2023 Excellence in Graphic Literature Awards Jurors

The 2023 Excellence on Graphic Literature Awards Advisory Board and Juries select the best in graphic literature through a clearly defined and transparent process. The evaluation team is comprised of diverse, experienced, and informed professionals whose experience spans publishing, libraries, education, and other related fields.

Children’s Awards Jury

Jameka B. Lewis

Jameka B. Lewis (Chair/Advisory Board Member) is the Senior Librarian at the Blair-Caldwell African American Research Library in Denver, CO. She is a graduate of Langston University with a Bachelors of Arts in International Studies degree and Texas Woman’s University, where she obtained her Master of Library Science degree. She was recently admitted to the University of Denver’s Morgridge College of Education’s PhD program in Curriculum & Instruction. Jameka focuses on materials pertaining to Black history and is passionate about collecting, preserving, disseminating and protecting these materials and the knowledge that comes from them.

She has served as a guest speaker for such organizations as the Denver Center for the Performing Arts (where she works as a Teaching Artist), Denver Pop Culture Con, the Denver Jewish Community Center, The University of Denver, The University of Colorado- Boulder and many others. She is regularly featured on several media outlets for her work preserving and educating the community on Black History.

Jameka is a Mom to 19-year-old Corrina, a dog Mom to Maximus, a member of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc. and a 25-year volunteer with the American Red Cross. She founded an organization called Give a Child a Library that gives books to children for free, regardless of location and socioeconomic status.

David Serchay is a South Florida based librarian and educator.He has written several books on graphic novels as well as multiple articles and reference book entries.He has spoken on the topic at a number of events including The Miami Book Fair, Dragoncon, and the San Diego Comic-Con.

David Serchay

Jill Tussey is an educator and author. As a former second grade teacher and now a college professor, she advocates for all types of literature and literacy.

Leslie Haas has experience in literacy education and leadership that includes teaching at K-12, undergraduate, and graduate levels. Dr. Haas’ career in literacy education includes instructional coaching, professional development, curriculum design, and department administration. Opportunities in highly diverse settings have acted as both a catalyst and foundation for her focus on integrating and connecting literacy across disciplines through culturally and linguistically responsive instructional practices. She is particularly interested in technology-based literacy opportunities for underrepresented populations through engagement with popular culture. She has been honored for her work in research, teaching, and technology through Buena Vista University, Fierce Education, The Texas A&M University System, and The Dallas Catholic Foundation.

Shane Gomes

Shane Gomes is originally from Honolulu and grew up in Keaau, Hawaii. He earned his BA in Psychology from the University of Hawaii at Hilo (2010), his MA in Literature from the University of Northern Colorado (2015), and his PhD in Rhetoric, Writing, and Culture from North Dakota State University (2020). His research interests include Multimodal Rhetoric, Comics and Pop Culture, Usability and User Experience, Post-Colonial Studies, and Ecofeminist Criticism.

He is currently an Assistant Professor of English at Tennessee State University.

Middle-Grade Awards Jury

Stergios Botzakis (Chair/Advisory Board Member) Dr. Stergios Botzakis is professor in Theory and Practice in Teacher Education at The University of Tennessee, Knoxville. His areas of expertise are content area literacy, working with struggling adolescent readers, and new literacies. His research interests include middle and secondary education, adolescent literacies, popular culture, graphic novels, and media literacy. He blogs regularly at http://graphicnovelresources.blogspot.com/

Hadiya Evans is a librarian/caretaker aka supervisor of a wonderful neighborhood library branch of the Denver Public Library, with a MA and MLIS in Library Information. Her professional trajectory hasn’t been a sprint, but a marathon with pit stops that have enriched her career due to the inspiration and guidance of unofficial mentorship. With over 15 years in the library game, she has experience ranging from volunteer to library event & program planner to librarian. She is the current President of the Colorado Black Library Association, an affiliate of the Black Caucus of the American Library Association. Her community work has taken a recent interest in supporting and growing the newly minted Black Alumni Network (B.A.N.) an affiliate of the Metropolitan State University of Denver Alumni Association. A long-standing fan of fantasy and sci-fi, she is the oldest of her librarian sibling trio.

Jazmine LeBlanc is a storyteller and a story sharer who works to amplify voices in her community. She believes that everyone needs to be able to see themselves in stories. “Stories, like people, take different forms —how we present ourselves and perceive other people through our worlds shapes our reality.” Jazmine does this daily as the Executive Director of ELLA Library, a community-based art and culture non-profit organization in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

Jess Hedaria is a middle school ELA teacher and nationally award-winning Yearbook adviser. She received her MEd in Curriculum and Instruction with a specialty in Reading Strategies from the American College of Education and her undergraduate from the University of Nevada, Reno. She has built a curriculum around the inclusion of graphic literature and visual literacy standards for her school and is a firm believer that graphic novels are valued and rigorous reading. She is also a writer and avid reader who loves sharing her love of reading with her students.

Jess Hedaria
Michael Gianfrancesco

Michael Gianfrancesco  is a high school English teacher and a graphic novel educational consultant who has curated programming at institutions and events across the country including Harvard, Brown, NCTE, San Diego ComicCon, C2E2, ALA, New York ComicCon, and Denver Pop Culture Con. He was the director of the New England Comic Arts in the Classroom conference in Providence, RI in 2011, the Director of Secondary Education for Reading With Picture, is a founding member of the LitX cohort, and serves as the Program Director for Rhode Island Comic Con. He scripted the comic Real Fake about the dangers of digital misinformation that appears on the CISA.gov website.

Young Adult Awards Jury

Joe Pascullo (Chair/Advisory Board Member) is a young adult librarian for the 53rd St branch of the New York Public Library, where he has worked since 2014. He is a 2x co-chair for the system’s Best Comics Committee and also contributes to School Library Journal, as well as other blogs online. He has paneled previously at New York Comic Con, AnimeNYC, and Liberty City Anime Convention. This is his 5th year of involvement with Pop Culture Classroom’s Excellence in Graphic Literature Awards.

Kristina Maldonado Bad Hand is a Sicangu Lakota and Cherokee artist, educator, and community organizer with multiple ties to the Denver Native and Creative communities. She is currently a teaching artist with Think 360 Arts and the Creative and Public Engagement Fellow at the Denver Art Museum.

Kristina Maldonado Bad Hand
Quinn Rollins

Quinn Rollins has been a history teacher in Salt Lake City since 2004. He’s taught middle school and high school, winning state and national awards. He currently teaches US History and History Through Film at Cyprus High School in Magna, Utah, and teaches the History Teaching Methods course at the University of Utah. A passionate advocate for graphic novels, Quinn is also the author of Play Like a Pirate: Engage Students with Toys, Games, and Comics, published in 2016 by Dave Burgess Consulting. 

Tina Lerno is a librarian for the City of Los Angeles and part of the library’s digital content team. Before becoming a librarian, Tina earned a degree in art from UCLA and worked in the world of television animation doing color design on shows such as Harold and the Purple Crayon, Jackie Chan Adventures, and the Boondocks. Her past experience working in TV animation and graphic design provides her with a unique perspective on visual literacy and comics advocacy. 

Tina Lerno

William Kist is Professor Emeritus at Kent State University. He is also a former high school English teacher and curriculum supervisor and has written five books, including the recently published Curating a Literacy Life. As an instructional coach and consultant, Bill has worked for schools and districts across the United States and Canada. He can be followed on YouTube and Facebook (@williamkistmedia) and Twitter (@williamkist)

Adult Awards Jury

Jack Baur

Jack Baur (Chair/Advisory Board Member) Jack Baur is a Senior Librarian in Adult Services at the Tigard Public Library, just outside of Portland, OR, and has been working with and promoting comics in libraries for about 15 years! Before coming to Tigard, Jack was a Teen Services Librarian at the Berkeley Public Library, where he also handled all of the system’s graphic novel collection development. He was the co-host of the In The Library With A Comic Book podcast (2014-2017), wrote for the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, and organized the Berkeley Comic Arts Festival in 2013. His first comic book was 1988’s Wolverine #17.

Dexter Nelson II is the Museum & Archives Supervisor at the Blair-Caldwell African American Research Library. He has a bachelor’s degree in History and a master’s degree in Museum Studies. Dexter has been a public servant for nearly a decade and has worked in a variety of historic organizations such as History Colorado, the Oklahoma Historical Society, and the Museum of the Bible. Dexter is a lifelong comic book enthusiast whose words have appeared in Marvel’s Punisher, Dark Horse’s Black Hammer, and Image Comics’s Bitter Root Red Summer Special #1.

Jessica Salazar is a high school English teacher in Jefferson County in Colorado. She has a passion for bringing pop culture into education to increase student engagement and foster a love for reading and the humanities. In her free time I love spending time with my husband and 3 year old, playing video games, hula hooping, and reading!

John Meier is a tenured Librarian and the Head of STEM, Engagement and Outreach at the Penn State University. He helped found the Lynd Ward Prize for Graphic Novel of the Year and served on the inaugural jury. He has conducted research and written about comics in academic libraries.

Matthew Noe

Matthew Noe (he/him) is Lead Collection & Knowledge Management Librarian at Harvard Medical School and a Part-Time Instructor in Library Science at the University of Kentucky. Most well-known for mixing comics and health sciences librarianship, Matthew is an author/co-author of several book chapters, a scoping review on graphic medicine, and is a regular contributor to Diamond Bookshelf and Booklist. He was the 2021-2022 President of the Graphic Novels and Comics Round Table of the American Library Association, is the Treasurer for the Graphic Medicine International Collective, and serves on the board of the Worcester Public Library. Find him most easily on Twitter, @NoetheMatt.

Book of the Year

Mosaic Award

About the Awards

Since 2017, the Excellence in Graphic Literature Awards has worked with dozens of prestigious jurors from across the world, received hundreds of submitted titles, and recognized some of the most innovative, exciting, and educational graphic literature being published today!

In addition to receiving the prestigious Excellence in Graphic Literature Award, winning and nominated titles earn the honor of including a cover medallion on all prints. This medallion is also intended to make it easier for families, teachers, librarians, and all-aged readers to identify the highest quality titles, which in turn benefits the entire industry through increased sales and growth.

The goals of the Excellence in Graphic Literature Awards are to:

  1. Help educators and librarians identify high-quality graphic literature to bring into diverse educational settings
  2. Help define and grow awareness for quality graphic literature
  3. Help graphic novel publishers increase their sales and growth potential with libraries and schools.

In support of this two-fold vision, the program is designed to create or improve market awareness of new titles, extend the sales windows and increase momentum for existing titles, and amplify and confirm publishers’ content strategies and marketing decisions as they apply to librarians and educators.