Ballantine Books Group Team
President, Ballantine Books
Kara joined the Random House Group as Executive Vice President, Publisher of Ballantine Bantam Dell in 2016. Prior to that she was Publisher at Berkley/NAL. Kara oversees the entire Ballantine Books publishing list, which consists of the Ballantine, Bantam, and Delacorte/Dell imprints. Publisher of many #1 New York Times Bestselling authors, including Lee Child, Jodi Picoult, Debbie Macomber, Terry McMillan, Ernest Cline, Emily Giffin, Andy Weir, Paula McLain, Lisa Wingate, Taylor Jenkins Reid, Danielle Steel, and Isabel Allende, Kara began her career at Simon & Schuster/Pocket Books in the publicity department.
SVP, Deputy Publisher
As Deputy Publisher, Kim works closely with Kara Welsh overseeing the entire publishing programs of the Ballantine, Bantam, and Delacorte/Dell imprints in hardcover, trade paperback, and mass market and backlist. Ballantine Books is the publisher of many New York Times bestselling authors and critically acclaimed fiction and nonfiction. Kim has been at Ballantine since 1989 where she began her career in the publicity department. She has held senior positions in publicity, marketing, and advertising before moving to the Publisher’s office
Jennifer Hershey oversees the Ballantine editorial department, in addition to acquiring and editing fiction and nonfiction. She edits a wide range of novelists including authors such as Jodi Picoult, Taylor Jenkins Reid, Isabel Allende, Colum McCann, Curtis Sittenfeld, Diana Gabaldon, Emily Giffin, Frances Cha, Katherine Arden, William Landay, Justin Cronin, and Arthur Phillips. Her nonfiction authors include Laura Hillenbrand and Carol Dweck, as well as the last two books from the late Stephen Hawking. She especially loves anything to do with outdoor adventure, travel, exploration, nature, and wildlife. As part of the Ballantine publishing group, Jennifer oversees the Bantam imprint, which brings her full circle to her first job in publishing at Bantam, where she acquired such authors as George R. R. Martin and Neal Stephenson.
VP, Editorial Director
Kara Cesare is Editorial Director for Ballantine Books, where she acquires a broad range of fiction—from high-concept to voice-driven, historical and contemporary, book club, suspense-driven, and coming-of-age. She edits a list of bestselling and critically acclaimed authors including Lee Child and Andrew Child, Lisa Grunwald, Martha Hall Kelly, Jonathan Kellerman and Jesse Kellerman, Caroline Kepnes, Sophie Kinsella, Lisa Lutz, Allison Pataki, Francesca Serritella, Jennifer E. Smith, Catherine Steadman, Amanda Eyre Ward, and Lauren Weisberger. She’s thrilled to have recently acquired new novels from Naina Kumar, Elizabeth Little, and Beatriz Williams. Kara’s passion is discovering unique voices in fiction and working with authors on multiple books, forming an editorial bond that stretches over a career. Kara believes deeply in the editorial process and loves to champion her authors. She has been at Ballantine for over ten years and it was a homecoming for her since she started her career as an Editorial Assistant at Bantam Books.
VP, Executive Editor
Susanna Porter is an Executive Editor, acquiring both fiction and nonfiction. History is a passion for Susanna, which has led her to bestselling historical fiction like The Paris Wife by Paula McLain and, more recently, McLain’s first suspense novel, When the Stars Go Dark; Lisa Wingate’s Before We Were Yours and The Book of Lost Friends; Loving Frank by Nancy Horan; Melanie Benjamin’s latest, The Children’s Blizzard; Pip Williams’s The Dictionary of Lost Words; and novels by Alison Weir and Anne Perry. Her nonfiction bestsellers include The Eighty-Dollar Champion by Elizabeth Letts, Madame Fourcade’s Secret War by Lynne Olson, and Untangled by Lisa Damour. She is looking for well-written literary/commercial cross-over fiction (but no fantasy). She is also keen on narrative nonfiction, historical (or not) and character-driven work, about science, animals, space, and just about anything else. Susanna has spent most of her career at Random House, including working for five years in PRH’s London offices.
Hilary Teeman (she/her) is an Executive Editor acquiring contemporary women’s fiction, upmarket “reading group” fiction, historical fiction, literary fiction, psychological suspense, and romantic and love stories of all kinds. Hilary is especially drawn to smart, well-plotted novels with layered protagonists and moving, life-affirming conclusions. Some of her recent bestselling titles include The Maid by Nita Prose, Black Cake by Charmaine Wilkerson, We Were Never Here by Andrea Bartz, One Day in December by Josie Silver, The Bandit Queens by Parini Shroff, A Place in the World by Frances Mayes, and It’s Not All Downhill from Here by Terry McMillan. Other authors she has worked with include Jennifer Ryan, Laurie R. King, Emily Stone, Diksha Basu, Emma Lovewell, Rachel Lindsay, Jennifer Cody Epstein, Brunonia Barry, Julie Kibler, Barbara Delinsky, Tatjana Soli, Daniel Torday, Lydia Netzer, and Jennine Capó Crucet. Previously, she worked as an editor at Crown and St. Martin’s Press.
Julian Pavia is an executive editor acquiring thriller, suspense, science-fiction, and fantasy. He’s especially drawn to books with speculative elements that can cross over to a wide commercial audience or that play with genre in unexpected ways. He’s a sucker for a great first-person voice and for novels with that extra dose of verisimilitude and detail. His best-known projects include Max Brooks’s Devolution, Ernest Cline’s Ready Player One and Ready Player Two, Blake Crouch’s Dark Matter and Recursion, and Andy Weir’s The Martian and Project Hail Mary. Other previous and upcoming authors include Robert Jackson Bennett, Peter Clines, Rob Hart, Scott Hawkins, Thomas D. Lee, Beth Lewis, and Scott Sigler. Julian joined Ballantine in 2019 after fifteen years at Crown, where he also published nonfiction across numerous categories.
Mary Reynics is an executive editor at Ballantine, acquiring nonfiction with a wide reach. She loves to publish books that change readers’ lives, and is searching for authors with exceptional experience, expertise, and purpose whose goal is to enlighten, inspire, and entertain. Mary also responds to projects that illuminate the American experience and celebrate our shared history. She edits broadly in autobiography, sports, psychology, science, history, book club nonfiction, practical nonfiction, and stories infused with faith and positive spirit. She has edited over two dozen New York Times bestsellers and partnered with a range of authors, including President George W. Bush, Gretchen Rubin, Carol Burnett, Cindy McCain, Grant Wahl, Tom Verducci, Adam Makos, Cynt Marshall, John Long, Barbara Rae-Venter, Rolf Potts, Sahil Bloom, Rick Wilson, and James Fell. She spent fourteen years with the Crown Publishing Group before moving to Ballantine in 2019.
Sara Weiss is an Executive Editor at Ballantine Books, where she focuses mostly on nonfiction, while also publishing select fiction titles. She is interested in voice-driven, widely accessible nonfiction that is engaged with pop culture; i.e., books that are in conversation with the most urgent issues of the day (whether they be ones of identity, politics, art and entertainment, science, or even food!). She’s been privileged to publish bestselling and critically acclaimed authors such as Linda Holmes, R. Eric Thomas, Emily Nagoski, Stephanie Foo, Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Hannah Gadsby, Annie Hartnett, Lilly Singh, and Lauren Graham. Her upcoming list includes #1 New York Times bestselling author Jennette McCurdy’s currently untitled debut novel, NBC News reporterYamiche Alcindor’s memoir,Don’t Forget, Laura McKowen’s sobriety manifesto Push Off from Here, and the novel, Blue Sisters, by acclaimed author Coco Mellors. Prior to Ballantine, she worked for many years at Grand Central Publishing.
Shauna Summers is an Executive Editor at Ballantine Books where she acquires and edits all kinds of commercial fiction with a particular focus on women’s fiction. Some of her authors include Debbie Macomber, Sarah Jio, Pamela Terry, Ava Wilder, and Nancy Thayer. She published Sarah Addison Allen’s debut novel Garden Spells as well as Karen Marie Moning’s Fever series. Recent favorites include Spells for Forgetting by Adrienne Young, When in Rome by Sarah Adams, and Funny You Should Ask by Elissa Sussman. Shauna is always looking for that irresistible combination of voice, character, and plot that have made her a lifelong voracious and wide-ranging reader. As the picture of publishing consolidation, Shauna has worked at four different imprints that are all now one group, starting her career at Bantam, moving to the Ballantine, back to the Bantam Dell, and she now happily acquires for all three lists.
Anne Speyer (she/her) is a Senior Editor acquiring fiction with a focus on suspense/thriller and contemporary fiction with a millennial perspective or sensibility.Across all genres, Anne is drawn to distinctive voices, big hooks, and juicy plotlines that propel you forward, and she loves a story that simultaneously entertains and engages critically with social issues or modern life. She is proud to have edited thrillers by C. J. Tudor, J. P. Delaney, Julia Heaberlin, Joy Fielding, Lesley Kara, Brandon Webb and John David Mann, Lindsay Cameron, Ava Glass, Jilly Gagnon, Georgina Cross, and Lorenzo Carcaterra; as well as the novels Unmarriageable by Soniah Kamal, Last Couple Standing and All Together Now by Matthew Norman, Central Places by Delia Cai and the forthcoming Second Ending by Michelle Hoffman. She lives in Brooklyn with a dog named Fish.
Chelcee Johns is a Senior Editor acquiring literary fiction, upmarket commercial fiction, and narrative nonfiction that explores social issues, women’s issues, identity, pop culture, and popular psychology/wellness. Chelcee loves books that teem with agency, intellect, and heart and is particularly eager to read contemporary fiction with stunning prose, fierce propulsion, and soul from exciting new voices. Her recent Ballantine titles include New York Times Editors Choice Neruda on the Park by Cleyvis Natera, Good Morning America Buzz pick The Scent of Burnt Flowers by Blitz Bazawule, and one of Amazon’s Best Books of 2022 Such Big Dreams by Reema Patel. Forthcoming is the long-awaited debut from activist Rachel Cargle’s A Renaissance of Our Own: A Memoir & Manifesto as well as On Thriving: Stories & Lessons on Harnessing Joy Through Life’s Great Labors by Brandi Sellers Jackson and Sisterhood Heals by Dr. Joy Harden Bradford.
Jenny Chen (she/her) is a senior editor acquiring mysteries, thrillers, suspense, crime fiction, and all manner of sinister stories, especially those by traditionally marginalized writers. She is especially interested in voice-driven, propulsive, and powerful novels of intimacy, obsession, and ambition, complicated stories about family and home, and anything that speaks to our cultural zeitgeist and sparks discussion. She loves bold yet accessible high concepts, and when writers spin something fresh out of a familiar premise. Her list proudly includes Erin E. Adams, Disha Bose, K. L. Cerra, Lina Chern, Ann Claire, Liv Constantine, Ashley Flowers, Tess Gerritsen, Wendy Heard, Susan Elia MacNeal, Imran Mahmood, Lisa Matlin, and Marcie Rendon. She came to Ballantine in 2020, previously at Crooked Lane Books, Writers House, Berkley/NAL, and Simon & Schuster.
Erin Kane is the Publishing Manager at Ballantine and assists Kara Welsh and Kim Hovey. She acquires inspirational self-help and memoir, pop-psychology, true crime, and upmarket women’s fiction. Titles on her list include the memoir The Opposite of Butterfly Hunting by actress and activist Evanna Lynch and the upcoming Raising Hell, Living Well, a cultural criticism and guide to living with intention by Jessica Elefante. She loves to see lenses that open up new ways of approaching the world in both fiction and nonfiction. After a brief run with Scholastic, she joined the Ballantine team in 2017.
Emily Hartley is an editor publishing narrative nonfiction and memoir that explores societal issues and trends through lived experiences, as well as big-idea nonfiction that helps us live a better life, especially through community. She is fascinated by the places where the personal and political meet—be that in sports, science, or social policy. She is also looking for upmarket and literary fiction set in the middle of the U.S.—or not in the U.S. at all. Her projects include the anthology Well-Read Black Girl and an upcoming memoir by Glory Edim, the feminist Appalachian memoir Hill Women, the work of true crime and social justice The Other Dr. Gilmer, and the narrative investigation What Doesn’t Kill Us Makes Us. Emily is active on Random House’s DE&I committee and is passionate about bringing rural and BIPOC writers to Ballantine. She came to Ballantine Books from Penguin Books and Penguin Classics in 2016.
Jesse Shuman (he/him) is an Associate Editor and assists Kara Cesare. Some of the books Jesse has acquired and/or edited include First Time for Everything by Henry Fry, The Things We Do to Our Friends by Heather Darwent, Solomon’s Crown by Natasha Siegel, Small Joys by Elvin James Mensah, along with the forthcoming Bodies in Water by Shelly Jay Shore and Plimpton Prize–winner Alexia Arthurs’s first novel. At Ballantine, Jesse acquires literary and upmarket fiction with an emphasis on LGBTQ voices, as well as select nonfiction including pop culture, memoir, and essays. His taste in fiction spans many genres: coming-of-age, psychological suspense, historical, speculative, family sagas, adventure stories, and more. He loves books that combine strong narrative momentum with fierce imagination, captivating prose, or a distinctive voice. Before joining Ballantine in 2018, he interned at Knopf and A Public Space.
Wendy Wong (she/her) is an associate editor and assists Jennifer Hershey. She is acquiring commercial and upmarket fiction across a variety of genres, ranging from historical fiction and romance to social horror, suspense, and stories tinged with speculative elements. She is also acquiring narrative nonfiction that uses an intimate focal point as a lens for a larger deep dive, as well as select self-help. Wendy is drawn to emotionally transportive projects—particularly at the intersection of race and class—that explore subcultures, millennial and women’s issues, diaspora, complex relationship dynamics of all stripes, a sense of adventure or the unknown, and all things food. Prior to joining Ballantine in 2022, she worked at Harper, acquiring and editing titles such as The First, The Few, The Only by Deepa Purushothaman— a Financial Times business book of the month—and the forthcoming novel Our Hideous Progeny by C. E. McGill.
Caroline Weishuhn (she/her) is an Assistant Editor focused on acquiring upmarket women’s fiction, heartbreaking yet uplifting love stories, and classically twisty mysteries. She is particularly fond of novels with unique and underrepresented voices, quirky and original premises, and rich and complex characters and relationships. If a book can make her laugh or make her cry, she’s hooked. Recent acquisitions include Elle Cook’s The Man I Never Met and Rose Sutherland’s A Sweet Sting of Salt. In addition to building her own list, Caroline assists Hilary Teeman and Julian Pavia. After graduating Phi Beta Kappa from Texas A&M University, she spent several years working in the legal field before coming to her senses and pursuing a career in publishing, beginning at a small agency before moving to Ballantine.
Sydney Collins is an Assistant Editor acquiring fiction and nonfiction, assisting Sara Weiss and Chelcee Johns. She gravitates towards family-focused and feminist upmarket and commercial fiction, as well as contemporary romance and romantic comedies, especially those that center BIPOC voices. On the nonfiction side, she’s looking for essay collections, memoirs, and self-help that explore mental health, race, and pop culture. Across all genres, she’s drawn to books that are full of heart, grit, and wit. Sydney graduated with honors from the University of Richmond with a bachelor’s degree in English and previously interned at Stonesong and Folio Literary Management, as well as at Ballantine before she joined the team full-time.
Mae Donicia Martinez
Mae Donicia Martinez (She/Her) is an assistant to Jenny Chen and Shauna Summers. She has the privilege to assist on projects like Elissa Sussman’s Funny You Should Ask, Adrienne Young’s Spells for Forgetting, Erin E. Adams’ Jackal, Disha Bose’s Dirty Laundry, and many more. She enjoys reading contemporary romance, genre-bending fiction, and any book that challenges the world we live in. Mae joined the Ballantine Bantam Dell team in 2021 and soon after graduated with her master’s degree in Publishing.
Anusha Khan is an assistant to Susanna Porter and Anne Speyer. Anusha is interested in mysteries, thrillers, upmarket women’s fiction, and historical fiction. She finds herself drawn to character-driven stories with authentic and underrepresented voices. She graduated with honors from the University of Texas at Austin with a bachelor’s degree in English. She interned at the Writers’ League of Texas before joining the PRH team earlier this year.