Meet the AWP Staff
Cynthia Sherman joined AWP in 2012 as the Associate Director of Conferences & Bookfair Manager. In 2019, as the Director of Conferences, she presided over the Portland AWP Conference, the most successful in the organization’s history. Cynthia has over twenty-five years of experience in meetings and exhibits management. She was awarded the Certified Meeting Professional designation from the Events Industry Council, which recognizes expertise in the meetings industry. She continues to bring her ability to listen, analyze, and lead—thoughtfully and enthusiastically—to her leadership of the organization. Cynthia looks forward to building a more welcoming and inclusive community.
Director of Publications
Supriya Bhatnagar has a Bachelor of Commerce degree from the University of Rajasthan, Jaipur, India, and a BA in nonfiction writing and editing and an MFA in creative nonfiction from George Mason University. Her short stories have appeared in Femina and 4Indianwoman.com. Her memoir, and then there were three..., was published in 2010 by Serving House Books. Essays from this book have appeared in Perigee and Artful Dodge. She is a Pushcart Prize nominee.
Director of Development
Sheila Black was the Executive Director of Gemini Ink, a literary arts center in San Antonio, Texas, prior to joining AWP. Before that, she served as Associate Director of Corporate and Foundation Relations at New Mexico State University Foundation. She is the author of four poetry collections, most recently Iron, Ardent (2017), and has co-edited two anthologies, Beauty is a Verb: The New Poetry of Disability (2011) and The Right Way to Be Crippled and Naked: The Fiction of Disability (2017). In 2012, she received a Witter Bynner Fellowship from the Library of Congress. She holds a BA in French literature from Barnard College and an MFA in poetry from the University of Montana.
Senior System Administrator
Justin Bodnar received his BS in computer science from Wilkes University. Justin joined AWP in 2020. He manages the technical infrastructure and leads the organization in the ever-changing arena of technology. In his free time, Justin enjoys writing music, working on his manuscript, and developing artificial intelligence applications.
Director of Conferences
Colleen Cable earned her MFA in creative writing at the University of Maryland, where she worked as an events planner for the admissions office. She also worked as a program coordinator for Gettysburg College’s Center for Public Service and as a volunteer for the Maryland Writer’s Association. She writes fiction.
Associate Director of Membership Services and Assistant Editor
Kenny Lakes holds a BA in history with a minor in political science from Susquehanna University. Kenny joined AWP in 2013 and has previously held the positions of membership assistant, membership associate, and membership coordinator. He works closely with AWP’s membership, co-facilitates the Writer to Writer mentorship program, and assists with AWP’s digital and print publications. Beyond AWP, Kenny loves to read and watch anything horror-related, cook and eat anything with cumin or cinnamon, and spend time with his poet-editor wife, his four-year-old child, and his orange cat, Rudy.
Director of Communications
Juanita Lester received her MA in Publications Design from The University of Baltimore and completed her BA in Fashion Marketing. Previously, Juanita interned at WHERE, Philadelphia Magazine and Baltimore Magazine. Juanita has worked for a small tech company in Delaware, where she became the first Branding and Communications Manager. She now joins us from healthcare, where she was previously also the first Social Media Director. Juanita has deep rooted love for music and dancing, and she enjoys traveling and spending time with her family. Juanita joins AWP as our first Director of Social Media.
Director of Membership Services
Kathy Ridenhour has earned an MFA in poetry from Minnesota State University, Mankato, and an MFA in screenwriting from The American Film Institute (AFI) in Los Angeles. As well as assisting AWP with creative writing program assessments, data management, promotional campaigns, and member surveys, she manages the AWP In the Spotlight series and reads creative nonfiction for the Writer to Writer mentorship program. Kathy writes poetry, fiction, and screenplays. She is currently working on her young adult novel Vendavel’s Magic Shop and a screen adaptation of Susan Ferrier’s 19th-century novel Marriage entitled Every Starry Light.
Graphic Production Designer
Sara Elbayya graduated from Marymount University with a bachelor's degree in graphic design. While studying at Marymount, she was fortunate to be given the opportunity to design large school publications such as the literary arts magazine and the school newspaper. Before coming to AWP, Sara interned as a graphic designer at the National Air and Space Museum and worked with a Palestinian jewelry boutique called Canava as their graphic designer and social media manager. When she is not designing, she can be found binge-watching Netflix dramas or traveling with her family.
Jesse Fleming is a Chicago-based writer and musician who received her BA in English and her BS in music from the University of Northwestern - St. Paul. She has an extensive background in bilingual education and nonprofit administration, having previously worked for the University of Chicago, the Ounce of Prevention Fund, and the Madrid School of Languages. A former intern for Milkweed Editions and Consortium Book Sales & Distribution, she was named one of Minnesota's Best Emerging Poets by Z Publishing in 2018. She performs with her group Lost Lore and is an enthusiastic advocate for environmental justice and sustainability.
Miranda González holds an MFA from the University of Texas at El Paso. In addition to serving as an outreach liaison and assisting with content management for AWP, she teaches English composition at San Antonio College. She has also worked in the language-learning market, creating and translating educational content and instructing English language learners from all over the world. In her free time, she writes fiction.
Communications Coordinator & Membership Assistant
Jennifer January joined AWP as a social media intern in 2019 and now serves as the Communications Coordinator and Membership Assistant. She holds a BA in sociology from the University of Maryland. Outside of AWP, Jennifer enjoys going on hikes, cooking, binge-watching Netflix, exploring the latest social media trends, and spending time on the water either at the beach or on her family’s boat.
Conference Events Coordinator
Aubrey Kamppila earned her BA in English with a writing concentration and a studio art minor from Gettysburg College in 2018. Before joining AWP, she worked as an editorial intern for the Friedrich Agency, the Gettysburg Review, and the Studio Potter journal. In her free time, she paints, hikes, and writes poetry and creative nonfiction.
Assistant Web Developer
Abhishek Khadka completed his bachelor’s degree with a major in computer science and a minor in mathematics from Truman State University in Kirksville, Missouri. Before joining AWP, he worked as a web developer for Wells Fargo and UBS. He is planning to get a master’s degree in data science and cybersecurity. In his free time, he loves to cook, travel, play guitar, ski, hang out with friends, and play soccer.
Evgenia Kutuzova has earned an AA in business administration from Howard Community College in Columbia, Maryland. Before joining AWP she worked as a bookkeeper for a local medical company and assistant to certified public accountant. She enjoys visiting art galleries and museums, reading nonfiction books, and traveling.
Registration and Diversity & Inclusion Coordinator
Chelsea McLin joined AWP as an intern in 2018 and now serves as the Registration and Diversity & Inclusion Coordinator. She holds a BA in English from the University of San Diego, where she minored in creative writing and ethnic studies. She also received her MA in English with a focus in African American literature at the University of Maryland. Chelsea also worked at UMD's Office of Undergraduate Admissions serving primarily underrepresented students. She enjoys literature that celebrates Black women.
Advertising Manager & Publications Assistant
Sarah Morris received her BA in fiction writing and philosophy from the University of Pittsburgh. She has spent time working as an intern at Saturnalia Books in Ardmore, Pennsylvania, and at The Center for African American Poetry and Poetics in Pittsburgh. Outside of AWP, Sarah spends time working at a local winery, teaching dance classes, and writing poetry and short fiction. You can find her work in Soundings East, among other publications.
Nicholas Skoda is a student of fiction at Spalding University's MFA program. He has worked as a reporter for numerous community news organizations, taught English as a second language in Southeast Asia, and worked as a copywriter for a start-up. He currently teaches reading and writing in St. Louis, Missouri. In his free time, he enjoys watching and writing about soccer, running, learning new things, and visiting St. Louis's many wonderful breweries.