Welcome to the Pennsylvania West Region of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. We sponsor many professional activities each year to help our members in their professional development as writers and illustrators for children.
- • Visit our regional Events page for the latest information.
- • Connect with us on Facebook , Twitter , and Instagram
- • Critique Groups – If you’re looking for a critique group, we have several in the area. Please see this page for where our groups are located, if there are seats available, and who to contact to join.
Our workshops include opportunities for manuscript reviews by peers and visiting editors. Check our events page often!
Our fall conferences include an evening of networking with visiting editors and agents followed by a full day of sessions and pre-scheduled reviews.
Meet the Regional Team
Elizabeth Pagel-Hogan, Regional Advisor
Elizabeth Pagel-Hogan writes fiction and non-fiction for all ages. Her stories, crafts, and recipes have appeared in Highlights for Children, Muse, Cricket, and more. She also writes for the educational market, from PK to high reading level middle schoolers. She’s written for Heinemann Literacy Project (Fountas & Pinnell Classroom), Capstone, and KPS Storybook Development.
She was named a “Promising Writer to Watch” at the 2015 PA: West SCBWI conference. In 2016, she became a Pen Parentis Fellow. In 2018, she became ARA for PA: West, and in 2019, became the Regional Advisor.
Sarah Maynard, Assistant Regional Advisor
After living in New York, Vermont, Virginia, Texas and Maryland, Sarah now lives in Pittsburgh, PA with her husband, their four kids, a dog, a cat and books in every room. While in Maryland, Sarah was the Event Coordinator on the MD/DE/WV SCBWI Regional Committee and she is excited to share what she learned there in WPA. When she’s not reading or writing, Sarah loves hitting the water on her stand up paddle board, practicing her ukulele, trying out a new recipe in the kitchen, or finding zen on her yoga mat. Sarah is represented by Jenna Pocius at Red Fox Literary.
Julianna Zito, Regional Illustrator Coordinator
Julianna is from the North Hills of Pittsburgh. She grew up as an 80’s child with all the quirky imagination and bright colors that represent that era. She graduated from Deer Lakes High School and was determined to move beyond her country girl roots. She has lived all over – Santa Cruz, CA, St. Louis, MO, Philadelphia, PA and even Honolulu, HI. She is now settled down in the northern suburbs of Pittsburgh with her husband, two kids, chihuahua, and cat. Her background is full of variety both wonderful and traumatic – all of which inspire her to make people laugh – especially children.
Kelly Conroy, Conference Coordinator
Kelly Conroy is a picture book writer who loves all things silly and whimsical. She volunteers as the Event Coordinator for the Pennsylvania:West Region of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators.
In her free time, Kelly enjoys going on adventures with her husband and two sons, exercising, and meeting friends for coffee.
Sam Smith, Conference Coordinator
Sam Smith is a freelance writer and author who published her first picture book, CATES’S MAGIC GARDEN, in 2017. She loves sharing its message that “words change worlds” through kindness and the power of positivity. At school visits, bookstores and other community events, she is on a mission to challenge both children and adults to try The Great Kindness Challenge, a global movement which amassed over 650 million acts of kindness in 113 countries over one week in January – and continues to grow.
Sam helps spearhead the WPA SCBWI Summer Brain Food program, which brings reading and recreation to Pittsburgh area children through an exciting partnership with the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank.
Stephanie Keyes, Webinars/Online Learning
Michelle Vattula, New Members
Joy Givens, Events Coordinator
Joy Givens writes “fresh, fantastic, fierce” fiction, mostly for children and young adults. Her most recent projects include several pieces of award-winning short fiction, most recently published in WOW! Women on Writing, Five Minutes at Hotel Stormcove (2019) from Atthis Arts, and the anthologies Beach Life (2017) and Beach Fun (2018) from Cat & Mouse Press.
Amy Wagner, Summer Brain Food Coordinator
Amy Wagner writes young adult contemporary fantasy. She is an active member of SCBWI and Pennwriters. She is thrilled to coordinate the Summer Brain Food Program for SCBWI and the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank. Amy has attended the 2016 Rutgers One-on-One Plus Conference and is a PitchWars 2018 Alumni with her novel, A GOOD STORY IS HARD TO FIND.