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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.

 


 

Karen Wojtyla, Vice President & Editorial Director
 

Karen Wojtyla edits picture books, middle grade, young adult, and graphic novel fiction—and some nonfiction, too. She has worked with many brilliant writers, including New York Times bestselling authors Cassandra Clare and Margaret Rogerson, National Book Award winner William Alexander, Newbery winner Susan Cooper, Newbery Honor winner Holly Black, Costa Award winner Hilary McKay, Printz Award winner David Almond, Newbery Honor winner Zilpha Keatley Snyder, Katherine Battersby, Erin Bow, Emily Carroll, Susan Fletcher, Tessa Gratton, Deborah Ruddell, and Loriel Ryon. Karen is attracted to works with strong dialogue, vivid settings, and characters whose journeys move readers to laughter and tears, from authors and artists of diverse backgrounds and across a variety of genres. She is looking for fresh and true middle grade and young adult voices in contemporary settings, and picture books that inspire, whether heartfelt or laugh-out-loud funny.


 

Sarah McCabe, Senior Editor
 

Sarah McCabe joined Simon & Schuster in 2014 and is actively acquiring teen and middle grade with a strong focus in the fantasy/sci-fi genres. She’s been lucky enough to work with a talented list of New York Times bestselling, award-winning, and critically acclaimed writers including Chloe Gong, Tracy Deonn, Xiran Jay Zhao, Lisa Maxwell, Liselle Sambury, and many more. Sarah gravitates toward darker, character-driven stories in the teen space that explore the nature of humanity and morality, and she also adores inventive and escapist middle grade adventures like the ones she gobbled up as a kid. Across all age ranges, Sarah loves to see emotionally complex heroes and sympathetic villains, and she’s particularly looking for underrepresented voices who bring fresh perspectives to classic tropes. 


 

Kate Prosswimmer, Editor 
 

Kate Prosswimmer joined the McElderry team in 2019. She’s enthusiastically acquiring a list of picture books, middle grade, and YA fiction and is excited to be working with a talented group of New York Times bestselling, award-winning authors including Amanda Foody, F.T. Lukens, Jon Graziano, Rebecca Barrow, Tola Okogwu, and Scott Reintgen to name a few. She previously spent five years at Sourcebooks where she had the privilege of editing a number of award-winning titles including Zoraida Córdova’s Brooklyn Brujas series, Jess Keating’s Shark Lady, and Jen Calonita’s Fairy Tale Reform School series. Kate is always down for a great mystery, isn’t afraid of books that will make her ugly cry, enjoys atmospheric and unusual settings, prefers middle grade stories that are both whimsical and earnest, looks for picture books that favor story over message or concept, and YA that feels escapist in both contemporary and speculative genres, and stories across all ages that make the ordinary feel extraordinary


 

Nicole Fiorica, Associate Editor 
 

Nicole Fiorica joined McElderry Books in 2017 and assists Karen Wojtyla and Kate Prosswimmer while also acquiring teen, middle grade, and picture book titles. She has the pleasure of working with a number of talented, bestselling, and award-winning authors including Jonathan Graziano (author of the #1 New York Times bestselling picture book Noodle and the No Bones Day), Kit Frick, Laura E. Weymouth, Bethany Mangle, and Julia Lyon in addition to Cassandra Clare, Margaret Rogerson, F.T. Lukens, Amanda Foody, and many more. Nicole loves discovering new worlds that are easy to fall into, and heroes that can draw the reader in from the first page. She is on the hunt for narrative-driven picture books (fiction and nonfiction) that celebrate creativity and bravery—though mischief is always welcome. In middle grade, she is looking for big-hearted adventures that explore friendship, family, and belonging; and in YA she enjoys contemporary stories that bring levity to the page as well as dark, romantic fantasies. You can see more of her wish list at NicoleFiorica.Wordpress.com
 


 

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.

 


 

Anum Shafqat, Editorial Assistant   
 

Anum Shafqat is always ready to suspend her disbelief for a good story. A true Chicagoan at heart and a recent graduate, she is on the lookout for wild stories with earnest tropes—found-family, enemies-to-lovers, or, big shocker, there’s only one bed! A fan of rom-coms, slasher movies, and everything in-between, Anum can hyper-fixate on just about anything and that translates to her taste in books. When she’s not reading, you’ll find her in an obscure Wikipedia rabbit hole, calling her mother about the latest Pakistani drama, or learning a K-pop dance she could’ve sworn looked easy.