Special Program / Writing Away the Stigma Fellowship (2016)

Writing Away the Stigma Fellows (2016)

We're pleased to introduce our 2016 Writing Away the Stigma Fellows. This spring, the Fellows will take part in a series of writing workshops led by Lee Gutkind, founder and editor of Creative Nonfiction, to tell their true stories of mental illness. In May, they will share those stories during a number of public events in the Pittsburgh area.


Camille Chidsey

Camille Chidsey is a librarian, archivist, and mental health advocate from Detroit, Michigan. She is active in her local chapter of NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) where she serves as the Washtenaw County newsletter editor. She has also given presentations on her experiences with mental illness to support groups, families, peers, and camp counselors.

Chris Collins

Chris Collins is a former Army officer having served in both Afghanistan and Iraq. A poet and nonfiction writer, Chris lives with his wife and two children in Independence, Kentucky.

Heather Kresge

Heather Kresge is a literary and visual artist based in Pittsburgh, Pa. An alumna of the University of Pittsburgh's writing program, Kresge primarily focuses on creative nonfiction, in both traditional and experimental forms. During her undergraduate career at the University of Pittsburgh, she won first place in both Undergraduate Creative Nonfiction Award 2011 and the Alexandra L. Rowan Memorial Foundation Nonfiction Writing Award in 2015.

Molly Krichten

Molly Krichten is a librarian in West Virginia.

Lisa Guttentag Lederer

Curiosity about the world and her place in it has led Lisa through what is, quite possibly, too much school — but it is not studying psychology or philosophy, but writing about her experiences, distilling them into words as best she can, that has kept her grounded. One of her goals now, stemming from personal experience, is to prompt people to think about the relationship between “brain” injury and “mental” health, and to think about what that relationship means for the right way to treat people with neurological injury and disease.

Cynthia McCloud

Cynthia McCloud tells stories. A journalist since 1996, she reports on north-central West Virginia for a business journal and a regional lifestyle magazine. In family scrapbooks, Cynthia features the other characters in her story: David, her high school sweetheart to whom she has been married for 18 years; Arabella, their 12-year-old daughter; and Phoebe, a beagle.

Ainsley McWha

In April 2014, Ainsley McWha moved from New York City, where she lived for over 10 years and worked as a model, to Saint Anthony, Idaho (population: 3,542), where she writes full-time and lives in a house built by her partner’s great-grandparents in 1914. Originally from Nepean, Ontario, Canada, McWha holds a BA in Psychology from McGill University and an MFA in Creative Nonfiction from The New School. In Idaho, McWha takes care of a garden, 2 cats, 2 dogs, 3 chickens, and is always looking to foster some ponies.

Elaine Quinn

Elaine Quinn is 53 years old, married with five children. She has lived in Naperville, a suburb of Chicago for the last 30 years. She graduated from Brigham Young University in 1985 in secondary education specializing in health sciences. She is excited to have a fellowship with Creative Nonfiction in the “Writing Away the Stigma” program.

Mim Schwartz

Mim Schwartz has held a position on the board of NAMI SWPA, National Alliance on Mental Illness, since 2004. She helps facilitate NAMI support groups, and is an active research reviewer for multiple universities. Mim came by all these pursuits through caring for her husband during his illness by studying and reading literature to find resources for treatment.

Rachel Kallem Whitman

When Rachel Kallem Whitman was five years old her kindergarten teacher accusingly asked, "What is going on in your head?" after she caught Rachel using a crucifix as a hammer. Rachel still has no idea but is proud to report that now that she’s in her 30s she is not so easily bullied for her neurodiversity. Rachel abridged: doctoral candidate, educator, advocate, writer, yinzer AF; bipolarity hilarity since 2000.

Cheryl Yang

Cheryl Yang is a 20-year-old writer studying computer science at Carnegie Mellon University. In addition to writing, Cheryl loves to draw pictures and code.


More Information:
About the 2016 ProjectAttend a Free Workshop