Community Conference 2022 Speakers

See the conference schedule here, and register for the conference here.

Kirsty Melville (Keynote)

Kirsty Melville is President and Publisher of Andrews McMeel Publishing, known for New York Times bestselling poetry and inspiration, cutting-edge comics and humor, engaging puzzles and activities, and entertaining children’s graphic novels. Andrews McMeel’s enduring success is founded in its ability to identify and amplify powerful voices that reflect and share the stories of our times. The company’s north star is to empower creators, engage readers, and unite audiences, communities and cultures.

In the early days of social media adoption, Kirsty published little-known Canadian poet Rupi Kaur, whose writing and art resonated deeply with an emerging readership yearning for connection, empathy and representation. The combined global sales of Rupi’s first book, Milk and Honey, and sibling poetry collections The Sun and Her Flowers and Home Body exceed more than 10 million copies, with foreign language editions in over 40 countries. Under Kirsty’s leadership, Andrews McMeel has been at the forefront of changing the way poetry is perceived and marketed, helping to grow and expand the poetry category for readers worldwide.

Founding publisher of Simon & Schuster Australia, Kirsty moved to Berkeley, California in 1994 to join Ten Speed Press as Vice President and Publisher, helping transform it from a niche publisher into an internationally recognized, award-winning company. She subsequently departed Ten Speed to work as publisher for San Francisco’s University Games, and was appointed Publisher and Executive Vice President of Andrews McMeel Publishing in 2005, ultimately being named President and Publisher in 2009.

Kirsty believes in the enduring power of publishing to change lives, build connections and enrich understanding. Books are safe harbors, where the freedom of expression and exchange of ideas flourish. A thriving publishing industry supports our society’s potential.

Alistair Croll (Keynote)

Alistair is a founder, bestselling author, and conference organizer. After a decade as a product manager in the networking industry at Eicon, Primary Access, and 3Com, he co-founded Real User Monitoring pioneer Coradiant, raising the largest series A in Canadian history in 2001. Coradiant was acquired by BMC in 2011 for $135M.

In 2010, Alistair joined the team that launched the Year One Labs accelerator, an early-stage incubator from which Localmind was acquired by AirBnB to build their local experiences efforts. In 2017 he was a visiting executive at Harvard Business School, where he worked with Srikant Datar (now the dean of the school) to create the MBA course Data Science and Critical Thinking.

Throughout this time, Alistair has been a sought-after public speaker and the founder of several leading technology conferences, including UBM’s Enterprise Cloud Summit and Cloud Connect, and O’Reilly’s Strata. He is also the co-founder of Startupfest, Canada’s original startup event; FWD50, which is now the world’s leading conference on digital government; and Scaletech, Georgian’s annual conversation on scale-stage startup growth.

Alistair has co-authored several books, including Managing Bandwidth (a definitive text on QoS and network performance); Complete Web Monitoring (one of the first books to tackle social media monitoring in depth); and the bestselling Lean Analytics (which has been translated into 8 languages, and is widely considered required reading for startup founders.)

He lives in Montreal, Canada and is currently working on Just Evil Enough, a book on subversive go-to-market strategy, as well as several startup and conference projects.

Grace Antelme

Grace Antelme is the Marketing Manager at Supadu, a UK-based company specialising in website and eCommerce solutions for publishers and university presses. Grace is focused on building Supadu’s relationship with the publishing community through creative and strategic marketing, and through her love of books. She aims to help publishers increase title visibility for their books, primarily in the digital space.

Meredith Baker

Meredith’s publishing career began nearly 35 years ago when she started in the marketing department at Crown Publishing and fell in love with the book industry.

During the span of her career, Meredith has held the positions of Marketing Manager at Ingram International and Ingram Library Services helped launch Ingram Internet Support Services as their Director of Market Development. She began working with Amazon over 24 years ago while at Macmillan Technical, and later transferred her knowledge to the digital music industry working with a start-up and growing their business at Amazon, Apple and Nike. Missing the camaraderie and business of publishing, Meredith returned to the book industry and devoted her career to working with publishers as their liaison to Amazon.

In 2015, she launched Big River Consulting LLC, based in Portland, Oregon, a consulting company wholly devoted to helping publishers optimize all aspects of their business with Amazon – from operations and data, to sales, merchandising and relationships. Meredith and her team believe working with Amazon can be very fun and want to take the mystery out of Amazon while delivering successful results for their clients.

Meredith holds a BA from Hofstra University and an International MBA from Thunderbird.

Andrea DeWerd

Andrea leads the marketing strategy at Harvest, an imprint of HarperCollins, in her role as Senior Marketing Director. Her publishing experience ranges from commercial and literary fiction, memoir and narrative non-fiction, to business books, cookbooks, bestselling lifestyle brands, and Christian publishing. Andrea previously held marketing positions at Crown, Random House, One World, Spiegel & Grau, and Simon & Schuster. Andrea was honored by Publishers Weekly as a 2019 Star Watch finalist.

Andrea has led the marketing and advertising campaigns for 100+ career New York Times bestsellers, including books by Elizabeth Berg, Amy Bloom, Mary Higgins Clark, Emma Cline, Ta-Nehisi Coates, Charles Duhigg, Fannie Flagg, Pope Francis, Trevor Noah, Anna Quindlen, Ruth Reichl, Elizabeth Strout, Peter Strzok, Matthew Thomas, Lauren Weisberger, Tara Westover, and former Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch, among many others.

Andrea is also the co-founder of an international writer’s retreat company, MADonna Writing Retreats, with retreats in Barcelona and New York, Learn more and connect at https://ajdewerd.com/.

Kevin Franco

With more than 25 years of entrepreneurial experience, Kevin’s career has focused on experience design, branding, retail sales, marketing, and innovative web-based software. He has successfully led creative and development teams in building many groundbreaking innovations and award winning solutions in digital marketing.

Kevin was a co-founder and CEO of Enthrill, the Canadian-based ebook distributor that launched the Walmart ebook store.

Now, as Senior Product Manager at Firebrand, Kevin works closely with book publishers along with Firebrand’s development team to devise and create new solutions to get more books into consumers’ hands.

Harry Graham

Harry is a Project & Product Manager at Supadu, based in the UK. He works with publishers and university presses across the globe to deliver bespoke, metadata driven website builds. Harry also manages and maintains Supadu’s University Press Website Theme, which offers out of the box solutions for UPs and Trade Publishers of all shapes and sizes. Before his time at Supadu Harry could be found managing exclusive event bars for the rich and famous of Southern England. In his spare time Harry surfs as much as possible.

Emily Lyman

Emily Lyman has worked with top global companies for more than a decade to help them achieve tangible marketing results. As CEO & Founder of Branch & Bramble, she set out to build a digital marketing agency focused on helping brands to stand up for what they believe in and to find others to stand with them. She champions the kind of digital marketing that is backed by data and valuable to both the brand and customer.

Through her work and leadership, she’s disrupting the marketing industry by encouraging brands to move away from the “passive and positive” mentality that has plagued individuals and brands for decades and instead to be frank and truthful with their audience. Her approach is data-backed as the Edelman Trust Barometer indicates that more and more people are punishing brands who put profit before people. She is passionate about changing the narrative around what brands should say and is helping brands craft new messaging and positioning that attracts life-long audiences.

Branch & Bramble has been named as one of the “Top US Digital Marketing & Digital Agencies” on Yahoo! Finance, as well as one of the “Top Digital Marketing Agencies in New York.” Lyman has been featured on Digiday, CO- by U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and Authority Magazine.

Olivia McCoy

Olivia McCoy comes from a background in book marketing and independent publishing and her knowledge of the publishing industry and book promotion allows her to educate and consult her clients throughout their campaigns. Her clients have received national media placements in outlets such as The New York Times, Fast Company, Authority Magazine, Splash Magazines, and HOLA!. She has two BAs in English Poetics and French from the University of Georgia, a Master’s Certificate in Publishing from the University of Denver Publishing Institute, and an MS in Leadership for Creative Enterprises from Northwestern University. When she’s not at work, she is at home in Philadelphia with her dog, Rudy.

Paul Milana

Paul has a BA in Management Information Systems and has been a member of Firebrand since 2004. He has worked with publishers all over the world to promote change and efficient workflows by implementing Title Management. Through that time, he has gained a deep level of understanding about the best practices of operating a successful publishing business through the use of Firebrand’s products. As Director of Professional Services, he manages a team of programmers, project managers and business analysts. He resides in Long Island, NY with his wife and 2 children.

Brian O’Leary

Brian O’Leary is executive director of the Book Industry Study Group, a U.S.-based trade association that disseminates information, creates and implements standards, and conducts research to benefit the book publishing supply chain.

Before being named to this role in 2016, O’Leary was principal of Magellan Media Consulting, which helped publishers improve how they create, manage and distribute content. In that role, O’Leary wrote extensively about issues affecting the publishing industry. With Hugh McGuire, he co-edited Book: A Futurist’s Manifesto (O’Reilly Media, 2012).

O’Leary served as senior VP with Hammond Inc. and oversaw production and distribution operations at several Time Inc. magazines. O’Leary joined Time Inc. after earning an M.B.A. from Harvard Business School. He also holds an A.B. in chemistry from Harvard College.

Kristina Radke

Kristina Radke is the VP of Business Growth & Engagement at NetGalley, a service that helps publishers and authors promote digital review copies and audiobooks to book advocates and industry professionals. In this role, she helps direct the evolution of the NetGalley service and works closely with publishers to discuss creative campaigns and how to use data to influence strategies. She has nearly 15 years of experience in book marketing, publicity and client relationships, serves on the Board of Directors for the Independent Book Publishers Association, is a member of the Audio Publishers Association Public Relations and Events committee, and is a proud graduate of the NYU Master’s program for book publishing.

Joshua Tallent

Joshua Tallent is the Director of Sales and Education at Firebrand Technologies, where his focus is on helping publishers of all sizes learn about, and find solutions to, their workflow and metadata problems. Joshua’s background is deeply rooted in ebook development, metadata, and other publishing technologies, and he is an acclaimed teacher and guide on the role of data in publishing. He serves on the BISG Board of Directors, and is the host of the popular BookSmarts Podcast (http://booksmartspodcast.com), which features practical discussions and interviews about publishing data and technologies. In his spare time, Joshua enjoys playing complex board games and fiddling with his home automation system.

Andrea Kiliany Thatcher

Andrea Kiliany Thatcher is a Publicity Manager at Smith Publicity. Andrea has a long relationship with the independent bookselling community having been a bookseller and running social media for Chester County Book Company and Wellington Square Bookshop both in the Philadelphia suburbs. She has contributed to content for the New Atlantic Independent Bookseller Association (NAIBA) and spoken on various panels and workshops on marketing and publicity for NAIBA and the American Bookseller Association. She also has experience as an in-house marketer at an independent book publisher. Prior to her career in publishing, Andrea was a journalist. This helps her bring a valuable perspective to how authors can best connect with the media to attain coverage. Andrea’s authors have been featured in PopSugar, Publishers Weekly, Washington Post, WSJ, The Guardian, LitHub, Book Riot, and Vogue.

Tarah Theoret

Tarah Theoret is the Senior Director of Community Experience at NetGalley, a service that helps publishers and authors promote digital review copies to book advocates and industry professionals. She has more than 15 years of experience in community engagement as well as retail and digital book marketing. Tarah is also a graduate of Pace University’s MS in Publishing program.

Catherine Toolan

Catherine has been a member of the Firebrand team since early 2000. For the first 15 years at Firebrand Catherine worked very closely with publishers , trading partners , and the Firebrand development team to help make Firebrand’s Eloquence services the “gold standard” for metadata and content distribution. She is currently the Director of Eloquence Services . In this role she is responsible for developing goals and initiatives to shape the ongoing evolution of Eloquence on Demand and Eloquence on Alert.

Catherine has a BA in Mathematics from Drew University. She started her professional career working for AT& T in New Jersey. She spent 10 years perfecting her multi-tasking skills as a stay -at -home mom for her 6 wonderful children.

Fran Toolan

Fran Toolan is the founder and “Chief Igniter” of Firebrand Technologies. When he launched Firebrand in 1987, Fran saw that the generic systems being used by publishers were inefficient and underpowered for the work they were meant to accomplish. He knew that the key to creating helpful systems is understanding the industry you are serving and the problems you are solving. That vision has served as the foundation of Firebrand for more than 30 years and is still the key to our success.

While he is very unassuming, Fran is one of the most well-known faces in the publishing industry. He has cultivated relationships with people across the breadth of the community and finds a lot of satisfaction in making connections between the right people. He has served on the Board of Directors of the Book Industry Study Group (BISG), and was awarded BISG’s Industry Champion Award in 2015 for his efforts to advance the publishing industry.

Apart from work, Fran loves to spend time with his wife, Catherine (who runs the Eloquence services team at Firebrand), and his six kids. He enjoys sailing and playing guitar, and even served as the lead singer in a short-lived family band called “The Duellin’ Toolans.” He has a strong DIY streak, and tends to tackle house and car repairs himself whenever the opportunity arises. He is engaging multiple business-related books at the moment, but he also enjoys reading a good (or not so good) spy novel.

Fran has been described as “an unrepentant publishing optimist.” He is convinced that the world needs well-written, curated, long-form writing, and that documenting our ideas and thoughts is important. However, he also believes that publishers need to stand up for themselves, now more than ever, and not rely on retailers or other third parties to stand up for them. This requires more proficiency in consumer marketing and a more concentrated effort to find, create, and communicate with reader communities.

Cory Verner

Cory is the founder of ONE Audiobooks. He has been publishing and producing audiobooks since 2003. He co-founded christianaudio and christianaudio.com in 2004 which sold its first audiobook as a download when the market was 90%+ cassettes. His new venture ONE Audiobooks is a leading partner to over 50 publisher clients and hundreds of authors.

Charles Watkinson

Charles Watkinson is Director of University of Michigan Press. He also serves as Associate University Librarian for Publishing at University of Michigan Library. He is the President of the Association of University Presses for 2022-2023. Charles is actively involved in open access books publishing and serves on the Board of Supervisors of the OAPEN Foundation, the operational hub for the Directory of Open Access Books.