2024 Excellence in Graphic Literature Awards Jurors

The 2024 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

Jazmine LeBlanc, Chair
Executive Director, ELLA Library

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.

Jeremy Estes
Library associate/paraprofessional, Nashville Public Library

Growing up in Kentucky, Jeremy Estes wrote Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles fanfiction. Since then he’s written film reviews, advertising copy, and short stories. He works for Nashville Public Library, where he publishes a monthly zine about comics called Panel Discussion

Dawn Marie Lewallen
Kids and Family Librarian at Golden Library

Dawn Marie Lewallen is loving life as a Kids & Family Librarian with Jefferson County Public Libraries in Colorado. A lifelong learner, addicted to reading, and a lover of trees, she received her MLIS from Wayne State University and her MEd in Curriculum and Instruction from Lesley University. For just shy of thirty years, she thrived within the field of literacy and education, thirteen of those, she is thoroughly delighted to say, as a school librarian within the Denver Metro Area. She is an advocate of children’s and young adult literacy in all forms and of the passionate belief that a library should be the heart and center of a community and a place where all patrons of all ages can come to strengthen and/or further their knowledge base; make connections between literature and community; find entertainment; feel comfort; and find a sense of belonging.

Leslie Hass
Associate Professor, Xavier University of Louisiana

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.

Ryan Clark
4th Grade Teacher, Boulder Valley School District – Emerald Elementary School

Ryan Clark has been an elementary school educator for over 15 years in Denver Public Schools and the Boulder Valley School District. He currently teaches fourth grade at Emerald Elementary School in Broomfield, Colorado. In addition to teaching, Ryan earned his Doctor of Education in Leadership for Educational Equity at the University of Colorado at Denver. His research focused on improving partnerships with underserved families. Dr. Clark is interested in promoting graphic novels in his classroom and expanding awareness of historically underserved communities through literature.

Middle-Grade Fiction Awards Jury

Sterg Botzakis (Chair)
Professor, University of Tennessee, Knoxville

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/

Aimee Rogers
Library Media Specialist, Grand Forks Public Schools: South Middle School

Aimee Rogers (she/her) has been a fierce advocate for graphic novels in her roles as special education teacher, school librarian, and college professor. She holds a B.S. in special education from the University of Evansville, an M.A. in Language, Reading and Culture from the University of Arizona, an M.L.S. in Library Science from Texas Woman’s University and a Ph.D. in Curriculum and Instruction with a focus on literacy from the University of Minnesota. She is currently a middle school librarian in Grand Forks, North Dakota where the weather provides plenty of opportunities to stay inside and read!

Drew Reynolds, EGL Juror

Drew Reynolds
Social Studies Teacher, JeffCo Public Schools, Dunstan Middle School

Drew Reynolds is a middle school history teacher from Colorado. Most of his teaching time has been spent in the middle grades, but he has taught first through eighth in his career. Drew understands that every teacher, and every classroom has to prioritize literacy. While using comics and pop culture in the classroom, he says the connection it creates with students may be better than anything else. His fandoms show in his tattoos and his Funko collection. There may also be a Lego problem.

Shannon Live
President/Director of Outreach, Bat City Comic Professionals

Shannon Live is the founder and President of Bat City Comic Professionals, a 501(c)(3) educational non-profit organization and Eisner-finalist comic shop that creates opportunities to enhance reading, writing, and imagination skills through comic books. She began her initial use of comics in the classroom when working as a Reading and Writing Specialist in Title One schools over a decade ago. Since then, Live has created teaching guides, hosted educational development seminars and training days, taught thousands of students how to find their voice through comics writing, created free reading initiatives for educators and parents to use with their children, and has given a TedX Talk about the power of comics in working with young people (https://youtu.be/InDa4t6ikHA?feature=shared). She is a huge advocate for independent and small press comics and is constantly looking for new ways to get readers excited about them, including hosting a weekly Small Press BookTalk show for Bat City.

Middle Grade and Young Adult Non-Fiction

Kenny Loui

Kenny Loui
Associate Professor of Criminal Justice at Loras College

Dr. Kenny Loui is an Associate Professor of Criminal Justice at Loras College in Dubuque, Iowa. Dedicated to youth leadership and character development, he also serves as the Assistant National School Program Coordinator for the Civil Air Patrol, U.S. Air Force Auxiliary. A lifelong comic book geek and otaku, Dr. Loui often incorporates anime, manga and comics into his courses and has led workshops on utilizing the creative arts in the criminal justice classroom. His award-winning debut graphic novel, Life Lessons from a UFO Catcher: An Autobiographical Manga (Vol. 1) and its spinoff, There is No Shrimp… And Other Lies My Mother Told Me, both illustrated by Yamawe, were released in 2023. A sequel is in the works and slated for a 2025 release. Connect with Dr. Loui on Instagram @ufocatcherken

Quinn Rollins
History Teacher, Cyprus High School/Adjunct Faculty Teaching Methods, University of Utah

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.

Quinn Rollins

Jessica Salazar
Teacher, Bear Creek High School

Jessica Salazar is a 9th Grade reading Specialist at Bear Creek High School currently serving on the Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion committee at Bear Creek High School. She is a local advocate for graphic novels and their significance to our society who works with colleagues on designing and implementing graphic literature into the Colorado ELA curriculum.

Young Adult Fiction

Tina Lerno (Chair)
Librarian, Los Angeles Public Library

Tina Lerno is a librarian for the City of Los Angeles and part of the library’s digital content team. Before becoming a librarian, she 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 gives me a unique perspective on visual literacy and comics advocacy.

She is also the past chair of the GGNFTs committee for YALSA, 2019 and 2020, and past co-chair of the GNCRT conference and conventions planning committee. She has advocated for comics at San Diego CC. New York CC, and Los Angeles CC, where I spoke about the need for comics advocacy in libraries.

Jack Phoenix
Collection Development Manager, Cuyahoga Falls Library

Librarian and writer, Jack Phoenix, is the Collection Development Manager for Cuyahoga Falls Library in Ohio, the Graphic Novel Selector for Brodart, and the author of the School Library Journal star-reviewed book Maximizing the Impact of Comics in Your Library: Graphic Novels, Manga, and More. He received his MLIS from Kent State University and his MA in English from Ohio Dominican University. Jack has a boundless love for comics and frequently speaks at conventions and conferences helping libraries connect their patrons to graphic literature of all kinds.

Amanda Samland

Amanda Samland
Head librarian, Regis Jesuit High School

Amanda Samland is the Head Librarian at Regis Jesuit High School with a passion for cultivating a love of reading among students and the entire school community. Her desire is to create a warm and welcoming library that inspires curiosity and a lifelong love of reading. Initially skeptical about the allure of graphic novels, she ventured into this vibrant world of storytelling to understand the appeal to students better. This exploration quickly turned into a personal passion. Beyond the library, Amanda lives in Colorado with her husband and two kids. Her love for nature is paralleled by a fondness for reading and tea, which Amanda considers the perfect companions for both quiet reflection and the adventure of exploring new worlds through books.

Ronell Whitaker
English Department Chair, Community High School District 218

Ronell Whitaker is a high school English Curriculum Director in Chicagoland with over 15 years of experience and is a champion for comics in the classroom. He is a founding member of the Lit-X Teacher Cohort. Ronell believes in comics, and he likes to think that comics believe in him.

Ronell Whitaker

Adult Fiction Jury

Jessica Hedaria
ELA & Journalism Teacher, Yearbook Advisor, Coral Academy of Science

Jessica Hedaria is an advocate for graphic literature who has created curriculum to teach visual literacy in my department. They have given professional development classes about using graphic novels within classes to strengthen learning. They also advocate for having graphic novels in our choice reading libraries as a supported and encouraged reading option.

Shane Gomes
Assistant Professor, Tennessee State University        

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.

Shane Gomes
Moni Barette

Moni Barrette
Librarian, Creators, Assemble! Inc./Library Pass

Moni Barrette is a sixteen-year public librarian who expanded her expertise in libraries, comics, and relationship building through her role at LibraryPass as the Director of Content Management and Publisher Relations. As co-founder of the nonprofit Creators Assemble, San Diego State University lecturer, 2023 Eisner Awards judge, and Past-President of the American Library Association’s Graphic Novel & Comics Round Table, she is dedicated to promoting learning through the use of comics and gaming. Moni attends comic conventions, hosts industry networking events, and helps librarians and educators infuse more fun and innovation into their learning spaces. She also loves hanging out with her husband and two growing girls.

Adult Non-Fiction Jury

Matthew Noe  (Chair)
Librarian, Harvard Medical School

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. Matthew wrote the foreword for the award-winning comic, Ripple Effects, which celebrates the experiences of those with invisible illnesses. 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. You can find him across social media under the handle @NoetheMatt or reach him via email through www.graphicmedicine.org or www.library.harvard.edu/staff/matthew-noe.

Amanie Mahmood
Collection Specialist Librarian at Denver Public Library

Amanie Mahmood is a Librarian working in the Collection Development Office at the Denver Public Library. Her work focuses on digital materials, music, and World Languages. Amanie’s passions rest in the intersections of EDI, community, and library services and collections. Amanie enjoys reading, spending time with her dog Korra, and finding her way through different arts and crafts.

Amanie Mahmood

Teresa Slobuski
Head Librarian, Penn State, Brandywine

Teresa Slobuski is the Head Librarian for Penn State Brandywine’s Library. In this role, she oversees all operations of the library including the Pride+ collection which highlights LGBTQIA+ issues and stories. Slobuski is passionate about access and social justice and actively works to improve both representation and recognition of all in libraries. Slobuski completed her master’s degree in library and information science at Rutgers University. Their research interests include feminist analysis of leadership, LGBTQIA+ collections, graphic novels, and gaming in libraries. In their free time Teresa dotes on their three cats and one or more foster cats, builds custom mechanical keyboards, and watches what some may consider too much anime.

Book of the Year

Shjubeik lubeik — 2024 Excellence in Graphic Literature Awards Book of the Year

Mosaic Award

JAJ - the. 2024 ELG Mosaic Award Winner

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.