Meet the AWP Staff
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.
Deputy Executive Director & 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 created 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. Her novel, The All Night Sun, will be published by Random House in Summer 2020.
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.
Associate Director of Conferences
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.
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 a BS in computer science with minors in creative writing and mathematics from Virginia Tech. Also at Virginia Tech, Kate worked on an MS in computer science. Kate has designed and developed websites for many educational, governmental, and commercial organizations. In addition to writing genre and young adult fiction, Kate leads a local writers' roundtable group, volunteers at local libraries, BookCrosses, and hunts historical markers. Kate joined AWP in 2006 and is the Director of Web Services & Systems Administrator.
Associate Director of Membership
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. As well as assisting AWP with creative writing program assessments, data management, promotional campaigns, and member surveys, she manages the AWP In the Spotlight series and reads creative nonfiction for the Writer to Writer mentorship program. Kathy writes poetry, fiction, and screenplays. She is currently working on her young adult novel Vendavel’s Magic Shop and a screen adaptation of Susan Ferrier’s 19th-century novel Marriage entitled Every Starry Light.
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.
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.
Alyssa Hawkins is an AWP intern for Summer 2019. She attends St. Mary’s College of Maryland studying English and International Languages and Cultures with a concentration in Spanish. When she is not enjoying her interning experience at AWP, she is often home catching up on her TBR pile.
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.
Social Media Assistant
Jennifer January is currently a senior at the University of Maryland earning her BA in Sociology. She joins the AWP team in 2019 as a Social Media Intern. Previously, she worked as an undergraduate research assistant for the Group Processes Lab at UMD. In her free time, Jennifer enjoys going to the beach, hiking, and playing with dogs.
Conference Events Coordinator
Aubrey Kamppila earned her BA in English with a writing concentration and a studio art minor from Gettysburg College in 2018. Before joining AWP, she worked as an editorial intern for the Friedrich Agency, the Gettysburg Review, and the Studio Potter journal. In her free time, she paints, hikes, and writes poetry and creative nonfiction.
Assistant IT Administrator
Sorie Kanu graduated from the University of Maryland Eastern Shore with a bachelor’s in computer science with business administration. He is currently pursuing two master’s degrees: one in religious studies and another in cybersecurity. He currently volunteers as the national evangelism coordinator for a nonprofit organization whose vision is to mentor high school and college students throughout the United States and abroad. He loves playing sports and instruments.
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.
Evgenia Kutuzova has earned an AA in business administration from Howard Community College in Columbia, Maryland. Before joining AWP she worked as a bookkeeper for a local medical company and assistant to certified public accountant. She enjoys visiting art galleries and museums, reading nonfiction books, and traveling.
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.
Bobbie Shay Lee
Bobbie Shay Lee holds a MSW in Social Policy and Administration from Florida State University. She brings with her over twenty years of experience in nonprofit leadership, grassroots advocacy campaigns, government affairs, and event management. Additionally, Bobbie Shay is a former contributor to Huffington Post and Everyday Health, advocating and commenting on women’s health and the importance of transparency in cause-related marketing issues.
Registration and Diversity & Inclusion Coordinator
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.
Sarah Morris recently received her BA in Fiction Writing and Philosophy from the University of Pittsburgh. She has spent time working as an intern at Saturnalia Books in Ardmore, PA, and at The Center for African American Poetry and Poetics in Pittsburgh, PA. Outside of AWP, Sarah spends time working at a local winery, teaching dance classes, and writing poetry and short fiction. You can find her work in Soundings East, among other publications.
Development & Publications Intern
Elaine Peters has recently graduated from the University of Arkansas with a BA in English literature and medieval and Renaissance studies. She hopes to possibly return to school for her MFA or to go abroad and teach English in the upcoming year. She enjoys reading fantasy fiction and murder mysteries, hanging with her two cats Elvis and Pancake, and listening to classical music.
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.
Web Copy Editor
Pamela Murray Winters has a BA in English from the University of Maryland and an MFA in creative writing from Vermont College of Fine Arts. Her first book of poems, The Unbeckonable Bird (FutureCycle Press), was published in 2018. When she’s not copyediting for AWP, revising her next three poetry manuscripts, or going to readings (including the Evil Grin Poetry Series in Annapolis, which she helps organize), her interests include music, road trips, and fantasizing about cats.