Lesléa Newman has created 70 books for readers of all ages including the poetry collections, Still Life with Buddy; Nobody’s Mother; Lovely; Signs of Love; and I Carry My Mother which received the 2016 Golden Crown Literary Society Poetry Award and was named a “Must Read” title by the Massachusetts Center for the Book. She is the author of many children’s books that feature LGBTQ characters including Mommy, Mama, and Me; Daddy, Papa, and Me; Donovan’s Big Day; Too Far Away to Touch; Felicia’s Favorite Story; Sparkle Boy; and the pioneering children’s classic, Heather Has Two Mommies. Lesléa was invited to be the Keynote Speaker for Gay Awareness Week at the University of Wyoming in October 1998. She arrived on campus the day that Matthew Shepard died, and her life was changed forever. Since that time, she has made a commitment to making the world a better place by creating literature that teaches respect, acceptance, and celebration of all. In 2012, she published October Mourning: A Song for Matthew Shepard, which explores the impact of Matt’s murder through many poetic voices including the fence to which he was tied, the stars that watched over him, his cat who waited at home for him, and a deer who kept him company under the wide Wyoming sky. The book has received many honors including an American Library Assocation Stonewall Honor, the Florida Council of Teachers of Engish Joan F. Kaywell Books Change Lives Award, and a Nerdy Book Club Poetry Award. The book has been adapted for the stage by theatre companies, church groups, and university theater departments. It has also been made into an opera. In addtion, eight of the poems from October Mourning: A Song for Matthew Shepard appear as part of the libretto of the fusion oratorio, Considering Matthew Shepard, created by Grammy Award-winning composer, Craig Hella Johnson. Lesléa has won many literary awards including poetry fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Massachusetts Artists Foundation, the Association of Jewish Libraries Sydney Taylor Award, the Massachusetts Book Award, the Cat Writers Association Muse Medallion, and the Dog Writers Association of America Maxwell Medal. Nine of her books have been Lambda Literary Award Finalists. From 2008 – 2010, she served as the poet laureate of Northampton, MA. Currently she is a faculty member of Spalding University’s low-residency MFA in Writing program. Her newest children’s book, Gittel’s Journey: An Ellis Island Story, based on her own family history of immigration, will be published in February 2019.