Our People

Board of Trustees

Samantha Keyes

Board President

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.

Dr. Sha-shonda Porter

Board Vice President

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.

Jeanne Devine

Board Secretary

Jeanne Devine is a Counsel with the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, specializing in interpretation and application of banking and consumer laws and regulations. In her spare time, she represents actors, directors and producers in the motion picture, television, and stage industries. Jeanne received a Bachelor of Arts degree in French from the University of Michigan, and a Master of Arts degree in French and International Trade from Eastern Michigan University. She earned her Doctor of Jurisprudence degree from the University of Texas, where she was Articles Editor of the Texas International Law Journal and a writing instructor for incoming minority law students. Jeanne has previously been on the Board of Directors of literary organizations, theaters, and acting societies. As an avid reader and published author, she has a strong interest in the literary field and is proud to support The Writer’s Garret.

Sam Garrett


Sam is a business and technology lawyer with Grable Martin Fulton PLLC, the largest virtual law firm in Texas. After getting a BA in Literature and a law degree, he worked in Atlanta for civil rights judge Albert John Henderson, then practiced law in New York, London, and Virginia, coming to Dallas in 2005. He has written weekly articles for Bloomberg and served as an executive officer and general counsel for an NYSE software company.

Ford W. Harmon

Board Trustee

Ford is an attorney for Maddrey PLLC – a law firm with a focus on creative-minded clients – such as startups, entrepreneurs, artists of all mediums (including writers), and nonprofit organizations. He primarily conducts transactional work, focusing much of his practice on startup law, contract law, intellectual property law, and general business law.

Outside of work, he has taken on an active role on several committees of the Dallas Association of Young Lawyers and also volunteers with the Genesis Women’s Shelter and Texas Accountants and Lawyers for the Arts. He previously served as a Board Trustee for the SMU Media Company, an independent 501(c)(3), which owns, operates, and produces SMU’s campus newspaper. He is avid reader, and he considers writing to be both one of his favorite hobbies and forms of meditation.

Prior to becoming an attorney, Ford received a B.S. in Business Administration with a Concentration in Entrepreneurship from LSU before earning his J.D. from SMU’s Dedman School of Law.

Wei Wei Jeang

Board Trustee

Wei Wei Jeang is a Co-Founder of Women in IP, served as President of the Dallas Asian American Bar Association, Chair of the Diversity Task Force for the State Bar of Texas Intellectual Property Section, and Co-Chair of the Continuing Legal Education Committee for the 2004 National Asian Pacific American Bar Association Annual Convention.

She is also active in the community. She is a past Chair of DFW Asian American Citizens Council, and is also on the Executive Committee and Board of The Dallas Women’s Foundation, on the Boards of the Taiwanese Chamber of Commerce of DFW and Greater Dallas Asian American Chamber of Commerce, and The Writer’s Garret, and is a member of the Dallas Summit and Diversity Connection Consortium. Wei Wei recently served on the Boards of The Dallas Museum of Art and North Texas Public Broadcasting – KERA.

She is a frequent speaker on the topic of Implicit Bias, having most recently spoken on this subject at the Dallas Bar Association Minority Attorney Program conference, Asian Pacific Interest Section of the State Bar of Texas Annual Retreat, Minority Attorney Program at the State Bar of Texas Annual Meeting, and Diversity Connection Consortium Summit.

Wei Wei has a Bachelor of Science degree in Computer Engineering from the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign, and a Juris Doctorate degree from Southern Methodist University Dedman School of Law.

James E. Johanns

Board Trustee

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.

Starla Patterson

Board Trustee

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. She is passionate about giving all people the same opportunities regardless of their background, wealth, or experiences. At The Writer’s Garret, she is able to combine her professional background in marketing, a strong desire to help others and a passion for the arts to help at-risk people learn to express themselves practically and creatively so that they are understood, valued, and connected to each other and their communities in a meaningful way.


Michael Clay

Co-Exeuctive Director

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.

Aaron Glover

Co-Executive Director

Aaron Glover’s first chapbook, Bio Logic, was released in February 2017 via INF Press. His poetry appears in the Virginia Quarterly Review, Illya’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.

Thea Temple

Executive Director and Co-founder

Thea Temple has shepherded The Garret’s growth from a local writers’ group to a nationally recognized literary center, which has directly served over 1.8 million readers and writers since 1994. A published writer, she received her MFA from Indiana University where she won a scholarship to study with the late Andre Dubus. She served on university creative writing faculties in Indiana, Ohio, and Kentucky before joining the National Endowment for the Arts Literature Program, 1991-93. This special appointment introduced her to the world of arts administration and the impact of literary centers on local communities. Since that time, Temple has served as Treasurer of AWP; organized and facilitated literary task forces for the Southern Arts Federation; developed statewide partnerships in Texas to encourage collaborative programming; and served on literary commissions, panels, and task forces locally, regionally, and nationally.

M. Grace Kenney

Accounting Administrator

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.

Audrey Turner

Program Coordinator

Audrey Turner is an enthusiastic leader of young people of all ages to write thoughtfully and creatively, exploring their ideas with pen and paper. She employs various writing styles and techniques to make young writers blossom. In workshops, she creates a writing activity around a specific book or poem that involves the young writer looking at the subject in a way that directly affects them. These lessons are filled with fun and creativity for young people of all ages!

Emmy Piercy

Office Administrator

Allison Emmaline Piercy graduated from the University of Texas at Arlington in 2016 with a BA in English and Creative Writing. She has served as a writing consultant for her university, an outdoor science educator for Dogwood Canyon Audubon Center, and a reading intern for Massie & McQuilkin Literary Agents. She now works as Office Administrator for The Writer’s Garret and performs poetry among the Dallas literary community.


Logen Cure


LOGEN CURE is a published poet, who earned her MFA from the Univ. of North Carolina at Greensboro, who teaches creative writing at Tarrant County Community College. She is the author of three chapbooks: Still (Finishing Line Press 2015), Letters to Petrarch (Unicorn Press 2015), and In Keeping (Unicorn Press 2008). Her work also appears in Word Riot, Radar Poetry, IndieFeed: Performance Poetry, The Boiler, and elsewhere.

Tamitha Curiel

Poetry, Theatre, Video

Tamitha Curiel is an actor, writer and educator. She has performed most recently in “Palabra, The Written Word Spoken,” with Echo Theatre in Isabella Russell Ides’ “The Early Education of Conrad Eppler” and Sound Culture’s “She Bike Spoke Love.” She enjoys performing spoken word with her trumpet-playing husband in the avant-garde jazz band Swirve. She is the mom to three amazing adult children, Chaz, Caleb and Chloe. She is currently the IB Film Instructor at The Alcuin School .

Sanderia Faye


Sanderia Faye was born and raised in Gould, Arkansas. She is the author of Mourner’s Bench (University of Arkansas Press, September 2015). Her work has appeared in various literary journals and in Arsnick: The Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee in Arkansas, edited by historians Dr. Jennifer Wallach and Dr. John Kirk. Faye is co-founder and fellow at Kimbilio Center for Fiction. She moderated a 2015 AWP panel and the grassroots panel for the Arkansas Civil Rights Symposium during the Freedom Riders 50th Anniversary. She is a recipient of awards, residencies, and fellowships from Hurston/Wright Writers Conference, Eckerd College’s Writers in Paradise Conference, Callaloo Writers Workshop, Vermont, Writers Studio, The Writers’ Colony at Dairy Hollow, and Martha’s Vineyard Writers Residency. Faye is also a PhD student in English at North Texas University. She received an MFA in Creative Writing from Arizona State University, and a BS in Accounting from the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff. She was an instructor for The United States Navy-Navy College Program for Afloat College Education (NCPACE).

Joshua M. Folmar

Instructor, Writing Over War

Joshua Folmar is an artist, educator, and combat veteran. An Alabama native, he enlisted in the Marines while enrolled at the University of Alabama, serving as an infantryman in Operation Iraqi Freedom. He co-founded the Capstone’s Campus Veterans Association and helped drive the efforts toward creating a Military and Veterans Services department. After being honorably discharged, Joshua received his MFA in Writing from the University of New Hampshire, where he was awarded the Young P. Dawkins III Endowed Prize in Creative Writing for his poetry thesis, Here We Rest. Joshua is the 2014 recipient of the Richard “Dick” Shea Memorial Award in Poetry, and his work appears in such anthologies as Mark My Words and Liver of Dixie: Stories from Egan’s, as well as the publications Permafrost, DewPoint, and Marr’s Field Journal, among others. When he is not instructing classes for Writing Over War, Joshua is a writing specialist at Southern Methodist University and serves as Associate Poetry Editor of the Saranac Review. He resides in Dallas with his wife and two rescue cats.

Allison Hedge Coke

Poetry, Mentoring

American Book Award winner, Allison Hedge Coke, is the author of Dog Road Woman and Off-Season City Pipe (poetry); Rock Ghost, Willow, Deer, a memoir;Blood Run, a verse-play; and most recently, Streaming. Hedge Coke has edited eight additional collections, including Sing: Poetry of the Indigenous Americas andEffigies. A Native American writer who has heavy personal roots in both Oklahoma and Texas, she has cropped tobacco, worked fields, waters, and factories–and the many truths learned through these experiences have all impacted her writing and her readers.

Don Helin

Fiction, Veterans

Using his experience from the military, including eight years in the Pentagon, Don Helin’s first novel, Thy Kingdom Come, was released in 2009. His second, Devil’s Den, was named a Finalist in the 2013 Indie Book Awards. His thriller, Secret Assault was selected as the best suspense/thriller at the 2015 Indie Book Awards. His next thriller, Angel’s Revenge, will be released in May 2016. Don is an active member of International Thriller Writers, Mystery Writers of America, Military Writers Society of America, and Pennwriters, a statewide writers group in Pennsylvania. He makes his home in central Pennsylvania.

Lisa Huffaker

Poetry, Zines

Lisa Huffaker is a poet, musician, visual artist, and teacher, who channels her wide range of abilities into ambitious efforts with a focus on community and interaction.  Her latest project, White Rock Zine Machine, offers tiny handmade books by local writers and artists, sold in beautifully repurposed vending machines.  Lisa’s poems have appeared in such journals as Southwest Review, Poet Lore, Able Muse, Southern Humanities Review, and many more.  She won the Morton Marr Poetry Prize, and has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize.  She teaches creative writing and zine making through the Writer’s Garret, and presents monthly creative writing adventures at the Nasher Sculpture Center.  Her Zine Camp at Oil and Cotton won a “Best of Dallas” award from the Dallas Observer.  Lisa is a classical singer by training, and sings with the Dallas Opera.

Leila Levinson

Creative non-fiction, Veterans

Leila Levinson is an expert on trans-generational trauma. Her five-year research project spanned the National Archives in Washington, DC, studying photos and taped interviews with veterans, to Holocaust museums the world over, to the homes of seventy veterans themselves, where she received first-hand accounts from Nazi camp liberators and their families.

A freelance commentator on cultural issues, Levinson has appeared on CNN, and her work has been published in The Washington Post, The Austin American Statesman, The Texas Observer, WWII Quarterly, and War, Literature, and Art.  Levinson has led writing workshops for veterans and their spouses in Austin over the last three years. The daughter of a World War II veteran, she teaches writing and a literature of the Holocaust course at St. Edward’s University in Austin. Her book,Gated Grief. was a finalist for the 2013 Texas Nonfiction Book Award and won the 2011 President’s Award from the Military Writers Society.

Jack Woodville London


Jack Woodville London is an acclaimed author, historian, and trial attorney. Honored as Author of the Year, MWSA 2011-2012, and winner, Indie Excellence Award, 2013, he is the author of the award-winning French Letters fiction series. His non-fiction book on the craft of writing, A Novel Approach, was published in 2014. Jack shares his love of writing with presentations and lectures at writing conferences throughout the United States and abroad.

Joe Milazzo

Fiction, Poetry, Publishing

Joe Milazzo is a writer, editor, educator, and designer. He is the author of the novel Crepuscule W/ Nellie (Jaded Ibis Press) and The Habiliments (Apostrophe Books), a volume of poetry. His writings have appeared in Black Clock, Black Warrior Review, BOMB, The Collagist, Drunken Boat, Tammy, and elsewhere. He co-edits the online interdisciplinary arts journal [out of nothing], is a Contributing Editor at Entropy, and is also the proprietor of Imipolex Press.

Karla K. Morton

Poetry, Cancer Support Community

Karla K. Morton, the 2010 Texas Poet Laureate and a member of the Texas Institute of Letters, has been described as “one of the more adventurous voices in American poetry” and has been featured on Good Morning Texas, NPR, ABC News, CBS News and in countless newspapers, blogs and magazines.

As the first female Texas Poet Laureate in nearly 20 years, Morton created the Little Town, Texas Tour. As part of the tour, she has traveled across the state, sharing her poetry and love for the arts with high schools, universities, arts organizations, bookstores, conference attendees and more.

Robin Myrick

Fiction, Grant-writing, Non-fiction, Poetry

Robin Myrick is a writer, visual artist, and educator based in Dallas, Texas. She also spent two decades in the nonprofit world, working as a consultant, grant writer, and program manager. She holds an MFA in Writing and Critical Studies from California Institute of the Arts, and is completing her doctorate in Aesthetic Studies at UT Dallas. She has also taught creative writing at UT Dallas, and through the Community Arts Partnership at Calarts. She is currently a contributing editor at Entropy magazine, and she teaches at Collin College.

Ruth Pennebaker

Fiction, Essay, Young Adult

Ruth Pennebaker has written adult fiction (Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakthrough, 2011) as well as three highly acclaimed young-adult novels, Don’t Think Twice, Conditions of Love, and Both Sides Now. Her essays and articles have appeared in The New York Times, Texas Monthly, The Dallas Morning News, ParentsRedbook, McCall’s,Cooking Light, and other nationwide publications. Her most recent work is a collaboration with artist/cartoonist Marian Henley on Pucker Up! The Subversive Woman’s Guide to Aging with Wit, Wine, Drama, Humor, Perspective,and the Occasional Good Cry.

Jenuine Poetess

Poetry, Vulnerable Populations

Jenuine Poetess is the founder of Waco Poets Society and ITWOW International—a writing circle project for womyn with chapters globally.  Her debut collection, BloodStories: a cycle of 28 poems was published by Yellow Chair Press, May 2016.  Jenuine is a midwife of truths believing that #courageiscontagious and there is #medicineinyourmetoo. In addition to the ITWOW circles and open mic she facilitates, she leads therapeutic creative writing programs for youth at Klaras Center for Families and The Cove in Waco, TX and at the Texas Juvenile Justice Department correctional facility in Mart, TX.  Jenuine lives rooted in the fierce conviction that fostering the creative health of individuals & communities is a matter of justice.

Weina Dai Randel


Weina Dai Randel is the debut author of two critically acclaimed historical novels The Moon In The Palace and The Empress of Bright Moon, stories of Empress Wu, the first and only female ruler in China. Weina was born and raised in China. She came to the U.S. when she was 24, and English is her second language. She has worked as a journalist, a magazine editor, and an adjunct professor. Read interviews of Weina on The Wall Street Journal, China Real Time, Library Journal, The Huffington Post, and The Los Angeles Review of Books.

Kathleen M. Rodgers

Fiction, Veterans

Kathleen M. Rodgers’ stories and essays have appeared in Family Circle Magazine, Military Times, and in anthologies published by McGraw-Hill, University of Nebraska Press/Potomac Books, Health Communications, Inc., AMG Publishers, and Press 53. In 2014, Rodgers was named a Distinguished Alumna from Tarrant County College/NE Campus. Three of her aviation poems from the book Because I Fly (McGraw-Hill) were featured in an exhibit at the Cradle of Aviation Museum on Long Island, NY.

Tim Seibles


Seibles approaches themes of racial tension, class conflict, and intimacy from several directions at once in poems with plainspoken yet fast-turning language. Seibles is the author of several collections of poetry, including Body MovesHurdy-Gurdy, Hammerlock, Buffalo Head Solos, and Fast Animal, which won the Theodore Roethke Memorial Poetry Prize and was nominated for a 2012 National Book Award. His work has also been featured in the anthologies In Search of Color Everywhere: A Collection of African American Poetry, Black Nature: Four Centuries of African American Nature Poetry, and Best American Poetry.

Seibles’ honors include fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Provincetown Fine Arts Work Center, as well as an Open Voice Award from the National Writers Voice Project. In 2013 he received the PEN Oakland Josephine Miles Award for poetry. He has taught at Old Dominion University, the University of Southern Maine’s Stonecoast MFA program, and at Cave Canem. He was named Poet Laureate of Virginia in 2016.