Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg, Ph.D., is the founder of Transformative Language Arts and co-founder of the TLA Network. The 2009-13Kansas Poet Laureate is the author of 24 books, including How Time Moves: New & Selected Poems; Miriam's Well, a novel; and The Sky Begins At Your Feet: A Memoir on Cancer, Community, and Coming Home to the Body.She co-edited The Power of Words: A TLA Reader with Janet Tallman and Transformative Language Arts in Action with Ruth Farmer. A beloved writing workshop facilitator and writing and Right Livelihood coach, she co-leads Your Right Livelihood with Kathryn Lorenzen, Brave Voice with Kelley Hunt, and the Art of Facilitation with Joy Roulier Sawyer. See her Patreon page for weekly care packages for a creative life. She makes home on family land she and her husband are preserving. Lawrence, Kansas. Board chair.
John L. Swainston started writing poetry to cope with feelings of isolation during COVID. He learned the craft by taking Zoom classes in poetry and writing at Turning Point, a support organization. He is a Member of the Mystic Poet Society, The Writers Place, and The Kansas City Writers Group. He has had twenty-seven poems published with three awards: a poem in Veterans’ Voices received Editor’s Choice Award. His first book of poems, Memory Box, was published spring 2022. John is a retired Finance Executive, College Adjunct Professor, and Army Veteran. Gardner, Kansas. Board treasurer.
Amanda Faye Lacson
Amanda Faye Lacson is a Filipino-American writer, photographer and historian. She studied TLA at Goddard College. Her work, both personal and community-oriented, is centered on exploring identity (especially race, ethnicity, and gender expectations), family, and historical and social context. Amanda brings leadership and collaboration experience to the TLAN Board as a founding member of the Goddard Alumni Council; Biographers Guild of Greater New York; and as a co-facilitator of writing workshops and learning circles. Amanda is also the founder of Family Archive Business, a company that will serve the family historian preserving their own family history through workshops and coaching. New York City. Membership & Outreach Committee co-chair.
Renu Sarah Thomas
Renu Sarah Thomas is an Art Psychotherapist (British Association of Art Therapists - BAAT) and workshop facilitator. She has several years of experience in introducing and conducting programmes that promote the personal, social and emotional wellbeing of individuals in Dubai, India and Scotland and adapting these programmes to suit the cultural climate of the region. Renu is a self-taught artist and her happy place is a well-stocked stationery shop. Although Renu finds pottery making and acrylic painting centering and enjoyable, it is through writing that she has found liberation and empowerment. Her growing areas of interest include displacement and trauma and thorough her spontaneous creative art and creative writing workshops, she passionately encourages people to pursue some form of creative expression, embrace their authentic selves and intentionally find their purpose. Born in India and raised in England, Nigeria and Saudi Arabia, Dubai has been Renu's home for the past 20 years. Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Global Committee co-chair
Judy Fort Brenneman, story meddler and enthusiastic supporter of TLAN, is an award-winning author and playwright, occasional poet and, through her compay, Greenfire Creative, LLC, a long-time writing coach with expertise in helping writers who have interesting neurologies. She’s especially interested in human resilience: how we survive, learn and grow from, and transcend traumas and challenges. Her short work has appeared in everything from literary magazines to wayside signs and museum exhibits. Her longer work includes the award-winning book, “Electric Lemons: Interpretation and the Art of Writing” and the play, “Dracula and The Writing Coach,” winner of the Trimedia Audience Choice Award--Best Theatre. Global Committee co-chair.
Aryn Bartley lives in Eugene, Oregon, where she teaches writing and literature at Lane Community College. Writing, drawing, and photography help her to find joy and meaning in everyday life. Certified in Transformative Language Arts Foundations and trained in narrative medicine facilitation and the social-emotional arts, she also leads creative wellness workshops in the community, most frequently for people experiencing postpartum depression and anxiety. Aryn loves to be present in these spaces, which allow participants to come together to share their stories and bear witness to each others’ experiences. Eugene, Oregon. Classes co-chair.
Kelly Hams Pearson
Kelly Hams Pearson is a blogger, poet, trainer, consultant, and creative coach. She views life as a continuous journey of placing faith in action. One of those many creatives with a required 9 to 5, she serves as Director of Community Based Programs and Clinical Services for the 16th Judicial Circuit-Jackson County Family Court. Kelly continues to be a fledging seminary student at the Chicago Theological Seminary, a devoted caregiver to her husband, a reformed helicopter mom, an ardent fan of meditative stretch yoga, and an involved member of her community. Parkville, Missouri.
Kathryn Lorenzen is a career coach, creativity coach, singer-songwriter, and poet. Her songs have appeared in feature films and TV series including The Americans and Last Man On Earth. With an earlier career in copywriting and marketing communications, she is now a career coach to writers and artists seeking livelihood in support of their art. In partnership with Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg, she is co-leader of Your Right Livelihood. Kathryn is a frequent speaker on career topics and a mentor to students launching their careers. Her music is on most streaming services. Fairway, Kansas.
Words and language arts have been part of Cheryl Kane’s identity throughout her lifetime. As a former Language Arts educator, one of her greatest joys has been helping young writers find their voice. As a poet, fiction and essay author, she marvels at the way words build bridges between people and uncover the universal similarities among them, regardless of how different things may appear on the surface. Cheryl and her husband have been married for 34 years. They are the proud parents of three adult children, and own two dogs, Winston and Holly. Tulsa, Oklahoma. Classes co-chair.
Marianela Medrano was born and raised in the Dominican Republic and has lived in Connecticut, USA since 1990. A poet and a writer of nonfiction and fiction, she holds a PhD in psychology. Her literary work has appeared in anthologies and magazines in Latin America, Europe and the United States.Her poetry has been translated into Italian and French. Medrano’s individual publications include: Oficio de Vivir (Buho,1986), Los Alegres Ojos de la Tristeza (Buho,1987), Regando Esencias/ The Scent of Waiting (Alcance,1998), Curada de Espantos (Torremozas, 2002), Diosas de la Yuca, (Torremozas, 2011), Prietica (Alfaguara, 2013). Rooting (Owlfeather Collective, 2017). See her TEDTALK at Ursuline College. New Haven, Connecticut.
Joy Zimmerman is a touring folk & acoustic roots singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist. Joy’s soulful voice lights up songs of hope, resilience, and humor. Her eighth album, The Canvas Before Us, debuted at #8 on the Folk Alliance international Folk Chart in 2021. A former social worker, Joy is an ArtistINC alumnus and an Artist as Activist grant recipient from the Mid-America Arts Alliance. Joy’s many collaborations include a portrait exhibit she curated based on her song, “Women Who Walked on Water,” at the InterUrban ArtHouse. Joy loves outdoor adventures and living with her wife in Kansas City. Prairie Village, Kansas. Power of Words conference co-chair.
Elizabeth Chesla writes, edits, and teaches from the same Philadelphia suburb where she was raised. After earning her MA from Columbia University, she spent a decade teaching writing and literature in New York City, then moved back home to raise her family. Along the way she developed and taught online writing and literature courses for homeschoolers, became a yoga teacher specializing in support for hypermobility and trauma, and co-founded a weekly embodied writing group for women with fellow Transformative Language Artist Tracie Nichols. A developmental editor and the author of multiple books on reading, writing, and critical thinking skills, Liz recently published You Cannot Forbid the Flower, her first book of fiction. She credits her TLAN classes and colleagues with helping her find her voice as a writer. Co-chair, Classes Committee.