SCBWI is a nonprofit organization and the Nevada chapter of SCBWI is wholly operated by volunteers. The regional team consists of an Advisor, Assistant, and Illustrator Coordinator who are responsible for organizing all events; however, the regional team is not paid staff but volunteers as well.
Cynthia Mun, Regional Advisor (Las Vegas)
Cynthia Mun has two decades of experience in strategic and product marketing. As Vice President of Marketing, she worked in emerging technology sectors in Silicon Valley and in hospitality in Las Vegas. She launched the first e-Book and Pandora.com. She switched careers in 2011 to write children’s novels.
Cynthia immigrated to the US from South Korea as a child. She graduated from Westridge All Girls School in Pasadena, CA. She graduated from Yale University and was the first to receive a college degree in her family.
When she isn’t working, she is an active community advocate. She serves on the board of Communities in Schools of Nevada, a nonprofit that helps at-risk students graduate. She is the past President and Founder of the Yale Alumni Association of Nevada (Yale Club). She is also responsible for Yale undergraduate recruitment for Nevada as the ASC Director.
Jenny MacKay, Assistant Regional Advisor (Northern Nevada)
Jenny MacKay has written 35 nonfiction books for middle-grade and teen readers on topics ranging from murder scenes and roller coasters to mythology and haunted houses. She has a master’s degree in creative writing and currently teaches college courses in English composition and communications. She has been a member of SCBWI since about 2007 (but who’s counting?) and has been a mentor for two of Nevada SCBWI’s Mentor Programs. She is a teacher at heart, and helping writers unearth and polish up the diamonds in their rough drafts is undoubtedly her favorite thing to do. She also preaches that a good story is a good story, whether it is true or make-believe, so she is equally happy working with writers to shape stupendous tales of both the fictional and the nonfictional kind.
Bonnie Kelso, Illustrator Coordinator (Southern Nevada)
Bonnie Kelso writes and illustrates books for children and adults that encourage individualism and brave creative self-expression. A graduate of the Rhode Island School of Design, she has a background in exhibit design and has worked on projects for NASA, National Geographic, and the Smithsonian Institution. Bonnie traveled all the way around the world… twice! She still enjoys indulging her wandering nature whenever she gets the chance. Bonnie coordinates the writer-illustrator picture book group related events, moderates PB Crit Group Zoom meetings. Currently, she lives in Las Vegas with her partner and two sons with whom she enjoys many real and imaginary adventures. Learn more about Bonnie and her work at www.BonnieKelso.com.
Suzanne Morgan Williams, Regional Advisor Emeritus, PAL Coordinator
Suzanne Morgan Williams is the author of the middle grade novel Bull Rider and eleven nonfiction books for children. Bull Rider is a Junior Library Guild Selection, is on several state award lists and won a Western Heritage Award from the National Western Heritage and Cowboy Museum. Her nonfiction titles include Piñatas and Smiling Skeletons, The Inuit, and China’s Daughters. Suzanne has presented and taught writing workshops at dozens of schools, professional conferences, and literary events across the US and Canada. She is a Nevada Arts Council Artist in Residence and was Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators Member of the Year, 2012. Visit www.suzannemorganwilliams.com
Jacci Turner, PAL Coordinator
Jacci is an Amazon bestselling author of middle grade and young adult fiction. She writes adult fiction, too. Her latest book, Tree Singer is her first fantasy. Jacci is a recipient of grants from the Nevada Arts Council, the National Assembly of State Arts Agencies in partnership with E.A. Michelson Philanthropy.
Nazanin Ford, WriteRiders Newsletter Editor
Although she’s considered kicking the habit, Nazanin Ford keeps coming back to writing. She’s written for newspapers, magazines, and handbooks, but her first love has always been fiction. Currently, she writes picture books and poetry that revel in the ordinary magic of growing up.
Born in Iran and raised in Southern California, Naz now teaches and writes in Las Vegas, where she lives with her husband, two daughters, and adorable Aussie Labradoodle. You can find her snacking at her desk (for most of the day), reading under a tree (in her dreams), and online (at your leisure) at nazaninford.com, @nazfordwrites on IG and Twitter.
Sarah Elliott, Assistant Editor, WriteRiders Newsletter
Sarah Elliott has been a member of SCBWI since 2017. She writes and illustrates humorous and quirky picture books, often with sub-stories in the illustrations. As an illustrator, she works predominantly in digital media, loves to use thick outlines, and play with color and texture. She has a BA in Theater from UNR, and lives in Las Vegas with her two children and husband.
Michael Harley, Co-Lead of Equity and Inclusion
Michael is a retired attorney living in Las Vegas, Nevada. I am a writer of color who enjoys reading historical fiction and writing children’s stories. I am a member of the Nevada Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, and a local SCBWI critique group.
Theri Wyckoff – Co-Lead, Equity and Inclusion
Theri Wyckoff – Theri is primarily interested in middle grade and YA multicultural, antiracist, and disability-positive literature. She enjoys critiquing her writing groups’ stories and books, and writes her own stories based on 20 years of experience as an elementary school teacher in schools serving historically underrepresented populations. She teaches Valuing Cultural Diversity at the College of Southern Nevada and has presented locally and nationally on the diversity in Harry Potter. Theri must often use assistive devices such as a wheelchair or walker due to a severe back injury and arthritis. For the past 20 years, Theri and her husband have called Las Vegas home.
Critique Group Leaders
Mary Jo Wilen, New Member and Membership Liaison. If you have questions about how to get the most from your membership, Mary Jo can make suggestions.
Mary Jo Wilen has a BS in Engineering from Penn State University and an MBA from Harvard. She held positions as an Engineer at Westinghouse, an Operations Officer at Mellon Bank, a New Product Development Manager at DuPont, a Consultant at McKinsey & Company, and a Senior Executive at PepsiCo and Yum Brands prior to retiring from the corporate world in 1999. After, she worked as a full-time mom and parttime consultant until 2017. In 2019, she self-published an advice book entitled Look Before You Leap: Confessions and Advice from a Private School Mom which is available on Amazon.
She enjoys living in sunny Las Vegas, Nevada, where she spends my days researching, writing, working out, and taking advantage of local entertainment. She is an active member of SCBWI, 12X12 (Guru), and lover of dinosaurs and wordplay. Working on picture books and middle grade novels full-time keeps her busy and engaged in the writing community.
Stephanie Espinoza Villamor – has lived in the Las Vegas area since she was six weeks old. She graduated from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas with a degree in Film and from San Jose State University’s online program with a Master’s degree in Library and Information Science. Stephanie has always loved books and stories, especially for young people. She worked as editor of a youth magazine in college and later in the children’s department of the public library. Stephanie is currently an academic librarian at the College of Southern Nevada, where she helps students and continues to write for the library’s news blog and social media. Her writing interests outside of work include middle grade and young adult novels, both realistic fiction and fantasy. Her stories have appeared in local publications such as CLASS! Magazine, and the Henderson Libraries’ creative writing anthology, Impressions.
Lisa Hallett – Boulder City, Nevada – Thanks to the unending knowledge and inspiration infusion she constantly receives from the writing community, Lisa, a long time SCBWI member, has moved beyond writing and revising her own grocery and to-do lists. She has settled into the world of writing chapter books and middle grade novels, and recently wrote a cover story for a regional magazine. Her critique group is magical, because when they meet, sprinkles from the clouds of creativity and encouragement plink down onto the table splattering shiny puddles of insight into their writing.