Our People

Our people make the difference.

Mascot’s staff is experienced in the various disciplines that converge in the world of publishing. From industry strategists, to marketing gurus, to creative types, to grammar nerds, to bean counters, we have the right people in the right positions to help authors navigate the nuances of the publishing marketplace.

We Love Books

While Team Mascot is composed of individuals offering unique backgrounds and skill sets, there’s attributes that we all share: We’re passionate about books. It’s this appreciation for the written word that provides important context and perspective to our work and enables us to offer knowledgeable direction to our family of authors.

Acquisitions

Ben Simpson

Senior Acquisitions Editor

Ben enjoys helping aspiring authors achieve their dream of publishing their books and enjoys working with so many different projects and genres. He received his B.A. in Communications with a Concentration in Media Production & Criticism from George Mason University. He greatly enjoys film, television, and books, especially ones that make him chuckle. He is excited to join the Mascot team and show off his ping pong skills in the office!

Jess Cohn

Senior Acquisitions Editor

Working with books is Jess’s dream job. Ever since she was little, she knew her passion in life was to help authors publish their stories. When she was a creative writing student at University of North Carolina Wilmington, she experienced the writing lifestyle and adored working with her classmates to achieve their publishing dreams. Graduating with her B.F.A. and publishing certificate allowed her to pursue her goal of helping authors put their stories in front of readers. She loves spending her days reading manuscripts, chatting with authors about their work, and exploring the wonderful northern Virginia area.

Julia Steffy

Acquisitions Editor

Julia Steffy was the kid under the covers at night with a book and a flashlight. Now, she’s passionate about helping manuscripts become books. As a member of the Acquisitions team at Mascot, she helps authors fulfill their goals of publishing a book. She graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Villanova University with a B.A. in English and three publishing internships under her belt. In her free time, she likes to watch Shark Week reruns and try cooking something edible.

Production

Production Editors

Nicole Hall

Senior Production Editor

A lover of puns and stories, Nicole is excited to fulfill her lifelong dream of bringing books to life. This Oreo and pun fanatic enjoys dabbling in poetry and scriptwriting in her free time but loves that her role as a production editor with Mascot allows her to work in all kinds of genres. Nicole graduated from Belhaven University in Jackson, Mississippi with a B.F.A. in Creative Writing and a B.A. in English, and cherishes the uniqueness the Deep South has to offer. When she’s not composing her next pun, she is either traveling the world with her husband in search of the best coffee nook or checking off her movie watch list.

Michelle Meredith

Production Editor

A former elementary teacher, Michelle has always loved finding ways to help writers put their ideas out into the world, and she’s super excited to do just that for many different authors at Mascot Books. Michelle earned a B.A. in English Literature from Mercer University in Macon, Georgia, where she later worked for a small nonfiction publishing company before moving to Virginia with her dog, Gilead, and her partner, Will. She reads mostly sci-fi and speculative fiction (the weirder the better!), drinks mostly coffee, and spends most of her free time at skate parks and hiking trails.

Lauren Magnussen

Production Editor

Lauren has been working and playing with the written word since she was only a few years old (her first short story was about the final thoughts of a melting ice cream cone). A love of the art and substance of the English language has been at the core of her personal and professional ambitions for decades. Since her early forays into the realm of writing, she has worked on all sides of the process: by furiously researching, analyzing, and copy editing, Lauren helps writers create polished, original books. She believes in the power of communication to get things done, and throws herself into every project to make sure it is better than when she began it. Lauren has a B.A. in English from The College of William and Mary, and is currently pursuing her M.A. at George Mason University. Before joining the Mascot family, Lauren was the Press Coordinator at NextStop Theatre Company, and brought to life myriad academic texts for university professors in her capacity as a research assistant. She loves exploring the American South, particularly its rural landscapes, small towns, and used bookstores. Sometimes, she dreams in cartoons.

Claire Pask

Production Editor

A Texan by birth, Puerto Rican by blood, and reader by nature, Claire is thrilled to be working her publishing dream job at Mascot Books. After a four-year love affair with modernist novels, Claire graduated from Reed College with a B.A. in English and a much-too-long thesis on feminism and the postcolonial flower garden. She’s worn many hats in her life, from copy editor and romantic advice columnist to graphic designer and Spanish Fulbright scholar, and continues to don those different hats at Mascot, where she enjoys having a hand in every stage of the publishing process. She loves reading—on and off the clock—and can often be found dancing tango, watching Jeopardy!, or brushing up on her Spanish. ¡Wepa!

Jenna Scafuri

Production Editor

From a young age, Jenna has drawn inspiration from heroines in books of all genres—from Jo March to Hermione Granger. Her passion for reading has led her to enjoy a career in writing and editing for more than ten years in the aerospace, corrections, and education industries. Jenna is a proud Spartan, having earned her B.A. in English from Michigan State University, where she studied publishing, creative writing, and professional writing, and worked for several literary journals on campus. When she’s not helping authors bring their stories to life, Jenna likes to curl up with a big cup of coffee, a good thriller or fiction title, and her opinionated orange tabby cat. Jenna lives with her husband in Northern Virginia where they can usually be spotted at one of the many local wineries, enjoying a night at the theater, or taking to the skies flying small airplanes and hot air balloons.

Creative

Graphic Designers

Matthew Gonsalves

Matthew Gonsalves

Graphic Designer

Matthew is an innovative graphic designer and digital painter, best known for his abstract covers and work in Photoshop. He graduated from the Art Institute of Washington with a B.A. in Graphic Design and began toying with personal design projects, which included laying out his neighbor’s book. He soon found he had a knack for it and went on a quest to find a job where he could put his talents to work. Thus, he joined Team Mascot! Now he creates unique designs catered to each individual book he comes across. Legends say he has many names: Matt, Matthew, Matty G, McFly, PBG, and Gonsalves. Matthew is also known for his preposterously high standards for food and critical analysis of French Fries, which are his favorite food.

Luisa Fuentes

Graphic Designer

Luisa has always had a love for expressing herself through art and creatively transforming her surroundings. Her goal is to craft a powerful connection between her work and other people. Through design and bringing authors’ ideas to life, she has found a perfect fit in the Mascot family. She graduated from the Savannah College of Art and Design with a B.F.A. in graphic design and has since honed her skills through illustration and her work at Mascot. A coffee addict and movie enthusiast, she spends most of her free time visiting coffee shops and keeping an eye out for new movie releases.

Caitlin Smith

Graphic Designer

Caitlin is a graphic designer hailing from Roanoke, Virginia. She is also a proud overachiever and a firm believer in the transformative power of good design. She first fell in love with print media and letterforms during a college typography course, which gave her the opportunity to design her very first book. The experience changed her life and would (eventually) lead her to Mascot Books, where she gets to put that same passion to use everyday. Caitlin has a B.F.A. in graphic design from Liberty University and an A.A.S. in communication design from Virginia Western Community College. When she isn’t experimenting with various Adobe programs, she can be found curled up on her couch playing indie games or re-watching Disney movies for the zillionth time. Or possibly both.

Marketing

Alicia Smith

Marketing Manager

Alicia often says that her first and best loves will always be books. After graduating from the University of Virginia with a B.A. in English and a minor in media studies, she became a staff writer at Blavity, followed by a few years in the fast-paced world of DC social justice and nonprofit communications. She likes to think of joining the publishing industry as “finally coming home.” When she’s not working, you can find her at the nearest record shop, Tex-Mex restaurant, or protest.

Sky Wilson

Marketing Manager

As an avid reader, bookstore fan, and writer herself, Sky is thrilled to work at Mascot Books helping authors bring their stories to life. A Virginia native, she previously worked in the marketing department of the American Shakespeare Center after graduating from James Madison University in 2019. Sky has a passion for storytelling that influences everything she does in marketing and beyond. When not reading, Sky enjoys listening to podcasts, researching the unexplained, and cross-stitching. She can most often be found at the local coffee shop with her latest read, or scrolling through Netflix.

Caitie Merico

Retail Specialist

A born and bred Marylander, Caitie graduated from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (Go Big Dawgs!) with a B.A. in Media and Communications and a minor in Psychology. During her time at UMBC, she became involved with the campus musical theater club where she did everything from singing and dancing to writing and directing. She was even in a student-written and student-led parody musical about a popular Disney TV show. With her position at Mascot, she is excited to help connect people to great books. When she is not working or trying to make a dent in her to-read pile, Caitie can be found binge watching an entire series of a TV show, listening to one of her favorite comedy podcasts, or taking a well-deserved nap.

Francys Reed

Retail Specialist

An ardent reader, Francys has always appreciated the art of storytelling and connecting people to books. She graduated from Georgetown University (Hoya Saxa!) with a B.A. in English, where her love for publishing and marketing began. When she’s not working, she enjoys reading, learning new languages, taking care of her plants, and painting.

Sophia Wilhelm

Marketing Specialist

Sophia has always believed in the power of storytelling. When she was young, you could find her buried in a book that her dad brought home from his job as a publisher. Sophia graduated from UNC-Chapel Hill with a B.A. in journalism and women and gender studies. At Mascot Books, she is excited to help authors create their book’s first impression, connecting people to their next favorite read. Aside from working, she can be found hiking in the Blue Ridge Mountains, watching Tar Heel sports games, traveling, obsessing over any Little Free Library, eating large portions of pasta, or cooking (and usually messing it up). While she’s doing all those things, she’s often simultaneously playing with her fluffy dog Ella or any other dog in sight.

Bookkeeping/Admin

Carri Taylor

Bookkeeper

Carri has a background in international logistics and corporate management. She has a love for numbers and keen sense of detail, and has been working in accounting for over five years. When she is not crunching numbers, her passion is for the arts and she has studied Graphic Design at The Art Institute of Pittsburgh. For fun, she paints and enjoys spending time with her family and goldendoodle. A Virginia native, Carri enjoys exploring her beautiful state and is proud to be a University of Virginia and Old Dominion University Mom!

Lynn Pitt

Assistant Bookkeeper

Lynn has been part of the Mascot team for over a year. She enjoys helping authors on their shipping needs and coordinating the shipment of their books from the printer. She has a bachelor’s degree in business administration from King University in Bristol, Tennessee. In her spare time, you’ll find her with her children at the beach or volunteering with Habitat for Humanity in the surrounding areas.

Alison Krylowski

Bookkeeper

Alison was born and raised in Reston, Virginia, and studied Spanish at George Mason University. After graduating she spent six months teaching English in Spain, which was a great life experience. While Spanish was what she studied in school, her twenty years of work experience have been in bookkeeping, using some Spanish along the way. She comes from a family of readers, so she is excited to be part of the Mascot team and learn about the publishing business. In her spare time she likes to read mystery novels, watch crime shows, cook, and work in the garden.