Meet Our Advisory Board

The Cherry Lake Publishing Group Advisory Committee is made up of a group of individuals who have different experiences and perspectives. They are committed to our mission of inclusion. Their different views will further aid Cherry Lake Publishing Group to publish books for every child that are authentic, inclusive, and reflective of the diverse society we live in.

Opetoritse "Ritse" Adefolalu

Opetoritse "Ritse" Adefolalu is the Children's Librarian at the Lower Mills Branch of the Boston Public Library. He previously worked in children's, teen, and adult services at the Inglewood Public Library, and received his Master's in Library and Information Science from the iSchool of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, specializing in youth services and K-12 librarianship. Ritse believes that literacy in its many forms (reading and writing, digital, financial, etc.) is the most universal path to self-determination, and that the journey down that path should begin as early in life as possible. "As adults, it can be easy to think of children's literature as reading exercise at best and empty diversion at worst. But I guarantee you, some of the most moving, impactful, and beautiful writing you can find is waiting between the covers of a picture book."

Kathy Burnette

Kathy Burnette was a school librarian for over 16 years before she decided to open her own bookstore in South Bend, Indiana. Her store, Brain Lair Books, focuses on selling high-quality titles for children and young adults that foster inclusivity, empathy, and community. “I’ve also been looking at a lot of what We Need Diverse Books is doing, as well as this nonprofit that’s looking to publish new indigenous voices,” she said. “I grew up on the South Side of Chicago and most of the books we had in school did not represent who we were. I was lucky I could still find role models, but I think because we are so isolated today, kids need to see themselves in books so that they can have something to aspire to.”

Bryan Overholt

Bryan Overholt has been a librarian for ten years, and is currently the Children's and Teen Librarian at Bexley Public Library, where he does a little bit of everything, from leading Rhyme Time, to supervising volunteens, to co-hosting bar trivia, and much, much, more! When he's not at the library, he's playing drums in the bands We Are the Movies and Thief Club, playing hockey, listening to music, playing video games, or watching TV and movies. He lives in Columbus, Ohio with his wife Elaine, dog Penny, and cats Sally and Kevin.


Kelly Sotsky

Kelly Sotsky earned her Bachelor of Science in psychology and deaf studies at College of the Holy Cross and was a goalkeeper for the field hockey team. She later received a Master of Education in deaf education at Boston University. She has been working at The Learning Center for the Deaf in Framingham, MA for seven years and has worked in a variety of classrooms from middle school to high school. She currently coaches a middle school’s math competition team, as well as the softball team. She also coaches field hockey at a local high school and several travel clubs and clinics. She loves her partner and their two puppies. (One puppy is deaf and the other only has one eye!)

Neha Thakkar

Neha Thakkar studied elementary education, then collected two master’s degrees: one in library and information sciences and the other in educational administration. She strives to share the importance of research, reading, and technology for students and staff, and best practices on teaching these tools. Her work in Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion and Social-Emotional Learning aspires to bridge the gap between literacy and the whole child, giving students experiences that value their backgrounds and needs.



2021 Advisory Board

Kathy Burnette

Kathy Burnette was a school librarian for over 16 years before she decided to open her own bookstore in South Bend, Indiana. Her store, Brain Lair Books, focuses on selling high-quality titles for children and young adults that foster inclusivity, empathy, and community. “I’ve also been looking at a lot of what We Need Diverse Books is doing, as well as this nonprofit that’s looking to publish new indigenous voices,” she said. “I grew up on the South Side of Chicago and most of the books we had in school did not represent who we were. I was lucky I could still find role models, but I think because we are so isolated today, kids need to see themselves in books so that they can have something to aspire to.”

Shameka Coleman

Shameka Coleman is an Assistant Principal of an elementary school in Massachusetts. Prior to becoming an Assistant Principal, she was an elementary school teacher for six years and received her Master of Education. She is also the founder of a nonprofit organization dedicated to diversifying the volunteering field.

Alex Fernández

Alex Fernández has a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science with a Minor in Theatre from Florida International University in Miami, Florida. His law degree is from Georgetown University Law Center. He has practiced law for close to 30 years. In addition, he has taught law locally at colleges and universities and enjoys substitute teaching in PK-12. His theatre credits range from Stage Managing at the Kennedy Center to directing local and professional theatre productions. You can find his writings in publications that include Red Tricycle and Fatherly. He is Editor-in-Chief and Founder of Mr. Alex’s Bookshelf, a website dedicated to reviewing children's literature and promoting healthy parenting habits.

Crystal Hernandez-Drillen

After earning her BA in English from TAMUCC, Crystal Hernandez-Drillen earned a graduate degree in Library Science from the University of North Texas. She has been a librarian for 6 years with Nueces County Public Libraries. She is also part of the planning committee with Teen Bookfest By the Bay which was created 4 years ago in Corpus Christi, Texas. Her hobbies include spending time with family, traveling, playing the piano and reading. She enjoys reading almost any kind of genre and category from adult, nonfiction, young adult, and kids’ books.

Dr. Virginia Loh-Hagan

Dr. Virginia Loh-Hagan is an author, university faculty member, and former K-8 teacher. She’s currently the Director of the Asian Pacific Islander Desi American Center at San Diego State University. She writes books about things that geek her out. She especially likes to write about her Chinese-American heritage. After all, she was born on Flag Day in the Year of the Dragon. She’s also interested in writing fun facts about monsters, weird bodily noises, urban legends, hot dogs, and anything on the odd side. She lives in northern San Diego with two non-trained naughty dogs and one semi-well-trained husband.

Hedreich Nichols

Hedreich Nichols is a curriculum designer and Middle Years program district tech lead. She is also an equity advocate and consultant who helps teachers amplify the voices of all students. Hedreich also has a vlog on YouTube, Small Bites, that focuses on "equity strategies for busy people." Prior to being an educator, she was a Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter. Hedreich received her Master of Education at Texas A&M University.

Bryan Overholt

Bryan Overholt has been a librarian for ten years, and is currently the Children's and Teen Librarian at Bexley Public Library, where he does a little bit of everything, from leading Rhyme Time, to supervising volunteens, to co-hosting bar trivia, and much, much, more! When he's not at the library, he's playing drums in the bands We Are the Movies and Thief Club, playing hockey, listening to music, playing video games, or watching TV and movies. He lives in Columbus, Ohio with his wife Elaine, dog Penny, and cats Sally and Kevin.

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  • Torch Graphic Press
  • 2395 South Huron Parkway
  • Suite 200
  • Ann Arbor MI 48104

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