Miesha Headen of Loganberry Books in Cleveland, Ohio, has been named the winner of the annual Carla Gray Memorial Scholarship for Emerging Bookseller-Activists, which provides resources for one winning bookseller to attend two upcoming bookselling events and receive a grant that will help make their community stronger.
Scholarship namesake Carla Gray, the executive marketing director for Houghton Mifflin Harcourt and a beloved friend and colleague of many in the book industry. died unexpectedly in June 2017. The scholarship is awarded annually by the Friends of Carla Gray Committee and the Book Industry Charitable Foundation (Binc) and “is meant to celebrate and honor Carla’s boundless enthusiasm for the books themselves, her delight in pairing the right book with the right reader, and her unwavering faith in the bookselling community.” It exists as an outlet to find new readers and to ensure access to books that improve their lives, while also integrating bookstores more fully into their communities.
Headen plans to use her grant to support her work organizing Loganberry’s People of Color Author Showcase, which is held in collaboration with the Great Lakes African American Writers’ Conference and Cleveland Book Week. The program aims to increase the number of readers of diverse literature and to provide a platform for diverse authors in the literary community of Cleveland.
Each year, the award goes to one bookseller with at least one year but fewer than five years of bookselling experience who has not attended an industry trade show or an ABA sponsored event. The bookseller receives a year-long scholarship for professional development, which includes up to $1,000 for travel and hotel for attendance at ABA’s 2020 Winter Institute in Baltimore, up to $1,000 for travel and hotel for attendance at their regional trade show, and a stipend of up to $1,000 to fund a community outreach project. Headen will attend the 2020 Heartland Fall Forum next year in accordance with her regional trade association, the Midwest Independent Booksellers Association.
This year’s pool of entrants were evaluated on an anonymous basis to ensure fairness and integrity, according to Binc. Said Carla Gray scholarship award committee member Jenna Johnson, “It was such an honor to consider the applications submitted. With real creativity, thoughtfulness, and generosity, they showed booksellers selflessly committing themselves to giving each and every person in their communities access to books. We were moved by Miesha’s project aiming to amplify a range of voices and reach across audiences in her community. It means so much to us that this good work will continue, in part, in Carla’s name.”