Meet the Team

Michigan's first regional advisor was Carol Farley of Mt. Pleasant, who took this leadership role in 1982 and served 22 Michigan members. Our SCBWI chapter currently has over 450 members and is led by Michigan Regional Advisors, Leslie Helakoski and Carrie Pearson, as well as a talented and diverse group of volunteers:

Leslie headshotLeslie Helakoski, Co-RA, has been a Regional Advisor for Michigan since 2008 and a member of SCBWI since 1998. She is the author and sometimes illustrator of eight picture books including The Michigan Reads books, Big Chickens and Woolbur, and the newly released Doggone Feet! She lives with her family in Kalamazoooooo!

headshot profile photo by WendyCarrie Pearson, Co-RA, lives on the shore of Lake Superior in Marquette. She has been an SCBWI member since 2005 when she decided she'd better learn more about writing for children if she was going to spend so much time doing it. Carrie is the PAL author of two nonfiction picture books, winner of the SCBWI-MI Picture Book Mentorship Award (2008), and received an SCBWI Works of Outstanding Promise (WOOP) award in 2013 for a new picture book biography. She loves helping people in the children's book community learn about the business and improve their craft.

RuthMcNallyBarshaw headshotRuth McNally Barshaw, Illustrator Coordinator, lives in Lansing with her creative family (including writer husband Charlie). She finally joined SCBWI in 2003 and wishes she'd joined much earlier because it ultimately put her on the direct path toward publication. Ruth writes and illustrates The Ellie McDoodle Diaries (Bloomsbury, 2007 – 2014) and has lots of other projects in the works. See her art and books at http://ruthexpress.com.

Charlie Barshaw, Networks Day/Mid-Michigan Meet Up Coordinator, and Go To Guy, has been an SCBWI member since 2009, when he lost his job but found his profession. Charlie is best known as the husband of author/illustrator Ruth McNally Barshaw, of "The Ellie McDoodle Diaries" fame.  Charlie wrote for newspapers and magazines in his younger days, and is now working on some middle grade novel ideas. He is co-chair of the 2013 Fall Revision Retreat and the 2014 Mackinac Island Conference.

Catherine Bieberich, Mentorship Program Coordinator, lives in Battle Creek, MI where she teaches Middle School Language Arts and facilitates a Middle School Gifted Program. During her thirty years of teaching, she has written several young adult and middle grade novels. A member of SCBWI since 1997, Catherine was the 2002 winner of the SCBWI-MI Novell Mentorship Award. She has had two articles published in Educational journals.

Lisa Healy, Volunteer, Travel and Merchandise Coordinator, lives on the calming shores of Pine Lake in West Bloomfield.  She has been an SCBWI member since 2006 when she thought she could carry all her self-syndicated newspaper family column ideas over to children's book writing.  Lisa's work was published in the anthology, A Century of Voices.  Her stories and articles have also appeared in the Detroit News & Free Press, Blue Magazine, Strut, Families First Monthly and Metro Parent Magazine.

Anita Pazner, Public Relations Coordinator, spends her time in West Bloomfield and Boyne Mountain. Her publishing background is in newspapers, magazines and corporate video scripts. Being in love with everything kid related, she currently writes picture books, middle-grade and young adult novels. She especially enjoys meeting other book people, learning from them and hopefully passing on any knowledge she may have.

Pat Trattles, Critiques and First Pages Coordinator, lives in Holland, Michigan. She started thinking about writing for children when her daughter was 6 months old and joined SCBWI three years later when pregnant with second daughter. Pat is the PAL author of two early readers, one fiction, one non-fiction. She currently spends most of her writing time writing for state assessments in conjunction with the Common Core. In her spare time she works full time at a senior care center, attends her daughter’s collegiate soccer games and plays with her grandson.

Deb Gonzales, Webmistress, served as RA for the Austin SCBWI Chapter, an adjunct professor, a Montessori teacher for ages 3 to 12, a school administrator, an educational consultant, a curriculum designer, and a writing workshop instructor. One of her most interesting adventures in teaching was with PBS’s Barney kids. She earned her MFA from the Vermont College of Fine Art in Writing for Children and Young Adults, and is a contributor of ReaderKidZ, a website committed to fostering a love of reading for kids ages K-5. She has published a series of early readers and ,when she’s not working away on her middle grade novels, Deb creates activity-based teacher guides for all genres. Check out her work at www.debbiegonzales.com. Should you have any needs regarding the website – event announcements, registration issues, or just want to stop by and say, "Hi!" -  contact Deb at debbadee5 [at] gmail [dot] com.

Nina Goebel, Brochure Coordinator, is a native of Bavaria and lives in Grosse Pointe, Michigan. She has been an SCBWI member since 2011. Nina is primarily a graphic designer and illustrator, who started writing in 2012 as well. She is also an active member of the Grosse Pointe Art Center and volunteers for an art therapy program for inner city kids in Detroit. Both of these activities have given her the opportunity to teach workshops and facilitate art shows with disadvantaged youth and adults. Access www.ninafecit.com to find out more about Nina.

Deborah Diesen, ListServ Administrator/Old and New Member Liaison, has been a member of SCBWI since 2001.  She loves to write in rhyme and is the author of several children’s picture books, including the New York Times bestseller, The Pout-Pout Fish.  Debbie lives with her family in Grand Ledge, MI.

Jodie Fletcher, Newsletter Co-Editor, is a former newspaper reporter who left the glitz and glamour of a small-town daily to fulfill her longtime dream of becoming a freelance journalist and young adult storyteller. She lives near the shores of Lake Michigan with two apathetic cats, an ornery Chihuahua and a darling German Shepherd. She spends ridiculous amounts of time watching TV shows, reading books and talking about what she's watching and reading. This she calls "research."

Kristin Lenz, Newsletter Co-Editor, is a social worker who lived in Georgia and California before returning to her home state of Michigan. Currently, she lives with her husband and daughter in metro-Detroit.  Her short story, The Power of Butterflies, was published by Hunger Mountain online and was a finalist for the Katherine Paterson Prize for Young Adult and Children’s Writing. She is represented by Carrie Pestritto at the Prospect Agency.