Sara Louisa Bahet is an Amazigh-American writer, researcher, and nonprofit professional with a background in global health and the refugee crisis. She was educated in the San Francisco Bay Area, London, and New York and holds a B.A. in Comparative Literature from NYU, where she penned her thesis on existential risk. Sara Louisa is working on a memoir and anticipates exploring a host of nonfiction genres at the Writers’ Institute. She enjoys gardening, nature illustration, and poetry, especially that of Fernando Pessoa. Sara Louisa lives in Murray Hill with woman’s best friend, Karsten the cat.
Mac Barrett’s from Brooklyn. He is currently working at an institute for public policy as a curator of public programming – meaning, not computer stuff, but live events, which these days are conducted virtually. He also works as a speechwriter, which he has done in higher education and government over the last four years. He has published but it has been a while so he hesitates to mention it. The Brooklyn Rail, Anderbo, Salon, Mr. Beller’s Neighborhood, The Rumpus, 32 poems, and the Village Voice are among the places that have featured his stories, essays, and poems. Under names that are not his own, op-eds have appeared in the New York dailies. He has an MFA from the New School.
George Blecher writes fiction and non-fiction. After teaching for many years at Lehman College CUNY, he left to work full-time as a writer. He has published articles and essays about American culture and politics in a variety of journals, among them the New York Times Metro section, the Copenhagen daily Information and the trans-European website eurozine.com. He has published fiction in literary journals in the US and abroad, including New American Review,Ontario Review and Saint Ann’s Review. In college he fell in love with Scandinavia through Ingmar Bergman’s films, and until the pandemic spent his summers in a drafty old peasant’s cottage on the east coast of Denmark. Drafty cottage or not, he hopes to get back there as soon as they open the borders.
Sarah E. Dillard is always writing. As a child, she would staple pieces of folded paper together to make books which were promptly filled with stories. Years later, she completed her BA at Brown University in Literary Arts--writing her honors thesis in fiction. After working in an independent bookstore on the Upper West Side, she decided to return to school for her MSW at Columbia University School of Social Work where she currently studies contemporary social issues, and racial justice in technology. She is the co-author on a paper addressing ethics in AI, co-leads the Media and Social Justice caucus, and uses her love for writing to advocate for marginalized communities. You can read some of her brief pieces on Instagram @s.e.dillard.
Katherine Nouri Hughes (Kate) is at work on her second novel. The first, set in the 16th c Ottoman Empire, was published four years ago (when she started, she was middle aged; now her grandchildren are in college). She also works as a writer, ghosting. In some ways it has suited her more over time; in other apparently more important ways, it has suited her less, hence the first novel, which she pursued, by the way, without a map. Not this time! She has an academic background is Near Eastern Studies. She went to college and graduate school in her 30s, lived and/or worked in Cairo, Paris, LA, NYC and Princeton. For many years, she served on not-for profit boards (university, foundation, tv station, orchestra), most of that, too, has given way to her “own” writing. Jazz, as a listener, remains a passion. Covid has meant isolation of a kind that she, as a widow, had never known. It was an almost completely wonderful gift.
Kevin Igoe-Miller was raised in Maryland and received a BA in Psychology from University of Michigan. So naturally he chose to enter the world of entertainment, where he took on a series of creative positions at Comedy Central, A&E Networks, Discovery and Disney, until he landed at his current role as Head of Production at Malka Media. During his 18 years in media, he has written, produced and directed countless commercials, brand films and documentaries. He’s currently working on a collection of short stories and several graphic novels. Kevin lives in Brooklyn with his wife and daughter.
Mariuca Iosifescu was born in Bucharest, Romania. She came to New York in the late 70’s, with two suitcases, one of which was filled with Eastern European black shoes, already hopelessly out of fashion. They did not help with the transition into this Brave New World. She obtained an MA in Art History from The Institute of Fine Arts, NYU. While there, she discovered art restoration at the Conservation Center, NYU, graduating with a specialty in paintings restoration. After internships in several NY museums and in Rome, Italy, she has since set up her own paintings restoration studio in New York. Her occasional hobby is photography, and over the years she has exhibited her work in Bucharest, New York, and Rome. Although defining herself mostly as a visual person, she discovered that writing is a kindred pursuit, though English is sometimes a linguistic No Man’s Land, and sometimes home.
Carol J. Kelly is a writer/editor and communications professional with extensive experience working for top brands, including The Wall Street Journal, The Boston Globe, Newsday, Gannett, and Morgan Stanley. She was part of the editing team that shared The Wall Street Journal’s Pulitzer Prize for its 9/11 coverage. Her stories have been published in several newspapers, she’s co-edited anthologies of teen stories, and contributed essays to two travel anthologies: Venturing in Italy: Travels in Puglia, Land between Two Seas, and Wandering in Cuba: Revolution and Beyond. She is writing a memoir about her scant encounters and fraught relationship with her mother, who left behind two secret daughters in Jamaica when she migrated to England. Carol, an avid tennis fan, lives in Brooklyn.
Christina Lem is currently working on a book about intergenerational violence within her Chinese American family. Over the years, she’s worked in various sectors (not-for-profit, United Nations, foundations, and journalism) in the U.S., Asia and Southern and Eastern Africa. A native New Yorker, she’s invested in her community and serves on her local community board, which is surprisingly fascinating—land use, neighborhood safety, race relations, housing. Her writing has been published in the New York Times Book Review and the Washington Post. She lives in New York City with her husband, a tech geek, and her cat, a shy, neurotic grey beauty that never stops talking.
Wilfred Loh’s father used to tell him “You’re supposed to study in Beijing.” Fleeing Mao Tse-tung in 1949, his parents emigrated to Hong Kong where he was born. At nineteen they sent him to the U.S. for university. He became a dentist, then took a stab at NYU Grad Film, quit and subsequently started his dental practice. He misses being the class dentist; a handful of classmates still come to see him. In 2012, he got his MFA from Goddard College. Yet in spite of the block of woods in front of his house in Central NJ, the seclusion did not help him get published. Solitude and writing do not necessarily make good partners. Being a semi-serious runner, he was of course inspired by Usain Bolt, who danced before he crossed the finish line at the Beijing Olympics, the town where Wilfred was supposed to have been a student. To improve his speed, he tried curried goat and Blue Mountain coffee for breakfast. But adding Red Stripe beer didn’t help either. He still crawls. Life is full of fallacies. His inspirations in literature are Borges, Calvino and Peter White. He is interested in short stories, essays and perhaps a novel and is looking forward to learn from the faculty and classmates in a safe and warm environment.
Deborah Miller is returning to the Writers’ Institute after its hiatus. She is an entrepreneur with a multifaceted background in women’s fashion and design for the home. The past several years her focus has been on Venture Capital Investing, the most notable being Enlightened Desserts
(Beyond Better Foods.) The Writers’ Institute was her initial foray into creative writing. This current semester she will focus on the idiosyncrasies of her dyslexia which has plagued her since childhood, as well as the psychological impact of being increasingly overshadowed by her famous husband, in effect, becoming “a shadow wife.” She is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania and its Wharton Graduate School of Business. Deborah lives in New York City with said husband and their beloved Havanese dog, Maximillian, “Manic Max.” Their seven grandchildren continue to expand the richness of their lives.
Baijayanta (Baj) Mukhopadhyay was born of ancestors whose roots ran deep into the delta of Ganges. He has lived his most formative periods dislocated from that source, in arid scorched deserts and icebound boreal forests. Trained as a physician, he sees medicine primarily as a tool to serve communities seeking repair for injustice, and works with social movements and community organizations across many countries. Baijayanta also sees the power of story in clinical medicine as particularly helpful in the process of healing. Although most of his writing over the last two decades has been in the style of creative nonfiction and literary essays, his main interest in joining the Institute is to improve skills in writing fiction. When not working or writing, Baijayanta spends a lot of time exploring his ineptitude in activities such as swing dancing, cross-country skiing, and playing the fife.
Sarah Weck is a poet and writer living in Brooklyn. She has written poetry recently for the Colorado Review and the Tin House Winter Workshop, among other publications. She believes in the blurring of genres and hopes to transform her poetry into prose. She has always loved sound in addition to words, and currently works as a sound designer/mixer for television and film. She graduated from NYU’s Clive Davis Institute for Recorded Music, which is where her love of poetry grew from songwriting. In addition to writing and playing with sounds, Sarah loves her demonic cat Stevie, hoarding plants, & dancing.
Joan Weiner retired in 2018 from her position as Professor of Philosophy at Indiana University and moved to New York City. In NYC she finished her most recent book, Taking Frege at his Word, while pursuing her other life as an avocational opera singer. When the pandemic hit, she was in rehearsals for Ariadne auf Naxos with the New York Opera Forum. She is now pursuing a long-time interest in public health by collaborating with a rheumatologist on a study of peer coaching in rheumatology. She is also working on a memoir—a project that began when, during an academic leave in Venice, she received word that a childhood friend was gravely ill. She emailed her friend, including a lighthearted account of some of her adventures in Venice. Her worry about sending such a frivolous story to someone who was dying was allayed by an immediate response from her friend’s husband: please send more stories! She did. Her WI project is to turn her Venice stories into a book.
Michael J. White is the author of Weeping Underwater Looks A Lot Like Laughter, a novel about love and loss that was nominated for the Barnes & Noble Discovery Award. More recently he co-wrote Song Without A Name, a feature film inspired by a true case of child trafficking in 1980’s Peru that premiered at the Cannes Film Festival in 2019. An avid student of foreign cultures, Mike has just as many wonderful memories from his teaching days in Poland and South Korea as he does from that ol’ bar in South Brooklyn where his regulars rarely tire of watching him throw his weight around with the knuckleheads like some kind of precariously confident Gregor Samsa.