We are a powerhouse of voices that have been ignored or silenced for too long. We are a pipeline of talent into schools and industries in need of different perspectives. As a community, we follow our hearts and—through bold, authentic storytelling—inspire people to open theirs.
WE ARE GIRLS WRITE NOW.
25 Years of Transformative Stories
OUR MISSION & PILLARS
multi-genre, multimedia curriculum for today’s world
community & relationships are at the center of all we do
reparative justice means centering repressed voices
a healing-focused approach to learning in brave spaces
WE CHAMPION DIVERSE PERSPECTIVES
Girls Write Now serves a culturally and educationally diverse community of women-identifying, trans* and gender-expansive youth and young adults (mentees)—90% of color, 90% high need, 75% immigrant or first generation and 25% LGBTQIA+/gender-expansive.
These teens, who have long been systemically deprived resources and opportunities in public schools, face significant challenges to educational and professional success. Unfortunately, in our city and our country, girls and gender-expansive teens of color are rarely given the guidance, care and support they need to gain confidence in their talents and accomplishments, graduate from high school and access viable college or career opportunities, perpetuating cycles of poverty and disempowerment.
Girls Write Now is uniquely positioned to help correct these longstanding inequalities.
Girls Write Now consistently demonstrates that our approach is effective in increasing the rate of success experienced by young women and gender-expansive youth who face systemic inequality and injustice.
Social Emotional Learning
100% of mentees experience an increase in positive identity—while gaining a mentor for life to help keep that confidence.
Mentees publish in the New York Times, Teen Vogue & Buzzfeed, among other outlets.
Contests, Scholarships & Awards
Mentees win hundreds of honors and financial support for college.
100% of our seniors go to college.
Job & Internship Placements
We place mentees at companies in publishing, entertainment, media, technology & more.
Girls Write Now writing and mentoring programs are rooted in social-emotional learning. Research shows that when young people succeed in these capacities, they also achieve long-term outcomes such as improved academic performance and decreased negative risk-taking behaviors.
A TRACK RECORD OF SUCCESS
Girls Write Now is proud to have been honored…
2x by the White House as one of the nation’s top youth programs
2x by the Nonprofit Excellence Awards as one of New York’s top 10 nonprofits for management
By Youth INC for Youth Innovation
By Melinda Gates’ The Upswing Fund for Adolescent Mental Health
As a Diane von Furstenberg People’s Voice Nominee
By NBCUniversal’s 21st Century Solutions for Social Innovation
Meet Our Team
Samantha Arriozola (she/her/hers) is a Chicana writer and youth worker from the Chicagoland-area. She has spent the past seven years working within nonprofit spaces and community centers in Madison, WI and NYC. Sam received her B.A. in English-Creative Writing as a proud member of the 8th Cohort of First Wave — a Hip-Hop and urban arts full-tuition scholarship program at UW-Madison, centering the pursuit of higher education with arts, academics, and activism. Sam is a poet with roots in the world of spoken word poetry and slam, a background which has carried over in coaching young spoken word artists to compete in the Brave New Voices International Youth Poetry Slam Festival in 2017 and 2018. Most recently, Sam has been working with Writopia Lab as a private tutor, workshop instructor, and even went to camp for the first time since she was 10 this past summer. Sam’s poetry has been published in Pinwheel Journal (2018) and Cutthroat Journal: Contemporary Chicanx Writers Anthology (2020). Sam lives in Queens with her human and plant roommates, editing both her own and fellow writers’ work with chamomile tea. She is a current fellow at Girls Write Now.
Creative Marketing Director
Storytelling is in Chelle’s DNA. Chelle (Rochelle)’s imagination is the lens through which she experiences the world. Like many children, life obtruded upon her dreams, and bit by bit, she forgot them. Her stories never forgot her. In the wake of a career as an HR executive, she evolved into perhaps the world’s most reluctant stay-at-home mom. She raised two children, trained a beloved boxer puppy, and in quiet moments, listened to the muse. She returned to writing and hasn’t stopped. A linguaphile and lover of the oxford comma, anything, in the form of a story can engage, inform, and delight. A grateful steward of Girls Write Now’s emerging creatives, she commits to never let any writer ignore a siren’s call.
Terence joins the Girls Write Now team with 20 years of experience in Development in the nonprofit arts and culture sector of New York City. He has stewarded grant portfolios for a range of arts organizations—theatre, dance, music, museums—and arts & culture education initiatives. He is a transgender male and a creative writer, playwright, arts critic, storyteller, occasional performer and experimental scribe. He has written many trans- and queer-themed plays and short fiction. His short story, “Tomboy of the Western World,” appeared in the Lambda Award–winning anthology, “The Collection” (Topside Press). His debut, a full-length work of experimental narrative, BIG PINK MEAT, was released in Fall 2019. A pandemic-delayed book tour is in the works to trans/GNC spaces around the country.
Special Initiatives Assistant
Spencer George is a Writer and Teaching Artist hailing from the Carolinas. She holds a B.A. in English and Human Rights with a concentration in Creative Writing from Barnard College and is pursuing her M.A. in Folklore at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Her work focuses on narrative representations of the rural South and has been published in The Bitter Southerner, The Adroit Journal, Longreads, and Medium, and once received a shout-out in the The New York Times. Spencer was the 2019 recipient of the Peter S. Prescott Prize for Prose Writing. She is the creator and writer of GOOD FOLK, a weekly newsletter about the people and stories of rural America and the American South. In addition to her work at Girls Write Now, she serves as a Teaching Artist in rural North Carolina schools and is currently pitching her debut novel, Loblolly, which tells the story of two young women as they travel across the Southeast in search of a mysterious man who appears only in dreams and the individuals who worship him.
Community Manager, Writing Works
Margery Hannah excitedly joins Girls Write Now after several years in program development and management within the nonprofit sector. An ardent supporter of education, Margery has experience teaching K-12 English throughout NYC. She holds a bachelor’s degree in English, Literature, and Ethnic Studies from Wichita State University, where she received multiple scholarships and English departmental honors; an MFA in Creative Writing and Literature from Stony Brook University; and an MA in Aging Studies from Wichita State University. She is a McNair Scholar alumna whose scholarly research helped propel financial literacy course requirements for Kansas high school graduates. Passionate about writing, Margery worked as a ghostwriter for many years; currently she keeps a multi-genre blog called The Literary Purveyor.
Community Manager, Writing 360
Jesse Jagtiani is an artist and educator of Indian-German descent. She holds a Doctor of Education in Art & Art Education from Teachers College, Columbia University, an MFA in Studio Art from the School of the Museum of Fine Arts at Tufts University, and an undergraduate degree in Visual Communications from the University of Arts, Berlin. In her past, Jesse co-founded and co-managed a video production company, served as the director of a media art studio, helped establish an online school for contemplative studies, and taught digital art classes and spiritual art workshops in academic and non-academic settings. Jesse’s research investigates the formative dimensions of intuition and is based on bridging indigenous wisdom, perennial philosophy, and modern science for a greater balance of the intuitive and the rational mind in Western education. Jesse has presented her research at various conferences, such as the College Art Association Conference (CAA) and the National Art Education Association Convention (NAEA) and her writings are published in a variety of literature, such as the book Developing Informed Intuition for Decision Making and the journal Visual Inquiry: Learning and Teaching Art. She currently serves as an Editorial Board Member for the Journal of Art Education Pakistan. Jesse is passionate about supporting emerging teen & young adult writers and leaders on their creative, academic and career pathways.
Vahni Kurra (she/hers) hails from disparate parts of the American Midwest with roots in Southern India. She recently earned a B.A. in English and Creative Writing from Kenyon College, where she co-edited Hika, Kenyon’s oldest, student-run literary magazine. Vahni’s work centers on themes of displacement, and her personal essay, “Banana Republic,” was published in Oyster River Pages. She is currently the book review editor for Sweet: A Literary Confection. Vahni has always been a strong advocate for the rights of women and trans* folks, as she has interned for NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio and helped facilitate a peer support program for Kenyon students impacted by sexual assault. Vahni is excited to blend her passions for gender equality and creative writing as she works with Girls Write Now to ensure that all mentees have the same opportunities that she did to pursue their artistic and personal dreams.
Development & Operations Manager
Kelsey LePage comes to Girls Write Now with great experience from administration and fundraising to developing curriculum and teaching youth. She has worked in creative, educational, and humanitarian settings serving local communities — at YMCA, Playworks, and most recently in sales and event management at NY Kids Club. Originally from New Hampshire, Kelsey enjoys hiking, kayaking and would be perfectly happy getting lost in a museum or library for a day. She is excited to be starting a new life in a new city and to be sharing her passions with the Girls Write Now team.
Director of Special Initiatives
Molly MacDermot found the teen years hard until she discovered books and a diary, which she wrote in daily. She thanks Charlotte Brönte and Harper Lee for paving the way. Molly served as Editor-in-Chief of five national magazines, including J-14, the #1 teen entertainment magazine in the US. She conceptualized and managed several teen websites and their social media components. Molly is a regular columnist, consults as a media strategist and has written five young adult books. Molly was featured in The New York Times, Adweek, Mediaweek, and Folio, and has appeared on MTV, Vh1, Inside Edition and several morning television shows to talk about pop culture and the youth market. Molly started her career at The New Yorker, and previously worked at Marie Claire (Australia) and Redbook.
Natalie McGuire is dedicated to helping clients achieve business success by helping them establish practical and sound tax and financial processes. Focused and specializing on services for small to medium sized nonprofit organizations, she is committed to delivering tax and financial services that meet each client’s unique objectives. Natalie is an innovative and driven accounting professional with over 10 years of accounting experience. Natalie has expertise in providing accounting, diverse tax services (including individual, corporate, partnership, nonprofit income tax returns, sales tax, commercial rent and payroll tax reports) and auditing of non-profit entities. Natalie has a Master of Science degree from Brooklyn College in Accounting and a Bachelor of Business Administration in Accounting from Baruch College.
Community Manager, Publishing 360
Emily Mendelson comes to Girls Write Now with a love of writing, meaningful experience developing curriculum for nonprofit organizations, and a long-held belief that there is no limit to the ways that people can express their thoughts and ideas. She holds an MFA in Creative Writing from The New School and is excited to share her passion for stories in all forms as a member of the Girls Write Now team.
Salesforce and Systems Project Manager
Elmer Meza earned his BA in Economics from Dartmouth College in 2010. After graduation, he spent a year studying Mandarin Chinese at Fudan University in Shanghai. Elmer began his career as an Americorps VISTA member at New York Cares where he helped to build a local volunteer base for select NYC public schools. Since then, he has focused on technology and data management at Prep for Prep, Oliver Scholars, Delivering Good and most recently at The Brotherhood Sister Sol.
Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Advisor
Sheena Daree Miller (she/they) is a writer based between Brooklyn and South Florida. Her writing has been published, or is forthcoming, in Ms. Magazine, The Rumpus, Zone 3 Press, Split Lip Magazine, Autostraddle, Taco Bell Quarterly and elsewhere. Their writing has graciously been supported by The Seventh Wave, Aspen Words, Columbia Journalism School, and St. Nell’s Humor Writing Residency for Ladies. Sheena was a 2021 Margolis Award finalist and the recipient of the Dave Family Humor Studies Award. In her faculty development role at The New School, she facilitates workshops and develops resources to support both new and returning instructors in teaching for equity and inclusion. She is a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Advisor for Girls Write Now.
Founder & Executive Director
Maya Nussbaum has grown Girls Write Now over the last two decades from a loose association of women writers into a dynamic, volunteer-powered community, and a nonprofit after school program distinguished by the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities as one of the top 15 in the nation, by the Nonprofit Excellence Awards as one of New York’s top 10 nonprofits, by Time Out New York as one of the best places to volunteer, and by Youth INC with the Innovators Award for improving the lives of New York youth. Maya has been named one of the Top 40 Feminists under 40 by The Feminist Press, one of the Top 20 Philanthropists under 40 by The Observer, a Local Hero by Metro New York, an Education Hero by The New York Times, a Diane von Furstenberg (DVF) People’s Voice Nominee, and a 2016 White House Champion of Change.
Erin O’Connor joins the team as a fellow after graduating from the University of Vermont with a Bachelor of Arts in English. During her time at UVM, Erin worked as a reporter for the Community News Service, a student-run news organization providing coverage to small Vermont towns. Prior to joining Girls Write Now, Erin worked as a Communications Consultant for John Snow Incorporated. During her free time, she can be found practicing yoga, making a mess in the kitchen, or curling up with a good book.
Daniella Olibrice is a native New Yorker who enjoys exploring the city’s many facets—its arts, foods, nature, neighborhoods, and people. She comes to Girls Write Now after having been involved in and managed capacity building, workforce development, mentoring and academic programs at universities and non-profit organizations in New York. Her passion for education started in college when she worked with the Cooper Union Saturday Art Program, an afterschool program targeted to students from NYC high schools who were underrepresented in the visual arts and architecture. Daniella has taught as an adjunct professor with State University of New York and City University of New York for several years. In the teaching and mentoring roles she’s held, what she has enjoyed most is the nurturing of the talents she sees in others. Although her first mode of expression was visual (drawing, collage, photography, etc.), she has always been an avid reader, and in the last few years has been exploring different writing genres such as memoir, short stories, and poetry as part of her artistic practice.
Senior Community Coordinator
Lisbett Rodriguez is a Senior Community Coordinator at Girls Write Now. She was previously a Girls Write Now mentee alumna and graduated from Brooklyn College with a Bachelor of Arts in English. As an undergraduate student, she contributed to producing two publications of the Brooklyn College literary magazine, The Junction which provided her with the tools to support in producing the annual Girls Write Now anthology. She’s passionate about work that centers and uplifts women and has previously worked with two other women’s organizations, Legal Momentum and the Brooklyn College Women’s Center. In her free time, she enjoys watching feel-good shows, spending time with friends and playing video games.
Director of Curriculum & Engagement
Erica Silberman fell in love with Girls Write Now when she group-taught a playwriting workshop for them in 2005. Through the years, she has stayed involved with the organization as a mentor, a teacher in various outreach programs, and a member of both the Program Advisory Committee and the Host Committee. Erica has an extensive and wide-ranging background in the theatre as an actress, playwright, director, teacher, acting coach, and producer, as well as experience in the design world. She formerly served as co-president of the Women in the Arts and Media Coalition and on the board of the League of Professional Theatre Women. Erica is a member of the Dramatists Guild of America and the Dramatic Question Theatre, where she runs a monthly literary and music salon.
Senior Editorial Manager
After several years of volunteering as a photographer, Richelle Szypulski is thrilled to share her love of storytelling and strategy in service of the Girls Write Now mission. A journalism graduate of Point Park University and NYU’s Summer Publishing Institute, she has worked in marketing and editorial—most recently as a digital editor at Travel + Leisure. Outside of work, you’ll often find her frequenting yoga, dance and meditation studios around the city, rehearsing for community theater productions or missing her subway stop yet again thanks to a too-enthralling audiobook.