As Associate Director at WITS, he designs creative writing school programs, collaborations with community organizations, and teaching opportunities for creative writers. He is responsible for the organization’s operations, creating and developing relationships with schools, museums, hospitals, and other organizations, internal staff management and communication, writer and staff recruiting, staff training, and managing writers in teaching placements. Jack serves as the WITS representative for many community partnerships and collective impact initiatives, including Arts Connect. One of his true joys at WITS is leading the WITS summer writing camp programs, where students from all areas of the Houston community come together to experience the power of art and writing. 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.
Tamara Al-Qaisi-Coleman is a graduate of the University of Houston with dual degrees in both english and history. She is a biracial Muslim writer and the Marketing Director of Defunkt Magazine. She was, and is, especially interested in the subject of Middle Eastern Studies. She creates in a variety of genres and media. Her fiction publications include “Naming the Stars” in the 10th issue of Scintilla Magazine, “Akhira” in Issue 1 of Paper Trains Journal, “Gallery Blues” published in The Bayou Review: The Women’s Issue. Her essay “Dying as an Immediate but not Permanent Reality in Love in the Time of Cholera” can be found in Glass Mountain, Volume 21. Tamara is also a visual artist, her work has been published in Cosumnes River Journal, and Sonder Midwest Review. She was the creator of Shards Magazine, and maintained chief editorship for the inaugural through the sixth issue of that publication.
After 37 years in public education, Tina Angelo joined WITS in 2012 to serve as Education Director where she provides professional development to teachers at both campus and district levels. Before joining WITS, Tina taught English in several Houston-area districts and served in the Houston Independent School District as both Manager of Adolescent Literacy and Manager of Response to Intervention. She earned her B.A. in history and English from the University of Texas at Austin and her M.Ed. from the University of Houston.
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.
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 society. 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.
Patricia Garcia is a poet and educator from the Twin Cities, Minnesota. With a background in critical race studies and multicultural education, Patricia has coached and taught performance poetry to students in the U.S. and South Korea. She currently resides in Houston, Texas where she organizes youth writing programs for Writers in the Schools. Patricia is the founder of Paper Canopy, a forthcoming online platform for AAPI writers and artists in the south.
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.
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.
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.
Jonathan Meyer is a writer and educator originally from Corpus Christi, Texas. As Development Associate, Jon writes grants, communicates with supporters, and tells the story of WITS. 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 Inprint Donald Barthelme Prize in Fiction, the Coastal Bend Wellness Foundation Prize in Fiction, and other honors and fellowships. His writing has appeared in Gulf Coast, The Switchgrass Review, Into the Void, and elsewhere. Prior to working for WITS, he taught writing and literature at the University of Houston.
Meggie Monahan is the Director of Development & Community Partnerships at Writers in the Schools. Meggie joined WITS 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 oversees fundraising and manages community partnerships, board relations, and national advocacy through the WITS Alliance. When she’s not at WITS, Meggie teaches big-hearted, empowering, and super-sweaty yoga classes at BIG Power Yoga.
Candace Okin joined WITS in 2020 and serves as its Development and Communications Manager. She brings to her role almost 10 years of nonprofit fundraising experience, having raised over four million dollars in public and private support. She earned her bachelor’s degree in Journalism in 2010 and later earned a master’s degree in Psychology.
Michael Stevenson is an Artist, Organizer, and Yoga Teacher from Houston, TX. Michael leads the artist collective, “There Is Enough for Everyone”, a group of artists creating opportunities where there are few for black, brown and minority artists. In 2020 Michael will install, “Pardon Me,” a public artwork funded by the Houston Mayor’s Office of Cultural Affairs and Art League Houston. The work remembers the 124th Infantry of the Buffalo Soldiers stationed at Camp Logan (Present Day Memorial Park) and the Houston Mutiny of 1917. Michael will also begin installing “A Lot A Land,” a public art offering and land beautification project. The series of installations are birthed from the radical imagination of what’s possible if reparations are passed down to rapidly gentrifying communities to restore beauty, belonging and inherent value.