Meet the Decatur Book Festival staff aka the literary lovers who are just crazy enough to orchestrate one of the largest independent book festivals each year.
James Diedrick, President
James Diedrick is a Professor of English at Agnes Scott College. His teaching and scholarly interests include literature in English, Victorian literature and culture, contemporary British fiction, film studies, and nonfiction writing. From 2005 to 2013 he served as Associate Dean of the College and Vice President for Special Programs at Agnes Scott.
James has been a member of the AJC Decatur Book Festival Board and Planning Committee since 2011, in these roles he has worked to assure that the partnership between the college and the DBF is a creative and productive one.
He received his undergraduate degree in English from Western Washington University, and his Ph.D. in English from the University of Washington. He has taught and held administrative positions at the University of Washington, Chapman University (California), Albion College (Michigan), and The Newberry Library (Chicago).
His most recent book is a biography entitled Mathilde Blind: Late-Victorian Culture and the Woman of Letters (University of Virginia Press, 2016). He has also written the critical study Understanding Martin Amis (University of South Carolina Press, 1995, 2004), and he co-edited a collection of essays on Stanley Kubrick, Depth of Field: Stanley Kubrick, Film, and the Uses of History (University of Wisconsin Press, 2006).
James lives in Decatur with his wife LeeAnne Richardson, an English professor at Georgia State University.
Will Johnston, Board Member
William Johnston is the Founder and Executive Director of Tiny House Atlanta, the largest education and advocacy group for the tiny house movement in the nation. His passion is to utilize engaging events to educate government, communities, and individuals on a variety of topics and issues surrounding the tiny house movement and the benefits of space utilization. He also serves on the American Tiny House Association Board and has been working directly with the City of Atlanta as well as other municipalities to strategically incorporate micro housing to benefit cities in Georgia.
Previously, he was Manager for Community and Customer Engagement at The Atlanta Journal Constitution where he managed community activation and events. He has been involved with The AJC Decatur Book Festival since its launch and joined the Board in 2009.
William received his Bachelor’s from Coe College in Cedar Rapids, Iowa and majored in Theatre and Sociology. In 2012 he graduated LEAD Atlanta, a prestigious eight-month leadership program for young professionals in the Metro Atlanta area. William has been featured on Georgia Public Broadcasting ReDream Project and frequently presents to numerous groups and organizations through out the Southeast about the Tiny House Movement.
FeFe Handy, Board Member
Page Turners Make Great Learners has earned the respect of educators, generated support from national and local companies and increased demand for its services. She has been a frequent guest on local news station CBS46 where the organization is a community partner of CBS46 Books to Kids.
FeFe Handy’s primary goal is to reach students who are disinterested in reading by introducing and providing culturally diverse books that give voice, empower and uplift the human spirit. It is equally important to her to help students connect the skill of reading to the wider world by providing access to professionals who share the importance of reading in their personal and professional lives.
FeFe Handy is the mother of three beautiful children.
Mike Miller, Festival Manager
After graduating with a degree in general biology in 1972, Michael determined that working trade shows was both more lucrative and more gratifying than conducting tests on lab animals. Leaving the lab, he turned his talents to the trade show industry and accumulated more than 40 years of experience managing events on 5 different continents.
Michael gained great creative problem-solving skills and insight into the human psyche in the late 70s. During which he split his time between working for a traveling circus and as an IATSE member (stagehand) in Orlando, Florida and the trade show industry.
Mike moved to Decatur from Florida in 1983 and started working with the Decatur Book Festival in 2008.
Mathwon R. Howard, Vice President
Mathwon R. Howard serves as Associate Vice President for Development Programs at Emory University. Mathwon oversees Annual Giving, Gift Planning, Donor Relations, Development Communications, Corporate Relations, Foundation Relations and three development units Carlos Museum, Center for Ethics and Emory Libraries and Information Technology. Mathwon also provides leadership for the next Emory University comprehensive campaign.
He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in leadership and public administration from Adrian College and enjoys public speaking, reading, writing, nature, and any activity that captivates his children. Mathwon lives in Tucker with his wife Bethany and their three children.
Rosemary M. Magee, Board Member
Rosemary M. Magee serves as Director of Emory’s Manuscript, Archives and Rare Book Library (MARBL) overseeing the collection and development of significant literary and historical materials. Previously, she served as Vice President and Secretary at Emory, where she oversaw university governance processes, and also as Senior Associate Dean of Resources and Planning in Emory College of Arts and Sciences. A leader in Emory’s creative community, Rosemary is chair of Creativity: Art and Innovation, a framing principle of the University’s Strategic Plan, committed to supporting arts performances, scholarship, research, and conversations across campus.
In recognition for her service and leadership, in 2008, Rosemary received the Thomas Jefferson Award, one of the University’s highest honors. She holds a Ph.D. from Emory and both a B.A. and M.A. from Florida State University. An artist-in-residence at the Hambidge Center for the Creative Arts and Sciences and the Tyrone Guthrie Centre in Ireland, she has published two edited volumes along with essays, reviews, and short stories in a variety of journals and literary magazines.
Ila Wade, Communications Manager
Ila (Ee-la) grew up in Germany and Hungary and moved to the United States when she was 11. She left South Florida days after getting her Bachelors degree from Florida Atlantic University to become a whitewater raft guide on the beautiful Chattooga River in Northeastern Georgia. This experience rekindled a love for the outdoors that remains a strong aspect of Ila’s life. She stayed in the upstate and earned her Masters degree in Professional Communications from Clemson University.
Ila came to Atlanta to work for the humanitarian organization CARE as the Deputy Director of Internal Communications. For many years she enjoyed this rewarding work, but when her first child was born she decided to be a stay-at-home mom. She has spent the last decade heavily involved in the Decatur school system: two terms as a member of the School Leadership Team, PTA Vice President, room parent, and many other volunteer positions. She also has a passion for civic involvement and has been engaged with many of city of Decatur’s processes and planning initiatives.
Ila’s love for books and reading started when she and her brothers would pile around their mom to be read to. This love of reading has continued throughout her life and is something she has shared with her children; both are avid readers.
She lives in Decatur with her wonderful husband and two daughters, and Penny, the best dog ever.
Diane Capriola, Manager of Children and Teen Programming
Diane Capriola is co-owner of Little Shop of Stories, an award winning, independent bookstore for children in Decatur. She is also “that girl from ‘You’ve Got Mail'”. She grew up on Long Island but has called Decatur her home for over 20 years and lives there with her three children and two dogs, Jem and Scout Finch.
Diane serves on the American Booksellers Association (ABA) advisory board as well as the advisory board of the ABA’s ABC Children’s Group, which provides “programs specifically aimed at growing and expanding the reach of children’s books to a wide audience of both consumers and booksellers.” Her favorite book is To Kill A Mockingbird, but you already knew that.
Alison Weissinger, Treasurer
Alison Weissinger is the Director at the DeKalb County Public Library. As Director, she oversees the administration of 22 DeKalb County branch libraries, and a $54,540,000 Library Bond program approved by DeKalb voters in November, 2005. Alison also manages the Georgia Center for the Book program at the DeKalb County Public Library which brings more than 100 author programs a year to DeKalb County.
Alison is a seasoned library veteran. She joined DeKalb County Public Library in 1997 as a youth services librarian. Additionally, Alison has served as a branch manager at several branches, including the Decatur Library, the county’s main library branch. Prior to being appointed Director, Alison served as the system’s Adult Services Coordinator, directing adult programming, literacy and outreach services, and the library’s website.
Alison earned her bachelor’s degree in German Literature from the University of California at Davis and her master’s degree in Library Science from Florida State University. She lives in Decatur, GA with her husband Chris and two children.
Adam Rosenkoetter, Board Member
In 2001, entrepreneur Adam Rosenkoetter co-founded Sol Design, a successful branding and marketing consultancy based in Atlanta. Since then, he’s built the company from ground up, now advising an impressive roster of clientele. As Co-Founder and Technical Director, Adam is Sol Design’s clients’ digital guide. Whether he recommends a custom CMS, a marketing automation tool or an internet marketing strategy, he keeps the business objective in mind and the best technology in the forefront.
When Adam is not working, he’s off running, biking, being a yogi or enjoying time with his lovely wife and two young daughters at home in Decatur.
Jeff Steely, Board Member
Jeff Steely is Dean of Libraries at Georgia State University. Prior to coming to Georgia State, Mr. Steely served as Associate Dean and Director of Central Libraries at Baylor University in Waco, TX. Earlier positions at Baylor included Assistant Dean, Director of Central Libraries, Assistant Director for Client Services, and Outreach Services Librarian. Jeff began his professional career as the serials librarian for the Library of the U.S. Courts in Chicago, IL.
Dean Steely is a graduate of Bethel College (KS) and holds an MLIS from the University of Texas at Austin. He has participated in the Harvard/ACRL Leadership Institute and was a 2014 CLIR/EDUCAUSE Leading Change Institute fellow. Mr. Steely is active in numerous regional and national organizations, and served as the 2015-2016 president of the Library Leadership and Management Association.
Henry Parkman, Board Member
Henry Parkman is an attorney at Eversheds Sutherland.
After 30-plus years, Henry Parkman continues to resolve difficult construction industry disputes and other land use controversies. His practice primarily focuses on the many environmental and construction issues that arise from the planning, design and building of transportation projects.
In the past Henry has served on the Boards of The Wren’s Nest and the Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation.
Elisa Iannilli, Operations Director
Elisa Iannilli was born in Taranto, Italy, but she spent many years in Milledgeville, GA, where she earned her BA in Interdisciplinary Studies at Georgia College & State University. She moved to Decatur in 2015 to become General Manager at Decatur CoWorks. She helped grow the membership through increased member relations and community involvement, including representing Decatur CoWorks at multiple festivals. She was first introduced to the Decatur Book Festival when founder Daren Wang asked for Decatur CoWorks to house the Decatur Writers Studio classes and workshops. Elisa is active in the business community and currently holds the position of Membership Chair with the Decatur Business Association Board. She was co-chair for the 2019 Decatur Beach Party, the DBA’s annual fundraiser. Elisa is excited to now be a part of the DBF. Her favorite genre is young adult fiction and she’s always welcome to suggestions.
Steve Salcedo, Street Fair Manager
Steve is the AJC Decatur Book Festival Street Fair Manager. This role is a natural fit. Like John Steinbeck, he is a native of Salinas, California and attended Stanford University. A lifelong reader, Steve still has the first book he owned, “Ten Apples Up On Top!” by Theo LeSieg (a Dr. Seuss pseudonym). Steve looks forward to sharing the Festival’s tradition of hospitality.
Joy Pope, Executive Director
Joy is a native of Powder Springs. She holds a dual-genre MFA in Writing from Vermont College of Fine Arts. She previously earned a Master’s degree in the Liberal Arts from St. John’s College, famous for its Great Books curriculum, and she has a BA in English from the University of Oregon. Prior to joining the festival, she was the Journalism Educator at the Andrew P. Stewart Center’s after-school studio program that serves the children of Atlanta’s Pittsburgh neighborhood. She has lived in Decatur with her husband and two daughters since 2006.
Linda Harris, Board Member
Linda Harris has worked for the City of Decatur, GA since 1988 where she oversees civic engagement, marketing, communications and community outreach efforts. She is the city’s liaison to the Arts Alliance, Book Festival Board, Decatur Business Association, and oversees implementation of the city’s cultural arts master plan. She is the Executive Director of the Decatur Tourism Bureau and is a columnist and stringer for several publications.
Linda holds a B.A. in English Literature/Creative Writing from Agnes Scott College and a M.A. in Communications from Georgia State University. She is a certified associate coach with the International Coaching Federation.
Pearl McHaney, Board Member
Pearl Amelia McHaney is the Kenneth M. England Professor of Southern Literature at Georgia State University in Atlanta where she also directs the Center for Collaborative and International Arts (CENCIA). In 2014, her book-length study A Tyrannous Eye: Eudora Welty’s Nonfiction and Photography was published and she received the Phoenix Award for outstanding achievement in Welty Studies from the Eudora Welty Society.
She is the editor of Eudora Welty as Photographer, winner of the Eudora Welty Prize; Occasions: Selected Writings by Eudora Welty; Eudora Welty: Contemporary Reviews; A Writer’s Eye: Collected Reviews by Eudora; and the Eudora Welty Review, an annual peer-reviewed journal. She has also lectured and published on work by William Faulkner, Barry Hannah, David Mamet, Sindiwe Magona, Alice Munro, Natasha Tretheway, and Tennessee Williams. She serves on the Advisory Board of the Rialto Center for the Arts and directs an international student exchange program between Georgia State University and the University of Saint Quentin-en-Yvelines.