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.
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 Quarterly, Library 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.
Attorney, Davis Wright Tremaine LLC
Ambika Kumar is co-chair of the media law practice at Davis Wright Tremaine LLC, is a widely recognized expert in handling the legal risks associated with online content. She has a deep understanding of how free speech principles apply to rapidly evolving technology and has represented clients in cutting-edge lawsuits regarding content liability and electronic privacy. Some of the world’s top technology and media companies rely on Ambika’s direct, honest guidance and strong legal advocacy.
Ambika has extensive experience defending clients under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act and other federal protections for user-generated content. She has successfully defeated attempts to censor or challenge such content in courts across the country. Additionally, Ambika regularly advises and litigates on matters related to First Amendment, defamation, copyright, and trademark, as well as public records, reporter’s privilege, and courtroom access for a diverse range of clients.
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.
President & Publisher, Skyhorse Publishing
Tony Lyons is at the helm one of the fastest-growing independent book publishers in the United States and offers a wealth of experience in the publishing industry. Prior to founding Skyhorse in 2006, Lyons served as the Publisher at The Lyons Press from 1997 to 2004. Lyons takes a hands-on approach to overseeing all aspects of book publishing at Skyhorse. Under his leadership, the company has flourished from a small team to a prominent mid-sized publisher of more than 9,500 titles, including 56 New York Times bestsellers, a testament to his leadership and vision. Per a recent article from the Wall Street Journal, “his willingness to publish what others won’t have made Skyhorse not only a bulwark of dissent across the political spectrum but also a stronghold of literary culture against its self-righteous antagonists.”
President and Publisher of Random House Children’s Books
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.
Artist and Dean of the School of Art at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia
Sheryl Oring she leads all aspects of the School of Art at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia. Sheryl has created large-scale public artworks addressing First Amendment rights and civic engagement for over two decades. With her I Wish to Say project, she has typed over 4,000 postcards to U.S. presidents at hundreds of locations nationwide. Her book, Activating Democracy: The I Wish to Say Project, was published by the University of Chicago Press.
In Berlin, she created the sculptural installation Writer’s Block as a tribute to the authors whose books were burned in Nazi Germany; the work premiered on Bebelplatz and was later shown at the Jewish Museum Berlin as well as locations in Budapest, Boston, and New York. Sheryl holds an MFA in Visual Art from the University of California, San Diego, and a BS in Journalism from the University of Colorado, Boulder. She is the first artist to join the NCAC board.
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 Guardian, Granta, The Nation, and Aztlán, Epoch, 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 Program. He 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.
2023 NCAC Advisory Council
First Amendment Professor, Case Western
Student Advocates for Speech, Student Cohort
Alan M. Dershowitz
Felix Frankfurter Professor of Law, Emeritus, Harvard Law School
Literary Agent, Writers House
First Amendment Activist, Attorney, Author
First Amendment Activist, Attorney, Author
Author and Screenwriter
Founder, Human Rights Watch; Past- President, Open Society Foundations
Owner Porter Square Bookstores, Boston
Librarian, Allen Stevenson School; Lawyer
First Amendment Activist and Attorney; Past-President, ACLU; Author
President and Publisher, Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Founder, Franklin Furnace Archives