Society of
Children's Book Writers
and Illustrators

E&I Team Bios

Tara Michener:

Tara is the author of six books from early readers to young adult that emphasize social-emotional learning, diversity, and self-esteem. Tara is a TEDx Speaker, Lecturer and has created curriculum, presentations, and content for various organizations, including the Library of Michigan, Princeton Prize in Race Relations, and more. Tara is a board-certified licensed professional counselor and is licensed in Michigan, New Jersey, and Wisconsin. She has been awarded Diversity Champion by CORP! Magazine twice and has been deemed Young Alumni of the Year from Oakland University and Madonna University. Tara is the Equity & Inclusion Team Leader of SCBWI-Michigan. Visit Tara’s Website   


Shanna Heath:

Shanna Heath is a weirdo, in the best sense of the word. Her mother nicknamed her “Shanna Shock-a-Rama” as a teen, but Shanna wasn’t all that shocking. She was just a queer, neurodivergent, and creative kid growing up in rural Ohio (gasp!). Now, Shanna’s goal is to foster creative abundance among authors with diverse perspectives. She writes horror for all ages because it is an ancient genre that has always embraced weirdness. Her short stories have been published in BURROW PRESS REVIEW, CEMETERY MOON, and the upcoming anthologies OTHER TERRORS: AN INCLUSIVE ANTHOLOGY (Clarion/Mariner) and HAUNTED STATES OF AMERICA (Henry Holt). Shanna lives with her wife and two kiddos in Kalamazoo, where they keep Halloween decorations out all year long. Shanna is a member of SCBWI and the Horror Writers Association (HWA). Connect with Shanna on Instagram @mother_marrow, Twitter @shannalheath, or through her website


John Rodriguez:

John Rodriguez is a multimedia creator and illustrator. Professionally, John serves as the Marketing and Communications Lead with the Office of Academic and Multicultural Initiatives (OAMI) at the University of Michigan. 


John’s work as a visual artist explores the dynamics of culture and emotions. His goal is to tell stories to build community awareness and challenge stereotypical narratives that can be harmful. 


John is of Afro-Caribbean descent, having been born in the U.S. Virgin Islands. He is a husband and father of two boys. John works to expand opportunities for his family, friends, and those with voices that need to be heard. 



  • Marketing and Communications Lead with the Office of Academic and Multicultural Initiatives (OAMI) at the University of Michigan
  • Champions for Change Fellow (2021 – 2022)
  • Co-Chair, MLK Symposium, University of Michigan
  • Co-Chair, Juneteenth Celebration, University of Michigan
  • SCBWI-MI (Scholarship awardee 2021 – 2022)

Multimedia Skill Set

  • Traditional: Watercolor, Acrylic, Oils, pencils
  • Digital: Digital Illustration, photography, videography


Facebook: @JRartsite

Instagram: @bruinprophet


Susan Santone:

With expertise in social justice and sustainability, Susan Santone has 25+ years of experience in curriculum and teacher preparation, most recently at the University of Michigan. She’s the author of  Reframing the Curriculum: Design for Social Justice and Sustainability (2019, Routledge), a book that integrates her academic- and consulting work with partners including major universities, PBS Kids, and the United Nations. A life-long artist, Susan is now weaving her creative talents with her educational expertise to develop fiction- and nonfiction works for children. Whether writing for kids or PhDs, Susan aims to inspire joy, curiosity, and hope. Follow her on Twitter (@SusanSantone) and Instagram (SantoneSusan).


Jason Michener:


Naomi Dunsen-White:

Naomi V. Dunsen-White is an award-winning children’s book author who writes books that uplift and represent children of Color. Naomi has a passion for closing the diversity gap that exists in the children’s literature industry and believes that all children deserve to have books with characters who look like them and represent a world in which they can see themselves. She is a former educator and foster care specialist who seeks to make a difference in children’s lives by writing books that are educational, uplifting and inclusive.


Her two children’s books, Johari The Great and Why Am I Here? A Child’s Book About Purpose teach, uplift and inspire children to discover their unique gifts, path and purpose in life. With positive messages about family, community, self-determination, and diversity, the powerful words and moving illustrations motivate children to pursue their goals and look within to discover their greatness. Her books have received several awards and distinctions, including: Mom’s Choice Gold Award, The Purple Dragonfly Award for Excellence in Children’s Literature, The Clara J. Johns Literary Award, BCALA’s Best of the Best Book List 2021 (K-4), Literary Titan Gold Book Award, Page Turner Award Finalist 2022 and The Jerry Pinkney Book Award Finalist 2022.


Naomi has a heart for helping children master literacy skills and fall in love with reading! She has fundraised and donated over 850 copies of her two children’s books. She recently established a nonprofit organization, Literacy and Diversity for All, Inc., with the mission of providing literacy support and promoting positive representation to children in under-represented communities. The organization’s goal is to publish and donate books featuring characters of Color, written and/or illustrated by people of Color.


Naomi serves as the Assistant Secretary of the Black Caucus of the American Library Association and Vice President of Literacy Nation, Inc., a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, and a volunteer reading mentor with Read to A Child, Inc. Naomi is also a book editor and writing coach, who takes great pleasure assisting writers fulfill their dreams and bring their stories to the world. She is committed to the self-publishing community. Naomi is also a member of the Editorial Freelancer’s Association.

@naomibooksllc–Instagram and Facebook