The mission of the Saratoga Book Festival is to celebrate reading and writing, and the power of books to inform, challenge, inspire, and delight.
SBF Planning Committee
President | Founder
Ellen Beal moved to Saratoga Springs in 2013 after working for more than 20 years as international book editor and publishing executive at National Geographic Books, Berlitz Travel and Language Publishing, Running Press, and StayWell Publishing.
She joined SaratogaArtsFest as a volunteer five years ago and has served as chair of the board of directors for the past three years, overseeing the organization’s recent rebranding as Radial Arts.
She earned a BA Phi Beta Kappa from Lafayette College in American Civilization and completed graduate coursework in cultural anthropology from Brandeis University and literacy courses from the College of New Jersey before starting a career in publishing. She counts her time as a literacy and ESL volunteer as one of the most profoundly meaningful experiences of her life.
Ellen founded Saratoga Book Festival to promote literacy and encourage a love of reading among people of all ages. She and her husband Brad volunteer at a number of nonprofits in Saratoga, including Radial Arts, Whispering Angels, Saratoga Chamber Players, Opera Saratoga, Saratoga Arts, and Biketoga.
Purdy is now a freelance publicist recently returned to upstate New York after a twenty-eight year career in NYC promoting serious nonfiction authors and their works/research for such distinguished publishers as Oxford University Press, Princeton University Press, Basic Books, WH Freeman, et al. In his spare time he writes short stories and tells his great nieces outrageous fibs.
Anne has enjoyed a long and rewarding career in education, initially as an English teacher for 17 years where she taught a variety of students across a wide range of abilities, interests and ages, including at-risk to advanced high school and college students, and incarcerated adults. In every one of her teaching experiences, Anne established reading as a gateway to knowledge and emphasized the power of language to change lives.
For the past 13 years, Anne has expanded her influence in education and served in a variety of educational leadership roles, including K-12 principal, Director of Innovative Programs, and currently serves as Administrator for Special Programs in the Exceptional Learners Division of the WSWHE BOCES. In this role, Anne coordinates contracted teaching and related services for the 31 school districts in this BOCES region.
Anne is a member of the School Administrators’ Association of New York State and the New York State Association of Women in Administration. She earned her Bachelors in English from Syracuse University, her Masters in Secondary English Education from SUNY Oneonta, and her Certificate of Advanced Study in Educational Leadership from SUNY Albany. Anne has lived in Saratoga for four years.
Programming Chair | Founding MemberDirector
Director of the Saratoga Springs Public Library, Issac is a founding member of The Saratoga Springs Book Festival. He brings decades of expertise overseeing public libraries and first-hand knowledge of creating programming and services that promote reading, literacy, and community engagement. He serves as the Festival liaison with libraries in our region and reviews Festival programming to ensure we remain true to our mission of serving readers of all ages and reading abilities.
Steve is an experienced event and meeting planner, having organized and managed the Learning conferences in Orlando for the past 7 years (Learning 2013 – Learning 2019) initially as an employee of The MASIE Center, and most recently working with CloserStill Media. Prior to joining MASIE, Steve was an executive at John Hancock/Manulife, holding various positions in Information Technology and Human Resources.
He is currently working as a Project Manager for the Steffens Scleroderma Foundation.
In addition, Steve is a Trustee of Opera Saratoga (Board Secretary) and chairs the opera’s annual gala. He is a member of the Saratoga Pride leadership committee, and was a founding member and Treasurer of Whispering Angels of Saratoga Springs. He lives in Saratoga Springs with his husband, Home Made Theater General Manager Eric Rudy, and has a grown daughter in Boston.
Dolores "Dee" Sarno
Community Relations Chair
Before moving to Saratoga Springs in 1990, Dee worked as an educator, thespian and small business owner. She served as Executive Director of the Saratoga County Arts Council, where she and a dedicated Board of Directors established the Community Arts Center in downtown Saratoga Springs. She received the NYS Organizational Award for Advancing Cultural Development in New York State on behalf of the Arts Council before retiring in 2007.
Dee has served on numerous arts and community boards and consulted with many local and state arts and cultural groups, including the Empire State Plaza Art Commission, SPAC, Caffé Lena, Saratoga Springs Heritage Area Program, the NYS State Partners for Arts Education, and the Alliance of NYS Arts Organizations. Dee is the ex-officio of SaratogaArsFest Board, now Radial Arts. Dee remains an active member of Soroptimist International, a professional women’s philanthropic organization. She serves on the Planning Committee for Skidmore College’s Annual Scholarship event, and recently joined the League of Women Voters. Saratoga Book Festival is honored to have Dee serve as head of our Community Outreach and Fundraising.
Eun-sil Lee, PhD
Eun-sil Lee currently works as the Coordinator of Upper-Class Initiatives in the Opportunity Program at Skidmore College where she provides academic support and career development services to students from diverse socioeconomic backgrounds. She previously worked as a school psychologist in Los Angeles, California and has volunteered for several different organizations over the years, including a couple of dog rescues here in upstate New York.
She is passionate about education and empowerment through the sharing of information and resources; one way she has demonstrated this is in organizing a couple of children’s book drives – one for a children’s library in Nigeria and another for an elementary school in Mexico.
She has a PhD in social welfare from the State University of New York at Stony Brook, an MA in educational psychology and in counseling from Loyola Marymount University, and a BS in psychology from Tulane University.
Mary Beth McGarrahan
Born and raised in the Albany area, my roots continue to be firmly established in the Capital Region. As a graduate of Hartwick College, Mary Beth’s career in the nonprofit sector began in San Francisco with The Sierra Club Foundation as the Director of Administration and more recently as the Operations Manager with Universal Preservation Hall (UPH) in Saratoga Springs. During her 12-year long run at UPH, she has become versed in development and fundraising, event planning, finance and administration, and volunteer management and recruitment. In addition to her work at UPH and the Sierra Club, Mary Beth is also a 2019 graduate of the Leadership Saratoga Program and current member of the Board of Directors of the Saratoga Downtown Business Association.
Mary Beth recently took a new position with the Franklin Community Center as their Development Director. She is a proud and avid outdoor enthusiast and if the weather is nice, she can be found long-distance walking, running, cycling or paddling. Homelife consists of her husband Brian, their two teenage boys, and their two pets.