Board of Directors

AWP is governed by a board of directors who represent the creative writing programs and individual members of AWP. Board members serve four-year terms. The board includes the chairs of regional councils of creative writing programs.

January Gill O’Neil

January Gill O’Neil

Term: 2015–2023
Office: Chair
Affiliation: Salem State University & University of Mississippi

January Gill O'Neil is an associate professor at Salem State University and the author of Glitter Road (forthcoming, 2022), Rewilding (2018), Misery Islands (2014), and Underlife (2009), all published by CavanKerry Press. From 2012-2018, she served as the executive director of the Massachusetts Poetry Festival. Her poems and articles have appeared in The New York Times Magazine, the Academy of American Poets’ Poem-A-Day series, American Poetry Review, Poetry, and Sierra magazine, among others. Her poem, “At the Rededication of the Emmett Till Memorial,” was a co-winner of the 2022 Allen Ginsberg Poetry award from the Poetry Center at Passaic County Community College. The recipient of fellowships from the Massachusetts Cultural Council, Cave Canem, and the Barbara Deming Memorial Fund, O'Neil was the 2019-2020 John and Renée Grisham Writer-in-Residence at the University of Mississippi, Oxford. She is one of five judges for the 2022 National Book Award in poetry. O'Neil earned her BA from Old Dominion University and her MFA from New York University.

“Mimi

Mimi Herman

Term: 2019–2023
Office: Vice Chair
Region: WC&C Council Chair
Affiliation: Writeaways

Mimi Herman is a Kennedy Center Teaching Artist, director of the United Arts Council Arts Integration Institute, and codirector of Writeaways workshops in Italy, France, and New Mexico. Mimi has served as North Carolina Piedmont Laureate, founding North Carolina Poetry Out Loud director, associate editor of Teaching Artist Journal and faculty mentor for Lesley University. Her writing has appeared in Michigan Quarterly Review, Shenandoah, Crab Orchard Review, the Hollins Critic, and other journals. She holds an MFA from Warren Wilson.

Jenny Yang Cropp

Jenny Yang Cropp

Term: 2021–2025
Office: Vice Chair
Region: Southwest Council Chair
Affiliation: Southeast Missouri State University

Jenny Yang Cropp is the author of the poetry collection String Theory, a 2016 Oklahoma Book Award finalist, and the chapbook Hanging the Moon. Her newest chapbook, Not a Bird or a Flower, was published by Ryga in 2018. She earned an MFA in creative writing from Minnesota State University, Mankato and a PhD in English from the University of South Dakota. She is an assistant professor of English at Southeast Missouri State University, where she teaches writing and publishing and serves as poetry editor for the literary journal Big Muddy.

Bruce H. Saul

Bruce H. Saul

Term: 2020–2024
Office: Treasurer
Affiliation: Attorney & Policy Analyst

Bruce H. Saul has spent most of his career as a senior legal officer in the US financial services sector, including chief counsel and chief compliance officer roles in insurance and other financial services businesses within Fortune 500 companies. He began his career at a business law firm in Baltimore, Maryland, specializing in federal securities law, mergers and acquisitions, and general corporate matters. Most recently, Saul was a policy analyst at the US Treasury Department, where he advised federal government departments and agencies on public policy and insurance regulatory issues. He is past chair of the Compliance Section of the American Council of Life Insurers and has held leadership roles in multiple insurance industry associations. He has also served on the boards of directors of several nonprofit organizations and as a volunteer tutor in adult literacy programs in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and Alexandria, Virginia. Saul earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from Johns Hopkins University with a major in humanities and a Juris Doctor degree from the Duke University School of Law.

Kris Bigalk

Kris Bigalk

Term: 2017–2025
Office: Secretary
Affiliation: Normandale Community College

Kris Bigalk (pronounced BEE-yahk) is the author of the poetry collection Repeat the Flesh in Numbers; her work also appears in several anthologies. She has received two Minnesota State Arts Board Individual Artist in Poetry grants and a Minnesota State Board of Trustees Award for Excellence in Teaching. Bigalk serves as director of creative writing at Normandale Community College in Bloomington, Minnesota, where she founded the first AFA in creative writing program based on “AWP Recommendations on the Teaching of Creative Writing to Undergraduates” and “AWP Hallmarks of an Effective Program in Creative Writing at a Two-Year College.”

Michelle Aielli

Michelle Aielli

Term: 2020–2024
Affiliation: Hachette Book Group

Michelle Aielli has been a book publishing professional for more than two decades. After several years at various houses, she spent a decade in the publicity department at Little, Brown and Company where she worked with (and learned from) some of the world’s leading authors, including James Patterson, Michael Connelly, Elin Hilderbrand, Donna Tartt, Jonathan Safran Foer, J.K. Rowling, Keith Richards, and more.

Michelle was a founding member of the Hachette Books imprint at the Hachette Book Group (HBG). As vice president and associate publisher, she oversees all publicity and marketing for the group, liaises with HBG’s sales team, engages media and booksellers, and consults on all aspects of the publishing process—from acquisitions and production to cover design and distribution. With HB’s publisher, she helps oversee the acquisition of new titles and authors, growing what has become a formidable and diverse list of important, powerful, opinion-driven nonfiction voices across many categories and under three imprints, including Lindy West, Julie Andrews, George F. Will, Malcolm Nance, Liza Mundy, Donna Brazile, Al Roker, and many more.

Michelle actively partners with authors and agents to create noteworthy, provocative, and enduring works—and to get those books into the hands of readers whose lives will be changed by them. She participates regularly in the NYU Summer Publishing Institute and in diversity and inclusion initiatives as a member of HBG’s Senior Management Group. She lives in Brooklyn with her two young daughters.

DeMisty Bellinger

DeMisty D. Bellinger

Term: 2020–2024
Region: Northeast Council Chair
Affiliation: Fitchburg State University

DeMisty D. Bellinger publishes in multiple genres, and is an editor at Malarky Books, Dr. DeMisty Bellinger is not only a professor of creative writing but also women’s studies and African American studies at Fitchburg State University in Massachusetts, positioning her as a strong advocate for issues of diversity and inclusion and someone whose perspective can continue to broaden the board’s understanding of these concerns. She has received fellowships from Bread Loaf and the Vermont Studio Center. Bellinger has also written about pedagogy for numerous journals and anthologies, expanding the board’s strengths in that area as well. Finally, Dr. Bellinger is also a violinist who plays in a community orchestra, representing the arts through a multitude of channels

Sean Bernard

Sean Bernard

Term: 2021–2025
Region: Western Council Chair
Affiliation: University of La Verne

Sean Bernard publishes in multiple genres, and an editor at Malarky Books, Dr. DeMisty Bellinger is not only a professor of Creative Writing but also Women’s studies and African American studies at Fitchburg State University in Massachusetts, positioning her as a strong advocate for issues of diversity and inclusion and someone whose perspective can continue to broaden the board’s understanding of these concerns. She has received fellowships from Bread Loaf and the Vermont Studio Center. Bellinger has also written about pedagogy for numerous journals and anthologies, expanding the board’s strengths in that area as well. Finally, Dr. Bellinger is also a violinist who plays in a community orchestra, representing the arts through a multitude of channels.

Regina Brooks

Regina Brooks

Term: 2019–2023
Affiliation: Serendipity Literary Agency

Regina Brooks is the founder and president of Serendipity Literary Agency LLC, based in Brooklyn, New York. Serendipity is the largest African American-owned agency in the US, and Brooks is the author of Never Finished, Never Done, Writing Great Books for Young Adults (now in its second edition) and You Should Really Write A Book: How to Write, Sell, and Market Your Memoir. Brooks is the agent behind many notable authors and illustrators whose awards include the National Book Award, the Newbery Medal, the Caldecott Award, the Michael Printz Award, and PEN Literary Award honors, as well as winners of the NAACP Image Award, the Edgar Award, and the Kirkus Prize.

James Tate Hill

James Tate Hill

Term: 2021–2025
Affiliation: Author & Editor

James Tate Hill is the author of a memoir, Blind Man’s Bluff (W. W. Norton, 2021). In 2015, his fiction debut, Academy Gothic, won the Nilsen Literary Prize for a First Novel. He serves as fiction editor for Monkeybicycle and contributing editor at Literary Hub, where he writes a monthly audiobooks column. Born in West Virginia, he lives in Greensboro, North Carolina.

Jeff Kleinman

Jeff Kleinman

Term: 2019–2023
Affiliation: Folio Literary Management

Jeff Kleinman is a founding partner of Folio Literary Management, where he is a literary agent and attorney. A few of the titles he has represented include The Art of Racing in the Rain (Garth Stein), The Snow Child (Eowyn Ivey), The Secrets We Kept (Lara Prescott), Mockingbird (Charles Shields), and Maid (Stephanie Land). He also represents the estates of Langston Hughes, Ira Levin, T.H. White, and James Herriot, among others.

Travis Kurowski

Travis Kurowski

Term: 2022–2026
Region: Mid-Atlantic Council Chair
Affiliation: York College of Pennsylvania

Travis Kurowski is the editor of Paper Dreams: Writers and Editors on the American Literary Magazine (Atticus Books, 2013), an Independent Publisher Book Award winner, and coeditor of Literary Publishing in the Twenty-First Century (Milkweed Editions, 2016). He has served on the mastheads of numerous magazines, including Story, winning a CLMP Firecracker Award. His writing has appeared in Ninth Letter, Creative Nonfiction, and TriQuarterly, and he was a columnist for Poets & Writers. He is an associate professor at York College of Pennsylvania, where he directs the writing program. He received his PhD from The University of Southern Mississippi.

Kenyatta Rogers

Kenyatta Rogers

Term: 2020–2024
Affiliation: Chicago High School for the Arts

Kenyatta Rogers is a Cave Canem Fellow and has been awarded scholarships from the Bread Loaf Writers' Conference. He has also been nominated multiple times for both Pushcart and Best of the Net prizes. His work has been previously published in Jubilat, Vinyl, Bat City Review, the Volta, PANK, and MAKE Magazine, among others. Kenyatta is a lead teacher for the Poetry Foundations Teacher Institute and Chautauqua Institution’s Young Writer Institute. He is a cohost of the Sunday Reading Series with Simone Muench and serves on the creative writing faculty at the Chicago High School for the Arts.

Laura Tohe

Laura Tohe

Term: 2022–2026
Affiliation: Navajo Tech University

Laura Tohe is the current Navajo Nation Poet Laureate. An award-winning poet, her books include No Parole Today, Making Friends with Water, Sister Nations, Tséyi, Deep in the Rock, and Code Talker Stories that have appeared in the U.S., Canada, and Europe with French, Dutch and Italian translations. Her commissioned librettos are Enemy Slayer, A Navajo Oratorio on the Naxos Classical Music label and Nahasdzáán in the Glittering World with performances in France in 2019 and 2021. Among her awards are the 2019-2020 Academy of American Poets Fellowship, the 2019 American Indian Festival of Writers Award, the Lila Wallace Reader’s Digest Fund Award, the Dan Schilling Public Scholar Award, and she was twice nominated for the Pushcart Award. She is Professor Emerita with Distinction from Arizona State University.

“Stephanie

Stephanie Vanderslice

Term: 2019–2023
Region: Southern Council Chair
Affiliation: University of Central Arkansas

Stephanie Vanderslice is the author of several books, most recently The Geek’s Guide to the Writing Life: An Instructional Memoir for the Rest of Us. She is professor and director of the Arkansas Writers MFA Workshop at the University of Central Arkansas.

Judy Wilson

Judy Wilson

Term: 2021–2025
Region: Midwest Council Chair
Affiliation: Southwest Minnesota State University

Judy Wilson received a PhD from the University of Southern Mississippi, her writing nurtured by the Barthelme brothers at the Center for Writers. A dark realist as well as a humanist, she is intent on mining the reader's humane and compassionate response. Her work has appeared in numerous literary journals including Skylark Literary Annual, Mississippi Review, Antietam Review, the Atlantic Monthly’s Atlantic Unbound, Reed Magazine, Oregon Literary Review, Carve Magazine, Front Porch Journal, Texas Review, South Dakota Review, and in her collection Trespass and other stories. She has received a number of awards for her fiction, including the Southern Literary Festival Award for Best Short Fiction, the Joan Johnson Writing Award, the Henfield Foundation’s Transatlantic Review Award, and the Truman Capote Fellowship. She is also the founder and editor of Yellow Medicine Review: A Journal of Indigenous Literature, Art & Thought, now fourteen years in print. She lives and writes in Hendricks, Minnesota, sparing time to serve as the director of creative writing at Southwest Minnesota State University, where she has served the creative writing program since August 2002.