Maureen Buchanan Jones is the Executive Director of Amherst Writers & Artists, serving also as Program Director of the AWA Training Program. She is an AWA Affiliate, trained and mentored by Pat Schneider, and leads weekly workshops in Northampton, Massachusetts, as well as weekend retreats either alone or with Pat Schneider. She leads a bi-monthly manuscript group, is a free-lance editor for fiction, non-fiction and memoir and has led workshops with women who have experienced domestic violence. Maureen has been an AWA instructor for the AWA workshop leadership trainings for four years in Masschusetts, Connecticut, California, Oregon and Ireland. She won the 1986 Fellowship from the American Society for Theatre Research as well as the 1991 University of Massachusetts Spectrum Graduate Poetry Award. She holds a Ph.D. in English Literature from the University of Massachusetts and taught literature, creative writing and technical writing for 17 years at the University of Massachusetts, Holyoke Community College, Westfield State College and the Conway School of Landscape Design, where she oversaw Masters theses, developed an inter-subject curriculum, participated in accreditation reviews and sat on the admissions review committee. She is a Phi Beta Kappa. Her poetry has appeared in Woman in Natural Resources, 13th Moon, Peregrine, North Dakota Quarterly Review, Letters from Daughters to Fathers, WriterAdvice, Equinox and Calyx. Her middle grade novel is represented by Michele Rubin of Writers House Literary Agency. She is at work on a sequel. Her prose has appeared in Orion and on WFCR-NPR.
Board of Directors
Patricia Bender, MALS, is a Research/Grant Specialist in the Office of Sponsored Research at Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey, Campus at Newark. Patricia has taught writing at Rutgers University, and has offered community writing workshps both nationally and internationally for more than 20 years. A National Writing Project consultant, she founded and directed the Writing Center at Rutgers, Newark (1998-2008), and she has earned certification in workshop leadership through Amherst Writers & Artists. Most recently her poetry appeared in LIPS, and she was awarded the Editor's Choice Award in the 2009 Allen Ginsburg Poetry Contest from the Paterson Poetry Center. Her presence on the AWA Board of Directors embodies and makes real her philosophy that everyone has a voice and that all of us need to raise those voices in ways that enrich both our own lives and that of the community. Her local efforts to support and grow volunteer efforts through the city library and universtiy have met with much success. She has increased the number of volunteers and external monetary support in every gorup that she has worked with or created. In addition, she has worked to strengthen existing groups such as the Friends of the Newark Public Library by working with others, revising bylaws, recruiting new board members and volunteers, and increasing membership. She likes to work with others in genuine efforts to make real our claim of living in a democratic society.
Kate Hymes, a poet and educator living in the Hudson Valley, New York, leads weekly writing workshops and full-day and three-day writing retreats. She has over twenty years experience as an educator with experience teaching writing at local two- and four-year colleges, and over ten years leading workshops for people who either wish to or make writing their artistic practice. Kate is certified to lead workshops using the Amherst Writers and Artists method. She has co-led trainings with Pat and other AWA instructors to teach others how to lead workshops. Kate and Pat also lead the workshop: If We Are Sisters: Black and White Women Writing Across Race. Kate has experience as a resource trainer assisting with Undoing Racism trainings for the People's Institute for Survival and Beyond. She is a Cave Canem fellow, with a poem published in Gathering Ground: Cave Canem 10-Year Anniversary Anthology, University of Michigan Press, 2006. Cave Canem is the national foundation for the development and support of established and emerging African-American poets. Her most recent publications are two poems in the anthology Riverine: An Anthology of Hudson Valley Writers, 2007. Kate serves as Executive Director of the Hudson Valley/Catskill Partnership: Regional Adult Education Network providing technical assistance and staff development to adult educators in a ten-county region of New York state. Kate currently serves as a member of the Dutchess County Arts Council and as panelist for Special Project, New York State Council on the Arts. She has a Master of Arts in American Literature from SUNY Stony Brook.
Karen Buchinsky is a poet, visual artist, and calligrapher who has been associated with Amherst Writers & Artists since 1994. She is a member of the Original Chicopee Workshop, known internationally through the Florentine Film about the Amherst Writers & Artists method, Tell Me Something I Can't Forget. She has served on the Advisory Board of AWA Institute, founded by the Chicopee workshop members and three other AWA writers as an outreach program for under-served populations. As an instructor in Amherst Writers & Artists Institute, Karen has helped to prepare hundreds of professional people to use the AWA method in schools, shelters, jails, hospitals, and other places where voices have been silenced. Karen has worked professionally as a painter, sculptor and calligrapher, and has led workshops for young writers and artists, and for women in recovery. She was one of the original workshop leaders for Voices from Inside, a non-profit program that provides AWA method writing workshops for women who are or have been incarcerated. She continues that work to this day. Karen is a valuable member of the instructors who lead AWA trainings.
Christopher DeLorenzo teaches composition at The University of San Francisco, where he earned his MA in Fiction in 1998. He also teaches writing classes in the Bay Area and Los Angeles at The Writing Salon and The Writing Pad, respectively, and is an instructor for AWA training sessions in California. Since 1999, he has facilitated two on-going AWA weekly writing workshops in his home, called Laguna Writers. He has self-published four chapbooks of his participants' work, each titled: Lake: A Collection of Voices, and organizes a public reading with each publication. He works as a writing coach and editor on long fiction manuscripts. Currently, he has been facilitating a series of workshops for gay men, and presented this workshop in 2008 at the West Hollywood Book Fair. In addition to teaching, Christopher has worked as a freelance writer on-line, most notably for Match.com, and has published poetry and prose in various literary magazines, including the university journals Karamu and The Rockhurst Review. He has written two novel manuscripts: Certain Sacred Places and What Remains, and is currently at work on a third. His essay "Without Plums," appears in My Gay Brother by Green Candy Press.
Bisi Idaraabdullah is best known as the founder of IMANI HOUSE, a Brooklyn-based non-profit organization that provides after-school programs, adult education, and employment assistance in Brooklyn, as well as a health care cinic and adult literacy in Liberia, West Africa. An educator, writer, activist, wife and mother of five, in 1999 Ideraabdullah founded the Women of Color Writers Workshp in response to the underrepresentation of women of color in the literary world. A certified Amherst Writers & Artist workshop facilitator, she apprenticed and mentored under its founder, Pat Schneider, and currently trains new AWA workshop leaders. Born in Brooklyn, she graduated summa cum laude from City College, but also studied creative writing and autobiography at CCNY, theatre at Brooklyn College and the University of Ghana, along with Executive Management at Columbia University's Graduate School of Business. She has written for several small magazines, assisted in the publication of Voices of Brooklyn; Writings from the Women of Color Writers Workshop, Face to Face Press, 2000. Her story "Imani Means Faith" appears in the National Book Foundation's Collection: Sounds of This House. She is currently working on her memoir How Many Days Until Tomorrow, a story of her life's experiences and challenges growing up in Brooklyn Public Housing, moving to Liberia, West Africa, living through seven years of brutal civil war, overcoming obstacles and succeeding, in 1985, to found IMANI HOUSE. IMANI HOUSE is an outstanding non-profit organizaiton known for selflessly serving marginalized communities both in N.Y. and Liberia. At The Women of Color Writers' Workshop and Community, Bisi leads women in creative writing and sponsors the WOC Visiting Guest Artist Series, WOC readings, performances and publications.
In October 1997, Elise Rymer was the New Mexico Community Foundation HIV/AIDS Committee Chairman and heard about Pat Schneider on National Public Radio. Elise attended two AWA trainings in November 1997, and subsequently used the AWA method both in HIV high school classes and as part of the Project Crossroads approach to the arts in schools. Soon after, Project Crossroads used Jay O'Callahan's complementary approach to storytelling, and Project Crossroads has used these approaches ever since in Santa Fe area classes K-12, Project Crossroads curriculum and teacher training workshops. In April 1998, Elise again attended Pat Schneider's trainings in Amherst. Upon returning to New Mexico, she and several friends formed a writing group with eight members, which continues to meet. This group has offered retreats with Pat Schneider in Santa Fe and Amherst. Elise has attended additional trainings, retreats and a manuscript writing and critique group with Pat Schneider from 1996 to the present.