A Word from AWP's Chair

January Gill O’Neil

Dear AWP members and supporters, 

I am honored to serve as chair of AWP’s board of directors for 2022–2023.

I want to convey my gratitude to Kathleen Driskell for her years of extraordinary service during a difficult, distanced time. We would not be here without her steady leadership.

As we look forward, one of my main goals is to help build a more inclusive organization, one that provides opportunities for meaningful participation for all members. I also promise to work hard to help AWP do a better job of telling our marvelous stories.

Like many of us, AWP has been part of my professional life for most of my adult life. I attended my first conference in New Orleans back in 2002, but I remember the early days when the organization was housed at Old Dominion University, my alma mater. As AWP stands on its solid foundation with more than 50 years of excellence in the service of creative writing, we now turn toward a future focused on elevating voices and telling your stories.

AWP is a special organization and I believe deeply in its mission:

AWP amplifies the voices of writers and the academic programs and organizations that serve them while championing diversity and excellence in creative writing.

The future of AWP depends on our ability to help you tell your stories and to provide opportunities at all stages of your creative journeys.

It is always a busy time for AWP, no matter what time of the year it is. As a board, we continue to support the staff with its most pressing issues: developing a strategic plan, strengthening our infrastructure including a web upgrade, and continuing our efforts to be a more intentionally inclusive organization. I’m particularly excited for the upcoming launch of the AWP HBCU Fellowship Program at the 2023 AWP Conference & Bookfair in Seattle, which we hope will pave the way for greater HBCU input and participation within our organization.

My thanks to Executive Director Cynthia Sherman and her trusted team. The lives of our members are improved because of the incredible work the staff puts in each day. AWP is in good hands with them as leaders. This group works tirelessly dedicating themselves to AWP’s success.

I look forward to serving as board chair.


January Oneil Signature

January Gill O’Neil, MFA
Chair, AWP Board of Directors, 2022–2023
Vice Chair, AWP Board of Directors, 2019-2022
Northeast Regional Council Chair, 2015–2019