Instructors

  • Rebecca Wallace-Segall

    Executive Director
    Founder
    Rebecca Wallace-Segall

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

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

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

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

    Writings

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

  • Yael Schick

    Director of Programs
    Instructor
    Yael Schick

    Yael is thrilled to be part of the Writopia team! She received her BA in English from Stern College of Yeshiva University, and joined Writopia Lab in 2011. She has taught and tutored writing in several New York City colleges and private schools, and has worked as a director, most recently directing at 59e59 Theaters and at Roy Arias Theater. At Writopia she works as an instructor and program developer. Her Writopia students have received Scholastic recognition on both on the regional and national levels, and she has served as a national judge for the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards. In 2012, she was recognized by the Scholastic Awards "as an outstanding educator whose dedication, commitment, and guidance are represented by student work selected for national honors."

  • Danielle Sheeler

    Director of Camps and Curriculum
    Instructor
    DanielleSheeler

    Danielle has been part of the Writopia team since 2011. She currently codirects Writopia’s NYC full-day camps and WriCampia, Writopia’s Sleepaway Camp, and develops in-school and essay writing curricula. Danielle teaches writing workshops at Writopia, in schools, and in Residential Treatment Facilities for incarcerated youth. She provides literacy support and creative writing workshops for at-risk teens who are transitioning these facilities into adulthood as part of Writopia’s Write to Independence Program. She launched the Essay Writing program at Writopia in 2013. In 2015 and 2016, 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." Prior to Writopia, Danielle tutored for the SAT, ACT, and SAT Subject Tests both privately and with a Long-Island based company called Dynamic Tutoring.

    She has studied writing at Stanford University and New York University, and received her Masters in Humanities and Social Thought from the Draper Program at NYU in January 2010. She has co-written (with Yael Schick) a new musical How to Click, which was showcased at Shetler Studios and the Sorter Lee Theater. Her one-act play, Under Somebody's Nose, was produced at Roy Arias theater in November of 2012. She produced and performed the one-acts Graduands to Graduates; The Megalomaniac and Valedictorian Commence; and Scene From a Dartboard at the Manhattan Repertory theatre in March through June 2010, and the one-act Look at Me When I Am Talking to You at the Wings Theatre in New York in May 2008. She has had the opportunity to teach English and creative writing in a classroom setting to children in Pram-pram, Ghana; Quito, Ecuador; Chinatown, New York; East Palo Alto, California; and New Orleans, Louisiana.

  • Janelle Williams

    In-School and Outreach Lead Instructor
    Janelle Williams

    Janelle M. Williams is thrilled to join New York City's Writopia team! She is a graduate of Howard University and received her MFA from Manhattanville College in January 2017. Janelle is also a 2017 Kimbilio Fellow. She has experience teaching Creative Writing and ELA to middle schoolers throughout the New York City area. As a southern writer from Decatur, Georgia, Janelle's lyrical stories are inspired by her friends and family. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in The Feminist Wire and Kweli Journal. She is currently at work on a novel set in Harlem and a collection of short stories.

  • Elsa Bermudez

    Head Instructor and Curriculum Developer
    ElsaBermudez.jpeg

    Elsa Bermudez is a writer, graphic novelist, artist, and educator. She has loved teaching creative writing, essay writing, and graphic noveling at Writopia Lab since 2014. Elsa runs creative writing workshops for children and teens in under-served communities through Writopia programs such as Write to Recognition and Homes for the Homeless. She holds her BA in Philosophy and her MFA in Creative Writing from the New School. Her short story, Agency, was published in H.O.W. Journal's Issue 11. Elsa loves fashion, hates speaking in third person, and lives in Astoria, Queens with her wife, Abby, and their puggle and cats: Bug, Beyonce, and Jay-Z.

  • Milana Meytes

    Instructor
    Essay Writing Curriculum Developer

    Milana Meytes is thrilled to be returning to Writopia as an essay writing instructor and full-time administrative staff member. Milana received her Masters from New York University in Humanities and Social Thought from the Draper Program at NYU's Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. She concentrated on Memory and Diaspora Studies, focusing on emigre writers and Eastern European literature. Her OpEd has been published in NYU's Journal of Political Inquiry (2017) and poetry and fiction in NYU's Anamesa/Caustic Frolic: Graduate Literary Magazine (2015, 2016, 2017). Milana was a fiction and poetry editor of NYU's graduate literary magazine and the recipient of the Graduate Research Initiative Grant to research Russian emigre writers and literature in Prague. Milana received a BA in English from Wheaton College, MA. At Wheaton she founded Wheaton Words, an autobiographical storytelling production that has been a staple and annual event at the college ever since. Her poetry was published in Wheaton College's Literary Journal: Rushlight (2013, 2014 and 2015). She has taught creative writing workshops at New York's Friends of the Children Foundation. She has been affiliated with Writopia Lab ever since she wrote her first memoir in 2006 under the guidance of Writopia's Executive Director, Rebecca Wallace-Segall, the year before Rebecca founded Writopia Lab. Writopia was pivotal in her journey as a writer and advocate for the power of storytelling.

  • Sarah Shatan-Pardo

    Registration Associate
    Assistant Instructor
    Sarah SP

    Sarah joined Writopia full time the summer of 2017 after spending the summers of 2015 and 2016 assistant teaching at our workshops and camps as an intern. She graduated from Haverford College with a BA in English in May, 2017. At Haverford, Sarah had a concentration in Creative Writing and spent her senior year writing a creative thesis. When she graduated, she was awarded the Terry M. Krieger ‘69 Memorial Prize for her achievements in writing. Sarah attended Writopia workshops as a high school student, so Writopia has been a part of her life for a long time. At Writopia, Sarah is a part of the registration team and an assistant instructor. She is also an enthusiastic member of the team who brings fantasy and adventure to young writers through Worldbuilding, where the young writers create their own interactive worlds and stories. YA fantasy is Sarah’s genre of choice for both reading and writing, but nothing inspires her like the stories written by Writopia’s young writers.

  • Malcolm Knowles

    Songwriting Program Developer
    Assistant Office Manager
    Instructor

    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 Roy

    Associate Creative Director of Programs
    New York Metro North Regional Manager
    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.

  • Anu Amaran

    Instructor
    Anu Amaran

    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.

  • Kimberly Faith Waid

    Regional Manager
    Kimberly Faith Waid

    Kimberly Faith Waid is Writopia’s Los Angeles regional manager, where she is an educator, registrar, marketing lead, and director of regional partnerships. She also is a part of the national communications team with a focus in social media. For over thirteen years, she has taught creative writing, Language Arts/English, and arts enrichment to all age-levels and is passionate to continue growing confidence and literacy skills in young writers. Her Writopia students have received Scholastic recognition on regional and national levels. A community builder, Kimberly worked for five years with the founder of The Moth, George Dawes Green, on The Unchained Tour, a storytelling series which brought storytellers and musicians to small towns across the American South to support local literary communities and their independent bookstores. At Writopia, in addition to creative writing, she teaches screenwriting, drawing on her experience as a script coverage consultant for high-level filmmakers and on the set of Breaking Bad. She holds a BFA in Media and Performing Arts from Savannah College of Art & Design and an MFA from New York University, where she was selected as a Goldwater Fellow. She’s been shortlisted for the 2019 Tennessee Williams Fiction Contest and the 2012 William Faulkner Wisdom Competition. Her written work has appeared in Abe’s Penny and ArtSlant. She's twice been a resident in fiction writing at Vermont Studio Center where she began work on a historical novel set primarily in her home state of Alabama.

  • Jacquelyn Stolos

    Program Coordinator

    Jacquelyn Stolos can barely contain her excitement about joining the Writopia 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 is currently at work on her first novel.

  • 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.

  • Kate Long

    Instructor
    katelong

    Kate is ecstatic to be joining Writopia’s northern Westchester division! Kate has served as a Teaching Artist in NYC’s public schools for over thirty years. She is a playwright member of the Ensemble Studio Theatre where several of her one-acts have been produced. Her plays have been published by Samuel French, Broadway Play Publishing and included in Applause Books’ Best Short Plays. Her latest one-act, Casting Cordelia, can be found in the 2015 edition of The Westchester Review.

  • Matthew Jellison

    Playwriting Program Coordinator
    Admin Support & Instructor
    Matthew Jellison

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

  • Daniel Ajl Kitrosser

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

    Dan Kitrosser has been teaching year-round at Writopia 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.

  • Alexandra Cohl

    Instructor
    AlexandraCohl

    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.

  • Michael Alessi

    Chicago Regional Manager
    Instructor
    Michael Alessi

    Michael Alessi is Writopia’s Chicago Regional Manager. Over the past six years he has served literary communities around the country as a college-level writing instructor, high school workshop leader, and managing editor of several university-housed and independent literary journals. He is thrilled to share his experience with young writers of all ages.

    Michael’s poetry and prose has earned awards and recognition from the Academy of American Poets, the University of Memphis, Louisiana State University, and the AWP Intro Journals Project. He holds dual BAs in English and Economics from the University of Michigan and an MFA in Fiction from Old Dominion University, where he was selected as a David Scott Sutelan Fellow. His stories have appeared or are forthcoming in such literary journals as Mid-American Review, Passages North, The Pinch, the minnesota review, Paper Darts, and New Delta Review, among others. He is currently at work on his first novel, set in the rural hollows of his home state of Virginia.

  • Courtney Sheinmel

    Instructor
    CourtneySheinmel

    Courtney Sheinmel teaches summer and year-round fiction and memoir workshops at Writopia Lab. She grew up in California and New York, graduated magna cum laude from Barnard College, and Fordham University School of Law. After working as a litigator for several years, Courtney decided to focus on her true love: writing. Her critically-acclaimed debut "tween" novel, My So-Called Family, was published by Simon & Schuster in October 2008. Her second book, Positively, came out in September 2009. She is also the author of Sincerely Sophie/Sincerely Katie (June 2010) and You Can't Even Measure It (2011). Visit Courtney online at www.courtneysheinmel.com.

  • Anisha Sridhar

    Instructor
    Anisha_Sridhar

    Anisha is thrilled it be a part of the Writopia DC teaching team. She is a published journalist and fiction writer who holds holds a Diploma in Screenwriting from Vancouver Film School in British Columbia, Canada and a Masters of Arts from NYU in Digital Media Design for Learning. Anisha is an accomplished writer, educator, and, producer. She recently co-produced and co-wrote a web series set in New York City. She also develops curriculum, writes in-game scripts, characters, and story bibles for educational gaming products. In her spare time, she loves reading comics and long-form fiction. She is originally from India and tries to read at least one non-English story or book a year.

  • Brigit Kelly Young

    Instructor
    BrigitKellyYoung

    Brigit is honored to work as an instructor at the oasis of creativity that is Writopia! Brigit's poetry and fiction have been published in several venues, some of which include The North American Review, 2River View, Eclectica Magazine, Drunken Boat, Opium Magazine, The Pinch, Emerge Literary Journal, and Midwestern Gothic. She has received a nomination for the Million Writers Award, and is a winner of the Esther Unger Poetry Prize as well as a two-time recipient of the James Emanuel Poetry Award.

  • Cathleen Davitt-Bell

    Instructor
    CathleenDavittBell

    Cathleen is the author of seven middle grade and YA novels, including a ghost story, Slipping (Bloomsbury 2008), a fake-historical romp Little Blog on the Prairie (Bloomsbury 2010), a time-travel romance I Remember You (Knopf, 2015) and the paranormal Weregirl trilogy: Weregirl, Chimera, and Typhon (Chooseco, 2016, 2017 and 2018). She holds a BA from Barnard College, an MFA from Columbia University, lives in Brooklyn with her family, and has been a proud member of the Writopia team since 2010. Visit her online at CathleenDavittBell.com.

  • Taylor Sykes

    Instructor
    Taylor Sykes

    Taylor joined the Writopia team the summer of 2013. She graduated from Purdue University West Lafayette in 2013 with her BA in English Education and Creative Writing. During her last year of college, she taught American Literature and Creative Writing at McCutcheon High School in Indiana full time. Taylor received several literary awards from Purdue for her creative and critical writing and was recently a finalist in NPR's Three-Minute Fiction contest. Her short fiction was published on NPR's website and a portion was read on the air during All Things Considered. Other fiction, poetry, and nonfiction has been published in Alyss, Pieces of Cake, and The Brooklyn Film and Arts blog. She has been a fan of Writopia for some time so she is thrilled to be part of the team of inspired thinkers, teachers and writers.

  • Melissa Baumgart

    Instructor
    Melissa Baumgart

    Melissa is honored to be part of the Writopia team! Melissa graduated from Northwestern University, where she studied Radio/TV/Film and History. She volunteered for several years as a mentor and as a Writing & Critical Thinking consultant for Minds Matter NYC, where she helped students prepare their college applications. Melissa has worked at HBO and Comedy Central, TV Land, and Spike TV. She is currently working on her MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults at Vermont College of Fine Arts.

  • Amy Dupcak

    Instructor
    AmyDupcak

    Amy Dupcak is truly excited to join Writopia, NYC. She studied Writing, Film History, and other random things at Sarah Lawrence College, then earned an MFA in Fiction from The New School. Along the way, she's worked as a music and culture journalist, editor, blogger, and publishing intern. She started and taught a Creative Writing course for high school seniors in Westchester, and now teaches English and tutors on the college level in Manhattan. She has published short stories and creative nonfiction in Sonora Review, Fringe, Phoebe, The Dirty Napkin, and other literary journals, and has also completed her first novel, which she hopes to get out into the world soon!

  • Laura Owsiany

    Program Manager
    Instructor

    Laura Owsiany is excited to be a part of Writopia Lab! She first worked with Writopia as an intern in 2015, then joined full-time as Registration Coordinator in 2018. She holds a BA in English from Georgetown University. After graduating, Laura worked as a full-time tutor in McLean, VA, where she mentored students in college essay writing and taught everything from English to Calculus. She previously served as a publishing intern at the nonprofit 826DC. In addition to writing, Laura enjoys reading modernist poetry, podcasting, the outdoors, and frequenting DC’s many free museums.

  • Lucian Mattison

    Program Manager
    Instructor
    Lucian Mattison

    Lucian Mattison is very excited to be a part of the DC Writopia team! He is the author of two books of poetry, Reaper's Milonga (YesYes Books, 2018) and Peregrine Nation (Dynamo Verlag, 2017). His poetry, short fiction, and translations appear in numerous journals including Hayden's Ferry Review, Hobart, Nano Fiction, The Nashville Review, Puerto Del Sol, and Sixth Finch. Over the past six years, he has also taught creative writing writing workshops for adults, undergraduates, and teens in DC and Norfolk, Virginia. He's thrilled to join Writopia in cultivating a community of young poets and writers who will grow to be the voices we see in magazines and on bookshelves in the future!

  • Rita Feinstein

    Program Coordinator & Registration Coordinator
    Rita Feinstein

    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.

  • Talia Sand

    Instructor
    Talia Sand

    Talia Sand teaches Language Play workshops at Writopia. She graduated from Stern College for Women, Yeshiva University with a BA in Creative Writing and a Minor in Women's Studies. While there, she served as the editor of the Lifestyle section of Stern College Observer. She eventually became the first female staff member and Creative Editor and Section Editor of the Yeshiva University Commentator. She has served as an intern at Random House Publishing and is currently an event assistant at Eloise Shop at the Plaza. Additionally, she has also served as the lead writer of the Simply Southern Cookbook. She recently graduated from the New School for Creative Writing where she studied under David Leviathan and Sarah Weeks. She is currently working on her first Young Adult novel.

  • Stephen Cedars

    Instructor
    Stephen Cedars

    Stephen began teaching fiction and playwriting at Writopia in 2011. His original theatre has been produced throughout New York City for the past seven years through the Brick Theatre, the Downtown Urban Theatre Festival, and the Ontological-Hysteric Incubator, chashama. He has also co-produced community theater for Williamsburg families. He studied English, History and Theatre at Louisiana State University, and recently graduated with his MFA from NYU's Department of Dramatic Writing, where he was awarded the John Golden Prize for Excellence in Playwriting.

  • 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 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.

  • Kathleen McCleary

    Instructor
    Kathleen McCleary

    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.

  • Kyle Metzger

    Instructor
    Kyle Metzger

    Kyle joined the Writopia team in 2015. He is first and foremost a storyteller. As a theater director he devises, develops and directs new plays. As a teaching artist he's worked with the Stuttering Association for the Young (SAY) teaching playwriting and songwriting, Brooklyn Arts Exchange (BAX) teaching music theater, and Serious Fun After School running their program at PS33 in Chelsea. Kyle has directed numerous plays over the last 3 years in Writopia's Worldwide Plays festivals and is pumped to join the team this summer as an Instructor. He holds a BFA in Music Theater from The Hartt School, and recent directing projects include work at Signature, terraNOVA Collective, Culture Project, and 59E59. This summer he will be adapting and directing Shakespeare's As You Like It to be performed in NYC parks. If you see a guy biking around the Upper West Side with a neon yellow helmet and a very sweaty face please wave hello and offer him water. This spring Kyle assisted director Mia Rovegno on the world premier of Underland by Alexandra Collier at 59E59. Currently in development are two new plays by frequent collaborator Tim Duncheon - Stage Spies! and Almost Free as well as an adaptation of Shakespeare's As You Like It to be performed this August in parks throughout the city.

  • Jessica McHugh

    Instructor
    Jessica McHugh

    Jessica McHugh is thrilled to be a part of Writopia Lab. She's a novelist, playwright, and short story writer with seventeen books published by small presses in the last seven years, including the first three novels in her edgy young adult series, the Darla Decker Diaries. Her play, Fools Call It Fate, won the Mobtown Theatre playwriting competition in 2010 and was named "Best New Play of 2011" by Baltimore Broadway World. While crafting fiction is Jessica's biggest passion in life, she derives immense joy from inspiring and encouraging the creativity of others. She's honored to join the Writopia Lab family as an instructor this summer. For more information on her ever-expanding McHughniverse, please visit www.JessicaMcHughBooks.com or excellent publishers like Post Mortem Press and Evolved Publishing.

  • 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.

  • Dara Coye

    Instructor
    Dara Coye

    Dara is filled with joy to be a part of the Writopia Lab family. She is a playwright, a screenwriter, and a novelist who received her MFA from New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts Dramatic Writing Program. In addition to teaching creative writing, screenwriting, playwriting, poetry, essay writing, and creative non-fiction, Dara has also taught theatre and coordinated productions of original one-act plays written, directed, and performed by middle school students. In fact, Dara’s passion for championing young voices and fostering safe spaces for authentic communication inspired her to receive a secondary education teaching credential in English/Language Arts. When she’s not collaborating with her incredibly talented Writopia Lab writers, Dara can be found teaching English to 7th and 8th graders who, every day, teach her more than she could ever teach them.

  • Korama Danquah

    Instructor
    Korama_headshotKorama is so psyched to be a member of the Writopia team! She is a writer (plays, short stories, and poetry) and actor originally from Los Angeles, CA. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Theatre Arts and Performance Studies from Brown University. Korama splits her time between acting, working on the West Coast Premier of her solo show Mixtape for New Year's Eve, blogging for various feminist and woman-centric publications (LA FPI, Geek Girl Authority), penning her first young adult novel, writing collaborative theatre pieces with Fell Swoop Playwrights, and co-founding a writers' colony for young women called The Grange.

  • Monica Baker

    Instructor
    Monica Baker

    Monica adores teaching creative writing with Writopia DC! In 2010 Freestyle (Schiffer Publishing), her first middle grade novel and 2011 Crystal Kite Award finalist, was born. Monica went on to write nonfiction for Science Weekly before earning her Master of Fine Arts in Writing from the Vermont College of Fine Arts. She has always loved a good adventure and has always loved including those adventures in her writing. For over twenty years she has worked on wildly fun marketing assignments, which have exposed her to exotic places like Cambodia and to interesting movements like the Underground Railroad. Currently, Monica is marketing a novel and several picture books.

  • Kerry Blu

    Instructor
    kerry_blu

    Kerry Blu is so happy to explore this amazing opportunity with Writopia Lab. He is a Rapper, Songwriter, Producer, Actor, Dancer, and Columnist living in Brooklyn NY by way of Winston-Salem N.C. After high school, Kerry majored in Theatre and Dance performance at Appalachian State University. Hip-Hop soon became an intricate part of his artistry and expression and in 2012 he made the move to NYC to develop the craft of song writing and stage performance. Since that time he has produced over 20 musical concerts and performed in over 40 musical concerts as a solo artist; including shows at Webster hall, the Fillmore, Santos party House and SXSW music Festival 2016.

  • Gina Stevensen

    Instructor
    Madeline Taylor

    Gina Stevensen is a playwright, performer and teaching artist based in Brooklyn. Her plays have been produced in New York City and regionally and include: Book of Esther (semi-finalist: 2016 Princess Grace Award, workshop production: Binghamton's KNOW Theater), The Time Crawlers Save the World (grand prize winner: Manhattan Repertory Theater's one-act competition, space grant recipient: Looking Glass Theater) and Troll Doll's Big Day (36-hour play festival: Urban Stages). Plays in development: Cruel Sister and When You're Young You Know You'll Live Forever at Columbia University. Gina is the artistic director of Park Slope Day Camp's Cirque d'Été summer circus camp, and is the writing coordinator at Tribeca Performing Arts Center's Writers in Performance Workshop. She has traveled three times to southern India to train in Mohiniyattam, a classical Indian dance-drama form. She was the choreographer for Narcissus: An Ancient Roman Pantomime, a new opera that aired on PBS in March of 2016. She received her BFA in Drama from NYU Tisch and is an MFA Playwriting candidate at Columbia University.

  • 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.

  • N'Kyenge Ayanna Brown

    Instructor
    N'Kyenge Ayanna Brown

    N’Kyenge Brown is thrilled to be working as a Creative Writing Instructor at Writopia Lab, Chicago! This creative voice, howling from the windy city, is a graduate of Columbia College and Roosevelt University Graduate School in Chicago, where she earned her MFA in Creative Writing. N’Kyenge is enamored with poetry; her work has been published in Word Curves by Poetry in the Round. She has recently completed her first manuscript, AfroSoul Volume 1: A Collaboration of Poetry and Poem Stories, and has finished a novel, for which she is in pursuit of publication. She works as a long-term substitute teacher and has decided to pursue her Masters in Education to become a licensed educator.

  • Alison Doherty

    Instructor

    Alison is excited to join the Writopia team as an instructor! Alison recently earned an MFA with a concentration in writing for children and young adults from The New School. During the program, she completed two publishing internships and studied under David Levithan, Sarah Weeks, and Tor Seidler. She is currently writing her first young adult novel. Allison grew up on both coasts, in California and Maryland, and graduated from Smith College with a BA in English Literature. She is a former teacher and has served as a curriculum consultant for Harvard EdLabs.

  • Samantha Stone

    Instructor

    Samantha Stone has been involved with Writopia as a JLA volunteer since Fall of 2016 and is thrilled to continue, now as a creative writing instructor. She is a New York City based playwright and theatre artist, who focuses on creating theatre for social change in both national and international platforms. In 2013, she earned a B.A. in Journalism and Mass Communications from the George Washington University and is currently earning a degree from the Fordham/Primary Stages MFA in Playwriting program with the expectation to graduate in Spring 2018. Her first play The Muscle in Question, a story about the human brain and its effect on a society's day-to-day well-being, experience, and existence, made its world premiere at the 20th Annual New York International Fringe Festival in 2016.

  • Lee Eisen

    Assistant Instructor
    Lee Eisen

    After interning with Writopia last summer, Lee Eisen is excited to lead workshops in Los Angeles this fall. Lee graduated from the University of Miami (FL) in December 2016 with departmental honors in Creative Writing. "Tens in the Dark", one of the short stories from Lee's senior thesis, was published in Mangrove Literary Journal, which receives hundreds of submissions from undergraduate students around the country. Lee's experience spans multiple genres and disciplines. He was a contributing writer for his college newspaper, The Miami Hurricane. He also worked as a production assistant for the ABC television series, The Goldbergs. Lee plans to pursue an MFA degree in fiction, teach higher education, and publish a collection of short stories. Lee is incredibly excited to help kids learn the fundamentals of writing, with an emphasis on the "fun!"

  • Corey Haydu

    Instructor

    Corey Ann Haydu is thrilled to be teaching with Writopia! She is the author of the Young Adult novels OCD Love Story (Simon and Schuster 2013), Life By Committee (HarperCollins 2014), Making Pretty (HarperCollins 2015), and the middle grade novel, Rules For Stealing Stars (HarperCollins 2015). A graduate of NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts and The New School’s Writing for Children MFA program, Corey has been working in children’s publishing since 2009. In 2013, Corey was chosen as one of Publisher Weekly’s Flying Starts. Her books have been Junior Library Guild Selections, Indie Next Selections, and BCCB Blue Ribbon Selections.

  • Rachel Barclay Prabhu

    Instructor
    Rachel Barclay

    Rachel Kay Barclay Prabhu has been teaching with Writopia Lab since 2012 and has had the pleasure of working out of four Writopia Lab regions: Washington D.C., Manhattan, Brooklyn, and now the Bay Area. Rachel has an MFA in Dramatic Writing from the Catholic University of America and a B.A. (magna cum laude) in English and Theater with a minor in Creative Writing from Arcadia University. Rachel was the recipient of the Kennedy Center’s JFK National Playwriting Award and a finalist for the National Partners of American Theatre National Playwriting Award. Her plays have been produced across the United States and beyond in cities such as London, New York, Washington DC, and Philadelphia. She is the creator, writer, and producer of the comedic web series, Human Telegraphs, and her work has been selected and premiered by film festivals, such as DC Shorts, at the National Constitution Center.

  • Jeff Lock

    Instructor
    Jeff Lock

    Jeff Lock is a screenwriter based in Brooklyn. His script Beef made Hollywood's annual "Black List" in 2014 and currently has Timothy Olyphant and Thomas Mann attached to star. He has also sold screenplays to Warner Brothers and Netflix. Originally from Indiana, Jeff moved to New York in 2007 and worked as a production assistant on various films and TV shows. For several years, he worked closely with director & producer Allen Coulter on multiple episodes of Ray Donovan, House of Cards & Boardwalk Empire.

  • Adam Seidel

    Instructor
    Adam Seidel

    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.

  • Michelle Kim Hall

    Instructor
    Michelle Kim Hall

    Michelle Kim Hall is thrilled to be a part of the Writopia community and is committed to honoring young voices and the power of self-expression. She believes that writing is serious fun. She wrote her first poem at age five after breaking her arm: "casts are white / paper can tear / this thing hurts / more than you care." She hasn't stopped writing since. After graduating summa cum laude from UCLA with a concentration in creative writing, she went on to earn her JD from Harvard Law School. Her thesis explored a troubling human rights issue through the short story form. Michelle practiced law in both California and New York before deciding to return to academia. She got an MFA in fiction from New York University, where she taught creative and expository writing. Her poems, stories, essays, and reviews have appeared in periodicals including The Rumpus, Open Letters Monthly, and The Margins. With almost two decades of teaching experience, Michelle loves working with writers of all ages.

  • Ben Zuckert

    Instructor
    Ben Zuckert

    Ben is looking forward to being a part of the Writopia team! He's a Brooklyn-based writer and filmmaker originally from Westchester, NY. His stories have appeared in The Westchester Review and The New York Times’ "Metropolitan Diary." His first feature film Larchmont screened at the Twin Cities Film Fest and Yonkers Film Festival in 2016. Ben is also a composer with music appearing on the PBS NewsHour. In 2019, he was recognized by the Scholastic Awards as an "outstanding educator whose dedication, commitment, and guidance are represented by student work selected for national honors." He is currently in post-production on his second film Noah Wise.

  • Simone Nathan

    Instructor

    Simone is so excited to be an instructor at Writopia! Originally from New Zealand, Simone moved to the U.S in 2014 for the Masters of Fine Arts in Dramatic Writing at Tisch, NYU, where she then spent two years, writing TV pilots, plays and screenplays. During her time in New York, Simone interned for a Documentary maker, an Animation writer and on Comedy Central’s ‘Inside Amy Schumer’. She was awarded NYU’s Venable Herndon Award for Excellence in Screenwriting and started working as a Writer’s Assistant on the Netflix show, ‘Bloodline’. In 2016, Simone was the recipient of the Nickelodeon Writing Fellowship and moved to Los Angeles, where she worked on Nickelodeon shows. Simone briefly returned to New Zealand to work as writer and Associate Producer on both the 2017 New Zealand Music Awards and the New Zealand Television Awards. She has since won the Green Card Lottery and is now back in the U.S.

  • Anderson Cook

    Instructor

    Anderson Cook is thrilled to be an instructor at Writopia Lab. He holds a BFA and MFA in dramatic writing from the Tisch School of the Arts at New York University and the Carnegie Mellon University School of Drama, and he is a member of the BMI Lehman Engel Musical Theatre Writing Workshop. His plays and musicals have been seen at venues like (le) poisson rouge, the Boston Conservatory, Dixon Place, the Lee Strasberg Theater & Film Institute, and comedy clubs and rooftops across New York City. He is the recipient of a 2018 Sloan Screenwriting Grant from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, and Anderson and his writing partner Amanda D’Archangelis were the winners of the 2017 NMI New Voices Contest, co-sponsored by Walt Disney Imagineering, and was a finalist for the Echo Theatre’s National Young Playwright.

  • 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.
  • Angela Hur

    Instructor
    Angela Hur

    Angela is thrilled to be teaching for Writopia Lab! She has a BA in English from Harvard and an MFA in Creative Writing from Notre Dame, where she was Managing Editor of the Notre Dame Review. She's taught literature and creative writing at Hankuk University of Foreign Studies, in Seoul, South Korea, as well as essay writing for Boston Academy. Her debut novel, The Queens of K-town (2007), has been assigned in diaspora Korean literature classes at Berkeley, Stanford, University of British Columbia, and the University of Seoul. While living in Sweden for five years, she worked as a screenwriter, an editor for a think tank, and writer for a documentary film start-up. She's recently been part of the Tin House Workshops and the Napa Valley Writers' Conference. Kelly Link selected her novel for a Tin House mentorship. Excerpts have been published in Azalea: the Harvard Journal of Korean Literature and Two Thirds North, Stockholm University's literary journal.

  • Alex Henderson

    Instructor
    AlexHenderson

    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.

  • Emma Sheinbaum

    Instructor
    Emma Shaeinbaum

    Emma is delighted to join the Writopia Lab team! She earned her BA in Writing with concentrations in Nonfiction and Creative Writing from Ithaca College. Her essays, poetry, and image-text work have been published in TriQuarterly Review, Juked, The Birds We Piled Loosely, and Glass Mountain, among others. She is also Co-Founder & Editor of A VELVET GIANT, a genreless online literary journal. Emma has worked as a writing tutor and taught personal essay, poetry, and literary magazine staff classes at the Ithaca Writers Institute and writing/reading centers. Emma was also selected as an alternate for the Saltonstall Arts Colony filmmaking residency. She loves cats, plants, and baked goods. She’s excited about being a part of Writopia Lab and working to empower young writers!

  • Jake Hirsch

    Instructor

    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!

  • Madeline Stevens

    Instructor
    Madeline Stevens

    Madeline is so excited to join the Writopia Lab team this summer! She has been crafting stories, essays, screenplays, and poetry since she learned to write. Her stack of diaries is roughly the height of an average first grader. She received her MFA in creative writing from Columbia University and has had her work published in a variety of literary magazines. She is the founder of the reading series Sundays at Erv's, and in August 2019, her debut novel will be released from Ecco Press. She has also worked as a nanny for seven years and taught creative writing to middle and high school students through Columbia's Writer As Teacher Program and the former DC nonprofit WVSA Arts Connection.

  • Brendan McFadden

    Filmmaking Instructor
    Brian McFadden

    Brendan is excited for the opportunity to guide young filmmakers at Writopia Lab as they begin their own cinematic journeys with their unique voices. His own love for cinema began when he was in middle school! He’s a graduate of the North Carolina School of the Arts, School of Filmmaking, where he studied Film Directing and has taught film to younger generations at their summer camps. He’s written and produced critically acclaimed independent films including Dance Party USA, the Spirit Award-nominated Quiet City, and Cold Weather. In 2013, he co-wrote and produced the short documentary, The Great Imposter, as part of ESPN’s 30 for 30 series. It was among the group of documentaries awarded a Primetime Emmy in 2014 for Outstanding Short-Format Nonfiction Program. Brendan is currently developing projects for film and television.

  • Leah Bognanni

    Instructor

    Leah Bognanni is incredibly excited to be part of the Writopia team working with young voices. She is a comedy and dramedy screenwriter from Boston who loves writing for animation. She has an MFA in Screenwriting and Playwriting from Northwestern University in Chicago, where her play, “Accidents,” was produced by Nothing Without a Company. She also has a BA in English and Media Screen Studies from Northeastern University in Boston, where she produced a ten-minute play festival and her poetry was published in Spectrum Literary Arts Magazine. Her animated feature screenplay, Wishbone, won a Krevoy Screenwriting Award in 2018 and she’s currently working on her next animated feature and television pilot.

  • Sandra Ramirez

    Instructor
    Sandra Ramirez

    Sandra Ramirez is excited to share her love of writing with young people this summer at Writopia Lab! Sandra is a former Pen Emerging Voices Fellow and holds an MFA from Bennington Writing Seminars. Her poems have been published in The Laurel Review and Puerto Del Sol. She also was nominated for a Pushcart Prize and received a Notable Mention in Best American Essays in 2014 for her essay "Strays.” She’s currently at work on a screenplay and a poetry collection.

  • Caitlin Johnson

    Instructor
    Caitlin Johnson

    Caitlin is so happy to join the Writopia Lab community this summer! Caitlin has an MFA in Creative Writing from Sarah Lawrence College, where she participated in the faculty selected 6x6 reading series. Her writing has appeared in Bookforum, Los Angeles Review of Books, Adroit Journal, and The Leveler. She worked as a research assistant at the Getty Research Institute for the past two years and is currently working on her first collection of essays about artists in periods of transition and doubt.

  • Will Howard

    Instructor
    Will Howard

    Will is very excited to join the Writopia Lab team! He graduated with a BA in English from Pomona College, where he received the Dole-Kinney Prize in Creative Writing and the Matthew Klopfleisch Prize in English. While at Pomona, he wrote for the student newspaper and taught creative and expository writing to children through the Weekly Writing Workshop. More recently, he is a finalist for the 2019 Iowa Review Award in Nonfiction. In the near future, he plans to pursue an MFA in Creative Nonfiction. Will loves to read and write across all genres!

  • Brady Guy

    Assistant Instructor
    Brady Guy

    Brady couldn't be more excited to join the Writopia Lab team as an assistant 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.

  • Vanessa Batyko

    Assistant Instructor
    Vanessa Batyko

    Vanessa is beyond excited to be joining Writopia Lab this summer as an assistant instructor! She holds a BA in English and Creative Writing from the University of Southern California, where she received the 2018 Beau J. Boudreaux Poetry Award and the Jimmy Gauntt Memorial Award. Vanessa will be pursuing her MFA in poetry from the University of Washington in the fall, where she will teach both creative and composition writing. Her poems have been published in a handful of literary magazines, and she is currently working on her first poetry collection.

  • Norah Vawter

    Instructor
    Norah Vawter

    Norah is excited to join Writopia Lab! She has an MFA in fiction writing from George Mason University. Before taking a high school writing workshop, Norah wanted to be a mathematician. She still thinks math is beautiful, a way to tame the chaos, but prefers putting the chaos into words. Norah has published stories, poems, and articles in Agave Magazine, The Nassau Review, Stymie, The Washington Post, and others. Her novel excerpt was short-listed for the Ropewalk Press Chapbook Prize. Norah’s been teaching writing to kids since she was 17. She lives in Virginia with her husband and son.

  • Jessica Dall

    Instructor

    Jessica is the author of several novels such as Raining Embers and Graven Idols, along with several short stories that have appeared in both literary magazines and anthologies. Having been an avid writer since middle school, she is overjoyed that she has been able to spend the past six years with Writopia Lab, teaching the next generation of authors, poets, and playwrights.

  • Di Jayawickrema

    Instructor

    Di is thrilled to join the Writopia team! She is a Sri Lankan New Yorker, currently living in beautiful DC. Words are her life. In addition to being a creative writer, she is a communications professional who works with literary, arts, and immigrant and racial justice nonprofits. She has mentored and taught youth since she herself was a teenager, and is so excited for the opportunity to unite her passion for writing and youth mentorship at Writopia. Her fiction and prose poetry have appeared in Unbroken Journal, Ginosko Literary Journal, Fiction Fix, and The Albion Review. She is currently at work on a collection of autofiction.

  • Paul Maliszewski

    Instructor

    Paul Maliszewski loves working with Writopia DC writers. He is the author of Fakers, a book of essays, and Prayer and Parable, a collection of stories. His writing has appeared in numerous magazines, including Harper’s, The Paris Review, and Granta. He is the recipient of two Pushcart Prizes. He has taught at Johns Hopkins and George Washington University.

  • Carmen Rodrigues

    Instructor
    Carmen Rodrigues

    Carmen Rodrigues lives and plays in the great urban wilds of Northern Virginia, where she is a writer by day and a writing instructor by night (and afternoon). She has worked with hundreds of students along the east coast, specializing in enrichment education and executive function. Teaching creative writing to the next generation remains one of her greatest joys. As such, she is thrilled to be in her third season at Writopia Lab, where she has the honor of shepherding stories set in worlds both real and fantastical, profound and comical. In the workshop space, Carmen embraces Writopia Lab’s process-based approach that enables young writers to embark on a unique journey that expands their individuality in storytelling. Carmen earned her MFA in Fiction from the University of North Carolina, Wilmington and BA from Florida State University, where she majored in English and minored in Theater. She is the author of three young adult novels—The Universal Laws of Marco (a “best read of 2019,” Seventeen Magazine), 34 Pieces of You (“a haunting read,” Publisher’s Weekly), and Not Anything. For more, visit CarmenRodrigues.com.

  • Anney Bolgiano

    Instructor
    Anney Bolgiano

    Anney Bolgiano earned her MFA from George Mason University. Her work has been published or is forthcoming in A Velvet Giant, District Lines, Oblong Magazine, and The Greenleaf Review. She primarily writes short stories and prose poems and is currently working on a novel. Anney loves teaching and writing equally and has taught creative writing, literature, and composition to first graders through college seniors. She loves the unique, funny, surprising, and insightful stories young people write.

  • Alexa Salvato

    Instructor
    Alexa Salvato

    Alexa Salvato has worked at Writopia Lab on-and-off in many capacities since 2013, and she’s so excited to rejoin the team this summer. She has a BA in journalism from Ithaca College and is beginning her Master’s of Arts in Teaching at Northeastern University. Her journalistic work and creative writing have previously been published in Stillwater Magazine, River River Literary Journal, BUST.com, Chronogram magazine, Buzzsaw magazine, and various other publications. She was awarded a Scholastic Outstanding Educator award for her young writers’ regional recognition in 2017. She is passionate about empowering young people to be stronger readers and more compassionate citizens.

  • Rachel Dean

    Instructor
    Rachel Dean

    Rachel Dean joined Writopia Lab, Westchester as an instructor in 2019. She graduated summa cum laude from Monmouth University with a degree in Journalism and received her MFA from Adelphi University in Creative Nonfiction, where she was the recipient of a fully-funded candidacy and studied under Katherine Hill, Martha Cooley, and Jacqueline Jones LaMon. Rachel has taught Creative Writing as an adjunct professor and has worked for Bridges to Adelphi, a comprehensive program that assists students on the autism spectrum as they pursue college degrees. Rachel loves teaching and learning with students, and she enjoys working in creative environments like the one fostered at Writopia Lab. She is currently at work on a collection of nonfiction lyric essays and spends her spare time reading, writing, and traveling.

  • Jesse Karlan

    Instructor
    Jesse Karlan

    Jesse Karlan is thrilled to join the Writopia team as an instructor. Jesse spent over a decade working in professional musical theatre after earning a Bachelor of Fine Arts from AMDA College and Conservatory for the Performing Arts. In 2015, Jesse self-published an epic fantasy novel titled The Garnestone. From 2015 to 2017, she worked as a voiceover and literary assistant at Abrams Artists Agency and simultaneously earned certificates in TV Writing and Fiction Writing from the University of California, Los Angeles. Jesse logged countless hours reading, proofreading, writing, and copy editing screenplays, teleplays, and novels. In August of 2017, The Bridges Academy hired Jesse as the head of their middle school drama department. Jesse fell in love with teaching. The Bridges Academy educates students who are twice exceptional. At Bridges, Jesse created a curriculum that catered to a wide variety of student needs. She also conducted a study using Sanford Meisner’s Repetition Exercise to aid in the development and recognition of social cues in children on the spectrum. Jesse’s combined theatrical and literary backgrounds enable her to inspire writers to utilize their artistic ability: empowering themselves, finding their voice, and allowing their creativity to inspire others. Jesse is currently a second-year MFA Writing candidate at Sarah Lawrence College, specializing in Speculative Fiction.

  • Rachel Carter

    Instructor

    Rachel is beyond excited to be part of the Writopia Lab team. She is the author of three young adult novels published with HarperTeen, including This Strange and Familiar Place, Find Me Where the Water Ends, and So Close to You, which was nominated for a Teen Choice Book Award. She holds an MFA in creative writing from Columbia University and her nonfiction has appeared in The New Republic, The Faster Times, and Booktrib.com. She loves teaching creative writing to all ages and has taught at Columbia University, Champlain College, and Southern New Hampshire University, where she currently teaches in the MFA writing program.

  • Celine Aenlle-Rocha

    Instructor
    Celine Aenlle-Rocha

    Celine Aenlle-Rocha is thrilled to help emerging writers discover their own voices at Writopia. Celine has contributed to literary magazines HIKA, Luna de la cosecha, Broad! Magazine, The Suburban Review, among others, and is currently pursuing an MFA in Fiction at Columbia University. She previously attended Kenyon College and the Columbia Publishing Course, and she worked in marketing at Oxford University Press for several years. Her writing is inspired by her family history from Havana to New Orleans to Los Angeles.

  • Lorraine Derosa

    Instructor
    Lorraine Derosa

    Lorraine is very excited to join the Writopia Lab team! She is a freelance writer whose work has been published by The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Parents, and GoodHousekeeping, among other outlets. She earned her BA in Creative Writing and English Literature from Skidmore College, where she was the recipient of the Analytical Writing Award, and a fellowship to the New York State Summer Writers' Institute. She later graduated with a Master of Professional Studies in Art Therapy from The School of Visual Arts, where she was the recipient of the Chairman's Grant and the School of Visual Arts Award for Excellence for her work, including the use of writing as a creative and therapeutic outlet, with patients at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center and foster children at New Alternatives for Children in New York.

  • Carlos Valladares

    Instructor
    Carlos Valladares

    Carlos Valladares is thrilled to be joining the Writopia team as an essay-writing instructor! In June 2018, he graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Stanford University with a dual degree in Film and American Studies. As a junior, he curated and wrote the wall texts for an exhibition, “Abstraction and the Movies,” at the Anderson Collection, which paired movies with works of American modernist art from the Anderson’s permanent collection by Jackson Pollock, Helen Frankenthaler, and others; KQED Arts listed it as a must-see event in the Bay Area. Carlos's criticism has appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle, Film Comment, Gagosian Quarterly, the Criterion Collection, and MUBI Notebook. He has worked as a research assistant on two upcoming books: Christina Mesa's The American History of Black and White Race Relations in Film (Routledge, 2020) and Marci Kwon's Enchantments: Joseph Cornell and American Modernism (Princeton University Press, 2020). He is dedicated to the pursuit of criticism as an art form in the vein of Oscar Wilde, Manny Farber, James Baldwin, Susan Sontag, and John Berger. He was born and raised in South Central Los Angeles and currently lives in New York City. Catch him haunting the city's repertory cinema houses.

  • Zakiya Harris

    Instructor
    Zakiya Harris

    Zakiya Harris is thrilled to be an instructor at Writopia Lab, NYC! Zakiya joins us from Penguin Random House, where she worked as an assistant editor on both nonfiction and fiction books. She received her MFA in creative writing from The New School in 2016, where she focused on nonfiction writing and crafted personal essays revolving around topics such as identity and her childhood growing up in Connecticut, and she received her BA in English literature from the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill in 2014. Zakiya was first published in 2006 by American Girl Magazine after winning a contest whose prompt was to write a short story based on a simple illustration, and she’s excited to encourage a love of creativity and storytelling within other young individuals. When she isn’t working on her workplace-sci-fi novel, she’s writing book reviews for The Rumpus or falling down the deep, irresistible rabbit hole that is Spotify.

  • Tasnim Hussain

    Assistant Instructor

    Tasnim Hussain is a creative writing and essay writing assistant instructor at Writopia Lab where she offers support to young writers throughout their writing process. Tasnim is a senior at Hunter College majoring in English with minors in Education and Sociology. 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.

  • Alexia Nader-Rondinini

    Instructor
    Alexia Nader-Rondinini

    Alexia is thrilled to join Writopia's Bay Area team as an instructor. She has worked as a freelance writer and editor for over six years. Her writing has been published on the websites of publications such as Guernica, Smithsonian Magazine, and The New Yorker. She received her BA in English Literature and Creative Writing from the University of Pennsylvania, her MA in Journalism from New York University, and is currently pursuing an MFA in Writing, with a concentration on fiction, at the University of San Francisco. Alexia is passionate about helping new writers find their voices.

  • Kailyn McCord

    Instructor

    Kailyn is stoked to be a part of Writopia! She writes and teaches in Oakland, California, her hometown by way of Oregon, Alaska, and New Orleans. Her stories have received honorable mention at Glimmer Train and Gazing Grain Press, and appeared in The Believer, Phantom Drift, and The Rumpus, among others. She holds a BA from Reed College and an MFA from the University of New Orleans, where she was the managing editor of Bayou Magazine and the coordinator of the Gold Room Reading Series. When not writing, she enjoys her dog, her cat, and the wilds of coastal California.

  • Alexandria Liston

    Instructor
    Alexandria Liston

    Alexandria Liston is a Writopia instructor in the Bay Area region. She received a BA in English from the University of Michigan and an MFA with an emphasis in Creative Nonfiction from California College of the Arts. Her writing can be found at A Velvet Giant, Five:2:One Magazine, Ramblr Magazine, Dream Noir, and is forthcoming in issue 49 of Fiction International. She has worked alongside elementary & high school students for several years in the United States and Ecuador. Currently, she is working on her memoir.

  • Zachary Waite

    Instructor
    Zachary Waite

    Zach is excited to be rejoining Writopia on the west coast! He started working with Writopia as an intern in Manhattan in 2015 where he helped teach workshops through Homes for the Homeless and the New York Public Library. Since completing a BA in English Literature and Psychology at McGill University, he has worked as a camp counselor, an ESL tutor, and a freelance editor. Zach is currently working on a collection of short stories about young people finding identity (and one about a werewolf). He is delighted to share his love for parenthesis, em dashes, and all the other beautiful tools.

  • Jordana Frankel

    Instructor

    After eight years at Writopia'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.

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