The Latter-day Saint Publishing Professionals Association is not affiliated with, sponsored by, or governed by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. However, all of the organizers and managers of LDSPPA are active members of the LDS Church. Below are bios of our 2016–2017 group. We are always looking for new leaders to help carry the movement forward.
Board of Directors
|Steve Piersanti, President
Steven Piersanti is president and publisher of Berrett-Koehler Publishers, Inc., a leading independent publisher of books on current affairs, personal growth, and business and management. Berrett-Koehler pursues its mission of “Creating a World That Works for All” by publishing groundbreaking books that promote positive change at all levels – individual, organizational, and societal. Prior to founding Berrett-Koehler in 1992, Steve served as president of Jossey-Bass Publishers. He began his career at Jossey-Bass in 1977 as an advertising copywriter then served as marketing director, editor, editorial director, and executive vice president before becoming president in 1989. Steve graduated with Highest Honors from Brigham Young University, where he got his start in publishing by founding and editing a university student scholarly journal.
|Suzy Bills, Vice President, Director of Education
Suzy Bills is an assistant teaching professor of English language and linguistics at Brigham Young University and was formerly a lead editor at the Joseph Smith Papers Project. She also owns an editing and writing business. In 2004, she graduated from BYU with a bachelor’s degree in history and a minor in editing. After working as an in-house editor for several years, she completed an MBA in preparation for starting her own writing and editing business. She’s worked with individuals and companies to publish fiction and nonfiction books for a variety of ages, picture books, doctoral dissertations, magazine articles, video scripts, technical manuals, business documents, website content, cookbooks, and everything in between. She loves sharing her skills with others, whether through teaching, mentoring, helping authors get their thoughts on paper, or fine-tuning their writing.
|Brad Farmer, Director of Business and Fundraising/Treasurer
Brad Farmer is the Chief Executive Officer at Gibbs Smith, noted publisher of illustrated books in architecture, interior design, cooking, and children’s, along with award-winning state history programs. He has worked in all aspects of the publishing process from acquisition and production through sales, marketing, and distribution. Brad graduated from Brigham Young University with a Masters in Accountancy. He joined Gibbs Smith in 2004 after working for Deloitte and Merrill Lynch. He serves on the Board of Directors of PubWest, an industry professional association, and has been an advisor for many peer companies on their transition to digital books and production. He lives in Layton, Utah, with his wife and two sets of twin boys (plus one extra for good measure) and loves to explore the world in books and in person.
|Marianna Richardson, Director of Chapters and Divisions
Marianna Richardson teaches business writing and management communication for undergraduate and graduate students at Brigham Young University. She enjoys encouraging business students to improve their writing and to gain a passion for publishing. She is the current chief editor for Marriott Student Review, a student business journal. She did post-doctoral work at Seattle Pacific University where she also served as the assistant-to-the-editor for a peer-reviewed journal, Counseling and Values. She has published three non-fiction books.
|Erin Willder, Director of Communications
Erin Willder provides comprehensive publishing services to a variety of clients and has taught publishing courses at BYU, including Print Publishing, grammar and editing courses, and the Editing for Publication senior capstone (book and magazine versions). Her career began in North Carolina near the campus of Duke University, where she worked on university press projects. Other projects included creating travel books (Macmillan’s Unofficial Guide series), family histories, and marketing collateral. For many years she provided publishing services (manuscript to print coordination) for IT and leadership training companies, university marketing departments, and software companies. She enjoys working to support LDSPPA’s mission.
|Leah Welker, Director of Conferences and Programs
Leah graduated in 2016 with a BA in English Language and minors in editing and modern Hebrew. She has over two years of editing experience and is currently working on a freelance basis. Although she is currently based in San Antonio, Texas, she has lived all over the United States and loves to travel, having gone on many cross-country road trips and visited over eleven countries.
|Amy White, Director of Membership
Amy White has been a librarian since 1995 and is currently a children’s literature specialist at the Orem Public Library. She is a dedicated Laptime and Storytime enthusiast, occasional blogger, and author of the Familius title Dressing the Naked Hand: The World’s Greatest Guide to Making, Staging, and Performing with Puppets, a 2015 #1 Amazon new release. A dedicated learner and educator, Amy is a Cracking the Story Code script and text analyst, a regular teacher and volunteer at writing conferences, and a volunteer since 1996 working with and on the organizing committee for the award-winning Timpanogos Storytelling Festival. Before her library career, Amy was a bookstore manager for seven years.
|Val Johnson, Director of Partnering
R. Val Johnson recently retired from LDS Church employment, where he served (worked doesn’t seem to be the right word) with the Church magazines for 34 years. He served as copy editor at the Ensign and, at separate times, as assistant managing editor at the Ensign and Liahona. He also served as managing editor for the New Era and then for the Liahona. Beginning in 2010 he managed both the Liahona and Ensign.
|Joel Campbell, Director of Student Outreach
Joel Campbell is an associate teaching professor in journalism in Brigham Young University School of Communications. He holds a master’s degree from Ohio State University. He worked 20 years as a reporter and editor for newspapers in Salt Lake City. He teaches media writing, journalism principles, media and religion, and research courses. He has published commentary in the popular press and academic journals about media coverage of Mormons in both the 19th Century and today. (Photo by Riana Bruce-Goodsky/BYU ©BYU PHOTO 2013. All Rights Reserved.)
LDSPPA Staff and Committee Members
|Caroline Bliss Larsen, Operations Manager
Caroline Bliss Larsen is an assistant editor for the Joseph Smith Papers Project and an acquiring editor for Jolly Fish Press. In 2015 Caroline earned a bachelor’s degree in English language with minors in editing and English literature from Brigham Young University. Her love of books, language, and learning runs deep. Previously, she was an editorial intern for Familius and for the Publishing Services Department of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. As a student at BYU, she worked for BYU Magazine and the Neal A. Maxwell Institute, as well as for several student publications, most notably the speculative fiction magazine Leading Edge. Caroline loves to help authors bring out their voice and share their message, and she is an aspiring author herself. Having grown up in Maryland, Caroline now lives in Salt Lake City in literary bliss with her equally bookish video game–developer husband.
| Devan Jensen, Conferences Director Emeritus
Devan Jensen is executive editor of the Religious Studies Center, a dynamic and award-winning press at Brigham Young University. He has over 25 years of publishing experience, having earned his spurs at the Ensign magazine, Church Editing Section, and Deseret Book Company. He enjoys mentoring student editors and celebrating their success. Devan graduated cum laude in English literature from BYU and followed with a master’s degree. An author and songwriter, he has presented at Campus Education Week, Mormon History Association, and Utah State History.
|Daniel Friend, Utah Chapter Leader
Daniel Friend serves as the leader for LDSPPA’s Utah Chapter. He graduated from Brigham Young University with a BA in linguistics and minor in editing, where he learned both the business and the craft of writing science fiction and fantasy from #1 New York Times best seller Brandon Sanderson. He also ran BYU’s speculative fiction magazine, Leading Edge. Since graduating, he has worked as a technical editor and layout designer for a Utah technology training company; the managing editor for Emerald Sky, a speculative fiction e-magazine; and the copyeditor for national nonfiction books at Cedar Fort Publishing. Throughout his experiences, he has moderated convention panels on writing and edited stories by award-winning authors Dan Wells, David Farland, Robison Wells, and Mary Robinette Kowal. You can follow Daniel on Twitter (@DCFeditor) or on his blog (troublemakingeditor.wordpress.com).
|Robert Hatch, Film Division Leader
Robert Hatch graduated from BYU in film production and taught there as an adjunct professor. He has produced fifty-six television programs for the Church. He directed seven productions for the BBC, including one about the Church that was broadcast during the 2002 Olympics. Films he has directed have received nearly 300 film festival honors. A series of films on Middle East has taken him to the Middle East many times. Robert Hatch wrote and directed the new LDS film Infinite Gift.
|Cherie Top, Communications Design Assistant
Cherie Top is the Graduate Advisor and Secretary at BYU College of Nursing and a freelance editor and designer. She graduated from Brigham Young University with a degree in English and a minor in editing. She has worked as an art director for a student travel magazine as well as a typesetter and print production editor for an academic journal. When she isn’t working, Cherie keeps busy by learning new software programs, tending a garden, and reading every book she can get her hands on.
|David Miles, Communications Committee Member
David Miles is a partner at Familius where he works as Director of Digital Deployment and Design. He graduated from Brigham Young University with a degree in business management, where he also received the Marriott School’s General Management Outstanding Graduate award for his graduating class. He is the author of two books, including the winner of the 2006 David Melton Memorial Contest. David’s work in publishing and design has also included projects for the Missionary Training Center. He lives in California.