Instructors

  • Janelle M. Williams

    Associate Director of Outreach and Programs
    Janelle M. Williams

    Janelle M. Williams has been a part of the Writopia Lab team since 2016. At Writopia, she works as an instructor and a program manager. She manages private sessions and co-manages the Write-to-Recognition Program and the Joy and Literacy in After School Program. With the support of Executive Director Rebecca Wallace-Segall and the team, she founded Writopia Lab's annual Teen Writers' Summit. She enjoys teaching on-site and off-site workshops, some in Title 1 schools and a residential treatment facility. She is enthusiastic about sustaining safe, diverse, and socially conscious workshops at Writopia Lab. Janelle received her BA from Howard University and her MFA in Creative Writing from Manhattanville College. In 2017, she received a fellowship from Kimbilio Fiction. As a southern writer from Decatur, Georgia, Janelle's lyrical stories have appeared or are forthcoming in Prairie Schooner, SmokeLong Quarterly, Lunch Ticket, Vol. 1 Brooklyn, Split Lip Magazine, midnight & indigo, Kweli, and elsewhere. Her novel, “Gone Like Yesterday”, will be published by Tiny Reparations Books in 2023.

  • Elsa Bermúdez

    Los Angeles Regional Manager
    and Outreach Programs Manager
    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.

  • Madeline Ormenyi

    Associate Director of Program Operations
    Instructor
    Madeline Ormenyi

    Madeline Ormenyi has been working at Writopia Lab since 2015, and currently is Writopia Lab's Associate Director of Program Operations as well as a Creative Writing and Essay Writing instructor. 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. 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. Her work has been published in The New York Times and her short fiction pieces "Pink Tutu on a Barstool" and "Unnerving Houseplants" were published in Emerge Literary Journal in June 2021.

  • Michaela Florio

    Instructor
    Community Liaison
    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.

  • Sarah Boyle

    Program Administration Manager
    and Creative Communications Associate
    Editor-in-Chief, Litmags
    Instructor
    Sarah Boyle

    Sarah Boyle graduated from Emory University, where she studied English & Creative Writing, with a minor in Anthropology. Sarah was a Writopia Lab intern during the summer of 2019. At Emory, she was the treasurer of a student-run literary magazine and volunteered at various elementary schools to help students with their literacy skills. She also wrote a novella as part of an honors program, under the mentorship of award-winning author Tayari Jones. Sarah hopes to publish a novel of her own one day soon.

  • Tasnim Hussain

    Program Coordinator
    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. Currently he is working on developing a web series and regularly creating video essays on Youtube.

  • Hassan A.J.

    Regional Coordinator & Scholastic Awards Affiliate
    Instructor
    Hassan A.J.

    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.

  • 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. Shanille has been published in a variety of magazines and platforms such as Gandy Dancer, Italics Mine, and Submissions Magazine. Shanille plans to pursue her MFA and continue to teach writing to the upcoming generation. She is currently working on her historical fiction novel that started as her senior thesis.

  • Nicole Flippo

    Program Coordinator
    Instructor
    Nicole Flippo

    Nicole Flippo (she/her/hers) has been a part of Writopia Lab as a WriCampia counselor since 2018 and an instructor since 2019, and is currently the Program Coordinator for the New York Metro North region! She attended New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, where she completed a BFA in Dramatic Writing and concentrated in writing for television. She went on to complete an MFA in Writing from Sarah Lawrence College, where she concentrated in speculative fiction and was the blog editor of Lumina. She was a recipient of the Cobell Scholarship through Indigenous Education, Inc. Nicole’s original scripts have received awards with the Brucia Television and Screenwriting Awards, Bare Bones International Film and Music Festival, Fusion Film Festival, Oklahoma State One Act Festival, Oregon Short Film Festival, Talent Factory’s Script and Storyboard Showcase, Tulsa City Smashers, and others. Her mission as an educator is to assist young writers in identifying and executing the stories they are most driven to tell, and her dream as a writer is to recreate the joy she experiences while reading her favorite books for others. When Nicole isn't busy writing or teaching professionally, you can find her exploring quirky thrift shops, reading in Fort Tryon Park, waxing poetic about dark coffee, and living it up in fandom!

  • 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.

  • Amy Dupcak Remland

    Instructor
    picture of Amy Dupcak Remland

    Amy Dupcak Remland is the author of Dust, Short Stories, published in 2016, and the co-editor and designer of Words After Dark: A Lyrics, Lit & Liquor Anthology, published in 2020. After studying Writing and Film History at Sarah Lawrence, she earned an MFA in Fiction from The New School. She has worked as an adjunct English professor, music and culture journalist, assistant editor, and high-school creative writing teacher. Amy has led creative and essay writing workshops, as well as private sessions, at Writopia Lab since 2012, primarily working with teens. She also works with adults at The Writer’s Rock as a fiction instructor and private mentor/editor.

    Her fiction and creative nonfiction have appeared in Sonora Review, Hypertext, Fringe, Litro, Phoebe, and other literary journals. She contributed one story, two poems, and thirty-five original trivia questions to Words After Dark. In 2020, she published poems in the “How To” issue of District Lit, fall issue of The Night Heron Barks, “In Sickness and In Health” column of Pangyrus, and in Alternative Field & Avenue 50 Studio’s “In Isolation” poetry anthology. Her personal/cultural essay “How Zelda Saved Me: The Inspiration, Feminism, and Empowerment of Hyrule” was also published in Entropy. She is currently finishing a YA 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!

  • Clynthia Graham

    Instructor
    Clynthia Graham

    Clynthia is extremely excited to join the Writopia family. She is an MFA candidate at the University of Baltimore. Clynthia has worked as a performing arts teacher for more than 30 years, teaching students from elementary school to college. The opportunity to mix her experience with youth and her passion for writing with Writopia is a dream come true. Clynthia recently received honorable mention from the Hurston/Wright Foundation’s College Writers Award for her story, Miss Sage’s Anniversary Celebration. Currently, she is working on a collection of short stories for her graduate thesis and running around with her grandchildren when she has a minute away from school.

  • Chelsey Grasso

    Instructor
    Chelsey Grasso

    Chelsey believes that storytelling is universal and at the heart of human connection, and she is thrilled to join the Writopia Lab community once again after time at the NYC site. Chelsey's fiction has been published or is forthcoming in The Rumpus, The Minnesota Review, Harvard Review Online, Carve Magazine, The Los Angeles Review, Hobart, and elsewhere. Her work has also been a finalist in multiple prose contests and nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Along with writing and teaching, Chelsey loves attending writing workshops herself and has been awarded fellowships and grants from the Chautauqua Writers’ Festival, Martha’s Vineyard Institute of Creative Writing Conference, and the University of Massachusetts Boston, where she is currently completing her MFA.

  • 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.

  • Ben Zuckert

    Instructor
    Ben Zuckert

    Ben Zuckert is a Brooklyn-based filmmaker who has taught creative writing and screenwriting workshops with Writopia Lab since 2018. His first feature film, Larchmont, premiered at the Twin Cities Film Fest in 2016. His second feature, Noah Wise, screened at festivals in 2018 and 2019, including the Hof International Film Festival in Germany as well as the Durban International Film Festival in South Africa. He's helped develop screenwriting games for Writopia writers and 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."

  • Anne Metcalf

    Instructor
    AnneMetcalf Anne is thrilled to join the Writopia Lab team as an instructor. Coming from a long line of female educators, Anne is humbled and inspired by the opportunity to work with such talented, imaginative young writers! She holds a BA in Dramatic Arts from the University of Southern California, and an MFA in Screenwriting from the American Film Institute Conservatory. Her work has screened at film festivals around the world, including the Soho International Film Festival, Paris Independent Film Festival, NYC Independent Film Festival, LA Shorts Fest, NewFilmmakers LA, and as a Golden Egg Selection at the Reykjavik International Film Festival. She is currently developing a web series based on her original screenplay, Trouble, a coming-of-age story about trauma and resilience. Across mediums and forms, Anne is continually drawn to the tragicomic. In addition to television and film scripts, Anne has also written poetry, short fiction, personal essays, and at least 37 agonizing drafts of this bio.
  • Brady Guy

    Instructor
    Brady Guy

    Brady couldn't be more excited to join the Writopia Lab team as an instructor. Brady graduated Eckerd College in St. Petersburg, FL, where he spent his time studying for classes in a hammock on the beach. After earning his BA in Creative Writing, Brady worked in podcasting for WBEZ, Chicago, and as an Associate Producer for the PleasureTown show, a fictional narrative podcast set in Old West Oklahoma. In Chicago, Brady studied comedy and won the Second City Original Sitcom competition and placed in a few others as well. Brady can't wait to use his experience to inspire Writopians.

  • Cassandra Rose

    Instructor
    Cassandra Rose

    Cassandra is tickled pink to be working with Writopia Lab in LA after starting with them in Chicago! Cassandra earned her BA in Playwriting from Columbia College Chicago. Recently, she completed Upright Citizens Brigade’s sketch writing program and UCLA’s Professional Program in Writing for Television. As a playwright, she’s had over 300 of her short plays performed across the country. Her longer plays include The Amen Trilogy (developed with Chicago Dramatists), Billy to His Friends (developed with Broken Nose Theatre), and The Volunteer (developed with Stage Left Theatre). As a screenwriter, her scripts have placed in various writing competitions including the Sundance Episodic Lab and Austin Film Festival. Most recently, she became a guest writer for the scripted comedy podcast, “Starlight Radio Dreams”. She loves helping young writers with their scripts, their essays, and their creative writing in general.

  • 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!

  • Peter Quinn-Jacobs

    Dungeon Master
    Peter Quinn-Jacobs

    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!

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Susan Xu

    Instructor
    Susan Xu

    Susan joined Writopia Lab as an Instructor in 2019. She is a playwright/screenwriter based in Brooklyn. She received her BFA from NYU in Film and TV and most recently, her MFA from Hunter College in Playwriting. Before moving to New York, Susan lived in Shanghai, China, for seven years, where she was involved in the local theatre and film scene, and also developed the movies Abominable and Over the Moon. Her play Yellow Dream$ won the Zarkower Award for Playwriting and awarded her a Playwrights’ Center Core Apprentice Finalist distinction. She is a proud member of the inaugural Mu Tang Clan playwriting incubator in association with Theatre Mu. Susan currently teaches as an adjunct professor at Hunter College. She’s happy to be involved with Writopia Lab, working creatively with young writers.

  • Kristi Hort

    Instructor
    Kristi Cook

    Kristi is thrilled to be a part of the Writopia Lab team as a creative writing instructor. She is the best-selling author of more than a dozen novels for both adults (writing as Kristina Cook) and teens (writing as Kristi Cook). Her YA debut, Haven, was released by Simon & Schuster/Simon Pulse in 2011, was a National Readers Choice Award finalist for Best YA novel, and was selected by the International Reading Association as a 2012 Young Adult Choices novel. Kristi's other YA novels include Mirage, Eternal, Magnolia, and Mischief & Magnolias. Kristi has taught creative writing classes for both teens and adults at Sarah Lawrence College and the Center for Literature and Theatre at Miami-Dade College, as well as leading workshops at libraries and conferences nationwide. Kristi earned a BS in History (with a minor in English) from the University of Southern Mississippi. She lives in New York City with her husband and two college-aged daughters (when they're home from school, that is).

  • María Alejandra Barrios

    Instructor
    María Alejandra Barrios

    María is very excited to join Writopia Lab. Teaching and writing are her two passions, and she is overjoyed to be a part of the Writopia Lab community! María Alejandra Barrios is a Pushcart Prize nominated writer born in Barranquilla, Colombia. She has lived in Bogotá and Manchester where in 2016 she completed a Master's Degree in Creative Writing from The University of Manchester. She was selected for the Immigrant Artist Mentoring Program: Performing & Literary Arts for the city of New York in 2018. Her stories have been published in Hobart Pulp, Reservoir Journal, Bandit Fiction, Cosmonauts Avenue, Jellyfish Review, Lost Balloon, Shenandoah Literary, Vol.1 Brooklyn, and El Malpensante. Her poetry has been published in The Acentos Review. Her work has been supported by organizations like Vermont Studio Center, Caldera Arts Center, and the New Orleans Writing Residency. She is the 2020 SmokeLong Flash Fiction fellow.

  • Christina Connett-Gonzalez

    Instructor
    Photo of Christina Connett-Gonzalez

    Christina is a writer, editor, and educator who has long-admired the Writopia Lab team. She is honored to be an instructor in New York City. Christina is a proud double-alum of The New School, where she earned a BA in Liberal Arts-Nonfiction Writing and an MFA in Creative Writing (Fiction). Concurrent with her graduate studies, she worked as a Teaching Assistant in The New School's prestigious Riggio Honors Program for Writing and Democracy. Upon graduation, her first short story was published in H.O.W. Art and Literary Journal, where she later served as Assistant Editor and Editor of their youth publication, H.O.W. Junior. It was during her tenure at H.O.W. Junior that she was first impressed by the work of many Writopia writers and was thrilled to publish their pieces. Christina writes essays, poetry, and is currently finishing a short story collection. When she's not writing or teaching, she can be found expressing herself through the sport of obstacle course racing. She lives in Queens with her wife and their demi-god dog, Hercules.

  • 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.

  • Sanina Clark

    Instructor
    Sanina Clark

    Sanina L. Clark has been with Writopia Lab since January 2020 and is the editor of Out of Salem by Hal Schrieve (longlisted for the 2019 National Book Award for Young People’s Literature) and All City by Alex DiFrancesco (2020 Ohioana Book Awards Finalist in Fiction). Their bookcase is filled with YA, fantasy, sci-fi, mystery, horror, plays, and queer literature. They’re addicted to ramen, cat photos, tea, and Doctor Who paraphernalia. A perfect day to Sanina involves lots of green tea while relaxing with a good book or anime and cuddling their cat... They really love cats.

  • Jaime Reuter

    Dungeon Master
    Jaime Reuter

    Jaime Reuter has been an admirer of Writopia Lab’s mission for years. They studied English and Communications at Pace University until receiving their BA in 2019. As soon as they finished school, Jaime immediately became involved in Writopia’s ‘Write 2 Recognition’ program as a volunteer mentor. They saw the opportunity to work for Writopia as a Dungeon Master and knew this would be the perfect fit. Jaime loves all types of creative writing, but especially creative nonfiction, flash fiction, poetry, and of course, Dungeons and Dragons. They even wrote their senior thesis on the benefits of fantasy role-playing games on both mental health and creative processes. Jaime is currently working on being published for their fiction writing and RPG work.

  • 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.

  • Jared Wilson

    Instructor
    (and D & D Dungeon Master)
    Jared Wilson

    Jared Wilson started as an intern at Writopia Lab in March of 2018. He soon became an Assistant Instructor, began leading graphic novel workshops, and recently emerged as a Writopia Lab Dungeon Master. Jared is an aspiring graphic novelist and a college student finishing his last semester at Hunter College. Jared is very excited to share his passion for writing and teaching with others. He is well versed in illustration and comic book storytelling and is currently working on a graphic novel of his own. Jared is beyond excited to continue working alongside the creative minds at Writopia Lab and can't wait to experience more of the amazing stories that our imaginative students tell!

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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!

  • 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.

  • Victoria Cho

    Instructor
    Picture of Victoria Cho

    Victoria has been admiring Writopia Lab for many years and is thrilled to be part of the team. Born and raised in Virginia, Victoria has been writing and working in New York City since 2005. Victoria's writing has appeared in SmokeLong Quarterly, The Collagist, Perigee, Quarter After Eight, Word Riot, and Mosaic. She is a Kundiman Fellow, a VONA/Voices alumna, and was Co-Fiction Editor of Apogee Journal. Victoria has received support from Vermont Studio Center and led creative writing workshops for New York Writers Coalition. She is excited to help young people explore their identities and build their communities through their stories.

  • Kaili Turner

    Instructor
    Picture of Kaili Turner

    Kaili Y. Turner is a Black Indian (Nipmuc), comedian, actress, writer, producer, and puppeteer who received her MFA from the Actors Studio Drama School. Kaili’s pilot Fk’d Up & Fabulous is streaming on the Tenoir TV app, and her play Indian Country was a semifinalist for the Eugene O'Neill playwrights conference. She’s also the creator of Rock the Bells Comedy, a variety show that is a platform for BIPOC comics and musicians. She was a participant of the Walt Disney/ABC Pilot Prep Program for Native Americans, and a recipient of the SNL/Second City Scholarship.

  • Chava Lansky

    Instructor
    Picture of Chava Lansky

    Chava Pearl Lansky is thrilled to be joining the Writopia Lab NYC team as an essay writing instructor! Originally from Amherst, Massachusetts, Chava graduated from Barnard College with a BA in Dance and English. Following a fellowship in the Music Division of the Library of Congress, Chava spent three and a half years as an editor at Pointe Magazine. She has also written on dance for publications including Tablet, Playbill, Dance Teacher Magazine, Dance Spirit Magazine, and Musical America, and is a regular contributor to Dance Magazine. In the fall of 2020, Chava joined The Graduate Center, CUNY's MA program in Biography and Memoir. Her studies explore the intersection of these two genres with a particular focus on the lives of mid-twentieth century American ballet and modern dancers. Chava is also the recipient of a 2020-2021 Research Assistantship through the Leon Levy Center for Biography.

  • 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.

  • Vanessa Batyko

    Instructor
    Vanessa Batyko

    Vanessa Batyko has been teaching creative writing workshops with Writopia Lab since 2019, and they are thrilled to be working with such inspiring young writers! Vanessa is a poet from Los Angeles, California. They hold a Bachelor’s Degree in English from the University of Southern California, and an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Washington. Vanessa has also taught writing classes at UW, and with the UW Youth Programs. They are the recipient of the Joan Grayston Poetry Prize from the University of Washington, the Beau J. Boudreaux Poetry Award, and the Jimmy Gauntt Memorial Award from the University of Southern California. Their work has recently been published in Columbia Journal, where they were a finalist for the 2019 Winter Contest.

  • 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. Thirteen years later, Rachel is now a published and produced writer, educator, and activist committed to the openness of the soul in all its forms! She is delighted to join the Writopia staff as an instructor. Rachel writes stories, creative nonfiction, and plays—which have had productions or development in New York, New Haven, Las Vegas, and Los Angeles—about the weird, vast lives of women and girls. She graduated from Yale University in 2019, where she studied Creative Writing and Women’s Gender and Sexuality Studies. Since then, she’s been developing and teaching in an after school program for refugee youth in New Haven, CT, and she’s starting her Master’s of Social Work in September 2021.

  • 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.

  • Austin Shirey

    Instructor
    Austin Shirey

    Austin is proud to be joining the DC region Writopia Lab team as an Instructor. When he’s not busy writing, Austin is probably reading or enjoying time with his wife, Sarah, their daughters, and their cats at home in Northern Virginia. His fiction has been published (or is forthcoming) in The Saturday Evening Post (read his newest publication here!), Silver Blade, Orca, All Worlds Wayfarer, Stonecoast Review, and in select anthologies from Eerie River Publishing. He holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Lindenwood University and is excited to dive right in and workshop with Writopia Lab’s talented and imaginative young writers!

  • Kai Naima

    Instructor
    Kai Naima

    Kai Naima Williams attended Writopia Lab for eight years as a young writer and is thrilled to join the team as an instructor in 2021. She is a storyteller, poet, and performer, and the author of the poetry chapbook He Tried to Drown the Ocean, I Waved. She is also the co-founder and Executive Director of Eat At The Table Theatre Company, a nonprofit arts organization dedicated to providing actors of color with performance opportunities in New York City. In 2020, she graduated from Wesleyan University with a BA in English and African American Studies.

    Kai’s writing has been featured in Mask Magazine, DRØME Magazine, Louisiana Literature, Stirring Lit, and CRWN Magazine amongst other publications, and she has performed in showcases for Planned Parenthood, Sakhi for South Asian Women, and as part of the Freshman Class at Bowery Poetry. She is the 2018 winner of the Tennessee Williams Literary Festival Fiction Award, the 2019 recipient of the Monroe Prize for Excellence in African American Studies, and she has been honored by the National YoungArts Foundation and The New York Times.

  • Cloe Gentile

    Instructor
    Cloe Gentile

    Cloe Gentile Reyes is honored and thrilled to join such a talented and warm group of writers at Writopia Lab! She is a historian, poet, performer, and activist based in New York City. Having received dual degrees in Music and Sociology from Emory University, she is now working on her doctoral thesis in Musicology from the University of California Santa Barbara. She is passionate about cultivating community and her writing is dedicated to preserving and celebrating her Puerto Rican heritage and her family’s migration story. She loves bending and blending forms and styles of writing and exploring what it means to be second generation in the U.S. by incorporating Spanglish into her work. She has presented her work at national and international conferences and has designed several of her own lecture-recitals in which she dances, sings, and shares musical histories that are often overlooked by Eurocentric knowledge systems. She is super excited to be able to bring her out-of-the-box approaches to the brilliant writers at Writopia Lab, and to learn from them as well!

  • Christina McDowell

    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.

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