Society of
Children's Book Writers
and Illustrators


With the help of dedicated volunteers, the Eastern Pennsylvania chapter of SCBWI hosts over a dozen events each year throughout the region. Our largest events include Fall Philly, a one-day intensive, held in the heart of Philadelphia, and our Pocono Retreat, a weekend event with time to learn, connect, and create, held in the Pocono Mountains.

Meet & Greets, studio tours, one-day workshops, series workshops, and more can be found all over our region. To bring an event to your EPA town, please contact us at



Our advisory team includes:




Co-Regional Advisor, Rona Shirdan

Rona has always loved children’s books but after attending her first SCBWI conference, she knew what she wanted to be when she “grew up.” She can usually be found going through a pile of picture books ranging from poetry and fiction to STEM. She has a special fondness for new writers and hopes to encourage and support them while in her role on the RA Team. Rona recently started a second career as a freelance writer, proofreader/copy editor, and sensitivity reader. She is an active supporter of diversity in children’s literature—especially picture books!


Co-Regional Advisor, Laura Parnum

Laura Parnum is a native of Philadelphia and the blogmaster for Eastern PA SCBWI’s blog, EasternPennPoints. It seems that most everything Laura does involves books in some way. She writes quirky and humorous middle grade novels and is a freelance fiction copyeditor. She is an SCBWI critique group leader, volunteers as an elementary school library assistant, has led book groups and provided reading support for third graders, and has volunteered at Mighty Writers in Philadelphia as a mentor for students writing high school and college application essays. She also has a pet turtle named Hamlet.


Assistant Regional Advisor/Webinar Coordinator, Kristen Stroccia 

Kristen began writing poetry in the second grade. This often meant that when her five siblings were playing together, she would disappear for hours down to the creek or up into her favorite apple tree to write. But her love of words led to a love of world languages that led to teaching French, Spanish and ELD (formerly ESL). SCBWI found her cultivating this love for words in children of all ages and dreaming of continuing the writing journey began at age seven. Now she’s working to add MG & YA speculative novels to her handful of magazine publications. When not writing and revising, she can be followed on road trips around the country with her husband and seven children, trying to reach the ever-elusive states of Washington, Oregon, Alaska and Hawaii.


Illustrator Coordinator, Berrie Torgan-Randall

Berrie has been passionate about children’s literature since she was a little girl, and has fed her desire by becoming a children’s librarian and by pursuing a career as an illustrator and writer of children’s books. She is looking forward to making connections with professionals while organizing events for illustrators who are on a similar journey of creating beautiful and meaningful picture books.


PAL Coordinator, Lindsay Bandy

Lindsay’s favorite thing about SCBWI is the warmth and friendship she’s found here in Eastern PA. SCBWI has taken her from total newbie to agented and published author, supporting her with industry knowledge and awesome friends who give expert advice, hugs, critiques, encouragement, and wine as needed. Her YA Fiction is represented by agent Cate Hart at the Harvey Clinger Literary Agency, and she has several poems forthcoming with Highlights Hello.




Critique Coordinator and Meet & Greet Coordinator, Heather Stigall

Heather is a picture book-obsessed wife and mother of five (six, if you count the dog). She was born and raised a Jersey girl but has called eastern Pennsylvania her home for most of her adulthood. When she’s not writing, critiquing, or reading picture books, you can find her working out, sewing, baking, or involved in children’s shenanigans and probably dreaming up stories while doing all of those things.


Field Trip Coordinator, Virginia Law Manning

Virginia attended the Winter Conference in N.Y.C. just months after joining SCBWI.  It was an overwhelming and inspiring start. Since then, she’s learned so much from attending SCBWI workshops and conferences, having her work critiqued by peers and professionals, and most of all by reading! When Virginia’s not in her studio creating picture books, she works as the library coordinator and an assistant teacher at Crossing Cooperative Nursery Schools. One of the great joys in her life is sharing her love of children’s books with others.


Joanne Roberts, Good News & Social Media Coordinator
Joanne spent many afternoons sitting beside her parents’ bookcase, reading until her legs fell asleep. Everything she owned was covered in drawings of superheroes, princesses, and cartoon characters. While her career path took several non-literary turns, she always had one foot in children’s publishing. Now a published writer, she is currently pursuing the coveted title of author/illustrator.

As Good News and Social Media Coordinator, her hope is to encourage every member on their journey, celebrate the big and the small steps, and partner with libraries and indie bookstores to pay it forward in the Eastern PA region and across the world.