Board of Directors

Laura Cococcia

Laura Cococcia is vice president and chief of staff for global human resources at American Express. Prior to her current role, she led the global HR communications and learning team at Amex, managing the strategic development and execution of employee and candidate marketing and communications.

Previously, Laura served as senior director of communications at Yahoo and AOL leading executive and internal communications, and at Google as a senior manager on the company’s global market development team.In addition, Laura spent six years as a consultant with Peppers and Rogers Group, and earlier, worked at various non-profit organizations leading communications, marketing and education efforts.

Previously, Laura has volunteered for the Afghan Women’s Writing Project, Girls Write Now and Special Olympics.  She has been a contributing writer for various publications, including Thrive Global, HuffPost and Elephant Journal.

Laura has a bachelor’s degree in English from the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Massachusetts and a master’s degree in HR from Cornell University. 


Louise Crawford

Louise Crawford, Secretary

Louise Crawford is the founder of Brooklyn Social Media, a firm devoted to PR and social media for authors, artists and entrepreneurs. Since 2004, she has published the popular Brooklyn blog Only the Blog Knows Brooklyn. She is also the founder of the Brooklyn Blogfest, an annual networking event for bloggers, and Brooklyn Reading Works, a monthly thematic reading series at the Old Stone House in Park Slope now in its ninth year. More



Atiba Edwards

Atiba Edwards

Atiba T. Edwards is the co-founder and executive director of FOKUS. Born on the island of St. Vincent, he grew up in Brownsville, Brooklyn.  After receiving his Bachelor’s in Engineering and a Bachelor’s in Liberal Arts from the University of Michigan – Ann Arbor, he returned to NYC and spent several years working in the Investment Bank division of JPMorganChase and Nomura Securities as a Fixed Income Research Analyst. Atiba currently co-leads a middle school in Prospect Heights where he serves as the Director of Operations. He currently serves on the board of an elementary school.

He also runs FOKUS, a not for profit arts organization that increases public access to the arts and uses the arts to build communities which he also co-founded while in college. Additionally, Atiba is a hobbyists in photography, poetry and DJing.


Marian Fontana

Marian Fontana

Marian Fontana has been a writer and performer for over twenty-five years. Her articles have appeared in The New YorkerVanity Fair, The Guardian and more.

Her memoir, A Widow’s Walk (Simon and Schuster, 2005), was included in People magazine’s Top Ten Great Reads of 2005 and the Washington Post’s Book Raves of 2005. A Widow’s Walk was also on the New York Times best-selling biography list and was nominated for the Books for A Better Life Award.  More



Kaitlyn Greenidge‘

Kaitlyn Greenidge‘s debut novel is We Love You, Charlie Freeman (Algonquin Books), one of the New York Times Critics’ Top 10 Books of 2016. Her writing has appeared in the New York Timesthe Wall Street Journal,, Buzzfeed, Transition Magazine, Virginia Quarterly Review, The Believer, American Short Fiction and other places. She is the recipient of fellowships from the Whiting Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts and other places. She is a contributing editor for LENNY Letter. She lives in Brooklyn,



Susan Karwoska

Susan Karwoska is a writer, editor, and teacher. She is the recipient of a New York Foundation for the Arts (NYFA) Fellowship in Fiction; a Lower Manhattan Cultural Council Workspace residency for emerging artistsa fellowship to Brown University’s MFA program in Literary Arts; and residencies at Ucross and at Cummington Community of the Arts. From 2005-2014 she was the editor of Teachers & Writers Magazine, an award-winning quarterly covering contemporary issues and innovations in creative writing education, and currently serves on its editorial board. She is also a member of the artist advisory board at NYFA. She has written and edited for a variety of publications and organizations and conducts writing workshops in schools throughout New York City. She resides in Brooklyn, New York, and is currently at work on her first novel.


Cherise Lesesne

Cherise Lesesne is a writer and educator. She is dedicated to providing guidance and support to urban education and advocating equality among both public and private education. She was a former education journalist whose work appeared in the following publications, Diverse: Issues in Higher Education magazine, Generation Progress magazine, and CBS’ online newspaper. She has a B.A. from Spelman College where she studied English Language and Literature. Currently, she resides in Brooklyn, New York where she writes short fiction and children’s stories in her spare time.


Brooke MacKenzie, Chair

Brooke MacKenzie is the founder of Achieving Reading—a private tutoring practice specializing in working with students with dyslexia. She writes educational essays and articles that have appeared in such places as Teacher Magazine and Literacy Today, as well as personal essays that have appeared in Nerve Magazine and other places. Her horror fiction was published in Who Knocks? Magazine. Brooke was a Teach For America Corps Member, has a B.A. from Sarah Lawrence College, and a Master’s degree in Language and Literacy from the Harvard Graduate School of Education. She lives in Manhattan with her husband.


Sophie McManus

Sophie McManus is the author of the critically acclaimed novel, The Unfortunates, which was a Barnes & Noble 2015 Great Writers Discover Award winner, shortlisted for the Center for Fiction’s First Novel Prize, long listed for the National Book Critics Circle John Leonard Prize, and named a notable book or must-read by The Washington Post, Entertainment Weekly, Time, Paste, and Time Out (New York). Her work has appeared in American Short Fiction, O, Tin House, The Washington Post, and elsewhere.

She is a recipient of fellowships from the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, the Saltonstall Foundation, and the Jentel Foundation. She lives in Brooklyn and teaches writing in the MFA programs at Sarah Lawrence College and St. Joseph’s College.


Alexis Nixon

Alexis Nixon has over a decade of experience in the publishing industry. She is currently the Assistant Director of Publicity for the Berkley Publishing Group. Alexis began her career as an International Sales and Marketing Assistant for Macmillan Publishers. In 2010, she transitioned to a publicity role for Tom Doherty Associates, LLC and lead campaigns for several science fiction/fantasy, young adult, and mystery/thriller titles under the Tor, Tor Teen, and Forge imprints.

In 2013, Alexis joined the publicity department of the Berkley Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Random House. In her current role as Assistant Director of Publicity, Alexis leads campaigns for all Ace, Roc, and DAW Books titles and has worked with several notable New York Times bestselling authors. In addition to her professional work, Alexis has spent numerous hours as a volunteer for New York City organizations. She was a member of the Board of Directors and a Marketing Committee Chair for Unleashed. Prior to that, she was an Adoptions volunteer at the ASPCA.

Alexis is originally from Florida and has a BA in English from the University of South Florida.

Lauren Sanders

Lauren Sanders is the author of the critically acclaimed novels Kamikaze Lust, which won a Lambda Literary Award, and With or Without You, a Lambda Literary Award finalist. Her most recent novel is The Book of Love and Hate. Lauren’s writing has appeared over the years in publications and journals including Book Forum, the American Book Review, and Time Out/New York. She is also co-editor of a really fun anthology called Too Darn Hot: Writing About Sex Since Kinsey.

For the past three decades Lauren has worked in media and nonprofit communications at such organizations as Teach For America, Lambda Legal and the now-defunct youth news service, Children’s Express. She is currently Managing Editor at The Wallace Foundation, national organization that seeks to improve educational opportunities for low-income children and foster the vitality of the arts. She lives in the great nation of Brooklyn with her girlfriend and her pitbull Maverick. 

Aaron Zimmerman

Aaron Zimmerman founded NYWC based on the success of the workshops he began in April 2000 at The Prince George, a supportive housing community for low-income, formerly homeless and special-needs populations. He has been leading creative writing workshops since 1997 through Manhattan Writers, a writing workshop program he founded. In that time, he has worked with hundreds of writers of all genres, ages and backgrounds. More