About Us

Why?

2020 marks The Writer’s Garret’s 25th birthday of our trek from a “kitchen table” writers’ group to a full-fledged nonprofit literary arts center. Today, we still serve the visions of those charter trustees, writers and educators who shared the conviction that quality literature, reading, and writing are essential to the health and well-being of all people.

History

In the 25 years since our inception, we have brought the power of the literary arts to over 2 million people. Traditionally, we’ve sent thousands of writers into communities and schools to effect positive change through publications, events, media, and outreach programs that have garnered local, regional, and national recognition: 19 NEAs in 20 years; twice ranked #1 literary project and three times the #1 literary arts organization in the state; the Writers Studio, our acclaimed literary series taped for NPR-affiliates, named both “Best of Dallas” and “Best of Big D”; TEX Magazine, our print literary magazine, in only 5 published issues achieved the highest circulation of any literary magazine in the country.

Goals

The Writer’s Garret’s main goals are to achieve the following through programs and projects that address our mission:

(1) Build a community of readers, educators, and writers that care about the development and dissemination of literature, reading, and writing;

(2) Educate our young to understand, appreciate, and support the impact of literature, reading, and writing;

(3) Provide opportunities for the education and betterment of individuals and communities through enhanced reading and writing skills that cultivate an appreciation of quality literature and critical thinking;

(4) Enable wide and equal access to the stories, letters, and cultural ideas that underscore and challenge our most recognized and cherished ideologies;

(5) Strengthen the infrastructure of educational, literary, and cultural partnerships capable of furthering the impact of literature, reading, and writing.

Mission

To foster the education and development of readers, writers, and audiences, by putting them in touch with quality literature, each other, and the communities in which they live and write.

Impact

Over the years, we’ve served over 2 million readers, writers, children & youth, educators and others, sharing with them the value of reading and writing quality, crafted language.

  • Children & Youth: Longitudinal studies conducted in DISD and through several of our educational partners have demonstrated that young people in our educational programs show “significant” increases in reading and writing skills and testing scores than their counterparts not studying with us.
  • Adult Writers: Many writers attribute their work with The Writer’s Garret as leading to many publications, awards and honors, tours, and faculty appointments.

Board Members

Samantha Keyes
Board President

Samantha Keyes

Samantha Keyes is a strategic marketing and brand executive with 20 years of experience building b-to-b brands. She has worked in various industries, including IT services, energy, consulting, and health care. From developing insight and formulating strategy to creating integrated and targeted campaigns, Samantha creates opportunities for C-suite executives to engage with b-to-b brands. Currently, she is VP of Research, Intelligence, and Solutions Marketing for Vizient in Irving, Texas.

James Johanns
Board Vice President

James E. Johanns

James Johanns is a Dallas-based attorney who focuses his practice on commercial litigation. He has a BA in Mathematics and Comparative Literature with a concentration in the interrelationship of the arts and Spanish literature from Indiana University. James moved to Texas to study law at the University of Texas. He is an alumnus of The Leadership Arts Institute through the Business Counsel for the Arts, and a longtime member of the Dallas Museum of Art, the Nasher Sculpture Center, and several other arts and culture organizations in Dallas.

shashonda porter
Board Treasurer

Dr. Sha-shonda Porter

Sha-shonda Porter has earned a Ph.D in Interdisciplinary Studies, Humanities and Culture; an MFA in Creative Writing; and a BA in Writing Literature. Over the past ten years of her diverse experience, she has taught in a variety of academic settings, including on-campus, online, and low-residency. She currently serves as Associate Dean of World Languages, Cultures, and Communications at Richland College.

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Board Secretary

Starla Patterson

Once a child without the means to go to pricey summer camps and after school programs, Starla Patterson now seeks out charitable opportunities that allow her to help bridge the gap between people in need and the educational programs they want to take part in. As the fundraising chair for The Writer’s Garret who helms annual events such as the Earth Day Book Swap, she is able to combine her professional background in marketing, strong desire to help others, and passion for the arts to help people underserved communities learn to express themselves practically and creatively so that they are understood, valued, and connected to each other.

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Board

Michael Clay

Michael has career experience in a number of areas in Equipment Manufacturing; Forecast Management, Product Management, Field Marketing and Customer Service. He is a poet, the poetry editor for a literary/visual arts website and the co-host of a monthly open mic in Dallas. He has been a featured reader and workshop facilitator with other arts organizations in the community for over 10 years. He combines his business experience and a writer’s personal perspective to serve The Writer’s Garret and those who seek to improve their abilities as artists of the written (and spoken) word.

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Board of Trustees

Mark Noble

Mark David Noble is a writer, videographer, and multimedia developer who enjoys working on poetry, plays and short stories. His work has been published in newspapers, magazines and as lyrics for choral music. He is also a poetry graduate of the C.A.M.P. project at the Writers Garret, and a retired firefighter from the Mesquite Fire Department.

julianne mccullagh
Board Trustee

Julianne B. McCullagh

Julianne B. McCullagh is the author of the novel The Narrow Gate. She is a Mayborn Literary Conference First Place winner and a Writer’s Digest Literary Fiction winner. Her work has appeared in Rose and Thorn Literary Journal, Ten Spurs Journal, and her online series has appeared on Loyola Press. In her involved history with The Writer’s Garret, she has served as Director of the Community and Mentorship Program (CAMP) and as a workshop instructor.

Staff

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Executive Director

Aaron Glover

Aaron Glover’s first chapbook, Bio Logic, was released in February 2017 via INF Press. His poetry appears in the Virginia Quarterly ReviewIllya’s Honey, the Red River Review, Chicon Street Poets, and elsewhere. From 2011-2016, he was on faculty in the Department of Performance Studies at Texas A&M University. As a performer and director, he worked throughout Texas and the Great Plains. He holds an MFA from the University of Houston.

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Program Coordinator

Sherrie Zantea (Candy)

Sherrie Zantea (Candy) has been writing and performing poetry for over 25 years. Candy made the 2007 Dallas Poetry Slam Team, and to date has been on 13 poetry slam teams, the first woman to coach 8 and she is the current CEO of the Dallas Poetry Slam Organization. Candy is one of the Lead instructors for the Literary Arts in the DFW School Districts. She recently created a teaching artist program for Dallas Poetry Slam that partners with youth organizations in the country. In addition to her poetry slam experience, she has added to her resume, Host City Coordinator for the 2017, 2018 and 2020 Host City Coordinator of the Women of the World Poetry Slam, and 2020 International Team Poetry Slam. She now is the program coordinator for the Writer’s Garret.

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Accounting Administrator

M. Grace Kenney

M. Grace Kenney has been with The Writer’s Garret for over 12 years.  A voracious reader, she is a graduate of Tulane University and has a background in corporate and non-profit financials.

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Office Administrator

Gabby Elvessie

Gabby Edwards is a three-time member of the Dallas Youth Poets, now working as head coach for the organization. Recently, she also joined the Dallas Poetry Slam team where she is learning to take her craft beyond the stage. Gabby is fun, loud, energetic, and, above all, dedicated. We are pleased to have this former preschool teacher as our Office Administrator at the Writer’s Garret. 

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