Watch now: The Early Years of the Guardianship, with Richard Hollinger
A FIVE PART WEBINAR SERIES

Illumining and Strengthening the Work of Bahá’í Writers

Part 1

Creating Engaging Stories and Devotional Content for Young Children and Their Families

May 21, 2022 AT 09:00 AM Pacific, 12:00 PM Eastern

TIME: 11:00 AM to 12:30 PM Central (9-10:30 am Pacific, 12-1:30 pm Eastern)

PRESENTERS: Authors Elaheh Bos and Linda Ahdieh Grant

DESCRIPTION: How can we craft material that will inspire the youngest members of our communities and nurture devotional habits and meaningful conversations in the home? As young families strive to live lives coherent with the broad framework of the Plans of the Universal House of Justice, and build strong spiritual foundations for their children, the need for vibrant children's literature is stronger than ever. Panelists will discuss their creative processes, the sources from which they draw inspiration, and the methods by which they see their projects through to completion.

Part 2

Writing for Junior Youth and Youth

May 21, 2022 AT 12:00 PM Pacific, 03:00 PM Eastern

TIME: 2:00 to 3:30 PM Central (12-1:30 pm Pacific, 3-4:30 pm Eastern)

PRESENTERS: Authors Amy Renshaw and Susan Engle

DESCRIPTION: With so much content competing for their attention, how can we engage the minds and hearts of junior youth and youth? What are some useful approaches to creating materials for this age group that inspire action and reflection? How can we educate and inspire while also engaging and entertaining readers? Panelists will share their learnings and the insights they have gained through years of developing material for this age group.

Part 3

BPT Special Guest: Dr. Joy Angela DeGruy

May 21, 2022 AT 05:00 PM Pacific, 08:00 PM Eastern

TIME: 7:00 PM Central (5pm Pacific, 8 pm Eastern)

Dr. DeGruy’s research focuses on the intersection of racism, trauma, violence and American chattel slavery. She has over thirty years of practical experience as a professional in the field of social work. She conducts seminars, lectures, and trainings in the areas of Intergenerational/Historical trauma, mental health, social justice, improvement strategies and evidence-based model development.

Dr. DeGruy travels across the globe to share her message and has held lectures and seminars almost everywhere. She has presented her work at Morehouse School of Medicine, Smith College, Spelman College, Harvard University, Tulane University, Princeton University, Fisk University, Yale University, M.I.T, the United Nations Educational, Science and Cultural Organization, Oxford University, the New York City African Burial Ground, the Essence Music Festival, the County of LA Department of Mental Health and many others. She has also been featured on Oprah Winfrey’s OWN network.

In addition to her pioneering work in the explanatory theory and book, Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome, she has developed evidence-based models for working with children, youth, and adults of color and their communities.

Part 4

Developing, Researching, and Writing Historical Narratives

May 22, 2022 AT 09:00 AM Pacific, 12:00 PM Eastern

TIME: 11:00 AM to 12:30 PM CST (9-10:30 am Pacific, 12-1:30 pm Eastern)

PRESENTERS: Authors Michael Day and Angelina Allen

DESCRIPTION: The history of the Baháʼí Faith is dense and complex. Those wishing to explore aspects of the Faith's history must find the stories they wish to tell, identify the sources at their disposal, and make a multitude of decisions regarding the audience, the context in which to frame their material, and the stylistic choices that will inform their work. Panelists will discuss the processes involved, from the germination of an idea to the research, development, and completion of a project.

Part 5

Baháʼí Publishers Panel Discussion with U.S. Baháʼí Publishing Trust, U.S. Review Office and George Ronald Publisher

May 22, 2022 AT 12:00 PM Pacific, 03:00 PM Eastern

TIME: 2:00 to 3:30 PM Central (12-1:30 pm Pacific, 3-4:30 pm Eastern)

PRESENTERS: May Hofman and Erica Leith of George Ronald, Martha Schweitz of U.S. Review Office, and Bahhaj Taherzadeh from U.S. Baháʼí Publishing Trust

MODERATOR: Dr. Robert Stockman, Wilmette Institute Director

DESCRIPTION: Join us for a moderated discussion between staff of George Ronald, U.S. Review office and the U.S. Baháʼí Publishing Trust. Panelists will discuss the current state of Baháʼí literature, the goals, aims, and editorial approaches of the respective publishers, and answer questions and share insights regarding manuscript evaluation and review. It will be an informal discussion and a unique opportunity for participants to hear from and engage with the two publishers.

Contributors

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Linda Ahdieh Grant

At present and alongside friends and family, Linda is working on several projects that strive to bring the lives and contributions of Bahá'í heroes and heroines from around the world into the homes and hearts of our children through picture books. These precious souls are our spiritual ancestors and as described in Ruhi Book 7, we can all find “elements of our identity in the myriad events that have brought the Cause of God forward from that fateful evening when the Bab declared His Mission to Mulla Husayn.” In the spring of 2020, she and Anna Myers created “I Love My Name” - a story about a young 21st century girl named Tahirih who finds courage in the story of her 19th century namesake, the immortal Letter of the Living Tahirih, whose unwavering commitment to truth led to her death. She is currently working on childrens’ stories about Louis Gregory, Fujita Saichiro, and Thomas Breakwell. Linda’s academic and professional background is in anthropology and epidemiology. She lives in Decatur, Georgia, with her husband and two children, Bahiyyih and Thomas. Generations of her family have been transformed by the institute process and she loves serving alongside our neighbors and friends in activities that release the society-building power of the Revelation of Bahá’u’lláh. Her dearest hope is that her writing projects support and advance this process and the building of strong communities.

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Bahhaj Taherzadeh

Bahhaj Taherzadeh has been the Senior Editor of the US Bahá'í Publishing Trust for more than a decade. During that time, he has overseen the editorial and production work for a wide range of Bahá'í-related publications.

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Martha Schweitz

Martha Schweitz serves as the Coordinator of Review at the U.S. Bahá’í National Center. She practiced and taught international law for many years, in the U.S. and in Japan, and published articles on topics in governance and in Bahá’í law. Other Bahá’í service includes years as Secretary of the ABS Executive Committee and currently ATC Secretary.

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Erica Leith

Erica Leith has worked for George Ronald Publisher since 1987—almost half her life. Initially all she was employed to do was upgrade the computer system and then she was going to find other employment, but she took over the financial side of the business and overseeing the production of new books. Methods of book production in the late 1980s were very different from today’s and over the years there have been many changes. With the advent of computer typesetting she took on some of the typesetting and to date has typeset more than 150 of George Ronald’s titles, as well as a few non-GR books and booklets. She has been a director of the company for almost thirty years. Erica currently lives in Welwyn, England and is married with three children and five grandchildren. Her father became a Bahá'í in the 1950s. She and her husband, Barney, were pioneers in the Shetland Islands for ten years and two of their children were born there. She is currently one of the trustees of the Afnan Library which was set up in memory of Hand of the Cause Hasan Balyuzi.

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May Hofman

May Hofman has been ‘in publishing’ since the age of seven, when she started as a publisher’s reader for her father, David Hofman, assessing children’s books for George Ronald. Trained (later) as an editor by her mother Marion Hofman, she has edited for GR for the last 50 years, since 1971, and has been a director of the company since 1985.  She studied music at the University of Oxford, received her doctorate from that university in 1977 for research into Renaissance music manuscripts, and has worked as a music administrator and a professional singer, as well as for the International Labour Office (a UN agency) in its publications department. Born in England, she has been a homefront pioneer in five UK cities, carried out a youth year of service in seven African countries, and has lived in Switzerland, Eritrea (formerly part of Ethiopia), Italy and France. She has three children and four grandchildren.

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Elaheh Bos

Elaheh Bos works in the field of possibilities and change and believes in helping children and families bloom. She is the founder of Plant Love Grow and has been writing, illustrating, and publishing children’s books for the last fifteen years. Her stories focus on inner growth through practical and sustainable methods and tools. With a background in Applied Human Sciences and Human Relations, and now as a Child Behavior Consultant, she brings creativity, passion, understanding, and a practical perspective as she helps families learn and grow. Elaheh was born in Zaire, lived in Laos, and comes with a fully stocked and diverse library of life experiences that have always guided her heart when working with others. She believes in the power of stories and knows firsthand of their impact as agents of change in helping children overcome fears and personal challenges. These personal experiences have helped her be more understanding and compassionate in working with families, especially when dealing with anxiety and grief. Elaheh believes that every child is born to bloom and that we are all trying to reach our potential and share our light. She comes from a long generation of artists and loves exploring and combining new mediums, textures, and techniques. She believes in the power of stories and knows firsthand of their impact as agents of change, keepers of memories, and mostly as a source of comfort and joy for families. Her goal in every Baháʼí project she has worked on has been to bring the Baháʼí Prayers and Writings to a young audience and make them more accessible to families. Through these stories, she hopes to help children see themselves and feel seen as Baháʼís by the world around them. She is the person behind bahaibooksforchildren.com, a website that offers free resources, suggestions of Baháʼí children's books, and a place where she shares her Baháʼí, and Baháʼí inspired publications with the world.

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Susan Engle

After finishing high school in Michigan in 1968, Susan Engle returned to her childhood home, Granville, Ohio, and earned a BFA in Theatre Arts from Denison University in 1972. She nurtured her love of music by working as an apprentice at the Metropolitan Opera in New York and traveling throughout Europe and the United States as a soloist with various choirs and with a folk/rock band. She has been a choir member and soloist with the House of Worship choir in Wilmette, Illinois, as well as a soloist at the second Bahá’í World Congress in New York City in 1992. She has also worked as a stage manager for operas produced by the New Mexico Symphony Orchestra and spent college summers in Actors Equity summer stock at the Barn Theater in Augusta, Michigan. After her twin daughters were born in 1973, Susan began writing songs and poems for children, publishing more than 70 over the years, including the award-winning Come and Sing CD. This first CD was followed by Loving Hands, Special Times, and Arm in Arm, which won a Religion Communicator’s Council Best of Class Award and an Angel Award from Excellence in Media in 2009. Susan joined the staff of Brilliant Star children’s magazine in 1995 as an editor and writer. In 2012, she contributed poetry for Jacqueline Mehrabi’s Bahá’í Holy Days: Stories and Poems for Children. In 2016, Susan created her first tiny book, The Bahá’í Faith: A Tiny Introduction, followed by A Tiny Book of Prayers, a Spanish version of the tiny introduction, and A Soul Is Forever: A Tiny Book of Comfort. She is retired from her editorial work for Brilliant Star but continues to write including three books for the Change Maker series for Bellwood Press, an imprint of children’s literature of the Bahá’í Publishing Trust in the United States. These biographies are created especially for an upper elementary/middle school audience. Much of her poetry is accessible at her website, IambicNana.com.

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Amy Renshaw

Amy Renshaw is the Senior Editor of Brilliant Star Magazine and Brilliant Star Online, guiding the editorial team in developing creative concepts and content for these publications of the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’ís of the U.S. She joined the team in 2000 as a part-time editor and by 2005 had embraced the Senior Editor role. With a focus on collaboration and consultation, she coaches staff, freelancers, contributors, and kid bloggers. Amy is the author of Voyage of Love: ‘Abdu’l-Bahá in North America, a book of historical nonfiction for junior youth and youth. She also wrote the historical mystery novel Strong Suspicions: A Sophie Strong Mystery. A fan of sleuthing since discovering Nancy Drew books as a kid, Amy loves exploring fascinating facts related to kids’ interests and challenges. In her free time, she hikes in the Wisconsin woods and bakes chocolate-laden treats. Amy has a BA in English and Sociology from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire.

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Dr. Joy Angela DeGruy

Dr. Joy Angela DeGruy holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Communication, a Master's degree in Social Work (MSW), a Master's degree in Clinical Psychology, and a Ph.D. in Social Work Research. Dr. DeGruy is a nationally and internationally renowned researcher and educator.  For over two decades, she served as an Assistant Professor at Portland State University’s School of Social Work and now serves as President and Chief Executive Officer of Joy DeGruy Publications Inc. Dr. DeGruy’s research focuses on the intersection of racism, trauma, violence and American chattel slavery. She has over thirty years of practical experience as a professional in the field of social work. She conducts seminars, lectures, and trainings in the areas of Intergenerational/Historical trauma, mental health, social justice, improvement strategies and evidence-based model development. Dr. DeGruy has published numerous refereed journal articles and authored her seminal book entitled “Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome: America’s Legacy of Enduring Injury & healing.” She has developed the “African American Male Adolescent Respect Scale” an assessment instrument designed to broaden our understanding of the challenges facing these youth in an effort to prevent their representation in the criminal justice system.

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Michael V. Day

Michael V. Day has had five books on Baháʼí history published, has another awaiting publication and two more underway. All focus on the Baháʼí World Centre. He was editor of the Baháʼí World New Service in Haifa (2003-2006) where he wrote histories of many Baháʼí communities celebrating golden anniversaries. He has written Baháʼí historical articles for Baháʼí Blog, Baháʼí Teachings, Australian Baháʼí Report (external), The Australian Baháʼí (internal), Herald of the South, and the New Zealand Baháʼí newsletter. Michael has edited two Baháʼí history books. He was briefly a lawyer, and then a journalist from 1978 to 2002 including as reporter, feature writer, editor and foreign correspondent. He was a Baháʼí external affairs journalist in his native New Zealand and in Australia where he has lived since 1988. His most recent role was ministerial foreign affairs advisor. Michael now writes Baháʼí history full-time. Website: www.michaelvday.com

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Angelina Diliberto Allen

Angelina Diliberto Allen was born into a family whose connection to the Bahá’í Faith dates back to ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s visit to California in 1912. She has served the Bahá’í cause in several countries including Swaziland, Botswana, and Zimbabwe. From 1983 until 2011 she codirected the Bosch Bahá’í School Youth Institute along with her husband, Andrew, and several others. Angelina holds a BA in English from San Diego State University and a Master’s in Writing and Rhetoric from the University of California, San Diego and a teaching credential in Bilingual Education. She is recently retired from teaching high school after more than 30 years. Angelina is the author of John David Bosch: In the Vanguard of Heroes, Martyrs, and Saints and When the Moon Set Over Haifa. She and her husband have two children and two grandchildren.

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Robert Stockman, ThD

Wilmette Institute Director

I have had a passion for researching and teaching about the Bahá’í Faith for more than half of my life. My fascination with American Bahá’í history and with the first American Bahá’í, Thornton Chase, caused me, in 1980, to switch my academic field from planetary science to history of religion in the United States. As I was finishing my doctorate in that field at Harvard University in 1990, I drew up plans to create a Bahá’í Studies institute that would offer courses, encourage research, and publish. Instead, I was hired by the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’ís of the United States to start a research office at our national Bahá’í headquarters in Wilmette, Illinois. Some of the responsibilities of the research office led to the creation of the Wilmette Institute, which ​focuses on most of the tasks of the institute I originally conceived. Meanwhile, I have also remained involved in academia, teaching religious studies part time at DePaul University in Chicago and currently at Indiana University South Bend, just a mile from home. I have also published four books on aspects of Bahá’í history (including a biography of Thornton Chase) and one introductory textbook on the Faith. Listen to Robert’s interview on ‘A Bahá’í Perspective’ podcastSee Faculty Bio

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