Keynote Speaker Bios

Opening Keynote:  Jennifer Chiaverini

Headshot of Jennifer Chiaverini

Jennifer Chiaverini is the New York Times bestselling author of thirty-three novels, including critically acclaimed historical fiction and the beloved Elm Creek Quilts series.

Her works of nonfiction include seven collections of quilt patterns and original designs featured in Country WomanQuiltmakerQuilt, and other magazines. She has also written for publications including the New York Times, the Wall Street JournalWriter’s Digest, and Quilter’s Newsletter Magazine.

In 2020, Jennifer was awarded an Outstanding Achievement Award from the Wisconsin Library Association for her novel Resistance Women. In 2023, the WLA awarded her the honor of Notable Wisconsin Author for her significant contributions to the state’s literary heritage.

About her historical novels, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel writes, “In addition to simply being fascinating stories, these novels go a long way in capturing the texture of life for women, rich and poor, black and white, in those perilous years.” Jennifer’s previous novel, Switchboard Soldiers, earned starred reviews from Booklist and Library JournalPublishers Weekly praised the novel as “Enchanting,” adding, “Chiaverini brings her singular characters to life, including real historical figures, as they become united in the quest to serve their country. Fans of historical fiction will be captivated.” Her most recent book, Canary Girls, was named an Amazon Editors’ Pick – Best Literature and Fiction for August 2023, and it inspired Library Journal to dub her the “historical fiction queen.”

Jennifer graduated from the University of Notre Dame and earned her MA English Language and Literature from the University of Chicago. She, her husband, and their two sons call Madison, Wisconsin home.


Thursday Luncheon Keynote:  Jenny Kalvaitis and Kristen Whitson

Headshot of Jenny KalvaitisJenny Kalvaitis earned her BA in History and Women’s Studies from the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater and her MA in Public History from Indiana University in Indianapolis. She has worked in informal education and museum education for over ten years. We Will Always Be Here: A Guide for Exploring and Understanding LGBTQ+ Activism in Wisconsin is Jenny’s first book project.

Headshot of Kristen Whitson



Kristen Whitson has a master’s degree in library and information science from the University of Wisconsin– Madison, and she has worked in digital preservation, community and indigenous archives, and LGBTQ+  archives. We Will Always Be Here: A Guide for Exploring and Understanding LGBTQ+ Activism in Wisconsin is Kristen’s first book project.



Friday Closing Keynote: Jeff Nania


Jeff Nania HeadshotJeff Nania is a former law enforcement officer, conservationist, biofuel creator, and an award-winning author. The books in his Northern Lakes Mystery series—Figure Eight (2019), Spider Lake (2020), Bough Cutter (2021), and Musky Run (2023)—have been recognized by the Midwest Book Awards, Independent Publisher Book Awards, and Next Generation Indie Book Awards. His narrative non-fiction writing has appeared in Wisconsin Outdoor NewsDouble Gun JournalThe Outlook, and other publications.

Born and raised in Wisconsin, Jeff’s family settled in Madison’s storied Greenbush neighborhood. His father often loaded Jeff, his brothers, and a couple of dogs into an old jeep station wagon for outdoor adventures. These foundational experiences fostered a sense of community, a passion for outdoor traditions, and a love of our natural resources.

Serving in many law enforcement roles, Jeff was a decorated officer and member of the first canine unit patrolling with his dog, Rosi (pronounced ‘Rosie’). Things changed and Jeff found himself knee-deep in wetland restoration. He received the National Wetlands Award and Outdoor Life Magazine named Jeff one of the nation’s 25 most influential conservationists for his habitat work. In 2021, the Wisconsin Senate commended Jeff with a Joint Resolution for his work with wetlands, education, and as a non-partisan advisor on environmental issues.

Now a full-time novelist, Jeff spends as much time as possible fishing Spider Lake and exploring Wisconsin’s landscape with his friends and family. Find more of Jeff’s writing online at and follow him on social media.