Learn more about Writopia in Washington, D.C.
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.
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!
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.
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 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.
Katherine 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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