Board of Directors

Jon Anderson
President and Publisher, Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing Division (New York, NY)

Jon Anderson has been President and Publisher of the Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing Division since 2009. In his position, Mr. Anderson is responsible for the overall operations for the Children’s Division including editorial and production, publicity, marketing and licensing activities. He oversees a publishing portfolio that serves every category of the children’s publishing business, and while maintaining an extensive backlist that includes numerous Caldecott, Newbery, and National Book Award winners, continues to publish acclaimed and bestselling books for children of all ages. Prior to joining Simon & Schuster, Mr. Anderson was the President and Publisher of Running Press Book Publishers, a division of Perseus Books Group. There he was responsible for revitalizing and expanding the publisher’s children’s program to include middle grade and young adult fiction. Before that, Mr. Anderson was at Penguin Putnam, Inc., where he was Vice President and Publisher of Price, Stern, Sloan and Penguin’s DreamWorks program.

Mr. Anderson is also the author of over twenty-five children’s books under the pseudonym William Boniface, with cumulative sales of more than two million copies. Mr. Anderson is a graduate of the University of Minnesota. He lives in New York City.

Chris Finan
Executive Director, National Coalition Against Censorship

Christopher Finan is NCAC’s executive director. He previously served as president of the American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression (ABFE), the bookseller’s voice in the fight against censorship. He has been an advocate for free expression since 1982. Prior to joining ABFE, he was executive director of Media Coalition, a trade association that defends the First Amendment rights of producers and distributors of media. He is a former chair of NCAC and Media Coalition. He was a trustee of the Freedom to Read Foundation and received its Roll of Honor Award in 2011.

A native of Cleveland, Chris is a graduate of Antioch College. After working as a newspaper reporter, he studied American history at Columbia University where he received his PhD.

He is the author of From the Palmer Raids to the Patriot Act: A History of the Fight for Free Speech in America (Beacon Press), which won the 2008 Eli Oboler Award of the American Library Association. He also wrote Alfred E. Smith: The Happy Warrior (Hill and Wang) and edited National Security and Free Speech: The Debate Since 9/11 (IDEBATE Press), a reader for high school students. The Hugh M. Hefner Foundation honored the latter with its First Amendment Award. His latest book is Drunks: The Story of Alcoholism and the Birth of Recovery (Beacon Press).

Chris is married to Pat Willard, author of several food histories, including America Eats! On the Road with the W.P.A.–The First Fries, Box Supper Socials, and Chitlin’ Feasts that Define Real American Food (Bloomsbury). They have two sons and live in Brooklyn.

Eric M. Freedman
Professor of Law, Hofstra University

Eric M. Freedman is the Siggi B. Wilzig Distinguished Professor of Constitutional Rights at Hofstra Law School. His career combines scholarship in constitutional law with public interest litigation dealing with the First Amendment and a variety of other civil liberties fields. Professor Freedman is the author of a number of scholarly and popular articles on First Amendment law and history. He is a director of and counsel to the National Coalition Against Censorship, a former chair of the Communications Media Committee of the ACLU, and has served several terms on the Communications Law Committee of the New York City Bar Association.

A graduate of the Phillips Exeter Academy and Yale College, Professor Freedman earned a Master’s Degree in history from Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand while on a Fulbright Scholarship there. He received his law degree from Yale Law School, where he was an editor of the Yale Law Journal. Hofstra University has awarded him its Stessin Prize for Outstanding Scholarship and twice named him as its Distinguished Scholarly Lecturer. He is an elected member of the American Law Institute and a Fellow of the American Bar Foundation. Prior to coming to Hofstra, Professor Freedman clerked for Judge Irving R. Kaufman of the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit and practiced as a litigator at the firm of Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison in New York and Washington.

Robie Harris

Robie H. Harris was born in Buffalo, New York and has written over twenty-five children’s books. Robie writes picture books and nonfiction and is known for writing about serious issues with honesty and humor. Her most recent picture books, Maybe A Bear Ate It!, Mail Harry To The Moon!, and The Day Leo Said, I Hate You! all garnered starred reviews and awards. Her picture book Goodbye Mousie was a Publisher’s Weekly Best Children’s Book of the Year, and Happy Birth Day was a School Library Journal Best Book of the Year.

Her internationally acclaimed book It’s Perfectly Normal: Changing Bodies, Growing Up, Sex, and Sexual Health, was a Boston Globe-Horn Book Honor Book, and a New York Times Best Book of the Year, as was her book It’s So Amazing! A Book About Eggs, Sperm, Birth, Babies, and Families. Her book It’s Not the Stork! A Book About Girls, Boys, Babies, Bodies, Families, and Friends, was an American Library Association Notable Book.

In 2005, It’s Perfectly Normal was # 1 and It’s So Amazing! was # 10 on the American Library Association’s list of most frequently challenged books in America. Most recently, It’s Perfectly Normal was listed as #7 on the American Library Association’s list of most frequently challenged books of the 21st century. Robie is a member of the Council of PEN New England, where she created and then chaired the Children’s Book Caucus for a number of years. She has served on a number of non-profit boards, and received an honorary doctorate from Lesley University for her writing about sexual health.

Michael Jacobs
President and CEO, ABRAMS

Michael Jacobs is President and CEO of ABRAMS, America’s premier illustrated book publisher. Michael started in publishing as a page in the main branch of the Oakland (CA) Public Library and went on to work at Bookpeople, an employee-owned distributor of small and independent press books, first in their warehouse and then as their first sales representative. His professional track took him to Penguin USA as a sales representative based in the Pacific Northwest and over the tenure of his time there eventually became President of the Viking Penguin division at the company. Michael also served as Executive Vice President of Simon & Schuster’s Trade division and as Publisher of The Free Press.

Before joining ABRAMS, he spent seven years as Senior Vice President in Scholastic’s trade book group where he orchestrated the publishing, marketing, sales and distribution of the most successful books in trade publishing history—the first five Harry Potter volumes, with over 150 million copies sold in the US. While at ABRAMS, he has overseen the publication of the best-selling Diary of a Wimpy Kid series, which has sold more than 210 million copies around the world and has been published in more than 60 countries.

Over the course of his career, Michael has agented a #1 New York Times bestseller; served as chairman of the Trade Executive Committee at the Association of American Publishers; taught as an Adjunct Professor in the NYU Graduate Masters in Publishing Program and at the Yale Publishing Course where he keynoted for 3 years. He is chair of the board of directors of the Academy of American Poets and a member of the Yale University Press Board of Governors. He was an Eli Whitney scholar at Yale University where he earned a BA in History. Michael is married to the novelist Sheridan Hay with whom he has two children. They divide their time between Westchester County and Washington County in New York.

Mitchell Kaplan
Founder, Books & Books; Co-Founder & Board Chairperson, Miami Book Fair

Mitchell Kaplan, a Miami Beach native, founded Books & Books in Coral Gables, Florida, in 1982. Books & Books now has locations throughout south Florida, including a store in Key West guided by Judy Blume and her husband, George. Books & Books was named Bookstore of the Year in 2015 by Publishers’ Weekly.

Mitchell is a co-founder of Miami Book Fair and serves as the Chairperson of its Board of Advisors. The Book Fair, sponsored and supported by Miami-Dade College, brings over 300 authors and exhibitors to a weeklong celebration of all things literary into the heart of downtown Miami and onto the College’s Wolfson Campus.

Mitchell is the former President of the American Booksellers Association (ABA) and also served on the Board of ABFFE, the American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression. In 2011, Mitchell received the National Book Foundation’s prestigious “Literarian Award for Outstanding Service to the American Literary Community”.

Mitchell, with his partner Paula Mazur, formed the Mazur Kaplan Company to bring books to the screen. Film adaptations include The Man Who Invented Christmas, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, All the Bright Places and Let Him Go.

He’s married to Rachelle and they have a daughter, Anya, and twin sons, Daniel and Jonah.

Randall Kennedy
Professor, Harvard Law School

Randall Kennedy is Michael R. Klein Professor at Harvard Law School where he teaches courses on contracts, criminal law, and the regulation of race relations. He was born in Columbia, South Carolina. For his education he attended St. Albans School, Princeton University, Oxford University and Yale Law School. He served as a law clerk for Judge J. Skelly Wright of the United States Court of Appeals and for Justice Thurgood Marshall of the United States Supreme Court. He is a member of the bar of the District of Columbia and the Supreme Court of the United States.

Awarded the 1998 Robert F. Kennedy Book Award for Race, Crime, and the Law, Mr. Kennedy writes for a wide range of scholarly and general interest publications. His other books are For Discrimination: Race Affirmation Action, and the Law (2013), The Persistence of the Color Line: Racial Politics and the Obama Presidency (2011), Sellout: The Politics of Racial Betrayal (2008), Interracial Intimacies: Sex, Marriage, Identity, and Adoption (2003), and Nigger: The Strange Career of a Troublesome Word (2002). A member of the American Law Institute, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the American Philosophical Association, Mr. Kennedy is also a Trustee emeritus of Princeton University.

Emily Knox (Board President)
Associate Professor, University of Illinois

Emily is an associate professor in the School of Information Sciences at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Her book, Book Banning in 21st Century America,was published by Rowman & Littlefield and is the first monograph in the Beta Phi Mu Scholars’ Series. She also recently edited Trigger Warnings: History, Theory Context, also published by Rowman & Littlefield. Her articles have been published in the Library QuarterlyLibrary and Information Science Research, and the Journal of Intellectual Freedom and Privacy. Emily’s  research interests include information access, intellectual freedom and censorship, information ethics, information policy, and the intersection of print culture and reading practices. She is also a member of the Mapping Information Access research team and was awarded the Illinois Library Association Intellectual Freedom Award in 2015.  Emily has also served on the boards of the Association for Information Science & Technology and the Freedom to Read Foundation. She received her Ph.D. from the doctoral program at the Rutgers University School of Communication & Information.

Gina Maria Leonetti

Gina Maria Leonetti spent approximately twenty years as a Directors Guild of America Film/TV Assistant Director, working on a variety of projects from television shows, commercials and major motion pictures. Some of her credits include the films Five Corners, Outrageous Fortune, Conspiracy Theory, Married to the Mob and The Silence of the Lambs, the television series Tattingers and numerous commercials.

More recently, Gina Maria has Executive Produced the short film “First Chair” along with the documentaries “Fellowship of Reconciliation: Over 100 years of Waging Peace & Justice”, “Art & Heart: The World of Isaiah Sheffer” and “Playing with Fire: Jeannette Sorrell and the Mysteries of Conducting”. 

Gina has served on several boards. Currently, she’s in her sixth year serving on the 2nd Stage Theater Company and in her eleventh year on the board of New York City’s largest emergency food pantry, the West Side Campaign Against Hunger. 

Gina Maria lives in New York City and loves to go to the theatre, make pottery and take advantage of all that NYC has to offer.

Barbara Marcus
Barbara Marcus is a leading business and marketing strategist in the areas of children’s content and distribution and is currently president and publisher of Random House Children’s Books, the world’s largest children’s trade publisher. Previously, Marcus was a strategic innovations advisor to Penguin Books USA. Before her tenure at Penguin and Random House, she was president of Scholastic Children’s Book Publishing and Distribution. Among other revenue-building ventures, she led the publishing effort for six out of the seven Harry Potter titles as well as book clubs and book fairs. Marcus serves on the advisory board of First Book; the board of directors of Graham Windham; and the Executive Publishing Committee of United Jewish Appeal (UJA) Federation of New York.

Larry Siems
Writer and Human Rights Activist, Chief of Staff of Knight First Amendment

Larry Siems is currently serving as the Chief of Staff of the Knight First Amendment, where he helps guide the Institute’s program strategy and evaluation and organizational planning. Siems’s career in human rights and free expression advocacy includes 17 years directing Freedom to Write and International Programs for PEN, the international writers’ organization. At PEN, he designed and coordinated global campaigns to protect writers and defend the right of all to freedom of expression, and supported the efforts of writers in more than a dozen countries to defend journalism, literature, and free speech.

Siems is also a writer and journalist who has published widely on immigration and cross-cultural issues and on human rights and free expression violations in the U.S. and around the world. His work has appeared in the New York Times, The GuardianGrantaThe Nation, and AztlánEpoch, and Southern Poetry Review, and his books include Between the Lines: Letters Between Mexican and Central American Immigrants and Their Families and Friends and The Torture Report: What the Documents Say About America’s Post-9/11 Torture ProgramHe also edited, annotated, and introduced Mohamedou Ould Slahi’s New York Times-bestselling Guantánamo Diary, which has been published in 27 countries and 22 languages.

Oren J. Teicher

Oren J. Teicher retired as the Chief Executive Officer of the American Booksellers Association in December 2019. He worked on behalf of independent bookstores for more than 30 years, beginning in 1990 as the ABA Associate Executive Director, then as Director of Government Affairs, and, through 2009, as ABA’s Chief Operating Officer. He was appointed as ABA’s CEO in 2009.

Teicher has been an active defender of First Amendment rights.  In the mid-1980s, he was president was of Americans for Constitutional Freedom, an organization formed to fight the censorship activities of the Attorney General’s Commission on Pornography.  After he joined ABA, he helped create and then led the American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression, the bookseller’s voice in the fight against censorship.  He is also a former chair of Media Coalition, an anti-censorship organization.  The Westchester chapter of ACLU gave him its John Peter Zenger Award.

Teicher is a former Trustee of the White Plains, N.Y., Public Library. He was named Publishers Weekly’s Person on the Year in 2013 and was the recipient of the National Book Foundation’s Literarian Award in 2019 for Outstanding Service to the American Literary Community.

Before joining ABA, Teicher was the Director of Corporate Communications for the March of Dimes Birth Defects Foundation, and he served for many years as a senior staffer in the U.S. Congress.

Teicher is a graduate of The George Washington University in Washington, D.C. and lives in White Plains, New York. He and his late wife, Alison Greene, are the parents of three grown children, Carrie (David), Jessy (Emily), and Zach(Anne). He has four grandchildren, Frankie, Maya, Danny, and Ali.

Emily Whitfield
Founder and President, Emily Whitfield Communications

Emily Whitfield has dedicated her career to guiding social justice organizations to successful communications on issues with high-stakes outcomes. She has deep experience in media relations, strategic planning, message development, persuasive writing, issue advocacy, and crisis communications. Emily spent more than a decade serving as Media Relations Director at the American Civil Liberties Union, directing a national team to support the communications needs of the ACLU’s leaders and lawyers across the country. At the organization’s headquarters in New York, Emily managed ACLU communications for some of the most significant news events of the late 20th and early 21st centuries. She has been interviewed on NPR’s On the MediaThis American Life and in numerous national and international news outlets.

As the founder of Emily Whitfield Communications, Emily consults for a wide range of respected national and international nonprofits with diverse audiences, including the ACLU, Bronx Defenders, The Correctional Association of New York, the Ms. Foundation for Women, Natural Resources Defense Council, Planned Parenthood Federation of America, and the Vera Institute of Justice. Her successful practice includes stints as Interim Communications Director at the Center for Constitutional Rights, the Innocence Project, and the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund.

As a writer and editor, Emily is the author or co-author of countless op-eds, news releases, annual reports, newsletters, and multimedia projects. Her work includes developing high-dollar donor case statements for the ACLU, Planned Parenthood Federation of America and the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund and writing substantive issue reports for the Ms. Foundation, Planned Parenthood, the ACLU of Arizona and the Vera Institute of Justice.

Emily is a native New Yorker and a graduate of New York University, where she earned a degree in journalism. A lifelong free speech advocate (and practitioner), she serves on the board of the National Coalition Against Censorship.