Manhattan Leadership

  • Rebecca Wallace-Segall

    Executive Director
    Founder
    Rebecca Wallace-Segall

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

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

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

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

    Writings

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

  • Jeremy Wallace-Segall

    Chief Operations Officer
    Jeremy Wallace-Segall

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

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

  • Yael Schick

    Director of Programs
    Co-New York City Regional Director
    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
    Co-New York City Regional Director
    DanielleSheeler

    Danielle has been part of the Writopia Lab team since 2011. She currently co-directs Writopia Lab's full-day camp. In addition, she develops and implements curriculum in workshops at Writopia Lab, in schools, and in Residential Treatment Facilities.

    She received her Masters in Humanities and Social Thought at NYU in January 2010 and her Masters in Social Work from Columbia University in Spring 2019. She has been recognized by the Scholastic Awards "as an outstanding educator whose dedication, commitment, and guidance are represented by student work selected for national honors."

  • Tom Flynn

    Deputy Director
    Business Operations
    Tom Flynn

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

  • Janelle M. Williams

    Senior Program Manager
    Janelle M. Williams

    Janelle M. Williams has been a part of the Writopia Lab team since 2016. At Writopia, she works as an instructor and a program manager. She manages private sessions and co-manages the Write-to-Recognition Program and the Joy and Literacy in After School Program. With the support of Executive Director Rebecca Wallace-Segall and the team, she founded Writopia Lab's annual Teen Writers' Summit. She enjoys teaching on-site and off-site workshops, some in Title 1 schools and a residential treatment facility. She is enthusiastic about sustaining safe, diverse, and socially conscious workshops at Writopia Lab. Janelle received her BA from Howard University and her MFA in Creative Writing from Manhattanville College. In 2017, she received a fellowship from Kimbilio Fiction. As a southern writer from Decatur, Georgia, Janelle's lyrical stories have appeared or are forthcoming in Prairie Schooner, SmokeLong Quarterly, Lunch Ticket, Vol. 1 Brooklyn, Split Lip Magazine, midnight & indigo, Kweli, and elsewhere.

  • Elsa Bermúdez

    Program Manager and Senior Instructor
    Elsa Bermúdez

    Elsa Bermúdez has loved teaching creative writing, essay writing, sketch comedy, and graphic noveling at Writopia Lab since 2014. As Program Manager, she also runs Writopia Lab’s on-site scholarship program, Write to Recognition, and several off-site partnership programs. Elsa is a writer, comedian, artist, and educator. She earned her BA in Philosophy from Providence College and her MFA in Creative Writing in Fiction from The New School. Her short story, Agency, was published in H.O.W. Journal's Issue 11. She also studied improv and sketch comedy writing at UCB. Elsa has produced and performed on comedy stages around New York City, including the Magnet Theater, the Pit, and Upright Citizens Brigade Theater. She has also directed for Magnet Theater’s sketch program, Remix. Currently, Elsa writes for Magnet Theater’s house sketch team, House Party, and writes, directs, performs, and produces a sketch comedy show, I Feel Funny. Elsa lives in Astoria, Queens with her dog and two cats.

  • Matthew Jellison

    Games and Curriculum Manager
    Editor-in-Chief of Litmags
    Matthew Jellison

    Matthew Jellison is over the moon to be joining the Writopia Lab staff full time as the Games and Curriculum Manager and the Editor-in-Chief of Litmags. He began as a creative writing instructor in summer of 2017 and since has had the privilege of reading wonderful writing by extraordinary kids. Born and raised in NYC, Matthew writes plays and works with kids. The first two plays in his cycle, the giants, was produced by Loft 227 in winter of 2016. He’s getting the third play ready for a workshop this coming Fall at TOWN stages, where he’s currently in residence. Matthew is the 2012/13 Kenan Playwriting Fellow at the Kennedy Center, a two-time Playwriting Fellow at the O’Neill National Playwrights Conference, an alumnus of FreshGround Pepper Playground Playgroup and SPACE on Ryder Farm, and a finalist for the Soho Rep Writer/Director Lab. Prior to Writopia, Matthew worked with kids and teens with the 52nd Street Project, Marquis Studios, the Kaufman Cultural Center, and Manhattan Theatre Club’s education department. He graduated from the acting school at the North Carolina School of the Arts.

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