Workshop Leader Bios

Our Workshop Leader Community

The heart of NYWC is our talented and diverse pool of writers and social justice activists. These dedicated members of our community volunteer their time to lead our creative writing workshops. 

Bios of some of our workshop leaders, and descriptions of their workshops are below. 

For any questions, please email us at

Active Workshop Leaders

Dayana Cano
Taller de Escritura Creativa: Palabras en Movimiento
Hi, my name is Dayana. I’m from a small town called Mollendo, in southern Peru. A town where it doesn't matter where you live you always can see the sea. I love universe, neurons, and D&D. I’m a Spanish teacher, and a workshop leader in NYWC for Spanish Speakers. Each story is a heart, and each word on the paper is a heartbeat. We will play with smells, images, sounds, and memories that will help us and our stories to come alive and beat strong. Hola, mi nombre es Dayana. Soy de un pequeño pueblo llamado Mollendo, en el sur de Perú. Un pueblo en el cual no importa donde vivas siempre puedes ver el mar. Me encanta el universo, las neuronas y D&D. Soy profesora de español y líder de talleres en NYWC para hispanohablantes. Cada historia es un corazón, cada palabra en el papel es un latido. Jugaremos con olores, imágenes, sonidos, y recuerdos que nos ayudarán a nosotros y a nuestras historias a cobrar vida y latir con fuerza.
Takiyah Jackson
Generative Virtual Workshops
It took a full lifetime before Takiyah would be able to identify herself as a writer. NYWC helped her find a writing community and so it must be said she is deeply grateful for the opportunity to write with everyone that shows up in one of her workshops- for her - it’s the community and co-creating a safe space to write. Takiyah’s style was born out of a belief in the power of words along with the stories they tell. She often gets her prompts or workshop ideas from texts she’s read and remembered during the course of her healing journey. She receives the honor of being a safe space that allows others to bring their healing journeys to the page. That being said she is a big fan of the workshop guideline “treat the work as fiction”, she “overstands” the importance of ensuring emotional distance between the writer and work - once she perfects that idea into her daily writing practice y’all will undoubtedly begin to see more published pieces from her in addition to the memoir she is writing on both page and in her head: “Riding In Cars With Boys- or How I Almost Raised a misogynoirist “. When not facilitating writing workshops for NYWC and when not writing she is focused on her role as Educator and Manager of the ELA program for a school network in LA, and most importantly as mother to a 19 year finding their way through this beautiful yet tricky world and a dog named Mijo.
Seasoning Through Life's Seasons
hey yall, i go by L (they|them) and identify as a facilitator of otherworldly & revolutionary, healing & storytelling. meaning– my discernment, holistic wisdom, and abundance mindset are nourished and sustained through spiritual practices, revolutionaries, & storytelling AND my joy is to merge these worlds and strengthen practice by facilitating spaces on these premises in my external world, to conduce healing on planet Earth. each of my workshops consists of embodying the rituals of writing through a collective journey of storytelling, co-curated by community. if this feels of calling to you thus far– let’s write about it!
Alison Lowenstein
Write-In Workshops
Alison Lowenstein is a freelance writer and author of guidebooks, children’s books, and plays. Her essays, articles, humor, and short fiction have been featured in publications including the Washington Post, McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, Narratively, Huffington Post, Fiction, Success Magazine, and numerous other publications. She is a lecturer at Hostos Community College. In Alison’s workshops, she invites participants to write in any genre. Alison also works to create a workshop that is nurturing and creatively enriching.
Tasha Paley
Write-In Workshops
Tasha Paley has been a gung-ho NYWC Groupie for many years, first as an avid participant and then as an avid group leader. She leads workshops primarily on Zoom since she travels the world and lives primarily in San Miguel De Allende, MX. She finds this kind of writing to be fascinating and fun and some of her writings have been further developed into plays, poems and short stories. She has used the arts- drama, puppets, play therapy, creative writing, art- in her own personal healing and in the way she most enjoys connecting with others. She has also written and illustrated two Children’s books that can be found on Amazon.
Marcie Wolfe
Generative Virtual Workshops
Marcie Wolfe is a life-long literacy educator and teacher of writing. She has written alongside adults and youth in schools, community-based programs, and universities. Marcie joined NYWC in 2018 after her retirement from Lehman College, CUNY, where she had led an institute focused on literacy education. She was also the director of Lehman’s writing across the curriculum program and consulted nationally for education groups including the National Writing Project. In 2019 she led a memoir series for NYWC at the Kingsbridge Library and, since early 2020, has led a weekly workshop online. Marcie strives to create a workshop space that supports the creativity and courage of participating writers. Prompts in Marcie’s workshops often start with poetry or art. She is particularly interested in the ways in which visual arts can serve as an inspiration for writers, and wanders New York City galleries and museums (and the internet) in search of beautiful and provocative images. A very casual memoir writer and art-maker, her own work mainly explores growing up in Brooklyn or struggling with the complexities of family and aging. She also surprises herself by writing a little flash fiction.
Rhonda Zangwill
14 St Y
I am delighted to be with the New York Writers Coalition. For most of the last ten years I’ve led one of NYWC’s first workshops. It’s for seniors and began 20 years ago. I started with them at the 14Y in the East Village. Now we’re on zoom and this allows us to include writers from as far away as France. One of my favorite things each week is to hear so much variety, so many different responses to the same prompt. Poetry, prose, dialogues, monologues and more, each week brings engaging, surprising and inspiring new work. My own literary history goes way back -- fiction, poetry, personal essays -- some published, some posted, some performed. But maybe the best, most satisfying thing about writing, for me and I hope for those in my workshops, is that it offers a way forward, smoothing the path.
Kip Zegers
Kip Zegers is from Chicago, educated at John Carroll University, Northwestern University, and Union Theological Seminary. He applied for, received Conscientious Objector status, did alternate service from 1969-71, and started in with poetry. He has published widely, most recently The Poet of Schools, 2013; The Pond in Room 318, 2015; and A Room in the House of Time, 2020; all from Dos Madres Press. There are 8 earlier chapbooks and books. He began teaching at Hunter College H. S., a public high school for gifted students, in 1984. In 2018 he was invited to lead a workshop at SAGE that had already been running for ten years. The group had modified the NYWC model by having members write one piece at the first 40 minutes of the workshop. The workshop is for writers over the age of 65.

New Workshop Leaders

Samantha Augustin
As a multimodal artist, Sam is both a Capricorn-flavored Gemini and a New York-native. She likes to think of her writing style as she does her tattoos– unexpected, varied and vivid. Professionally, she works in the recruiting world supporting jobseekers while she prepares for her pivot into TV Writing. When she isn’t honing her screenwriting craft at unspeakable hours, she’s thinking of a master plan to live more freely. Currently, Sam’s creative exploration delves into themes of power, authenticity, and pleasure. She enjoys choosing writing prompts that play at the crossroads of spiritual and scientific, using both to motivate the mind to wonder|wander. Her workshop style delivers a full six sensory experience, leaving participants feeling much lighter & more curious.
Karl Michael Iglesias
Karl Michael Iglesias is an actor, director, and writer originally from Milwaukee, WI’s South Side but has made a home in Brooklyn, NY. His poetry has been featured at festivals such as Brave New Voices, Collegiate Union Poetry Slam Invitational, Hip Hop Theater Festival of NYC (currently HI-ARTS), the Contacting the World Theater Festival in Manchester, England and Dance Theater of Harlem. His poetry can also be read on the Florida Review, RHINO Poetry, Brooklyn Review, Madison Review, Hong Kong Review, to name a few, and has a chapbook available on Finishing Line Press. He has continued his exploration of verse as a part of The BARS Workshop at The Public Theater in New York, where writers/performers develop new verse for the stage, also assistant directing Mobile Unit productions of Measure for Measure and The Comedy of Errors by William Shakespeare. As a director and developer of new work, he has received funding from City Artist Corps and The Kennedy Center. As a teaching artist for over 10 years, Karl has taught students from K-5 - High School and is the former Co-Director for the Storefront Ensemble at the Hunts Point Alliance for Children and former Creative Director for the Office of Multicultural Arts Initiatives at the University of Wisconsin.
Evelyn Katz
The most dangerous woman is an unapologetic funny woman. This is Evelyn F. Katz—a writer whose voice is both humorous and haunting. Her work has appeared in Indolent Books What Rough Beasts, The Voices’ Project, Coffee Shop Poems, Tell Us A Story Blog, Leisure…Dinner with the Muse Vol. III, Nomad’s Choir, First Literary Review East, Prospectus: A Literary Offering, New York Writers Coalition The Journal, BEAT Gen Anthology, Wine Cellar Press and look for her forthcoming poem Remote Learning in the October issue of Wild World Magazine and micro fiction piece Recess in the Spring 22 issue of Dribble Drabble. When she’s not writing, which is much more often than she would like, Evelyn is an assistant principal in a public high school. She is committed to helping students find their creative and academic voices and using their voices to be the agency for change.
Mariah Matthews
Born and raised in Chicago, Mariah Matthews is a natural born connector who constantly finds ways to connect the people, information, and ideas around her. You can find her IRL (because she loves a good #socialmediadetox) on a beach reading a book, asking someone 21 questions, or making her infamous margarita. To date, her celebrity round table would include Carla Harris, Lin Manuel Miranda, Paulo Coelho, Oprah Winfrey, and Jeffrey Wright. Mariah studied Biology in college thinking she was going to be a pharmacist, and now has a thriving career in HR. Changing careers paths was the first time she learned that we all have endless opportunities to begin again, and it's a core value of her writing journey. Journaling and narrative essays are her favorite mediums, and she's been using them to process the world around her since she got her first journal. As a facilitator, she hopes to create a space for participants to take what they need from a session, and leave the rest. She also hopes that if nothing else, they leave feeling connected to a community because we all we got.
Jenika McCrayer
Jenika McCrayer is a Brooklyn writer, powerlifter, gamer, and cinephile. As a horror and Afrofuturism fanatic, Jenika likes to explore the complexities of race and gender through the supernatural in her writing. Her writing on the sociopolitical aspects of the horror genre is featured in Fangoria Magazine, Horror Press, and Gayly Dreadful. When Jenika is not writing, she is reading: she co-runs Bed Stuy Book Club, a space for readers to celebrate BIPOC and LGBTQ+ authors.

Non-Active Workshop Leaders

Michael Cooney
Virtual Public Workshops
Michael offers a welcoming space for every kind of writer. You will be free to experiment with any genre that appeals to you: poetry, fantasy, realistic fiction, creative non-fiction, dialogues. As in the last series, you will have a chance to read poems or short pieces of prose between workshops, and to post your work on a google doc.
Marae Hart
Virtual Public Workshops
I write to explore, express and escape, and find drop-in workshops to be a wonderful space to do just that. My prompts are designed to be the bang! that gets the horses running off to the vast expanses of our creativity. Whether these two hours together offer a break to hit a reset button on the day, or a strong start for a first draft, the goal of each session is to offer participants a sense of belonging and encouragement to be open and ever reaching.
Omayma Khayat
Write-In Workshops
Omayma is a Brooklyn-based poet/writer who steals small moments to write in between mothering and being a project manager in a demanding printing industry. Her writing style is a mix of cultural identity and finding ones voice, her narratives are both demandingly dark and comically morbid.As an introvert pretending to be an extrovert, she starts her workshops with small talk such as finding out each participant’s accomplishment for the week, their mood level and even their favorite moment of the day. Delving into the writing process, she supplies prompts, both written and visual, allowing the participants to choose what brings them energy. The close of the workshop speaks to expectations for the week in writing goals and ends with well wishes for the rest of the day.
John Maney
Virtual Public Workshops
My name is John. Currently I lead a long-standing poetry/creative writing workshop at the Montefiore Wellness Center in the Bronx. It’s open to patients and is designed to work in conjunction with counseling and treatment they receive at the Center, without losing the workshop’s creative uniqueness. My workshop style is to carefully create prompts that capture participants imagination and touch their hearts, in ways that cause them to pause for a moment or two, while they let stew their creative juices, and then they write, followed by time for them to read if they wish to. I try to engender a place that’s inviting to whatever the prompt may bring up in those brave enough to participate.