Lissette Mendez has always been an avid reader. Since she was a child, her life has revolved around books. She started going to the Miami Book Fair when she was only 16.
Soon after she obtained her master’s degree, she joined Miami Dade College as a writer, and one of her first assignments was a marketing campaign at the fair. “I created all of the communications for the Miami Book Fair, so I was in my element. I was super happy to be involved in writing about it and looking at ways of promoting it,” she said.
Decades later, she has been director of programs for the fair since 2014.
The fair is the nation’s oldest and largest literary gathering, attracting over 400 authors for the 2022 event Nov. 13 to 20. She is responsible for the literary programs year-round, brings and schedules all authors attending the fair, oversees The Big Read and two Miami Writers Institutes per year. Also, she is responsible for the fair’s creative writing program, and coordinates the Generation Genius literacy and learning programs for children and teens.
For Ms. Mendez, it has been very important that people from different backgrounds feel comfortable at the book fair. As an immigrant, she learned English through books, “so that was part of what drove me to work on the different kinds of programs that we do and the different kinds of books and subjects we present, just so that everyone could find something that spoke to them,” she said.
Ms. Mendez spoke with Miami Today reporter Gabriela Henriquez Stoikow.
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