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.


Maria Waksmunski

Senior Acquisitions Editor

When it comes to books, Maria is both a student and a teacher. First, she educates herself about each author’s work and takes great pride in understanding each project’s opportunities and challenges. When she has a firm handle on an author’s content, she educates writers on the various publishing paths available (at Mascot and elsewhere) and what they can expect at key points in the publishing process.

As if that wasn’t enough, Maria renders project workflow when production is complete and it’s time to initiate a marketing push to help get our authors’ book in front of readers.

Maria’s at her best when chaos reigns supreme and hence is currently balancing two of her own writing projects—a collection of poetry that explores the cause and effect of lucid dreaming called When Here We Come, and her first novel, written using her own version of the cut-up technique popularized by beat writer William S. Burroughs, titled Burning with a Blue Flame.

Maria graduated with a B.S. from Pennsylvania State University and though she’s not a football fan, she still visits campus a few times a year, always stopping in at Webster’s, one of her favorite independent bookstores, to browse titles or pick up a new vinyl.

Ben Simpson

Ben Simpson

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!


Production Editors

Susan Roberts

Senior Production Editor

Susan’s favorite part of her job as a senior production editor is helping each of her authors realize their story’s true potential. A creative writer at heart, Susan can often be found writing and editing scripts for a wide variety of children’s books, as well as pairing each story with its perfect illustrator. In true Susan fashion, she can also be found reenacting scenes from her children’s books in the office to make sure the illustrations match the text.

Susan graduated from the University of Mary Washington with a B.A. in English and a concentration in Creative Writing. When she isn’t reading or writing, she can be found playing arena polo, narrating her life in song, and playing with her loyal beast (and Mascot’s mascot) Bowie.

Nina Spahn

Nina Spahn

Senior Production Editor

As a word-loving, detail-oriented, coffee-addicted reader and writer, Nina found her home as a senior production editor at Mascot Books. Prior to moving to the Washington, D.C., area, she worked in editorial at a New York publishing house. Her favorite part about her job is helping authors see their book dreams realized, from the very beginning conceptual stages to the final printing, and everything in between. She graduated from the University of Pittsburgh (Hail to Pitt!) with a B.A. in Writing and a B.A. in Communications, and attended New York University’s Summer Publishing Institute before beginning her career in publishing.

A reader of all things and a writer of some, Nina’s favorite books include The Kings and Queens of Roam by Daniel Wallace and Furiously Happy by Jenny Lawson. When she’s not lost in a book, you can find her doing yoga in her living room or cooking in her kitchen. Nina lives in the D.C. area with her husband and her incredibly vocal, smart, snuggly miniature pinscher, Teddy.

Daniel Wheatley

Senior Production Editor

Daniel fell in love with books at an early age and never looked back. As a senior production editor, he is thrilled to help authors take their ideas and transform them into completed books. He loves helping all the parts—editing, illustration, design, and production—come together into something magnificent!

Daniel graduated from Messiah College with a B.A. in English, with a Writing Concentration. He likes all kinds of stories, but his favorites to read—and write—are science fiction and fantasy. His debut middle-grade fantasy novel, The Zanna Function, was released in 2018 from Jolly Fish Press. When he’s not working on his own fiction projects, he teaches swing dancing and hunts for cheesy movies to add to his collection.

Rachel Sutton

Production Editor

A lifelong learner and compulsive reader, Rachel spent much of her time over the years in bookstores. Her experiences reading and working in these hallowed places taught her to understand the publishing field from all angles. As a production editor at Mascot, Rachel taps into her creativity and passion for storytelling in order to become her authors’ fairy godmother. At the end of the day, Rachel loves nothing more than to see stories come to life in print.

When she’s not working, Rachel devours non-fiction works ranging from theoretical physics to the developing sociopolitical landscape, although she’s also been known to indulge in sci-fi, fantasy, and dystopian novels. Her library of books is matched only by her television and movie collection.

Rachel attended Virginia Commonwealth University, earning dual degrees, graduating with a B.A. in English and a B.S. in Psychology, as well as earning minors in British Studies and Religious Studies.

Graphic Designers

Ricky Frame

Senior Graphic Designer

Powered by copious amounts of coffee and epic film scores, Ricky approaches book design with strategic thought and fervor. He can always be found researching industry trends and applying that knowledge to the visual identity of his next project. When depicting each author’s visual ideas for their book, he strives to improve upon them and think outside the box.

Ricky received his B.A. in Graphic Design from West Virginia Wesleyan College. When he’s not designing books, Ricky likes to work on monograms for baseball hats and hand-lettered drawings. His favorite part of the job is working on children’s books that he can take home and read to his daughter. 

Ricky keeps up-to-date with the graphic design world by studying design theory and consistently listening to podcast interviews with his favorite designers. He is always looking to implement new keyboard shortcuts and automated computer functions to speed up his workflow.

Danny Moore

Senior Graphic Designer

Working with Mascot since 2004, Danny routinely awes authors (and Naren!) with his many talents. His contributions include award-winning illustrations, snappy print and web design, eye-catching covers, eBook conversion, web games, and app development.

Danny is proud of his alma mater, Auburn University, where he graduated with a B.F.A. in Graphic Design and Illustration. War Eagle! And if you look carefully, you can see Danny in every book he illustrates as he always includes a caricature of himself. It’s a perk of the job.

Jasmine White

Graphic Designer

Jasmine considers herself a jack of all trades when it comes to creativity. Her pursuits include book cover and interior designs, digital painting, videos, and three-dimensional modeling. She also dabbles in fiction writing and is Mascot’s resident printer whisperer and solver of minor computer problems. In her free time, she fights hordes of evil in her Dungeons and Dragons group, reads Korean web comics, and binges TV shows full of swords, magic, and political intrigue.

Jasmine earned a B.A. in New Media Design from Queens University of Charlotte, North Carolina. She moved to the D.C. area to study Game Design at George Mason University but soon found herself at Mascot Books!

Morgan Alessi

Graphic Designer

From a very young age, Morgan knew she wanted to pursue a career in the arts. She grew up finding beauty in hidden ways and now loves unearthing the potential in authors’ visual ideas. She earned a B.F.A. in Graphic Design from James Madison University. During her time there, she was fortunate enough to experience the art and culture of Austria and Poland, which she uses as a well of inspiration in her work today.

Morgan is now happy and at home working for Mascot Books, creating exciting content and expanding her skillset every day. You might even see some of her original drawings featured in Mascot’s various books. She enjoys making the recipes from the many cookbooks she works on, and sometimes her dog, Tuck, sneaks a taste when she’s not looking.

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.


Michelle Webber

Senior Marketing Manager

A thorough editor with a passion for story, Michelle loves helping authors achieve their goals for their projects. From children’s books to science fiction epics to business bestsellers, every book has something to offer and presents an opportunity to learn something new. As a project manager, Michelle helps writers at all stages of the creative process develop a book they’re proud of. Nothing makes her happier than hearing that her authors love their finished product!

Among Michelle’s most intense passions are the oxford comma, Irish whiskey, and the cinematic genius of Nicolas Cage. She earned a B.F.A. in Creative Writing with a concentration in Fiction and accompanying minors in Writing and Rhetoric and Psychology from George Mason University in 2017. When she’s not helping other writers, you can find her reading zombie books or coloring with her niece and nephew.

Kaleigh Shank

Kaleigh Shank

Marketing Manager

Kaleigh Shank graduated from Ashland University with a BA in Public Relations and Strategic Communications and a minor in History. She also spent time in Ireland studying public relations and traveling around Europe. She loves figuring out unique ways to promote books and authors across all genres and reach unexpected audiences.  

When Kaleigh is not at work, you can find her discovering local wineries, coffee shops, and cheering on her Clemson Tigers! On especially long days, she enjoys long walks with her dog, Pippa, while listening to the sweet crowning sounds of Frank Sinatra and Bing Crosby. Never underestimate the power of a hot bath, a glass of wine, and Cary Grant.


Will Oney

Will Oney

Retail Account Manager

Will is an avid reader with a wide range of tastes; everything from fantasy to vintage textbooks is on his reading list.  He is a huge Bama fan (Roll Tide!) and his hobbies include video games, music, sports, cooking, and movies. An enthusiastic man with eclectic tastes, he is also a self-proclaimed Francophile with ambitions to one day move to Paris.

With a background in sales and management, Will’s passion lies in tackling complex problems and accomplishing difficult goals.  Working in publishing allows these skills to shine.

Will is currently pursuing a degree in Math and Physics. In his free time, he is either at the theater watching every new movie that comes out or at home with his beautiful wife and two cats, Bear and Al.



Our Mascot

Bowie pup


Mascot’s Mascot

As Mascot’s loyal mascot, Bowie has many important jobs at the office. He is the official greeter, winner of the Best Dressed Award for the last two years, and often attends meetings he isn’t invited to. In his free time, he enjoys chasing squirrels, napping, and joining his human Susan for walks.