New Publicity Hires at UNC Press

The University of North Carolina Press announces the following changes in its Marketing Department.

It is a bittersweet moment for the Press to announce the retirement of long-time Publicity Director Regina Mahalek, who is retiring after 20 years of service.  During her tenure, Gina worked tirelessly for our authors and books, and led many successful national campaigns, including for Wayfaring Strangers and Amazing Place (which landed both books on the NY Times Best Sellers List); for multiple books by Mildred “Mama Dip” Council and Adrian Miller; and most recently, for From Here to Equality by William A. Darity Jr. and A. Kirsten Mullen. She also helped many authors reach a global audience by working with them on developing op-eds, particularly for placement in the New York Times. In the last two years, she has co-produced 8 promotional book trailers, all of which have been featured by Shelf Awareness as a “Book Trailer of the Day.” In recent months, in response to the challenges created by the pandemic, she led the publicity team’s transition to an almost entirely digital publicity environment. We thank Gina for her many contributions to the Press and wish her the best in her well-deserved retirement.

The Press is also announcing the following two new hires:

First, Peter L. Perez will join the Press in the newly created position of Director of Public Relations and Communications, effective January 1, 2021.  Peter has worked in various areas of the publishing and retail industries for over 20 years, as buyer of books and gift categories at Rizzoli Bookstores, The Nature Company, Discovery Channel Store, and Williams-Sonoma, in the sales and marketing departments at Chronicle Books, and, most recently, as Public Relations and Communications Director at University of California Press. For almost his entire work life, he has worked on initiatives to sell and promote nonfiction publishing to general and specialized readers.  He will head the UNC Press publicity department, handling book publicity, overseeing the Press’s overall social media and blog presence, coordinating content and messaging across all platforms, and working on planning and execution of plans for the Press’s 100th anniversary, and other development activities.  

“I am incredibly honored to be joining the UNC Press team,” Perez said, “given my long established admiration and appreciation of its exceptional publishing that goes back to my days buying regional books for North Carolina locations of dearly departed specialty retail chain, The Nature Company. I am energized and excited to be engaging with the award winning and broadly acclaimed publishing UNC Press has been long recognized for over the course of its almost 100 years. I look forward to working collaboratively with all of my new colleagues in order to bolster and support UNC Press’s mission and publishing, across diverse platforms and audiences far and wide, as we approach its centenary and beyond.”

Additionally, Sonya Bonczek will be joining the press as the Director of Publicity, reporting to Perez, effective December 15, 2020.  Sonya is a public relations professional with a strong background in both trade and academic book publishing. As Publicity Manager at Harvard University Press, she has worked on a range of titles, including Kathleen Belew’s Bring the War Home, Nicole Fleetwood’s Marking Time, Lindsay Chervinsky’s The Cabinet, Andy Horowitz’s Katrina, Thomas Philippon’s The Great Reversal, and Sarah Milov’s The Cigarette.  She has also worked in the publicity departments at Random House and Hachette Book Group, working on a broad range of publicity campaigns including the New York Times bestsellers Open by Andre Agassi; Pulitzer Prize–winner Michael Moss’s Salt Sugar Fat; Dave Cullen’s Columbine; and Sebastian Junger’s War. Sonya also worked with celebrated chefs Wolfgang Puck and Daniel Boulud on their cookbooks, as well as Aarti Sequeira’s Aarti Paarti and The Four & Twenty Blackbirds Pie Book from the celebrated Brooklyn pie shop. 

“The commitment to impact scholarship and increasing our commonwealth of ideas is on full display at UNCP, whose editorial vision I have long admired,” Sonya said. “I’m thrilled to join the team and excited to work with its roster of fantastic authors, whose works push the boundaries of scholarship in accessible ways.”   

UNC Press Marketing Director Dino Battista commented:  “We are very lucky to be able to bring aboard such talented professionals as Peter and Sonya to the Press’s marketing team.  We will certainly miss Gina as a colleague and friend.  But it is a testament to all we have accomplished as a house in recent years, the notable books and authors we have published, and our dedicated staff, that we can attract such talent to North Carolina.  I look forward to what Peter and Sonya can bring to the Press as we prepare to celebrate our 100th anniversary in 2022.”

Peter Perez can be reached at

Sonya Bonczek can be reached at