Acting Co-Chair Elizabeth Burke, Ed.D., is a poet, interdisciplinary educator, writing coach, and workshop facilitator passionate about narrative and arts-based approaches to personal and social transformation. Elizabeth served a term as TLA Network Board Chair 2019-2021 and is now serving as Acting Co-Chair.
Before joining the Board, Elizabeth taught classes for the Network including Writing Our Lives: The Poetic Self & Transformation (2017) and Cultivating Our Voices: Writing Life Stories for Change (2018). Her self-paced course Narratives of Self & Society: Writing Life Stories for Change (2019) was based on her doctoral research on autoethnography and transformative approaches to teaching and learning. Elizabeth’s innovative Tools for Teachers workshop series offered in the Spring of 2021 forged new ground for TLAN with a focus on empowering teaching artists with the skills to bring their creative practices to communities in transformative online spaces.
Her work has appeared in Ireland and the Americas: Culture, Politics, and History: A Multidisciplinary Encyclopedia, Volume 2, The Irish Herald, Soulstice: A Feminist Anthology Volume II, and Sandy River Review. Elizabeth has worked with adult students, working-class identified groups, LGBTQIA+ communities, university faculty, feminist activists, and poets/writers of all kinds. Currently, she facilitates expressive writing groups for women in recovery from trauma and addiction in the San Diego, California area where she lives with her beloved little mutt, Mr.
Lesley Dobis, Acting Co-Chair and Treasurer: I’m a multi-talented, splendiferous nerd. That may sound like bragging, but as someone with low self-esteem, I declare it with irony and a bit of humor. For the past 35 years, I’ve been a technical writer, a mom, and a massage therapist. Now, I offer my stories as entertaining education about the emotions surrounding money matters and parenting. In my spare time, I've become an accidental farmer raising chickens on the ever expanding Fabulous Farmette. See more at lesleydobis.com.
Kelly DuMar, M.Ed., C.P. is a Boston, MA area playwright, poet, and workshop facilitator, who is delighted to return to a leadership role at TLAN, having previously served on the TLAN Council. Kelly’s publishing history includes: three poetry chapbooks, and her poems and photos are published in numerous literary journals, including, Bellevue Literary Review, Thrush, Tupelo Quarterly, Glassworks and many more. Kelly’s fourth book of poetry will be published by Lily Press in 2023. Kelly’s plays have been produced around the US and are published by dramatic publishers. She is author of a non-fiction parenting book, Before You Forget-The Wisdom of Writing Diaries for Your Children.
A decades long producer of high-quality literary and transformative arts programming, Kelly’s past board leaderships include The International Women’s Writing Guild, Playwright’s Platform, Boston, and she co-founded and ran the New England Chapter of the American Society for Group Psychotherapy and Psychodrama. Kelly produced the Our Voices Festival of Boston Area Women Playwrights, held at Wellesley College, for twelve years. She is a Fellow in the American Society for Group Psychotherapy and Psychodrama, a Certified Psychodramatist, and a graduate of the Harvard University Graduation School of Education.
Kelly teaches creative writing workshops online and in person, including for the Transformative Language Arts Network, The International Women’s Writing Guild, and Playback North America. She produces and hosts the monthly Open Mic for the Journal of Expressive Writing. Kelly founded and facilitates the Charles River Writing Collective (formerly, Farm Pond Writers Collective) to guide women writers to write from their personal photos, develop their artistic voices and connect deeply with their creative lives. Kelly inspires readers of #NewThisDay - her daily photo-inspired blog - with her mindful reflections on a writing life. You can learn more at KellyDuMar.com.
Katia Aoun Hage
Born in Cameroon, raised in Lebanon during the civil war of 1975, Katia Aoun Hage moved to Southern California where she resides with her husband and three children. Graduated from the University of Redlands with a Masters in Music Education, Katia collaborated with dance choreographers, performed poetry and music or displayed her artwork in local venues, taught music at the middle school level and held several positions of leadership. Lately, she has launched a local publishing company, Elyssar Press, and keeps in touch with voices from Europe and the Middle East. With the onset of metastatic breast cancer, Katia has learned to slow down and finds strength in nature walks, meditation and qigong that she shares within her community or online. Her book "After the war, the Women spoke" published by Cholla Needles, speaks of the silent suffering of mothers and daughters after the Lebanese civil war. Katia Aoun Hage listens deeply to the voices inside, of her own people and hers, becoming a bridge between past and present, east and west, through her poetry, translations, music and artwork. Photo: Circus Runaway Photography.
Alfreda Ann Harris
Alfreda Ann Harris has a diverse background in education and the arts. She currently works a Children’s Learning Specialist with the Flint Public Library (FPL) and a professional Storyteller. She has a lifelong passion for learning, teaching, and making a difference in her community. Her mantra is to empower and enable people to experience and to connect with worlds beyond their neighborhoods. As a professional storyteller she enjoys teaching and coaching multi-generations, diverse cultures, and global communities in the art of storytelling. She is honored to serve as a TLAN board member.
Alfreda currently serves as a Crim Mindful Ambassador for the Flint Mindful Cities Initiative. As a practitioner of yoga and a certified mindfulness instructor she seeks opportunities to share mindfulness through storytelling. She knows firsthand how mindfulness can support people’s lives. She has the privilege of bringing mindfulness to her workplaces, and the art and music therapy groups where she is an active member. She has served as an active docent at the Flint Institute of Arts (FIA) for over a decade.
Alfreda was born in Clarksdale, Mississippi. Seeking a better life her family migrated to Flint, Michigan when she was three years old. She is a proud graduate of Beecher Community Schools, a public school district in the Flint area. She graduated from the University of California-Los Angeles with a B.A. in English and African American Studies. She attended Portland State University for training and development and the University of Michigan School of Education. Alfreda is a former Peace Corps volunteer having served in the Solomon Islands in the South Pacific working in Rural Community Education.
Alfreda is single and the eldest of seven. She takes pride in being her family’s matriarch which includes thirty-five nieces and nephews spanning three generations. She enjoys spending time with her family, traveling, reading, teaching, storytelling and cooking. She has travelled to sixteen countries and lived in five states. Alfreda now resides in the house where she grew up.
Kimberly Lee (@klcreatrix) left the practice of law some years ago to focus on motherhood, community work, and creative pursuits. A graduate of Stanford University and UC Davis School of Law, she is certified as a workshop facilitator by Amherst Writers & Artists, the Center for Journal Therapy, and SoulCollage®. She has led workshops at numerous retreats and conferences and is a teaching artist with Hugo House and Loft Literary. She serves on the board of the Transformative Language Arts Network and is actively involved with The Center for Intentional Creativity. A former editor and regular contributor at Literary Mama, Kimberly has served on the staffs of Carve and F(r)iction magazines. She holds a certificate in copyediting from UC San Diego Extension and is an active member of the Editorial Freelancers Association and ACES: The Society for Editing. Kimberly’s stories and essays have appeared in publications and anthologies including Minerva Rising, LA Parent, Fresh Ink, Words and Whispers, Toyon, The Ekphrastic Review, Wow! Women on Writing, Read650, Quillkeepers Press, I Am Woman: Expressions of Black Womanhood in America, and elsewhere. Kimberly trusts in the magic and mystery of miracles and synchronicity, and believes that everyone is creative and has unique gifts to share. She lives in Southern California with her husband and three children. See more about her work at kimberlylee.me.
Jennifer A. Minotti
Jennifer A. Minotti has 25 years of experience in communications, instructional technology & media, research, and writing. Since 2015, Jen has been a Writer-in-Residence at the Center for Women’s Health and Human Rights at Suffolk University, where she merges her passions for expressive writing, positive psychology, community organizing, women’s health, and social activism. For 17 years prior, Jen worked at Education Development Center, Inc. (EDC)—a global non-profit working to improve education, health, and economic opportunities worldwide—in a variety of technology, communication, research, writing, and leadership roles. Founder of the Journal of Expressive Writing and the Women’s Writing Circle, Jen is also the co-creator of The World's Very First Gratitude Parade and helped establish Gratitude Day in the City of Cambridge, MA.
Jen is a graduate of Boston University (B.S.) and Columbia University (M.A., M.Ed) and holds certificates in Wholebeing Positive Psychology, Transformative Language Arts Foundations, Distance Education, and Herbal Studies. Currently, she is studying to be a Journal Therapy Facilitator and Journal to the Self Instructor. Jen's writing, poetry and research can be found in literary publications, refereed journals, anthologies, and in Brattleboro, VT's "Poems Around Town" for National Poetry Month, 2022.
In addition to serving on the Board of TLAN, Jen serves as Secretary of the Board of Mass Poetry and is a dedicated practitioner of gratitude through her Gratitude Jar project. In her spare time, you can find Jen doing yoga, reading, gardening, and hanging out with her husband and children in Cambridge, MA and Barnard, VT.
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.
Beth Turner is an Emmy-award winning television journalist who loves words and the power they carry to encourage, empower and equip all of us. She is a professional expressive writing facilitator and healing storyteller who hosts workshops, retreats, conferences because she sees over and over the transformative power of words. Beth is an author, published poet, wife, and mom to three boys, an adorable mutt named Squirt, a rabbit named Esther, and a few wayward backyard chickens. She is a TLA board member, a POW conference presenter, and an overall hands-in-the-air-fist-bump-sold-out believer in the transformative power of language! See more about her work at e3story.com.
Joanna Tebbs Young
Joanna Tebbs Young, a writer, historian, and TLA facilitator, is author of the award-winning biography of Vermont historian, Lilian Baker Carlisle. Starting in 2011 as a columnist and feature writer for a small "weekly," she now writes the "Remember When" column for two Vermont newspapers. Joanna's essays have been published in various outlets and she has both a memoir and personal essay collection in the works.
Joanna holds a BA in History from Castleton University, and an MA in Transformative Language Arts and MFA in Creative Nonfiction, both from Goddard College.
A writing coach since 2009 and trained through the Center for Journal Therapy, Joanna is also a facilitator for Vermont Humanities Council and teaches online for the Transformative Language Arts Network. Additionally, she is pursuing a certificate in genealogical research, while working (very) part-time at her local library.