Meet the AWP Staff
Interim Executive Director
Dr. Chloe Schwenke is an author, educator, researcher, international development practitioner, and human rights activist with extensive senior level and management experience in academia, government, non-profit, and for-profit organizations. Her executive and senior management experience includes her recently concluded one-year research grant as the first Director of the Global Program on Violence, Rights and Inclusion at the International Center for Research on Women (ICRW) in Washington, DC. Before that posting, she served as vice president at Freedom House. Her latest book, published by Red Hen Press on May 4, is a memoir titled SELF-ish: a transgender awakening.
Director of Publications
Supriya Bhatnagar has a Bachelor of Commerce degree from the University of Rajasthan, Jaipur, India, and a BA in nonfiction writing and editing and an MFA in creative nonfiction from George Mason University. Her short stories have appeared in Femina and 4Indianwoman.com. Her memoir, and then there were three..., was published in 2010 by Serving House Books. Essays from this book have appeared in Perigee and Artful Dodge. She is a Pushcart Prize nominee.
Director of Development
Sheila Black was the Executive Director of Gemini Ink, a literary arts center in San Antonio, Texas, prior to joining AWP. Before that, she served as Associate Director of Corporate and Foundation Relations at New Mexico State University Foundation. She is the author of four poetry collections, most recently Iron, Ardent (2017), and has co-edited two anthologies, Beauty is a Verb: The New Poetry of Disability (2011) and The Right Way to Be Crippled and Naked: The Fiction of Disability (2017). In 2012, she received a Witter Bynner Fellowship from the Library of Congress. She holds a BA in French literature from Barnard College and an MFA in poetry from the University of Montana.
Director of Social Media
Juanita Lester received her MA in Publications Design from The University of Baltimore and completed her BA in Fashion Marketing. Previously, Juanita interned at WHERE, Philadelphia Magazine and Baltimore Magazine. Juanita has worked for a small tech company in Delaware, where she became the first Branding and Communications Manager. She now joins us from healthcare, where she was previously also the first Social Media Director. Juanita has deep rooted love for music and dancing, and she enjoys traveling and spending time with her family. Juanita joins AWP as our first Director of Social Media.
Director of Web Services and Systems Administrator
Kate McDevitt received her BS in computer science with minors in creative writing and mathematics from Virginia Tech. Also at Virginia Tech, she worked on her MS in computer science. Kate has designed and developed websites for many educational, governmental, and commercial organizations. She writes genre and young adult fiction and leads a local writers' roundtable group. In her free time she volunteers at local libraries, BookCrosses, and hunts historical markers. Kate joined AWP in 2006.
Director of Conferences
Cynthia Sherman joined AWP in 2012 as the Associate Director of Conferences & Bookfair Manager. With over twenty years of experience in meetings and exhibits management, Cynthia continues to brings her ability to listen, analyze, and lead—thoughtfully and enthusiastically—to the conference. In her free time, Cynthia loves to travel with her daughters and their pups, practice yoga, and design jewelry.
Director of Membership Services
Diane Zinna received her MFA in fiction from the University of Florida and went on to teach fiction and poetry workshops for ten years at colleges in the Washington, DC, area. She designed and runs AWP’s Writer to Writer Mentorship Program, which brings together published authors and emerging writers, particularly those with no affiliation with a writing program, and those writing from backgrounds, regions, and perspectives too often marginalized in the literary world.
Conference Events Manager
Colleen Cable earned her MFA in creative writing at the University of Maryland, where she worked as an events planner for the admissions office. She also worked as a program coordinator for Gettysburg College’s Center for Public Service and as a volunteer for the Maryland Writer’s Association. She writes fiction.
Megan DeMatteo earned her MA in Creative Writing and Narrative Medicine from Lenoir-Rhyne University, Asheville. She has worked in educational and nonprofit settings across the country, focusing on curriculum design and language. Prior to becoming a teacher, Megan studied Spanish Language and Literature at the University of Tennessee. She has also served as an AmeriCorps VISTA in Southeastern Utah, where she supported the development efforts of a grassroots community resource center. Megan is a poet, a rock climber, and a traveler.
Derek Ellis joined AWP as an intern in 2018. He is currently an MFA candidate in poetry writing at the University of Maryland, College Park. Prior to attending the University of Maryland, he earned a BA in English literature from Western Kentucky University, where he also minored in creative writing. During the year before attending the University of Maryland, Derek worked as a barista and as a touring musician, even playing, briefly, for Dylan Scott (who has appeared at the top of the Country Billboard Charts). Originally from the small, rural town of Owenton, Kentucky, Derek enjoys exploring the DMV area while writing and sending out his poems.
Bryan Head is currently a MFA candidate in poetry writing at the University of Maryland, College park. He is from Asheville, North Carolina. In addition to working for AWP, he is currently co-manager of HomeWord Youth Poetry, a nonprofit for young writers in western North Carolina, as well as the coach of the Asheville Brave New Voices Youth Poetry Team. Before attending UMD, he completed his B.A. at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, with degrees in media and journalism and in creative writing. His poems have appeared in Red Paint Hill, among other publications.
Web Copy Editor
Rebekah Kirkman earned her BFA in painting from the Maryland Institute College of Art in 2014. She worked at the Baltimore City Paper from 2013 to 2017, beginning as an editorial intern and eventually becoming the visual arts editor. She has written extensively about visual art, literature, and music, and about the intersections of art and social/political issues. Her writing appears in City Paper, the Baltimore Beat, The Outline, Baltimore Fishbowl, BmoreArt, and other publications. She dabbles in pottery and poetry.
Christopher Kondrich is the author of Contrapuntal (Free Verse Editions). He is the winner of The Iowa Review Award for Poetry and The Paris-American Reading Series Prize. His poetry appears or is forthcoming in Antioch Review, Boston Review, Conjunctions, Crazyhorse, Gulf Coast, Poetry Northwest, Iowa Review, Kenyon Review, Massachusetts Review, Witness, and elsewhere. He holds an MFA from Columbia University’s School of the Arts and a PhD from the University of Denver where he was an editor for Denver Quarterly.
Meg Eden Kuyatt
Meg Eden Kuyatt's work is published or forthcoming in magazines including Prairie Schooner, Poetry Northwest, Poet Lore, RHINO, and CV2. She teaches creative writing at the University of Maryland. She has five poetry chapbooks, and her debut novel Post-High School Reality Quest was published with California Coldblood, a subsidiary of Rare Bird Books. Find Meg online or on Twitter.
Membership Coordinator and Office Manager
Kenny Lakes holds a BA in History with a minor in Political Science from Susquehanna University. Prior to AWP, he worked as a membership associate at Global Alliance for Arts & Health. Kenny joined AWP in 2013 and has previously held the positions of Membership Assistant and Membership Associate. He works closely with AWP’s WC&C membership program and helps facilitate the matching of poetry mentors and mentees in the Writer to Writer Mentorship Program.
Chelsea McLin joined AWP as an intern in 2018. She holds a BA in English from the University of San Diego, where she also minored in creative writing and ethnic studies. Currently, she is working on her MA in English literature at the University of Maryland and as a graduate assistant at the university's Office of Undergraduate Admissions. In her free time, she manages her own blog and explores the DMV looking for good vegan restaurants.
Associate Web Developer
Annie Peña earned a bachelor's degree from the University of Maryland in Biology. Before coming to AWP in 2014, she studied the territorial behavior of monkeys in Brazil, and used GIS/remote sensing to map locations all over the world. Annie loves to travel, read with her family, and discover new vocabulary.
Ben Ramey joined AWP as an intern in 2018. He is currently pursuing a double major in finance and marketing at the University of Maryland, College Park. Currently involved in the UMD chapter of the American Marketing Association, Ben is also a member of the Maryland Music Business Society.In his free time, he enjoys songwriting, attending comedy shows, and playing ultimate frisbee with his fraternity brothers. He is excited to see where his creative skillset and marketing aspirations lead him to post graduation!
Conference Registration Manager
T. Reynolds's first collection of cathartic poetry and prose was published in 2016. She is the founder of a good day to heal, a blog and online community that offers a healing, creative, and evolving space for people to do the work of deepening self-awareness, self-love, self-care, self-healing, and self-mastery. A wellness coach who guides others in developing and cultivating a healing mindset, she holds a BA in marketing from Temple University. Thaiia joined AWP in 2018.
Kathy Ridenhour has earned an MFA in Poetry from Minnesota State University, Mankato, and an MFA in Screenwriting from The American Film Institute (AFI) in Los Angeles. In addition to raising two endearing, drama- and anime-mad children, she enjoys volunteering with NextStop Theatre, reading and writing fantasy, and going on a very occasional jaunt to the local karaoke joint.
Conference Bookfair Manager
Tiffany Robinson has worked as the conference registration manager for the National Association of Black Journalists and as a conference staffer for the Association of Supervision and Curriculum Development and for Meeting Management Services. She has also worked as a programming manager for local radio stations in the Washington, DC area.
Jennifer Strass earned her BA in painting from the Maryland Institute College of Art, and her MA in publication design from the University of Baltimore. She has over 25 years of experience designing for nonprofits, cultural organizations, and educational institutions. Her art background has influenced her career and she remains committed to creative endeavors, such as illustration, painting, and photography. In her spare time she enjoys sea kayaking, hiking, and landscape painting.
Ely Vance graduated from the University of Maryland, College Park with a double degree in English and American Studies, with minors in Philosophy and Creative Writing. During his time at UMD, Ely was heavily involved in the creative writing community: he was a member of the Jiménez-Porter Writers’ House, helped organize the TerPoets open-mic series, and served as a teaching assistant for workshops his senior year. He is looking forward to finding where his writing will take him.