Get to know the authors and illustrators behind the First Conversations series
Megan Pamela Ruth Madison
Megan Pamela Ruth Madison loves being a Black queer woman and she dreams of justice. As a former preschool teacher, Megan understands the power of play and collaboration across generations. She holds an MS in early childhood education from Dominican University and a BA in studies in religion from the University of Michigan. Currently, she is pursuing her PhD at Brandeis University. When she's not working on finishing up her dissertation, she works as a trainer for the Center for Racial Justice in Education and the New York Early Childhood Professional Development Institute, facilitating workshops for teachers and families on race, gender, and sexuality.
Beyond her professional work, Megan volunteers on the Board of Directors for Jews for Racial & Economic Justice and JOIN for Justice. Through these organizations, she's been able to deepen her skills as a community organizer. Megan believes that in order to enact sustainable change at the institutional, structural, and cultural levels, we must also engage in the deep work of personal and interpersonal transformation. At its sweetest, the process of community organizing enables us to co-create moments in which we can more clearly see, imagine, feel, taste the world as it could be. Time and time again, she is continually in awe of the process through which communities develop a shared vision for collective liberation and become accountable to that future. What an honor to witness as people fall in love with themselves, with one another, and the world they are building together! She hopes that these books are one small, but mighty contribution to this giant collective project.
You can follow her on Instagram @meganmadison
Jessica Ralli was raised in a preschool in Washington, D.C. Her bedroom was next-door to her mom’s early childhood program that she ran out of their home for 40 years (and counting). Early childhood education is a passion that grew out of that proximity and intertwined existence, and later became her own life’s work. Jessica holds an M.A. in Early Childhood Special Education from Teachers College and a B.A. in Fine Arts from New York University. She is a former preschool special education teacher, and has taught in schools, museums and libraries--libraries being her current passion and career! Jessica is the Coordinator of Early Literacy Programs at Brooklyn Public Library, and plans creative, inclusive, grant-funded programming for Brooklyn’s youngest learners.
Jessica writes about play, early literacy, gender, race and more as co-author of the First Steps column for School Library Journal. Writing for librarians and educators about young children and how they experience and learn about their world is an honor and a challenge. To her, libraries feel like a place where change can be immediate and tangible--you can help people in a way that responds to their personal needs and the needs of their community. In 2020, Jessica received the Library Journal Movers and Shakers award for her advocacy work in libraries bringing books to migrant children separated from their families.
As a mom of two young children, Jack (7) and Cleo (4), Jessica is constantly in awe of her children’s natural ability to question, learn, reflect, test theories, and empathize. As a white, cisgender mom of two young white children--having intentional conversations around race, white priviledge, gender, body liberation and consent has been as essential as potty training and bedtime stories. She has learned through her work and especially her children that the youngest among us have a beautiful vision for the future. They are ready to talk, discover, unpack and do the work together with us for a more just world!
You can follow her on Instagram @JessicaEarlyLit
Isabel Roxas is an author, illustrator, and avid reader. She has illustrated several books for young readers, including the Newbery award-winning Hello, Universe by Erin Entrada Kelly, The Littlest Viking by Alexandra Penfold and Let Me Finish! by Minh Le.
She was born in the Philippines, raised on luscious mangoes, old wives' tales, and monsoon rains. She is now based in NYC where she writes and illustrates stories, designs books, bakes delicious things and creates small objects out of resin and clay.
Isabel was a recipient of the Fulbright Scholarship and has been awarded the Philippine National Children's Book Award in 2010 for illustrating Day at the Market by May Tobias-Papa and in 2018 for Mang Andoy's Signs by Mailin Paterno.
Anne/Andy Passchier is a non-binary illustrator and queer advocate from The Netherlands, currently based in Cleveland, Ohio. They have illustrated several children's books focusing on identity and the LGBTQIA2S+ community, including Rainbow: A First Book of Pride by Michael Genhart; Trans+: Love, Sex, Romance, and Being You by Karen Rayne, PhD and Katherine Gonzales, MBA; Benny's True Colors by Norene Paulson; and What Are Your Words? by Katherine Locke.
They also create online comics about their experiences as a non-binary person under the pseudonym Andyrogyny. Anne/Andy lives with their two cats, Church and Jane. They love to travel and draw, and enjoy all things spooky, including Halloween, cryptids, and aliens.
Follow them on Instagram at @andyrogeny