Board of Directors
AWP is governed by a board of directors who represent the creative writing programs and individual members of AWP. Board members serve four-year terms. The board includes the chairs of regional councils of creative writing programs.
January Gill O’Neil
Affiliation: Salem State University & University of Mississippi
January Gill O'Neil is an associate professor at Salem State University and the author of Glitter Road (forthcoming, 2024), Rewilding (2018), Misery Islands (2014), and Underlife (2009), all published by CavanKerry Press. From 2012-2018, she served as the executive director of the Massachusetts Poetry Festival. Her poems and articles have appeared in The New York Times Magazine, the Academy of American Poets’ Poem-A-Day series, American Poetry Review, Poetry, and Sierra magazine, among others. Her poem, “At the Rededication of the Emmett Till Memorial,” was a co-winner of the 2022 Allen Ginsberg Poetry award from the Poetry Center at Passaic County Community College. The recipient of fellowships from the Massachusetts Cultural Council, Cave Canem, and the Barbara Deming Memorial Fund, O'Neil was the 2019-2020 John and Renée Grisham Writer-in-Residence at the University of Mississippi, Oxford. She is one of five judges for the 2022 National Book Award in poetry. O'Neil earned her BA from Old Dominion University and her MFA from New York University.
Office: Vice Chair
Region: WC&C Council Chair
Mimi Herman is a Kennedy Center Teaching Artist, director of the United Arts Council Arts Integration Institute, and codirector of Writeaways workshops in Italy, France, and New Mexico. Mimi has served as North Carolina Piedmont Laureate, founding North Carolina Poetry Out Loud director, associate editor of Teaching Artist Journal and faculty mentor for Lesley University. Her writing has appeared in Michigan Quarterly Review, Shenandoah, Crab Orchard Review, the Hollins Critic, and other journals. She holds an MFA from Warren Wilson.
Jenny Yang Cropp
Office: Vice Chair
Region: Southwest Council Chair
Affiliation: Southeast Missouri State University
Jenny Yang Cropp is the author of the poetry collection String Theory, a 2016 Oklahoma Book Award finalist, and the chapbook Hanging the Moon. Her newest chapbook, Not a Bird or a Flower, was published by Ryga in 2018. She earned an MFA in creative writing from Minnesota State University, Mankato and a PhD in English from the University of South Dakota. She is an assistant professor of English at Southeast Missouri State University, where she teaches writing and publishing and serves as poetry editor for the literary journal Big Muddy.
Bruce H. Saul
Affiliation: Attorney & Policy Analyst
Bruce H. Saul has spent most of his career as a senior legal officer in the US financial services sector, including chief counsel and chief compliance officer roles in insurance and other financial services businesses within Fortune 500 companies. He began his career at a business law firm in Baltimore, Maryland, specializing in federal securities law, mergers and acquisitions, and general corporate matters. Most recently, Saul was a policy analyst at the US Treasury Department, where he advised federal government departments and agencies on public policy and insurance regulatory issues. He is past chair of the Compliance Section of the American Council of Life Insurers and has held leadership roles in multiple insurance industry associations. He has also served on the boards of directors of several nonprofit organizations and as a volunteer tutor in adult literacy programs in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and Alexandria, Virginia. Saul earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from Johns Hopkins University with a major in humanities and a Juris Doctor degree from the Duke University School of Law.
Affiliation: Normandale Community College
Kris Bigalk (pronounced BEE-yahk) is the author of the poetry collection Repeat the Flesh in Numbers; her work also appears in several anthologies. She has received two Minnesota State Arts Board Individual Artist in Poetry grants and a Minnesota State Board of Trustees Award for Excellence in Teaching. Bigalk serves as director of creative writing at Normandale Community College in Bloomington, Minnesota, where she founded the first AFA in creative writing program based on “AWP Recommendations on the Teaching of Creative Writing to Undergraduates” and “AWP Hallmarks of an Effective Program in Creative Writing at a Two-Year College.”
Affiliation: Hachette Book Group
Michelle Aielli has been a book publishing professional for more than two decades. After several years at various houses, she spent a decade in the publicity department at Little, Brown and Company where she worked with (and learned from) some of the world’s leading authors, including James Patterson, Michael Connelly, Elin Hilderbrand, Donna Tartt, Jonathan Safran Foer, J.K. Rowling, Keith Richards, and more.
Michelle was a founding member of the Hachette Books imprint at the Hachette Book Group (HBG). As vice president and associate publisher, she oversees all publicity and marketing for the group, liaises with HBG’s sales team, engages media and booksellers, and consults on all aspects of the publishing process—from acquisitions and production to cover design and distribution. With HB’s publisher, she helps oversee the acquisition of new titles and authors, growing what has become a formidable and diverse list of important, powerful, opinion-driven nonfiction voices across many categories and under three imprints, including Lindy West, Julie Andrews, George F. Will, Malcolm Nance, Liza Mundy, Donna Brazile, Al Roker, and many more.
Michelle actively partners with authors and agents to create noteworthy, provocative, and enduring works—and to get those books into the hands of readers whose lives will be changed by them. She participates regularly in the NYU Summer Publishing Institute and in diversity and inclusion initiatives as a member of HBG’s Senior Management Group. She lives in Brooklyn with her two young daughters.
DeMisty D. Bellinger
Region: Northeast Council Chair
Affiliation: Fitchburg State University
DeMisty D. Bellinger publishes in multiple genres, and is an editor at Malarky Books, Dr. DeMisty Bellinger is not only a professor of creative writing but also women’s studies and African American studies at Fitchburg State University in Massachusetts, positioning her as a strong advocate for issues of diversity and inclusion and someone whose perspective can continue to broaden the board’s understanding of these concerns. She has received fellowships from Bread Loaf and the Vermont Studio Center. Bellinger has also written about pedagogy for numerous journals and anthologies, expanding the board’s strengths in that area as well. Finally, Dr. Bellinger is also a violinist who plays in a community orchestra, representing the arts through a multitude of channels
Region: Western Council Chair
Affiliation: University of La Verne
Sean Bernard directs and teaches in the BA creative writing program at the University of La Verne in southern California, where he also edits the national literary journal Prism Review. Since 2004, he has served as assistant editor of Toad Press, a publisher of chapbook-length translations, and in spring 2021 he became the fiction editor for Veliz Books. He is the author of the novel Studies in the Hereafter (Red Hen Press) and the story collection Desert sonorous (winner of the 2014 Juniper Prize), and his work has appeared in journals including the Gettysburg Review, Glimmer Train, Crazyhorse, and Epoch. He has received grants and fellowships from groups including the National Endowment for the Arts, Jentel Artists Foundation, the University of Arizona Poetry Center, and Poets & Writers.
Affiliation: Serendipity Literary Agency
Regina Brooks is the founder and president of Serendipity Literary Agency LLC, based in Brooklyn, New York. Serendipity is the largest African American-owned agency in the US, and Brooks is the author of Never Finished, Never Done, Writing Great Books for Young Adults (now in its second edition) and You Should Really Write A Book: How to Write, Sell, and Market Your Memoir. Brooks is the agent behind many notable authors and illustrators whose awards include the National Book Award, the Newbery Medal, the Caldecott Award, the Michael Printz Award, and PEN Literary Award honors, as well as winners of the NAACP Image Award, the Edgar Award, and the Kirkus Prize.
Affiliation: Folio Literary Management
Jeff Kleinman is a founding partner of Folio Literary Management, where he is a literary agent and attorney. A few of the titles he has represented include The Art of Racing in the Rain (Garth Stein), The Snow Child (Eowyn Ivey), The Secrets We Kept (Lara Prescott), Mockingbird (Charles Shields), and Maid (Stephanie Land). He also represents the estates of Langston Hughes, Ira Levin, T.H. White, and James Herriot, among others.
Region: Mid-Atlantic Council Chair
Affiliation: York College of Pennsylvania
Travis Kurowski is the editor of Paper Dreams: Writers and Editors on the American Literary Magazine (Atticus Books, 2013), an Independent Publisher Book Award winner, and coeditor of Literary Publishing in the Twenty-First Century (Milkweed Editions, 2016). He has served on the mastheads of numerous magazines, including Story, winning a CLMP Firecracker Award. His writing has appeared in Ninth Letter, Creative Nonfiction, and TriQuarterly, and he was a columnist for Poets & Writers. He is an associate professor at York College of Pennsylvania, where he directs the writing program. He received his PhD from The University of Southern Mississippi.
Region: Midwest Council Chair
Affiliation: DePaul University
Michele Morano is the author of Like Love, which was long-listed for the 2021 PEN Diamondstein-Spielvogel Award for the Art of the Essay, and Grammar Lessons: Translating a Life in Spain. Her essays have appeared in many literary journals and anthologies, including Best American Essays; WaveForm: Twenty-First Century Essays by Women; Fourth Genre, Ninth Letter, The Normal School, Brevity, and Rusted Radishes. She has received honors and awards from the Rona Jaffe Foundation, the Illinois Arts Council, the MacDowell Colony, and the American Association of University Women, among others. She lives in Chicago, where she teaches creative writing at DePaul University.
Affiliation: Chicago High School for the Arts
Kenyatta Rogers is a Cave Canem Fellow and has been awarded scholarships from the Bread Loaf Writers' Conference. He has also been nominated multiple times for both Pushcart and Best of the Net prizes. His work has been previously published in Jubilat, Vinyl, Bat City Review, the Volta, PANK, and MAKE Magazine, among others. Kenyatta is a lead teacher for the Poetry Foundations Teacher Institute and Chautauqua Institution’s Young Writer Institute. He is a cohost of the Sunday Reading Series with Simone Muench and serves on the creative writing faculty at the Chicago High School for the Arts.
Affiliation: Navajo Tech University
Laura Tohe is the current Navajo Nation Poet Laureate. An award-winning poet, her books include No Parole Today, Making Friends with Water, Sister Nations, Tséyi, Deep in the Rock, and Code Talker Stories that have appeared in the U.S., Canada, and Europe with French, Dutch and Italian translations. Her commissioned librettos are Enemy Slayer, A Navajo Oratorio on the Naxos Classical Music label and Nahasdzáán in the Glittering World with performances in France in 2019 and 2021. Among her awards are the 2019-2020 Academy of American Poets Fellowship, the 2019 American Indian Festival of Writers Award, the Lila Wallace Reader’s Digest Fund Award, the Dan Schilling Public Scholar Award, and she was twice nominated for the Pushcart Award. She is Professor Emerita with Distinction from Arizona State University.
Region: Southern Council Chair
Affiliation: University of Central Arkansas
Stephanie Vanderslice is the author of several books, most recently The Geek’s Guide to the Writing Life: An Instructional Memoir for the Rest of Us. She is professor and director of the Arkansas Writers MFA Workshop at the University of Central Arkansas.