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Featured Speakers

Featured Speakers

We are beyond thrilled to have two amazing keynote speakers for our 2023 NCSLMA Conference. Most school librarians already know of these speakers, so we are honored that they are sharing their talents with us in person. 

Opening Keynote
Amy Hermon

For five years and running, Amy Hermon has been sharing the joys and trials of being a school librarian. Her podcast, School Librarians United, has connected librarians from all over the world.

Amy's enthusiasm for school librarianship and her ability to connect and share has led to a successful podcast. We all know her voice and we all love her. We can't wait to host her in North Carolina!

Catch Amy's opening keynote on Friday, Oct. 6, at 9am. Then catch her around the entire conference as she mingles and records a podcast episode!

CLosing Keynote
Donna Washington

Donna Washington is known the world over for her charismatic storytelling and her ability to educate, inspire, and entertain.

Many of us school librarians have hosted her over the years and know what a powerhouse in the world of storytelling she is and what a profound effect she has on our students. We love everything she has to say and how she says it and are looking forward to being on the edge of our seats!

Catch Donna on the Storyteller Panel Friday, Oct. 6, at 5:45pm, then listen to her closing keynote on Saturday, Oct. 7, at 9am. And stick around while she presents a session on storytelling right afterwards. 

Featured Storytellers

Thursday, October 5

Asian American/Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander Panel

We are honored to have a panel of Asian American speakers to kick off our first day of conference at 5:45pm. Make sure you add this to your schedule so you can hear their stories. 

 Kathleen Burkinshaw Jennie Liu   Amy M. Le

Kathleen Burkinshaw is a Japanese American author, the daughter of a Hiroshima survivor and resides in Charlotte, NC. She’s a wife, mom, and owns a dog who thinks she’s a kitchen ninja. In 2019, she spoke about her mother’s experience in Hiroshima at the United Nations (NYC) and with her daughter on UN virtual events for the 75th anniversary of atomic bombing. In 2021, she had the honor of speaking at a Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum virtual event. Kathleen has presented to middle/high schools around the world for the past 10 years. She now serves on the Advisory Council at the International Center for Multigenerational Legacies of Trauma and on the Steering Committee for the Global Alliance Sustainable Peace & Prosperity for All, Hiroshima Japan.

Kathleen's book is The Last Cherry Blossom, a middle grades historical fiction set in Hiroshima at the end of WWII.

Jennie Liu is an award winning author in western NC and the daughter of Chinese immigrants. Having been brought up with an ear to two cultures, she has been fascinated by the attitudes, social policies, and changes in China each time she visits. Her first YA novel, Girls On The Line and her latest YA that came out in 2020 is Like Spilled Water. Her latest novel is the MG, Enly and the Buskin Blues that published in February 2023.

*Jennie is presenting a session called My Sons, My Town, and Other Bits of Matter: The Unique Alchemy of Pantsing a Novel

Amy M. Le is an award winning author of the Snow Trilogy. Her debut novel was the first in the Snow Trilogy-Snow in Vietnam, which she wrote to honor her mother. It's based on her mother's and her(as a young child) heroic escape to the US. Amy's YA novel (and 3rd in the Snow Trilogy), is Snow's Kitchen.

Amy is also a Vietnam War survivor and Congenital Heart Defect (CHD) warrior. She is currently working on her phoenix series—three books showcasing the resilience of people who’ve survived deep trauma. Amy is the founder of Quill Hawk Publishing, a woman-owned, Asian American company that helps writers indie publish their books while amplifying diverse voices through storytelling. She co-founded The Heart Community Collection, a resource for the CHD community, and sits on the board of the Vietnamese Boat People Podcast.

Featured Storytellers

Friday, October 6

Storyteller Panel

Our storyteller panel will feature numerous professional storytellers who are going to share a little about themselves and how they came into storytelling. We may even have time for them to perform a short story for the crowd! Come check out what will definitely be an unforgettable storytelling experience! The panel will begin at 5:45pm.

 Donna Washington

Donna Washington is an internationally known, multiple award winning storyteller, spoken word recording artist, and author.

A highly animated performer, she has been entertaining, educating, and inspiring audiences with her vocal pyrotechnics, elastic face, and deep characterizations that bring folklore, literary tales, and personal narratives to life for over thirty years.

Donna has been called a “Walking Disney Movie”, and told she was "better than television".

 Kumar Sathy  Kumar has over 20 years of experience in education along with a wealth of experience in public speaking. He has participate in storytelling events and is a 2022-23 CREED (Center for Racial Equity in Education) Fellow. He currently serves as the District Equity Facilitator for Orange County Schools in Hillsborough, NC.  
 Carol Bono With a vibrant heritage rooted in Latinx culture, Bono has masterfully woven the threads of her own experiences into tales that speak to the universal human spirit. Her unique perspective and unyielding passion for storytelling have made her an extraordinary voice in the literary landscape. Bono’s stories are imbued with a palpable sense of authenticity, drawing inspiration from her rich cultural background and giving voice to underrepresented communities. Through her vivid imagery and lyrical prose, Bono immerses her audience in the beauty and complexity of Latinx traditions. Beyond her storytelling prowess, Bono is a tireless advocate for diversity and inclusivity in children's literature. Her dedication to promoting multicultural narratives has paved the way for young Latinx readers to see themselves reflected in the pages of books, fostering a sense of belonging and empowering them to embrace their own identities. At EdNC, she created the series Comunidad, which won the 2020 North Carolina Press Association award in the Multimedia Project category, to amplify the stories of strength and perseverance of Latinx students, educators, and community.   
 David Zealy-Wright/DeVida DeVida, the self proclaimed Broadway Belter of the Bible Belt is an education and mental health professional by day and a Broadway drag diva by night.  DeVida is known for her live vocals, creative performances, and glamorous style. DeVida, is a licensed therapist and substance abuse specialist as well as a college professor of Psychology and Human Services with a bachelor's degree in Psychology and a masters degree in Agency Counseling.  They are also the Creative Director for Cardboard Castle Productions, LLC and work diligently to bring fun and creative ideas to the stage, table, and libraries they celebrate.  DeVida has over 20 years of experience in theater, music, makeup artistry, costuming, and cabaret performance.  They have won the titles of Miss Gay NC America, Miss Charlotte Pride, Miss Carolina’s Continental Plus, and most recently Miss Gay Southern America.  In their spare time DeVida enjoys cooking and travelling with their family.  
 Bo Taylor

Raised in the Wolftown community on the Qualla Boundary, James “Bo” Taylor danced as a boy in downtown Cherokee with Leroy Tramper. His grandfather Larch Taylor sang to him in the Cherokee language and danced with him.

Describing himself as “big into the old ways,” Bo feels he has earned his Cherokee name of Come Back Wolf. Bo has “come back” to the traditional Cherokee ways from a time when he was a high school football player and wrestler, but ashamed to be Indian. He has studied, practiced, and promoted his Cherokee heritage.

Greatly influenced by his time spent with elders Walker Calhoun and Robert Bushyhead, Bo has learned the Cherokee dances and can read and write the Cherokee language. He has also learned songs and dances from wax cylinders that Will West Long recorded in the 1930s, and has taught these dances to children. He earned a degree in anthropology with a minor in Cherokee Studies from Western Carolina University and now serves as Language & Culture Manager for the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians.

His presentations to schools and other groups have covered the Southeast, and he also

participates in the Educational Outreach Programs. He has studied immersion teaching techniques used by tribes across the U.S. and by the Maoris in New Zealand, and has developed a Cherokee Language Immersion Course for adults. The course uses methods developed at Berkeley and Dartmouth but also incorporates Cherokee culture through collaboration with elders. He has had collaborative music projects with the band, “Creed”, that resulted in a number album for several weeks. Taylor has also won a “Nammy”, which is equivalent to a Grammy but for Traditional Native American Music.

Bo Taylor is available for programs, which include Cherokee dancing, powwow dancing, dance songs, and discussion of Cherokee history, culture, and stereotypes. He adapts his presentations to audiences of all ages and all sizes, and always encourages them to participate in dancing and discussion. Taylor also teaches an intensive ten-day Cherokee language immersion class.

 Tony Land/Cierra Desireé Nichole Tony Land comes to us from the Mill City of Kannapolis, North Carolina. He grew up in Salisbury, NC (a small city 30 miles north of Charlotte). He has obtained his Bachelor’s degree in Business Management and Master’s Degree in Human Resources Management. Currently, Tony works as a Client Manager for a renown Human Resources Outsourcing Firm that manages benefits administration and Payroll Cloud services to Fortune 500 companies. His drag persona Cierra Desireé Nichole has been involved in performing, competing, and judging many different levels of pageantry since 2000. Some of his most notable titles include Miss Charlotte Pride, Miss Gay NC USofA, Carolina All American Goddess at Large, and Miss Carolina Southern Elegance at Large. Cierra has even captured two National titles of her own Miss USA Unlimited and National Dont Hate DIVA. She is the reigning Miss Charlotte FFI Prime and East Coast SnowQueen Superior on her way to National SnowQueen Superior in Memphis, TN. In his leisure time, Tony enjoys traveling, spending time with friends, kayaking, and cooking. As part of his work giving back, Tony has been serving on the board of Salisbury Pride and working with the community to bring activities that educates and celebrates unity and inclusivity in Salisbury and Rowan County. Tony aka Cierra is very proud to take part in this wonderful event and wants to remind everyone that “Each One Must Teach One” and “Its nice to be important, but its more important to be nice!”  361288081_1643938629461865_5318640126973549468_n.jpg
 Kendoll/David Alan Kendoll proudly volunteers for Drag Story Hour Triangle Area as a reader, sometimes of her own books. That is because out of drag, Kendoll is also known as David Alan, an author of several self-published children's and humor books. He is the author of the “T-Rextra” series of children’s books, a new venture he started in 2020, as a way to fill newly found extra time during the pandemic.  “T-Rextra” is the sassiest, funniest, sweetest little T-Rex you'd ever want to meet! His books are all about love, empathy, compassion, loving yourself, and appreciating others’ differences. Kendoll was First Runner-Up to Miss Gay North Carolina America in 1998 and 2002. She did hang up her tights after that, but dreams never die, so after two decades, she has come back, and in October, will once again be competing for that crown.  David spends his spare time, with his husband Eric and their two furbabies, Natalia and  Angela Basset Hound. He is also proud “Papa D” (Grandpa) to 4 year-old Maci, one of the loves of his life.    360037317_801567371624337_811020986731248965_n.jpg
 Buff Faye/Shane Windmeyer Buff Faye is proud to be an active, visible leader and does drag as a way to raise money for local and national charities. She is the number one “charity queen” raising money for Campus Pride, Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, RAIN, Twirl to the World Foundation as well as many other local charities.  In 2012, Buff was chosen as Creative Loafing's "Best of the Best" Drag Entertainer and Q-Notes Best of Charlotte Drag Queen.  Her drag brunch was chosen in 2020 for Charlotte Magazine's Best of the Best Award for "Best Drag Brunch" and in 2022 by Elevate Magazine as the "#1 Best of the Best" Drag Show.  For five years she wrote a monthly column “Dishing with Buff Faye” for Q-Notes Carolinas newspaper and is the only drag queen to be featured on both front page/covers of Creative Loafing and The Charlotte Observer.  Currently, Buff Faye has her own podcast twice a month on the Queen City Podcast Network with her sidekick Funsize.  Buff Faye has won many titles but most notable was crowned 2019 National Entertainer of the Year. Out of drag, Buff Faye is better known as Shane Windmeyer, the founder/executive director of Campus Pride, the leading national non-profit organization benefiting LGBTQ youth nation-wide on college campuses. He is also a nationally recognized speaker, educator and best-selling author of six books including The Advocate College Guide for LGBT Students, Out on Fraternity Row, Brotherhood and Secret Sisters  In their spare time Buff enjoys travelling and spending time with their husband and their family.  360125761_783904216564754_6813699650180106595_n.jpg

Author Alley
Friday, October 6
Throughout the day

While you're at our Conference, make sure to go by our Author Alley to meet some of our favorite North Carolina authors. The schedule will be posted closer to conference time.

 Jacqui Castle

 Nora Shalaway Carpenter

 Frances O'Roark Dowell

Halli Gomez


Alan Gratz

Jo Hackl

Robin Hall 

 Katrina Hayes

Amalie Jahn

 Jennie Liu

Kwame Mbalia

 Stacy McAnulty

 Caitlin Sockin

 Ali Standish

 Sheila Turnage

 Gene Willoughby

 Allan Wolf

Darren Farrell

 Landra Jennings

Landra Jennings - Photo by Bralie Branan

 Nick Esposito

 Judy Allen Dodson

 Jacqueline Ogburn


NCSLMA2023 Sponsors

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