• Rebecca Wallace-Segall

    Executive Director
    Founder
    Rebecca Wallace-Segall

    Rebecca founded Writopia Lab in April 2007, currently directs the national organization, teaches writing workshops and college essay writing and runs in-school staff and teacher trainings in New York City through the DYCD, the DOE, and at community-based organizations that serve at risk youth. She has grown the organization in NYC, and established and oversees Writopia in the DC Metro region, NY Metro North, Chicago, Los Angeles, and New Jersey. She trains Writopia instructors across the nation, as well as classroom teachers and volunteers in the Writopia method.


    Rebecca has won multiple teaching awards including the Scholastic Awards' 2012 Ovation Inspired Teacher Award for submitting the most outstanding senior portfolios on the national level and for "developing a method of working with students that inspires them to create original work that embodies their unique, personal voice.... Because of [her] tutelage... these students are now empowered to bring that voice into the broader world..." She has also won the 2008, 2009, and 2011 National Gold Apple Teacher Award for "submitting the most outstanding group of submissions on the national level" to the Scholastic Art & Writing event. She lectures at schools, events, and parents' organizations on a variety of topics including "How to Inspire the Writer Within Your Child," "Writing for High School and College Admittance," and on "Identifying and Participating in Positive Competitions." Previously, Rebecca established the creative writing program at the Abraham Joshua Heschel Middle School on the Upper West Side of Manhattan as a consultant. While she was there, the program outperformed every other school in the city (including every elite public and private institution) in Scholastic's prestigious Art & Writing Awards competition. She has been awarded recognition from The Scholastic Art & Writing Awards as an "outstanding educator" every year since 2006. (Writopia won Scholastic's official endorsement in 2007.) Rebecca was also nominated by students and selected to be entered into the 11th Edition of Who's Who Among American Teachers.

    Rebecca has taught at SUNY Albany, New York University, and at Gotham Writer's Workshop. In 2009, Rebecca was invited to join The Op-Ed Project Mentor Editor Program and has since helped several brilliant women break into some of the nation's most widely read national opinion pages. In 2002, she had the pleasure of working with young writers in New York City public schools for the first time as a resident writer with the Teachers & Writers Collaborative. By 2003, she was working at the Heschel School, planting the seeds for a unique and successful creative writing program there. She also participated in the judging of the Scholastic competition in 2006 and currently serves as a judge of several national youth writing competitions (in which her students are not involved).

    Rebecca also serves on Writopia Lab’s Board of Directors and is thrilled to have a team of accomplished board members from various social and business sectors, help shape the future of Writopia's youth literary community.

    Writings

    Rebecca began writing for publications in 1997. She has contributed opeds about education and writing to the The Atlantic Monthly and The Wall Street Journal, and thought pieces to The Huffington Post and The Nation, along with five cover stories (and other pieces) to the Village Voice. She has contributed the foreword to Bryant Park's Poem in Your Day Chapbook 2012 and to The Scholastic Award's 2012 Best Teen Writing. She also served as Senior Editor at Psychology Today Magazine, and won Salon's "Best People Story of the Year Award" for "Love Labor's Flossed." In 1999, she became a Journalism Fellow at Brandeis University. In 2003, she entered the world of comedy writing, and began writing and performing sketch comedy around NYC. She won a "Best Sketch" competition at the Upright Citizens Brigade in 2006.

  • Jeremy Wallace-Segall

    Chief Operating Officer
    Jeremy Wallace-Segall

    Jeremy Wallace-Segall is the Chief Operations Officer for Writopia Lab. Jeremy oversees technology and back-office functions, contributes to the organizational literature, recruits new students and new schools, and does light housekeeping.

    Jeremy has built and implemented databases and websites for 15 years. He ran a consulting business, ABCDataworks, for six years, that brought database, website, and communications strategy to non-profits and socially minded corporate ventures. Jeremy spent a few years in the corporate world, but most of his work experience has been focused on making the world a better place by helping non-profit organizations manage their data collection and dissemination. Jeremy has written corporate policy documents, software documentation, branding copy for websites, tutorials, and recently published a featured article of the month on Idealware.org.

  • Yael Schick

    Director of Programs
    Instructor
    Yael Schick

    Yael is thrilled to be part of the Writopia team! She received her BA in English from Stern College of Yeshiva University, and joined Writopia Lab in 2011. She has taught and tutored writing in several New York City colleges and private schools, and has worked as a director, most recently directing at 59e59 Theaters and at Roy Arias Theater. At Writopia she works as an instructor and program developer. Her Writopia students have received Scholastic recognition on both on the regional and national levels, and she has served as a national judge for the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards. In 2012, she was recognized by the Scholastic Awards "as an outstanding educator whose dedication, commitment, and guidance are represented by student work selected for national honors."

  • Danielle Sheeler

    Director of Camps and Curriculum
    Instructor
    DanielleSheeler

    Danielle has been part of the Writopia team since 2011. She currently codirects Writopia’s NYC full-day camps and WriCampia, Writopia’s Sleepaway Camp, and develops in-school and essay writing curricula. Danielle teaches writing workshops at Writopia, in schools, and in Residential Treatment Facilities for incarcerated youth. She provides literacy support and creative writing workshops for at-risk teens who are transitioning these facilities into adulthood as part of Writopia’s Write to Independence Program. She launched the Essay Writing program at Writopia in 2013. In 2015 and 2016, she was recognized by the Scholastic Awards "as an outstanding educator whose dedication, commitment, and guidance are represented by student work selected for national honors." Prior to Writopia, Danielle tutored for the SAT, ACT, and SAT Subject Tests both privately and with a Long-Island based company called Dynamic Tutoring.

    She has studied writing at Stanford University and New York University, and received her Masters in Humanities and Social Thought from the Draper Program at NYU in January 2010. She has co-written (with Yael Schick) a new musical How to Click, which was showcased at Shetler Studios and the Sorter Lee Theater. Her one-act play, Under Somebody's Nose, was produced at Roy Arias theater in November of 2012. She produced and performed the one-acts Graduands to Graduates; The Megalomaniac and Valedictorian Commence; and Scene From a Dartboard at the Manhattan Repertory theatre in March through June 2010, and the one-act Look at Me When I Am Talking to You at the Wings Theatre in New York in May 2008. She has had the opportunity to teach English and creative writing in a classroom setting to children in Pram-pram, Ghana; Quito, Ecuador; Chinatown, New York; East Palo Alto, California; and New Orleans, Louisiana.

  • Tom Flynn

    Business Operations Manager
    Tom Flynn

    Tom has worked in higher education, business consulting, and creative management. He is also a seasoned professional writer. Tom studied Philosophy and Peace Studies at Siena College and earned an M.S. in Communication and Rhetoric at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. At Rensselaer, he became Creative Director of a research group that created interactive multimedia learning software. He also worked on a variety of K-12 multimedia initiatives and taught a graduate level seminar for teachers on technology in the classroom. As a management consultant, Tom worked with a wide range of innovative technology companies and large corporate clients. In a past life, Tom studied with Marilyn Robinson and Amy Hempel at New York State Writers Institute Graduate Creative Writing Workshop at Skidmore College. He has written and edited for Pavement Saw, Guitar School Magazine, Hudson Valley Writers Guild, and Scyre. While living outside Boston, he wrote about the arts and nightlife for the Boston Phoenix publication Stuff @ Night. Also, during a more than 15-year association, Tom published countless feature length articles, interview pieces and reviews on music, culture and the arts for the alternative newsweekly Metroland in New York's Capital region.

  • Amina Phelps

    Senior HR Associate
    Janelle Williams

    Amina is excited to join Writopia Lab as the new Senior HR Associate! Prior to joining the team, she has consulted with several non profit organizations and small businesses supporting leadership teams with building HR infrastructure and projects to streamline HR processes and procedures. Although her professional experience is within the Human Resources industry, her first love has always been creative writing and of course reading. She holds a BA in English from Brooklyn College and has completed two children's books that are scheduled to be self published soon! Amina resides in The Bronx with her husband and two children, but she will forever call Brooklyn home.

  • Abby Coleman

     

    Program Manager
    Instructor

    Abby Coleman

    Abby Coleman joined Writopia Lab in September 2012. She completed her BA in English/Creative Writing from Hendrix College in Arkansas (2011) and her MFA in Poetry from The New School (2014). Her poetry and artwork have appeared in The Providence Journal, The Aonian, The New School Collaborative (for which she also created the cover design), and most recently in Pieces of Cake, The NYD Anthology 2014, great weather for MEDIA, and Eleven Eleven. She has also created two chapbooks, The Heart Machine and Involuntary Rabbits. Abby manages the Write to Recognition Program, Joy and Literacy in After School, and External Submissions, and she serves as an adviser to The (Parenthetical) and The Ellipsis... She is thrilled to be working with Writopia.

  • Janelle Williams

    In-School and Outreach Lead Instructor
    Janelle Williams

    Janelle M. Williams is thrilled to join New York City's Writopia team! She is a graduate of Howard University and received her MFA from Manhattanville College in January 2017. Janelle is also a 2017 Kimbilio Fellow. She has experience teaching Creative Writing and ELA to middle schoolers throughout the New York City area. As a southern writer from Decatur, Georgia, Janelle's lyrical stories are inspired by her friends and family. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in The Feminist Wire and Kweli Journal. She is currently at work on a novel set in Harlem and a collection of short stories.

  • Elsa Bermudez

    Human Resources Associate
    Instructor
    ElsaBermudez.jpeg

    Elsa Bermudez is a writer, graphic novelist, artist, and educator. She has loved teaching creative writing, essay writing, and graphic noveling at Writopia Lab since 2014. Elsa runs creative writing workshops for children and teens in under-served communities through Writopia programs such as Write to Recognition and Homes for the Homeless. She holds her BA in Philosophy and her MFA in Creative Writing from the New School. Her short story, Agency, was published in H.O.W. Journal's Issue 11. Elsa loves fashion, hates speaking in third person, and lives in Astoria, Queens with her wife, Abby, and their puggle and cats: Bug, Beyonce, and Jay-Z.

  • Ethan Shafran Moltz

    Instructor
    Filmmaking Program Developer
    Ethan Shafran Moltz

    Ethan joined the Writopia community as an intern in 2013. He is now a full-time instructor, filmmaking instructor, and the program coordinator. His Writopia students have been showcased as part of the Tribeca Films Festival in 2015 and 2016. Prior to Writopia, Ethan worked as a freelance video editor and photographer. Ethan graduated from Sarah Lawrence College in May 2015 concentrating in religious philosophy, fiction, and non-fiction. During his time there, he produced and directed over a dozen plays. You can sometimes find Ethan leading Writopia’s unique Literary Yoga for Language Play workshops!

  • Peter Cohen

    Assistant Instructor
    Operations Specialist
    Peter Cohen

    Peter is thrilled to finally be a full-time member of the Writopia team. He has interned at Writopia for many summers, and used to be a student at Writopia during high school. He's always enjoyed writing and frequently uses it to unwind (and justify procrastinating). Combined with his love of working with kids, Writopia is the perfect place for him. Peter was initially drawn into Writopia before there even was a Writopia. Rebecca Wallace-Segall, Writopia's Executive Director, was his 7th grade English teacher. She encouraged him to submit his stories to the Scholastic Writing Awards, and, in turn, he won multiple regional and national Scholastic Awards during that time. Rebecca helped him realize that writing was more than just a hobby. Now Peter is able to help transmit that lesson to the hundreds of students who attend Writopia's classes every week. Peter graduated from SUNY Binghamton in May, 2014.

  • Alexandra Cohl

    Instructor
    Program Developer
    Developing Regions Manager
    AlexandraCohl

    Alexandra is thrilled to be an Instructor, Program Developer, and the Developing Regions Manager at Writopia NYC! As Developing Regions Manager, she oversees the growth of new regions and specifically serves as the Program Coordinator for the Chicago and Bay Area regions. Alexandra interned at Writopia NYC during the summer of 2014 after graduating from the University of Delaware with a BA in English Literature and a minor in Theatre Performance. While in school, she wrote and performed a solo Commedia dell’Arte mask show, Stella, for the theatre department and outside guests. Her short fiction has been published in Luna Luna Magazine. Throughout the school year, she instructs multi-genre workshops and private sessions, and in the summer, mainly works with the playwrights, helping them bring their written pieces to the stage. Outside of work, she writes memoir and realistic fiction and is currently working on a series of short stories. Periodic summer visits to her grandparents' house in upstate New York—or as her mother called it: "cousin camp"—proved to be influential in her artistic endeavors and remains a place of inspiration; she and her cousins would create and perform original stories, often times charging for entry. Since then, she has always loved the beauty and therapeutic power of words. In addition to reading and writing, she loves to sing and is especially moved by R&B and soul music.

  • Madeline Taylor

    Registration Coordinator
    Instructor
    Madeline Taylor

    Madeline Taylor joined Writopia as an intern in June 2015 and, after a year of working part-time, began full-time as Registration Coordinator. She also served as the Production Stage Manager for the Writopia Worldwide Plays Festival 2016. She graduated summa cum laude from Barnard College at Columbia University with a BA in English & Creative Writing. At Barnard, she stage managed, edited, and contributed to student-written theater productions, and her main areas of instruction at Writopia are the Playwriting & Performance program and the Essay Writing program. She writes primarily creative non-fiction and short fiction, and received recognition for her non-fiction writing at Barnard College with the Schwimmer Prize for the Humanities and the Estelle M. Allison Prize for Literature.

  • Hannah Boysko

    Instructor & Curriculum Developer
    Private Sessions Coordinator
    Hannah Boysko

    Hannah started at Writopia as an intern in 2015 and is over the moon to be part of the team full time! She graduated with a History and Education degree from Barnard College, where she wrote essays, short stories, poems, and a year-long research thesis, taught in classrooms all over the city, facilitated wellness workshops on campus, and hosted a multi-genre radio show, among many other things. She plans to dedicate her life to working with young people and couldn’t imagine a better place for learning than Writopia, with community and creative play at its heart. Hannah developed Writopia Lab's summer Zine-Making curriculum and teaches Essay Writing and Creative Writing workshops at our labs and off site. As a child, Hannah performed Lady Macbeth’s famous “spot” scene twice before turning 11 and was a founding member in a mother-daughter book club that has run for 12 years now. Writing has been a consistent source of joy, comfort, and excitement for Hannah, and she is so thrilled to help bring this gift to Writopia’s many writers.

  • Sarah Park

    Registration Support
    Editor-in-Chief of The (Parenthetical) and The Ellipsis...
    Madeline Taylor

    Sarah is thrilled to join Writopia Lab NYC! Born and raised in New York, she graduated Macaulay Honors College at CUNY Baruch with a B.A. in English and a minor in Art History. At Baruch, she was a poetry and prose editor for Encounters Magazine, and launched a digital nonfiction magazine, Refract Magazine, as the Editor-in-Chief. Sarah won the 2016 Sidney Harman Fiction Writing Competition for a short story that challenges the conventional female muse narrative. She hopes to use this experience to help others flex their imaginations and craft exquisite stories of their own.

  • Milana Meytes

    Assistant to Executive Director
    Instructor

    Milana Meytes is thrilled to be returning to Writopia as an essay writing instructor and full-time administrative staff member. Milana received her Masters from New York University in Humanities and Social Thought from the Draper Program at NYU's Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. She concentrated on Memory and Diaspora Studies, focusing on emigre writers and Eastern European literature. Her OpEd has been published in NYU's Journal of Political Inquiry (2017) and poetry and fiction in NYU's Anamesa/Caustic Frolic: Graduate Literary Magazine (2015, 2016, 2017). Milana was a fiction and poetry editor of NYU's graduate literary magazine and the recipient of the Graduate Research Initiative Grant to research Russian emigre writers and literature in Prague. Milana received a BA in English from Wheaton College, MA. At Wheaton she founded Wheaton Words, an autobiographical storytelling production that has been a staple and annual event at the college ever since. Her poetry was published in Wheaton College's Literary Journal: Rushlight (2013, 2014 and 2015). She has taught creative writing workshops at New York's Friends of the Children Foundation. She has been affiliated with Writopia Lab ever since she wrote her first memoir in 2006 under the guidance of Writopia's Executive Director, Rebecca Wallace-Segall, the year before Rebecca founded Writopia Lab. Writopia was pivotal in her journey as a writer and advocate for the power of storytelling.

  • Sarah Shatan-Pardo

    Registration Support
    Assistant Instructor

    Sarah joined Writopia full time the summer of 2017 after spending the summers of 2015 and 2016 assistant teaching at our workshops and camps as an intern. She graduated from Haverford College with a BA in English in May, 2017. At Haverford, Sarah had a concentration in Creative Writing and spent her senior year writing a creative thesis. When she graduated, she was awarded the Terry M. Krieger ‘69 Memorial Prize for her achievements in writing. Sarah attended Writopia workshops as a high school student, so Writopia has been a part of her life for a long time. At Writopia, Sarah is a part of the registration team and an assistant instructor. She is also an enthusiastic member of the team who brings fantasy and adventure to young writers through Worldbuilding, where the young writers create their own interactive worlds and stories. YA fantasy is Sarah’s genre of choice for both reading and writing, but nothing inspires her like the stories written by Writopia’s young writers.

  • Léna Roy

    New York Metro North Regional Manager
    Instructor
    Lena Roy

    Léna began teaching Writopia Lab workshops in Manhattan in 2009, then went on to bring the program to New York City's northern suburbs in 2010. Léna is the author of the YA novel, Edges, published by FSG. She co-edited the award-winning Girls Write Now anthology, First Lines. Her writing was featured in the essay collection for middle school kids and their teachers: Breakfast on Mars and 37 Other Essays to Devour: Your Favorite Authors Take on the Dreaded Essay Assignment. In 2014, Léna was recognized by the Scholastic Awards "as an outstanding educator whose dedication, commitment, and guidance are represented by student work selected for national honors." Léna earned her BA from Barnard, studying English and Italian literature, and her MA in Drama Therapy from NYU. Mentoring has long been the connective tissue in Léna's life, whether through her work with at-risk adolescents in Utah, California, and New York; or through her own writing discipline, as fostered by her late grandmother, author Madeleine L'Engle. It was her grandmother who taught Léna to transform the solitary nature of writing into a sacred sense of community, where her art and the art of others can flourish. You can visit Léna at www.lenaroybooks.com.

  • Jocquelyn Downs

    DC Regional Director
    Instructor
    Jocquelyn Downs

    Jocquelyn Downs is very excited to be a part of the Writopia family. Jackie obtained her MFA in Film from Howard University and her Bachelors of Arts in Broadcast Communications from Johnson C. Smith University. In 2011, Love Languages, her thesis film, was showcased in the Cannes International Film Festival's Short Film Corner. She's also written, directed and produced original plays and musical productions that have been produced at McGlohon Theater at Spirit Square in Charlotte, North Carolina. Jocquelyn has also worked as an Associate Producer for WSOC-TV and served as Producer for the Saturday Morning 8am Show. In her spare creative time, Jackie writes and performs spoken word poetry.

    Jackie has also been working closely with students on their creative writing for ten years in Washington DC and around the country. She has developed curricula for a variety of courses and agea groups ranging from middle school to college. As a high school Fine Arts instructor, over a period of six years Jackie taught courses including Creative Writing, Theater Arts, Public Speaking and Music Appreciation. She has led directing workshops at high schools in the Washington DC area and has worked as a Dramatic Arts Teaching Artist for the Capitol Hill Arts Workshop in Washington DC. She is currently juggling a few creative projects that are in post-production and is excited to start this next phase of her life with Writopia.

  • Jan Edwards Hemming

    Los Angeles Regional Manager
    Instructor
    Jan Edwards

    Jan has been teaching with Writopia Los Angeles for over two years and loves working with all of our amazing writers across the city! Jan's poetry and reviews have been published in Weave Magazine, McSweeney's Internet Tendency, The Rio Grande Review, The Raven Chronicles, and The Exquisite Corpse. She holds an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from New York University and a B.A. in English from Louisiana State University, where she won the Dara Wier Award for Poetry. Jan has worked with youth in various capacities for over sixteen years, as a camp counselor, writing and English tutor, and creative writing instructor at NYU.

  • Daniel Ajl Kitrosser

    Instructor
    Artistic Director of Writopia Plays Festival
    Playwriting and Screenwriting Specialist
    DanKitrosser

    Dan Kitrosser has been teaching year-round at Writopia since 2007. He teaches musical theater, playwriting, language play, and fiction workshops, and also produces and directs Writopia Lab's annual Best Playwrights' Festival. Dan is the resident storyteller at Central Park and an award-winning playwright. His plays and musicals have appeared at Urban Stages, 45 Bleecker Theatre, The Ohio Theatre, The Brooklyn Lyceum and American Place Theatre. His children's musical, Night of the Butterfly, has been declared "a winning original musical!" by TimeOut Kids, and had an extended Off-Broadway run. He was the recipient of the 2010 Brooklyn Arts Council Grant for his one-man musical The Legend of Ichabod Crane (Halloween Pick - Village Voice) which he continues to tour around the city. At Writopia, six of Dan's students have won "Best Play" in Stephen Sondheim's 2008, 2009, and 2010 Write a Play! contests, and many others were named finalists or won honorable mentions. A graduate of NYU, Dan's screenplays include Old Days, directed by Matt Shapiro and starring Brad Oscar (Tony Nomination, The Producers) and Mary Beth Piel (Dawson's Creek) and Bodybuilder Island, directed by Matthew Kliegman. Dan has been a final committee judge for the Philadelphia Young Playwrights Festival for four years (this coming summer will be his fifth). Dan's play Be Here Now won this festival and was a finalist in Stephen Sondheim's National Playwriting Competition.

  • Kira Peikoff Beilis

    New Jersey Regional Manager
    Head Instructor
    Kira Peikoff Beilis

    Kira is the author of three suspense novels: Living Proof (Tor, 2012), No Time to Die (Kensington, 2014), and Die Again Tomorrow (Kensington, 2015). She holds a journalism degree from New York University and a Master of Science degree in Bioethics from Columbia University. Her articles have been published in a variety of major media outlets, including The New York Times, Popular Mechanics, Newsday, and New York Magazine. Kira is passionate about teaching the art of storytelling to young writers and aims to instill in her students a lifelong enjoyment of creative writing.

  • Bianca Turetsky

    Brooklyn Regional Coordinator
    Instructor
    biancaturetsky

    Bianca is thrilled to be working with Writopia Lab as the Brooklyn Regional Coordinator. She is the author of The Time-Traveling Fashionsta, a historical fiction series published by Little, Brown and Company. The books have been translated into nine languages. After graduating from Tufts University, Bianca began working for artist and filmmaker Julian Schnabel. She managed his studio for over 11 years and was his assistant on the Academy Award-nominated film The Diving Bell and the Butterfly. She is currently at work on a new chapter book series with fellow Writopia Lab instructor Courtney Sheinmel titled Magic Camper, to be published by Rodale in fall 2018.

  • Alex Henderson

    Instructor
    AlexHenderson

    Alex Henderson has enjoyed working with young Writopians since 2012. Originally from North Carolina, he has lived in Prague, CR, and Washington, DC, where he was awarded the Thesis Fiction Fellowship by the MFA program at George Mason University. He soon made the leap to New York City and Writopia's headquarters here, where you can now find him most days of the week (sometimes it's hard to get him to leave). Alex spends his free time riding the subway with a notebook balanced on his knees or figuring out how to re-arrange the bookshelves in his Brooklyn apartment. His fiction has appeared in Harper-Perennial's Fifty-Two Stories and Ekleksographia. He will listen to anyone tell a good story.

  • Mason Henderson

    Program Manager
    Instructor
    Mason Henderson

    Mason is excited to be a part of the Writopia family. He began his work with Writopia while completing his Master’s degree at the University of Maryland where taught undergraduate English, poetry, and mixed-genre workshops. After receiving his MFA in Poetry, he joined the DC Writopia team full-time, combining his love for writing with his passion for youth arts education. He was named a Lannan Fellow in 2013 and served in the Poetry and Literature Center at the Library of Congress from 2012 to 2013, working closely with the United States Poet Laureate. His poetry has been chosen to represent the University of Maryland in the Intro Journals Project and most recently appears in the 8th issue of the Arroyo Literary Review.

  • Lyndsay Hall

    Program Coordinator
    Instructor
    Lyndsay Hall

    Lyndsay has taught with Writopia for two years and feels inspired by the talented young writers across Los Angeles. She holds an MFA in creative writing from Antioch University Los Angeles and a BS in mass communication from Florida International University. Her prose and poetry have appeared or are forthcoming in Lunch Ticket, juked, The Avalon Literary Review, xoJane, and elsewhere. She is at work on a novel, multiple poems, and countless short stories and essays.

  • Mikala Jamison

    Registration Coordinator
    Instructor
    Mikala Jamison.jpg

    Mikala is so thrilled to be part of the Writopia Lab team! Alongside her work as a full-time journalist in Philadelphia over the past five years, Mikala worked with student writers in workshops at a local nonprofit called Mighty Writers. There, she fell in love with literacy advocacy and working with young people.

    Her journalism work includes time as an editor at the reproductive and sexual health and justice publication, Rewire; as the arts and culture editor at Philadelphia City Paper, where she won two Pennsylvania NewsMedia Association awards for her feature stories; and as a reporter and editor for several other publications on the East Coast, such as Newsday in New York.

    Mikala can't wait to switch focus to more creative writing in her work, and outside of work, is a big fan of three "Fs" -- food, fitness, and festivals (art festivals, street festivals, music festivals). She tries to spend most of her time out of her home, exploring the city. Ask her about the time she did a "Story Slam" on stage!

  • Courtney Sheinmel

    Instructor
    CourtneySheinmel

    Courtney Sheinmel teaches summer and year-round fiction and memoir workshops at Writopia Lab. She grew up in California and New York, graduated magna cum laude from Barnard College, and Fordham University School of Law. After working as a litigator for several years, Courtney decided to focus on her true love: writing. Her critically-acclaimed debut "tween" novel, My So-Called Family, was published by Simon & Schuster in October 2008. Her second book, Positively, came out in September 2009. She is also the author of Sincerely Sophie/Sincerely Katie (June 2010) and You Can't Even Measure It (2011). Visit Courtney online at www.courtneysheinmel.com.

  • Steve DiUbaldo

    Instructor
    Steve DiUbaldo

    Steve is honored to be a part of Writopia's New York City team. He is a playwright, filmmaker, essayist, poet and producer living in New York City. His work has appeared in production and workshop in Chicago, Los Angeles and New York. Steve is a proud member of the Rattlestick Playwrights Theater apprentice company, “The Middle Voice.” He was a 2014 terraNOVA Collective “Groundbreaker,” and a 2015 member of Page 73’s “Interstate 73” writers group. Steve was the recipient of the Clifford Odets Ensemble Play Commission at the Lee Strasberg Theatre and Film Institute in 2015, where his play “Wayward” was developed and produced. His play “Exposure” is a 2016 semi-finalist for the Eugene O’Neil National Playwrights Conference. His short film, “Couples Therapy,” appeared on the front page of FunnyOrDie. He was awarded “The Rita and Burton Goldberg Playwright Foundation Fellowship” and the “Excellence in Playwriting” Award at NYU, where he received his MFA (’13) in Dramatic Writing. He has been to the NCAA Tournament as a player and to the Grammy’s as a Beyonce dancer.

  • Rachel Ephraim

    Instructor
    Rachel Ephraim

    Rachel Ephraim is a Writopia Instructor for the Westchester Region. She is a graduate of Columbia University's M.F.A. fiction program and has taught creative writing to kids, teens, and adults for the last ten years. Her short fiction has been published in the Apple Valley Review, The Barcelona Review, Word Riot, and other publications, and her non-fiction has appeared in The New York Spirit, Hudson Valley Parent, and Organic Hudson Valley. She was managing editor of the Park Slope Reader as well as slush-pile reader at The New Yorker, and now lives upstate where she is raising her daughters on a small homestead.

  • Rachel Barclay

    Instructor
    Rachel Barclay

    Rachel is thrilled and honored to be joining the Writopia Lab team! She is an award-winning playwright and poet based out of Washington D.C. Her plays have been developed and produced in New York, London, Washington DC, and Philadelphia. She was the recipient of the Kennedy Center's JFK National Playwriting Scholarship and a finalist for the National Partners of American Theatre National Playwriting Award. Her poetry was published in the anthology, The Poetry of Yoga, in November 2011. As an educator, Rachel has worked with Horizon Theatre Company's New South Young Playwrights Festival, the DC Theatre Lab, and Imagination Stage's Speak Out On Stage program, where she guided students through a devised theatre-making process and wrote the book and lyrics for the program's musical, On This Side of the Mountain, which will be produced in June 2012. Rachel is also a founding member of In One Day DC, a social outreach initiative whose mission is to cultivate community connection and empowerment through artistic expression. Rachel has an MFA in Dramatic Writing from Catholic University of America and a B.A. in Theater and English with a minor in Creative Writing from Arcadia University.

  • Anisha Sridhar

    Instructor
    Anisha_Sridhar

    Anisha is thrilled it be a part of the Writopia DC teaching team. She is a published journalist and fiction writer who holds holds a Diploma in Screenwriting from Vancouver Film School in British Columbia, Canada and a Masters of Arts from NYU in Digital Media Design for Learning. Anisha is an accomplished writer, educator, and, producer. She recently co-produced and co-wrote a web series set in New York City. She also develops curriculum, writes in-game scripts, characters, and story bibles for educational gaming products. In her spare time, she loves reading comics and long-form fiction. She is originally from India and tries to read at least one non-English story or book a year.

  • Brigit Kelly Young

    Instructor
    BrigitKellyYoung

    Brigit is honored to work as an instructor at the oasis of creativity that is Writopia! Brigit's poetry and fiction have been published in several venues, some of which include The North American Review, 2River View, Eclectica Magazine, Drunken Boat, Opium Magazine, The Pinch, Emerge Literary Journal, and Midwestern Gothic. She has received a nomination for the Million Writers Award, and is a winner of the Esther Unger Poetry Prize as well as a two-time recipient of the James Emanuel Poetry Award.

  • Cathleen Davitt-Bell

    Instructor
    CathleenDavittBell

    Cathleen is the author of two novels for young adults, Slipping (Bloomsbury 2008) and Little Blog on the Prairie (Bloomsbury 2010). She holds a BA in American Studies from Barnard College and an MFA in fiction writing from Columbia University. Aside from teaching writing to kids, she's worked as a reporter, a salesperson, a market researcher, a copywriter, a birthday party entertainer, a personal shopper and a research assistant. Visit her online at CathleenDavittBell.com. She is thrilled to join the Writopia community. She has two dogs named Oscar and Oprah. Her favorite food is pizza and, strangely, in her thirties, she's developed a great love for playing catch.

  • Taylor Sykes

    Instructor
    Taylor Sykes

    Taylor joined the Writopia team the summer of 2013. She graduated from Purdue University West Lafayette in 2013 with her BA in English Education and Creative Writing. During her last year of college, she taught American Literature and Creative Writing at McCutcheon High School in Indiana full time. Taylor received several literary awards from Purdue for her creative and critical writing and was recently a finalist in NPR's Three-Minute Fiction contest. Her short fiction was published on NPR's website and a portion was read on the air during All Things Considered. Other fiction, poetry, and nonfiction has been published in Alyss, Pieces of Cake, and The Brooklyn Film and Arts blog. She has been a fan of Writopia for some time so she is thrilled to be part of the team of inspired thinkers, teachers and writers.

  • Cory Tamler

    Instructor
    CoryTamler

    Cory Tamler (www.corytamler.com) writes and translates essays, fiction, and plays/pieces for performance. She also works as a director, producer, and organizer, often on cross-disciplinary projects with an international component and performed in non-traditional venues. She has made theater in Germany, Serbia, New Zealand, Mongolia, and throughout the United States. Cory is a former Fulbright Scholar, a member of the Network of Ensemble Theaters (NET/TEN Exchange Grant recipient), an alumna of DirectorsLabChicago, and a CEC ArtsLink Grant recipient for her theater work in Belgrade. Her personal and critical writing has been published in The Offing, Culturebot, Extended Play, ArtParasites, Howlround, and Interartive, and her translations have appeared in Asymptote, The Offing, and The Animated Reader (New Museum Triennial). In the fall of 2015 she designed a writing residency on board the RV Roger Revelle, a research vessel on which she shadowed and worked with oceanographers for five weeks. She is the Spring 2016 R&D Season Fellow at the New Museum. A Brooklyn resident since 2011, Cory is originally from Pittsburgh, where she studied physics and fiction writing at the University of Pittsburgh. She will begin a Theater Studies PhD program in fall 2016. As a homeschooled kid, Cory took a lot of writing and theater classes and wouldn't be who she is today without them. She is proud to teach writing and performance across the city with Writopia and with Brooklyn Acts.

  • Melissa Baumgart

    Instructor
    Melissa Baumgart

    Melissa is honored to be part of the Writopia team! Melissa graduated from Northwestern University, where she studied Radio/TV/Film and History. She volunteered for several years as a mentor and as a Writing & Critical Thinking consultant for Minds Matter NYC, where she helped students prepare their college applications. Melissa has worked at HBO and Comedy Central, TV Land, and Spike TV. She is currently working on her MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults at Vermont College of Fine Arts.

  • Amy Dupcak

    Instructor
    AmyDupcak

    Amy Dupcak is truly excited to join Writopia, NYC. She studied Writing, Film History, and other random things at Sarah Lawrence College, then earned an MFA in Fiction from The New School. Along the way, she's worked as a music and culture journalist, editor, blogger, and publishing intern. She started and taught a Creative Writing course for high school seniors in Westchester, and now teaches English and tutors on the college level in Manhattan. She has published short stories and creative nonfiction in Sonora Review, Fringe, Phoebe, The Dirty Napkin, and other literary journals, and has also completed her first novel, which she hopes to get out into the world soon!

  • Talia Sand

    Instructor
    Talia Sand

    Talia Sand teaches Language Play workshops at Writopia. She graduated from Stern College for Women, Yeshiva University with a BA in Creative Writing and a Minor in Women's Studies. While there, she served as the editor of the Lifestyle section of Stern College Observer. She eventually became the first female staff member and Creative Editor and Section Editor of the Yeshiva University Commentator. She has served as an intern at Random House Publishing and is currently an event assistant at Eloise Shop at the Plaza. Additionally, she has also served as the lead writer of the Simply Southern Cookbook. She recently graduated from the New School for Creative Writing where she studied under David Leviathan and Sarah Weeks. She is currently working on her first Young Adult novel.

  • Stephen Cedars

    Instructor
    Stephen Cedars

    Stephen began teaching fiction and playwriting at Writopia in 2011. His original theatre has been produced throughout New York City for the past seven years through the Brick Theatre, the Downtown Urban Theatre Festival, and the Ontological-Hysteric Incubator, chashama. He has also co-produced community theater for Williamsburg families. He studied English, History and Theatre at Louisiana State University, and recently graduated with his MFA from NYU's Department of Dramatic Writing, where he was awarded the John Golden Prize for Excellence in Playwriting.

  • Sarah Bernstein

    Instructor
    Sarah Bernstein

    Sarah Bernstein is an award-winning teacher and playwright. Sarah studied playwriting with Paula Vogel at Brown University, and her work has been produced and/or developed with companies throughout the country, including the Lark Play Development Center, the Amoralists, Forward Flux Productions,The Motor Company, the Source Festival, FullStop Collective, Caps Lock Theatre, the American Globe Theatre, Project Y, and the New Voices Project. Her play, Perpetuation, and her adaptation of Les Miserables, will be published by Playscripts, Inc. next year. After falling in love with Writopia through her work on the Worldwide Plays Festival, she is thrilled to have the opportunity to work with Writopia's brilliant students and staff as an instructor.

  • Steve Ross

    Graphic Novel Mentor
    Steve Ross

    Steve Ross is an artist, illustrator and writer whose work has appeared in many magazines and periodicals including the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times. He is the creator of two popular graphic novels: Marked, a re-imagining of the Gospel of Mark and Blinded, an idiosyncratic take on the misadventures of St. Paul of Tarsus. He and his son, Allen (a proud Writopia alum), are also the creators of the online web comic www.SeventyOfSeventy.com.

    Steve began his professional career as a teenager in San Antonio, Texas, selling pictures of angst-ridden, dark and disturbing surrealist art to his friends and teachers. Soon after high school he landed a job drawing dining room tables for a local furniture company, and was surprised when the owner became upset that he was drawing dark and disturbing surrealist furniture for the company's newspaper ads. They parted company.

    You can visit Steve and see more of his work at www.StevenTracyRoss.com.

  • Michelle Schusterman

    Instructor
    Michelle Schusterman

    Michelle Schusterman joined the Writopia team in the spring of 2014. Michelle is the author of the middle grade series I Heart Bandand The Kat Sinclair Files (Penguin), as well as the upcoming horror-fantasy novel Maudville (Egmont). She has a bachelor's degree in music education from the University of North Texas and was a middle and high school band director for several years before teaching ESL in Brazil and Korea. She currently lives in New York City with her husband (and bandmate) and their chocolate lab (who's more of a vocalist).

  • Adrienne Benson Scherger

    Instructor
    Adrienne Benson Scherger

    Adrienne joined Writopia DC in 2013. She writes fiction and personal essays. Her work has appeared or is upcoming in Skirt! Magazine, Defying Gravity, Sierra Nevada Journal, the Washington Post, and Brain, Child. Her work-in-progress is a collection of linked stories about expatriates in Kenya. A native of the District, she is an adult "foreign-service brat" who spent most of her childhood following her development-worker parents around sub-Saharan Africa. After getting a BA in creative writing from Lewis and Clark College, she joined the Peace Corps and spent two years in a Himalayan village in Nepal. Since then, she has not only picked up an MA in nonfiction, but also called Kyiv, Ukraine; Tirana, Albania and Syracuse, New York home. Happily settled in Washington now, she lives with her three kids, one husband, and one barky terrier called Thor, Dog of Thunder.

  • Kathleen McCleary

    Instructor
    Kathleen McCleary

    Kathleen McCleary is the author of three novels, including House and Home (Hyperion); A Simple Thing (HarperCollins) and Leaving Haven (HarperCollins). Her non-fiction articles and essays have appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, Ladies Home Journal, Good Housekeeping, and other publications. She has also taught writing as an adjunct professor at American University. When she's not writing, she can be found in the gym, trying to teach herself to do pull-ups. You can find more about Kathleen's work at www.kathleenmccleary.com.

  • Sheila McMullin

    Instructor
    Sheila McMullin

    Sheila is so excited to join the Writopia LA team after teaching at Writopia DC for 3 years. Sheila is the author of daughterrarium (2017), winner of the Cleveland State University Poetry Center First Book Prize. She brings to Writopia over a decade’s worth of experience in creative writing and education ranging from after-school writing and enrichment programs, to public school and classroom partnership projects, to Teaching English as a Foreign Language in Prague as well as in China’s Shandong Province, a stint teaching English Composition and Intro to Literature at the collegiate level, editing magazines and periodicals, and publishing her own original work. She is a strong believer in and supporter of youth empowerment, literacy advocacy, and community involvement. She is passionate about books and storytelling. She loves to read them, write them, and get them into the hands of others. Even more, she is dedicated to writing and talking story with people from all walks of life to encourage the writing and storytelling process, especially with those who do not consider themselves “writers” or “someone with a story” and those from communities or with perspectives rarely given space to be witnessed. She believes everyone has truly important stories to share and the right for their voices to be valued. She believes it an honor to help get those stories out into the world. She earned her M.F.A. in Poetry from George Mason University and sits on the Board of Directors for VIDA: Women in Literary Arts. In her spare time, she volunteers at her local cat rescue.

  • Laura Miller

    Instructor
    Laura Miller

    Laura is thrilled to join Writopia Lab in DC! She is a teaching artist, dramaturg, writer, and occasional performer. She is the Literary Manager for Forum Theatre, and a freelance dramaturg for many theatres and projects across the country. Raleigh-based company Urban Garden Performing Arts produced her collaborative dance-theatre piece, Mark Twain's Joan of Arc: Part 1 in 2012, and Part 2 in 2013. Laura is the former Creative Development Director of the off-Broadway company Electric Pear Productions and has had the honor of working with The Public Theater, The Kennedy Center, Shakespeares Globe Theatre, The Inkwell, and The Princess Grace Awards, among others. She is a graduate of Brooklyn College and James Madison University.

  • Alex Machock

    Instructor
    AlexMachock

    Alex Machock is very excited to join the team at Writopia L.A. He earned a B.A. in Theater Arts from the University of California, Santa Cruz, and during this time wrote two plays, which were both produced and performed by the faculty. He has worked with youth for the past 6 years, from instructing science lessons at a summer camp to leading SAT test prep workshops, and is thrilled to be able to bridge his love of teaching with his passion for writing. When he isn't working or writing he is most likely indulging his other passion: playing music.

  • Gabe Durham

    Instructor
    Gabe Durham

    Gabe is excited to be a part of Writopia! He's the author of a summer camp novel called Fun Camp (2013) and a nonfiction book about weird Christian video games called Bible Adventures (2015). He received his M.F.A. in Fiction Writing from University of Massachusetts Amherst, and currently works as the editor and publisher of Boss Fight Books, a series of short critical books about games. His prose has been published in over 50 magazines and journals, including Electric Literature, Mid-American Review, and Puerto del Sol, and his projects have been featured in Nylon Guys, BuzzFeed, and The Onion A.V. Club. He's taught writing and literature at Bay Path College, Lipscomb University, Holyoke Community College, and Mount St. Mary's College.

  • Sarah Darer Littman

    Instructor
    Sarah Darer Littman

    Sarah Darer Littman is an award-winning author of books for young people. Her first novel, Confessions of a Closet Catholic, won the 2006 Sydney Taylor Book Award for Older Readers. Her novel Life, After was a 2011 Sydney Taylor Honor Book. She is also the author of Purge, named one of Bank Street College of Education's 2010 Best Books of the Year and Want to go Private? a 2012 YALSA Quick Pick for Reluctant Readers and a Bank Street College Best Book for 2012. Her YA novel Backlash will be published by Scholastic in April 2015 and she's one of 12 authors chosen by CT Humanities to write "The Great CT Caper," an online mystery serial. Sarah also writes middle grade series fiction. In addition to writing for young people, Sarah is an award-winning political columnist for CTNewsJunkie.com and an adjunct professor in the MFA program at Western CT State College. Visit her online at SarahDarerLittman.com, WantToGoPrivate.com and on Twitter @sarahdarerlitt.

  • Veera Hiranandani

    Instructor
    Veera Hiranandani

    Veera Hiranandani is the author of several works for children including the novel, The Whole Story of Half a Girl (Delacorte Press), which was named a Sydney Taylor Notable Book and a South Asian Book Award Finalist. She is also the author of the upcoming chapter book series, Phoebe G. Green (Grosset & Dunlap). She received her MFA in fiction writing at Sarah Lawrence College. A former book editor at Simon & Schuster and Montessori teacher, Veera is now focused on writing more books, teaching, and family life. She is so pleased to be part of the Writopia Lab team! You can learn more about Veera at www.veerahiranandani.com.

  • Melissa Marino

    Instructor
    Melissa Marino

    Melissa happily joined Writopia in March 2014. She is the author of YA novel, Witch Way (Lycaon Press, 2014) and two novels in the paranormal/fantasy genre. Melissa also dabbles in poetry and short-story writing and she is currently writing a chapbook. She earned her MFA in Creative Writing from Manhattanville College and MA in Psychology from Iona College. Melissa is honored and delighted to be a part of the Writopia team! Visit her online at www.mamarino.com/.

  • Donna Miele

    Instructor
    DonnaMiele

    Donna Lee Miele joined Writopia Lab in 2014 as an instructor at Cuppa Pulp Writers' Space in Nanuet, New York. She also teaches in Westchester. Donna writes primarily fiction and non-fiction (though she's been spotted enjoying poetry slams and open mics in Nyack). She recently finished a full-length fiction manuscript based on her family's life in Mindanao, Philippines during World War II, and is at work on her second novel. She received her MFA from Manhattanville College, has been published in MendaCity Review , blogs for Magnificent Nose, and has work forthcoming in Atticus Review. As owner-manager of Cuppa Pulp Writers' Space, Donna leads writing salons and workshops, organizes and facilitates author events, and just generally enjoys stirring the local writing soup, along with her Rockland County cohorts. She's looking forward to supporting a new generation of writers with Writopia Lab!

  • Rob Roy

    Operations Manager
    Rob Roy

    Rob is Writopia Lab's administrator for the New York Metro North labs. Having worked more than a decade in New York film production, Rob says he's perfectly qualified to run errands, file paperwork, and tinker on computers. And because Rob shares Writopia's vision of building an environment in which to foster the creativity of teens and kids, he now runs, files, and tinkers with more joy than he did before.

  • Alexa Salvato

    Assistant Instructor
    Admin Support
    AlexaSalvato

    Alexa Salvato has interned with Writopia Lab since 2013. As a high school senior Alexa received a national American Voices award from the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards. She is currently a student at Ithaca College in the Park Scholarship program for Journalism. Alexa helps co-teach summer workshops for young Writopians, acts as editor for student submissions to The (Parenthetical), and volunteers as a WritopiaMentor for a local high school in Ithaca, NY. Alexa's essays, articles, and poetry have been published in Chronogram Magazine, Ithaca College's Buzzsaw Magazine, and New Moon Girl Media.

  • Catherine Curan

    Instructor
    CatherineCuran

    Catherine began teaching with Writopia Lab in 2012. Her writing has been published in Fiction, Many Mountains Moving, Ozone Park Journal, the SalonZine and Sleet magazine. As a journalist, Catherine has investigated the mortgage industry for the New York Post, covered fashion shows for Condé Nast Portfolio.com, and earned a Newswomen's Club of New York Front Page Award for her Crain's New York Business special report on the hip-hop economy. Catherine earned her A.B. in English with a concentration in Creative Writing from Princeton University, graduating cum laude, and received an MFA in Creative Writing from The New School. She volunteers as Associate Publisher of the online journal Anderbo.com, and has twice served as a national judge for the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards.

  • Scott Krier

    Film Producer and Editor
    Operations Specialist
    Scott Krier

    Scott began working for Writopia Lab in October in 2013 as an editorial intern managing Writopia's online magazine, The (Parenthetical). Now, Scott serves as an Office Manager as well as the National Editorial Coordinator for Writopia's newly launched literary magazines, The Ellipsis... and The (Parenthetical). He was born in Chicago, IL, graduated in 2012 from Boston University with a degree in Film/TV Screenwriting, and has traveled to many places in between. Scott worked at PBS Frontline as a production assistant from 2012-2013. Scott is Writopia's in-house film producer and editor. He keeps himself busy by planning the next great adventure, whether on the page or out in the world.

  • Anu Amaran

    Instructor
    Anu Amaran

    Anu Amaran (pen name: A. Anupama) is excited to work with the team of Writopians, young and old, in the Metro North labs. Anu is a poet, critic, essayist, and translator whose work has appeared in Fourteen Hills, CutBank, Numéro Cinq Magazine, Tulane Review, and elsewhere. She studied at Northwestern University and Vermont College of Fine Arts, where she received her MFA in writing. She currently organizes literary community and is a founding editor of the literary journal River River. She lives and writes in Nyack, New York. Find Anu’s musing at seranam.com.

  • Cara Stevens

    Instructor
    Cara Stevens

    Cara Stevens joined the Writopia team in the Fall of 2015. She has written 9 books for children including Dragon School, a mid-grade novel, and 3 books for Nickelodeon. She has designed educational video games and interactive storybooks, written for teen blogs like Kidzworld and BeingGirl, and has created ads and written articles for major publications. She studied Psychology at Vassar College and earned a Master of Arts degree in Communication from New York University. She is thrilled to join the Writopia community and hopes to learn a lot from the young writers in her workshops! She loves watching Doctor Who, Gilmore Girls and Animaniacs with her kids, and has read The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy 17 times and counting. Cara lives in Connecticut with her husband, two children, and loud, white, fluffy dog Oliver.

  • PJ DeGenaro

    Instructor
    PJ DeGenaro

    A writer of fiction, nonfiction, and poetry, PJ DeGenaro is overjoyed to be joining the staff of Writopia's Northern Metro labs as of the summer, 2015. PJ’s writing has appeared in numerous publications including The Adirondack Review, The Westchester Review, and The Hudson Independent. Her short story, “Everything Is Not Yet Lost,” was awarded “Best Thing We’ve Read Today” by The Furnace Review. PJ earned her BA in Fine Art from Hofstra University, and her MFA in Fiction at Manhattanville College. She has taught academic writing at the college level, and has developed and facilitated creative writing workshops for adult-education programs.

  • Kyle Metzger

    Instructor
    Kyle Metzger

    Kyle joined the Writopia team in 2015. He is first and foremost a storyteller. As a theater director he devises, develops and directs new plays. As a teaching artist he's worked with the Stuttering Association for the Young (SAY) teaching playwriting and songwriting, Brooklyn Arts Exchange (BAX) teaching music theater, and Serious Fun After School running their program at PS33 in Chelsea. Kyle has directed numerous plays over the last 3 years in Writopia's Worldwide Plays festivals and is pumped to join the team this summer as an Instructor. He holds a BFA in Music Theater from The Hartt School, and recent directing projects include work at Signature, terraNOVA Collective, Culture Project, and 59E59. This summer he will be adapting and directing Shakespeare's As You Like It to be performed in NYC parks. If you see a guy biking around the Upper West Side with a neon yellow helmet and a very sweaty face please wave hello and offer him water. This spring Kyle assisted director Mia Rovegno on the world premier of Underland by Alexandra Collier at 59E59. Currently in development are two new plays by frequent collaborator Tim Duncheon - Stage Spies! and Almost Free as well as an adaptation of Shakespeare's As You Like It to be performed this August in parks throughout the city.

  • Stephanie Susnjara

    Instructor
    Stephanie Susnjara

    Stephanie is thrilled to help kids and teens discover the joys of writing through Writopia Lab. Stephanie also works as a freelance writer/editor/researcher in the realms of journalism, web content, nonfiction book manuscripts, and film/television project development. In a teaching capacity she has taught creative nonfiction writing online through the Creative Nonfiction Foundation; has run script analysis seminars at NYU/Tisch School of the Arts to graduate and undergraduate film and dramatic writing students; and instructed high school students on writing college entrance essays. Her literary essays and book reviews have appeared in the following literary journals and anthologies: Brain, Child: The Magazine for Thinking Mothers; Brain, Child’s Greatest Hits; Brevity; Creative Nonfiction; Italian Americana; MotherVerse; and The Yorktown Anthology of New Writers (Gotham Press). Stephanie has a BA in Theatre from the University of Colorado (1986) and an MFA in Creative Nonfiction from Goucher College (2000). She lives in Katonah, New York, with her two children.

  • Jessica McHugh

    Instructor
    Jessica McHugh

    Jessica McHugh is thrilled to be a part of Writopia Lab. She's a novelist, playwright, and short story writer with seventeen books published by small presses in the last seven years, including the first three novels in her edgy young adult series, the Darla Decker Diaries. Her play, Fools Call It Fate, won the Mobtown Theatre playwriting competition in 2010 and was named "Best New Play of 2011" by Baltimore Broadway World. While crafting fiction is Jessica's biggest passion in life, she derives immense joy from inspiring and encouraging the creativity of others. She's honored to join the Writopia Lab family as an instructor this summer. For more information on her ever-expanding McHughniverse, please visit www.JessicaMcHughBooks.com or excellent publishers like Post Mortem Press and Evolved Publishing.

  • Lily Ladewig

    Instructor
    Lily Ladewig

    Lily Ladewig is thrilled to join Writopia Lab's Los Angeles team and wishes that she could have taken Writopia workshops when she was a young writer. She earned her MFA from the University of Massachusetts Amherst's Program for Poets and Writers as well as a certificate in screenwriting from New York University's School of Professional Studies. Her full-length poetry collection, The Silhouettes, was published by SpringGun Press in 2012. Lily has taught creative writing at the K-12 and college level, and loves yoga, birthday cake, and reading under the covers with a flashlight.

  • Melanie Howard

    Instructor
    Melanie Howard

    Melanie Howard is excited to join Writopia Lab as an instructor in the Greater Washington DC area. Melanie is an award-winning writer whose work has appeared online and in print in Time.com, Cosmopolitan, Glamour, SELF, Seventeen, Parenting, Good Housekeeping and other major publications. She is the co-author of the satirical novel, Queen of the Court (2013) and her second novel, a mystery set at a girls’ boarding school in 1963, is in the publication process. Melanie is an honors graduate of the University of Virginia with a degree in General and Comparative Literature. She loves writing for a living for many reasons, but mostly because she gets to stay home with her dog, Rocket.

  • Dara Coye

    Instructor
    Dara Coye

    Dara couldn’t be more excited to join Writopia Lab’s Los Angeles team! She is a produced playwright, screenwriter, and novelist who received her MFA from New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts Dramatic Writing Program. In addition to her creative writing, Dara is a freelance journalist who has covered the arts for various publications. She is passionate about youth literacy outreach and has worked as a reading and writing tutor and mentor for children around Los Angeles. She recently completed a novel and is currently working on a screenplay.

  • Jessica Cluess

    Instructor
    Jessica Cluess

    Jessica is excited to join Writopia Lab. Her YA fantasy trilogy will be published by Random House Children's Books beginning in 2016. She is a graduate of Northwestern University, holding a degree in communications as well as a certificate from the Creative Writing for the Media program. She lives in Los Angeles and loves coffee. A lot.

  • Emily Beyda

    Instructor
    Emily_headshotEmily Beyda joined Writopia the summer of 2013. She is a writer of fiction and food and travel journalism. Her stories have been featured in The Cupboard, Postcard Shorts, and Lightning Cake, and a piece she wrote recently debuted in spoken word form at an exhibition in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. She writes a monthly culinary advice column called Ask a Glutton for The Hairpin, and worked as a restaurant critic for AsiaLife and The Word magazines when she lived in Saigon. She is hard at work on her first novel.

  • Korama Danquah

    Instructor
    Korama_headshotKorama is so psyched to be a member of the Writopia team! She is a writer (plays, short stories, and poetry) and actor originally from Los Angeles, CA. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Theatre Arts and Performance Studies from Brown University. Korama splits her time between acting, working on the West Coast Premier of her solo show Mixtape for New Year's Eve, blogging for various feminist and woman-centric publications (LA FPI, Geek Girl Authority), penning her first young adult novel, writing collaborative theatre pieces with Fell Swoop Playwrights, and co-founding a writers' colony for young women called The Grange.

  • Katherine Kipp

    Instructor

    Katherine_Kipp_headshotKatherine is thrilled to join the Writopia team! A Tennessean at heart, she moved to Maryland to work on her MFA in Fiction Writing, which she received from the University of Maryland in 2014. She also has a MA in English from Southeast Missouri State University and a BA in English and Journalism from Union University. Her first book was a construction paper cut-out of a cat's face, containing a story about a disobedient kitten that she wrote in the 2nd grade. Since then, her writing has been published in Glasschord, Journey, and Big Muddy, and reviewed on newpages.com. As a journalist, she wrote entertainment and feature stories for small newspapers in Tennessee and Missouri. Currently, she teaches composition at the University of Maryland and Montgomery College. Katherine enjoys big cups of coffee, sushi, collecting books and journals, running and, of course, writing. She hopes to adopt a cat soon and name her after one of her favorite authors, Flannery O'Connor.

  • Eleanor Duke

    Assistant Instructor
    EleanorDuke

    Eleanor Duke is a writer and editor living in Los Angeles. She graduated from Brown University’s Literary Arts program with the top nonfiction writing prize, and is currently the assistant fiction editor at the Los Angeles Review of Books.

  • Monica Baker

    Instructor
    Monica Baker

    Monica adores teaching creative writing with Writopia DC! In 2010 Freestyle (Schiffer Publishing), her first middle grade novel and 2011 Crystal Kite Award finalist, was born. Monica went on to write nonfiction for Science Weekly before earning her Master of Fine Arts in Writing from the Vermont College of Fine Arts. She has always loved a good adventure and has always loved including those adventures in her writing. For over twenty years she has worked on wildly fun marketing assignments, which have exposed her to exotic places like Cambodia and to interesting movements like the Underground Railroad. Currently, Monica is marketing a novel and several picture books.

  • Cory Hinkle

    Instructor
    CoryHinkle

    Cory is excited to teach with Writopia this summer! Cory is a playwright based in Los Angeles, where he is a member of the Playwrights Union. Most recently, he won the 2015 Heideman Award for his play This Quintessence of Dust. He is the past recipient of two Jerome fellowships and a McKnight Advancement Grant. His work has been produced or developed at Actors Theatre of Louisville, Cape Cod Theatre Project, the Guthrie Theater, HERE Arts Center, Moving Arts, Chalk Rep, New York Theatre Workshop and the Sundance Theatre Lab, among others. He has taught theatre and writing courses at a number of institutions, including Bates College, Gustavus Adolphus College, Writopia Lab, and the Saint Paul Conservatory for Performing Artists. More info: www.coryhinkle.com.

  • Michelle Meyers

    Instructor
    michellemeyers

    Michelle joined Writopia LA the summer of 2013. Her prose pieces have been published in DOGZPLOT, jmww, and Clerestory Journal of the Arts. Her plays have been developed and/or produced in New York City (New Dramatists); Los Angeles (Hollywood Fringe Festival and the Pacific Resident Theatre); Chicago (Indie Boots Theatre Festival); Great Barrington, MA (Berkshire Fringe Festival); Providence, RI (Production Workshop, the McCormack Family Theater, and the Granoff Center for the Creative Arts); and Nova Scotia, Canada (Acadia Theatre Company). Michelle graduated from Brown University with degrees in “Literary Arts” and “Theatre—Writing for Performance” and is a recipient of the Weston Award for Playwriting and the SCCC Creative Writing Award for College Students. Her first novel will be released on Amazon in 2014. When not working with Writopia, Michelle teaches English and history at Fusion Academy Los Angeles, an alternative private middle and high school, and is part of the Los Angeles playwrights’ collective Fell Swoop Playwrights.

  • Michael Alessi

    Instructor
    Michael Alessi

    Michael Alessi is honored to be an instructor for Writopia. He grew up in Virginia and graduated from the University of Michigan before earning his MFA in Fiction at Old Dominion University. His work has appeared in literary journals such as decomP, Gigantic Sequins, Mid-American Review, NANO Fiction, and New Delta Review. He is the recipient of the first annual Ryan R. Gibbs Award for Short Fiction, an Academy of American Poets Prize, and a finalist for an AWP Intro Journals Award and the 2015 Wabash Prize for Fiction.

  • Steve Lewis

    Instructor
    Steve Lewis

    A recent transplant from Writopia DC, Steve is thrilled to be joining the Writopia West squad. Steve's work as a playwright has been honored by the Kennedy Center and Sundance Lab (winner of the Mark Twain Prize for Comic Playwriting), placed as a Finalist for New Dramatists' Princess Grace Award for Playwriting, and published by Smith & Kraus. As an arts educator, Steve has also taught fiction and playwriting for the award-winning Young Playwrights' Theater, Arena Stage, Imagination Stage, and the University of Maryland. Steve studied creative writing at the University of Pennsylvania (B.A.) and the Catholic University of America (M.F.A.). He and his wife love Los Angeles, and their two tiny dogs love not living under threat of snow burial.

  • Brian Sonia-Wallace

    Instructor
    Brian Sonia-Wallace

    Brian Sonia-Wallace (alias RENT Poet) is jazzed and jubilant to be working at Writopia. Brian makes poetry and live art, and is interested in community development, cultural literacy, and people talking to each other. He creates jobs for poets as Co-Director of Melrose Poetry Bureau, and his first book of poems, I Sold These Poems, Now I Want Them Back, was published by Yak Press in 2016. Past accomplishments include a 2015 Doris Duke Impact Award Nomination and residencies with the National Parks System, LACMA, Shuar Nation (Ecuador), Gallerie Ulrike Petschelt (Germany), and Dollar Shave Club. Brian has an MA in Sustainable Development from the University of St Andrews, Scotland.

  • Kristen Burke

    Instructor
    KristenBurke

    Kristen Burke is a Long Island based instructor, excited to be a part of the Writopia team. As a freelance writer, she enjoys working with clients on their latest marketing and advertising endeavors while also maintaining a career as a humor writer. She graduated from Hofstra University, where she studied Fine Arts and Art Education, and is now working on her thesis for a master’s degree in Creative Writing and Literature from Stony Brook University. Kristen is currently working on a collection of humorous personal essays expected to be complete in 2017.

  • Kate Long

    Instructor
    katelong

    Kate is ecstatic to be joining Writopia’s northern Westchester division! Kate has served as a Teaching Artist in NYC’s public schools for over thirty years. She is a playwright member of the Ensemble Studio Theatre where several of her one-acts have been produced. Her plays have been published by Samuel French, Broadway Play Publishing and included in Applause Books’ Best Short Plays. Her latest one-act, Casting Cordelia, can be found in the 2015 edition of The Westchester Review.

  • Chad Anderson

    Instructor
    Chad_Anderson

    Chad is thrilled to join the team at Writopia Lab DC. He is a freelance editor and writer and has published fiction in Salamander, Black Warrior Review, and Nimrod International Journal. He also has written extensively about culture and higher education. Originally from Virginia's Shenandoah Valley, Chad earned his B.A. in English and in American studies from the University of Virginia and his M.F.A. in creative writing from Indiana University, where he taught academic and creative writing and also served as the fiction editor for Indiana Review. In addition to writing, Chad loves hiking, camping, being on the water, reading (of course), traveling, karaoke, analyzing television and film, gardening, and attempting to cook. To learn more about Chad and his work, visit www.chadbanderson.com.

  • Jenna Danoy

    Instructor
    Program Coordinator
    jennadanoy

    Jenna Danoy is very excited to be joining the Writopia team! Jenna earned her BFA in Writing, Literature & Publishing: Fiction from Emerson College in December 2014, and has since used her writing and editing skills to help high school and college students craft essays, polish their work, and discover a love for writing. While at Emerson, Jenna published four works of short fiction; a personal essay and a one-act play. Jenna has been writing short fiction and personal essays for as long as she can remember, and has read her work aloud since she was eight years old. She is now working on several pieces, including a young adult novel, and several short stories.

  • Natalie Lima

    Instructor
    Natalie_Lima

    Natalie Lima is an instructor at Writopia Los Angeles. She is a 2016 Pen Center USA Emerging Voices Fellow and writes prose and poetry. Her fiction has recently appeared in Word Riot, and her writing has been awarded a Voices of Our Nation Arts Foundation (VONA) Fellowship, a UCLA Extension Kirkwood Literary Prize Nomination, and a PEN Center USA Fellowship. Natalie is a first-generation college graduate of Northwestern University and, in the fall of 2016, will begin her MFA in Creative Writing at the The University of Alabama as a McNair Graduate Fellow. In addition to writing, Natalie volunteers for Minds Matter LA, a nonprofit college prep program serving accomplished high school students from low-income families, and also for POPS the Club, a creative writing club for high school students who have been impacted by mass incarceration crisis.

  • Travon Anderson

    Office Manager
    travon

    Travon is excited to join the Writopia Family! He has many years of experience working with children and nonprofit organizations. Originally from Detroit, Michigan, Travon made New York his home in summer of 2014. For over a year Travon served as Project Administrator at the Alliance for Young Artists & Writers, the hosting organization of the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards. Aside from administrative and customer service experience, Travon is a working jazz artist. He looks forward to meeting the wonderful students and families of Writopia Lab.

  • Kerry Blu

    Instructor
    kerry_blu

    Kerry Blu is so happy to explore this amazing opportunity with Writopia Lab. He is a Rapper, Songwriter, Producer, Actor, Dancer, and Columnist living in Brooklyn NY by way of Winston-Salem N.C. After high school, Kerry majored in Theatre and Dance performance at Appalachian State University. Hip-Hop soon became an intricate part of his artistry and expression and in 2012 he made the move to NYC to develop the craft of song writing and stage performance. Since that time he has produced over 20 musical concerts and performed in over 40 musical concerts as a solo artist; including shows at Webster hall, the Fillmore, Santos party House and SXSW music Festival 2016.

  • Ryan Sandoval

    Instructor
    ryan_sandoval

    Ryan Sandoval is thrilled join Writopia and loves getting imaginative with minds of all ages. Ryan holds a B.A. in English from the University of California, Los Angeles and has a comedic spy novel being published this winter through The Devastator Press.

    His writing has been featured in TVGuide, TV.com, TIME and The New York Times. As a screenwriter he created and produced comedy and animation for Amazon, MTV, Maker Studios, Machinima, and Netflix. He is currently co-scripting a cartoon for FX Networks and developing new animation for Fullscreen and Freeform. A former camp counselor and high school tutor, Ryan is eager to collaborate with the next generation of great writers.

  • Ian McDonald

    Instructor
    ian_mcdonald

    Ian McDonald is thrilled to be back working at Writopia for his third summer! Ian is a playwright, filmmaker, and educator from Portland, Maine. He holds an MFA in Playwriting from Brown University, where he also taught. He is the recipient of a Playwriting Grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Clauder Competition Gold Prize, and the Visionary Playwrights Award from Theatre Masters. He has also received residencies from the MacDowell Colony, the Edward Albee Foundation, the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, the UCross Foundation, and the Brush Creek Foundation for the Arts. He teaches at Loyola Marymount University and writes for the L.A. Review Of Books. Ian's film Some Freaks will be premiering at the 2016 Fantasia Film Festival.

  • Dania Ramos

    Instructor
    dania_ramos

    Dania is excited to be part of Writopia Lab in New Jersey. She is an author and playwright. Her middle grade novel Who's Ju (Northampton House Press) was named the 2015 International Latino Book Awards Best YA eBook and was a finalist for the 2015 ILBA Mariposa Award for Best First Book. Her plays have been featured at Luna Stage (Mainstage Season, Short Play Festival), Writers Theatre of New Jersey (Women Playwrights Program, FORUM and Soundings Reading Series), Repertorio Español (Nuestras Voces Reading Series), and Dreamcatcher Rep (NJTA Stages Festival). Dania holds a BFA in Theatre from Montclair State University and an MA in Creative Writing from Wilkes University.

  • Betsy Allen


    Instructor
    elizabethallen

    Elizabeth (Betsy) Allen is thrilled to join the Writopia staff! She is a native of Defiance,Ohio and earned her bachelor’s degree in journalism from The Ohio State University in 1984. She also holds a master’s degree in English (2011) and an MFA in fiction writing (2013) from George Mason University. Somewhere in between those degrees, Allen worked in corporate marketing communications, public relations, and freelance writing and editing. She is the author of several short stories published in various genre anthologies, including Twisted Yarns and Southern Haunts 3, and is currently revising her MFA thesis project (aka, her novel). She also is the co-author of the graphic novel trilogy, The End of Gath. At home in Alexandria, Virginia,Allen lives with her husband and two rarely cooperative, but (fortunately for them) cute dogs. In her spare time, she frets about her two grown children and her grandson.

  • Sheela Chari

    Instructor
    sheelachari

    Sheela Chari is the author of several books for young readers, including the upcoming Finding Mighty, and Vanished, which was an Asian/ Pacific-American Library Association (APALA) Children’s Literature Honor Book, an Edgar nominee for best juvenile mystery, and an Al’s Book Club Pick on the Today Show. She has an MFA in Creative Writing from NYU, and has taught writing courses at NYU, Boston University, and the Rye Arts Center. She is so excited to join the Writopia community! You can visit her online at www.sheelachari.com.

  • Gina Stevensen

    Instructor
    Madeline Taylor

    Gina Stevensen is a playwright, performer and teaching artist based in Brooklyn. Her plays have been produced in New York City and regionally and include: Book of Esther (semi-finalist: 2016 Princess Grace Award, workshop production: Binghamton's KNOW Theater), The Time Crawlers Save the World (grand prize winner: Manhattan Repertory Theater's one-act competition, space grant recipient: Looking Glass Theater) and Troll Doll's Big Day (36-hour play festival: Urban Stages). Plays in development: Cruel Sister and When You're Young You Know You'll Live Forever at Columbia University. Gina is the artistic director of Park Slope Day Camp's Cirque d'Été summer circus camp, and is the writing coordinator at Tribeca Performing Arts Center's Writers in Performance Workshop. She has traveled three times to southern India to train in Mohiniyattam, a classical Indian dance-drama form. She was the choreographer for Narcissus: An Ancient Roman Pantomime, a new opera that aired on PBS in March of 2016. She received her BFA in Drama from NYU Tisch and is an MFA Playwriting candidate at Columbia University.

  • Aimée Heath

    W2R Mentor
    Aimee Heath

    Aimée is very excited to join the Writopia team this fall! A proud Houston native, Aimée first came to New York City to pursue a degree in English at St. John’s University. Now, she’s pursuing two degrees: both a BA and an MA in English from St. John’s. Though she spends most of her time analyzing literature, her true love lies in Creative Writing (which just so happens to be her minor). She writes both poetry and fiction, and her work has been featured in Sequoya, her university’s literary arts magazine. Additionally, Aimée runs a blog: The Unauthorized Review of New York Theater and Dining. If it hadn’t been for her many great teachers and mentors encouraging her in her writing along the way, Aimée would certainly not be the writer she is today. Therefore, she wants to pay that kindness forward as a Write to Recognition mentor. Aimée loves to travel, support her Houston sports teams and the St. John’s Red Storm, and play the piano.

  • Mike Poblete

    W2R Mentor
    Madeline Taylor

    Mike is thrilled to be part of the Writopia family as a Write to Recognition mentor. Originally from Brooklyn, Mike has had six full length plays and numerous one acts performed in six countries, two of which have been published. He has a Playwriting MFA from Trinity College Dublin and works as Director of Script Development at The Foxboro Company, a Broadway, film and television production office.

  • Ani Katz

    W2R Mentor
    AniKatz

    Ani Katz was born and raised on the south shore of Long Island. She received her BA in Art from Yale University and her MFA in Photography from Columbia College Chicago. Her artist books and photographs have been exhibited at Project Basho, the Islip Art Museum, and the Chicago Center for Book and Paper Arts, and her short stories have been published in Narrative Magazine, Heavy Feather Review, and Hair Trigger. She has worked as an elementary school teacher and museum educator, and she currently tutors middle and high school students in test preparation and academic writing. Ani lives in Brooklyn and is currently revising the thirteenth draft of her first novel. She is thrilled to join the Writopia community.

  • Clynthia Graham

    Instructor
    Clynthia Graham

    Clynthia is extremely excited to join the Writopia family. She is an MFA candidate at the University of Baltimore. Clynthia has worked as a performing arts teacher for more than 30 years, teaching students from elementary school to college. The opportunity to mix her experience with youth and her passion for writing with Writopia is a dream come true. Clynthia recently received honorable mention from the Hurston/Wright Foundation’s College Writers Award for her story, Miss Sage’s Anniversary Celebration. Currently, she is working on a collection of short stories for her graduate thesis and running around with her grandchildren when she has a minute away from school.

  • Alex Sarappo

    Intern
    Alex Sarappo

    Alex is is excited to join Writopia Lab NYC's team! Alex recently graduated from Colby College in Waterville, ME, where he double majored in Philosophy and English, with a concentration in Creative Writing. While at Colby, Alex served as the editor in chief of Pequod, Colby's student run art and literature magazine. Alex likes reading Annie Proulx and Donald Barthelme, and writing short stories.

  • Justin Allen

    Instructor
    Justin Allen

    Justin Allen is excited to be an instructor at Writopia Lab. Justin is the author of two novels, Slaves of the Shinar and Year of the Horse. He is also the author of three plays. Murder at the Masque: The Casebook of Edgar Allen Poe and Gilbert and Sullivan, The Ballet! were both commissioned and produced by Dances Patrelle. The Beatitudes was commissioned by Eidolon Ballet in Concert and was produced for the 2010 New York International Fringe Festival. Justin is curently formulating a new script, which he wants to call Superhero: The Legend of the Lightning Defender. Justin earned his MFA at Columbia University and studied Comic Book Scripting at the Savannah College of Art and Design. He loves fantasy and science-fiction, mystery and alternate history, love stories and comic books, and he adores work that defies classification. He has taught writing as a part of the Columbia Writing Workshops at Bank Street College of Education, led a seminar focusing on graphic novels and comic books at Bethesda Academy, and spent years as a children's ballet master in New York City. He looks forward to reveling weekly in the work of the talented and creative young writers that make Writopia Lab a special place.

  • Catya McMullen

    Instructor
    Catya McMullen

    Catya McMullen is a playwright, comedian, and NYC native thrilled to join Writopia as an instructor! Her short play, Missed Connection, directed by Leslye Headland and published by Samuel French, won the 37th Samuel French OOB Short Play Festival. She is the author of six full-length plays (The Collective, Rubber Ducks and Sunsets, Everything is Probably Going to be Okay, AGNES, We Pray to Elephants, and AIGS) along with numerous shorts and musicals. She is a member of the Obie Award Winning EST/Youngblood and a company member of The Middle Voice Theater Company, the apprentice company of Rattlestick Playwrights Theater. She is also the Educational Director for Ground UP Productions. She is a regular performer and sketch writer at The People's Improv Theater. She was a finalist for the City Theater National Award for Short Playwriting and a semi-finalist for the O'Neill Playwrights Conference. Catya is also the Creator of the WE ARE ANIMALS series, a quarterly variety show series she writes with Scott Klopfenstein of the gold-record selling band Reel Big Fish, where she raps as her hip hop alias “MC Chihuahua Fancy.”

  • Katherine Roldan

    Intern
    Katherine Roldan

    Katherine is excited to be joining the Writopia Lab team in New York City as an intern! Katherine is a graduate of Mercy College with a BA in English. She has worked with young readers in a volunteer program called Reading Buddies. Her aim was to allow her "buddies" to pursue literacy in a fun, engaging manner, and to get the readers enthusiastic about books. Her experience with children and love for creative writing is what drew her to Writopia. Katherine is currently working on getting teaching certification so she can further expand the minds of young readers/writers.

  • Chelsey Grasso

    Assistant Instructor and Film Editing Assistant
    Chelsey Grasso

    Chelsey Grasso is excited to be joining the Writopia team as a Teaching Intern. She is a writer, photographer, and filmmaker currently living in Brooklyn, NY. Her writing has appeared in Paste Magazine, Thought Catalog, and The Huffington Post. She also regularly contributes to Bustle and City Guide NY. Chelsey received her B.A. in Media (Film/Video) from the University of California San Diego, minoring in French Literature along the way. While Chelsey is primarily focused on her fiction and editorial writing these days, she has worked as a professional photo editor for the national teen magazine Tiger Beat, as well as for the British online newspaper Mail Online.

  • N'Kyenge Ayanna Brown

    Instructor
    N'Kyenge Ayanna Brown

    N’Kyenge Brown is thrilled to be working as a Creative Writing Instructor at Writopia Lab, Chicago! This creative voice, howling from the windy city, is a graduate of Columbia College and Roosevelt University Graduate School in Chicago, where she earned her MFA in Creative Writing. N’Kyenge is enamored with poetry; her work has been published in Word Curves by Poetry in the Round. She has recently completed her first manuscript, AfroSoul Volume 1: A Collaboration of Poetry and Poem Stories, and has finished a novel, for which she is in pursuit of publication. She works as a long-term substitute teacher and has decided to pursue her Masters in Education to become a licensed educator.

  • Jasmine Wilson

    Intern
    Jasmine Wilson

    Jasmine is excited to join the Writopia team in DC as an Intern! She is currently in her senior year as an English major at Howard University with a minor in Africana Studies. Her experience as a writing tutor, researcher, and teaching fellow have heavily influenced her interests in writing and teaching writing. She currently works as a freelance photographer and campus tutor. Jasmine is looking forward to sharing her love for writing with young writers and gaining new insight into what writing means to others. When she is not working or in class, Jasmine enjoys watching cartoons and movies, reading comic books, and writing in her journal.

  • Kian Kelley-Chung

    Intern
    KianKelleyChung.jpg

    Kian Kelley-Chung is excited to be a part of the Writopia family as an Intern in the DC Region. Kian has always been infatuated with storytelling. His family used to tease him for saying “and then, and then, and then” and never finishing his story. As a sophomore English student at the University of Maryland, Kian is studying to be a storyteller through graphic novels, film, and video games. His focus is to incorporate social activism into his work by humanizing and redefining the typically degrading narratives about minorities and provide a more representative perspective on cultural issues than what has been historically provided. Kian has just recently been accepted into the Jimenez-Porter Writers’ House at UMD, an exclusive creative writing living-learning program. Through the Writers’ House, he will have published his first graphic novel before he graduates. He is also a student in the College Park Scholars, Media, Self and Society program -- another living-learning program dedicated to teaching students how to analyze news and its impact on society. Kian is an artist, an advocate for imagination, and an activist for creativity.

  • Hannah Seidlitz

    Editorial Intern
    Hannah Seidlitz

    Hannah is thrilled to join the Writopia team in Manhattan as an Editorial Intern. At New York University, she studies the intersections of linguistics, semiotics, creative writing, and public policy for a cumulative concentration in applied rhetoric. She was a writing center tutor at Skidmore College before she transferred after the fall of 2016, where she specialized in copyediting and the consolidation of student theses, collaborating with students and faculty to strengthen the content, organization, and rhetorical effectiveness of their written work. While at Skidmore, she co-wrote and performed in a staged spin-off of Eve Ensler’s "The Vagina Monologues" to support women’s issues and intersectional feminism. In the tradition of her literary heroes, Didion and Foster Wallace, she writes creative nonfiction and has fervid, albeit idealistic, dreams. Maybe one day she’ll write for the New Yorker, or at the very least wield the honor of organizing David Remnick’s filing cabinets.

  • Arielle Jovellanos

    Graphic Novel Instructor
    Arielle Jovellanos

    Arielle Jovellanos is a freelance illustrator, comic artist, and zine maker. She's especially passionate about the power of storytelling and is absolutely delighted to collaborate with the young writers of Writopia. She graduated from Parsons The New School for Design with a dual degree in Illustration and Fiction Writing. Arielle illustrated the 60-page comic "School Spirit" featured in the Eisner and Harvey nominated comic anthology Fresh Romance and has also worked with IDW Publishing, Audible, Little Brown & Company, and more. In her spare time, Arielle cries over pictures of cats, obsesses over musical theatre, and gets very emotionally invested in the lives of fictional characters. You can see Arielle's work at arielle-jovellanos.com.

  • Ashley Somwaru

    Editorial Intern
    Ashley Somwaru

    Ashley Somwaru is delighted to be a part of Writopia Lab's Editorial team in Manhattan! Currently, Ashley is a senior at Baruch College and is planning to graduate with a double major in English and Journalism. She is the Managing Editor of Encounters Magazine a creative literary and arts publication, as well as a copy editor at Refract Magazine, a nonfiction digital publication, which are both housed at Baruch. Ashley has a deep passion for writing poetry and fiction. She hopes to encourage others to express themselves through their own unique creativity.

  • Agustin "Augi" Lopez

    Instructor

    Agustín "Augi " Lopez joined the Writopia NYC team in April 2017 as an Instructor. After receiving a BFA in Film and TV Production at NYU, he went on to work in Hollywood, publishing, and the busy world of advertising. He has written short stories published in Hobart, Metazen, and other literary journals, and regularly gives comedic history lectures for the Society for the Advancement of Social Studies.

  • Tricia Aurand

    Instructor

    Tricia Aurand is a working screenwriter and playwright in Los Angeles. She has developed more than a dozen feature and pilot scripts for various companies, including Viewfinder Pictures and Anomaly Entertainment, and her short plays have been produced all over the city. She is currently writing and directing a new original play, Nicaea, which will premiere at the Hollywood Fringe Festival in June and is in post-production on her short film Work. When not typing furiously, Tricia teaches English enrichment and writing at all levels, but her passion is working with the young, brilliant writers at Writopia! She holds a BA in Cinema from Azusa Pacific University.

  • Rodlyn-Mae Banting

    Intern

    Rodlyn is thrilled to be joining the Westchester Writopia Lab team as a summer college intern. She is an undergraduate student at Loyola University Maryland in Baltimore, and is pursuing an English-Writing interdisciplinary major and a Gender Studies minor. She is the Arts & Society editor of their online news source, The Greyhound, and an editor for the Poetry & Fiction section of Loyola’s literary magazine, Corridors. In her free time, she enjoys yoga, feminist literature, and writing poetry.

  • Greg Luce

    Instructor

    Gregory Luce is delighted to be working for Writopia Lab in Washington DC. He has published four volumes of poems, chapbooks including Signs of Small Grace (Pudding House Publications, 2010) and Tile (Finishing Line Press, 2016). In addition, has contributed poems and prose to numerous print and online journals. He has read in the Iota Poetry Series, Takoma Park Third Thursday, Nora School Series, and the Reston’s Used Book Store series, among others. In 2014, he received the Larry Neal Award for adult poetry, given by the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities. Gregory is the father of two sons, Alex and Theo. He recently retired from the National Geographic Society after a 32-year career, and lives in Arlington, VA.

  • Elise Chidley

    Instructor

    Elise Chidley joins Writopia Lab this spring 2017 as a Creative Writing Instructor. Elise’s first novel, Your Roots are Showing, was shortlisted for the 2009 National RITA Awards. Her other books include Married with Baggage and The Wrong Sort of Wife. Her work has also appeared in the Chicken Soup series, and one of her short stories was short-listed for the Nadine Gordimer Short Story Award. She holds an M.A. in English Literature from the University of Edinburgh and an M.F.A. in Fiction from Penn State University. For many years she worked as a magazine journalist, writing for a national parenting magazine in South Africa, and for healthcare trade publications in Pennsylvania. She has taught English at Penn State and at the University of Natal, South Africa. She is widely traveled and even more widely read, with a passion for young adult literature inspired by her teen daughters. She is currently working on a young adult novel, and loves the energy and inventiveness of young writers.

  • Cara Stevens

    Instructor

    Cara Stevens joined the Writopia team in Fall 2015. She has written more than twenty books for children, including several widely popular Minecraft graphic novels, the first unofficial guide to Pokemon Go!, and books based on the video game Terraria. She has designed educational video games and interactive storybooks, written for teen blogs, and has created ads, billboards, and articles for major publications. She studied Psychology at Vassar College and earned a Master of Arts degree in Communication from New York University. Cara is thrilled to be a part of the Writopia community. Her best inspiration and encouragement often comes from the young writers in her workshops! She loves watching Doctor Who, Gilmore Girls, and Animaniacs with her kids, and has read The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy nineteen times and counting. Cara lives in the South Bay of Los Angeles with her husband, two children, and loud, white, fluffy dog named Oliver.

  • Isabella Japal

    Intern

    Isabella is super excited to be part of the Writopia community this summer as an intern in Westchester! Isabella is a rising sophomore at Mount Holyoke College. She has not yet declared her major, but is leaning towards English. Isabella is a Speaking Arguing Writing mentor in her school's writing center, an Arts & Entertainment writer for the Mount Holyoke News, and an active member of the Mount Holyoke dance department.

  • Jayne Ross

    Intern

    Jayne is beyond excited to be joining the Writopia Lab team as an intern in Brooklyn! A D.C. area native and rising junior at Virginia Tech, she plans to major in Creative Writing, Professional & Technical Writing, and History, while minoring in French and Leadership & Social Change (whew!). After a semester of blogging for Silhouette literary magazine, she will be one of their prose editors in the fall. She is also Communications Secretary of her service fraternity, Alpha Phi Omega, and helps put on events for Happy Humans, a club dedicated to making VT students’ days a little brighter. She loves to write creative nonfiction, but she loves to read children’s literature (secretly, she hopes to channel her inner Eloise this summer). Her other passions include sitting in coffee shops, lip-syncing to Broadway show tunes, daydreaming about writing the next great American novel, and eating ice cream at every possible occasion. She can’t wait to help other young writers discover that their words can change the world.

  • LilyRose Weiss

    Intern
    LilyRose

    LilyRose Weiss began volunteering at Writopia in the summer of 2017. She was born and raised in Brooklyn and attended the Berkeley Carroll School for the majority of her K—12 years, except for eighth grade when she lived in Costa Rica for a year. In high school, she was involved with the soccer team and the musical theater department, while also constantly writing extensively for both her classes and her own enjoyment. She currently studies at Grinnell College, and just finished spending a semester in Madrid, Spain! At Grinnell, she is an English and Psychology double major, and writing and doing art are two of her greatest passions. In the future, she hopes to find a way to combine her love for Psychology and English as well as art, in some constructive fashion. LilyRose is incredibly excited for the opportunity to be a part of the Writopia Lab team this summer, and cannot wait to spend it surrounded by other literature lovers!

  • Kukuwa Ashun

    Editorial Intern

    Kukuwa Ashun is very excited to be joining Writopia Lab NYC as an Editorial Intern! Born in Brooklyn, Kukuwa is currently a senior at Purchase College pursuing her BA in Creative Writing and double minoring in Journalism and Global Black Studies. Her passion and concentration in fiction writing allows her to create short stories and prose pieces about the realities of race, gender, and class in today's society. Kukuwa has also used her writing skills to contribute to all three of her college's publications (The Purchase Phoenix, Italics Mine, and The Purchase Beat) while working as a writing tutor. Outside of her schoolwork, Kukuwa is actively involved around her campus and enjoys helping others in her community. Her leadership experience stems from her time as a student orientation leader, resident assistant, and club president.

  • Yasmin Belkhyr

    Intern
    Yasmin

    Yasmin Belkhyr is excited to join Writopia this summer as a teaching intern in Brooklyn. She is a writer and editor from Salé, Morocco. Her first chapbook, Bone Light, was published in 2017 by APBF and Akashic Books. Her poems have appeared in Salt Hill, PANK, Muzzle, and SOFTBLOW. She is the founder & Editor-in-Chief of Winter Tangerine, a literary and arts magazine, and Honeysuckle Press, a publishing press dedicated to amplifying the voices of unsung communities. Yasmin currently lives in Brooklyn and can't wait to spend this summer growing, learning, and teaching at Writopia.

  • Kimberly Faith Waid

    Instructor

    Kimberly is thrilled to work with young minds as an Instructor at Writopia in LA! Her written work has appeared in Abe's Penny, ArtSlant, MetroMix, and The Los Angeles Times. She's twice been a resident in fiction writing at Vermont Studio Center. She holds a B.F.A. in Media & Performing Arts from the Savannah College of Art and Design and an M.F.A in Creative Writing from New York University, where she was selected as a Goldwater Fellow. For over thirteen years, she's taught creative writing, Language Arts/English, and arts enrichment. She is at work on a novel set primarily in her home state of Alabama, as well as on several short stories and essays.

  • Ye Sin (Danny) Kim

    Intern

    Ye Sin (Danny) Kim is super thrilled to be a part of Writopia Lab as an intern in New York City! He is currently studying Cinema as a senior at Binghamton University. He has experience working with children in both academic and creative environments, such as the United States Tennis Association (USTA), where he worked with children with disabilities. His written works and films have been recognized and awarded The Kenneth Jacobs Grant in early 2017 by his university, and many of his short films have been screened at large public events. He is passionate about writing, directing, and editing short films that explore the unique lives of various individuals and enjoys analyzing and discussing films! In his free time, he likes to scribble ideas on napkins and sticky notes, read film commentaries, work on graphic design, and visit museums.

  • Jamie Mayer

    Instructor
    JamieMayer

    Jamie is excited to be leading Writopia workshops in L.A. this summer! She is a working screenwriter, recently published her first YA novel, Painless, and has previously coached kids' writing with 826LA and the Young Storytellers organizations. She graduated magna cum laude from Harvard University and lives in Los Angeles with her husband, 7-year-old son, and a needy-but-adorable rescue dog.

  • Mason Hamberlin

    Intern
    Mason

    Mason is honored to serve Writopia D.C. as an intern for the 2017 summer! Mason is actually just an excited Writopia camper stuck in a twenty-something’s body. Born in New Jersey, Mason has moved every two to four years of his life—from California to France to England and back (though his heart belongs to Chapel Hill, NC). Currently, he studies Nonfiction and Publishing at the UNC, Wilmington. He hopes to teach and edit and one day provide a platform for challenging voices, whose unheard stories need to be heard. In the meantime, he has a lot to learn himself. He hopes his own writing sparks positive discussions about toxic masculinity, inequality, culture, and stigmas surrounding autism. (You can read his work at voicemailpoems.org, Thrice Fiction, and in various UNCW publications.) More than anything, he just wants you to know he listens and cares.

  • Matthew Bernstein

    Intern

    Matt is truly excited, ecstatic, and electrified to be a part of Writopia’s team as an intern this summer in Westchester. He is a soon-to-be sophomore (whoa!) at Stanford University pursuing a degree in English Literature. At school, way on the other side of the country (double whoa!), Matt participates in an eclectic and time-consuming, crazy-making mixture of writing, theater, and improv. He is a staff writer and desk editor for The Stanford Daily and a staff writer and frequent drummer for Ram’s Head Theatrical Society. During his rare trips home, you can usually find him responding to demands for attention and affection from his cat and/or dog. He somehow got a short science-fiction story published in Bewildering Stories Magazine back in 2015.

  • Noah Franklin

    Intern

    Noah is psyched to be joining the Writopia team in DC as an intern. He has just completed his sophomore year at Northwestern University, where he studies radio/TV/film and philosophy. He has been taking screenwriting classes, and enjoying them fully. He is the Editor at Large for Scene+Heard, Northwestern’s arts and culture publication. His writing experience comes in a variety of forms—screenplays and teleplays, columns, poems, album reviews, heartfelt text messages etc.—and he is eager to pass along some of the passion and skills he has picked up along the way. He firmly believes that better writing leads to better communication, which leads to better people and a better world. Along with being a writer, Noah is an audiophile, an actor, a hiker, a skier, and a novice freestyle rapper.

  • Aline Dolin

    Intern

    Aline is thrilled to be working with young writers as an intern with the DC Writopia team this summer! She is currently a rising second-year student at the University of Virginia planning to double major in history and English with a poetry concentration, along with a minor in art history. As a 2013 alumna of the National Student Poets Program, she designed and taught poetry workshops for non-native English speakers. Currently, she serves as a poetry reader for The Adroit Journal, and at UVA she spends her time outside class as a DJ and PR director for WXTJ and a writer for The Cavalier Daily. She is also a freelance writer who has contributed articles to Vinyl Me, Please Magazine. Her other passions include horror movies and '80s pop music.

  • Sabrina Castillo

    Intern

    Sabrina is excited to be a summer intern at Writopia NYC! Sabrina is an English major and a double Chemistry and Japanese minor at Vassar College. Even though she seems to be juggling a lot, her true passion has always been reading and writing, especially teen fiction. In her writing, she thoroughly enjoys finding and celebrating small actions, like sharing bubble tea or reading The Little Prince with a friend. Sabrina hopes to inspire younger generations with the same sort of curiosity through a shared love of writing, which is why it is serendipitous for her to join the Writopia team after all these years. Sabrina spent a year in high school taking Writopia workshops, and she feels incredibly lucky to be part of a place that jump-started her creative voice and helped her grow. Sabrina is excited to give back to the Writopia community and make this summer unforgettable!

  • Sophia Marie Lee

    Instructor

    Sophia is thrilled to be joining Writopia Lab, Westchester as a Writing Instructor. Sophia is an author of books for children and young adults. Her first book, What Things Mean, is a young adult novel published by Scholastic Asia (2016). This work won the Grand Prize at the 2014 Scholastic Asian Book Awards, and is one of the first young adult stories about the Philippines to have been published by Scholastic. What Things Mean was included in the Philippine Daily Inquirer's Top 10 Books of 2016. Her second book, a children's picture book titled Soaring Saturdays, won 2nd Prize at the Samsung KidsTime Authors' Awards (2015). It was digitized into an interactive e-book app in 2016 and is set for print release by Scholastic Asia in 2018. Sophia wanted to be many things growing up: doctor, teacher, ballerina, ninja, crime-fighting international spy, wizard, time traveler, journalist, and lawyer. She likes to think she can be all these things through writing. She studied creative writing at the University of the Philippines Diliman, and is currently a Creative Writing MFA Candidate with a concentration in Writing for Children and Young Adults at The New School in New York City. You can find her online at www.sophianlee.com.

  • Jenny Splitter

    Instructor

    Jenny Splitter is excited to be joining Writopia in Washington D.C.! Though she was an attorney in a former life, she now writes about science, food and health for outlets like Slate, Salon, New York Magazine and Vice. She's also a storyteller in D.C. who has performed for audiences at the 9:30 Club, the National Gallery of Art and the Birchmere, and was selected for Story District's best of the year Top Shelf show in 2014. Her plays, H Street Housewives and The Dish, were produced for the Capital Fringe festivals in 2013 and 2014. Keep an eye out for her in the upcoming documentary, Science Moms! She lives in the H Street Northeast neighborhood of Washington, DC with her husband and two kids.

  • Michael Burns

    Instructor

    Michael is excited to be a part of the Writopia Lab family! He's a writing coach, author, and an award-winning filmmaker. His written work has been published by Penguin and others and his feature documentary work has been seen in over twenty countries. His projects have included an in-depth analysis of the US government’s military strategy of preemptive war, the efficacy of the leading treatment for PTSD in the world today, and the state of third, forth, and fifth political parties in America. He holds a B.A. from Georgetown University, an M.S. from UMass, Amherst, and a Ph.D. from the University of Birmingham in the UK. He’s also the founder of India’s longest-running, live true storytelling organization, Tall Tales, through which he’s coached hundreds of storytellers while teaching original writing workshops across South Asia.

  • Michaela Florio

    Program Coordinator

    Michaela Florio is ecstatic to be joining Writopia Lab, Westchester as Program Coordinator. Michaela received her BA in English & Literature from University of Alaska Anchorage and her MFA in Creative Nonfiction Writing from Sarah Lawrence College, where she worked with Pulitzer Prize winning poet Vijay Seshadri. She is currently writing a collection of essays focusing on Alaska and relationships, and hopes to climb Denali with her stepfather so she can finish a memoir on their relationship. Michaela has taught English and creative writing courses at the college level in Westchester, led creative aging workshops for Alzheimer's and dementia patients through Timeslips, played Division I college soccer, and has coached players ranging from age three through college. Whether on the field or in academia, she enjoys mentoring and helping people to achieve their full potential. Her hobbies include hiking, camping, fishing, and backpacking, and on the weekends you can find her playing soccer on various county leagues, and enjoying all the pizza.

  • Matthew Jellison

    Instructor
    MatthewJellison

    Matthew is an instructor for Writopia Lab in NYC! Born and raised in New York City, Matthew is both a writer and an actor. His play, the giants, parts one and two was produced by Loft 227 last winter. He is the 2012/2013 Kenan Playwriting Fellow at the Kennedy Center, an alumnus of the FreshGround Pepper PlayGround PlayGroup and SPACE on Ryder Farm, and a finalist for the Soho Rep Writer/Director Lab. He hangs out with kids a lot at the 52nd Street Project, and works as a teaching artist with Marquis Studios, Kaufman Cultural Center, and Manhattan Theatre Club.

  • Jessica Fleitman

    Instructor

    Jessica joined the Writopia team in summer 2017 and is thrilled to be surrounded by such imaginative, passionate, and accomplished students and instructors! She is a NYC-based writer of plays, musical theater, and comedy. Her produced works for the theater include The Average-Sized Mermaid (Corwin Award), Deuteranomaly (nominated for 5 PCTF Awards), Word of the Day (commissioned by the Sloan Foundation/Magic Theatre), G Train Exodus (winner of the LIC One Act Play Festival), and Show of Hands (Finalist for the International Jewish Plays Project). She is a lyricist in the BMI Musical Theatre Advanced Songwriting Workshop, and her work with composer Rick Bassett has been performed in venues throughout the city and recognized with commissions from JCP Downtown and the Well Songs Project. Her comedy sketches for Seriously.TV have been featured in The Huffington Post, LGBTQ Nation, and NewNowNext. She holds an MFA in Dramatic Writing from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts, where she was awarded The Rita and Burton Goldberg Playwright Foundation Fellowship and The Chair’s Award (the department’s highest honor for overall excellence in playwriting, screenwriting, and TV writing).

  • Cece Dye

    Intern

    Cece is very, very excited to be joining Writopia in Brooklyn this summer as an intern! Cece is a rising Senior at Kenyon College in Ohio where she studies English and Creative Writing. In 2014 she was Scholastic Silver Key award winner for her creative writing portfolio. She spent last semester studying post-colonial and oral literature at the University of Ghana. Additionally, she is the captain of her cross-country team, outreach chair of her school's anti-gun violence organization, and co-host at a weekly radio music show.

  • Heather Hewson

    Instructor

    Heather Hewson is amazed by the work of Writopia students and is honored to be working with them as an Instructor in L.A.! Heather has been writing since she could hold a crayon. Some years later, with a BA from Long Island University Friends World College Program in International Women's Literature and an MFA in Creative Writing from Antioch University Los Angeles, she continues to write across all genres; she is currently at work on a graphic novel and publishes a daily graphic on Instagram called Work Week with Heather Hewson. Aside from swimming, reading, and Airedale puppies, the thing that makes Heather happiest is inspiring young people to connect to their creativity and share it with each other.

  • Mikaela Dunitz

    Instructor

    Mikaela is excited to be bringing the wonders of Writopia to the Bay Area! She has been teaching creative writing workshops at Stuyvesant High School in New York City from 2013-2016 and at The Urban School of San Francisco during 2016-2017. She holds a BA in English from Georgetown University and an MA from Columbia University in English Education and recently attended workshops at the Kenyon Review for Literary Nonfiction as well as the Southampton Arts for poetry where she studied with Sharon Olds. She is currently writing the story of her grandmother’s life, using the material gathered from weekly interviews.

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