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International Women's Writing Guild

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Our Team

Michelle Miller, MEd, (she/her/hers)
Executive Director

Michelle joins the Guild in 2019 with over two decades of experience in international marketing and nonprofit management. Previously, Michelle directed PepsiCo’s advertising campaign from Hong Kong and Shanghai and Reebok’s global marketing campaign from Boston. She also led fundraising campaigns for NGOs focused on children’s welfare in China and human trafficking in Thailand. Michelle serves on several committees implementing social justice programs as communities rebuild from the pandemic. She believes in the power of diverse voices and in 2020 helped launch the Guild’s mentorship and global outreach programs to widen the IWWG community. Michelle holds a Master’s degree in Education from Boston College and a Bachelor’s degree in Asian Studies from Harvard University. She speaks Mandarin, French and Spanish and is writing her first novel. She lives in Providence with her daughter, Lara..



Christie A. Cruise, PhD
Board Chair

Dr. Cruise is an educator, advocate, and author with a passion for empowering Black women and girls. This passion led her to serve as a volunteer for St. Louis Children’s Hospital’s Raising St. Louis Program and Girls Incorporated of St. Louis, and an advisory board member for Nia Kuumba African and African American Women’s Spirituality Center.

Dr. Cruise released her first book, It Don’t Hurt Now: My Journey of Self-Love & Self-Acceptance, in January 2019. She has contributed to blogs for the Black Mental Wellness Corporation, The Healing Collective Global, and Spoken Black Girl. Her poetry, reflections, and self-portrait photography has been published in Gumbo Magazine, Remington Review, Gallery & Studio Arts Journal, Sunspot Literary Journal, Kitchen Table Literary Magazine, Black Minds Mag, the International Women’s Writing Guild (IWWG) anthology Heels into the Soil, and the IWWG Network edition Our Stories, Ourselves: Narratives from Black Women in Africa and America. Dr. Cruise was a participant in the Peyton Evans Residency Program (PEAR) at The Studios of Key West. She received a Bachelor of Science from the University of Illinois; a Master of Science from Eastern Illinois University; and a PhD from Bowling Green State University in Ohio. She has over 20 years of experience in higher education.





Amy Lyn Howard
Vice Chair

Amy Lyn Howard (they/them/theirs) is a poet, storyteller, advocate, educator, and a PhD candidate in the Rhetoric, Theory, and Culture program at Michigan Technological University. Amy also serves as the Associate Concert Director for a nonprofit music organization, Swallow Hill Music in Denver, CO and serves on the Editorial Board of Simple Machines, a letterpress poetry magazine.

Amy began their writing career in the 3rd grade as they illustrated, wrote, and bound their first book called The Terrible Twos and from there, in high school, they wrote a memoir called The Distilled Spirit. Currently, they are working with an editor to publish personal essays currently called Is This How You Tinder? [a working title]. These satirical essays catalogue the onslaught of bad Tinder dates they went on post-divorce.

As a PhD candidate, their research interests are guided by algorithmic justice and biopolitics while analyzing various forms of bias in algorithmic design and specifically, content censorship across social media platforms. Amy recently co-authored an article with Dr. Stefka Hristova on the intersections of contemporary pandemics: COVID-19 and the pandemic of Black American murders; and the necropolitical impacts of meme-sharing on Twitter during this time titled, It’s a Challenge: Breathing in Pandemic Times.

When Amy isn’t producing concerts in Denver, doing research, or writing, you can find them and their dog Lil' Wheezy F Baby sitting on a beach or road-tripping across the US together.



Gaye Eschenbach, CPA
Board Treasurer

Gaye Eschenbach, CPA is a Senior Manager in the Private Business Services Group of Eisner Advisory Group LLC, one of the largest accounting, tax and business advisory firms in the U.S. With over 20 years of experience, Gaye’s expertise covers many industries including manufacturing, wholesale distribution and real estate. Her responsibilities include tax planning and review, financial statement compilation and review services, as well as accounting technical support. Gaye is a member of EisnerAmper’s continuing education committee, organizing training opportunities for new and seasoned staff. She teaches courses on various tax topics and is a content provider for the EisnerAmper website. Gaye has volunteered her time to local community non­profit groups such as Ramsey Responds, PTOs, and her local homeowner’s association. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, hiking, gaming, and playing with her exuberant puppy, Alfie.


Cynthia Manick
Secretary

Cynthia Manick is a poet, storyteller, and community leader. She is the author of No Sweet Without Brine (Amistad-HarperCollins, 2023), editor of The Future of Black: Afrofuturism, Black Comics, and Superhero Poetry (Blair Publishing, 2021) and author of Blue Hallelujahs (Black Lawrence Press, 2016). She has received fellowships from Cave Canem, Hedgebrook, MacDowell Colony, and Château de la Napoule among others. Winner of the Lascaux Prize in Collected Poetry, and a performer at literary festivals, libraries, universities, and museums, Manick’s work has appeared in the Academy of American Poets Poem-A-Day Series, Callaloo, Los Angeles Review of Books (LARB), The Wall Street Journal, and elsewhere.

By day, Cynthia serves as a Scrum Master at Candid (formerly Foundation Center and GuideStar); and is Founder and curator of Soul Sister Revue, a quarterly reading series for established and emerging poets who write in the narrative tradition of storytelling. She’s currently East Coast Editor of Jamii Publishing, trustee of the NYC chapter of the Awesome Foundation, and serves on the editorial board of Alice James Books. She can be found at http://www.cynthiamanick.com/.



Batoul Ajlouni
Board Member

Batoul Ajlouni is a writer, and the award-winning author of Ditching Success? A Career Ventured; A Life Regained. She is an architectural engineer by education, a business professional and strategist by experience, and an entrepreneur, artist, hiker and nature enthusiast at heart.

Prior to embarking on her writer’s journey, Batoul belonged to the corporate world. She’s a former business executive with thirty years of experience in fifteen of the world’s toughest markets. She co-founded her computer graphics and animation company at twenty-four, before serving as a senior executive at an IT firm, helping it grow into a multinational corporation. Her responsibilities

included establishing corporate strategies, international business opportunities, and social responsibility initiatives.


Batoul’s expertise as a business leader, empowered her to mentor, speak, and engage in key development programs including Jordan’s National ICT Strategy and others addressing business, digital content, technology-in-education, entrepreneurship, gender equality, and women and youth empowerment. Batoul served on the boards of several (for- and not-for profit) organizations, including the World Refugees School, of which she was also a co-founder, and the Royal Society for the Conservation of Nature, where she still serves.

Batoul is now following her heart, exploring life and sharing her findings with those searching for answers, hoping her writing and coaching can help improve people’s lives. Batoul speaks Arabic, English, and German, and can be found at www.BatoulAjlouniAuthor.com.



Rowana Abbensetts-Dobson
Board Member


Rowana Abbensetts-Dobson is a Guyanese-American writer, author of Departure Story, and founder of Spoken Black Girl, a publishing & media company that promotes mental health and wellness among Black women & women of color by amplifying emerging voices.

Rowana has had fiction and poetry published in Moko Magazine, Obsidian: Literature & Arts in the African Diaspora, Culture Push, and Free Verse Magazine. As a freelance health and wellness writer, Rowana has written for Insider, GoodRx, Well +Good, Bold Culture by Streamline Media, The Tempest, Insider, and Electric Lit.



Jeri Brown
Board Member

Jeri Brown is a multi-dimensional artist who finds creative expression in writing, music and the stage. An American arts journalist, poet, playwright, vocal performance artist, author and avid researcher, Brown’s wide range of themes encompassing aging, social justice, resilience and improvisation have been recognized throughout North America, Europe and Africa in prose, poetry, essay, composition, lecture and performance.

Her most recent fantasy novel is A Necessary Family: Cosmo Gumbo (2022). Internationally acclaimed vocal artist, Brown has released 50 albums as leader, composer and producer and has been featured in such portrayals as Ismene in the Canadian premiere of Gospel at Colonus and Sojourner Truth in the U.S. premiere of Ain’t I A Woman. Brown founded Jongleur Opera Company, launching several productions.

Born in Missouri, Brown is professor emerita of Music, Theatre and Dance at Concordia University (Montreal), where she served as Director of Vocal Studies and Chair of Jazz Studies. Music lovers know the soprano best for her renditions in classical, jazz, spiritual and original repertoire including ethnopoetic selections of civil rights and pan-African activists.

As co-founder and board member of the life-transition organization Epilog, she serves as author, celebrant, certified end-of-life doula and hostess of the international ZOOM get-together Death Café. She lives in Halifax, Nova Scotia.




Kai Coggin
Board Member

Kai Coggin (she/her) is the author of four poetry collections, most recently Mining for Stardust (FlowerSong Press 2021) and INCANDESCENT (Sibling Rivalry Press 2019). She is a queer woman of color who thinks Black Lives Matter, a K-12 Teaching Artist in poetry with the Arkansas Arts Council and Arkansas Learning Through the Arts, an Artist INC facilitator with the Mid-America Arts Alliance, and host of the longest running consecutive weekly open mic series in the country—Wednesday Night Poetry.

Recently awarded the 2021 Governor’s Arts Award, named “Best Poet in Arkansas” by the Arkansas Times, and nominated as Hot Springs Woman of the Year, her fierce and powerful poetry has been nominated four times for The Pushcart Prize, as well as Bettering American Poetry 2015, and Best of the Net 2016, 2018, 2021— awarded in 2022. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in POETRY, Prairie Schooner, Best of the Net, Cultural Weekly, SOLSTICE, Bellevue Literary Review, TAB, Entropy, SWWIM, Split This Rock, Sinister Wisdom, Lavender Review, Tupelo Press, and elsewhere. Coggin is Associate Editor at The Rise Up Review.

She lives with her wife and their two adorable dogs in the valley of a small mountain in Hot Springs National Park, Arkansas.



Trish Hopkinson
Board Member

Trish Hopkinson is a poet and literary arts advocate. You can find her online at SelfishPoet.com and provisionally in Colorado. Hopkinson is co-founder and director of Rock Canyon Poets since 2014, a regional poetry group with over 50 members. She co-founded Provo Poetry in 2015 to feature Utah poets in Poemball vending machines with three permanent locations in Provo and Salt Lake City. Provo Poetry and Rock Canyon Poets have been featured on KSL, KRCL, 15 Bytes, Slug Magazine, The Daily Herald, and City Weekly among others. In addition, Hopkinson curates Poetry Happens, a monthly feature on KRCL’s RadioACTive. Her poetry has been published in several magazines and journals, including Sugar House Review, Glass Poetry Press, and The Penn Review; her third chapbook Footnote was published by Lithic Press in 2017, and her most recent e-chapbook Almost Famous was published by Yavanika Press in 2019. Hopkinson happily answers to labels such as atheist, feminist, and empty nester; and enjoys traveling, live music, wine tasting, and craft beer.



Cristina Juvier
Board Member

Cristina Juvier joined the governing board of The International Women’s Writers Guild in March 2022.  Headquartered in New York City, the Guild seeks to build a vibrant global literary arts community that empowers women writers through learning experiences that foster personal and professional growth.

Ms. Juvier is Chief People Officer at Scholastic Corporation, the world's largest publisher and distributor of children's books, a leading provider of literacy curriculum, professional services, and classroom magazines, and a producer of educational and entertaining children's media.  Based in New York, Ms. Juvier brings broad, strategic human resources leadership across Scholastic to best support employees.  She leads Scholastic's human resources organization in the U.S. and serves as a global resource to bring best practices to offices throughout the world with a focus on professional development and diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging initiatives. 

From 2019 to 2022, Ms. Juvier served as Head of Human Resources at Reuters, and was Head of Diversity & Inclusion for Thomson Reuters as a whole since 2021.  In these roles, she was responsible for all aspects of human resources for the world's largest international multimedia news provider with 2,500 journalists in more than 200 locations around the world. 

Ms. Juvier began her career in corporate law and moved into human resources management while working for AIG, where she was in the Latin America division before moving to work on European and Emerging Markets business.  She later came to New York as Head of Human Resources for the Chartis Latin America and Caribbean region and has also held leadership roles at Cablevision and the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.  Ms. Juvier, a native Spanish speaker, holds her undergraduate degree from the University of California, Berkeley and a J.D. from the University of Houston Law Center.




Chris Sagona
Board Member

Chris Sagona is a longtime journalist having worked as Associate Producer and Foreign News Assignment Editor in television, as Managing Editor for newspapers, and as news correspondent specializing in crime, religion, and foreign news. She has won Press Association and Society of Professional Journalist Awards for Best Feature Writing, First Amendment Writing, Investigative Reporting, Breaking News, Deadline Reporting, and Excellence in Journalism for Distinguished Public Service.

She is a founding steering member of her state's coalition against human trafficking. She speaks German, Italian, and Spanish, and holds a Master’s Degree in Public Policy/Child Advocacy. Chris has been United Nations Observer since 2014, representing the League of Women Voters of the United States at the United Nations, with focus on human rights and women and girls' self-empowerment globally.

Chris is a founding steering member of her state's coalition against human trafficking, and she is a CASA (court-appointed special advocate) for children in the foster care system. Chris is a member of the National Religion Newswriters Association (RNA), and NY Women in Film and Television (NYWIFT) and is Executive Board Member for her state's Displaced Homemaker Network. Chris has also served as panelist at the United Nations on the topics of ending online harassment of women and girls, ending the business of human trafficking, and ensuring women and girls' social, political, and economic empowerment.




Lisa St. John
Board Member

Lisa St. John is a writer living in the Hudson Valley of New York State. Her chapbook, Ponderings, was published by Finishing Line Press, and Swallowing Stones, her first book of poetry, is forthcoming by Kelsay Books. Lisa’s writing has been published in numerous journals and anthologies including Light, Entropy Magazine, The Poetry Distillery, Poets Reading the News, Boomer Lit, Chronogram, Sleet, 2 Elizabeths: Volume I: Love & Romance, and Tales to Inspire: Moonstone Collection. Her awards include Winner of The Poet’s Billow’s Bermuda Triangle Contest and finalist for both the Rash Award in Poetry by Broad River Review and New Millennium Writings 44th Literary Awards. Lisa is also a board member of the Stone Ridge Library Foundation and a volunteer for the SUNY Ulster Community College Foundation Board.

As a former high school English teacher and current adjunct for SUNY New Paltz, Lisa

supervises new student teachers. She has been a member of the IWWG since 2017, and currently

co-hosts the Featured Author and Open Mic Series.



Laurie White
Board Member


Laurie White (she/her) is a queer and sober writer, editor, journalist and digital community builder. A daily creative writer since the age of four, she has published essays, feature articles and posts in a variety of print and digital publications, planned and launched websites, edited books, and worked extensively as a sensitivity reader. She currently runs large-scale social media programs and creates digital publications for companies and organizations seeking to build community and meet editorial goals. An original contributing editor for the late, great BlogHer.com, she covered breaking news, family, photography and travel, with her essays twice-recognized as BlogHer Voices of the Year, and published in a food writing anthology. She received honorable mention in the essay category for the Erma Bombeck Humor Writing Conference writing contest. A longtime educator, she worked for 12 years as a counselor and professor of composition at Montgomery College in Rockville, Maryland, and is a staunch advocate for equity and affordability in K-12 and higher education, and for comprehensive writing, reading and digital literacy instruction and support at all levels.

She holds a master's in multimedia journalism from the University of Maryland, College Park, and a master's in counseling from the University of Dayton, Ohio. Laurie lives in the Maryland suburbs of Washington, D.C. with a puggle named Hoover and a vibrant and creative community of family and friends. Find her online at lauriemedia.com and on Instagram at @lauriemedia.





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