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Our Team

Justin Chanda, Senior Vice President & Publisher

 

Justin Chanda joined the editorial staff at Simon & Schuster in 2005. A graduate of New York University, Justin was named publisher of the S&S Books for Young Readers imprint in 2007 and McElderry Books and Atheneum Books for Young Readers in 2009. He oversees the publication of nearly three hundred and fifty titles per year ranging from the youngest picture book to the edgiest YA. He is keenly interested in publishing books that are equal parts commercial and literary, books that make a contribution to the tradition while truly entertaining kids. Aside from having the honor of working with the best editorial staff in the industry, he also has the opportunity to edit some of its best talent, including the likes of: Neal Shusterman, Peter Brown, Seema Yasmin, The Fan Brothers, Aaron Reynolds, Michael Ian Black, Karma Wilson, Lucy Ruth Cummins, Debbie Ridpath Ohi, and Morgan Matson. Justin is also an adjunct instructor for the NYU Graduate Publishing Program.


 

Anne Zafian, Vice President & Deputy Publisher

 

Anne Zafian spent the first half of her publishing career at what was then the Time Warner Book Group—now known as Hachette—selling both adult and children’s books to every kind of domestic customer. She cut her teeth on children’s books with TW’s Little, Brown Books for Children, as well as TW’s distribution client, Hyperion Books for Children. Together these experiences fostered her love of children’s publishing, and in 2004, she joined S&S’s sales team, once again overseeing sales of both adult and children’s books, eventually managing our entire distributor sales and retail marketing team. In 2008, Anne made the move from sales to the Publisher’s office, where, as Deputy, she focuses largely on working with the Publisher and the sales, marketing, publicity, and supply chain teams to help usher our books into the world, from cradle to…NOT the grave. Working to get books into the hands of booksellers, children, parents, teachers, and librarians—and doing so with a dynamic list of books and authors—is her favorite job, ever.

 


 

Caitlyn Dlouhy, Vice President & Editorial Director–Caitlyn Dlouhy Books 

 

Caitlyn Dlouhy likes to say she grew up in a tree, a massive willow where she hauled up books tip top high. From that perch, she could see the whole world…through the lens of those books. Her publishing choices have always stemmed from this: giving readers the opportunity to see themselves, and the rest of the world.  The power of voice—voices unusual and unexpected, marginalized or yet unsung, voices that just plain shimmer and hum, that press and push and experiment—is utterly irresistible to her, and her books have always showcased this. Covering most every age group and format, her books have often been published to great accolade, including a Newbery Medal and Honors, a National Book Award and Finalists, Printz honors, Coretta Scott King Awards and honors, Walter Awards, Edgar Awards and Christopher Medals, PEN USA Literary Awards, a Kirkus Award and finalists, a Pura Bel Pre Award and a Kate Greenaway Award. Many have also topped New York Times bestseller lists (and the most banned books in America lists).

 

It is her great honor to publish such luminaries as Marjorie Agosin, Laurie Halse Anderson, Kathi Appelt, Ashley Bryan, Doreen Cronin, Jennifer de Leon, Frances O’Roark Dowell, Sharon Draper, Candace Fleming, William Joyce, Heather Henson, Richard Jackson, Cynthia Kadohata, Naaz Khan, Beth Kephardt, Betsy Lewin, Alison McGhee, Matt Mendez, An Na, Phyllis Reynolds Naylor, James Ransome, Jason Reynolds, Sujean Rim, Eric Rohmann, Raúl the Third, Judith Viorst, Briana Uchendu, and Alicia D. Williams, to name just a few.

 

Categorizing what she’s looking for could result in her possibly missing out on something that could quite possibly take her breath away, so, if you truly love it, she would truly love to see it!


 

Miloni Vora, Editorial Assistant

 

Miloni Vora joined Simon & Schuster in January of 2022, after interning at W. W. Norton, the Feminist Press, and various agencies. She assists Caitlyn Dlouhy on a range of picture books, middle grade, and young adult. Regardless of genre and format, she loves stories with a strong, spunky, characters that make her laugh (and cry). She specifically enjoys multigenerational family stories, stories about language and connection, and stories about healing and hope. Her favorite fantasy books are ones rooted in inclusive worldbuilding, particularly from non-European cultures, and featuring multiple protagonists who use humor as a coping mechanism. For middle grade, she loves reading shenanigans featuring the class nerd and the class clown, and for picture books she loves everything from grumpy toddlers to stories filled with stunning, lyrical prose. On any given Sunday you can find her at her favorite café, crocheting baby animals, and watching dramas that give her serious second-lead-syndrome. Find her on twitter @Miloni_Vora.


 

Reka Simonsen, Editorial Director

 

Reka Simonsen loves to work on books all across the age range, though she has a real soft spot for middle grade novels, especially those that can turn kids into lifelong readers. She looks for believable, engaging characters whose voices she can’t forget, and stories with that special blend of humor and heart. She has been lucky enough to work with such amazing authors and illustrators as Margarita Engle, Carole Boston Weatherford, Jamie Sumner, Evan Turk, Brian Pinkney, Frank Morrison, Linda Urban, Lita Judge, Joy McCullough, and Lloyd Alexander, among others. Books she has edited have received a Newbery Honor, the Coretta Scott King Illustration Award and Honors, a Geisel Honor, a Sibert Honor, Walter Honors, A PEN USA Award, Pura Belpré Awards and Honors, Jane Addams Peace Awards and Honors, Americás Awards and Honors, Charlotte Zolotow Awards, and have been finalists for the Morris Award, the Andre Norton Award, and the Edgar Award.


 

Sophia Jimenez, Associate Editor
 

Sophia Jimenez joined Atheneum in October 2020. She’s thrilled to be working with bestselling and award-winning authors including James Howe, Lulu Delacre, Cynthia Levinson, and Beth Vrabel, and is acquiring picture books, middle grade, and YA.  Across genres, Sophia loves books about identity and family, preferably with a little magic and humor involved, and is always looking to spotlight marginalized perspectives. Sophia is a mentorship program director for Latinx in Publishing. She previously worked at the Junior Library Guild, reviewing children’s books in English and Spanish, and in editorial at S&S’s adult flagship imprint, where she was fortunate enough to work on several New York Times bestsellers. She grew up in Austin, Texas, and is a graduate of Sarah Lawrence College and the Denver Publishing Institute. Follow her on Twitter @SophiaJay42.


 

Julia McCarthy, Editor

 

Julia McCarthy joined Atheneum after working on paperbacks at Penguin (and attempting a hodgepodge of other careers before that). She enjoys working on a wide range of voice-driven young adult, middle grade, and picture books; and is looking to expand Atheneum’s graphic novel list. Julia believes that each story has the power to engender compassion and courage within a reader and is committed to developing books that serve as a safe harbor. She is most drawn to magical realism; fantasy that addresses contemporary issues; stories that celebrate underrepresented communities; non-traditional folklore; LGBTQIA+ perspectives; empowering environmentalism; novels in verse; accessible science; stories of any age with a touch of clever humor, fantasy, or darkness; witches and goblins and ghosts and Halloweenish whimsy; STEAM-themed novels and picture books, and any sort of graphic novel you can imagine. If you’re a fan of puns, visit her on Twitter @TheJumbles.


 

Feather Flores, Editor

 

Feather Flores joined Atheneum in 2022 after a four-year stint at Chronicle Books. She works on smart, joyful picture books; middle grade romps with coming-of-age themes; and bold, open-hearted YA that reimagines everything our identities can be. Her list encompasses fiction and nonfiction, with an emphasis on stories by, about, and for people from marginalized communities. Across the board, Feather gravitates to voice- and character-driven narratives with high-concept plots and solid command of their readers’ emotional responses. She champions books that challenge and inspire; provide hope and comfort; and depict the beauty and diversity of the human experience—the humor, the complexity, the curiosity, the magic. Anything that encourages young readers to be more fully and unapologetically themselves, she wants to see it. Feather edits from the San Francisco Bay Area. You can find her expressing endless enthusiasm on Twitter @FeatherFully and explore her full manuscript wishlist at FeatherFlores.com.

 


 

Kristie Choi, Editorial Assistant

 

Kristie Choi joined the editorial staff at Simon & Schuster in February 2020 after interning at W. W. Norton & Company, McIntosh & Otis, and previously sleuthing as a private investigator. She assists Reka Simonsen and Feather Flores on a range of young adult, middle grade, graphic novels, and picture books. As an assistant, Kristie has had the opportunity to work with multiple award-winning and New York Times bestselling authors, and is the editor of her own talented authors. Kristie is looking for stories that young readers of all backgrounds can get lost in and feel seen in while provoking thought. Regardless of format, she's drawn to stories that can make her laugh and cry; representation of marginalized or underrepresented people (especially BIPOC and queer identities); humorous voices; smart, complex characters; and SFF of all kinds that is grounded with believable, relatable characters and universal themes. She’s looking to acquire picture books that are heartfelt and evocative, poetic, imaginative, humorous and whimsical—picture books that are layered with ideas that can be appreciated by kids and their adults alike. She’s drawn to character-driven middle grade/YA with a bit of heft to it, balanced with levity and hope, and she especially has a soft spot for lyrical writing and stories with realistic emotions, a dash of fantasy, and a sense of mystery or catharsis. Add a touch of darkness with spooky middle grade or psychological YA thrillers, and she just may fall in love. In her spare time, she loves to be in nature hiking or nerding out on MCU content or philosophical/morally complex sci-fi. Find her on Twitter @MinjiPatterson.


 

Daniela Villegas Valle, Publishing Assistant

 

Daniela Villegas Valle joined Simon & Schuster in 2021 as a Publishing Assistant to Justin Chanda, Anne Zafian, and Denene Millner. She graduated with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in both English and Spanish and a minor in creative writing from Virginia Commonwealth University, after which she completed the NYU Summer Publishing Institute. Born in Mexico, raised (mostly) in Chile, and graduated in the US, she is drawn towards multicultural voices that speak about identity and adventure. Whimsical picture books, inspiring coming-of-age stories in middle grade, and empowering YA are some of her favorite things to read across genres.