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X-STEM – Extreme STEM Symposium

MelinaBellows

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Melina Bellows 2014 X-STEM Speaker National Geographic logo
Melina Gerosa Bellows: Inside the Success Behind National Geographic's Wildly Popular Children's Publications!

 

At National Geographic, she's known as "The Change Agent." With hard work -- and the curiosity and energy of a kid -- Melina Gerosa Bellows, as Executive Vice President and Chief Creative Officer of National Geographic Books, Kids and Family divisions, has transformed these three areas into thriving businesses, each within one year.


An internationally published best-selling author and award-winning journalist in her own right, she leads her editorial and design teams with the understanding that for content to succeed, it must be exciting and touch readers dynamically through all available platforms, including online and digital venues.


And her approach has paid off in significant ways. At 1.3 million subscribers, National Geographic Kids magazine today is a formidable leader in the children's market, boasting 1.3 million subscribers in the U.S. and 20 international editions, plus enjoying a long-standing history of awards and loyal appreciation from children and adults alike. This compares starkly to when Melina joined NG in 2000 to assume editorial leadership of the publication when it was experiencing a nosedive in market share. She injected life into the publication through very strategic market-testing approaches (which included adopting schools for advice and recruiting a 2,000-kid-strong advisory board) and re-branding the magazine as NG Kids.


She then used the same winning strategy to propel NG Children's Books into one of the country's leading nonfiction publishers.


"In my job, I often think of myself as a storyteller," says Melina, whose responsibilities also includes overseeing the award-winning NG Little Kids magazine, as well as NG's product lines for families and children. "Sometimes I write the story, sometimes I help someone else tell the story. The roles are very different, but I enjoy them both."


What makes National Geographic Kids one of the largest children's magazines in the world? The answer is really quite simple, says Melina: "Like the recipe to a secret sauce, we have cracked the code to what kids want to read about, and what parents feel good about letting their kids read." She adds, "Readers like that the magazine is jam-packed with interesting, exciting information, such as the "Weird But True" facts, and the animal stories that defy explanation. For instance, the dog that sniffed out a cancerous mole on his owner or the cat that stopped a burglar from robbing its home."


In 2007, Melina and her team also launched National Geographic Little Kids for preschoolers and their parents. The magazine has a circulation of 300,000 and has garnered The Parents' Choice Gold Award each year for the past 5 years.


As a best-selling author, Melina's most recent books are "Love You, Dad" and "Mother's Love" for National Geographic Books. Her first book with National Geographic, "Nat Geo AMAZING! 100 People, Places, and Things That Will Wow You," was published in June 2010. It is the companion book to "Nat Geo AMAZING!", a 10-part television series that debuted on the National Geographic Channel in July 2010.



A graduate of Boston College's Honors Program, she is also author of such earlier works as: "The Fun Book" (Simon & Schuster, 1998), "The Fun Book for Couples" (Andrews McMeel Publishing, 2003), the novel "Wish" ((New American Library, 2005), "The Fun Book for Moms" (Andrews McMeel, 2007), "The Fun Book for Girlfriends" (Andrews McMeel, 2009), and "The Fun Book for Christmas" (Andrews McMeel, 2009).


In addition, she is an award-winning freelance writer who has written for The New York Times, National Geographic Traveler, Glamour, Cosmopolitan, Family Life, Family Circle, More, Ladies Home Journal, The Washingtonian, AARP The Magazine, Coastal Living, Entertainment Weekly and Elle. She has also appeared on such television shows as "The Today Show," "CNN," "The View," "Good Day New York" and "Fox and Friends."


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