Review Committee

The Américas Award is awarded based on the input of the Américas Award Review Committee, the members of which serve three-year terms.


Patricia Austin (2019 – 2021)
Patricia Austin is a Professor of Children’s and Young Adult Literature at The University of New Orleans and has taught for twenty years in the K-12 classroom setting. She has published more than fifty journal articles and hundreds of book reviews and is the author of a picture book, The Cat Who Loved Mozart. She has served as the editor of the Journal of Children’s Literature, children’ literature columnist for the Louisiana reading journal, reviewer for Booklist, and as a member of the NCTE committee for Notable Books for the Language Arts. As curator of the Children’s Literature Collection at UNO and as professor, she wants to nurture her students as readers and to have them fall in love with literature, sustaining that deep interest in books if they have always loved to read, deepening that interest if they once were readers and strayed, and helping them discover the pleasure of books if they never loved reading. At the heart of all her classes is that diverse books matter so readers see themselves on the page, see beyond themselves, and see others in themselves.


Luciano Marzulli (2019-2021)
Lu is the K-16 Outreach Coordinator for the International and Area Studies Programs at the University of Utah. He is also a proud alum of the University of Utah where he received an MA from the department of Education, Culture and Society and has worked in higher education since 2006. Professionally, Lu’s focus has been on advocacy and support for first generation college students and students of color. Through his outreach role he connects students to resources, develops and maintains community partnerships, and creates professional learning opportunities for teachers and community college faculty. Lu is driven by the transformative possibilities of high-quality educational experiences, and always seeks to create opportunities for learning. Lu’s passion for books really developed post graduate school, unrestricted by scholarly deadlines and citations. Lu loves sharing and discussing books for all age groups, especially culturally relevant material. In addition to fiction books, Lu enjoys films, the outdoors and traveling. He is fluent in English and Spanish, an intermediate Nahuatl speaker and can ask for directions and order a meal in Italian and French. He also sits on the board of directors of the Salt Lake City Public Library.


Christi Moraga (2019 – 2021)
Christi Moraga is a retired teacher of World Languages in Connecticut. She taught French, Spanish and a little ESL for 36 years. She found her niche sharing languages and cultures with fifth and sixth graders at West Woods Upper Elementary School in Farmington, CT. There, she started the popular
“Taste of Languages Club” in which each student presented his or her culture in a club atmosphere. The last three years, she spearheaded the “Diversity and Inclusion Ambassadors,” similar to Student Council, during which the Ambassadors talked through issues of racism, bullies etc. and learned techniques to use in the lunchroom, the bus and even in class. In 1992, through CT COLT (Council of Language Teachers), she started an annual state event called the Rhyme Celebration for Pre-Schoolers through Sixth graders to recite rhymes or sing songs in a language other than their own and she was the chair for twenty years. From 1993 to 1996, she served on the Américas Award and is proud to have chosen Vejigante Maquerader by Lulu Delacré as the very first winner. She developed curriculum for her Spanish class around this story and went on to develop a French sixth grade unit for Tonight, by Sea by Frances Temple, the 1995 winner. In 2006, she was the Connecticut and Northeast World Languages Teacher of the Year and went forward to ACTFL (American Council of Teachers of Foreign Languages) to represent 14 states in the Northeast. In her retirement, she has become a docent at the Wadsworth Atheneum in Hartford, the oldest public art gallery in the U.S. and she prepares thematic tours for many school groups. Her three grandchildren discuss stories with her and she listens to their insight.