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Rebecca Wallace-Segall

Chief Executive Officer
Founder
Rebecca Wallace-Segall

Rebecca founded Writopia Lab in April 2007, and currently directs the national organization. You can read the founding story in The Village Voice. She designed the organization’s mission and no-barriers sliding scale model, as well as its instructional approach, which has been embraced by thousands of children, teens, schools, and nonprofit partners across the country. In 2015, she established Writopia’s Training Institute that serves the youth development sector and the Department of Education and established The Positive Literacy Collaborative in partnership with Goddard Riverside in 2019 both with the support of the Pinkerton Foundation. Rebecca has led the organization’s growth and impact in NYC, while establishing and overseeing its labs in the DC Metro region, NY Metro North, Chicago, Los Angeles, and The Bay Area.

She writes, presents, and curates panels for schools, events, and conferences on a variety of topics including “The Case for Youth Voice, Creative Writing, and Joy-Based Writing Programs in Schools and After School,” "Building Safe Spaces: The Power of Creative Writing for Kids Who Have Experienced Trauma," "How to Inspire Joy and Creativity through Thought Competition,” “Partnering for Literacy Impact”, and "How to Love Writing for High School and College Admittance." She oversees communications and development at Writopia Lab.

In the founding five years of Writopia Lab, Rebecca 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.

Rebecca oversees impact assessment at Writopia. She studied at Harvard Business School's Performance Measurement for Effective Management of Nonprofit Organizations for organizational leaders in 2015 and continues to oversee Writopia’s impact assessment team's practices as a Youth Inc partner. She won a 2021 scholarship to attend Columbia University’s certificate program in business excellence for nonprofit leaders and is currently completing her Master's in Urban Education Policy at CUNY Graduate Center.

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, to help shape the future of writing education, and Writopia’s literary arts, youth development culture.

Jeremy Wallace-Segall

Chief Operations Officer
Jeremy Wallace-Segall

Jeremy Wallace-Segall is our Chief Operations officer, bringing together the efforts of our technology, human resources, media, finance, accounting, and facilities management teams to ensure that our program staff have the tools and human support to accomplish their goals. Jeremy joined Writopia Lab in 2009 with 15 years of nonprofit experience building databases and websites, leading design and layout teams for publications, and spearheading teams to create smooth passage through operational challenges. Jeremy is a foundational member of our fundraising events team, our sleepaway camp, and our compliance team. Since 2017, he has also run our Dungeons & Dragons program — and tons of epic adventures!

Jeremy has led the organization through vendor selection processes, web design and content charrettes, transitions between payroll providers, implementations of physical and electronic security systems, and leasing of spaces around the country.

Jeremy’s goal is always to provide tools and services that match not only the technical needs but also the working style of program teams while simultaneously ensuring that the tools and services bring each program team and the operations team closer together from the perspectives of data, workflow, and personal connection.

Jeremy has loved being part of Writopia Lab’s growth from it’s days in a synagogue basement to having 22 locations around the country and to now serving thousands online and he looks forward to being part of upcoming transitions in delivery, measurement, and growth of our services.

Yael Schick

Executive Director
Yael Schick

Yael has been a member of the Writopia Lab team since 2011. As the Co-Associate Executive Director, she oversees programs nationally and supports all instructors and workshops at Writopia’s Upper West Side lab. Yael’s favorite role at Writopia is that of instructor; she works with writers of all ages in all genres, including college essay. She has been recognized as an “Outstanding Educator” by the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards in 2012, 2013, 2014, 2016, 2017, and 2018, and her students have been awarded National Medals, including American Voice Awards, Best in Grade Awards, and Silver Medals with Distinction in their senior portfolios.

Yael is also the lead Program Developer of Writopia Lab’s Language Play program, which runs enriching early-literacy engagement for the emerging writers. She has helped over 300 preschoolers become filmmakers as part of the Language Play Filmmaking program, and she regularly brings the program into UPre-Ks in homeless shelters and Title 1 schools in New York City. She also developed Writopia Lab’s service trip to Quito, Ecuador and has led the annual trip each year. She co-created and runs WriCampia, working closely with all instructors, counselors, and campers year-round.

Yael graduated from the Harvard Graduate School of Education in 2022 with a Masters in Education Leadership, Organizations, and Entrepreneurship. At Harvard, she was a recipient of a Saul Zaentz Fellowship, awarded to emerging leaders in early childhood education. She holds a BA in English Literature from Stern College for Women of Yeshiva University. She lives in Manhattan but will always call Queens home!

Danielle Sheeler, LMSW

Founder of Writopia's Essay Writing Program and Program Evaluation Adviser  

DanielleSheeler

Danielle has been part of the Writopia Lab team since 2011. Danielle 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." She designed and launched Writopia’s Essay Writing program at Writopia in 2013 and Narrative Therapy workshops in 2019. She currently oversees program evaluation at Writopia, using Hello Insight to measure Writopia’s SEL impact in order to evaluate and respond to the needs of our young writers. She has published her research on Writopia Lab's impact in the academic journal, The Educational Forum.

Léna Roy

Director of Teen Programs
Lena Roy

Léna began teaching Writopia Lab workshops in Manhattan in 2009, then went on to bring the program to New York City's northern suburbs in 2010. Léna is the author of the YA novel, Edges, published by FSG. She co-authored Becoming Madeleine, a Biography of the Author of A Wrinkle in Time by Her Granddaughters, coming out in February 2018. She co-edited the award-winning Girls Write Now anthology, First Lines. Her writing was featured in the essay collection for middle school kids and their teachers: Breakfast on Mars and 37 Other Essays to Devour: Your Favorite Authors Take on the Dreaded Essay Assignment. From 2014 to present, Léna has been recognized by the Scholastic Awards "as an outstanding educator whose dedication, commitment, and guidance are represented by student work selected for national honors." Léna earned her BA from Barnard, studying English and Italian literature, and her MA in Drama Therapy from NYU. Mentoring has long been the connective tissue in Léna's life, whether through her work with at-risk adolescents in Utah, California, and New York; or through her own writing discipline, as fostered by her late grandmother, author Madeleine L'Engle. It was her grandmother who taught Léna to transform the solitary nature of writing into a sacred sense of community, where her art and the art of others can flourish. You can visit Léna at www.lenaroybooks.com.

Janelle M. Williams

Director of Programs and Outreach
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 Director of Programs and Outreach. 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 Founder and CEO 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. Her novel, “Gone Like Yesterday”, will be published by Tiny Reparations Books in 2023.

Elsa Bermúdez

Los Angeles Regional Manager
and Outreach Programs Manager
Associate Director of WriCampia
Elsa Bermúdez

Elsa Bermúdez has loved teaching creative writing, essay writing, comedy writing, and graphic noveling at Writopia Lab since 2014. As National Programs Manager, she 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 directed for Magnet Theater’s sketch program, Remix, and was on Magnet Theater’s house sketch teams Mama’s Boy and House Party. Elsa also wrote, directed, performed for, and produced the filmed sketch comedy show I Feel Funny. Currently, she is thrilled to continue her journey as Writopia’s LA Regional Manager and to focus her creative energy on writing screenplays and drawing comics. Elsa lives in East Hollywood with her puggle, Bug.

Bianca Turetsky

Associate Director of Programs and the Brooklyn Region
biancaturetsky

Bianca is thrilled to be working with Writopia Lab as the Brooklyn Regional Manager. She is the author of The Time-Traveling Fashionista, a historical fiction series published by Little, Brown and Company. The books have been translated into nine languages. She is also the co-author of the Magic on the Map chapter book series published with Random House Kids. 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. In 2018, 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."

Matthew Jellison

Associate Director of Education
Instructor

Matthew Jellison

Matthew Jellison is over the moon to be serving as Senior Manager of Education at Writopia Lab. He began as a creative writing instructor in summer of 2017 and since has had the privilege of working on writing with some extraordinary kids. Matthew is playwright, actor, educator, and native New Yorker. He is the author of the play cycle, the giants. the giants, parts one and two was produced by Loft 227 in winter of 2016, and he played the character Elliot. the giants, part three has been presented at TOWN Stages, Barn Arts Collective, and Cloud City. His other plays include Who Killed Cupid? (the Claque, Signature Theater DC) and ability (workshop at The Kennedy Center). Matthew is the 2012/13 Kenan Playwriting Fellow at the Kennedy Center, an inaugural 2018 Fellow at TOWN Stages, a two-time Playwriting Fellow at the O’Neill National Playwrights Conference, an alumnus of FreshGround Pepper Playground Playgroup, an alumnus of SPACE on Ryder Farm, and a finalist for the Soho Rep Writer/Director Lab. Prior to Writopia Lab, Matthew worked with kids and teens at the education non-profit, 52nd Street Project (where he had been a kid himself growing up), Marquis Studios, the Kaufman Cultural Center, and Manhattan Theatre Club’s education department. As an actor, he has been seen at Ensemble Studio Theater, New York Theater Workshop, and others. He graduated from the acting school at the North Carolina School of the Arts.

Jocelyn Gottschalk

Senior HR Manager
Jocelyn Gottschalk

Jocelyn is the Senior HR Manager at Writopia Lab and has been delighted to enthusiastically support this mission since 2019. She has a BA in theater, an MA in Museum Studies—Costumes and Textiles—and a certification from SHRM, the Society for Human Resource Management. She has many years of experience in HR management and operations in the creative industries of publishing, music, and higher education. Prodigiously curious, she loves to learn by reading, discussing, sharing, and doing. Jocelyn is endlessly inspired by the human creative spirit and is grateful to work with the amazing people at Writopia Lab who engage with that spirit every day.

Rob Roy

Operations Consultant

Rob Roy

Rob has provided operational leadership and support for Writopia Lab’s diverse and growing programs since 2010, first through its regional office in Westchester, NY, and then nationally. He has served as one of the directors for Writopia Lab’s summer sleepaway camp, and has led Writopia Lab’s years-long partnership with the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards, organizing the adjudication of thousands of teen writers across multiple affiliate regions and the presentation of annual awards ceremonies to celebrate their writing. Prior to Writopia Lab, Rob spent fourteen years in the film and television industry, employed in every aspect of locations department work on movies, TV shows, and commercials—including a few worth remembering (Enchanted, Chappelle’s Show, and Revolutionary Road) and more than a few that remain forgettable. Despite having seen how that sausage gets made, he still loves the art form. A native of North Dakota, Rob received his arts education from the Minneapolis College of Art and Design and the Victorian College of the Arts in Melbourne, Australia.

Michaela Florio

Instructor
Project Manager
Michaela Florio

Before Michaela moved to the Bay Area, she was Program Coordinator and Head Instructor at our location in Hartsdale, NY for three years. Michaela received her BA in English & Literature from the University of Alaska Anchorage and her MFA in Creative Nonfiction Writing from Sarah Lawrence College, where she worked with Pulitzer Prize winning poet Vijay Seshadri. She was named a 2021 Pushcart Nominee for her nonfiction piece “The Sanctuary”, which was published in Quarter After Eight. Other publishing credits include Madcap Review and Under the Gum Tree to name a few. Before working at Writopia Lab, Michaela taught English and creative writing at the college level, led creative aging workshops for Alzheimer's and dementia patients, and played Division I college soccer while coaching players ranging from age three through college. Whether on the field or in academia, she enjoys mentoring and helping people to achieve their full potential. Her hobbies include hiking, camping, fishing, and backpacking. On the weekends, you can find her playing soccer in various leagues and enjoying all the pizza.

Malcolm Knowles

Program Manager, The Writopia Music Lab
Creative Writing and Songwriting Instructor
Malcolm Knowles

Malcolm Knowles has been part of the Writopia Lab team since 2018. He is a writer and multi-instrumentalist originally from Houston, Texas, where he learned to record and release music during his teenage years. He later attended Sarah Lawrence College with a focus in Jazz Guitar, Composition, and Radio. During the summer, Malcolm teaches Creative Writing and Songwriting at both the Writopia Full Day camp and WriCampia, and is the Division Head of Upper Boys at WriCampia. After two years of developing the Writopia Songwriting Studio and its camp electives, Malcolm co-designed, launched, and began overseeing the Writopia Music Foundry in 2021. Both programs are offered as part of Writopia's Music Lab. During the school year, Malcolm helps young and teen writers navigate the process of Essay Writing, Creative Writing, and Songwriting. When not teaching, you can often find Malcolm next to the closest musical instrument.

Rita Feinstein

D.C. Regional Manager
Program Manager
Rita Feinstein

Rita has been a part of the Writopia Lab team since 2015. She received her MFA from Oregon State University, where she taught composition and creative writing. Her work has appeared in Willow Springs, Salamander Magazine, and Beloit Poetry Journal, among other publications, and has been nominated for Best of the Net and Best New Poets. She is the author of two poetry collections, Life on Dodge and Everything is Real, both from Brain Mill Press. Her debut young adult novel Meet Me in the Fourth Dimension is forthcoming from Page Street Publishing in 2024. When she's not writing, you can find her walking through the woods with her dog The Young Lord Westley of Steeplechase.

Tasnim Hussain

Program Manager
Instructor

Tasnim Hussain is a creative writing and essay writing instructor at Writopia Lab, where she offers support to young writers throughout their writing process. Tasnim graduated as salutatorian from Hunter College, where she majored in English with minors in Education and Sociology. She has taught in public schools throughout the city, working with students in many different contexts and settings in English classrooms. In awe of the creative genius of Writopia Lab writers, she finds herself constantly learning from their passion and enthusiasm. In her free time, Tasnim enjoys writing short fiction and free verse poetry, and she has been published in GRLQUASH, a bi-annual literary magazine, and Hunter College's The OliveTree Review.

Will Bond

Manager of Digital Media and Communications
Picture of Will Bond

After moving to New York City from Louisiana, Will landed his first post-college job as a video editor and counselor at WriCampia in 2018. He graduated from Ringling College of Art and Design with a BFA in Digital Filmmaking, and has years of experience working in film production. His set experiences include driving a 20-foot grip truck through Times Square, filming in a Staten Island prison, lighting music videos for 88rising, and camera assisting on a Kevin Smith film.

Rachel Aronson

Enrollment Manager
Rachel Aronson

Rachel Aronson is thrilled to join Writopia Lab as the Enrollment Manager. Rachel brings a decade of experience educating and managing operations for education programs. Before coming to Writopia, Rachel organized field trips to the world's largest landfill, taught elementary schoolers how to build robots, and managed a sustainability certification program for organizations. She has a Masters of Science in childhood education from Hunter College and a Bachelor of Arts in cultural anthropology and environmental studies from the University of Vermont. She is excited to support Writopia Lab's amazing mission as part of the Registration Team!

Alex Tlatelpa

Accounting and Operations Specialist
Picture of Alex Tlatelpa

Alex is excited to join Writopia Lab as the new Accounting and Operations Specialist. He brings five years of experience in accounting and bookkeeping.

Alex graduated from Brooklyn College where he majored in accounting and was active in student clubs that helped promote social justice awareness on campus. Some of Alex’s favorite hobbies include reading, studying history, and cooking. He hopes to someday write a cookbook that features the authentic Oaxacan recipes that he grew up eating during his visits to Mexico. Inspired by Writopia Lab’s mission, Alex hopes to use his background in accounting to support and contribute to Writopia’s amazing team.

Shanille Martin

Program Coordinator
Instructor
Shanille Martin

Shanille Martin joined the Writopia Lab team in 2020. She is a recent graduate of Purchase College, where she studied Creative Writing and minored in Psychology and Literature. She was a Girls Write Now mentee, and is now a current mentor to a high school junior. Shanille has been published in a variety of magazines and platforms such as Gandy Dancer, Italics Mine, and Submissions Magazine. Shanille was the captain of her high school debate team and is thrilled to not only teach creative writing but also debate at Writopia. Shanille plans to pursue her MFA and continue to teach writing to the upcoming generation. She is currently working on her first novel.

Alex Minier

Office Manager
Alex Minier

Alex Minier joined Writopia Lab as Office Manager in January 2023, bringing with him a decade of nonprofit experience. He enjoys the challenges and rewards of making an office hum—from finding the perfect snacks to organizing massive events—and learning every aspect of an organization so that he can always lend a helping hand. A bass player by training and nature, Alex loves to support others in doing their best work.

Alex holds a BA from the University of Wyoming and an MM from New York University. Originally from Nebraska, Alex proudly advocates for more Midwest energy in New York. When he’s not at Writopia Lab, you can find Alex performing with more bands than any reasonable person would consider sane, cycling all over the five boroughs, and playing tabletop games with friends.

Peter Quinn-Jacobs

Operations Manager
Peter Quinn-Jacobs

Peter Quinn-Jacobs started at Writopia Lab as a Dungeon Master in 2020 and is excited to work full time at the Washington, D.C. office starting in 2022. He has run role-playing games since he was seven years old and enjoys games both in-person and over the internet in a variety of fantasy and science fiction settings. In his free time, he designs his own board games and murder mystery parties. His science fiction has earned an honorable mention in the Writers of the Future competition (2008) and his scholarly work won the William Hamilton Prize at William & Mary Law School (2018) and was a finalist in the American Indian Law Review Competition (2018). He's excited to work with Writopia to spur the imaginations of writers and players through fantasy gaming!

Christina McDowell

Registration and Outreach Coordinator
Instructor
Christina McDowell

Christina McDowell is thrilled to be joining Writopia Lab in Washington DC as a writing instructor. She is the author of the critically acclaimed books After Perfect: A Daughter’s Memoir and The Cave Dwellers: A Novel, both published by Gallery Books/Scout Press at Simon & Schuster. In 2018, After Perfect was optioned by Valparaiso Pictures and is currently being adapted for the screen. Christina’s work has appeared in The Washington Post; the Los Angeles Times; The Guardian; O, The Oprah Magazine, LA Weekly, Marie Claire, USA Today, and The Village Voice, among other publications. Christina is also an advocate for children impacted by prison. She taught creative writing to teenage girls at Central Juvenile Hall in Los Angeles with InsideOUT Writers and served on the advisory board of POPS The Club, the first high school club in the U.S. that uses the written word to transform, heal, and empower youth harmed by mass incarceration. She was awarded for her outstanding advocacy work in 2018. To read more about her work, you can find her at christinamcdowell.com. Christina is currently at work on a new novel and when she is not spending her days writing and rewriting, she loves spending time with her little Havanese, Zelda Fitzgerald.

Carly Sorenson

Instructor and Registration Associate
Carly Sorenson

After taking Writopia Lab workshops for many years as a child and teen, Carly Sorenson is thrilled to return as an Instructor and Registration Associate. Carly, who uses she/her pronouns, was born and raised in Queens, New York. She learned from a young age to speak, write, and read Spanish, thanks to a dual language program at her local public school. She graduated summa cum laude with a Bachelor's Degree in Creative Writing from SUNY Purchase College, where she edited the literary magazine Italics Mine and founded an academic club for writers. In 2020, her college awarded her the Ginny Wray Senior Prize in Fiction. She has published several short stories in literary magazines and writes blog content for the Love Wins Food Pantry in Jackson Heights. In her free time, she engages in mutual aid work and makes textile art.

Tammy Scozzafava

Part Time HR & Payroll Associate
Tammy Scozzafava

Tammy Scozzafava is thrilled to be joining Writopia Lab as the Part Time HR & Payroll Associate. Her varied professional experience spans the industries of arts/entertainment, media, and nonprofit organizations, with a focus on operations and human resources. Highlights of her career have been serving as an NBC Page; AEA Stage Manager; Talent Acquisition Partner & HR Generalist for New York Magazine; COO of a boutique theatrical general management & producing firm where she worked on Broadway, Off-Broadway, regional, and international productions, amongst other projects; and as a member of the global recruitment team for Open Society Foundations, the world's largest private funder of individual groups working for justice, democratic governance, and human rights. Tammy graduated with honors from Vassar College with a BA in Drama and holds a Diversity and Inclusion Certificate from Cornell University. Growing up in a large Italian-American family fostered her deep love for food and tradition; and she is passionate about learning about other cultures through those pillars. Her two mottos for life are: “Eat well, travel often” and “Food is love”.

Madeline Stevens

Instructor
Madeline Stevens

Madeline Stevens has taught writing to adults and children for over ten years! At Writopia Lab, she leads creative and essay writing as well as graphic novel workshops. Madeline holds a Bachelor’s degree in English from Portland State University and an MFA from Columbia University. Her first novel was published by Ecco Press in the US, Faber & Faber in the UK, and translated into six languages. Her essays, stories, and other writing have appeared in places such as The Guardian, Electric Literature, CrimeReads, and Monkeybicycle. For three years she was host and curator of the Brooklyn reading series Sundays at Erv’s and is excited to be organizing events along with teaching and program coordinating for children and teens in Los Angeles through Writopia Lab!

Jacquelyn Stolos

Instructor

Jacquelyn Stolos can barely contain her excitement about joining the Writopia Lab team in Los Angeles this spring! Jacquelyn began her writing career as an elementary schooler filling up spiral-bound notebooks while perched on a mossy rock in the woods behind her childhood home. Her habits have barely changed since. She studied English and French literature at Georgetown University, where she completed an honors thesis of short stories and won the Annabelle Bonner Medal for short fiction. For her masters, Jacquelyn was awarded the Writers in the Public Schools fellowship to study fiction in New York University’s MFA program. She has also workshopped at the Squaw Valley Community of Writers, the Tin House Summer Writers Workshop, and the New York Summer Writers Institute. Her short fiction has appeared in The Atticus Review, Conte Online, and The Oddville Press. Jacquelyn is an ardent believer in the power of story and is always looking for ways to spread the love through education. She previously worked as a teaching artist at Teachers and Writers Collaborative, leading creative writing workshops in elementary and middle school classrooms, as well as an adjunct professor at New York University. Jacquelyn's first novel, Edendale, will be released by Creature Publishing, a feminist horror press, in the spring of 2020.

Sophia Marie Lee

Instructor

Sophia is thrilled to be joining Writopia Lab, Westchester as a Writing Instructor. Sophia is an author of books for children and young adults. Her first book, What Things Mean, is a young adult novel published by Scholastic Asia (2016). This work won the Grand Prize at the 2014 Scholastic Asian Book Awards, and is one of the first young adult stories about the Philippines to have been published by Scholastic. What Things Mean was included in the Philippine Daily Inquirer's Top 10 Books of 2016. Her second book, a children's picture book titled Soaring Saturdays, won 2nd Prize at the Samsung KidsTime Authors' Awards (2015). It was digitized into an interactive e-book app in 2016 and is set for print release by Scholastic Asia in 2018. Sophia wanted to be many things growing up: doctor, teacher, ballerina, ninja, crime-fighting international spy, wizard, time traveler, journalist, and lawyer. She likes to think she can be all these things through writing. She studied creative writing at the University of the Philippines Diliman, and is currently a Creative Writing MFA Candidate with a concentration in Writing for Children and Young Adults at The New School in New York City. You can find her online at www.sophianlee.com.

Justin Allen

Instructor
Justin Allen

Justin Allen is excited to be an instructor at Writopia Lab. Justin is the author of two novels, Slaves of the Shinar and Year of the Horse. He is also the author of three plays. Murder at the Masque: The Casebook of Edgar Allen Poe and Gilbert and Sullivan, The Ballet! were both commissioned and produced by Dances Patrelle. The Beatitudes was commissioned by Eidolon Ballet in Concert and was produced for the 2010 New York International Fringe Festival. Justin is curently formulating a new script, which he wants to call Superhero: The Legend of the Lightning Defender. Justin earned his MFA at Columbia University and studied Comic Book Scripting at the Savannah College of Art and Design. He loves fantasy and science-fiction, mystery and alternate history, love stories and comic books, and he adores work that defies classification. He has taught writing as a part of the Columbia Writing Workshops at Bank Street College of Education, led a seminar focusing on graphic novels and comic books at Bethesda Academy, and spent years as a children's ballet master in New York City. He looks forward to reveling weekly in the work of the talented and creative young writers that make Writopia Lab a special place.

Daniel Ajl Kitrosser

Instructor
Artistic Director of Writopia Plays Festival
Playwriting and Screenwriting Specialist
DanKitrosser

Dan Kitrosser has been teaching year-round at Writopia Lab 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.

Joe Wallace

Volunteer Mentor
ScottLarner

Joe, who will be joining Writopia Lab as a volunteer writing mentor, is the author of three novels; nonfiction books on science, natural history, and baseball; and a bunch of mystery short stories. He's also worked as a mentor for writing students (everything from middle schoolers through adults) for many years, and may love that part of his life the most. He lives in Westchester with his family, which currently includes two kittens and a patient old dog.

Jem Werner

Registration Associate
Jem Werner

Jem is a former student of Writopia Lab’s creative writing workshops and is incredibly excited to rejoin the Writopia family as a registration associate. Jem is a graduate of Ithaca College, where he studied writing and theater. Inspired by Writopia Lab, Jem founded a student theater group at Ithaca College that focused on workshopping and producing original plays and musicals. With this group, Jem produced five shows and workshopped many more. Jem enjoys writing magical realism, absurdism, and urban fantasy. He is well studied in writing many forms, such as novel writing, short story, playwriting, screenwriting, poetry, and more. He is currently working on two novel projects. Jem is also an accomplished musician and composer, having played the flute for nearly 12 years, and is currently learning piano. Outside of writing and playing music, Jem enjoys watching movies, playing video games, and seeing what New York City has in store for him.

Amy Dupcak

Instructor

picture of Amy Dupcak Remland

Amy Dupcak is the author of Dust, Short Stories (2016) and co-editor and designer of Words After Dark: A Lyrics, Lit & Liquor Anthology (2020). After studying Creative Writing and Film History at Sarah Lawrence, she earned an MFA in Fiction from The New School. She has worked as a music and culture journalist, assistant editor, adjunct English professor, and high-school creative writing teacher. Amy has been a Writopia instructor since 2012, primarily working with teens in different capacities. She also works with adults across genres at The Writer’s Rock as an instructor, mentor, editor, and manager.

Amy's fiction and creative nonfiction have appeared in Vol. 1 Brooklyn, Sonora Review, Entropy, Phoebe, Fringe, Litro, Hypertext, Bookanista, and other literary journals, while her poetry has appeared in Pangyrus, Passengers, District Lit, The Night Heron Barks, The Blue Mountain Review, American Writers Review, and Alternative Field & Avenue 50 Studio’s “In Isolation” anthology. She is currently working on a second story collection as well as a novel.

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 Lab 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.

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.

Korama Danquah

Instructor

Korama Danquah

Korama Danquah started teaching workshops at Writopia Lab in 2015 and loves it! She is a playwright, screenwriter, poet, and fiction writer originally from Los Angeles, CA. After studying Theatre Arts at Brown University, she produced her first solo show, Mixtape for New Year's Eve (Secretly a Love Story) in Providence, RI. She has published multiple pieces in Coast Magazine, most recently a personal essay on cultural diversity in the ever-expanding industry of food delivery services. In 2019 she was a finalist for Skylight Theatre Company's Fresh Brews competition, and she is currently working on writing her second television pilot (while trying to sell the first). When she's not writing, she enjoys acting, karaoke, and going to the theatre!

Alison Doherty

Instructor

Alison Doherty loves working with writers of all ages at Writopia Lab. She also teaches writing classes to freshman at The New School. She received her MFA in Creative Writing from The New School in 2016 with a concentration in writing for children and teenagers. For undergrad, Alison studied English Literature at Smith College and The University of St. Andrews in Scotland. Before moving to New York, Alison worked as a classroom teacher and a curriculum consultant at Harvard EdLabs. Now, when she isn't teaching, Alison is working on her first YA novel and writing about books for Book Riot.

Eunju Namkung

Communications and Recruiting Advisor
Eunju Namkung

Eunju Namkung has been part of the Writopia Lab family since 2008. Eunju advises Writopia Lab on aspects of communications strategy and implementation. She is passionate about promoting Writopia Lab's values around creative writing and creativity, care for children, diversity and inclusion, and social responsibility and ethics. She helps oversee brand development and manages projects that showcases Writopia Lab and its staff's expertise. Previously with Writopia Lab, Eunju founded the filmmaking program in 2014, including developing the Writopia Lab filmmaking method, hosting several film festivals, and producing over 100 student projects. She also served as a creative and essay writing workshop instructor, and has an exceptional passion for college essay writing instruction. In her capacity as a Communications and Development Officer, Eunju supported the grant acquisition process, and developed print and digital materials for Writopia Lab, including video, photography, and graphic design. Predating her professional contributions to Writopia Lab, Eunju was a student herself in Rebecca Wallace-Segall's workshops and considers herself to be a Writopian forever. (In fact, she volunteers her time to help lead the Forever Writopians Alumni Collective. Contact Eunju@WritopiaLab.org to learn more!) Eunju earned her B.A. in Film and Media Studies at Yale University and her Masters in Public Administration and a Masters in Urban & Regional Planning at Virginia Tech School of Public and International Affairs. She calls Riverdale, Bronx, New York City home. While she loves her adopted home of Arlington, Virginia, she wants to know, where the bagels at?

Cassandra Rose

Instructor
Cassandra Rose

Cassandra is over the moon to be back at Writopia Lab after a year away! As a playwright, she followed up a BA in Playwriting at Columbia College Chicago with a decade of theatrical self-productions and residencies, including Chicago Dramatists' Tutterow Fellowship. She made the move to LA and screenwriting in 2019 and completed a certificate in Writing for Television at UCLA's Professional Program. She won Austin Film Festival in 2022 with her scripted Digital Series WALK INTO A BAR. She’s also written for video games and fiction podcasts, including as a Narrative Designer for a small mobile game company and as a contract writer for Wondery. No matter the format or genre, she's here to help young writers connect deeply with their stories and with their audiences.

Di Jayawickrema

Instructor

Di Jayawickrema is thrilled to be part of the Writopia Lab team! She is a Sri Lankan New Yorker who is passionate about cross-genre writing, community-building, and youth mentorship. Di has mentored youth since she herself was a teenager, and has founded and facilitated writing communities for young writers, women and non-binary writers, and writers of color throughout her adulthood. Her cross-genre writing has appeared in numerous literary journals, including wildness, Jellyfish Review, Pithead Chapel, and Entropy, and has been nominated for Best of the Net and anthologized in Best Microfiction. She received an honors degree in English Literature and Creative Writing from Binghamton University, and has been awarded fellowships from Voices of Our Nation Arts Foundation and Kundiman. She is currently on staff at the award-winning publications, The Offing and The Rumpus, and is working on a book as often as her joyous, rambunctious infant will allow her!

Celine Aenlle-Rocha

Instructor
Celine Aenlle-Rocha

Celine Aenlle-Rocha is thrilled to be a creative, essay, and college essay writing instructor at Writopia Lab NYC. She is a writer from Miami and Los Angeles, residing in Washington Heights, New York City. She has contributed to literary magazines HIKA, Luna de la cosecha, Broad! Magazine, The Suburban Review, Pen + Brush, and Salt + Pepper, among others. Celine is pursuing an MFA in Fiction at Columbia University, where she is a volunteer instructor with Columbia Artists as Teachers, the Online Editor for the Columbia Journal, and Co-President of Our Word, the School of the Arts' student organization committed to championing inclusiveness in literature. She previously attended Kenyon College and the Columbia Publishing Course. Before Writopia, she marketed academic books at Oxford University Press for several years. Her writing is inspired by her family history from Havana to New Orleans to Los Angeles, and she loves helping emerging writers discover their own voices at Writopia.

Jane Young

Instructor
Jane Young

Jane Young began teaching Writopia Lab workshops in 2019. She is a writer, editor, and teacher, whose plays have been seen in over a dozen Off- and Off-Off-Broadway theaters in New York, as well as Ohio and Colorado. She received her MFA in Creative Writing from Sarah Lawrence College, where she served as a non-fiction editor for its literary magazine, Lumina. Her fiction debuted in the premier issue of the magazine, and a book of poetry she’s written with Thomas Keith, The Histories of Gladys, was published by Mellon Poetry Press. Jane recently completed her first novel, War Cry of the Good Angels. Her teaching credits include State University of New York at Purchase College, the Women’s Correctional Facility at Bedford Hills, and LEAP. She is thrilled to be working with Goddard-Riverside Community Center and Writopia Lab!

Samantha French

Instructor
Samantha French

Samantha has been involved with Writopia Lab in various capacities since its inception in Rebecca's studio apartment in 2007 and is so excited to now come onboard as an instructor. Having begun her Writopia journey as a student and later having worked as a WriCampia counsellor, Samantha has witnessed first-hand the incredible impact Writopia Lab has on its young writers and is a passionate believer in its mission to empower children and teenagers through the medium of storytelling.

Samantha’s own writing career kicked off when she was 11 years old when a short story of hers was published in the Anthology of Short Stories by Young Americans. She has since gone on to write essays and opinion pieces that have been published on websites such as Girl With Pen and Forbes.com. After attending drama school in Boston, Samantha graduated with a BA in English Literature with Journalism from the University of Sussex in the United Kingdom. Samantha now lives in Bath and has most recently been working with high school students on short story and essay writing while completing an MA in Law.

Madeleine Cravens

Instructor
Madeleine Cravens

Madeleine Cravens is very happy to join Writopia Lab as an Instructor. She began at Writopia as a Write to Recognition Mentor, where she worked with youths, guiding many aspects of their creative writing. Madeleine is a graduate of Oberlin College, where she studied Creative Writing. In fall 2020, she will be the Max Rivto Poetry Fellow at Columbia University. Her work can be found or is forthcoming in Best of the Net, the Adroit Journal, IMAGE Journal, Folio, Frontier, and the New Ohio Review. Madeleine lives in Brooklyn and looks forward to continuing to work with the inventive and dedicated writers at Writopia.

Reuben Sack

Instructor
Reuben Sack

Reuben is ridiculously excited to join the Writopia Lab team! Reuben is a children’s author and the ghostwriter of ten books in the iconic Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew mystery series for Simon & Schuster. While Reuben loves writing for kids and young adults, his storytelling experience spans a variety of genres and media. He is an award-winning independent filmmaker and screenwriter whose work has appeared in film festivals around the world. Reuben graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he majored in Media Production and minored in Journalism and Mass Communication. When he’s not writing, you can often find him helping other writers as a university guest lecturer and freelance editor—and now as a Writopia Lab instructor.

Jordana Frankel

Instructor
Jordana Frenkel

After eight years at Writopia Lab's Upper West Side location, Jordana Frankel drove across the country in her green, tiny house on wheels to be a part of the Bay Area family! She is the author of two young adult dystopian novels (The Ward, 2013 and The Isle, 2016) and is currently at work on a fantasy novel for adults. She holds an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from Hollins University and a B.A. in Creative Writing and Literature from Goucher College, where she taught as the Kratz Writer-in-Residence in 2015. Jordana also has experience in the publishing world; while living in New York City she worked as a literary assistant, scavenging the slush pile for manuscripts to pass along to the Lead Agent. At The Book Report Network she worked on marketing strategies for NYT Bestsellers like Suzanne Collins' Mockingjay and Lauren Kate's Fallen. Jordana can be found at various coffee shops around Oakland, writing by hand and dreaming up the impossible-made-possible.

Emily Weitzman

Instructor
Picture of Emily Weitzman

Emily is thrilled to be joining the Writopia Lab team! She has taught creative writing around the world to writers of all ages, and particularly loves connecting with young writers. Emily currently teaches writing to undergraduates at NYU and Columbia University, where she received an MFA in nonfiction writing. She has implemented creative writing curricula in her classrooms both as a high school English teacher on Cape Cod and a second grade teacher in New York City. As a Thomas J. Watson Fellow, Emily spent a year teaching and performing poetry while collaborating with spoken word communities in eight countries. She worked with young writers through organizations including the Word Warriors in Kathmandu and the Children’s Art Museum of Nepal, where she was an artist-in-residence. As an undergraduate at Wesleyan University, where she majored in English/creative writing and dance, she taught creative writing at the Kibera School for Girls in Nairobi. Emily’s writing has been published in Longreads, Vol. 1 Brooklyn, and HAD, among other places, and her spoken word poetry has been featured on HuffPost, Bustle, and Button Poetry. She has been awarded writing residencies from the Vermont Studio Center and the Adirondack Center for Writing. Emily loves that she can combine her passions for teaching and writing at Writopia Lab!

Lily Gellman

Instructor
Picture of Will Bond

Lily Gellman (she/her or they/them) is over the moon — and probably a number of other celestial objects — to join Writopia Lab. As a former writer here, she is so pleased to be a Writopian in an official capacity once more. Lily comes to Writopia fresh from W. W. Norton & Company, where she worked from 2017 through 2020, most recently as an assistant editor. She feels energized to pursue distinct but related passions as a writer and educator. Lily earned a BA in American Studies and a certificate in gender studies from Princeton University in 2017, graduating with honors. During her time there, she was the recipient of the 2017 Asher Hinds Thesis Prize for Excellence in American Studies, and a 2015 Martin A. Dale Summer Award for independent writing and travel. She studied creative nonfiction under John McPhee, and completed coursework in fiction, poetry, songwriting, and screenwriting. Lily is currently working on a collection of interlinked essays and short stories.

Arthur Meyer

Instructor
Picture of Arthur Meyer

Arthur Meyer is VERY HAPPY (yes, all CAPS!) to join Writopia Lab. Based in NYC and originally from Wilmette, Illinois, he is an Emmy-nominated-but-incidentally-not-Emmy-winning-but-hey-that's-okay-he's-come-to-peace-with-it writer. From 2012 through 2019, he was a writer and a performer at Late Night with Jimmy Fallon and The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon. Prior to that, he was a long-time contributing writer to The Onion, and he also wrote for The Onion News Network TV series. With his sketch comedy groups Pangea 3000 and Two Fun Men, Arthur wrote and performed in five full-length shows at the UCB Theater. He has also performed at the New York, San Francisco, Portland, Austin, Chicago, Toronto, and Washington D.C. sketch comedy festivals. His UCB solo sketch show, "Arthur Meyer: Rock and Roll" was named Time Out Magazine's Best Sketch Show of 2013. Arthur is one of three creators of the fake takeout menu FUDS, as well as a co-author of the book FUDS: A Complete Encyclofoodia. Arthur has also appeared on the TV shows The Late Show with David Letterman, High Maintenance, and Shrill, and he had a lead role in the 2012 Worldwide Pants-produced We Made This Movie. It's possible that Arthur was destined to lead a workshop for young writers because his biggest credit was as a member of the three-sibling Wilmette living room-based sketch comedy show Meyer Kids' Night, performed to his parents weekly. Arthur loves comedy writing and loves people, but he does not love getting attacked by sharks.

Abhigna Mooraka

Instructor
Headshot of Abhigna Mooraka

Abhigna is super pumped to be starting as a Creative Writing Instructor with Writopia Lab. She is originally from Bangalore, India, and is currently based in New York City. Abhigna is an MFA Fiction candidate at Columbia University, where she is also a Graduate Teaching Fellow. She has been nominated for the 2021 Henfield Prize in Fiction and has served as the Columns editor for Columbia Journal. Her favorite part of teaching writing is the opportunity to see young writers discover their love for writing and the unique voices they bring to the page.

Chava Pearl Lansky

Instructor
Picture of Chava Lansky

Chava Pearl Lansky has been an essay writing instructor at Writopia Lab since 2021. A former editor at Pointe magazine, she writes about culture, with emphases on dance and food. Originally from Amherst, MA, Chava holds a B.A. in Dance and English from Barnard College and an M.A. in Biography and Memoir from the CUNY Graduate Center.

Chava is a contributing writer and proofreader at Dance Magazine, where she writes a monthly cooking column. Her work has also been published in Tablet, Playbill, Fjord Review, Scholastic Art, Hey Alma, Musical America, and Dance Teacher Magazine, among others. Chava takes on regular ghostwriting projects, and is working on a collection of personal essays on chronic illness, beauty, and control.

Sarah Klena

Instructor
Sarah Klena

Sarah Yukiko Klena is thrilled to be a part of the Writopia Lab team! She is originally from the Tidewater region of Virginia and is currently based in New York City. Sarah is pursuing an MFA in Fiction at Columbia University, where she was selected as a Teaching Fellow. She previously attended Sciences Po Paris and Columbia University as part of the Dual BA Program between the two institutions. Before Writopia Lab, she worked in marketing and communications. She has taught undergraduate creative writing at Columbia and is the co-founder of a French-language literary magazine that aims to uplift diverse francophone voices. She loves working with writers to discover their voices and understand the value of their stories.

Eryn Levine

Dungeon Master
Eryn Levine

Eryn Levine is thrilled to be a Dungeon Master for Writopia Lab! Eryn has been the producer and host of a table top role playing game show for over two years as part of non-profit radio station Radio Free Brooklyn, where she also does volunteer work as their Director of Programming. She received her Bachelor's Degree in Creative Writing from Emory University and worked in book publishing for five years while establishing herself in audio production. Through it all, Eryn has cultivated the biggest love of collaborative storytelling in its many forms, and is excited to share that love with the creative voices at Writopia Lab.

Niki Fakhoori

Instructor

Niki Fakhoori

Niki Fakhoori is beyond ecstatic to be joining Writopia Lab as an instructor. A student of both Sequential Art and Writing from the Savannah College of Art and Design, Niki has experience as an independent comic artist, freelance writer, and teacher. She writes feature articles, essays, and reviews for digital publications about various subjects, predominantly video games and eSports, and also enjoys recording podcasts and video reviews. She unabashedly believes in the limitless power of collaboration and communication, of which writing is the cornerstone. When she isn’t writing, she’s likely playing video games, after which she will undoubtedly write about them.

Kelly Hudson

Instructor
Kelly Hudson

Kelly Hudson is delighted to become an instructor with Writopia Lab! Kelly is based in Los Angeles, originally hails from Austin, Texas and is a working writer, actor, and podcaster. She co-created the fake takeout menu FUDS, and co-authored the book FUDS: A Complete Encyclofoodia with Dan Klein and fellow Writopia Lab instructor Arthur Meyer. Kelly has also written for Funny or Die, Adult Swim, and The Onion, and is an Upright Citizens Brigade alum. Kelly’s fondest memories of school and college were the creative writing workshops she took part in where she blossomed as a writer and a creative human being. She is so honored to carry on that legacy as an instructor for Writopia Lab!

Rachel Calnek-Sugin

Instructor
Rachel Calnek-Sugin

Rachel Calnek-Sugin's life was changed and her love of writing was nurtured when she joined a Writopia Lab workshop as a middle schooler, and Writopia soon became a home away from home. 14 years later, Rachel is a writer, educator, and almost-social worker committed to the openness of the soul in all its forms—and she's delighted to be part of the Writopia staff as an instructor. Rachel's plays have been produced or developed through Yale, Corkscrew, OntheVerge, Rattlestick Playwrights' Theater, and Watermark, and her prose can be found in Joyland, The Nashville Review, Vol 1 Brooklyn, SNARL, and elsewhere. Rachel currently lives in Brooklyn, teaches, and does therapy with youth impacted by mass incarceration.

Andres Vaamonde

Instructor
Andres Vaamonde

Andres Vaamonde originally joined the Writopia Lab community not as an instructor but as a student writer! Growing up, he attended Writopia workshops and participated in the Worldwide Plays Festival and Teen Night at the Nuyorican. He's since graduated from Cornell University with a BA in English, where he founded the University's spoken word poetry club, edited a fiction column in the Cornell Daily Sun, and taught writing to incarcerated students. He's been a bike messenger, a bricklayer, and a firefighter. But most recently he worked for three years as an international literary book scout, reading and reporting on new fiction and nonfiction titles for book publishers in other countries, as well as for Netflix for book-to-film adaptation. In addition to working at Writopia, Andres teaches English through a language learning program offered by the Office of Immigrant Affairs in New York. His fiction and nonfiction has appeared in HASH Journal, Quip Literary Review, great weather for MEDIA, Fortune Magazine, OZY, and elsewhere. He's also been named a Finalist for the Marianne Russo Award for Emerging Writers (2020) and is the forthcoming Philip Roth Resident in Creative Writing at Bucknell University (Spring, 2022).

Amy George

Instructor
Amy George

Amy George is thrilled to join Writopia Lab as an Instructor! Amy grew up in India and is a resident of the Bay Area. She graduated from the MFA program in Creative Writing at Saint Mary’s College of California, Moraga, where she was the Kearny Street Workshop Fellow. She was awarded a Fellowship by the San Francisco Writers Grotto and has attended workshops with Tin House and the Community of Writers. Her work was featured and is forthcoming in the Oyster River Pages and Aster(ix) Journal. She enjoys spending time with her husband, their children ages 10 and 8, and their 12-year-old canine. She is currently at work on a novella.

Alex Harris

Instructor
Alex Harris

Alex Harris is thrilled to be joining the Writopia Lab team as an instructor! Originally from Davis, California, Alex graduated from Loyola Marymount University’s School of Film and Television with a BA in Film Directing and Screenwriting. During his time at LMU, Alex was one of 12 undergraduate students nationwide to win the Hollywood Foreign Press Grant for Excellence in Student Filmmaking for his short film Memoirs, which went on to play in major film festivals across the country. As a screenwriter, Alex is a Writers Guild of America member and has been hired to write original screenplays, adaptations, and rewrites for Oscar-nominated producers. Most recently, Alex was hired by Dwayne Johnson's Seven Bucks Productions and 101 Studios to write the upcoming sports biopic Unstoppable: The Anthony Robles Story with Emmy-winner Jharrel Jerome attached to star. Alex is a Film Independent Incubator Lab alum ('19) and a Sundance Catalyst Fellow ('21) for his directorial debut, In The Valley of Men, based on a short story by renowned author Joanne Greenberg, which will star Ed Harris and Noah Jupe. He is mentored by acclaimed filmmaker David Lowery and represented by Grandview.

Ben Wietmarschen

Instructor
Ben Wietmarschen

Ben Wietmarschen (pronounced "wheat-martian") is super excited to be an instructor at Writopia Lab. Ben is based in Los Angeles, but is originally from Cincinnati, OH (whose sports teams he loves way too much). Ben has been a professional comedy writer, performer, and director since 2011. He has worked as a staff writer at Funny Or Die, contributing writer for The Onion News Network and Onion Sports, and most recently worked in TV development at Just For Laughs. He also is co-creator of the long-running internet series Long Haired Businessmen. Ben got his start writing sketch comedy at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre, where he wrote, improvised on house teams, and taught all levels of sketch writing. Ben earned a B.S. in English Education from Kent State University where he ran cross country and track for the Golden Flashes.

Nathan Mortenson

Assistant Instructor
Nathan Mortenson

Nathan Mortenson is happy to be joining the Writopia Lab team as an assistant instructor! In 2015, Nathan fell in love with Writopia as a camper at the Dungeons and Dragons Winter Retreat. Over the next few years, Nathan was alternately an intern, camp counselor, and writer in Writopia workshops, discovering his passions for writing, Dungeons and Dragons, and working with young people at the same time. Nathan graduated from Hampshire college with a Bachelor’s degree in the arts. He now works at Nest+M as an assistant teacher during school hours, in addition to helping run the workshops Writopia holds after school. Nathan is an aspiring author, with a fantasy novel on the path to publication (hopefully).

Matthew Pancer

Instructor
Matthew Pancer

Matthew Pancer is thrilled to be joining the Writopia Lab LA team as a creative writing and filmmaking instructor! Originally from Toronto, Canada, Matthew first came to Los Angeles to study at the prestigious American Film Institute, where he received his MFA in Screenwriting. Since graduating, Matthew’s thesis film, Akeda, has screened at over 20 festivals and has won six awards. His screenplays have also been optioned by esteemed producers, including The Breakfast Club’s Michelle Manning. These accomplishments secured him representation from the industry-leading Creative Artists Agency. When Matthew is not writing or making movies, he is teaching, having lectured at York University for their screenwriting and business courses. Matthew also has experience in journalism, having written articles for Entity Magazine: For Women That Do.

Kellie Watkins

Instructor
Kellie Watkins

Kellie Watkins is a writer and co-owner of Jahphut, a small publishing company. She is the author of If These Shoes Could Talk: The Awakening and Savvy Diva’s Take On…44 Days of Random Thoughts & Observations, under her pen name, Jahzara the Savvy Diva.

Kellie possesses her MFA in Creative Writing from Full Sail University and a BA in Journalism/Mass Media and Communications from the University of the District of Columbia. If Kellie isn’t sleeping or devouring her favorite cupcakes, she’s writing and pitching screenplay ideas, sharing random thoughts and observations through her blog and social media platforms, teaching creative writing workshops, or empowering the youth through community engagement. Kellie is also a ghost writer and provides book consulting services to aspiring writers who are stalled in their journeys. In between inhaling and exhaling, she pauses to appreciate her family of humans, lions, and wolves.

Jordan Casomar

Instructor
Jordan Casomar

Jordan K. Casomar is delighted to be joining Writopia Lab as an instructor! Jordan is a prose writer with essays in The Kenyon Review, Catapult, and elsewhere. He received a MacDowell Fellowship in 2021, was the nonfiction runner-up in The Pinch’s 2018 Spring Literary Awards, and is an alum of the VONA conference for writers of color. Jordan has an MFA in creative nonfiction from the University of Minnesota. His first novel—a dramedy about high schoolers, toxic masculinity, and the so-called friendzone—is forthcoming. Jordan loves teaching writing workshops and running D&D games. He lives in Washington, D.C. with his wife and their two cats, Tuleg Rasputin III and Little Girl.

Devan Manning

Instructor

Devan is ecstatic to join Writopia Lab as an instructor in the San Francisco Bay Area! Devan graduated with honors from Arizona State University while obtaining her B.A. in English Literature, and later received her M.Ed in Secondary Education. Devan has been writing fantasy, science-fiction, and realistic fiction stories since she was seven years old, and is working towards publishing her work as a novel. Devan spent the last seven years as a high school English teacher, where her love of storytelling and role-playing games led her to create a classroom tabletop game to encourage students to write collaboratively and interact playfully. When Devan isn’t working with young writers or on her own stories, you can find her playing video games or Dungeons and Dragons with her friends!

Damien McClendon

Instructor
Damien McClendon

With an abundance of joy, Damien McClendon is joining the Writopia Lab team as an instructor. Damien is a poet who believes poetry can and should not just be read but also heard. Originally from Youngstown, OH, Damien moved to New York City in 2022 and is currently obtaining his MFA in creative writing from Columbia University, where he was awarded the Max Ritvo fellowship. Damien received his BA in Pan-African studies from Kent State University where he founded a poetry writing workshop in collaboration with the Wick Poetry Center, and Co-founded Kent State's first nationally competing poetry slam team. Damien was a finalist in the 2017 Individual World Poetry Slam and was a member of Cleveland's National Poetry Slam team, which ranked in the top 10 at the 2018 National Poetry Slam. In that same year, he was named Poet Laureate of Cleveland Heights (2018 to 2020) and was recipient of the 2018 Cleveland Arts Prize On the Verge fellowship for literature. His performances have been published by Button Poetry and Write About Now and have received over 400,000 views on various social media platforms. As a teaching artist, Damien has worked with universities, public and private schools, and nonprofit organizations and has over five years experience teaching poetry writing and performance as well as creative writing in general to scholars of all ages. Damien is ecstatic about helping the scholars at Writopia Lab find their way as young writers!

Emma O'Neill-Dietel

Instructor
Emma O'Neill-Dietel

Emma is overjoyed to return to Writopia Lab as an instructor after volunteering at Writopia and working at WriCampia since 2018. She is a recent graduate of Smith College, where she was the president of the creative writing club and led writing workshops for other campus organizations. In June of 2022, she was in residence at the Dylan Thomas Summer School in Wales. She writes memoir, short fiction, and poetry about themes including disability, queerness, history, and place. To her, the best part of writing is sharing it with others through teaching and collaboration.

John Manuel Arias

Registration Coordinator
John Manuel Arias

John Manuel Arias is excited to join the registration team and teach workshops at Writopia Lab on the Upper West Side and in Park Slope! An alumnus of the Tin House Writer’s Workshop and a Canto Mundo fellow, his poetry and prose has appeared in The Kenyon Review, PANK, F(r)iction, The Rumpus, and Tor.com. His debut novel, Where There Was Fire, will be published by Flatiron Books in February 2023.

John Manuel is a queer, Costa Rican-American writer with a deep passion for literature, who hopes to guide Writopia’s writers in workshop and nurture their creativity. You can find him at our UWS lab, helping writers with registration and talking about all things magical.

Lizz Mangan

Private Sessions Coordinator

Lizz Mangan

Lizz Mangan (they/them) is thrilled to be with the Writopia Lab team as the Private Sessions Coordinator and an instructor.

Lizz received their BA in Theater Studies with a concentration in Playwriting and Dramaturgy from the University of Connecticut. They also attended the National Theater Institute at the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center’s Advanced Playwriting program in Spring 2018. As a playwright, Lizz's work has been seen across the country in Minneapolis, Connecticut, New York, Maine, Colorado, Florida, and Vermont. They are also a founding member of Eleven & One Theatre Collective. In 2023, they were named a finalist for the INKubator series with Art House Productions.

In their free time, Lizz enjoys walks in Central Park, adding to their vibrant earring collection, and touring New York in pursuit of the best bagel in the city (they have a list they are happy to show upon request).

Joey del Deo

Instructor
Joey del Deo

Joey has loved every second of being a part of the Writopia Lab team! Since joining Writopia in 2021 as a filmmaking counselor at WriCampia, he has worked in New York as both a filmmaking and creative writing instructor. Based in Toms River, New Jersey, Joey received his B.A. in TV/Film from DeSales University in 2021, where he enjoyed writing and producing. While attending DeSales, he produced numerous short films, including his senior thesis “Altered” which is currently in its festival run, and “Fall From Dysphoria” which debuted in 2019 at the Dance on Camera College Exchange at The Lincoln Center. Joey was also the head producer of the DeSales University Film Festival in 2021. He has enjoyed working with writers and filmmakers of all ages through Writopia, and continues to be amazed by the creativity and joy that each workshop brings! When not working as an instructor, Joey loves photography, watching bad comedy movies, and the Mets (most of the time.)

Cameron Dickerson

Programs and Operations Assistant
Cameron Dickerson

Cameron "Camii" Dickerson first joined Writopia Lab ten years ago as a teenager at WriCampia. She is now a Programs and Operations Assistant year round! Camii has grown up in the Writopia community, publishing several pieces in small literary sites. She is a native Washingtonian who now works in our Tenleytown, DC Lab. Her hobbies include making everyone laugh, crocheting, reading, and—obviously—writing. She is the proud mother of her kitten Winnie Salem Eloise Peterson, who is an avid reader as well.

Alice Charlotte Bethke

Instructor
Alice Charlotte Bethke

Alice joined Writopia Lab as a WriCampia counselor, where she had such a great time she just had to come back and instruct. Alice is a creative writing student at Sarah Lawrence College, where she won the Nancy Lynn Schwartz Prize for Fiction Writing. Her fiction is absurd, satirical, and interested in highlighting the good and bad of queer and disabled life while earning a few chuckles. Alice has spent years working with LGBTQ+ kids professionally and wrote instructional material for educators interested in centering queer experiences. Outside of writing, she spends her time chasing the perfect egg salad recipe, checking Yankees stats, and competing in crossword competitions. She’s so excited to work with the passionate young writers at Writopia; it’s the best inspiration around!

Kendra Jones

Instructor
Kendra Jones

Kendra is so excited to join the Writopia Lab team as a Creative Writing and College Essay Instructor! She is inspired by the energy and imagination of young writers and is thrilled to watch them discover and develop their own unique voices. Originally from the Pennsylvania countryside, Kendra graduated from York College of Pennsylvania with a BS in biology, a BA in professional writing, and a minor in creative writing. In 2021, she completed her MFA in nonfiction writing at Columbia University. During her academic career, Kendra was very active in publishing, from leading as an editor-in-chief for a campus newspaper and literary magazine, to serving as a poetry board and nonfiction board member of the Columbia Journal. Kendra is always looking to stay busy and active in the city; she is an NJCAA College Basketball Official, supervises the Intramural Sport program at Columbia University, and is a professional taste tester in SoHo. She’s working on two books: a memoir with focus on her transition to New York City and the social dynamics and unthinkable experiences as a taste tester, and a nonfiction book that combines memoir, history, interviews, and research to examine undocumented historical events with the theme of rewriting one’s own memories.

Samantha Arriozola

Instructor
Samantha Arriozola

Samantha Arriozola (she/her/hers) is a Chicana writer and youth worker from the Chicagoland-area. She has spent the past eight years working in nonprofit spaces and community centers in Madison, WI and New York City. She has been with Writopia Lab since 2020, and even went to camp for the first time since she was ten for WriCampia 2021. Sam received her B.A. in English/Creative Writing as a proud member of the 8th Cohort of First Wave—a Hip-Hop and urban arts full-tuition scholarship program at UW-Madison, centering the pursuit of higher education with arts, academics, and activism. Sam is a poet with roots in the world of spoken word poetry and slam, a background that has carried over in coaching young spoken word artists to compete in the Brave New Voices International Youth Poetry Slam Festival in 2017 and 2018. Sam's poetry has been published in Pinwheel Journal (2018) and Cutthroat Journal: Contemporary Chicanx Writers Anthology (2020). Sam lives in Queens with her human and plant roommates, editing both her own and fellow writers' work with chamomile tea by her side.

Amelia Frank

Debate Coach
Amelia Frank

Amelia Frank began her journey at Writopia Lab taking essay and creative writing workshops. She now brings her experience as a competitive debater and instructor to the organization that helped her develop herself as a writer and thinker. Amelia has been ranked the 10th best debater in NY state at a varsity level, has qualified for the Tournament of Champions twice, has won Harvard Debate’s summer tournament as a rising sophomore, and has coached underclassmen to make it to elimination rounds at a varsity level. Amelia is also a published fiction and nonfiction writer, having won four Scholastic awards and contributed to investing and ESG research. She is a current senior at the Spence school and will continue her studies at Johns Hopkins University in the fall.

Samantha Schnell

Instructor
Samantha Schnell

Samantha Schnell is excited to join the team at Writopia Lab! Sam is a writer and teacher from New York City whose work has appeared in Witness Magazine and Eclectica Magazine and is forthcoming in Sonora Review. She has an MFA in Creative Nonfiction from Columbia University, but these days she mostly writes poetry. She loves working creatively with kids and teenagers and has taught writing at Columbia University, The Ali Forney Center and East Harlem Tutorial Program. When she's not writing or teaching, Sam is trying to keep up with her dog, cat and toddler, all of whom appear regularly in her poems.

Paulina Tesnow

Instructor
Paulina Tesnow

Paulina Tesnow is excited to join the Writopia Lab team. She is passionate about writing and fostering creativity in young people. Paulina holds a degree from Kent State University, where she majored in Digital Filmmaking and minored in Creative Writing. Before moving to New York to pursue her Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing at Sarah Lawrence College, Paulina spent two years in the AmeriCorps program City Year. During her time in City Year, she served as a student success coach, building students’ social-emotional learning skills and assisting in an English Language Arts classroom. Paulina has also spent years working as a teaching artist, facilitating creative writing workshops for all grade levels. Outside of writing, Paulina also enjoys film, music, and theatre.

Helena Grande

Instructor

Helena Grande

Helena Grande is thrilled to be working with Writopia Lab as a writing instructor. Helena is the author of Speech Choke (2020) and she has recently graduated with an MFA in Creative Writing from The New School. She has taught creative writing to middle schoolers and has experience working in universities, museums, and art organizations. She has developed and delivered writing classes, art programs, and interactive guided tours for children, adults, and people with visual impairment. Her writing has appeared in Dostoyevsky Wannabe, Fictional Journal, nY, diSONARE, and Editions Clinamen, among others. Her work was supported by the Prins Bernhard Cultuurfonds, Amsterdams Fonds voor de Kunst, The New School, and WriteOn NYC Fellowship. Originally from Spain, Helena has lived in The Netherlands for many years, and now she lives in Queens, New York. She is currently working on a novel, and when she is not writing, she is sharing her time with her loved ones.

Ella Davidson

Instructor

Ella Davidson

Ella Davidson is happily beginning her journey as an instructor at Writopia Lab in New York City. She is a playwright, actor and director from Albany, New York, currently residing in Brooklyn. Ella studied Drama and Dramatic writing at Tisch School of the Arts at New York University, where several of her plays were produced. Most recently she wrote, directed, and starred in her show The Ben Shapiro Project, which enjoyed a sold out run at The Brick theater in Williamsburg and was featured in Time Out New York. Ella loves writing comedy, personal narrative, and absurdism, and loves the combination of genres even more. She hopes to encourage a love of creativity and storytelling in young writers through Writopia Lab.

Knox Daddi

Game Leader

Knox Daddi

After many years of attending workshops as a young writer, Knox Daddi (he/him/his) is proudly joining Writopia Lab as an RPG Game Leader! Before joining the team, Knox studied creative writing for visual media at Hampshire College, and graduated with a BA in Liberal Arts in 2021. Knox is queer, trans, and a third-generation New Yorker. He is also an avid player of Dungeons & Dragons and other tabletop RPG systems, at times boasting as many as four different weekly campaigns as both player and game leader. He is passionate about the unique group storytelling experience these games foster, and can't wait to lead even more new adventurers through fantastical worlds!

When not cycling between his different campaigns, Knox develops pitches for animated television series, takes his dog on long walks through Riverside Park, and works on craft projects such as cosplay or plush character dolls (his current undertaking). He is thrilled to be working with Writopia Lab in his home neighborhood of the Upper West Side of Manhattan!

Katelyn Tinius

Game Leader

Katelyn Tinius

Katelyn Tinius is ecstatic to begin her time at Writopia Lab as a Game Leader this summer. She is the Producer, Writer, and Dungeon Master for Of Mice and Men and Monsters, a podcast that combines actual play D&D with classic literature. Beyond the DM screen, she has served as a high school educator, teaching English, Humanities, ELD, and IB Literature for the past 12 years. For seven years, she has served as a content writer and copy editor for the YouTube video essay channel Entertain the Elk. Katelyn graduated with a Master of Arts in Teaching from UC Irvine, and still looks fondly on her days as a Medieval and Renaissance Studies undergraduate at Colgate University, bringing the influence of fantasy and languages thought to be long lost into her worlds at the role-playing table. She is brimming with joy to run role-playing games for new and practiced RPGers alike at the Los Angeles Writopia Lab, helping them find their inner hero!

Jonah Barnette

Instructor

Jonah Barnette

Jonah was born and raised in the Tennessee Valley, but now he calls Writopia home! He attended Princeton University for history and creative writing, where he’s proud to have studied under writers like Yiyun Li and A. M. Homes. To graduate in 2020, he wrote almost 365 pages: a literary history of J. D. Salinger, which received the C. O. Joline Prize in American History, and the first draft of Little Historian, his first novel. Jonah writes fiction and nonfiction about time. He likes to talk about memory, family, and identity, and his characters–for now–live in Appalachia. His favorite movie is Lilo & Stitch, and he found his dog, Benjamin Franklin Bean, on Craigslist. He likes to talk about him, too.

Brittany Wallace

Instructor
Brittany Wallace

Brittany Wallace is delighted to be back with Writopia Lab teaching Creative Writing and Essay Writing workshops in Washington, DC. She began her Writopia journey in 2018 as a counselor at WriCampia, where she fell in love with the organization, its mission, and its people. Brittany earned her Bachelor’s degree from Montana State University in 2017, where she majored in English with a minor in Human Development. She spent the following years balancing writing and publishing short fiction with working with kids, first as a preschool teacher in Montana and then as a middle school Behavior Specialist in Milwaukie, Oregon. Now, having finally landed in DC, she feels so glad to be working with Writopia Lab and so lucky to get to work with so many amazing young writers. When she’s not reading, writing, or teaching, Brittany can usually be found exploring her new city with her partner and dog.

Liz Lawson

Instructor
Liz Lawson

Liz Lawson is thrilled to be joining Writopia's DC lab as an instructor! She is the New York Times bestselling author of The Agathas, The Night In Question: An Agathas Mystery (with Kathleen Glasgow) and The Lucky Ones.

Her books have been featured by the Today show, People, Buzzfeed, Amazon, Goodreads, Barnes & Noble, and more, and published in nine countries. The Night in Question is a Today Show 2023 Read with Jenna Jr. pick. The Agathas was the Barnes & Noble YA Book Club pick of May 2022, the Target/Epic Reads Book Club pick of May/June 2022, and named a best book of 2022 by Waterstones. The Lucky Ones was named a "Best Book of 2020" by both Kirkus Reviews and the Chicago Public Library.

She lives in the DC metro area with her family and two very bratty cats.

Zoë Geltman

Instructor
Zoë Geltman

Zoë Geltman is excited to join Writopia Lab as a Creative Writing Instructor and to share her passion for the written word with young writers. Zoë is a born-and-bred New Yorker as well as a performer and playwright. Her plays include SEA FRAUD, produced at The Brick Theater; Lolly, Lolly, Lolly, developed with the support of New Georges; This Dump Is A Dump, developed at The Bushwick Starr; and PUFFY HAIR, a one-woman show that has toured numerous New York venues such as The PIT, The Tank, and the Wild Project with Big Art Group, and which will travel to the Vancouver Fringe Festival in September 2023. Zoë was a Civilians R&D Group Finalist for her most recent play, A(U)NTS!, a Eugene O'Neill National Playwrights Conference Semifinalist, and a Soho Rep Writer-Director Lab Finalist. Zoë has been praised by The New York Times for her performances and has had the privilege to perform with Clubbed Thumb, The Playwrights' Center in Minneapolis, the Bard Fisher Center, Playwrights Horizons, Nellie Tinder, New Dramatists, Ensemble Studio Theater, and many more. Outside of more creative pursuits, Zoë also serves as an advisor at ACES at St. Joseph's University, where she works with non-native English speakers to develop their academic reading and writing skills. Whether acting or writing, Zoë is energized by language--what can be put on top of it, what can be hidden underneath. She is grateful to Writopia for providing her with another opportunity to guide young people in finding their unique writing voices and in discovering the many joys of self-expression through language.

Jessica Lipaz

Instructor

Jessica Lipaz

Jess is an educator and creative who is energized to join the Writopia Lab team as a writing instructor! Originally from Los Angeles, Jess moved to New York City in 2021 to earn her MA in Philosophy and Education from Teachers College, Columbia University. Throughout her degree, she dedicated herself to merging real life experiences with academic theorizing through her reflective and personalized writing style. The highlight of her graduate degree was the Arthur Zankel fellowship Jess was awarded to develop and facilitate a media and social change curriculum for 5th graders at P.S. 187. She loved working with students to explore storytelling through different mediums like zines, comics, collages, and even memes. Previously, Jess was the State News Editor of the country’s oldest-running student newspaper, The Daily Cardinal, housed at the University of Wisconsin-Madison where Jess got her undergraduate degrees in both Philosophy and Education Studies. Jess enjoys riding her bike, playing guitar, thrift shopping, journaling, and now, instructing the exploration of identity and voice through essays at Writopia Lab!

Rafaela Bassili

Instructor
Rafaela Bassili

Rafaela Bassili is so thrilled to join Writopia Lab as a part-time Creative Writing instructor. Rafaela is a writer and translator from São Paulo, Brazil, who writes about movies and culture. Her work has been featured in Gawker, Notebook MUBI, Paste Magazine, and elsewhere. She has an MFA in Nonfiction Writing from Columbia University, where she was a Teaching Fellow. Before that, she got a Bachelor's Degree in Screenwriting at Chapman University in Southern California. Rafaela loves movies, books, and workshops—she is so excited to be a part of the Writopia community!

Holli Harms

Instructor
Holli Harms

Holli is thrilled to be joining Writopia Lab in New York City as a part-time instructor. She is a writer of plays, screenplays, and short stories and recently graduated from Southern New Hampshire University with her Master’s in Creative Writing.

As a playwright, Holli has been awarded the Terrence G. Hall Fellowship, a Dramatist Guild Fellow, and an EST/Sloan Grant. Her play “Make John Patrick Shanley Go Home” is published in Smith & Krause’s “Anthology Of 50 Best Ten Minute Plays.” Several of her plays have been produced both nationally and internationally by Rover Dramawerks, Plano Texas, Sky Blue Theatre Co UK, Estrogenius Festival NYC, Edgemar Center Santa Monica, City Theatre, Miami, to name a few. As a screenwriter, her short narrative "Icarus Stops For Breakfast" has won 23 awards from over 35 festivals around the world. Holli’s short story “Cereal and Fire” is published online with Penmen Review. Her story, “The Russians,” is published online in Dead Mule Southern Literature, as well as her essay “I Grew Up.” Holli is a member of Ensemble Studio Theater and Dramatist Guild. She is a guest lecturer for The School of Visual Arts film department, working with first-time filmmakers on their scripts, as well as, a proud mentor with Girls Write Now. Holli’s passions are running, she has two New York City Marathons under her belt, traveling, walking her dog Arlo Guthrie Marshmallow, reading, and spending time with her family. Holli is currently in the middle of her first novel. She is thrilled to be working with Writopia’s wonderful students and staff.

Zoe Donovan

Instructor
Zoe Donovan

Zoe Donovan is a Writopia Lab alum, a former high school intern, a WriCampia counselor and Co-Division Head, and is thrilled to continue to be a part of the Writopia community! Originally from Westchester County, NY, Zoe spent her high school years writing music, performing in and directing plays, and exploring poetry and playwriting at Writopia. As an undergraduate at Brown University, Zoe worked as a music mentor at New Urban Arts, founded an online zine dedicated to publishing work by young LGBTQIA+ writers, and continued her involvement in theater and music. She recently graduated with a B.A. in Africana Studies and Music, and plans to continue working as an aspiring producer, songwriter, and playwright.

Jose Ortiz

Game Leader
Jose Oritz

Jose Ortiz is thrilled to join Writopia Lab as a Game Leader. After graduating from George Mason University’s College of Visual and Performing Arts, he was elated to actually find work as a visual artist, painting logos for MTV and Nickelodeon, teaching art to children and adults, and painting backdrops as a Scenic Artist for the Shakespeare Theatre Company. He has had a lifelong fascination with the fantasy genre, D&D in particular, and before running games professionally, he was one of three Mid-Atlantic regional administrators for Wizards of the Coast’s “Living Greyhawk” campaign. In that role, he did more writing, editing, and Dungeon Mastering in three years than was probably healthy, but loved every minute. Today, he splits his time working as a freelance illustrator in the gaming industry and being a Game Leader at Writopia Lab, where he is pumped to introduce young people to the enriching experience of role-playing games.

Amalia Oliva Rojas

Instructor

Amalia Olivo Rojas

Amalia Oliva Rojas (she/her/ella) is a Mexican poet, performer, and theater artivist based in Nueva York. Her work centers and archives the stories, myths, and legends told by her family, her community, and fellow immigrant women. She is a proud alumnus of the Vassar College Powerhouse Theater Apprentice Program and CUNY Lehman College. Residencies Include Pen America's DREAMing Out Loud fellowship, New Perspectives Theater Company Women's Work Short and Full-Length Play Lab, NYU Hemispheric Institute for Performance and Politics, EmergeNYC Program, Culture Hub's Thriving Changemakers, Beam's Center Lighthouse Artist Residency at Governors Island, among others. Her plays include Tonantzin On the 7 Train (PEN AMERICA), A Step-by-Step Guide on How to Succeed in the Myth-Making Business (Lehman College), How to Melt ICE (or How the Coyote fell in love with the lizard who was really a butterfly) (New York Women’s Fund Grant, New Perspectives Theatre Company and Boundless Theater Company, LATA Award for Outstanding Playwriting), and In The Bronx Brown Girls Can See Stars Too (Titan Theatre Company Future Classics Festival). 

She is currently pursuing her MFA in Playwriting at Columbia University as an inaugural The Lily’s Lorraine Hansberry Fellow and as the recipient of the Dean Carol Becker Scholarship. Amalia is super excited to be with Writopia Lab!

Colleen Martin

Assistant Instructor
Colleen Martin

Colleen Martin is excited to join the Writopia Lab team as an Assistant Instructor. She is currently working toward her master’s in English education at Fordham University. She graduated from Boston College in 2021, where she was the editor of the student newspaper. Before Writopia, Colleen worked as a Writers’ Room Fellow at 826 Boston, where she led the journalism club and worked with students on college essays, academic papers, and creative writing. Colleen has worked as a journalist, writing stories about Boston marathoners, a python on the loose, and the oldest cat in Montgomery County, Maryland. Most recently she produced an episode for Boston Stories and Numbers, an audio documentary project dedicated to telling the stories of Boston residents. Outside of writing, Colleen enjoys baking, hiking, and the beach.