Our Board

Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg

Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg, Ph.D., is the founder of Transformative Language Arts and co-founder of the TLA Network. The 2009-13Kansas Poet Laureate is the author of 24 books, including How Time Moves: New & Selected Poems; Miriam's Well, a novel; and The Sky Begins At Your Feet: A Memoir on Cancer, Community, and Coming Home to the Body.She co-edited The Power of Words: A TLA Reader with Janet Tallman and Transformative Language Arts in Action with Ruth Farmer. A beloved writing workshop facilitator and writing and Right Livelihood coach, she co-leads Your Right Livelihood with Kathryn Lorenzen, Brave Voice with Kelley Hunt, and the Art of Facilitation with Joy Roulier Sawyer. See her Patreon page for weekly care packages for a creative life. She makes home on family land she and her husband are preserving. Lawrence, Kansas. Board chair.

John Swainston

John L. Swainston started writing poetry to cope with feelings of isolation during COVID.  He learned the craft by taking Zoom classes in poetry and writing at Turning Point, a support organization. He is a Member of the Mystic Poet Society, The Writers Place, and The Kansas City Writers Group.  He has had twenty-seven poems published with three awards: a poem in Veterans’ Voices received Editor’s Choice Award. His first book of poems, Memory Box, was published spring 2022. John is a retired Finance Executive, College Adjunct Professor, and Army Veteran. Gardner, Kansas. Board treasurer.

Amanda Faye Lacson

Amanda Faye Lacson is a Filipino-American writer, photographer and historian. She studied TLA at Goddard College. Her work, both personal and community-oriented, is centered on exploring identity (especially race, ethnicity, and gender expectations), family, and historical and social context. Amanda brings leadership and collaboration experience to the TLAN Board as a founding member of the Goddard Alumni Council; Biographers Guild of Greater New York; and as a co-facilitator of writing workshops and learning circles. Amanda is also the founder of Family Archive Business, a company that will serve the family historian preserving their own family history through workshops and coaching. New York City. Membership & Outreach Committee co-chair.

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. Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Global Committee co-chair

Vanita Leatherwood

Poet/artist and social change educator Vanita Leatherwood, M.A., facilitates TLA programs that nurture wellbeing, personal growth and social consciousness. Vanita owns The Yes Within, facilitating virtual and in-person workshops for groups and individuals. She specializes in issues related to personal discovery, trauma healing, racial equity, stress management, chronic pain conditions, and creativity cultivation. Vanita is the Director of Community Engagement at HopeWorks where her work includes facilitating TLA programs for survivors of sexual and intimate partner violence. In addition to her TLA Board work, Vanita is a member of the Teaching Artists Guild and the National Association of Poetry Therapy. Milford, Delaware.

Aryn Bartley

Aryn Bartley lives in Eugene, Oregon, where she teaches writing and literature at Lane Community College. Writing, drawing, and photography help her to find joy and meaning in everyday life. Certified in Transformative Language Arts Foundations and trained in narrative medicine facilitation and the social-emotional arts, she also leads creative wellness workshops in the community, most frequently for people experiencing postpartum depression and anxiety. Aryn loves to be present in these spaces, which allow participants to come together to share their stories and bear witness to each others’ experiences. Eugene, Oregon. Classes co-chair. 

Kelly Hams Pearson

Kelly Hams Pearson is a blogger, poet, trainer, consultant, and creative coach. She views life as a continuous journey of placing faith in action.  One of those many creatives with a required 9 to 5, she serves as Director of Community Based Programs and Clinical Services for the 16th Judicial Circuit-Jackson County Family Court. Kelly continues to be a fledging seminary student at the Chicago Theological Seminary, a devoted caregiver to her husband, a reformed helicopter mom, an ardent fan of meditative stretch yoga, and an involved member of her community. Parkville, Missouri.

Kathryn Lorenzen

Kathryn Lorenzen is a career coach, creativity coach, singer-songwriter, and poet. Her songs have appeared in feature films and TV series including The Americans and Last Man On Earth. With an earlier career in copywriting and marketing communications, she is now a career coach to writers and artists seeking livelihood in support of their art. In partnership with Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg, she is co-leader of Your Right Livelihood. Kathryn is a frequent speaker on career topics and a mentor to students launching their careers. Her music is on most streaming services. Fairway, Kansas.

Cheryl Kane

Words and language arts have been part of Cheryl Kane’s identity throughout her lifetime. As a former Language Arts educator, one of her greatest joys has been helping young writers find their voice. As a poet, fiction and essay author, she marvels at the way words build bridges between people and uncover the universal similarities among them, regardless of how different things may appear on the surface. Cheryl and her husband have been married for 34 years. They are the proud parents of three adult children, and own two dogs, Winston and Holly. Tulsa, Oklahoma. Classes co-chair.

Marianela Medrano

Marianela Medrano was born and raised in the Dominican Republic and has lived in Connecticut, USA since 1990. A poet and a writer of nonfiction and fiction, she holds a PhD in psychology. Her literary work has appeared in anthologies and magazines in Latin America, Europe and the United States.Her poetry has been translated into Italian and French. Medrano’s individual publications include: Oficio de Vivir (Buho,1986), Los Alegres Ojos de la Tristeza (Buho,1987), Regando Esencias/ The Scent of Waiting (Alcance,1998), Curada de Espantos (Torremozas, 2002), Diosas de la Yuca, (Torremozas, 2011), Prietica (Alfaguara, 2013).  Rooting (Owlfeather Collective, 2017).  See her TEDTALK at Ursuline College. New Haven, Connecticut.

Joy Zimmerman

Joy Zimmerman is a touring folk & acoustic roots singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist. Joy’s soulful voice lights up songs of hope, resilience, and humor. Her eighth album, The Canvas Before Us, debuted at #8 on the Folk Alliance international Folk Chart in 2021. A former social worker, Joy is an ArtistINC alumnus and an Artist as Activist grant recipient from the Mid-America Arts Alliance. Joy’s many collaborations include a portrait exhibit she curated based on her song, “Women Who Walked on Water,” at the InterUrban ArtHouse. Joy loves outdoor adventures and living with her wife in Kansas City. Prairie Village, Kansas. Power of Words conference co-chair.

Tracie Nichols

Tracie Nichols, MA is a Transformative Language Artist helping people write themselves home through her ongoing writing circles and writing workshops nurturing personal awareness, resilience, and transformation. She especially loves supporting women who are exploring—particularly women with the trait of High Sensitivity and women of deepening years. A poet and facilitator, Tracie founded the Saturday Writing Circle and co-founded the Embodied Writers group with sister writer/facilitator Elizabeth Chesla. She writes and facilitates from under the wide reach of two old Sycamore trees in southeastern Pennsylvania where she lives with her husband, her sons, and a very large ginger tabby cat named Strider. Lansdale, Pennsylvania. Newsletter editor.

Please see the contact us page to get in touch. 

The Transformative Language Arts Network is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization

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