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.
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.
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!
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 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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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