2022 Live Conference Presenters

Meet the Presenters

Anna Childers

Anna Childers is an Appalachian poet born in rural Procious, West Virginia. She is a Senior student of English and Behavioral Science at Glenville State College in Gilmer, W.Va., where she co-founded a society to promote creative writing and contributed to the college’s annual magazine. She later became the magazine’s literary editor. She delivered her award-winning presentation “Arete and Virtue” in 2021, and is a member of international English honors’ society Sigma Tau Delta.

Shellie Arnold

Shellie has three published novels: The Spindle Chair, Sticks and Stones, and Abide With Me (nominated for a Selah in 2018), all of which depict the “perfect storms” in marriage—what happens when our weaknesses hit head-on, and we’re both left wondering if anything can be salvaged.

Shellie regularly serves on faculty at the Florida Christian Writers Conference leading the popular Manuscript Critique Track,. She has also served on faculty at St. David’s Christian Writers Conference, the Speak Up conference, and led various workshops for other writers groups.

Shellie has been married to her high school sweetheart for thirty-five years and they reside in northeast Ohio.

Asa Ana

Asa Ana is a conceptual artist recognized by the United States Congress for his artistic programming work in the Monongahela Valley in Pennsylvania, U.S.A. Ana is a PhD student studying how art and creativity activates deindustrialized communities, and he is one half of the writing duo AB².

Both he and Kecia are rooted in the ancient Appalachian Mountains, make their homes in western Pennsylvania, and work at the intersections of community, expression, and nature.

Kecia Bal

Kecia Bal is a novelist and journalist, a seasoned ghostwriter, a co-author with best-selling thriller author James Patterson, and one half of the writing duo AB². Both are rooted in the ancient Appalachian Mountains, make their homes in western Pennsylvania, and work at the intersections of community, expression, and nature.

Samantha Backstrom

Samantha Backstrom is a Pittsburgh native who has a B.A. in English from Clarion University of Pennsylvania. After which, she obtained an M.A. in English Literature from John Carroll University, where she has poetry published in the John Carroll Review, vol. 66 and vol. 67. She returned to Pittsburgh to take a position as an Adjunct English and Study Skills Instructor for the Gussin Spiritan Division at Duquesne University, where she remained for seven years. Samantha is currently serving as an Adjunct English Instructor at Carlow University since 2018. She is currently completing her M.F.A in Creative Writing at Carlow University with a concentration in Fiction.

Valerie Bacharach

Valerie Bacharach is a retired teacher who lives in Pittsburgh, PA. She received her Bachelor’s degree in education from Ohio University and her Master’s degree in education from Ohio State University. In 2021 she received her MFA from Carlow University in poetry. She is a proud member of the Madwomen in the Attic writing workshops where she is also a mentor. Her writing has appeared or will appear in: Vox Viola, Vox Populi, Whale Road Review, The Blue Mountain Review, EcoTheo Review, Kosmos Quarterly Journal, Amethyst Review, On the Seawall, and Poetica. Her chapbook, Fireweed, was published in August 2018 by Main Street Rag. Her chapbook Ghost-Mother was published by Finishing Line Press in July, 2021. Her poem Bach Trio Sonata #6 in G Major was nominated for a Pushcart Prize.

Pam Clark

Pam Clark is the author of SHOOT IF YOU MUST, a traditional mystery with a smattering of romance. It is the first in a projected series featuring Meg Adams, a community college professor with a penchant for adventure, and Lieutenant Ty Raleigh, a widowed Frederick City cop who relocated from Baltimore to build a new life for him and his fifteen-year-old daughter. The series is set in Frederick, MD, a town full of charm and Civil War history.

Pam became an English professor who loved to travel, roaming through the U.S. national parks as well as Stonehenge, Aztec ruins, Machu Picchu, the oracle at Delphi, the Hermitage and the Louvre. Where she once craved adventure, she’s now staying closer to home while conjuring up and solving mysteries…and running off on the occasional adventure. Before she turned to writing mysteries, she was a poet.

Lee Doty

Lee W. Doty was born in Atlanta, Georgia in 1953. She grew up in Briarcliff Manor, NY, received her BS from Duke University in 1974 and JD from Georgetown University Law Center in 1979, and practiced law until 2015. She received her MFA in Creative Writing from the Rosemont College of Graduate Studies in 2009.

Lee writes murder mysteries, and her first, Tidal Kin, was published in 2017 by Headline Books, Inc. Tidal Kin recently won Honorary Mention in the 2017 New England Book Festival Contest. Her sequel, featuring the smart-assed, big-hearted lawyer, Norma Bergen, is in the works.

Lee teaches creative writing in the Lifelong Learning Program at Shepherd University in Shepherdstown, WV

John Deupree

John Deupree began writing fiction in earnest after retiring from a long career in global education. His stories are inspired by his frequent exposure to diverse cultures around the world. He and his wife Sally split their time between Shepherdstown and Canaan Valley West Virginia. They are both avid world travelers and hikers when they are not enjoying their garden or watching the neighbor's sheep. Learn more at www.JohnDeupree.com.

Ginny Fite

Ginny Fite is an award-winning journalist who has covered crime, politics, government, healthcare, art and all things human. She has been a spokesperson for a governor and for a member of Congress, a few colleges and universities, and a robotics R&D company. She has degrees from Rutgers University and Johns Hopkins University and studied at the School for Women Healers and the Maryland Poetry Therapy Institute. Her three murder mysteries, Cromwell’s Folly, No Good Deed Left Undone, and Lying, Cheating, and Occasionally Murder, are set in the rolling hills of Jefferson County, West Virginia. Her thriller No End of Bad was released in June 2018, Blue Girl on a Night Dream Sea, a time-slipping fantasy/adventure was published in 2019, and her newest novel Possession is set in a small fictional river town in Maryland. She resides in Harpers Ferry, WV.

Kathleen George

Kathleen George lives in Pittsburgh where she is a professor of theatre and writing at the University of Pittsburgh. She is the author of the acclaimed novels TAKEN, FALLEN, AFTERIMAGE, THE ODDS (nominated for an Edgar(R) award for best novel by the Mystery Writers of America), HIDEOUT, SIMPLE, and A MEASURE OF BLOOD (2014). All seven of these titles are part of her procedural thrillers set in Pittsburgh.

Also in 2014 the University of Pittsburgh Press released THE JOHNSTOWN GIRLS, her non-series novel about the Johnstown Flood, and in 2018 a novel about Lena Horne and jazz, The BLUES WALKED IN. Kathy is the editor of PITTSBURGH NOIR, a collection of short fiction, the author of her own short story collection THE MAN IN THE BUICK, and of scholarly theatrical books and articles.

She was married to writer Hilary Masters, who asked her out nearly thirty years ago because he figured she, a theatre director, would be interesting—he was tired of being around writers. On the first date, she told him she had begun writing (or more accurately had taken it up again, having said from the time she was seven that she wanted to be a writer).

Lee Gutkind

Lee Gutkind is the author and editor of more than thirty books, including You Can’t Make This Stuff Up: The Complete Guide to Writing Creative Nonfiction–from Memoir to Literary Journalism and Everything in Between, Almost Human: Making Robots Think, The Best Seat in Baseball: But You Have to Stand, Forever Fat: Essays by the Godfather, and the award-winning, Many Sleepless Nights: The World of Organ Transplantation.

Recipient of grants and awards from many different organizations, from the National Endowment for the Arts to the National Science Foundation, the Heinz Endowments and the John Templeton Foundation, Gutkind has appeared on many national radio and television shows, including The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, Good Morning America, andNational Public Radio’s All Things Considered. He holds the position of Distinguished Writer-in-Residence in the Consortium for Science, Policy & Outcomes at Arizona State University and a professor in the School for the Future of Innovation in Society.

Ken Gormley

KEN GORMLEY is president of Duquesne University in Pittsburgh. A lawyer, constitutional scholar and author, Gormley’s work has earned him national and international acclaim. His book “The Death of American Virtue: Clinton vs. Starr” (Crown 2010) was a New York Times bestseller and was selected as one of the top non-fiction books of the year by the New York Times and Washington Post. Gormley’s first book, “Archibald Cox: Conscience of a Nation” (Addison-Wesley 1997), won multiple book awards.

Earlier in his writing career, Gormley received the first Rolling Stone magazine college journalism award for feature writing, chronicling adventures including set-ting a Guinness World Record in brick carrying and wrestling a bear.

“The Heiress of Pittsburgh” is Gormley’s first work of fiction. Over thirty years in the making, it speaks to a subject that is universally relevant. A love story about people, places, and simple virtues that flourished in working class towns and ordinary communities that once built America, this beautifully-crafted novel provides hope that precious qualities of the past can be recast to create a rich new future; but only if success is boldly redefined.

Gormley has appeared on NBC’s Today Show, MSNBC’s Morning Joe, NPR’s Fresh Air, multiple PBS and BBC documentaries, and hundreds of television and radio shows in the United States and worldwide. His work has appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The LA Times, Politico, HuffPost and numerous other publications. The former mayor of his town in Forest Hills, Pennsylvania—a small community outside Pittsburgh—he lives there with his wife and family.

Lisa Harris

Lisa Harris writes poetry, novels and personal essays. Her poetry has been published in journals such as, The Penmen, Puerto del Sol, Vending Machine Press, The Coe Review, ginosko, Northern Appalachia Review, and descant. Her novels,‘Geechee Girls, Allegheny Dream, and The Raven’s Tale comprise The Quest Trilogy (2013, 2014, 2017 Ravenna Press). Her poetry books include Traveling Through Glass, Dwelling Place, (both from Cayuga Lake Books, Ithaca, NY), and Broken Open, (Wasteland Press), (2017, 2019, and 2020 respectively.) She lives and writes in the Finger Lakes region of New York.

Brittany Hailer

Brittany Hailer is the Visiting Lecturer at the University of Pittsburgh. Her memoir and poetry collection “Animal You’ll Surely Become” was published by Tolsun Books in 2018. In 2020, she received a Golden Quill Award from the Press Club of Western Pennsylvania for an essay she wrote about her experience investigating the opioid crisis while her father struggled with homelessness and alcoholism. For her stories of people affected by the opioid epidemic, she received a 2019 Golden Quill Award from the Press Club of Western Pennsylvania and a Robert L. Vann Award of Excellence for investigative/enterprise reporting from the Pittsburgh Black Media Federation. In 2018, Brittany was selected to be a Justice Reporting Fellow as part of the John Jay/Langeloth Foundation Fellowship on “Reinventing Solitary Confinement” and again in 2020 for “Justice and the Pandemic.” Since then, she has investigated how the pandemic has impacted the Allegheny County Jail, including the jail’s kitchen, its COVID-19 mitigation efforts and isolation of the sick, and the deaths of those incarcerated at the Allegheny County Jail.

Caitlyn Hunter

Caitlyn Hunter serves as one of the inaugural Emerging Black Writers in Residence at Chatham University. Hunter also is a current doctoral student in the English Department at Duquesne University where she focuses on African American literature and Black Food studies. She holds an MFA from Chatham University. She currently lives in Pittsburgh PA. Her book, Power in the Tongue, is forthcoming with Tolsun Books in 2022.

Kristofer Collins

Kristofer Collins has been the Books Editor for Pittsburgh Magazine since 2010. He is a frequent contributor to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. His writing has been featured at Lit Hub, 1839, The New Yinzer, The New Antiquarian, and many other places. He is the co-curator of The Hemingway's Summer Poetry Series. His latest book The River Is Another Kind of Prayer: New & Selected Poems was published in 2020 by Kung Fu Treachery Press.

Brian Johnson

Brian C. Johnson honors the struggles and accomplishments of the ordinary citizens who launched the Civil Rights Movement by committing himself personally and professionally to the advancement of multicultural and inclusive education.

During AY 2018-2019, Dr. Johnson served as a postdoctoral scholar in the department of Communication Studies at Bloomsburg University. He is currently a part time instructor of interpersonal communication at Luzerne County Community College.

He earned both bachelor's and master's degrees in English from California University of Pennsylvania, and a Ph.D. in communications media and instructional technology at Indiana University of Pennsylvania in December 2016. Brian is the co-author of Reel Diversity: A Teacher’s Sourcebook (2008), winner of the 2009 Phillip Chinn Book Award by the National Association for Multicultural Education and a revised edition in 2015, ,and We’ve Scene It All Before: Using Film Clips in Diversity Awareness Training (2009).

Kirk Judd

Kirk Judd, founding member of West Virginia Writers, Inc., has lived, worked, trout fished and wandered around in West Virginia all his life. Kirk was a member of the Appalachian Literary League, a former president (and JUG recipient) of West Virginia Writers, Inc., and is a founding member of and creative writing instructor for Allegheny Echoes, Inc., dedicated to the support and preservation of WV cultural heritage arts. Author of 3 collections of poetry “Field of Vision” 1986, “Tao-Billy” 1996, and “My People Was Music” 2014, and a co-editor of the widely acclaimed anthology, “Wild, Sweet Notes – 50 Years of West Virginia Poetry 1950 – 1999”, he is widely published. Kirk has been featured three times on American Public Radio on "The Poet and The Poem" with WV native Grace Cavalieri and has appeared on the acclaimed public radio show Mountain Stage. He was honored to be one of 5 readers selected for the installation ceremony of Louise McNeill Pease as WV Poet Laureate in 1979. He is internationally known for his spoken word work combining poetry and old time music and has performed poetry in Ireland and across West Virginia at fairs, concerts, and festivals since the 1970s.

Maxwell King

Maxwell King is the former editor of The Philadelphia Inquirer and president of both The Heinz Endowments and The Pittsburgh Foundation. He has published two books: a small volume of poetry entitled Crossing Laurel Run and the New York Times bestseller The Good Neighbor: The Life and Work of Fred Rogers. This spring he is bringing out American Workman: The Life and Work of John Kane with co-author Louise Lippincott through the University of Pittsburgh Press.

Hannah Allman Kennedy

Hannah Allman Kennedy grew up among the oil ghost towns of Venango County, Pennsylvania. She earned her MFA in creative writing from Carlow University in Pittsburgh, where she attended writing residencies both there and at Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland. She holds a B.A. in writing from Geneva College. Hannah now lives in Pittsburgh, where she works as a freelance writer and web designer and teaches writing at Carlow and Duquesne universities. She served as a fiction reader for two issues of Northern Appalachia Review. Her creative work has appeared in SHIFT, In Parentheses, Marathon Literary Review, and The Watershed Journal. Her debut novel, And It All Came Tumbling Down, was published in late 2021 from The Watershed Journal Literary Group and MAMMOTH Books. In her fiction, Hannah explores the beauty, humor, and complexity of Northern Appalachian life, incorporating themes including sisterhood, womanhood, rural life, religion, spirituality, and generational identity.

Gale Largey

Gale Largey, Ph.D./Sociology/SUNY at Buffalo, 1972...taught 35 years at Mansfield University...authored books on five local communities...wrote/directed/produced seven feature documentaries on a regional historical events (e.g. the Austin Disaster of 1911) and influential historical figures (e.g. WIlliam B WIllson-- the First Secretary of Labor, Lester Ward--The Founder of American Sociology, and Nessmuk).

Sadie Murphy

Sadie Murphy, a native of Widen, West Virginia, an abandoned coal town. She is currently focused on Appalachian memoir writing but has worked in the past with investigative journalism and science poetry. Sadie is a recent English graduate working to complete her second Bachelors of Science in Conservation and Ecology. A state champion public speaker and nationally ranked FFA contestant in her youth, Sadie is a co-founding of Glenville State College Hermitage Literature Society, editor of The Phoenix, and regular contributor to The Trillium. Her most recent work has been as a Writing Consultant at the Glenville State College Writing Center and an Agricultural Art and World Culture Instructor for WV 4-H.

Tony Norman

Tony Norman is an award-winning columnist for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and the paper's book review editor. He is the current president of the National Society of Newspaper Columnists. Tony is the chair of the International Free Expression Project and a member of the advisory boards of the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists and Postindustrial. He is an A.W. Mellon Fellow at Carnegie Mellon University and a member of the Pittsburgh Black Media Federation. He is currently working on a novel.

Bill O'Driscoll

Bill O'Driscoll is a journalist and arts-and-culture reporter at WESA Radio News, Pittsburgh's NPR affiliate. His former jobs include successive stints as staff writer/film reviewer and arts-and-entertainment editor at Pittsburgh City Paper, an alternative weekly. He and his wife live in the neighborhood of Manchester (you know, behind the stadia). He'll see you around town sometime.

Shan Overton

Mary O’Shan (Shan) Overton is a poet, essayist, and scholar who has taught writing for thirty-years. She currently serves Pittsburgh Theological Seminary as the Director of the Writing Center, the Faculty Mentor for the Creative Writing and Public Theology cohort within the Doctor of Ministry program, and the moderator of an author- and writing-focused webinar series, BookTalks. Her poems have appeared in anthologies, including two volumes of Voices from the Attic. Her creative nonfiction essays have appeared in Porch Magazine and other journals and magazines. In 2017, Overton won the Nashville Reads Writing Contest with “Protesting With My Grandmothers’ Ghosts,” a creative nonfiction essay subsequently translated for publication in Spain. She has also published academic essays in various journals and scholarly blogs. Overton currently studies creative writing with Madwomen in the Attic at Carlow University and has taken classes with Diane Glancy, Jan Beatty, and Lori Jakiela. She holds an MA in English from Middle Tennessee State University, an MDiv from Vanderbilt Divinity School, and her PhD in Theology and Education from Boston College. Born and raised in Nashville, Tennessee, she now makes her home in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where she is working on a creative nonfiction book on the writer’s voice.

Nicole Ravas

Nicole Ravas has a BA in English from Marymount University and an MA in Interdisciplinary Education from Santa Clara University. Originally from the Washington, D.C. area, she lives in Pittsburgh. She is an executive assistant and adjunct instructor at Carlow University, where she received her MFA in Creative Writing with a fiction concentration in December 2020. Prior to working at Carlow, she was a K-12 English teacher for 13 years. She won The Ekphrastic Review’s first Flash in a Flash contest in March 2021 and was a runner-up in Loud Coffee Press’s 2021 Summer Micro-Fiction Contest. She is a fiction reader for the Northern Appalachia Review and a freelance editor.

Debra Reynolds

Debbie Reynolds is the tenth generation of her family to live in Tioga County, but other branches come from far and wide, many probably fleeing ahead of the posse! A voracious reader, she has tried to write stories from the time she could hold a crayon but didn’t take herself seriously until joining up with the Writers Conference of Northern Appalachia and the Northern Appalachia Review. Her first writers’ conference in 2019 coincided with a season of her life when she had more time and energy to devote to writing. She has posted short fiction and articles online and in her local newspaper and has finished a memoir detailing her child’s diagnosis with a rare disability no one had ever heard of, through 25 years to a time when everyone knows someone with autism. She is hard at work on several novels about ‘women who run away from home’, as well as her work with WCoNA and NAR.

Marjorie Stewart

Marjorie Stewart (presenter and moderator) teaches English Composition, journalism, and creative writing at Glenville State College in Glenville, West Virginia. She is a playwright with more than 20 productions, and her poetry and essays have appeared in "The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette," "Time of Singing," and Composing Ourselves as Writer-Teacher-Writers: After Wendy Bishop. Her recent paintings can be seen in the August, September, and October issues of Beyond Words Literary Magazine and “I Drive Killer 65,” a short play, was recently produced on “Rachel Love's AirPlay 21” and is available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DG7NxCwGawk&t=685s.

Mark Saba

Mark Saba has been writing fiction, poetry, and creative nonfiction for 40 years. His book publications include, most recently, Two Novellas: A Luke of All Ages / Fire and Ice, Calling the Names (poetry), and Ghost Tracks: Stories of Pittsburgh Past. His book of creative nonfiction, Forking Paths, will be published in the spring of 2022. His work has appeared widely in literary magazines around the U.S. and abroad. Also a painter, Mark recently retired as a medical illustrator at Yale University. He lives in Old Greenwich, CT (USA). Please see marksabawriter.com. He is on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/mark.saba.779

Fred Shaw

Fred Shaw was named Emerging Poet Laureate Finalist for Allegheny County in 2020. He is a graduate of the University of Pittsburgh, and Carlow University, where he received his MFA. He teaches writing and literature at Point Park University and Carlow University. His first collection. Scraping Away, was recently published by CavanKerry Press. A book reviewer and Poetry Editor for Pittsburgh Quarterly, his poem, “Argot,” is featured in the 2018 full-length documentary, Eating & Working & Eating & Working. The film focuses on the lives of local service-industry workers. His poem “Scraping Away” was selected for the PA Public Poetry Project in 2017. He lives in Pittsburgh with his wife and rescued hound dogs.

Shirley Stevens

B.S. in Education, Indiana University of Pennsylvania

M.A. in English. The University of Pittsburgh

English Coordinator, Quaker Valley School District English teacher 40 years Coe Foundation Fellow in American Studies, Eastern College NDEA Fellow, SUNY at Brockport, New York EPDA Fellow, Indiana University of Pennsylvania Pennsylvania State University, adjunct instructor Friends of Quaker Valley Educator Award, 2001 American Association of University Women, North Hills Branch, Outstanding Educator, 2001 Teachers of Excellence Foundation, Teacher of Distinction, Silver Apple Award, 2001 poetry and fiction instructor and tutor, The Writing Academy; writer-in- residence poetry columnist, The Upper Case 2001-09 past president, instructor, and member, St. David’s Christian Writers Conference. Grove City College Poet in the Schools presenter, The International Poetry Forum co-founder The First Word Christian Writers. Sewickley member, The Squirrel Hill Poets Workshop, Pittsburgh Poetry Society painting-sculpture-poetry collaboration leading to publication Fission of Form writing mentor and instructor, The Writing Academy awards: first place, Westmoreland Arts Festival

Pennsylvania Poetry Society Pittsburgh Poetry Society, many monthly and annual awards St. Davids Christian Writers Conference publications: Chapbook, Pronouncing What We Wish to Keep Poet Lore Along These Rivers The Christian Century

Commonwealth Contemporary Poets on Pennsylvania English Journal Pennsylvania Poetry Society Prize Winning Poems Three Rivers Arts Festival Journal Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Time of Singing Williamsport Christmas Season Section Abingdon Christmas Recitations

Kevin St. Jarre

Kevin St. Jarre’s latest novel Absence of Grace, like his previous books The Twin, Celestine, and Aliens, Drywall, and a Unicycle, was published by Encircle Publications. He earned his MFA in Creative Writing, with a concentration in fiction, from University of Southern Maine’s Stonecoast program.

He has worked as an educator, a newspaper reporter, an international corporate consultant, and led a combat intelligence team in the first Gulf War. He’s an essayist, his Pushcart-nominated short fiction has appeared in journals such as Story and Solstice Literary Magazine, and he is a member of International Thriller Writers. He lives on the coast of Maine, but grew up in its northernmost town, Madawaska.

Rita Wilson

Rita Wilson is an award-winning artist, writer, and educator. She has been published in Rune and Riverspeak Literary Magazines, wolfmatters.org, Voices from the Attic, and the 100 Lives Anthology. Her latest non-fiction piece, “Layover,” was selected for publication in the anthology, Conversations. Her first book, "Greek Lessons: A Cultural Odyssey", includes photos of several of her paintings, including “Better Times,” the painting of her mother and grandmother which graces the cover of her book.

Wilson earned her MFA in Creative Non-Fiction from Carlow University. A retired teacher, Wilson has held writing workshops in both creative and professional writing and has taught adjunct at the university level. She also serves as Copy Editor for the Northern Appalachia Review. Wilson enjoys painting and writing from her home in Moon Township, where she resides with her husband, son, dog, and cat. She is currently working on her second book, a novel.

Gabriel Welsch

Gabriel Welsch's first collection of short stories, "Groundscratchers," was published by Tolsun Books in October 2021. He also is the author of four collections of poems: "The Four Horsepersons of a Disappointing Apocalypse" (Steel Toe Books, 2013); "The Death of Flying Things" (Word Tech Editions, 2012); "An Eye Fluent in Gray" (chapbook, Seven Kitchens Press, 2010); and "Dirt and All Its Dense Labor" (Word Tech Editions, 2006). His work has appeared widely, in journals including Georgia Review, Ploughshares, Southern Review, THRUSH, Harvard Review, Moon City Review, Lake Effect, Missouri Review, as well as on Verse Daily and in Ted Kooser’s column “American Life in Poetry.” He also has published more than 150 reviews of fiction and poetry in magazines, newspapers and literary journals. A native of Maine, Welsch has lived the majority of his life in Appalachian locales, from West Virginia to western Massachusetts to central PA. He now lives in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, with his family, and works as vice president of marketing and communications at Duquesne University.

Zoe Yates

Zoe Yates is a writer and artist from Mingo County, West Virginia who writes for Williamson Forward, a website putting the spotlight on individuals and events in Mingo County with the intent of changing the stereotypical dialogue about the region. She received her Associates of Arts degree at Southern West Virginia Community and Technical College in 2019. She is currently a senior pursuing her BA in Studio Art and English at Glenville State College. She worked previously as the editor of Sticks, a literary magazine at Southern, and she is currently the art editor for the Trillium, the literary and arts magazine at GSC. Zoe won an award for her Slam Poetry in 2021, and her visual art has been featured in two different shows in the Glenville State College gallery.

Michele Mekel

Michele Mekel, JD, MHA, MBA, is interim director of The Pennsylvania State University (Penn State) Bioethics Program, as well as a faculty member in various Penn State programs, including the humanities. She engages her students in poetry workshops and assignments she has designed as part of their core coursework, and she includes a focus on art and poetry in her scholarly endeavors. A poetess by avocation, Mekel has a substantial catalogue of published poems, which have appeared in numerous academic and creative publications. In addition, her poetry has been featured on Garrison Keillor’s The Writer’s Almanac, nominated for Best of the Net, and translated into Cherokee. Mekel is co-principal investigator of Viral Imaginations: COVID-19 (viralimaginations.psu.edu), which is a publicly accessibly gallery and archive of creative writing and art by Pennsylvanians of all ages. The project captures creative narratives related to living in pandemic times.

Lauren Stetz

Lauren Stetz is a Ph.D. candidate in Art Education with a minor in Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at the Pennsylvania State University. She holds a master’s degree in Art History from George Mason University. An experienced art educator, Stetz has taught in both public and private schools and colleges throughout Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Washington, D.C., for more than a decade, working with racially, linguistically, and socioeconomically diverse populations of students. Drawing from her experiences as both an art educator and art historian, Stetz serves as a graduate assistant, an instructor, and a researcher on Viral Imaginations: COVID-19.