Chief Executive Officer
Rebecca founded Writopia Lab in April 2007, and currently directs the national organization. You can read the founding story in The Village Voice. She designed the organization’s mission and no-barriers sliding scale model, as well as its instructional approach, which has been embraced by thousands of children, teens, schools, and nonprofit partners across the country. In 2015, she established Writopia’s Training Institute that serves the youth development sector and the Department of Education and established The Positive Literacy Collaborative in partnership with Goddard Riverside in 2019 both with the support of the Pinkerton Foundation. Rebecca has led the organization’s growth and impact in NYC, while establishing and overseeing its labs in the DC Metro region, NY Metro North, Chicago, Los Angeles, and The Bay Area.
She writes, presents, and curates panels for schools, events, and conferences on a variety of topics including “The Case for Youth Voice, Creative Writing, and Joy-Based Writing Programs in Schools and After School,” "Building Safe Spaces: The Power of Creative Writing for Kids Who Have Experienced Trauma," "How to Inspire Joy and Creativity through Thought Competition,” “Partnering for Literacy Impact”, and "How to Love Writing for High School and College Admittance." She oversees communications and development at Writopia Lab.
In the founding five years of Writopia Lab, Rebecca won multiple teaching awards including the Scholastic Awards' 2012 Ovation Inspired Teacher Award for submitting the most outstanding senior portfolios on the national level and for "developing a method of working with students that inspires them to create original work that embodies their unique, personal voice.... Because of [her] tutelage... these students are now empowered to bring that voice into the broader world..." She has also won the 2008, 2009, and 2011 National Gold Apple Teacher Award for "submitting the most outstanding group of submissions on the national level" to the Scholastic Art & Writing event.
Rebecca oversees impact assessment at Writopia. She studied at Harvard Business School's Performance Measurement for Effective Management of Nonprofit Organizations for organizational leaders in 2015 and continues to oversee Writopia’s impact assessment team's practices as a Youth Inc partner. She won a 2021 scholarship to attend Columbia University’s certificate program in business excellence for nonprofit leaders and is currently completing her Master's in Urban Education Policy at CUNY Graduate Center.
Rebecca also serves on Writopia Lab’s Board of Directors and is thrilled to have a team of accomplished board members from various social and business sectors, to help shape the future of writing education, and Writopia’s literary arts, youth development culture.
Chief Operations Officer
Jeremy Wallace-Segall is our Chief Operations officer, bringing together the efforts of our technology, human resources, media, finance, accounting, and facilities management teams to ensure that our program staff have the tools and human support to accomplish their goals. Jeremy joined Writopia Lab in 2009 with 15 years of nonprofit experience building databases and websites, leading design and layout teams for publications, and spearheading teams to create smooth passage through operational challenges. Jeremy is a foundational member of our fundraising events team, our sleepaway camp, and our compliance team. Since 2017, he has also run our Dungeons & Dragons program — and tons of epic adventures!
Jeremy has led the organization through vendor selection processes, web design and content charrettes, transitions between payroll providers, implementations of physical and electronic security systems, and leasing of spaces around the country.
Jeremy’s goal is always to provide tools and services that match not only the technical needs but also the working style of program teams while simultaneously ensuring that the tools and services bring each program team and the operations team closer together from the perspectives of data, workflow, and personal connection.
Jeremy has loved being part of Writopia Lab’s growth from it’s days in a synagogue basement to having 22 locations around the country and to now serving thousands online and he looks forward to being part of upcoming transitions in delivery, measurement, and growth of our services.
Yael has been a member of the Writopia Lab team since 2011. As the Co-Associate Executive Director, she oversees programs nationally and supports all instructors and workshops at Writopia’s Upper West Side lab. Yael’s favorite role at Writopia is that of instructor; she works with writers of all ages in all genres, including college essay. She has been recognized as an “Outstanding Educator” by the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards in 2012, 2013, 2014, 2016, 2017, and 2018, and her students have been awarded National Medals, including American Voice Awards, Best in Grade Awards, and Silver Medals with Distinction in their senior portfolios.
Yael is also the lead Program Developer of Writopia Lab’s Language Play program, which runs enriching early-literacy engagement for the emerging writers. She has helped over 300 preschoolers become filmmakers as part of the Language Play Filmmaking program, and she regularly brings the program into UPre-Ks in homeless shelters and Title 1 schools in New York City. She also developed Writopia Lab’s service trip to Quito, Ecuador and has led the annual trip each year. She co-created and runs WriCampia, working closely with all instructors, counselors, and campers year-round.
Yael graduated from the Harvard Graduate School of Education in 2022 with a Masters in Education Leadership, Organizations, and Entrepreneurship. At Harvard, she was a recipient of a Saul Zaentz Fellowship, awarded to emerging leaders in early childhood education. She holds a BA in English Literature from Stern College for Women of Yeshiva University. She lives in Manhattan but will always call Queens home!
Founder of Writopia's Essay Writing Program and Program Evaluation Adviser
Danielle has been part of the Writopia Lab team since 2011. Danielle has been recognized by the Scholastic Awards "as an outstanding educator whose dedication, commitment, and guidance are represented by student work selected for national honors." She designed and launched Writopia’s Essay Writing program at Writopia in 2013 and Narrative Therapy workshops in 2019. She currently oversees program evaluation at Writopia, using Hello Insight to measure Writopia’s SEL impact in order to evaluate and respond to the needs of our young writers. She has published her research on Writopia Lab's impact in the academic journal, The Educational Forum.
Director of Teen Programs
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.
Director of Programs and Outreach
Janelle M. Williams has been a part of the Writopia Lab team since 2016. At Writopia, she works as an instructor and Director of Programs and Outreach. She manages private sessions and co-manages the Write-to-Recognition Program and the Joy and Literacy in After School Program. With the support of Founder and CEO Rebecca Wallace-Segall and the team, she founded Writopia Lab's annual Teen Writers' Summit. She enjoys teaching on-site and off-site workshops, some in Title 1 schools and a residential treatment facility. She is enthusiastic about sustaining safe, diverse, and socially conscious workshops at Writopia Lab. Janelle received her BA from Howard University and her MFA in Creative Writing from Manhattanville College. In 2017, she received a fellowship from Kimbilio Fiction. As a southern writer from Decatur, Georgia, Janelle's lyrical stories have appeared or are forthcoming in Prairie Schooner, SmokeLong Quarterly, Lunch Ticket, Vol. 1 Brooklyn, Split Lip Magazine, midnight & indigo, Kweli, and elsewhere. Her novel, “Gone Like Yesterday”, will be published by Tiny Reparations Books in 2023.
Los Angeles Regional Manager
and Outreach Programs Manager
Associate Director of WriCampia
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.
Associate Director of Programs and the Brooklyn Region
Bianca is thrilled to be working with Writopia Lab as the Brooklyn Regional Manager. She is the author of The Time-Traveling Fashionista, a historical fiction series published by Little, Brown and Company. The books have been translated into nine languages. She is also the co-author of the Magic on the Map chapter book series published with Random House Kids. After graduating from Tufts University, Bianca began working for artist and filmmaker Julian Schnabel. She managed his studio for over 11 years and was his assistant on the Academy Award-nominated film The Diving Bell and the Butterfly. In 2018, she was recognized by the Scholastic Awards as an "outstanding educator whose dedication, commitment, and guidance are represented by student work selected for national honors."
Associate Director of Education
Matthew Jellison is over the moon to be serving as Senior Manager of Education at Writopia Lab. He began as a creative writing instructor in summer of 2017 and since has had the privilege of working on writing with some extraordinary kids. Matthew is playwright, actor, educator, and native New Yorker. He is the author of the play cycle, the giants. the giants, parts one and two was produced by Loft 227 in winter of 2016, and he played the character Elliot. the giants, part three has been presented at TOWN Stages, Barn Arts Collective, and Cloud City. His other plays include Who Killed Cupid? (the Claque, Signature Theater DC) and ability (workshop at The Kennedy Center). Matthew is the 2012/13 Kenan Playwriting Fellow at the Kennedy Center, an inaugural 2018 Fellow at TOWN Stages, a two-time Playwriting Fellow at the O’Neill National Playwrights Conference, an alumnus of FreshGround Pepper Playground Playgroup, an alumnus of SPACE on Ryder Farm, and a finalist for the Soho Rep Writer/Director Lab. Prior to Writopia Lab, Matthew worked with kids and teens at the education non-profit, 52nd Street Project (where he had been a kid himself growing up), Marquis Studios, the Kaufman Cultural Center, and Manhattan Theatre Club’s education department. As an actor, he has been seen at Ensemble Studio Theater, New York Theater Workshop, and others. He graduated from the acting school at the North Carolina School of the Arts.
Program Manager, The Writopia Music Lab
Creative Writing and Songwriting Instructor
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.
Rachel Aronson is thrilled to join Writopia Lab as the Enrollment Manager. Rachel brings a decade of experience educating and managing operations for education programs. Before coming to Writopia, Rachel organized field trips to the world's largest landfill, taught elementary schoolers how to build robots, and managed a sustainability certification program for organizations. She has a Masters of Science in childhood education from Hunter College and a Bachelor of Arts in cultural anthropology and environmental studies from the University of Vermont. She is excited to support Writopia Lab's amazing mission as part of the Registration Team!
Communications and Recruiting Advisor
Eunju Namkung has been part of the Writopia Lab family since 2008. Eunju advises Writopia Lab on aspects of communications strategy and implementation. She is passionate about promoting Writopia Lab's values around creative writing and creativity, care for children, diversity and inclusion, and social responsibility and ethics. She helps oversee brand development and manages projects that showcases Writopia Lab and its staff's expertise. Previously with Writopia Lab, Eunju founded the filmmaking program in 2014, including developing the Writopia Lab filmmaking method, hosting several film festivals, and producing over 100 student projects. She also served as a creative and essay writing workshop instructor, and has an exceptional passion for college essay writing instruction. In her capacity as a Communications and Development Officer, Eunju supported the grant acquisition process, and developed print and digital materials for Writopia Lab, including video, photography, and graphic design. Predating her professional contributions to Writopia Lab, Eunju was a student herself in Rebecca Wallace-Segall's workshops and considers herself to be a Writopian forever. (In fact, she volunteers her time to help lead the Forever Writopians Alumni Collective. Contact Eunju@WritopiaLab.org to learn more!) Eunju earned her B.A. in Film and Media Studies at Yale University and her Masters in Public Administration and a Masters in Urban & Regional Planning at Virginia Tech School of Public and International Affairs. She calls Riverdale, Bronx, New York City home. While she loves her adopted home of Arlington, Virginia, she wants to know, where the bagels at?
Join the Team!
If you love writing and want to share that love with young writers, apply today to join Writopia Lab! Click here to learn more!