Creative Writing

Learn more about Writopia's Creative Writing program.

  • 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.

  • 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."

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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
    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 & Instructor
    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 an English and Art History degree. 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 has also written articles for KNSTRCT, an online art and design magazine. She hopes to use this experience to help others flex their imaginations and craft exquisite stories of their own.

  • 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-authored Becoming Madeleine, a Biography of the Author of A Wrinkle in Time by Her Granddaughters, coming out in February 2018. 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. From 2014 to present, Léna has been 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.

  • 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!

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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/.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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!

  • Michael Alessi

    Regional Manager
    Instructor
    Michael Alessi

    Michael Alessi is Writopia’s Chicago Regional Manager. Over the past six years he has served literary communities around the country as a college-level writing instructor, high school workshop leader, and managing editor of several university-housed and independent literary journals. He is thrilled to share his experience with young writers of all ages.

    Michael’s poetry and prose has earned awards and recognition from the Academy of American Poets, the University of Memphis, Louisiana State University, and the AWP Intro Journals Project. He holds dual BAs in English and Economics from the University of Michigan and an MFA in Fiction from Old Dominion University, where he was selected as a David Scott Sutelan Fellow. His stories have appeared or are forthcoming in such literary journals as Mid-American Review, Passages North, The Pinch, the minnesota review, Paper Darts, and New Delta Review, among others. He is currently at work on his first novel, set in the rural hollows of his home state of Virginia.

  • 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 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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).

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.”

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Alison Doherty

    Instructor

    Alison is excited to join the Writopia team as an instructor! Alison recently earned an MFA with a concentration in writing for children and young adults from The New School. During the program, she completed two publishing internships and studied under David Levithan, Sarah Weeks, and Tor Seidler. She is currently writing her first young adult novel. Allison grew up on both coasts, in California and Maryland, and graduated from Smith College with a BA in English Literature. She is a former teacher and has served as a curriculum consultant for Harvard EdLabs.

  • Samantha Stone

    Instructor

    Samantha Stone has been involved with Writopia as a JLA volunteer since Fall of 2016 and is thrilled to continue, now as a creative writing instructor. She is a New York City based playwright and theatre artist, who focuses on creating theatre for social change in both national and international platforms. In 2013, she earned a B.A. in Journalism and Mass Communications from the George Washington University and is currently earning a degree from the Fordham/Primary Stages MFA in Playwriting program with the expectation to graduate in Spring 2018. Her first play The Muscle in Question, a story about the human brain and its effect on a society's day-to-day well-being, experience, and existence, made its world premiere at the 20th Annual New York International Fringe Festival in 2016.

  • Lee Eisen

    Assistant Instructor

    After interning with Writopia last summer, Lee Eisen is excited to lead workshops in Los Angeles this fall. Lee graduated from the University of Miami (FL) in December 2016 with departmental honors in Creative Writing. "Tens in the Dark", one of the short stories from Lee's senior thesis, was published in Mangrove Literary Journal, which receives hundreds of submissions from undergraduate students around the country. Lee's experience spans multiple genres and disciplines. He was a contributing writer for his college newspaper, The Miami Hurricane. He also worked as a production assistant for the ABC television series, The Goldbergs. Lee plans to pursue an M.F.A. degree in fiction, teach higher education, and publish a collection of short stories. Lee is incredibly excited to help kids learn the fundamentals of writing, with an emphasis on the "fun!"

  • Corey Haydu

    Instructor

    Corey Ann Haydu is thrilled to be teaching with Writopia! She is the author of the Young Adult novels OCD Love Story (Simon and Schuster 2013), Life By Committee (HarperCollins 2014), Making Pretty (HarperCollins 2015), and the middle grade novel, Rules For Stealing Stars (HarperCollins 2015). A graduate of NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts and The New School’s Writing for Children MFA program, Corey has been working in children’s publishing since 2009. In 2013, Corey was chosen as one of Publisher Weekly’s Flying Starts. Her books have been Junior Library Guild Selections, Indie Next Selections, and BCCB Blue Ribbon Selections.

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