Laura Atkins has always been an avid reader of children’s books. She spent seven years in the children’s publishing industry in the United States. After that, she received an MA in Children’s Literature from the National Centre for Research in Children’s Literature (NCRCL) at Roehampton University in England. Laura has taught at the University of Newcastle and Roehampton University, as well as providing freelance editorial services. Her most recent book, Biddy Mason Speaks Up, is the second in the Fighting for Justice series for children. She is now based in Berkeley, California where she offers manuscript critiquing, mentoring and runs writing workshops.
R.C. Barnes’ debut novel Ink for the Beloved is a love letter to her adolescent years in the East Bay. The first in her YA Tattoo Teller series, it follows the adventures of amateur detective Bess Wynters here in Berkeley. For over twenty years, Barnes has worked in the entertainment industry in film and television development. She was a long-time executive at Walt Disney Studios and if you’ve seen any movies featuring a dog and sled, Barnes probably worked on it. She’s published numerous short stories in sci-fi, mystery, and dystopian anthologies. She also works with young writers and currently serves as a college essay coach at Berkeley High.
Janet Delaney is a fine art photographer based in Berkeley, California. Her artwork focuses on the urban social and structural landscape. She has received three National Endowment for the Arts Grants and had her work featured in national and international exhibitions, including a solo show of South of Market, at the de Young Museum, San Francisco in 2015. Her photographs are found in the collections of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; the Pilara Foundation, the de Young Museum, The Oakland Museum of California Art and the BAMPFA. Her most recent book, Public Matters, was released in 2018.
Laurie Ann Doyle is an award-winning writer, second-generation Californian, and teacher of writing at The San Francisco Writers’ Grotto and UC Berkeley. She’s also co-founder of Babylon Salon, a San Francisco literary performance series now celebrating its tenth year. In addition to her powerful new debut collection, World Gone Missing, her previous work has been featured in anthologies such as Road Story (KY Press), the Livingston Press Fiction Anthology (University of West Alabama), and Speak and Speak Again (Pact Press).
Grant Faulkner is the Executive Director of National Novel Writing Month and the co-founder of 100 Word Story. His most recent release is a book of essays on creativity, Pep Talks for Writers: 52 Insights and Actions to Boost Your Creative Mojo. His stories have appeared in dozens of literary magazines, including Tin House, The Southwest Review, and The Gettysburg Review, and he has been anthologized in collections such as Norton’s New Micro: Exceptionally Short Fiction and Best Small Fictions.
Having driven cross-country in the path of the Donner Party, Chronicle columnist Leah Garchik and her husband, Jerry, arrived in California whole, but with hayseeds from their native Brooklyn still in their hair. A year later, in 1972, she washed up on the shores of The Chronicle at Fifth and Mission. Over the years she has served as writer, reviewer, editor, and columnist. She is the author of two books, San Francisco: Its Sights and Secrets, and Real Life Romance. She is an avid knitter, a terrible accordion-player, a sporadic Tweeter, and a pretty good speller. After 47 years at The Chronicle, she abandoned Fifth and Mission in 2019, in order to frolic elsewhere.
Growing up in the East Bay as the son of an astrophysicist and a psychologist, Obi Kaufmann spent most of high school practicing calculus and breaking away on weekends to scramble around Mount Diablo. Into adulthood, he would regularly journey into the mountains, spending more summer nights without a roof than with one. For Kaufmann, the epic narrative of the California backcountry holds enough art, science, mythology, and language for a hundred field atlases to come. When he is not backpacking, you can find the painter-poet at his desk in Oakland. His most recent book, The State of Water: Understanding California’s Most Precious Resource, was released in June 2019.
Lauren Markham is a writer and reporter whose work most often concerns issues related to youth, migration, the environment, and her home state of California. She is the author of The Far Away Brothers: Two Young Migrants and the Making of an American Life, which won the 2018 Ridenhour Book Prize, the Northern California Book Award, and a California Book Award Silver Prize. In addition to writing, Markham works as a part-time administrator at a high school for immigrant youth in Oakland and teaches writing at the Ashland University MFA in Writing Program, Left Margin Lit, and the University of San Francisco.
Kelly McGonigal, PhD, is a research psychologist, lecturer at Stanford University, and an award-winning science writer. Her scientific research focuses on the mind-body connection, and how to cultivate resilience and compassion. She is the author of The Joy of Movement, as well as the international bestseller The Willpower Instinct. Since 2000, she has taught dance, yoga, and group exercise in the San Francisco Bay Area. In her free time, she volunteers as an adoption counselor for animal rescue.
Mara Melandry grew up on the Peninsula when there were still farms and orchards between the towns. She attended university at UC Berkeley (’66), and graduate school at London School of Economics. She later taught anthropology at Haile Selassie University in Ethiopia and also worked for the Department of Transportation as Environmental Manager for the Bay Bridge. She and her photographer husband Don have lived in Berkeley since 1977. Local history is one of her many interests. Her most recent book, Our Paradise: Berkeley’s Fabulous Family Camps, Cazadero, Tuolumne, Echo Lake, was published in 2018.
Doris Moskowitz is a native Berkeleyan and owner of Moe’s Books. Her book, Radical Bookselling – A Life of Moe Moskowitz, was released in 2016.
Vijaya Nagarajan is an associate professor and Chair of the Department of Theology/Religious Studies and in the Program of Environmental Studies at the University of San Francisco. Her academic interests weave among the fields of Hinduism, Environment, Gender, Ritual, and the Commons. She received her Ph.D. in South Asian Language and Literatures from UC Berkeley. Vijaya has been devoted to the environmental movement for several decades in both India and the Bay Area. She is the co-founder of The Recovery of the Commons Project and the Institute for the Study of Natural and Cultural Resources, where she has co-organized events with a large range of scholars, activists and artists. Her most recent book, Feeding a Thousand Souls: Women, Ritual, and Ecology in India- An Exploration of the Kolam, was published in 2018.
Janet Napolitano is the twentieth president of the University of California, where she has launched initiatives to achieve financial stability for the University; achieve carbon neutrality across the UC system by 2025; accelerate the translation of UC research into products and services; focus UC resources on global food security; and create a systemwide program with Mexico. Prior to joining the University of California, President Napolitano served as Secretary of Homeland Security from 2009 to 2013. She is a former two-term Governor of Arizona, a former Attorney General of Arizona, and a former U.S. Attorney for the District of Arizona. In 2019, Napolitano published How Safe Are We? Homeland Security Since 9/11. President Napolitano earned her B.S. degree, summa cum laude, in Political Science from Santa Clara University, and her J.D. from the University of Virginia. She is based in Oakland, CA.
Jenny Odell is a multidisciplinary artist and writer based in Oakland, California. She has exhibited her artwork internationally and was an artist in residence at the San Francisco Planning Department, Internet Archive, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, and Facebook. Her writing has been published in the New York Times, Sierra Magazine, McSweeney’s, and the Paris Review. She teaches digital art at Stanford University. Her first book, How to Do Nothing: Resisting the Attention Economy, was published in 2019 by Melville House.
Ingrid Rojas Contreras was born and raised in Bogotá, Colombia. Her first novel Fruit of the Drunken Tree is an Indie Next selection and a New York Times editor’s choice. Her work has appeared in the New York Times Magazine, Buzzfeed, Nylon, and Guernica. She teaches writing at the University of San Francisco and works with immigrant high school students as part of a San Francisco Arts Commission initiative bringing writers into public schools. She is working on a family memoir about her grandfather, a curandero from Colombia who it was said had the power to move clouds.
Richard Schwartz is a historian and author. Originally from Philadelphia, he graduated from Temple University with a bachelor’s degree in English Literature. His fifth book, The Man Who Lit Lady Liberty: The Extraordinary Rise and Fall of Actor M. B. Curtis, won a bronze medal in the 2018 Independent Publisher Book Awards and was selected for inclusion in the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Margaret Herrick Library. He lives in Berkeley, where he works as a building contractor and documents early Native American sites in the Bay Area.
Namwali Serpell is a Zambian writer who teaches at the University of California, Berkeley. She won the 2015 Caine Prize for African Writing. She received a Rona Jaffe Foundation Writers’ Award for women writers in 2011 and was selected for the Africa39, a 2014 Hay Festival project to identify the best African writers under 40. The Old Drift is her first novel and has been long-listed for the Center for Fiction First Novel Prize.
Randy Shaw is the Executive Director of the Tenderloin Housing Clinic, San Francisco’s leading provider of housing for homeless single adults. Shaw’s latest book, Generation Priced Out: Who Gets to Live in the New Urban America, highlights the pricing out of a new generation of working and middle-class residents from the nation’s progressive cities. Shaw offers strategies for cities to expand affordability and combat climate change.
Julia Flynn Siler is a New York Times best-selling author and journalist. Her most recent book, The White Devil’s Daughters: The Women Who Fought Slavery in San Francisco’s Chinatown, is a New York Times Editors’ Choice. A veteran journalist, Siler is a longtime contributor and former staff writer for The Wall Street Journal and has been a guest commentator on the BBC, CNBC, and CNN. She lives in Northern California with her husband and their two sons.
Sloane Tanen is the author of ten illustrated and YA books, including the bestseller Bitter With Baggage Seeks Same, Hatched: The Big Push from Pregnancy to Motherhood and her newest novel, There’s A Word For That. Tanen graduated from Sarah Lawrence College and holds Masters degrees from both New York University and Columbia University. She lives in the Bay Area with her husband, the writer Gary Taubes, and their two sons.
Erik Tarloff was born in Los Angeles to a show business family. He spent his adolescence in London and most of his adult life in Berkeley. He has been writing professionally since his college years and has written for the screen, the theater, magazines, and newspapers. His first love and primary commitment, however, is to fiction. He is the author of the New York Times best-seller Face-Time, The Man Who Wrote the Book, All Our Yesterdays, and most recently the Los Angeles Times best-seller The Woman in Black. He currently lives in Berkeley with his wife, economist Laura Tyson.
David Thomson is the author of Sleeping With Strangers: How the Movies Shaped Desire and the pioneering novel Suspects, which was peopled with characters from film.
James Vlahos is the author of TALK TO ME: How Voice Computing Will Change the Way that We Live, Work, and Think. Covering the business, technological, and cultural ramifications of conversational AI, the book has been described by readers such as Wired editor-in-chief Nicholas Thompson as “brilliant and essential.” Vlahos is also the co-founder of HereAfter, which uses AI to help people preserve and share their life stories.