Learn more about Writopia's Essay Writing program.
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."
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.
Madeline Taylor joined Writopia as an intern in June 2015 and, after a year of working part-time, began full-time as Registration Coordinator. She also served as the Production Stage Manager for the Writopia Worldwide Plays Festival 2016. She graduated summa cum laude from Barnard College at Columbia University with a BA in English & Creative Writing. At Barnard, she stage managed, edited, and contributed to student-written theater productions, and her main areas of instruction at Writopia are the Playwriting & Performance program and the Essay Writing program. She writes primarily creative non-fiction and short fiction, and received recognition for her non-fiction writing at Barnard College with the Schwimmer Prize for the Humanities and the Estelle M. Allison Prize for Literature.
Malcolm Knowles is ecstatic to be a part of the Writopia team. 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, he leads the songwriting elective at both the Writopia day camp and WriCampia and is currently developing the Songwriting Studio Program for the Fall, Winter, and Spring trimesters. When not teaching, you can often find him next to the closest musical instrument.
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.
Anu Amaran (pen name: A. Anupama) is excited to work with the team of Writopians, young and old, in the Metro North labs. Anu is a poet, critic, essayist, and translator whose work has appeared in Fourteen Hills, CutBank, Numéro Cinq Magazine, Tulane Review, and elsewhere. She studied at Northwestern University and Vermont College of Fine Arts, where she received her MFA in writing. She currently organizes literary community and is a founding editor of the literary journal River River. She lives and writes in Nyack, New York. Find Anu’s musing at seranam.com.
Alexandra Cohl is a creative and essay writing instructor at Writopia Lab NYC. After graduating from the University of Delaware with a BA in English Literature and a minor in Theatre Performance, she moved to New York City to pursue writing and teaching. She is currently an M.A. candidate for English Literature at the City College of New York (CCNY) and has also taught undergraduate composition courses at CCNY. Her short fiction has been published in Luna Luna Magazine, and she has contributed blog posts to New York School Talk, an education blog. Her Writopia Lab writers have won both regional and national recognition from the Scholastic Writing Awards and have also had plays or spoken word performed in Writopia's Worldwide Plays Festival. In addition to writing fiction, memoir, and songs, she is currently running her own blog, POD.DRALAND, where she combines her love of supporting fellow artists and listening to podcasts.
Kathleen McCleary is the author of three novels, including House and Home (Hyperion); A Simple Thing (HarperCollins) and Leaving Haven (HarperCollins). Her non-fiction articles and essays have appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, Ladies Home Journal, Good Housekeeping, and other publications. She has also taught writing as an adjunct professor at American University. When she's not writing, she can be found in the gym, trying to teach herself to do pull-ups. You can find more about Kathleen's work at www.kathleenmccleary.com.
Samantha Stone began with Writopia Lab as a JLA volunteer in 2016 and has taught creative writing and essay workshops since the summer of 2017. In the Fall of 2019 she joined the administrative team part-time, helping with registration, and is delighted to work more closely with the team. Samantha is a New York City based playwright and theatre artist, who focuses on creating theatre for social change in both national and international platforms. She received finalist status for the Leah Ryan Fund For Emerging Women Writers in 2019 and for the Ivoryton Playhouse’s POWER PASSION PROSE Women Playwrights’ Initiative for 2018. Her work has been produced at the Walkerspace at Soho Rep, Primary Stages, and as part of the 20th annual New York International Fringe Festival. In 2013, she earned a B.A. in Journalism and Mass Communications from the George Washington University. She has an MFA from the Fordham/Primary Stages Playwriting program, which she earned in 2018, and currently teaches as an adjunct professor in Fordham’s English department.
Adam is honored to be part of the Writopia family. Adam has been teaching creative and essay writing workshops at the Upper West Side lab since early 2017. Prior to moving to New York, Adam lived in Chicago where he was a company member of Collaboration Theatre Company, which focuses on creating devised pieces of theatre that raise awareness about social conscious issues. Adam's plays have been produced around the country, most notably at Cherry Lane, 59E59, Seattle Rep, Milwaukee Rep, St. Louis Actor's Studio, The Road Theatre in LA, Collaboraction and Playhouse on the Square in Memphis. Adam's plays are published by Middle Tennessee State University Press and Broadway Play Publishing Inc.
Alex Henderson has enjoyed working with young Writopians since 2012. Originally from North Carolina, he has lived in Prague, CR, and Washington, DC, where he was awarded the Thesis Fiction Fellowship by the MFA program at George Mason University. He soon made the leap to New York City and Writopia's headquarters here, where you can now find him most days of the week (sometimes it's hard to get him to leave). Alex spends his free time riding the subway with a notebook balanced on his knees or figuring out how to re-arrange the bookshelves in his Brooklyn apartment. His fiction has appeared in Harper-Perennial's Fifty-Two Stories and Ekleksographia. He will listen to anyone tell a good story.
This past summer, Jake Hirsch assisted the filmmaking elective at Wricampia and he is excited to continue instilling his passion for filmmaking and screenwriting to the students of Writopia Lab! He is a screenwriter and filmmaker who received his BFA from New York University's Tisch School of the Arts Film and Television program. His senior thesis film, under the tutelage of editor Sam Pollard, was the recipient of the Akhtar-Bhutta grant. After graduating from NYU, Jake was accepted into the Development Studio at the NYU Production Lab, an incubator for alumni, where he developed a feature screenplay with the guidance of screenwriting mentors Tony Gilroy and Terence Winter. In addition to being a screenwriter and instructor, Jake has worked as a photographer and videographer for New York political campaigns!
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.
Nora is thrilled to be joining the Writopia Lab team as an instructor! Nora works in a wide range of writing genres with a particular interest in hybrid forms. Their six-part comics musical, Magical Realism, was syndicated by Hobart. They are also the co-director of the community arts outreach organization My American Musical, which orchestrates spontaneous musicals on the streets of towns across America. Nora graduated from Wesleyan University in 2017 with a BA in English. At Wesleyan, they directed two original musicals and received awards for their fiction and nonfiction writing. In their free time, Nora enjoys going to libraries and Starbucks.
Shaheen Qureshi is thrilled to be involved with Writopia Lab as an Essay Writing Instructor. She is currently an MFA candidate at the Milton Avery Graduate School of the Arts at Bard College. Shaheen's writing has been published in TAYO Literary Magazine and Sukoon Magazine. Shaheen was born and raised in the DC area by multicultural immigrant parents from whom she learned to always be around good food, expertly interpret ESL, and appreciate the power of self-expression. She has previously worked with 826DC as a writing mentor, guest poet, and publications manager, and she has developed and led workshops to the wider community on personal essays and poetry. She is currently working on a collection of hybrid essays and poetry.
Susan is excited to work with Writopia Lab writers on the art and craft of storytelling! Susan is a screenwriter and playwright who has over seven years of combined professional experience working on plays, TV series, and movies. She has developed movies for DreamWorks China aimed at audiences for the world, including the upcoming Abominable and Over The Moon, directed by Disney legend Glen Keane. Her latest TV work as a screenwriter on the children’s series P King Duckling is forthcoming on The Disney Channel and Netflix, and Susan’s most recent play, Yellow Fever, was produced internationally in Shanghai to sold-out audiences. She is a graduate from NYU Tisch School of the Arts and a current MFA Playwriting student at Hunter College.
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