Special Program / The 2016 Creative Nonfiction Writers’ Conference (Archived Landing Page)

2016 Conference Presenters

Lee Gutkind

Lee Gutkind is the founder and editor of Creative Nonfiction and a professor in the School for the Future of Innovation in Society at Arizona State University. Even before he was spotlighted in Vanity Fair in 1997 as “the Godfather behind creative nonfiction,” he was the genre's most active advocate and practitioner. He has written and edited nonfiction books about subjects as varied as motorcycle subculture, child and adolescent mental illness, baseball umpires, veterinary medicine, and organ transplantation. His most recent book is You Can’t Make This Stuff Up: The Complete Guide to Writing Creative Nonfiction—from Memoir to Literary Journalism and Everything in Between.

Ellen Ayoob

Ellen M. Ayoob served as the co-director of online education at Creative Nonfiction Foundation and associate publisher for In Fact Books until 2017. She brought to CNF over 20 years of experience with writing and design in both academia and industry. She has an MDes from the School of Design at Carnegie Mellon University.

Jason Bittel

Jason Bittel writes about weird animals for a living. Beautiful animals. Intelligent animals. Animals that eat the eyeballs of other animals. You can find his work at Slate, Fast Company, National Geographic News, onEarth Magazine, and Smithsonian Magazine. In another lifetime, he trapped wild boars for the federal government. Follow him on Twitter (@bittelmethis) or visit his website: www.bittelmethis.com

Jess M. Brallier

Jess M. Brallier currently serves the publishing industry as 1) a media and revenue-agnostic consultant to small, mid, and large publishing houses, and 2) a developer of original IP, both print and animated. His career spans the publishing of narrative across printed books, the web, virtual worlds, and social media. He had his own children’s imprint, Planet Dexter (Penguin) and used the web to establish and launch newly $800M in original IP (Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Big Nate, Poptropica, Galactic Hot Dogs, etc.) He also worked closely with–and was essential to causing bestsellers for–Norman Mailer, William Manchester, William Least Heat Moon, William Shirer, Bailey White, Anne Morrow Lindbergh, and others. Brallier is a frequent speaker at both digital and book industry conferences, has served on the faculty of university-based publishing programs, and is the author or co-author of over 30 adult and children's books.

Jessica Bylander

Jessica Bylander is a senior editor at Health Affairs and editor of the journal’s "Narrative Matters" section of health policy narratives. She also contributes reported pieces to the journal. Prior to joining Health Affairs, she was a reporter covering the medical technology industry for “The Gray Sheet.” Previously, she worked at Dickinson College. She is a playwright and writes frequently for the Washington Post Express. She studied writing and journalism at Johns Hopkins University and Northwestern University.

Nick Courage

Nick Courage is a New Orleans-born writer who splits his time between Brooklyn and Pittsburgh, where he lives with his wife and two cats. His work has recently appeared in The Paris Review Daily, Story, and Full Stop.  He is also a publishing professional with a decade of experience at Big Six publishing houses like Farrar, Straus and Giroux and Picador, working on campaigns for bestselling and award-winning authors including Hilary Mantel, Jonathan Franzen, and Marilynne Robinson. He has worked on the movie tie-ins for Silver Linings Playbook and Limitless, and is the author of The Loudness, a novel about a young man who joins a refugee artists' colony called the Other Side.

Rachel Ekstrom Courage

Rachel Ekstrom Courage is a literary agent at the Irene Goodman Literary Agency working with a range of fiction and nonfiction writers. Before becoming an agent, she worked for over a decade in the publicity departments at St. Martin's Press, Minotaur Books, and Penguin's Dutton and Gotham imprints promoting debut and #1 bestselling authors. Rachel specializes in young adult fiction, crime fiction, and narrative nonfiction. She's particularly interested in themes of nature and wilderness, strong women, psychology, and food. Find out more at rachelcourage.com

Elizabeth Daley

Elizabeth Daley is a New York City native and full-time freelance writer who relocated to Pittsburgh in search of a better life. Her work has appeared in print or online with Reuters, USA Today, The Christian Science Monitor, Quartz, Al Jazeera, GOOD Magazine, Guernica, The New York Observer and numerous San Francisco Bay Area publications. She keeps her master's degree in American Studies under the bed and has been called "brave" by at least two people. Her commitment to journalism began at age 12 when she randomly interviewed the tag-team of Bob Dole and Newt Gingrich. Her bucket list includes writing a billboard. You can find her on twitter @fakepretty

Hattie Fletcher

Hattie Fletcher has been the managing editor of Creative Nonfiction since 2004 and is the co-editor, with Lee Gutkind, of True Stories, Well Told: from the First 20 Years of Creative Nonfiction Magazine.

Lise Funderburg

Lise Funderburg is the author of the bestselling memoir Pig Candy: Taking My Father South, Taking My Father Home, as well as the oral history Black, White, Other: Biracial Americans Talk About Race and Identity. Her writing has appeared in the New York Times Magazine; O, The Oprah Magazine; MORE; the Nation; Prevention; the Chattahoochee Review; and many other publications. Topics include race, community, health, end-of-life care, trashpicking, and food. Lise has worked as an editor for Garden Design, Vogue, and Mademoiselle, and teaches creative nonfiction at The Paris American Academy and the University of Pennsylvania.

David Goehring

David Goehring’s long publishing career has included stints as publisher and general manager at Pearson, Perseus, and Harvard Business Review Press; digital publisher at Wiley; and sales/marketing director at Simon and Schuster and Little, Brown. He has led the entire range of publishing functions, from editorial acquisition and development, to production and design, to sales, marketing, and rights. He has published thousands of authors in fields as diverse as science (Howard Rheingold, Howard Gardner), business (Michael Porter, Clayton Christensen, Gary Hamel), narrative nonfiction (Buzz Bissinger, Melissa Fay Greene), history, music, health, culture, and many other fields. He has led publishing companies through the digital transformation of the past decade, and even created and taught a class about that transformation, called “Amazon, Apple, and Google: Reshaping the Publishing Industry.”

Kevin Haworth

Kevin Haworth is the MFA program director at Carlow University. He spent twelve years at Ohio University, where he taught in the Creative Writing Program and as a seminar leader and one-on-one mentor in the Honors Tutorial College. During that time, he also served as director of the Spring Literary Festival and executive editor of the Ohio University Press, where he helped found the Modern African Writing series. He is the author of the novel The Discontinuity of Small Things and the essay collection Famous Drownings in Literary History, and co-editor of Lit From Within: Contemporary Masters on the Art and Craft of Writing. He is winner of the Columbia Nonfiction Prize, two Ohio Arts Council awards, and fellowships from Headlands Center for the Arts and Vermont Studio Center. His current work-in-progress is a critical biography of the groundbreaking Israeli comics artist and writer Rutu Modan.

Geeta Kothari

Geeta Kothari is the nonfiction editor of the Kenyon Review. She is a two-time recipient of the fellowship in literature from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts and the editor of ‘Did My Mama Like to Dance?’ and Other Stories about Mothers and Daughters. Her fiction and nonfiction have appeared in various journals and anthologies, including The Kenyon Review, Massachusetts Review, Fourth Genre, and Best American Essays. In 2004, she received the David and Tina Bellet Award for Teaching Excellence. In addition to teaching in the undergraduate program, Geeta also directs the Writing Center at the University of Pittsburgh.

Kristin Kovacic

Kristin Kovacic is the co-editor of the anthology Birth: A Literary Companion. A recipient of the Pushcart Prize and other awards for her essays, including the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts Fellowship Award, her work has appeared in magazines, newspapers, and anthologies, including Brain, Child Magazine, Full Grown People, The Southern Review, The Journal, Women's Studies Quarterly, Kansas Quarterly, Cimarron Review, Puerto del Sol, The Tampa Review, and many others. She teaches nonfiction writing at the Pittsburgh High School for the Creative and Performing Arts and at Carlow University. Her book of poems, House of Women, was recently released in the New Women's Voices Series of Finishing Line Press. She lives in Pittsburgh.

Sarah Levitt

Sarah Levitt graduated summa cum laude as a university honors scholar and Founders' Day Award recipient from NYU, where she studied Classics and English literature. Before joining the New York office of Zachary Shuster Harmsworth in 2015, Sarah was as an agent at The Zoë Pagnamenta Agency, where she also handled contracts and foreign rights on behalf of the agency for over five years. Sarah is interested in biography, cultural history, memoir, science, "ideas" books, reportage, and narrative.

Kristina Marusic

Kristina Marusic is a freelance journalist focusing on stories related to LGBT equality, feminism, food politics, social and environmental justice, and the 2016 presidential election. Her reportage and first-person essays have been featured in Slate, Women's Health, AfterEllen, the Advocate, Creative Nonfiction, Flyway and others, and she formerly worked as a full-time staff writer for MTV News. She holds an MFA in Creative Nonfiction from the University of San Francisco and is at work on a memoir. Follow her on Twitter (@KristinaSaurusR) or visit her website: www.kristinamarusic.com/

Maggie Messitt

Maggie Messitt is the author of The Rainy Season, a work of narrative and immersion journalism set in post-apartheid South Africa. Her essays and reportage have been published in Creative Nonfiction, Mother Jones, The Rumpus, and the Southern Poverty Law Center's Teaching Tolerance magazine, among others. Editor of Proximity, a quarterly collection of true stories, Messitt earned her MFA from Goucher College. She is currently working to complete her next book, a hybrid of investigation and memoir, the story of her aunt, an artist, missing since 2009.

Dinty W. Moore

Dinty W. Moore is the editor of Brevity: A Journal of Concise Literary Nonfiction, and author of numerous books, including The Mindful Writer and Crafting the Personal Essay. His work has also been published in The Georgia Review, Harper’s, The New York Times Sunday Magazine, Gettysburg Review, and Utne Reader, among numerous other venues. He is director of Ohio University’s BA, MA, and PhD in Creative Writing program.

Marc Nieson

Marc Nieson is a graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and NYU Film School. His memoir Schoolhouse: Lessons from the Heartland is forthcoming from Ice Cube Press (October 2016) and has been noted in Best American Essays 2012 and excerpted in Literary Review, Iowa Review, Green Mountains Review, and Chautauqua. Recent fiction is in Everywhere Stories: Short Fiction from a Small Planet (Press 53), Museum of Americana, and Tahoma Literary Review. His award-winning feature-length screenplays include Speed of Life, The Dream Catcher, and Bottomland. He serves on the faculty of Chatham University and is fiction and former nonfiction editor of The Fourth River.

Lindsay Patross

Lindsay Patross works in online community building–helping non-profit organizations and businesses engage their online communities to take offline actions. For the past decade, she has been running the award-winning blog, IheartPGH, which has been featured in Pittsburgh Magazine, The New York Times and the BBC. In addition to blogging about Pittsburgh, she has worked with businesses and nonprofits to help them develop a strategy to use digital tools to tell their stories on the internet.

Adriana E. Ramírez

Adriana E. Ramírez is a Mexican-Colombian nonfiction writer, storyteller, digital maker, and performance poet; she is writing a book about her death fantasies, the War on Drugs, and the way we tell stories around violence. Her writing has appeared in the Los Angeles Review of Books, Guernica/PEN, Convolution, HEArt, Apogee, and Nerve.com, and she is the winner of the 2015 Pen/Fusion Emerging Writer’s Prize, which is given to recognize a promising writer under age 35 for an unpublished work of nonfiction that addresses a global or multicultural issue. She teaches at the University of Pittsburgh and is the nonfiction editor of DISMANTLE (Thread Makes Blanket Press).

Shannon Reed

Shannon Reed writes monthly for The New Yorker's "Shouts and Murmurs" department and is a frequent contributor to McSweeney's Internet Tendency. Other credits include the Washington Post, BuzzFeed, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Narratively, Guernica, Kweli Journal, the Glassblock, Poets & Writers, and many more. She is at work on her first novel.

Anjali Sachdeva

Anjali Sachdeva teaches creative writing and English at Carnegie Mellon University, University of Pittsburgh, and the Summer Writing Festival at the University of Iowa, and earned her MFA at the Iowa Writers' Workshop. Her work has appeared in the Yale Review, Best American Nonrequired Reading 2011, and Gulf Coast.

Tracy Wahl

Tracy Wahl is the Executive Producer for Editorial Franchises at NPR, where she develops new approaches to how NPR imagines and creates their highest profile editorial projects–franchises–that focus on a shared idea and draw from almost every division from News to Music to events. In her nearly 20 years at NPR, Tracy has established herself as a champion for innovation in the newsroom. She was among the first at NPR to embrace social media as a way to engage audiences and deepen our journalism through crowd-sourced reporting. She launched Morning Edition's first Twitter account, and led the program's early ventures into multi-platform storytelling. She is passionate about experimentation, and incubating new ideas and talent. Since joining NPR in 1997, Wahl has produced a wide range of radio and multimedia pieces from across the U.S. and around the world. Highlights of her tenure include producing coverage from the Gulf Coast during Hurricane Katrina, reports from north of the Arctic Circle, and coverage from Karachi, Pakistan.

Neil White

Neil White has been a newspaper editor, magazine publisher, and advertising executive. He lives in Oxford, Mississippi, where he operates a small publishing company, writes plays and essays, and teaches memoir writing. He is the author of the memoir In the Sanctuary of Outcasts (Morrow/HarperCollins), about the year he lived with the last victims of leprosy in the continental United States. The book was one of three national finalists for the Barnes & Noble “Discover Great New Writers” Award, and was an Indie NEXT Great Reads Selection.



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