Chair: Kathleen Olesky
Kathleen Olesky has a MA in Counseling Psychology and an MFA in Creative Writing. She worked as a bilingual psychotherapist in a community mental health center in Boston for many years, serving both English and Spanish speaking adults and children. She left the field to pursue her MFA at Emerson College. Kathleen was certified in the AWA method in 2004 and has been leading workshops ever since through Newton Community Education, the Jewish Community Center and privately. She currently has two AWA workshops and also leads a workshop with seniors at the Lifetime Learning Program in Newton, Mass. Kathleen has also been a writing coach for the Memoir Project, a collaborative project between the City of Boston and Grub Street Writing Center which has published three volumes of personal essays by seniors in various neighborhoods. She has a chapter published in The Buddha’s Apprentices, Wisdom Press. She is also a leader for the northeast region of Soka Gakkai USA, a lay Buddhist organization promoting peace through culture and education, and is the East Coast bureau chief for their weekly newspaper, the World Tribune. In addition to becoming a member of the AWA board, Kathleen is on the board of Newton Community Education and is a trustee and judge of an annual creative writing award for the two Newton high schools. Kathleen writes short fiction and poetry.
Treasurer and Secretary: Lane Goddard
Lane Goddard is co-founder (and now sole owner) of LandaBooks, which for more than twenty years has provided training in writing and related skills to adult employees of government agencies and private-industry organizations. She has written or co-written, designed, and published workbooks and other training materials, has personally taught many courses, and now supervises trainers. A graduate of Duke University, she also holds an MA in English from the University of Florida, and has earned many postgraduate hours in counseling, and a few in business administration.
A member of Winston-Salem Writers, she has co-coordinated arrangements for Pat Schneiders North Carolina workshops since 2007, and has served on the WSW board. Lane writes short fiction and is working on a novel; she was competitively selected by Richard Bausch (on the basis of her fiction) for the Heritage Writers Workshop at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia. Since her first workshop with Pat Schneider in 2006, she has written with Pat as often as possible, both in Amherst and in North Carolina. An AWA affiliate, she leads a twice-monthly workshop in her home. Her principal motivation for working with writers using the AWA method is her abiding belief in the value of writing and the writing lifefor writers as well as readersand the great joy she finds in writing with others in this safe and liberating way.
Secretary: Elise Rymer
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 K-12 classes, Project Crossroads curricula, 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.
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 & 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 Films documentary 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 underserved 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 team of instructors who lead AWA trainings.
Bisi Ideraabdullah is best known as the founder of IMANI HOUSE, a Brooklyn-based nonprofit that provides after-school programs, adult education, and employment assistance in Brooklyn, and a health care clinic and adult literacy in Liberia, West Africa.
An educator, writer, activist, and wife and mother of five, Bisi founded the Women of Color Writers Workshop in 1999 in response to the underrepresentation of women of color in the literary world. A certified AWA 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 and 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 and 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 Foundations collection Sounds of This House. She is currently working on her memoir How Many Days Until Tomorrow, a story of her lifes experiences and challenges growing up in Brooklyn public housing; moving to Liberia, West Africa; living through seven years of that countrys brutal civil war; overcoming obstacles; and succeeding, in 1985, to found IMANI HOUSE, an outstanding nonprofit organization known for selflessly serving marginalized communities in both New York 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 and WOC readings, performances and publications.
Sue Lynn Reynolds
Sue is a published novelist and an award-winning writer of poetry and creative non-fiction. She has been writing all her life. Her first novel was published in 1992 and won the Canadian Library Associations YA Novel of the Year award. Through leading writing workshops she also began to witness how profoundly healing it could be for others to write their truths even if that writing took the form of fiction. She changed her life so she could go back to university to study Psychology with a particular focus on the therapeutic use of journaling and memoir (her thesis on that topic received the Canadian Psychological Associations Award of Academic Excellence in 2006).
She began teaching writing to women who were incarcerated in the Lindsay Superjail in Ontario on a volunteer basis, and in 2007 earned the June Callwood Award for Outstanding Volunteerism for that program. She also began doing her counselling practicum in the jail under the supervision of the psychologist there and the head of Social Work. She expanded her writing studies and began adding other therapeutic modalities to her toolbox. She studied in the Progoff Intensive Journal Workshop method. She engaged in a series of courses in Narrative Therapy. In her studies in Psychology she took courses on sleep and on dreaming and dream interpretation. She undertook training in Hakomi Therapy. She facilitates writing groups for many not-for-profit and social service agencies. Her first poetry chapbook skinned was launched in January 2008 and she is working on her third novel.