KWH staff

Kelly Writers House Staff 2015-2016

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 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: Alli Katz

Alli Katz is the Program Coordinator for the Kelly Writers House. She's lived in West Philly since she graduated from Oberlin College in 2006, but she still introduces herself as "being from Chicago." In her sort-of-free time, she's taught comic book workshops to the cool kids at Mighty Writers, pretends to be Ernest Hemingway for City Paper, and is good at etch-a-sketching. You can find Alli all the way at the back of the house in 109 to talk about the internet, graphic novels, the 1989 NBC primetime lineup, scheduling rooms for group meetings, and working for KWH.

Financial Coordinator and Dad: Andrew Beal

Andrew Beal

Andrew Beal works as the financial coordinator and unofficial building supervisor here at KWH. Born in Ohio, graduate of Miami University and the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts. He lives in West Phily with his daughter Rory (shown here), wife Rachel, two cats, a garage of constant projects and works in/around the theater scene in Philadelphia.

Associate Director for Recruitment: Jamie-Lee Josselyn

Jamie-Lee Josselyn is from Epping, New Hampshire, and has lived in Philadelphia since 2001. She received a BA from Penn in English and French and an MFA in writing and literature from Bennington College and she has taught creative writing in a few places, including at Penn and in St. Paul's School's Advanced Studies Program. Jamie-Lee has published personal essays on topics ranging from her mother's life and death to her experience attending cat shows. When not on campus, Jamie-Lee may be performing some feat of endurance: running a long way, biking an even longer way, or consuming a massive quantity of food. She has a cat named Alfred J. Pancake whose friends call him "Alfie" and another cat named Bones whose nickname is "Tubby." She also has a dog named Primo who has so much character, he doesn't need a nickname.

Administrative "Sass"istant: Erin Peraza

Erin Peraza

Erin greets the world and all of its many obstacles like so. (see photo)

Assistant Director for Development: Arielle Brousse

Arielle Brousse

Arielle (C'07, SPP'12) graduated a while ago, but never really left Kelly Writers House. In addition to her development work here at KWH, she runs the Sensible Nonsense Project blog and program series, and helps coordinate the Writing a Life workshops in partnership with the Abramson Cancer Center. Elsewhere at the university, she works as a Research Fellow with Penn's Center for Social Impact Strategy, where she connects emerging social entrepreneurs with relevant resources, training, and communities.

In her spare time, Arielle serves as the Vice President of Operations for the Spruce Foundation, an all-volunteer next-gen nonprofit supporting youth-serving organizations in Philadelphia. In the past, she has served as Communications Maven and Principessa of Press for Philly Give & Get. She holds a master's degree in Nonprofit Leadership from the School of Social Policy & Practice. She enjoys yoga, knitting, First Person Arts events, travel, wordplay, and any reality television show having to do with "housewives" (loosely defined). She lives with her husband and their two spoiled, particular cats.

If Arielle believes in one thing, she believes in stories. Maybe also witches. And ghosts. And possibly mermaids.

Associate Director: Julia Bloch

Julia Bloch

Julia has been a member of the Writers House Planning Committee since 2005; from 2006 to 2011 she curated the Emergency reading series in the Arts Cafe. She holds an MFA in poetry from Mills College and a PhD in English from the University of Pennsylvania, and taught literature for two years in the Bard College MAT program; in 2013, she became associate director of the Writers House, where she teaches in the creative writing program and helps to manage various digital and educational outreach programs, from ModPo to book groups to Jacket2, the online journal of poetry and poetics. She writes poetry, reviews, and criticism, and loves South Philly, even though she's still a Californian at heart.

Assistant to the Faculty Director: Lily Applebaum

Lily has lived in Philadelphia since 2008, when she started as a freshman at Penn and first became involved in the Writers House community. At the KWH she is the coordinator of many things, including but not limited to: the Fellows Program, online discussion groups, and the Brodsky Gallery. She is also a teaching assistant for the Coursera course ModPo, and has appeared in two episodes of Poem Talk. Lily graduated from Penn in 2012 with a B.A. in English and Environmental Studies. Outside of work, her interests are wide-ranging and all over the place, but this week's weather forecast and ongoing weather trends are always a good bet. Maura Reilly-Ulmanek took this picture of Lily in the Brodsky Gallery with the ladder that she has to use to do everything because she is only five feet tall.

Wexler Studio Coordinator: Zach Carduner

Zach spent his childhood designing his own SEPTA timetables and dreamt of one day becoming an El train. Now he officially works as the coordinator of the Writers House's new Wexler Recording Studio, which, though less illustrious than living as a form of public transportation, is still a pretty sweet gig.

Jacket2 Managing Editor: Kenna O’Rourke

Kenna O’Rourke once had a dream that Alli Katz led all of the work-studies to Trader Joe’s like the pied piper and bought them groceries with the pro card because there was some special KWH discount. Clearly the Writers House is embedded deeply into her subconscience.

Campus Coordinator for Mentor For Philly: Jocelyn Afadapa

Jocelyn was born in the city that raised Beyonce... Houston. This Texas native enjoys talking to strangers on planes, eating delicious food with meat, and people watching. She is a sophomore in the College who's pre-med (for now).

Creative Ventures Program Assistant: Maya Arthur

Maya is a freshman in the College. She is currently Undeclared, but probably will be an English major or Sociology or Psychology or TBD. Although she's allergic to cats, she really likes them a sophomore in the College and probably will declare Sociology!! Over the summer, she found out she probably isn’t allergic to cats. She is grateful even though the past 15 years have been a lie. You can find Maya at the Kelly Writer’s House distracting her boss (hey, Alli!) or doing something Alli told her to do. She also now sells glasses for Warby Parker and uses her money from that solely on Amazon Prime. She recently bought a Teen Psychic book off there. She also recently got a tattoo. One time, she chased a cat for five hours thinking it was lost. It turned out it was an outdoor cat. Last week, she cried watching American Ninja Warrior. As you can tell from this, Maya does a lot of dumb things. She's never seen Seinfeld and probably will never.

Program Assistant: Amelia Bentley

Amelia Bentley

Mel Bentley co-organizes Housework at Chapterhouse, a reading series in Philadelphia, and is currently pursuing an MFA in poetry at Temple University. Obstacle, Particle, Spectacle, was released from 89plus/Luma Foundation. Chapbooks "&parts" and "Stub Wilderness" were released from Damask Press and Well Greased Press, respectively. Work has appeared in Boog City, Fact-Simile, small po[r]tions, Elderly, Bedfellows, NO INFINITE and Poems in a Room, a small collection released in conjunction with an exhibition of the same name.

Program Assistant: Camara Brown

Camara Brown has lived in Chicago for 16 years, but her whole family is from Detroit. Although Camara loves Penn for many different reasons, one of the main reasons she loves Penn is the unique and loving community that the Kelly Writer's House offers.She loves crying at really sad movies and laughing at really funny movies. She also enjoys great Indian food and Ethiopian food. If she could be any animal in the world she would be a big cat, maybe a tiger or a lion or a puma.

Web Mister: Juan Cabrera

Juan Cabrera

/lɪŋˈgwɪs tɪks/.

Program Assistant: Perren Carrillo

Perren is from Los Angeles, and misses all-you-can-eat Korean BBQ. In his free time, he loves drawing and painting and watching dance choreography videos on YouTube. He's always ready to pick a fight and to eat other people's food. If you ever need to find him, you can be sure that he'll be the kid eating seaweed at 4:20. The best way to contact him is through Instagram direct message. Ball is life.

Program Assistant: Santiago Cortes

Santiago Cortes

Santiago Cortes, Santi for short, was born in the highlands of the Andes. He moved to the States in 2000 to Miami, and has been attending Penn since the fall of 2012. A self-proclaimed xenophile, his abundant interest for almost anything foreign drives many things from his musical and film tastes to his desire to major in business with an international concentration. His favorite books include A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith, Suite française by Irène Némirovsky, and La casa de los espíritus by Isabel Allende.

Editorial Assistant: Gina DeCagna

Gina DeCagna is a senior at Penn double majoring in English and Fine Arts, working on dual theses that combine the two. She is the founder and editor-in-chief of Symbiosis (, an interdisciplinary magazine of visual art and writing collaborations based out of the writers house and is also a digital marketing assistant at the Institute of Contemporary Art, Philadelphia. When she's not in the studio or researching and writing, she's eating writers house snacks (cut to the chase: just give her the chocolate) and scheming on where in the world to travel to next!

Administrative / Financial Assistant (+Odd Jobs): Cindia Huang

Cindia Huang As one of the rare engineering people at the Writers House, Cindia is a junior majoring in 3D Modeling and Animation in the Fine Arts department and minoring in COGS and has plans to develop indie games. A world traveler, knows more than five languages, and was the editor-in-chief of a cultural newsletter. Cindia is associated with JASGP, a Japan-America organization. As for hobbies, Cindia is a practitioner of Kendo and Karate and likes photography, gaming, blacksmithing, woodworking, anime (especially Digimon), programming, poetry, longboarding, playing pool, farming, guitar, and yoyo-ing. Furthermore, Cindia has also met several YouTube celebrities, such as David Choi and WongFu Productions, as well as Dante Basco. Cindia is probably the go-to person in the Writers House if you have questions about stuff.

Media Technician: Lauren Feiner

Lauren Feiner

Lauren is a junior in the college who has managed to evade writing a bio for her first two years on staff at the Writers House. You can often find her awake at 4am on weekdays aided by copious amounts of coffee.

Program Assistant and Archivist: Ayla Fudala

Ayla Fudala

Ayla Fudala is the official Archivist of the Kelly Writer's House, which means that if you hurt her feelings, she won't put any photos of you in the scrapbook. She is a senior double-majoring in English and Environmental Studies. The things she loves the most are wine (barefoot pink moscato is her favorite), her black cat Sebastian, H.P. Lovecraft, the Amazon rainforest, and of course her family and friends.

Program Assistant: Amleset Girmay

Amleset is a freshman in Wharton and the College. She likes learning random facts, listening to foreign music and eating chocolate. She also collects overly dramatic and philosophical quotes.

Wexler Studio Assistant: Ivana Kohut

Ivana (C'18) is from West Orange, NJ and is excited about working for the KWH, particularly in the Wexler Studio. She is in the College of Arts and Sciences and is excited about immersing herself in a community of passionate scholars. She loves to write, to hike, and go for walks on the beach and is looking forward to a great year.

Assistant to the Associate Director of Writing Recruitment: Peter LaBerge

Peter LaBerge

Peter LaBerge is a judgmental junior in the College of Arts & Sciences hailing from Stamford, Connecticut. He currently works as the Assistant to the Associate Director of Writing Recruitment, Jamie-Lee Josselyn. He is not as efficient at his job as Jamie-Lee's other partner-in-crime, Primo, but the people of the Writers House accept him anyway. His first kiss was in kindergarten during nap time, and he played Kelsi in a gender-bending take on High School Musical.

Program Assistant: Dylan Leahy

Dylan Leahy

Look, Mona did some terrible things. She did some of them to me and I'm her best friend. I don't know how she could but I think I understand how angry she was. Mona and I are very close, I mean, we're like the same person. We started out in the same place. We were so close to becoming those girls who sat a table and guarded purses while the hot girls were on the floor dancing. Mona made sure we didn't disappear. I owe her for that.

Dylan is a senior majoring in Cinema Studies.

Wexler Studio Assistant: Ari Lewis

Ari Lewis

Ari is a fun-sized, chocolate, LA native. She intends on majoring in Africana and Cinema Studies, and aspires to go into the film industry. Yams make her quite happy.

Jacket2 Editorial Assistant: Mariah Macias

Mariah Macias

Mariah Macias is a College junior majoring in English, emphasis Creative Writing, and minoring in Religious Studies. She loves reading and writing, and she was a ballroom dancer for five years prior to arriving at Penn. Come November, she will be participating in National Novel Writing Month, and as such will be significantly more frazzled than usual. Not to fear—she doesn't bite!

Wexler Studio Assistant: Kaitlin Moore

Kaitlin is a sophomore planning to major in English... or maybe Philosophy of Science... or maybe Mathematics. She's a little unclear on that front. Kaitlin loves to write science fiction and is currently on commission with Thebes Publishing, an affiliate of Big Finish's officially-licensed Doctor Who radio plays! Kaitlin loves movies, running, cosplay, spicy chicken sandwiches, and collecting buttons. She also has an encyclopedic knowledge of Star Trek: The Original Series and Classic Doctor Who. Fun fact: Kaitlin is originally from New Zealand, and is a fierce advocate of the laser-beam Kiwi as the next sigil for the NZ flag.

Sound Specialist: Gabriel Ojeda-Sague

Gabriel Ojeda-Sague

Gabe's favorite drink is root beer.

Program Assistant: Shayna O’Reilly

Shayna O'Reilly

Shayna is a freshman who rarely knows what’s going on and is way too calm about it. She hails from northern Jersey and plans to major in Political Science. Her pastimes include watching obscure foreign films, having existential crises, dancing at inappropriate times, and baking cookies. Talk to her about feminism or Mediterranean food.

Program Assistant: Meg Pendoley

Meg Pendoley

Meg Pendoley is a senior in the college. She loves talking about language and hanging around this home of a House.

Wexler Studio Assistant: Adelaide Powell

Adelaide is a freshman in the College of Arts and Sciences, hoping to major in communications or cinema studies. She moved from Copenhagen, Denmark to Philly and has also lived in Malawi, Russia, South Africa and around the States. The Kelly Writers House community and the opportunity to hear professional authors and fellow students share their work is one of the aspects of Penn that most excites her. Her favorite things to do are read, write, watch movies, travel, and eat good food.

Assistant to the Program Coordinator: Maura Reilly-Ulmanek

Maura Reilly-Ulmanek is a junior studying English and Art History. She is incapable of winking and her face is bright red pretty much always. She has briefly, intensely loved most things and passionately disliked almost everything else. As a result, she is consistently concerned she may collapse under the weight of her ridiculous opinions. Until then, she looks forward to shaking your hand and then apologizing for how sweaty hers is.

Night Manager: Peter Schwarz

Peter Schwarz

Peter Schwarz is currently Swiss. Inquire for further details.

Wexler Studio Assistant

Nick Seymour

Nick Seymour hails from the far off land of Columbia, South Carolina. He is a freshmen in the College. He is very excited to be working in the the Wexler Studio. Secretly, he is only working at the Writers House for tea, cookies, and the joy of sweeping.

Web Mistress/Iced Coffee Analyst: Amanda Silberling

Amanda Silberling

Amanda Silberling is a sophomore in the College studying English and Creative Writing. At Penn, Amanda enjoys spending money on coffee even though she owns a keurig, petting Jamie-Lee’s dog Primo, taking advantage of the Writers House "Eat This" box, and making Wharton jokes. She is a peso. She is also the person who updates this website, so whenever she feels embarrassed about something dumb she said in her bio, she can easily change it. Amanda enjoys Pokemon a lot. See? I'll edit that out soon when I realize that I shouldn't tell the entire internet about how awesome my level 74 Gardevoir is. Its nickname is Julian, after Julian Casablancas of The Strokes.

Program Assistant: Dan Spinelli

Dan Spinelli

Dan is a sophomore in the College and does outreach work at KWH, helping connect the Writers House to service opportunities in West Philly and the surrounding area. He hates writing and/or talking about himself, so writing this bio has been quite the chore. Talk to him about comics, journalism, Game of Thrones, and why the X-Men rock.

Assistant to the Assistant Director: Ashley Stinnett

Ashley is an extremely tall Washingtonian from Lawnguyland, New York. If she could eat only one food until the end of forever, it would be caramelized onions.


This belly dancer from a mysteriously high number of states spends her weekends and mornings at the Writers House assisting Andrew with his daily financial needs. Ethnically ambiguous, she calls upon her knowledge of other languages to help her in her quest for the perfect translation that she will never find, but in the meantime she reads poetry and other sorts of literature including legal cases, which doesn't seem to fit but she thinks it does. Juan watched her at her Penn Yalla show and he was quite impressed. Juan also notes she has a very good sense of humor and is an overall amazing human being.

Program Assistant: Madeleine Wattenbarger

Madeleine is a leading global investment banking, securities and investment management firm that provides a wide range of financial services to a substantial and diversified client base that includes corporations, financial institutions, governments and high-net-worth individuals.

Assistant to the Assistant Director: Connie Yu

Connie Yu is a junior studying English and Art History. She loves this place.