The 2021 Excellence in Graphic Literature Awards Advisory Board and Juries are comprised of diverse, experienced and informed professionals whose knowledge and experience span the publishing, library, and education industries. Each title submitted for this year’s awards was reviewed by this group of expert graphic literature jurors who selected the best in graphic literature using a clearly defined and transparent process.


EGL Advisory Board

JJ Babb, Chair

JJ Babb has developed, implemented, and presented nationally an integrated Social EmotionalLearning and literature curriculum for high-risk students at one of the nation’s largest schooldistricts.This curriculum relies on graphic novels to drive reluctant readers’ interest. JJ isearning her EdD in Educational Equity at the University of Colorado-Denver

Dr. Christopher Bell

Dr. Christopher Bell is an Associate Professor of Media Studies in the Department of Communication at the University of Colorado Colorado Springs. He specializes in the study of popular culture, focusing on the ways in which race, class and gender intersect in different forms of children’s media. Recognized nationally for his expertise in the area of children’s culture, he teaches both theory and methodology courses in critical analysis of popular culture, rhetorical theory, representation theory and the history of mass media. Dr. Bell is a TED speaker, a diversity and inclusiveness consultant for Pixar Animation Studios and Warner Media, a 2017 David Letterman Award winning media scholar, and the 2017 Denver Comic-Con Popular Culture Educator of the Year.

Kristina Maldonado Bad Hand

Kristina Maldonado Bad Hand is a Sicangu Lakota and Cherokee artist that hails from Taos, New Mexico. Her passion for community and social justice has led her to speak on matters of equality and cultural representation in pop culture. She has spoken on such matters at colleges, schools, conventions, and art festivals. She studied Media Arts and Animation for four years at the Art Institute of Colorado and is an entrepreneur with big dreams. Kristina has started two businesses: Bad Hand Illustrations, in which she works freelance in illustration and as a graphic designer specializing in branding, product and logo design; and áyA Studios LLC, a publishing and media company that focuses on the empowerment and enrichment of independent artists. She has 10 years of experience in after school and summer programs — most notably for her work with Pop Culture Classroom in their comic-based literacy curriculum and as a Community Liaison with Jeffco Indian Education; providing social-emotional, cultural and academic support through arts to American Indian students K-12. Currently she spends her time as a Teaching Artist with Think 360 Arts, works part time as a Substance Abuse Liaison with Jeffco Indian Education, and collaborates with many different arts and community organizations in the Denver Metro area.

Joe Pascullo

Joe Pascullo is a young adult librarian at the Grand Central branch of the New York Public Library, as well as the host of the podcast Manga Monthly. This is his second year assisting Pop Culture Classroom in bringing you the Excellence in Graphic Literature Awards.

Children’s Awards Jury

Tracy Edmunds, M.A. Ed. (CHAIR)

Tracy Edmunds, M.A. Ed. (Chair) is an educational author and curriculum specialist. In her 12 years as an elementary teacher, she experienced first-hand the power of comics in teaching and learning and now works to help other educators put that power to work for their students. Learn more at

Jessica Ruskin (Assistant Chair)

Jessica Ruskin (Assistant Chair) received her BA, summa cum laude, from Cornell University and went on to get her Master’s degree in Museum Education from the George Washington University. She has been putting her education to good use working at the Smithsonian Institution, Kidspace Children’s Museum, the Exploratorium, and the Charles M. Schulz Museum and Research Center where she has worked as the
education director for the past 15 years. Jessica also spent time volunteering with Habitat for Humanity through the AmeriCorps national service program and, more recently, with her children’s schools, coordinating their annual fundraisers, teaching art to kids, and designing the yearbook. Jessica lives in Santa Rosa, CA with her two children, two dogs, two cats, leopard gecko, and beta fish.

Hadiya Evans

Hadiya Evans is a reference librarian at the Denver Public Library, with a MA and MLIS in Library Information.She is a librarian with a passion and commitment to engagement that is rooted in nurturing collaborative partnerships and creating relevant and community focused programming.

Tia Kimball

Tia Kimball, lecturer at the University of North Florida, enjoys reading graphic novels. Discovering new graphic novel titles for the English language learners that she works with at a local elementary school is a hobby of hers. The EGL awards is her favorite time of the year!

Jameka Lewis

Jameka B. Lewis is a native of Guthrie,OK. She graduated with a bachelor’s degree from Langston University and obtained a Master of Library Science degree from Texas Women’s University in 2012. Currently, she is the Senior Librarian at the Blair Caldwell African American Research Library. She enjoys educating lifelong learners and has recently begun offering courses related to equity, diversity and inclusion in libraries. She serves as a regular guest speaker at community events and is  a regular talkback guest for the Denver Center of the Performing Arts. In her spare time, Jameka enjoys researching materials and artifacts pertaining to African and African American history. She is an admirer and forever student in the area of Black History . and research. Notably, Jameka is the mother to Corrina and puppy mother to her Shi Chi Max. She is the Founder of Give a Child a Library, an organization that provides free books to K-12 children around the country.

William Shanks

Warren Shanks has been a Children’s Librarian with the Denver Public Library for eight years.He was a juror for the 2019 EGL Middle Grade Award. He has also served on the ColoradoLibraries for Early Literacy’s CLEL Bell Awards committee as well as the Denver Public Library’sBest & Brightest Books List committee

Middle-Grade Awards Jury

Christina Hicks - Chair

Christina Hicks (Chair) is the Youth Services Librarian at the Friendswood Public Library. Before serving as Chair for the middle grade jury of the EGL Award she was a member of the adult jury. She has also chaired the Maverick Graphic Novel List committee for the Texas Library Association.

Dr. Stergios Botzakis (Assistant Chair)

Dr. Stergios Botzakis (Assistant Chair) is a professor in the Theory and Practice in Teacher Education Department at The University of Tennessee, Knoxville.His areas of expertise are content are aliteracy, middle school education,working with struggling adolescent readers, and new literacies. His research interests include middle and secondary education, adolescent literacies, popular culture,graphic novels,and media literacy. He has been published in the Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, Reading Research Quarterly, Review of Research in Education, English Journal, Language Arts, ALAN Review, and Teacher Education Quarterly among other venues. He is co-author, along with Les Burns, of Teach on Purpose!. He also blogs regularly at and co-hosts the weekly Comics Alternative podcast.

Jason D. DeHart

Jason D. DeHart has been reading comics since he was seven. DeHart holds a Ph.D. fromthe University of Tennessee, Knoxville, and he currently teaches courses in upperelementary literacy, middle school language arts methods, and adolescent literacy. Dr.DeHart served as a middle school English teacher for eight years

Jenny Harmon

Jenny Harmon is a recently retired teacher of pregnant and parenting teens in a California public high school. She taught many subjects through the years, including English and Language Arts. She became a fan of graphic literature when she met Maggie and Hopey in the early 1980s.

Jim McClain

Jim McClain is a writer, game designer, graphic novel creator, and a retired middle school teacher. His math superhero graphic novel, Solution Squad, was a finalist in the inaugural Excellence in Graphic Literature Awards. He has spoken on the use of comics to teach mathematics from coast to coast.

Mike Pawuk

Mike Pawuk is a teen services librarian for the Cuyahoga County Public Library system in Cleveland,Ohio. He is the co-author of the recently published Libraries Unlimited book Graphic Novels: A Genre Guide to Comic Books, Manga, and More, 2nd edition and contributes to School Library Journal’s Good Comics for Kids blog. He has been a longtime supporter of graphic novels in libraries with the American Library Association and YALSA, helping to create the Great Graphic Novels for Teens award and the Graphic Novels and Comics Roundtable, and has also served on award committees including the Margaret A. Edwards Award, the Michael L. Printz Award, and the Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards. 

Young Adult Awards Jury

Jack Baur, Chair

Jack Baur (Chair) is a Teen Services Librarian at the Berkeley Public Library. He has been heavily engaged in working with comics in libraries for over a decade. He was the co-host of the In The Library With A Comic Book podcast (2014-2017), the organizer of the Berkeley Comic Arts Festival in 2013, and has put together events for dozens of comics pros.He also does all of theGN collection development for the Berkeley Public Library system. His first comic book was 1988’s Wolverine #17

Cait Zaksheske, Assistant Chair

Cait Zaksheske (Assistant Chair) has been the librarian at Yuma High School in Yuma, Arizona for 6 years. She is the winner of the 2015 Will Eisner Foundation’s Graphic Novel Growth Grant and the 2017 Dollar General Literacy Grant. Thanks to the Eisner Foundation’s grant, Cait has been able to develop continuous support for her library’s collection which has allowed her to create the largest graphic novel collection in the Yuma Union High School District. The students of Yuma High devour graphic novels and Cait uses graphic novels to encourage reluctant readers and SEI/ESL students to get into reading.

Crystal Chen

Crystal Chen is a Young Adult Librarian at The New York Public Library. She holds aMSLIS from Pratt Institute, Fine Arts BA from Amherst College, and Printmaking MFA from SUNY New Paltz. She was a 2018 American Library Association Emerging Leader and currently chairs NYPL’s Best Books for Teens Committee.

William Kist, Ph.D.

William Kist, Ph.D. is an Emeritus Professor of Education at Kent State University and was the recipient of the 2017 Outstanding English/Language Arts Educator (College) presented by OCTELA. Bill has worked with schools nationally for over 15 years in the areas of adolescent literacy and integrating pop culture.

Illya Kowalchuk

Illya Kowalchuk hails from the suburban wilds of Long Island and avoided schoolwork by playing outside, reading comics, and mastering video games. After growing up (a bit), Illya found his way back to education. He has taught middle school for a decade, been a stay at home dad, and co-founded Pop Culture Classroom and Denver Pop Culture Con (formerly Denver Comic Con), serving as a Board Member, Interim Executive Director, and Director of Education. After that, Illya resumed teaching, first in Guatemala, and now as a high school math teacher in Boulder, CO. In addition to comics, he still enjoys time with family, cycling, gaming, reading, and drawing.

Elizabeth Palmer

Elizabeth Palmer is a Young Adult Specialist from the small town of Pinedale, WY, where they wrangle teens, graphic novels, and the occasional preschooler at the Sublette County Library. As of now, they are leveling up in cross-country skiing, hoop embroidery, and last minute cosplay. Ask them about Dragon Age.

Adult Awards Jury

Matthew Galloway, Chair

Matthew Galloway (Chair) is a librarian at Anythink Libraries in Adams County, Colorado. Part of his job involves choosing which adult fiction materials to purchase for the library system, which includes graphic literature. Prior to joining the library field, he was an archaeologist, a journalist, and a bit of a rover.

Michael Gianfrancesco, Assistant Chair

Michael Gianfrancesco (Assistant Chair) has been a high school English teacher in Rhode Island and adjunct professor for 15 years. He advocates for teaching with comics and has curated programming at Harvard, Brown, Fordham, SDCC, NYCC, C2E2, DPCC, ALA, NEATE, NCTE, and other events. He is also a founding member the LitX teacher cohort.

Erin Boyington

Erin Boyington is an Adult Services Senior Consultant with the Colorado State Library’s Institutional Library Development unit. As part of her job, she serves institutional libraries statewide, including the Colorado Department of Corrections Libraries. As a prison librarian, she has seen first-hand that graphic novels are gateways to reading.

S.E. Fleenor

S.E. Fleenor is the managing editor of Bella Media Channel and their writing has appeared in ElectricLiterature, Vice, Xtra Magazine, Upworthy, and Fleenorco-hosts the podcast Bitches on Comics, and is a staff writer for SYFY WIRE’S FANGRRLS. Learn more about them at:

Claudia McGivney

Claudia McGivney is the Assessment Coordinator for Adelphi University Libraries where she teaches a Graphic Narratives course. She holds a MSLIS, MA,
and is currently working on a PhD in Literacy. Her research interests include reflective practice, assessment metrics, and the use of anime and graphic
literature in higher education.

David S. Serchay

David S. Serchay is a librarian in the Broward County Library (FL) Library System, where his responsibilities include selecting graphic novels. He is the author of The Librarian’s Guide toGraphic Novels for Children and ‘Tweens and The Librarian’s Guideto Graphic Novels forAdults, and co-author of Graphic Novels: A Guide to Comic Books, Manga, and More, 2nd Edition . He has also contributed to various reference books on graphic novels, including The Encyclopedia of Comic Books and Graphic Novels, Comics Through Time, Icons of the American Comic Book, and multiple volumes of The Critical Survey of Graphic Novels. He has spoken on the topic of graphic novels and libraries at ALA conferences and the San Diego Comic-Con as well as in libraries around Florida. He has been a reader of comics since childhood and lives in South Florida with his wife and twin daughters.This is his third year as an EGL Juror.