, where she interned for the CBC. A move home to Houston and then to Denver followed, and now she begins as Marketing Assistant in January 2022, tasked with helping coordinate CBC’s many programs.  Favorite non-work things: karaoke, video games, and trivia.

Paulina Ramirez, Associate Program Coordinator

Paulina found her passion for writing at a very young age. She received a BA in Creative Writing from the University of Texas at El Paso and studied abroad in Northern England, learning about the life and poetry of William Wordsworth. Paulina has worked in the service industry for seven years, as well as tutoring elementary students in reading and writing. Her interest in publishing flourished as an editorial intern at Cinco Puntos Press, where she focused on manuscripts and reader reports. Paulina is fluent in both English and Spanish, studied French for two years, and is currently working towards her certification in American Sign Language.  Favorite non-work things: cooking, practicing yoga, and taking long walks with her dog Fiona.

Brooke S. Pisarsky, Marketing Assistant

A lifelong lover of books, Brooke had originally set her sights on being the Next Great American Author, only to learn that when writing becomes work, it becomes much less fun. However, despite this wrinkle in her plans, she graduated with a BA in English/Creative Writing from Colby College in Maine and held such positions as bookseller and youth services library assistant. It was through these roles, as well as becoming a mother, that Brooke developed a deep appreciation for both middle-grade and YA fiction, with some of her favorites being His Dark Materials, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, and the Heartstopper series. A summer semester at the Denver Publishing Institute reaffirmed her deep desire to more directly work within the kidlit world, and she is now thrilled to be maintaining CBC’s Hot Off the Press monthly book list. Favorite non-work things: sewing, baking, and nightly reading with her 10-year-old daughter, where she is sure to “do all the voices.”

John McCormack, Freelance Social Media

John maintains CBC’s social media platforms. He received a BA in Creative Writing and Film from the University of Central Florida. He then went on to the University of Denver for both the Denver Publishing Institute and his MA in Professional Dramatic Writing. He works at a comic bookstore in Florida and compiled CBC’s Pride Month graphic novel list.  On staff Zoom calls, he cuddles his sweet dog, Indiana “Indy” Bones. Favorite non-work things: cold brew, the Broncos, and Broadway.

Nick Rodriguez, Intern

Nick coordinates the Goddard CBC Social Justice Prize and handles book sorting. He is also a supervisor at a NYC coffee shop. His book passions run from both adult and children’s books about history to graphic novels and Syfy/fantasy. His favorite books are Stamped and Dune. Favorite non-work things: Manga, poetry, and cooking.


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