About Us


In the 27 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: 20 NEAs grants; 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;” and the recipient of the 2018 Community Engagement Award in Fine Arts from the Dallas City of Learning Initiative.


The Writer's Garret connects people through the power of language.

Statement on Diversity, Equity & Inclusion

Implicit in this mission is the desire, and even the need, to work closely with diverse partners, individuals, and suppliers, who provide immediate access to the many communities in our service area. 
The Writer’s Garret values diversity in the variety of personal experiences, values, and worldviews that arise from differences in culture and circumstance.  The Writer’s Garret does not discriminate based on such differences, including race, color, national origin, ethnicity, gender, age, religion, disability, sexual orientation, and / or veteran status.


Safe Workplace & Harassment Policy


The Writer’s Garret is committed to providing an environment that is free of discrimination and unlawful harassment. Actions, displays, words, jokes, or comments based on an individual's gender, race, ethnicity, age, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, or any other legally protected characteristic will not be tolerated. As an example, sexual harassment (both overt and subtle) is a form of misconduct that is demeaning to another person, undermines the integrity of The Writer’s Garret relationship with the individual and the community, and is strictly prohibited.


The Writer’s Garret mission extends beyond the organization to provide services to the public, and its integrity requires that all persons associated with The Writer’s Garret act in a manner that conveys the values of the organization.  Accordingly, The Writer’s Garret prohibits any discrimination and unlawful harassment by any person associated with The Writer’s Garret while representing the organization.


Board Members

Board President

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.

Samantha Keyes
Vice President & Interim Secretary

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.


Jazmine Lewis

Jazmine Lewis has concentrated the past 15 years of her career in youth development working with diverse populations of at-promise children, youth, and young adults from ages 0-21 concentrating in a variety of roles that encompass juvenile justice, literacy, education, social justice, advocacy and after school programming. She holds Bachelor of Arts in English from Grambling State University and plans to complete a master’s degree in Urban Affairs and Public Policy from the University of Texas at Arlington. She also carries multiple certifications including Nonprofit Management from the University of Texas at Arlington, Mindfulness Educator Practitioner from Mindful Schools California, and Mental Health First Aid from the National Council for Behavioral Health. Lewis is also a Trained Program Facilitator in Curriculum-Based Support Groups from Rainbow Days. She is a member of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority Incorporated, Sigma Alpha Iota International Music Fraternity for Women, Steer Fort Worth, B.R.I.D.G.E. (Black Resourceful Innovators Developing Generations of Excellence) Fort Worth, and National AfterSchool Association. She is a Leadership ISD 2016 Fellow and an AmeriCorps Alum.

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Rhiannon R. Martin

Rhiannon R. Martin is an arts administrator and event producer in Dallas, TX. She currently sits on the Board of Directors for Texas Arts Administrators and Educators of Color, Bishop Arts Theatre Center, North Texas Business Council for the Arts (Leadership Arts Alumni Committee Chair), 24 Hour Dallas (Cultural Innovation Committee Chair), and holds a seat on the Steering Committee for the Dallas Area Cultural Advocacy Coalition, Project 826 Dallas Advisory Council, Booker T. Washington HSPVA Arts Council, and is active in the Mayor’s Star Council. She holds a BA in Radio, Television, and Film from the University of North Texas, as well as a graduate certificate in Arts & Culture Strategy from the University of Pennsylvania and National Arts Strategies. She has also earned certificates in Nonprofit Management and Fundraising from the Center for Nonprofit Management.


Joe Milazzo

A Dallas native, Joe Milazzo describes himself as a "language worker." His experience with the written word encompasses marketing (his current profession) journalism, library science, and higher education. He is the author of a novel (Crepuscule W/ Nellie), two volumes of poetry (The Habiliments and Of All Places In This Place Of All Places), and several chapbooks. He is also an Associate Editor for Southwest Review and the Founder/Editor-In-Chief of Surveyor Books.

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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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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.


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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Accounting Administrator

M. Grace Kenney

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

Program Coordinator

Sharon Mansfield

Sharon Mansfield is a non practicing attorney, supermom, and passionate Dallasite. She has shown a high level of commitment to youth development by serving as a scout leader, debate team coach and as a literacy tutor including 2 terms of service with AmeriCorps. She has helped create school-based organizations aimed at building community within schools and their surrounding neighborhoods including an after school writing club for elementary students that became virtual after the pandemic began. She believes that educational equity and access to the arts is the key to making Dallas a city of opportunity for all of its residents.

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