KWH staff

Kelly Writers House Staff 2010-2011

The staff is an integral part of the House, coming together with the Planning Committee to generate ideas, as well as ensuring that readings, musical performances, screenings, publicity, and fundraising plans go off without a hitch. We are open to ideas, questions and comments you may have, so drop us a line.

Faculty Director: Al Filreis

Al Filreis

Al is Kelly Professor of English and Director of the Center for Programs in Contemporary Writing and is one of the founders of the Writers House, along with an intrepid group of students, faculty and staff whom he led into the cottage at 3805 Locust back in October of 1995. He has been the Faculty Director of the Writers House ever since. He has taught the Writers House Fellows seminar since 2000, and created the Writers House Book Groups among other projects; he has won the Lindback Award and the Meyer Abrams Award for Distinguished Teaching and was chosen as the Pennsylvania Professor of the Year by the Carnegie Foundation in 1999. He has published books on modern poetry and has written extensively on poetry and politics and radical literary generations. Here is Al's web site.

Director: Jessica Lowenthal

Jessica Lowenthal

Jessica has been the Director of Kelly Writers House since 2005, and an active member of its Planning Committee since 2003. As of 2010 she's the associate publisher of Jacket2. In 2009, Jessica's daughter Alice (pictured, reading spreadsheets) joined the KWH community. Jessica holds an MFA in poetry from the Iowa Writers Workshop, an MA in English from Penn, and an AB in English from Brown -- and she's putting her education to work daily, directing the activities of this vibrant and experimental literary community. Jessica's reading interests are eclectic: she loves experimental poetry, trashy novels, cookbooks, and the Philly weeklies. Visit Jessica in room 109 (all the way in the back of the house) and you'll find her eager to talk about ways you can get involved in the Writers House community.

Program Coordinator: Erin Gautsche

Erin Gautsche

Erin Gautsche is the Program Coordinator for the Kelly Writers House. She runs the 15th Room Press, a division of the Common Press a collaborative letterpress project at Penn, and co-teaches a class with the design department in writing, letterpress, and artist books. She is a member or the arts advisory board for the /First Person Festival/ and enjoys elite status. A graduate of Goshen College with a degree in English and Creative Writing, she has a MLA from the University of Pennsylvania in post-war poetics, art history, and fiction writing, and has done extensive coursework in Folklore. She has led writing workshops for children in Indiana and Guatemala, and reading and writing groups for adults in Philadelphia, including a KWH alumni online book group. She writes and manages the blogs and Other interests include, but are not limited to: cooking, blogging, progressive urban planning and design, foodways, urban gardening/ farming and local foods, hot pepper jam canning, architectural salvage, fiction and short fiction, Chinese and Spanish cinema, reality television, Top Chef, Toronto, modern art, art nouveau, dinner parties, new restaurants, and international adventures.

Assistant to the Director: Michelle Taransky

Michelle Taransky

Michelle Taransky is the author of Barn Burned, Then, selected by Marjorie Welish for the 2008 Omnidawn Poetry Prize. Before moving to Philadelphia to work at Kelly Writers House, Taransky received a BA from The University of Chicago, worked as Programs Coordinator at The Poetry Center of Chicago, earned her MFA from The Iowa Writers' Workshop, taught poetry at the Iowa Young Writers Studio, and was a resident at Wave Books' Poetry Farm. She is a member of the Critical Writing Faculty at Penn and an adjunct poetry instructor at Temple University. Taransky is always happy to talk about poetry, glitter, Charles Barkley, or her book-in-progress: Never Quit: The Poetics of Charles Barkley.

Administrative Assistant: Allison Harris

Allison Harris

Allison Harris is a Philadelphia native with an excess of hometown pride. When she is not running up the art museum steps, eating soft pretzels, or screaming to her neighbors down the street, she works on a collaborative fiction project called The Dolphin Tavern, and makes music videos. She was awarded the Leeway Foundation's Art and Change grant in 2008, and has a BA from the University of Washington. She loves the Writers House.

Administrative Assistant: Max McKenna

Max McKenna

Max is glad to be back at the Writers House this year, though not glad about the transportation options in Philadelphia. Each morning he decides whether to fork up three bucks to fight for a spot on the oft-delayed bus, or whether to remake his peace with death and dodge irate automobile drivers on his bicycle. Thus, he sometimes wishes he hadn’t moved all the way to South Philly, which, second to the Writers House, is still the best place to get fat in this city.

Assistant to the Director of the CPCW: Jamie-Lee Josselyn

Jamie-Lee Josselyn

Jamie-Lee Josselyn is from Epping, New Hampshire, and has lived in Philadelphia since 2001. She graduated from Penn in 2005 with a degree in Creative Writing and French and is currently a candidate for an MFA in Writing and Literature at Bennington College. She is working on a collection of personal essays about her mother's life and death. She has taught creative writing in a bunch of places, including at Penn and in St. Paul's School's Advanced Studies Program. When not in her third floor office at the Writers House, you might find Jamie-Lee out running along the Schuylkill River. Or, she could be hanging out with her cat, Alfred J. Pancake, whose friends call him "Alfie." She may also be washing her hair.

Project Assistant: Kristen Martin

Kristen Martin

Kristen, a senior English major concentrating in Creative Writing, has been pretending that the Writers House library is her office for the past three years. In her position as Assistant to the Assistant to the Faculty Director, she reads, writes, eats, photocopies, updates listservs, stuffs envelopes, and fashions Barbra Streisand wallpaper. Outside the office, Kristen enjoys narrative non-fiction writing, Italian neorealist films, cooking, and (more) eating.

Project Assistant: Molly O'Neill

Molly O'Neill

Molly hails from sunny California but spent the last more-than-several years bouncing up and down the East Coast between schools before finally settling at Penn. Now in her senior year, Molly has infiltrated and inhabited the KWH 3rd floor office and thus has a legitimate reason not to leave after graduation. In her life away from campus, Molly enjoys reading poetry, nonfiction and short stories, bartending, cuddling with her two and a half pit bulls, eating massive amounts of carbohydrates, and drooling over fashion blogs.

Assistant Director for Development: Arielle Brousse

Arielle Brousse

Arielle Brousse likes making things and listening to people. She roots for Team Pie and Team Feelings and believes you can never have too many blankets. You can find her in her second-floor closet space: obsessing over word choice; shamelessly oversaturating photos of KWH events; teaching herself how to knit; quietly advocating for revolution; or surprising herself with how much she likes reading about microfinance and social entrepreneurship. Someone once told her you can either be a stripes person or a polka dot person and she’s still trying to figure out which she is, so if you have any insight, please do let her know.

Program Assistant: Andrea Amanullah

Andrea Amanullah

Andrea will die at 105 in a tragic skydiving accident. She will probably have lived in a cabin, hermetically, for years, reading Bukowski and Frost and eating fine cheeses. Still in the semi-social portion of her life, however, she likes to talk about solipsism, jade green leaves in spring, and the infuriating pointlessness of toe socks. She loves StumbleUpon, orange juice, people with good eyebrows, the sky, and the smell of leather. She battled big fish/small pond syndrome for 17 years, winning (?) in the fall of 2008, and still hopes the reverse is better, though, so far, it hasn't been. Andrea was born a barefooted mutt, will always be a barefooted mutt, and has always been proud of it.

Web Assistant: Zachary Burchill

Zach Burchill

Zach Burchill has:
basic knowledge of HTML
rock-hard abs
a twin brother
a horrible sense of humor
blown your mind

Zach's brother, Ned, is:
On the lam

Zach would like to say:

Lead Webmaster: Zach Carduner

Zach Carduner

Zach hates short biographies.

Program Assistant: Jenny Chen

Jenny Chen

Jenny spent her early years country-, continent-, and state-hopping from China to Iowa to Pennsylvania to New York and back to Pennsylvania. According to her parents, college life used to consist of learning new regional dialects, sleeping on wooden beds without mattresses, and begging for breakfast. 2 of those 3 still apply. In her spare time (when she should be working), Jenny likes perusing sarcastic blogs (,,, using parentheses, making lists on Post-It notes, turning off electronic appliances, listening to viola music, making ambitious cupcakes, and watching Bravo marathons.

Program Assistant: Amaris Cuchanski

Amaris Cuchanski

Amaris is a junior who has come to rely on the writers house for its many, many gifts: for the best of friends who give the warmest hugs, for Lady Gaga dance parties, pub-room singalongs (notable mention: Jamie-Lee and Arielle's epic rendition of "I Will Always Love You"), for dirty dishes on broken dishwasher nights, late-night brownie bakeathons, kitchen rants, for sympathy, smiles, tissues and tears on all occasions, and all the shining eyes....and for poetry, poetry, poetry forever. The writers house taught me how to live the lines.

Program Assistant: Florentina Dragulescu

Florentina Dragulescu Florentina is a junior in the College, studying Communication and Public Service, and Legal Studies and History. If we were to believe the many "and"s in her studies, we would say she studies a lot. At the Writers House, you will find her in the Arts Cafe, pushing buttons around and bringing the joy of the Writers House events to the Internet. Florentina is a born and bred Romanian, and is gradually getting used to being asked if she's a gymnast or a vampire, or if she speaks Russian. Niet. If you want to make her happy (and you should), tell her you can't hear her accent. Florentina is one of the Behrman Scholars at the Writers House.

Outreach Assistant: Allyson Even

Allyson Even

Allyson Even hails from the smallest geographic town in the smallest geographic county in the smallest geographic state. This useless fun-fact and the others that follow were written in attempt to comply with the edgy and irreverent nature of most KWH bios... Although compliance is the antithesis of all which is edgy and irreverent. Anyway, Allyson is the outreach coordinator here at the KWH and is super pumped about all things involving urban society, education, literacy, and all genres of creative writing. In addition to writing, reading, learning, and educating, Allyson enjoys Pilates, chain-chewing gum, The Nightly News, Latin American culture, and good conversation.

Program Assistant: Rivka Fogel

Rivka Fogel Rivka is the Behrman Scholar at the House and really likes tea. Especially when it’s cold, as now. Especially when reading poems, not as now but later today.

Administrative Assistant: Kate Herzlin

Kate Herzlin Kate is a freshman at the College, hailing from glorious and scenic Long Island, NY. She's thinking about an English with a Creative Writing Emphasis/Political Science Double Major, with a minor in Theatre Arts (because she's just that crazy). She is a pretentious playwright who has just discovered the word "frippery" (an excellent word, indeed). After about 3 AM, her writing becomes increasingly pretentious; however, as it is currently 11:17 AM, this bio shouldn't be terribly snobby. In all of that spare time that she doesn't have, she enjoys looking up words in her Yiddish-English dictionary, finding inspirational Toni Morrison quotes, and watching YouTube videos from Broadway shows. She's a vegetarian too, so she's clearly a better person than you are. Oh...and she's really not that snobby, she swears.

Director Assistant: Ali Kriegsman

Ali Kriegsman

Ali likes falling asleep in the backseats of cars. She enjoys fine cheeses, and therefore refuses to accept her lactose-intolerance. She also refuses to accept the fact that Arrested Development is not her life.

She has very large pupils. And very small hands.

She talks profusely to plug awkward silences but rarely has anything of worth to say. And everyone knows it.

She hails from Los Angeles but desperately seeks "street-cred," and will promptly follow up with "but my mom is from the Bronx."

She's a freshman, a cuddler and a Jew.

Program Assistant: James LaMarre

James LaMarre

James grew up in Salt Lake City, where he learned about the perils of talking to strangers and swimming in deep water. He reads about found poetry, pop music, and installation art and tries to keep up on his thoughts of coming of age. He's an English major trying to learn Chinese, and constantly wants to get on a plane and go somewhere. Other than that, please join him over lunch or dinner because he likes to eat and loves to eat in the company of others.

Program Assistant: Gwendolyn Lewis

Gwen Lewis

Gwen is a freshman in the college who, in West Philadelphia, was born and raised. Rather than spending most of her days in the playground, she navigated through the majority of her teenage years pretending to be a Upenn student by frequenting 40th street's restaurants, shopping at The Natural Shoe Store and becoming a pro at smuggling McDonald's into Rave Motion Pictures (formerly and better known as The Bridge). These days, she is finding great pleasure in learning the routes to buildings on campus, other than KWH, making it there on time for class and most of all, being able to repeat it the next day.

Web Assistant: Arielle Pardes

Arielle Pardes

Arielle Pardes is a cheerful young lady who feels particularly affectionate toward cats.

Program Assistant: Erin Peraza

Erin Peraza

Erin Peraza, a shy and awkward girl of nineteen, hails from the distant lands of Houston, Texas. Shes is a freshman in the College of Arts and Sciences, and couldn't tell you what she wanted to study at the University of Pennsylvania if she tried. Any suggestions? She enjoys reading, writing, and watching mind-numbing amounts of television. Her lifelong aspirations include eating all the Nutella-filled crepes she can manage, adopting a brood of lovealbe mutts to buy sweater vests for, and perhaps working out a novel or two on rainy Sundays.

Program Assistant: Sarah Schwab

Sarah is a freshmen in the College, and hails from Orcutt, California. She enjoys reading old books, petting animals, and exploring new places with friends. If her mind does not change of the course of her college career, she hopes to study Medieval and Renaissance literature, which, in her opinion, is highly underrated by the literary world. When not working at the Writer’s House, studying, or doing stuff with friends, you can find her by the bio pond, feeding koi fish and baby squirrels.

Night Manager: Peter Schwarz

Peter Schwarz

Peter Schwarz is currently Swiss. Inquire for further details.

Program Assistant: Anastasiya Shekhtman

Anastasiya Shekhtman

A freshman in the College, Anastasiya likes to think that she is from the seventies and scours the Internet for all of the early Pink Floyd video footage that ever was in attempt to fill in the missing pieces. She has an inexplicable fascination with hippies and eats way too much Chinese food, as the talent behind Won Oriental Chinese on 40th street will be the first to tell you. She is constantly suffering from a shortage of socks and refuses dessert unless it is accompanied by hot tea, an idiosyncrasy she blames on her Ukrainian heritage –although deep down she doesn’t actually believe it. Anastasiya is happiest when detecting the aroma of impending spring, summer, fall or Christmas on the air.

Program Assistant: Lindsey Todd

Lindsey Todd

Lindsey Todd is not witty, not graceful, not hip, not scholarly, can't cornrow (contrary to popular assumption), hates arguing politics, can't stand the smell of tomato sauce, and abhors liars. Lindsey is curious, loquacious, occasionally cynical, adventurous, idealistic, culinarily inclined, clumsy, generous, friendly, loves small furry animals, legitimately adores school, has faith in humanity, and really wishes Nickelodeon was still worth watching.

Program Assistant: Callie Ward

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Program Assistant: Allison Wattenbarger

Allison Wattenbarger

Allison is from Philadelphia, in the city but not the city-city. She likes capers, modernism, and Mount Airy.

Program Assistant: Chaia Werger

Chaia Werger

I am a person of extremes

Program Assistant: Hannah White

Hannah White

Hannah White, a freshman in the College, comes from a tiny town outside of Charlottesville, Virginia, where people spend most of their time referencing Thomas Jefferson and reminiscing about how Charlottesville was once named "the best place to live in America." Hannah, the daughter of an English teacher and a sportswriter, hopes, in a rebellious move, to also major in English and then do literary things. In her spare time, she enjoys movies, music, eating desserts, and reading Jane Austen and Jack Kerouac. She is also an obsessive fan of Top Chef and will be best friends with anyone willing to watch it with her.

Mastery Charter School Intern: Bria Williams

Bria Williams

I particularly too hate short bio's because they never seem to come out the way you've planned them so skillfully inside your mind. Born and raised in West Philly, but I dearly believe in my former life I lived in New York City. The biggest obsession I have is that city, followed by French fries, pizza, everything that's purple, music, things that you wouldn't feel so creepy for staring at, window seats, nachos and cheese from the movies, the rain... let me shut myself up before I go on a rant. What is there to me? I'm not quite sure, I'm only 16 – I'm still figuring myself out. What I do know for a fact is that I love writing. Ever since I was 11, I was composing short, odd, but meaningful stories... It wasn't until I turned 14 when I turned to poetry. Poetry never let me down when everyone else did. Ding! Ding! I have addictions in addition to obsessions which happen to be anything involving writing. A dream of mine that I've never actually dreamt is to attend NYU, spend way too many years there so I can graduate with the highest degree possible, and make loads of cash doing what I love most: writing. Hugs make my day better and food brings out the affectionate side of me. I re-read my bio and I've come to the conclusion that I'm random... so bye.

Assistant to Alice Lowenthal: Scott Sepkowicz

Volunteering around the world since the age of 2, Scott has worked his way up the KWH ladder, progressing from lowly office jester to Alice Lowenthal's right-hand man and her most trusted accomplice within a matter of days. If you are reading this you are not doing your work.

Have you?
...updated the Medialinks
...organized the Mind of Winter 2nd Anniversary Luncheon?
...informed your colleagues that Alice says the mainframe is on lockdown?
...washed your hands?
...forwarded the memo from corporate?

Tell us how we're doing!
...Peter Schwarzesque
...Emily Harnettible

Pop quiz! Please respond to the following questions in short answer form:
1. How to bake a cake
2. What goes up must come down