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Rita is excited to join the Writopia Lab family! She received her MFA from Oregon State University, where she taught composition and creative writing. Her work has appeared in The Cossack Review, Permafrost, and Grist, among other publications, and has been nominated for Best of the Net and Best New Poets. Life on Dodge, her debut poetry chapbook, is available from Brain Mill Press. She lives with her husband, who is a lawyer, and her dog, who is not.
Rachel Zubrin is thrilled to be joining the Writopia Lab team as the new Writopia DC Program Coordinator! Rachel began her career in education in 2015, and she has worked with students of every age group. In each school she has taught at, Rachel has created and coached multiple extracurricular activities, including creative writing, drama, speech, and debate clubs. Several students within these clubs have received recognition and scholarship awards. Rachel also established an ESL educational organization within an Indonesian orphanage while serving in the Peace Corps. Additionally, Rachel has developed creative writing-, literature-, and aerospace-based curricula to be used within schools in Thailand, Indonesia, and China.
In August 2021, Rachel will receive her Master’s in International Development from American University. When Rachel is not working or studying, she enjoys hiking, cooking, and conspiring with her cat in their plans for world domination.
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.
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.
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!
Peter Quinn-Jacobs is enthusiastic to be a Dungeon Master at Writopia Lab! He has played role-playing games since he was seven years old and has run many games both in-person and digitally for decades in a variety of fantasy and science fiction settings, using myriad systems of rules. 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!
Hassan Alshiyoukh is beyond excited to join the Writopia Lab team this summer! Hassan A. J. is a writer and an educator. He is the former creative writing mentor at Montpelier High School and its Community Based Learning program. He received his MFA in Writing & Publishing from the Vermont College of Fine Arts where he focused on historical fiction and the art of reimagining, and was the assistant fiction editor for Hunger Mountain Magazine. He attended the Yale Writers’ Workshop and the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown. His work has appeared in Montage, Words for Charity, and Tale Time Podcast. He is a winner of the 2019 Wilder Fiction Prize.
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.
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