Christin Brecher

Christin Brecher lives in New York City and Nantucket, two islands which inspire her imagination at every step. After a career in marketing for the publishing industry, followed by years raising her children, the Nantucket Candle Maker Mysteries mark Christin’s debut as an author. Christin is a member of Sisters in Crime and Mystery Writers of America. Visit her at

Edwin Hill

Edwin Hill is the author of the critically-acclaimed Hester Thursby mystery series, the first of which, Little Comfort, was an Agatha Award finalist, a selection of the Mysterious Press First Mystery Club and a Publishers Marketplace Buzz Books selection. Formerly the vice president and editorial director for Bedford/St. Martin’s (Macmillan), he now teaches at Emerson College and has written for the LA Review of Books, The Life Sentence, Publisher’s Weekly, and Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine. He lives in Roslindale, Massachusetts with his partner Michael and their lab, Edith Ann. Visit him online at

Andrea Penrose

Andrea Penrose is the USA Today bestselling author of Regency-era historical fiction, including the acclaimed Wrexford & Sloane mystery series, as well as Regency romances written under the names Cara Elliott and Andrea Pickens. Published internationally in ten languages, she is a three-time RITA Award finalist and the recipient of numerous writing awards, including two Daphne Du Maurier Awards for Historical Mystery and two Gold Leaf Awards. A graduate of Yale University with a B.A. in Art and an M.F.A. in Graphic Design, Andrea fell in love with Regency England after reading Pride and Prejudice and has maintained a fascination with the era’s swirling silks and radical new ideas throughout her writing career. She lives in Connecticut and blogs with a community of historical fiction authors at She also can be found at and on Instagram @AndreaPenroseBooks.

Junauda Petrus from the shoulders up, right hand pointed at heart, left hand on head

Junauda Petrus

Petrus is a multi-talented performer who has made an indelible mark on the creative world.

Among her many accomplishments, she wrote and directed There Are Other Worlds, an ancestral-circus-poem-play with a cast of Black women to tell the story of an activist who has spent the majority of her two teenage daughter’s lives incarcerated, and wrote, directed, and produced Sweetness of Wild, an episodic-poetic-film-series about  life after Prince, first queer love, police violence, and bike culture against the backdrop of Minneapolis.

She also performed in and co-wrote (with Erik Ehn) the puppet-gospel-musical Queen starring Laurie Carlos, served as the lead artist with the Heart of the Beast Theatre’s May Day Parade, and created and performed in her own experimental short film work, including Love Tones, Out My Mind, and Erotics of Abolition.

As an aerial acrobat of the corde lisse (a hanging smooth rope), Petrus intertwined her background in West African and Afro-Caribbean dance and explored themes of Blackness, queerness, and wildness reclaimed and re-imagined in the vertical space.

Among her many honors, she received a Jerome Grant in literature to research queerness and African-inspired spiritualities in Trinidad and Tobago for her fiction and was named a 2016 City Pages Twin Cities artist of the year. Her stories and essays have been featured in anthologies including Pleasure Activism: The Politics of Feeling Good, Body Talk, How I Resist, and the speculative fiction collection Tasting Light.

Her forthcoming children’s book, Could We Please Give The Police Department to the Grandmothers?, is based on her viral poem that imagines a radically positive future where love and healing are at the center of public safety and community well-being.

In addition, Petrus is the co-founder (with Erin Sharkey) of Free Black Dirt, an experimental artist collective based in Minneapolis that creates original performances and supports the emerging literary artists’ community.

Lana Gifas

Lana Gifas joined Women’s Mentoring Network as Executive Director in 2015. Ms. Gifas earned her MBA and undergraduate degree from The Gabelli School of Business at Fordham University. Ms. Gifas has worked at various financial institutions throughout her career prior to transitioning to her role at Women’s Mentoring Network. In 2020, Ms. Gifas won Moffly Media’s Light a Fire Women’s Impact Award.