WCoNA 2024 at Saint Francis University
March 15–16 | Loretto, PA

Saint Francis University’s 600-acre campus in Loretto, PA is in the heart of the great outdoors, yet the location provides an easy drive to Pittsburgh, Harrisburg, DC, and New York City.

Keynote Speaker

Our keynote speaker Maxwell King offers a unique perspective on northern Appalachia, having adopted the region as his home after a distinguished career as editor of The Philadelphia Inquirer. Upon taking the role of president of The Heinz Endowments in Pittsburgh, Mr. King added to his writing portfolio with a small poetry collection, Crossing Laurel Run, followed by the New York Times-bestselling biography, The Good Neighbor: The Life and Work of Fred Rogers. Most recently, he published, through the University of Pittsburgh Press, American Workman: The Life and Art of John Kane, a book about a man whose experience in northern Appalachia typifies the misunderstood and overlooked voices of this region. Mr. King also served as chairman of the board of the national Council on Foundations and chairman of Pittsburgh Community Broadcasting Corporation. His most recent role was president of The Pittsburgh Foundation.


With his wife, Margaret Ann, and their two dogs, Mr. King retired to Ligonier, PA. From there, at the foot of the westernmost ridge of the Alleghenies, the couple enjoys visiting the families of their sons Will and Ned in Stowe, VT and Nantucket, MA.


Mr. King graduated cum laude from Harvard University and did graduate work at Stanford University. He is the recipient of the inaugural Martin Luther King Jr. Leadership Award, presented by the Coro Fellows Program for young professionals; the Coleman Award, presented by the University of Pittsburgh’s Institute of Politics for excellence in leadership; the 20th Anniversary Spirit of Enterprise Fred Rogers Good Neighbor Award; the Andrew W. Mathieson Fame Leadership Award; the exemplary leadership award from the Johnson Institute at the University of Pittsburgh; the President's Award for lifetime achievement from the Press Club of Western Pennsylvania; the Pittsburgher of the Year Award from Pittsburgh Magazine; and he has been awarded honorary doctorates from Point Park University, the University of Pittsburgh, Carlow University, Duquesne University, and St. Vincent College. He has served on numerous boards in the Pittsburgh Region. He is currently a member of the Board of The Heinz Endowments and an emeritus board member of the Senator John Heinz Regional History Center.

Invitation to Present at WCoNA 2024

The WCoNA Writers Conference of Northern Appalachia® invites proposals for presentations at the 2024 live conference on March 15–16, 2024 at St. Francis University. Participants will explore opportunities, challenges, and trends specific to writers of northern Appalachia through presentations, readings, craft sessions, and panel discussions. The event will offer writers a place to gather for inspiration, further their craft, find support, and network. 

Our audience

Conference attendees will include authors ranging from novice poets to multi-published novelists; educators representing the humanities, literature, Appalachian studies, and more; librarians; and individuals with an interest in the literature and culture of northern Appalachian. WCoNA continues building relationships with publishers and agents, encouraging houses to distinguish and print our region’s literature. Consider how your presentation speaks to the exceptional nature of the literature of northern Appalachia.

General Information

Sessions will run for 50 minutes. Presenters may submit ideas in several formats: 

Only one proposal submission is allowed per person. Participants can present only once during the conference. Conference presenters and attendees must register for the full conference (see Honorarium below). Submissions open on Monday September 11th. Visit our conference portal if you would like to submit a proposal

Considerations for Preparing your Proposal

The goal of the Writers Conference of Northern Appalachia is to advance all genres of the writing of northern Appalachia. To serve the many authors of our region, we are committed to focusing on craft. 

Please see our mission statement to understand our goals. Also, see the map that explains the geographic bounds of what we consider northern Appalachia. 

Submission Guidelines

To help us expedite the program, these items must be included upon submission of your proposal. Partial proposals can’t be accepted. Thanks for your interest!

Be sure to include on the submission form: 

Multimedia Requests

If your program requires additional media (screenshots, document views, videos, etc.), please indicate this on the proposal form. Please carefully explain how you intend to use multimedia for your session and why it's imperative. Additionally, email questions to Generalinquires@WCoNA.com.


Presenters are conference attendees who volunteer to take an hour from their conference time to share their expertise and knowledge on a particular topic with fellow attendees. The 2024 WCoNA is not providing monetary honorariums, though we offer free attendance to the conference for one person per session, including panels. The free attendance will be provided to the lead presenter of panels. All presenters agree to be registered for the conference by the published deadline.   

Proposals will be accepted until Sunday, October 29, 2024.