Workshop Leaders and Conference Directors
Jenny Pacanowski is the Founder and Director of Women Veterans Empowered & Thriving; a reintegration program that utilizes writing and performance to empower experiences and facilitate skills to thrive in daily life.
While Jenny was in the Army she deployed to Iraq in 2004 as a combat medic and provided medical support for convoys with the Marines, Air Force and the Army. Jenny has received training in facilitation, teaching artistry@ The Lincoln center, interpreting and adapting plays and performance through NYU/NEH with Aquila theatre. Her play “Dionysus in America” was fully produced by Thinkery and Verse at The Vortex Theatre in Austin Texas in 2019. Jenny is the Associate Director of the Veteran’s Project within The Lucid Body House: creating social change through theatre directed by Fay Simpson. She has studied with Shakespeare and Co. and was mentored by the founder and director of the Decruit program, Stephan Wolfert; a program that heals trauma through Shakespeare’s work.
She was named the Program Director of Poetic theater Productions Veterans Voices in 2021 which has provided performance opportunities and programming for veterans and their families since 2012.
Andria Williams is the author of 'The Longest Night' (Random House 2016), which was Amazon's pick for debut novel for January 2016 and was a Barnes & Noble "Discover" pick. It received starred reviews from both Kirkus and Booklist. Williams is the founder of the book-review blog, the Military Spouse Book Review, and is editor-in-chief of Wrath-Bearing Tree literary journal, a magazine dedicated to publishing the work of anyone affected by war or violence and triumphing human resilience. She has been a military spouse for over 17 years.
Steve Nolan did his undergraduate work at the University of Miami in English and Psychology and his Masters at Barry University, in clinical social work, also in Miami, Florida. He is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker who spent 25 years as a therapist and 30 years in the military, culminating his career as the Chief of Combat Stress for Paktika Province in Afghanistan. He ran a PTSD clinic for the VA for five years before moving to Newtown in 2015.
His work has been published in U.S. 1 Worksheets who nominated him for the Pushcart Prize, Passages North, River Heron Review, The Florida Review, Gypsy (Amnesty International Edition), Vox Populi, Schuylkill Valley Journal and others. Upon his return from Afghanistan, his poems were featured on Morning Edition, National Public Radio, September, 2007, in a story called, “Mother, Son Share Experiences of War.” He is the author of “Go Deep,” (a collaboration with the artist NJ DeVico), “Base Camp,” and “American Carnage, An Officer’s Duty to Warn.”
Dr. Francesco Bellini has a Master’s from NYU in Religious Studies and a PhD in Asian Comparative Studies from CIIS. He teaches the World Religions, Buddhism and Islam courses at Delaware County Community College in Media, PA.
Kate Brandes is a writer and artist who's also worked as a geologist and environmental scientist for more than twenty years. She's published one novel, The Promise of Pierson Orchard (2017), short stories and essays. Kate writes about rural places and small-town dynamics with underlying environmental themes. Her characters often struggle with setting boundaries and balancing individuality with the desire to be part of a community. She teaches geology and writing at Moravian University.
Photograph by Adrianne Mathiowetz
Liz Chang was 2012 Montgomery County Poet Laureate in Pennsylvania. Her poems have appeared in Verse Daily, Exit 7, Rock & Sling, Origins Journal, Breakwater Review and Stoneboat Literary Journal, among others. Her fourth collection, a chapbook called Museum of Things, from Finishing Line Press was published in early 2023. Her creative nonfiction recently appeared in Oyster River Pages, and her flash fiction has been published internationally. Chang’s translation of Claude de Burine’s work is anthologized in Paris in Our View from l’Association des Amis de Shakespeare & Company. She is the Visiting Assistant Professor of Creative Writing at Moravian University (as Liz Gray).
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