Instructors

  • 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 teacher trainings in New York City and throughout the country. She has grown the organization in NYC, and established and oversees Writopia in the DC region, Westchester, Los Angeles, and New Jersey. She trains every Writopia instructor 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."

  • 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.

  • 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 Manager
    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.

  • 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

    Programs Coordinator: Writopia Lab, Scholastic Writing Awards DC Metro Region
    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.

  • Abby Coleman

    Write to Recognition Coordinator
    Submissions Coordinator
    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 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.

  • 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

    Brooklyn Registration Coordinator
    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.

  • Molly Haas-Hooven

    Instructor
    In-Patient Creative Writing Specialist
    Registration Support
    Molly Haas-Hooven

    Molly Haas-Hooven is a Brooklyn based playwright and educator. She has had the pleasure of teaching creative writing, playwriting, and college-essay workshops at Writopia Lab since 2012. In 2015, she came on board as a full-time instructor, editor, and administrator. Molly’s Writopia students have won Scholastic Writing Awards every year since 2012. She also has been specializing in working with Writopia’s writers with disabilities, and is the Writopia Creative Writing Coordinator at Mount Sinai’s Child Life and Creative Arts Therapy Department; there she provides bedside writing support 12 hours a week to children struggling with severe medical conditions. She also serves as the Editor-In-Chief of Mount Sinai’s teen literary journal, Surge (which Writopia produces). Her plays have been produced in Boston and New York, and include, Die Kleinen, (NY Premiere, Mastodon Theatre Company, Semifinalist for the Eugene O’Neill Playwrights Conference, 2014), The House Itself Does Not Burn, (Semifinalist for the Eugene O’Neill Playwrights Conference, 2015), and The Queen, (Naked Angels). Molly received her B.A. in Theater Arts from Brandeis University, and her M.F.A. in Playwriting from the New School for Drama.

  • 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.

  • Carolyn Ferrucci

    Instructor
    CarolynFerrucci

    Carolyn is a poet and short story writer from New York City. She is a graduate of Eugene Lang College the New School for Liberal Arts, where she received her BA in Creative Writing (2012). Carolyn is founder and curator of the monthly poetry reading series Spilt Milk and has read her work with various series around the city, including at The NYC Poetry Festival on Governor's Island (2013). She has collaborated on a sound collage reading at the Jewish Contemporary Museum in San Francisco (2014), and continues to collaborate with visual artists on site-specific installations, zines, and video projects. She is an ArtFarm Nebraska writer in residence (2014), and recent recipient of a writer's residency at AIR Bergen, Norway (2015). Carolyn is inspired by and thrilled to be part of the Writopia community.

  • 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.

  • Jeremy Adams

    Assistant Instructor
    Jeremy Adams

    Jeremy loves being a part of the Writopia family. He began as a full-time intern in fall of 2013 and did such an amazing job working with our young writers that he's come on board as a part-time teaching assistant. Jeremy graduated from Gallaudet University in 2013 with a Bachelor's in Communications, and a minor in Ethics. During this time he also self published two books of poetry: Amazin Transcendence and Liberation. He is currently pursuing his Masters of Arts at Saint Johns College in Annapolis, Maryland and is excited to be working with Writopia students again this fall.

  • 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!

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Sam Byron

    Instructor
    Sam Byron

    Sam is excited to join the Writopia family! Sam is a Brooklyn-based playwright. He studied Creative Writing and Drama at Ithaca College and holds an MFA in Playwriting from The New School for Drama. His plays include Standard Aptitude (Semifinalist, Eugene O’Neill New Play Conference 2015), Gordy Crashes (finalist, 2014 Stanley Drama Award), Animals (Wide Eyed Productions, winner of the Fringe NYC award for Overall Excellence in Directing, Kristin Skye Hoffmann), Brooklyn Vacancies (finalist, New Works Program at T. Schreiber Studio, New York City), Static (finalist, HotCity Theater’s Greenhouse Festival, St. Louis), and Debt (Horse Trade Theater, New York City, and Dillingham Center for Performing Arts, Ithaca, NY).

  • 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.

  • Jerron Herman

    Instructor
    Jerron Herman

    Jerron Herman joined Writiopia Lab the summer of 2015. He is a Bay Area native who came to New York with dreams of writing for Broadway and TV. After attending NYU's Tisch School of the Arts for Dramatic Writing, he later graduated with a Bachelor's in Media, Culture, & the Arts from The King's College. A staunch collaborator, Jerron has produced and written two short musicals, a one man show, and a full length piece, Watson: the musical about Sherlock Holmes' equally storied sidekick. A professional modern dancer, Jerron is a principal member of Heidi Latsky Dance, having never danced before joining the company three years ago. His serendipitous introduction to Writopia Lab fulfills a long time dream of finding a nurturing and dynamic house for writing, instruction, and collaboration.

  • 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.

  • Hannah Boysko

    Instructor & Registration Support
    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.

  • 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.

  • Halle Butler

    Instructor
    Halle Butler

    Halle Butler is very excited to join the Writopia team! She is a fiction writer and screenwriter living in Chicago. Her first novel, Jillian, was published in 2015 by Curbside Splendor, and was called "sublimely awkward and hilarious" by the Chicago Tribune. Films she's worked on have screened at the Slamdance Film Festival, the Telluride Film Festival, and elsewhere, and the 2014 comedy, Crimes Against Humanity (which she wrote and produced), was named Best Local Production by the Chicago Reader in 2014. Halle loves to work collaboratively, and to perform her work at readings alongside Chicago's mix of incredibly talented writers and artists.

  • 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.

  • Bianca Turetsky

    Instructor
    biancaturetsky

    Bianca is thrilled to be teaching historical fiction workshops at Writopia NYC. 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 9 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 lives and writes in Brooklyn, NY, and is currently at work on a YA book about Cleopatra and ancient Egypt.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Margaret Spilman

    Instructor
    margaret_spilman

    Margaret (Maggie) Spilman is thrilled to be teaching for the Los Angeles branch of Writopia in the San Francisco Bay Area, bringing some of the magic of the SoCal team to NorCal. Maggie received her B.A. from Vassar College in 2008 and is currently a creative writing MFA candidate at San Francisco State University where she is also the Fiction Editor for Fourteen Hills, an internationally known literary journal run out of SFSU. In 2014, she was chosen as one of six writers to receive PEN Center USA’s Emerging Voices Fellowship. Her story “Muscle Memory” won the James Kirkwood Literary Prize and her flash piece “From Here to There” was a Glimmer Train Very Short Fiction Contest Honorable Mention. She has been published in Transcurrent, The New Flash Fiction Review, and sParkle & bLink. When not creating her own stories she has been helping young people tell theirs through writing and visual arts since 2009, working through organizations like AmeriCorps, After School Matters, Alternatives Inc, ACE Enrichment, and 826LA.

  • 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.

  • Jessica Lanoil

    Instructor
    jessica_lanoil

    Jessie Lanoil is very excited to be joining the Writopia NYC community! She is a short story writer and educator based out of Queens, New York. She has been writing and leading workshops in Mexico, California and New York as a recipient of the UCLA Extension Writer's Scholarship Program. A graduate from Binghamton University and Bard College, she has been a member of San Diego Writer's Ink, Sackett Street Writer's Workshop, as well as Queens' Heightening Stories Workshop. Most recently her short story, "The Stop" was published in Mobius Magazine, a magazine publishing creative work that deals with social change.

  • Elizabeth Lee

    Instructor
    elizabeth_lee

    Elizabeth is joyful and proud to be a part of the indomitable Writopia family. Elizabeth holds an MFA in Dramatic Writing from New York University (Tisch School of the Arts) and a BA in Drama from The Catholic University of America. Her full length play, (un)real, was produced at the Gene Frankel Theater (Reckless Theater Group). Select short plays include: Dear Sister (Fresh Ground Pepper), Benny and Georgette (Play on Words Productions) and Complaints and other Noise (Blink of an Eye Festival). She has also worked with Bond Street Theatre in Manhattan and currently serves on the board of directors for Emerging Leaders of New York Arts (ELNYA)—creating programming and resources for artists in New York City. Elizabeth enjoys working on freelance writing projects (blogging, feature writing, branding) when possible, and is a creative copywriter for the lifestyle brand, vineyard vines.

  • Peter Baker

    Instructor
    peter_baker.jpg

    Peter Baker is thrilled to be a part of the Chicago Region of Writopia Lab. His fiction, essays, and reporting have been published in print and online by Granta, New World Writing, The Nation, The New Yorker, ELLE, and elsewhere. He has an MFA in fiction from the University of North Carolina-Wilmington and has led workshops for writers of all ages, from elementary school students to retirees.

  • 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.

  • Clynthia Graham

    Programs Coordinator: Writopia Lab, Scholastic Writing Awards DC Metro Region
    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.

  • Shawn Ferreyra

    Instructor
    Shawn Ferreyra

    Shawn Ferreyra is thrilled to be a part of the Writopia family as a graphic noveling instructor. Shawn is an illustrator and comics artist. He is currently creating a graphic novel with playwright Kara Lee Corthron entitled The Circle of Shining Lights. He is also a filmmaker and playwright. He co-founded El Gato Family Theatre in San Francisco, where he wrote and produced many plays, including a Harry Potter play for the Make-A-Wish foundation.

  • 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.”

  • 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.

  • Michael Piel

    Instructor
    Michael Piel

    Michael is excited to join the Writopia NYC team as an Instructor! Michael began his writing career at NYU's Tisch School of the Arts studying Film & TV. He quickly specialized in screenwriting, and went on to scribe the short film Caught in 2013 with Bruce Li, which became one of nine finalists nominated for a 2013 Student Academy Award. Additionally, his first feature-length play, Vesuvius, was performed in 2011. In 2012, Michael moved to Los Angeles where he wrote a play adaptation of the film Lo, and sold two horror-comedy scripts. He wrote his first novel, The Town of Ten Creeks, while getting his English masters in Boulder, Colorado, and currently is finishing his second, All the Twilight Country. He is also excited to announce the publication of his article for VICE, The First NY Sci-Fi Film Festival Was No Match For Reality, a study of science-fiction's role in the current political climate.

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