Our Biographies

Grace Carroll

Creator of Akira’s Book Club and Wordsmith Jr, LLC

Dr. Grace Carroll has always been passionate about helping children reach their maximum potential. She has over IMG_7500four decades of experience in research, assessment, training and program development with an emphasis on the sociology of education, family, evaluation and diversity. She received her Bachelor of Arts in Sociology from Stanford University where she also received two Master of Arts degrees and her Ph.D. in Sociology of Education in 1975. Dr. Carroll holds a California teaching credential and has taught students from kindergarten through college levels. She has published books, various articles and reports in her areas of expertise. Dr. Carroll has a son, Tajai, a graduate of Stanford University and the University of California at Berkeley in architecture, a daughter Julana, a graduate of Howard University, and nine grandchildren. She is married to Michael Sawyers and lives in Oakland, CA. Dr. Carroll loves to cook. She also loves to explore the world both literally through travel, and figuratively through reading. A former track and basketball athlete, Dr. Carroll still enjoys walking, biking, camping and exercise.




Julana Massey


child with goatsJulana Massey is a mother to eight beautiful kids and has been married to her best friend for 17 years. She graduated Phi Beta Kappa in Psychology from Howard University in Washington, D.C. She is currently a student of life and all its wonders. She lives on a small city farm in Baltimore MD, where she lovingly grows vegetables, and babies of both the human and animal variety. In her spare time she likes to dream about having more spare time. And when she can, she makes all-natural goat milk soap and other bath and beauty products for Once Upon A Farm LLC, her family’s business.






 Tajai Massey


TajaiTajai Massey is a world-famous musician, architectural designer and youth mentor. He is Grace’s son and Akira’s father. He is also a lover of  learning.  He received his BA in Anthropology from Stanford University and Master’s in Architecture from University of California, Berkeley. Tajai is extremely creative and plans on digitizing Wordsmith Jr’s content for interactive enrichment applications and games.







Deanna Jimenez, MA


Deanna received her Masters from John F. Kennedy University in Holistic Deanna JiminezCounseling Psychology with a transpersonal specialization. She currently practices psychotherapy in Oakland, CA. In addition to a private practice- where she works with a diverse range of individuals, couples and groups; Deanna works with children teaching mindfulness and supporting the integration of Social/Emotional Learning within the education paradigm. She is committed to supporting children in knowing their inner compass which will guide them towards living a fulfilling life.

To learn more about Deanna and the projects she is passionate about, visit:





Steven Anderson


Steve Anderson Headshot

Steven Anderson is an artist living and working out of Oakland, CA. He attended the San Francisco Academy of Art for a short stint, and has had a passion for drawing since childhood.  He has a large interest in portrait painting, charcoal portraits, abstract art, and recently, digital arts. Steven draws inspiration from the process itself; whether it be putting color on the canvas and letting the piece take its own direction, or working from a static image and developing the detail to bring it to life. Steven is a student of the craft and enjoys studying the works of emerging artists and how they are experimenting with imagination and technique.  You can see more of Steven’s work at www.stevenandersonart.com.




Heidi Wyckoff


Heidi WyckoffOur dear friend Heidi Wyckoff transitioned shortly after she completed the final book of our watercolor series.  We have renamed this series the Heidi Watercolor Series in her memory.  She was a wonderful artist and spirit.  We will miss  her.

She was the 2015 winner of the Golden Gear Award for best visual artist in the East Bay.  She began her watercolor career by painting the colorful produce Civic Center where flowers and shops surrounded her as she sold her work at the Ferry Plaza Farmers’ Market in San Francisco.  When the Oakland Artisans Market was thriving, she sold her artwork at Jack London Square where she met Annalee Allen, coordinator of the Oakland walking tours program.  Allen asked her to illustrate a book to celebrate Oakland’s 160th birthday, Oakland Landmarks: An Artistic Portrayal  of History.  For that book she painted 34 of Oakland’s historical landmarks.  Wyckoff was also the author of  Don ‘t be Afraid of Watercolor: It’s Only Paper, It’s Only Water and If You Can’t Paint it Good, Paint it BIG, if You Can’t Paint it Big, Paint it RED.







Candace Driver


Candace is a graIMG_20150712_150310duate of Holy Names High school in Oakland, CA and CSU Northridge. She likes pizza, shoes, and home improvement shows. She also sells handmade earrings and handbags through her etsy shop Duderelax. She lives in Atlanta, GA with her husband Clayton and her two daughters. Pictured with her to the left is one of her daughters,  Johari. You can see more art and family updates on her website www.duderelax.com.





Publisher and long time family friend, Al Chandler with Tajai and Akira.

Publisher and long time family friend, Al Chandler with Tajai and Akira.

Al Chandler


CEO, Chandler/White, Inc.

Chandler/White, Inc. is a minority-certified publishing company serving both private and government printing, design and publishing needs since 1983. Customers are served with quality and dedication in the creation and production of all products including:

  • Multi-Ethnic Educational and General Books
  • Consumer and Business Catalogs
  • Magazines
  • Direct Marketing Materials
  • Games, and
  • Posters

Additionally, Chandler/White, Inc. publishes activity books such as the seven-book Salute to Black Inventors. For further information go to www.chandlerwhitepub.com



Carmen Bogan

Writer and Publisher

Carmen Bogan smallCarmen Bogan has written professionally for most of her adult life.  She launched Dream On Publishing, creating multicultural children’s books out of her belief that all children deserve to read about characters that reflect their own lives, dreams and cultures. Carmen is the recipient of the new voices literary award from Lee and Low Publishers, NY, for her middle grade story, Fit Like Frankie.  She holds BA degrees in journalism and English from Stanford University and an MBA in finance and marketing from the UCLA Anderson School of Management.  She is a frequent lecturer and trainer to women’s groups, nonprofit professionals and faith-based organization leaders. Carmen lives in Oakland, California with her husband, Willie.  She has two adult daughters, Erin Danielle and Natalie Quinn. To learn more about Carmen and her work visit



We have received our non-profit status for Akira’s Book Club!  We will be posting pictures and bios of our board in the near future.  Thank you for all of your support!