Keynotes

Kelly Yang

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Kelly Yang

Wed., Sept. 28, 2022
10:30-11:45 a.m.

Yang is an Asian American writer and author of young adult and children’s literature. She won the 2019 Asian/Pacific American Award for Literature and the 2018 Parents’ Choice Gold Medal for Fiction for her book “Front Desk,” a book based on her experiences as a 10-year-old working at her family’s motel business. In her new book, “New From Here,” Yang takes on the perspective of Knox Wei-Evans, a 10-year-old boy who is uprooted from his home in Hong Kong as the coronavirus spreads from China to the rest of the world. The impact of injustice and bullying have always been themes of Yang’s work, but she was shocked when she experienced two coronavirus-related hate incidents in 2020. Yang will share her experiences and thoughts on AAPI leaders and change-makers — the inspiration behind her new children’s book, “Yes We Will: Asian Americans Who Shaped This Country.”

More about Yang
Yang immigrated to America when she was six years old and grew up in Southern California. She is a graduate of the University of California, Berkeley and Harvard Law School, having entered college at the age of 13 and Harvard Law School at the age of 17. In 2005, at the age of 20, Kelly became one of the youngest graduates of Harvard Law School.

After law school, she gave up law to pursue her passion of writing and teaching children writing. In 2005, Kelly founded The Kelly Yang Project to help students in Asia find their voice and become better writers and more powerful speakers. As an award-winning author, she’s designed the KYP curriculum to instill a passion for writing in children from a very early age.

Before turning to fiction, Kelly was also a columnist for the South China Morning Post for many years. Her writing has been published in The New York TimesThe Washington Post, and The Atlantic.


Wil Haygood

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Wil Haygood

Thurs., Sept. 29, 2022
3:15 – 4:15 p.m.

Haygood has brought to life some of the most important stories in American history. His 2008 Washington Post article about an African-American man who served eight U.S. presidents inspired the film The Butler, and his most recent book, Colorization: One Hundred Years of Black Films in a White World, reflects a lifetime of thinking about the lack of representation of Black people in movies.

As a middle-schooler growing up in Columbus, Haygood went to the movies a lot and he noticed that the performers had one thing in common: They were white. In his new book, Haygood spans the history of Hollywood, noting the prejudices, stereotypes and other obstacles faced by filmmakers and actors of color as they attempted to bring their stories to the screen. During his keynote presentation, Haygood will share his thoughts on the profound importance of libraries in a writer’s life.

More about Haygood
Haygood was born in 1954 in Columbus, Ohio. He grew up in Columbus and graduated from Miami University in 1976. Haygood began his writing career at the Columbus Call & Post. He has been a Guggenheim and National Endowment for the Humanities Fellow. He has worked for both the Boston Globe (where, as a foreign correspondent he was taken hostage by Somali rebels) and the Washington Post.

The movie, “Lee Daniels’ The Butler,” adapted from a story by Haygood in the Washington Post, premiered in August 2013. It starred Forest Whitaker, Oprah Winfrey, Vanessa Redgrave, Jane Fonda, Cuba Gooding Jr., Terrence Howard, Mariah Carey, and David Oyelowo. Haygood served as an associate producer. That same summer Haygood’s book, “The Butler: A Witness to History,” landed on the New York Times bestseller list.

Haygood is the author of several books that have been widely acclaimed. His “King of the Cats: the Life and Times of Adam Clayton Powell Jr.,” was named a New York Times Notable Book of the Year. That was followed by his autobiography, “The Haygoods of Columbus: A Family Memoir,” which was awarded the Great Lakes Book Award and the Ohioana Library Award. His “In Black and White: the Life of Sammy Davis Jr.,” was considered a landmark reevaluation of life of the song and dance man, receiving many honors, including the ASCAP Deems Taylor Music Biography Award, the Zora Neale Hurston-Richard Wright Legacy Award, and the Nonfiction Book of the Year Award from the Black Caucus of the American Library Association.


Alex Gino

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Alex Gino

Fri., Sept. 30, 2022
12:30-1:30 p.m.

Alex Gino is a long-time LGBTQ+ activist, but they are best known for Melissa, their middle-grade novel whose transgender character identifies as female. The book has won numerous awards, including the Lambda Literary Award and the American Library Association’s Stonewall Award. It has also been a frequent target of challenges and bans.

Alex Gino loves glitter, ice cream, gardening, awe-ful puns, and stories that reflect the complexity of being alive. They would take a quiet coffee date with a friend over a loud and crowded party any day. A former LSAT tutor who never touched law school, Alex can still talk your ear off about sufficient and necessary conditions. Gino’s latest book, Alice Austen Lived Here features two non-binary protagonists and a powerful story that encourages kids to consider the history they are traditionally taught and what it means to be included. During their keynote presentation, Gino will discuss the importance of LGBTQIA+ content and why it is frequently targeted by censors.

More about Gino
Gino has been an activist and advocate for LGBTQIAP+ communities since 1997, when they became co-chair of what was then called the LGBA at the University of Pennsylvania. (It was renamed the QSA the year after they left.) They are proud to have served on the board of NOLOSE, a fat-positive, queer, feminist organization dedicated to supporting radical fat acceptance and culture. Alex would like to thank the Black women and other amazing BIPOC folk of NOLOSE who raised their consciousness about race and how racism permeates our culture. They are currently a member of We Need Diverse Books and PEN America.

Born and raised on Staten Island, New York, Gino has lived in Philadelphia, Brooklyn, Astoria (Queens); Northampton, Massachusetts; Oakland, California; and even in an RV on an 18-month road trip through 44 states. They are now happily settled in the Hudson Valley in New York with their two black mischievous but loving cats, Thunderbolt and Lightning. (And yes, they are very, very frightening … when they are awake.)