Meet Our Talented Volunteer Staff

it takes a village

Brooke Bessesen

Executive Director and Managing Editor, A4ED Blog
Brooke Bessesen is the author of seven books—five for young readers, including Look Who Lives in the Ocean! She has worked professionally with animals for more than 30 years, from wildlife rescue to zoo medicine to field research. And as a conservation biologist she has witnessed first-hand the decimation of habitats and the plight of disappearing species. Brooke founded Authors for Earth Day in 2010 and is honored to support all her generous colleagues, who are helping it grow.

Dan Gutman

Recruitment Director
Dan Gutman was born in a log cabin and used to write by candlelight with a piece of chalk on a shovel. Oh, wait a minute. That was Abraham Lincoln. Actually, Dan has written over 130 books for kids from kindergarten (Rappy The Raptor) to early grades (My Weird School) to middle grades (Baseball Card Adventures) and all the way up to middle school (The Genius Files and Flashback Four). Dan lives in New York City with his wife Nina.

Debbie Dadey

Social Media Director
Debbie Dadey is the author and co-author of 166 traditionally published children's books, including The Adventures of the Bailey School Kids series and Mermaid Tales series. Debbie was born in Kentucky like Abraham Lincoln. She wasn't born in a log cabin, but she does live in one now in the Great Smoky Mountains where she enjoys hiking and writing. She's delighted that each of her Mermaid Tales books focuses on an ocean creature or concept.

Yolanda Ridge

Eco-Book of the Month Co-Director
Yolanda Ridge is a middle grade author. Her first two books, Trouble in the Trees and Road Block, are about a feisty 11-year-old who fights a tree climbing bylaw and the development of a highway through her grandmother's farmland. Yolanda's third book, Inside Hudson Pickle, follows 13-year-old Hudson as he tries to make the school basketball team and uncover family secrets. Yolanda lives in the mountains of British Columbia; she likes to bike and ski with her family.

Please note: We do not accept solicitations or review copies for our Eco-Book of the Month program; book choices are unbiasedly selected by our EBM co-directors.

Nancy Castaldo

Eco-Book of the Month Co-Director
Nancy Castaldo has written books about our planet for over 20 years and loves sharing her research with students and adults. Her recent Green Earth Book Award title The Story of Seeds: From Mendel's Garden to Your Plate, and How There's More of Less to Eat Around The World introduces readers to the importance of seeds and the global agriculture crisis we currently face. Other recent books include Sniffer Dogs, Beastly Brains and Mission Polar Bear Rescue.

Please note: We do not accept solicitations or review copies for our Eco-Book of the Month program; book choices are unbiasedly selected by our EBM co-directors.

Barbara Gowan

Associate Editor, A4ED Blog
Barbara Gowan shares her love of nature and writing as an Artist in Residence in classrooms and after school programs. She inspires children to appreciate, understand and conserve our natural world, and to keep alive their sense of wonder through unique nature experiences that serve as a springboard to literacy activities. Her nonfiction books have been named as Outstanding Science Trade Books, Arizona Grand Canyon Reader Award nominees and Best Children's Books of the Southwest.

Jennifer Ward

School-Events Team Coordinator
Jennifer Ward is the author of more than 24 acclaimed books for children and adults, including the ALA Notable Mama Built a Little Nest, illustrated by Steve Jenkins, and I Love Birds! 52 Ways to Wonder, Wander and Explore Birds with Kids, illustrated by Alexander Vidal. She writes full-time from her Illinois home, which is nestled among the canopy of an old growth oak forest, and she is easily distracted by anything and everything outside of her windows.