Jack joined WITS in 2004. He designs creative writing school programs, collaborations with community organizations, and teaching opportunities for creative writers. He is responsible for recruiting, training, and managing writers in teaching placements and leads the WITS summer writing camp programs. Jack has a B.A. in art history and Spanish from Trinity University and a Masters in Nonprofit Administration from the University of Notre Dame.
After 37 years in public education, Tina joined WITS in 2012 to provide professional development to both writers and teachers. Before joining WITS, Tina taught English in several Houston area school districts and also served as the Manager of Adolescent Literacy and Response to Intervention for the Houston Independent School District. Tina earned her B.A. in English and history from the University of Texas and her M. Ed. from the University of Houston. Active members of the Houston Greek community, Tina and her husband Gus have two children, Alexis and Jimmy (both former WITS students).
Bean ranked 9th in the Individual World Poetry Slam in 2012 and appeared at TEDxHouston in 2013. His one-man show “Converse” went to Theatre Row in New York City in November 2013, as part of the United Solo Theatre Festival. Bean coaches the WITS youth poetry program, Meta-Four Houston. He recently co-authored a peer-review article on performance poetry in Children at Risk’s Journal of Applied Research on Children. Bean has taught with WITS since 2010.
Maryann has been a writer-in-residence with WITS since 2008. In the summer of 2015, she joined the program team and works collaboratively to place and support writers, meet with school and community leaders, and manage The Menil Collection and Arboretum projects. She also assists the program team in creating ideas for writer meetings, the WITS Collaborative, and WITS Arts in Medicine. Maryann taught in the Houston Independent School District for 15 years as a classroom teacher and a literacy coach. She has a B.B.A in Accounting from Stephen F. Austin State University, became a Certified Public Accountant, and earned her post-baccalaureate teaching certification from the University of Houston. She studied the teaching of writing at Columbia University’s Reading and Writing Project. Maryann’s essays, poems, and short memoir pieces have appeared in The Sun, Teachers & Writers, Reflections (short personal narratives), M. D. Anderson’s Cancerwise blog, and Untameable City: Poems on the Nature of Houston.
Meggie Monahan is the Director of Community Initiatives & Development at Writers in the Schools. Meggie joined the WITS family as a teaching artist in 2010, and she loves working with the WITS team to amplify the voices and celebrate the stories of Houston’s young writers. Meggie received an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Houston, and her poems have been featured in several journals including Best New Poets, The American Journal of Poetry, Natural Bridge, and Third Coast. Meggie’s work with WITS includes cultivating relationships with community partners, developing new programs, supporting WITS writers and interns, and working nationally with the WITS Alliance network. When she’s not at WITS, Meggie teaches big-hearted, empowering, and super-sweaty yoga classes at BIG Power Yoga.
Patricia Garcia is a poet and former teacher from the Twin Cities, Minnesota. She attended St. Olaf College where she received her B.A. in English Literature and Race and Ethnic Studies. Before moving to Houston, Patricia coached performance poetry and most recently, worked with students at an international school in South Korea. Patricia is passionate about Multicultural Education and utilizing poetry to empower youth. In addition to her work with the program team at WITS, she works as a social justice advocate for the Asian American & Pacific Islander community of Houston.
Loyce Gayo is a Tanzanian born creative, aspiring scholar and teaching artist based in Houston, TX. Gayo’s work is influenced by her experience in the African Diaspora and celebrates the journey of a people dispersed. Gayo was the slam champion of the UT Spitshine poetry slam team who won the 2014 Collegiate Union Poetry Slam Invitational (CUPSI). Her work has been featured on Button Poetry, Write About Now, Badilisha Poetry, Fields Magazine and PBS. She teaches creative writing for Writers in the Schools, Houston and founded a creative writing and performance initiative for East African youths called Paza Sauti.
Tamara Al-Qaisi-Coleman is a graduate of the University of Houston with a B.A. in Creative Writing and a B.A. in Middle Eastern Studies. She is the Marketing Director for Defunkt Magazine. Her fiction, poetry, and art has been published in The Bayou Review, Paper Trains Journal, Scintilla Press, Open Donut, Cosumnes River Journal, and The Sonder Midwest Review. She can be found in one of the many Houston coffee shops hoarding coffee and writing.
Raie Crawford is a Wiley College Alumna from Houston, Texas. As a two-time Houston VIP Slam Champion and 2017-2018 Houston Performance Poet of the Year, Raie is ranked within the top 20 among the Women of the World Poetry Slam and top 25 within the rankings of the Individual World Poetry Slam. In 2018 she released her first book “In Between |Space|” which captures the journey and movement of black bodies in today’s climate. Raie has a deep love for HBCUs. With the firm understanding of the impact communication has on minority communities, Raie created A Conversation for Colored Girls (AC4CG), an organization dedicated to creating a space for minority women to come together and discuss the systemic issues in their communities. This organization has cultivated impactful community conversations at several HBCUs and aims to further reach every HBCU in the US.
Development & Communications Team
Alyssa is an artist and designer from Houston, Texas. She received her B.F.A. from the University of Houston with an emphasis in photography and digital media. In 2012, Alyssa was recognized by the Leigh Bess Boone Foundation for her dedication to the performing and visual arts. Currently, she enjoys making and exhibiting her work and is a contributor to a local zine.
Angela So is a Cambodian-American writer who earned her MFA in fiction from The Ohio State University and BA in English from the University of Houston. Her prose has been published in Glimmer Train, Day One, and The Pinch. Angela has received fellowships from Kundiman and Vermont Studio Center. As part of the WITS team, she writes grants, assists with marketing campaigns, and manages social media.
Jonathan Meyer is a writer and educator originally from Corpus Christi, Texas. He holds an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Houston and a BFA from Emerson College in Writing, Literature, and Publishing. He is the recipient of the 2017 Inprint Donald Barthelme Prize in Fiction, the 2017 Coastal Bend Wellness Foundation Prize in Fiction, and other honors and fellowships. His work has appeared in Gulf Coast, The Switchgrass Review, The Boston Phoenix, and elsewhere. Prior to working for WITS, he taught writing and literature at the University of Houston.
Mimi is excited to be on the WITS team, writing social media posts and coordinating internal and external communications. Originally from New York, she holds a BA in Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies from Yale University and worked with New Haven-based educational non-profits before moving to Houston. In her free time, she loves to hike, climb, and cook.
Angie manages all financial aspects of the organization, including receivables, payables, payroll, budgets, and financial reports. She also oversees the annual audit and tax return preparation. A native of Wisconsin, Angie lives in the Houston area with her husband and two cats.