Executive Board

Christina Chiu, 2023 Board President Irena Gecas-McCarthy, 2022-2023 Board TreasurerJamie B. Clarke
2023 Board Secretary
An executive board member since 2019, Christina Chiu is the current Board President. The winner of the James Alan McPherson Award for her novel, Beauty (2040 Books/sfwp), she is also the author of Troublemaker and Other Saints, which was nominated for the Stephen Crane First Fiction Award, won the Asian American Literary Award, and was chosen for Alternate Selection of the Book-of-the-Month Club. Her stories have appeared in Tin House, The New Guard Literary Review, Washington Square, The MacGuffin, and she has won literary prizes from Playboy, New Stone Circle, El Dorado Writers’ Guild, and World Wide Writers.
She is a founding member of the Asian American Writers’ Workshop and the recipient of the Wai Luk Award for Outstanding Service to the Arts. Chiu curates and co-hosts the “Let’s Talk Books” Author Series sponsored by the New York Writers Workshop, as well as the Pen Parentis Literary Salon in New York City. She received her MFA in creative writing from Columbia University. She has been a treasured Salons Curator for many years.
Irena Gecas-McCarthy has over 25 years of experience in financial services. She joined the board in June 2020 and is Board Treasurer. She is a principal in Deloitte & Touche LLP’s Banking and Capital Markets Risk and Financial Advisory practice with experience in providing a broad range of clients assistance with governance, regulatory, risk management and compliance matters. Irena also serves as the leader of the Financial Services Industry Center for Regulatory Strategy, Americas which is a source of critical insight and advice to clients. Prior to Deloitte, she was a senior examiner for the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.Former Board President Jamie B. Clarke has been a volunteer with Pen Parentis since its 2009 inception before joining the executive board and taking up the position of secretary in 2015. She returns to the vital position in 2022, bringing with her a wide variety of professional and volunteer experience to the organization.
Previous positions include the executive boards of the Allentown Public Library Association, the Saturday Evening Dance Club, the Allentown Food Pantry and the Monmouth Council of the Boy Scouts of America.
In addition to her role with Pen Parentis she is an active volunteer with Start2Finish and an enthusiastic participant in the Society for Learning in Retirement. She served as Pen Parentis' Board President during the Pandemic (2021-2022), and prior to this position, was Board Secretary for many years.
Andrew Meagher
Jennifer Probst
Vanessa Walters
A consummate strategist who joined the board in mid 2023, Andrew Meagher spent his early career working in senior global leadership roles for, and with, multinational
organizations primarily in the Media, Financial Services and Information Technology sectors.
He has served on the Executive Leadership Teams of both the Reuters News Agency and the Thomson
Reuters Financial and Risk business. An advisor to the leaders of 150 multinational corporations and Not for
Profits operating in Australia and across APAC, he now runs a networking business, providing best practice,
thought leadership and regulatory advice. He joins the Pen Parentis board as a longtime Salons attendee, avid reader and book-loving father of 3, eager to lead the board in responsibly aligning cultural values, driving innovation and implementing data driven initiatives to help the nonprofit grow.
An enthusiastic Board Member since early 2022, Jennifer Probst is the New York Times, USA Today, and Wall Street Journal bestselling author of over fifty books in contemporary romance fiction, women’s fiction, and children’s books. THE MARRIAGE BARGAIN, spent 26 weeks on the New York Times. Her work has been translated in over a dozen countries, sold over a million copies, and was dubbed a “romance phenom” by Kirkus Reviews. She is also a proud three-time RITA finalist a former reader at Pen Parentis and the mother of three kids. www.jenniferprobst.com.
Joining the Executive Board in 2022, Vanessa Walters is a writer and media consultant. An author and playwright originally from the UK, she has been based in New York since 2018 and has lived and worked internationally (Nigeria, France, Indonesia) over the years.
Her past novels are Rude Girls, The Best Things in Life (PanMacmillan), and a commissioned chapbook of poems and nonfiction pieces Smoke! Othello! about the black historical presence in West London. She has had several of her plays staged in the UK, focusing on Theatre in Education.
She is an active school parent, serving on the school leadership team and the advisory council of the Brooklyn Conservatory of Music.
Her diverse media experience spans Thomson Reuters, The Guardian, FT, and digital media with a global youth audience like Bella Naija.
Vanessa curates and hosts workshops around writing or books, passionate about creating accessible safe spaces for diverse communities to write freely.
Her latest work, THE NIGERWIFE, is under development at HBO.
Helen Wan
Helene M. EpsteinJulie Paddleford
Helen Catherine Wan joined the executive board in March 2020 as a trustee. A Taiwanese-American novelist and lawyer, she is the author of the 2013 novel The Partner Track, the story of a young Chinese-American woman poised to become the first minority female partner at a powerful, prestigious corporate law firm and the basis for the 2022 Netflix series Partner Track. She is a media lawyer and author, writing mostly about diversity and belonging, and how race, sex, class, and family impact ambition and the pursuit of happiness. Her nonfiction work has appeared in The Washington Post, The Daily Beast, and HuffPo, and she enjoys teaching fiction at The Writers' Circle Workshops and The Asian American Writers Workshop. Helen is VP & Associate General Counsel at Hachette Book Group USA, where she advises on intellectual property and other matters. Previously, she was in-house counsel at Time Inc. and A+E Networks. Helen lives in New Jersey with her family, believes strongly in the mission of Pen Parentis, and is honored to serve on its Board. Helene M. Epstein has been a published freelance writer for over 25 years and on the board of Pen Parentis since March 2020. She is a member of the American Society of Journalists & Authors (ASJA) and the Association of Health Care Journalists (AHCJ). While she has written on a wide range of topics from advertising, architecture, and beauty to parenting, patient safety, and real estate, since 2005 Helene's work has focused on families in crisis and patient safety. She currently pens an ongoing column­ ––Dx IQ––for the Society to Improve Diagnosis in Medicine (SIDM). Helene also speaks to groups about medical error. She serves on boards, committees, and panels for organizations in the arts and medicine, including Brightpoint Care and SIDM, and in the past for the Regional Arts Commission of St. Louis and the United Way. She is working on a memoir about her son’s 15 years in medical crisis.
Her website: HMEpstein.com
Former Board Secretary (2021-22) Julie Paddleford relates that in all aspects of her work, she finds that her passions lie with finding methods to streamline processes and create efficiency. An operations and systems expert, she is comfortable working with all levels of an organization from hourly personnel through upper management and customers. In addition to passing her expertise to Pen Parentis since 2019, she has created and managed complex spreadsheets to track estimated product cost for a design with 400+ unique parts and project cost for a $70 million production line. She is an engineer who also speaks finance and a valued member of the Board.
Mai Lauren Hoang
Milda De Voe, ad hoc member,
Founder and Executive Director
Joining the executive board in March 2020, Mai Lauren Hoang is a writer living in Brooklyn. As a journalist, her articles have appeared in The Washington Post and The New York Times. She has worked on the staff of Ms., Glamour, World Press Review, CosmoGirl, Every Day with Rachael Ray, among other magazines. Her fiction received a First Chapter prize from the Bronx Council for the Arts and appeared in the anthology, Tilting the Continent. Born in Vietnam and raised in California, she has lived in South Africa and has traveled widely on six continents. As an editor for a travel company, she has observed nesting penguins in Antarctica, held rescued orangutan orphans in Borneo, and traipsed with blue-footed boobies and giant tortoises in the Galapagos. She is working on a refugee memoir about family separation, reunion, and finding home. She inaugurated and runs the Brooklyn Pen Parentis weekly meetups at The Center for Fiction.Pen Parentis Founder Milda M. De Voe created the concept of Pen Parentis, Ltd, in 2009. A Columbia MFA graduate and Writing Fellow, she served as the first Board President from 2013 to 2018 and remains on the Board as a nonvoting Member at Large. Incorporation as a New York State nonprofit in early 2013 was the realization of a dream for De Voe, who is also the Executive Director of the nonprofit. She has co-hosted the salons without break since January 2009. An award winning writer of short stories in multiple genres and poetry, she is a parent to two urban kids. She co-wrote the book of a scifi musical, R/Evolution, produced off-Broadway. She has been the recipient of four years of Manhattan Community Arts Fund Grants and one year of grants from The Fund For Creative Communities, as well as grants from Poets & Writers, Inc., the John A Hartman Foundation, New York State Council in the Arts, and the Sustainable Arts Foundation, Amazon Foundation, and a Grant for Creative Communities in support of her work with Pen Parentis. It is De Voe's hope that Pen Parentis can encourage all writers who are parents to stay on creative track.
Her book about Pen Parentis won first prize in writing/publishing guides in 2021:
Her author website: 
Facebook: www.facebook.com/mmdevoe
Twitter: @mmdevoe
Do you have what it takes to serve on an Arts Board? We want to hear from you. Contact us.

Advisory Board

Arthur PhillipsDarin StraussEmily Raboteau
Arthur Phillips is the NY Times notable author of five novels: Prague, named a New York Times Notable Book and recipient of The Los Angeles Times/Art Seidenbaum Award for best first novel; The Egyptologist, an international bestseller on more than a dozen “Best of 2004” lists, Angelica, which made The Washington Post best fiction of 2007 and led that paper to call him "One of the best writers in America," The Song Is You, a New York Times Notable Book, on the Post's best of 2009 list which inspired Kirkus to write, "best American novelist to have emerged in the present decade," finally, The Tragedy of Arthur, published in 2011 to critical acclaim, including being named a New York Times Notable Book. The play taken from that book received its world premiere reading at New York's Public Theater in 2011 and was fully produced in 2013 by the Guerrilla Shakespeare Project. Three films based on his works are currently in development.  Photo Credit: Barbi Anne Reed
Darin Strauss is a recipient of the Guggenheim Fellowship, a winner of the American Library Association's Alix Award and The National Book Critics Circle Award, and the internationally-bestselling author of the novels Chang & Eng, The Real McCoy, and More Than It Hurts You, and the NBCC-winning memoir Half a Life. These have been New York Times Notable Books, Newsweek, Los Angeles Times, San Francisco Chronicle, Amazon, Chicago Tribune, and NPR Best Books of the Year, among others. Darin is a Clinical Associate Professor at NYU's creative writing program.
Emily Raboteau is the author of a novel, The Professor's Daughter, and a work of creative nonfiction, Searching for Zion. Raboteau's awards include a Pushcart Prize, a literature fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts, first prize in Spain's world-class $20K international flash fiction competition (judged by Ambassadors from all over the world) and the Chicago Tribune's Nelson Algren Award. A consummate world-traveler, she recently visited Antarctica for research. She teaches creative writing at City College in Harlem.  
Jenna KalinskyJennifer EganMaria Granovsky
Jenna Kalin­sky has pub­lished fic­tion, non­fic­tion and poetry in EM Lit­er­ary, The Okla­homa Review, Eleven Bulls, NYC BigC­ityLit,12 Mag­a­zine, So To Speak, Fam­ily Out­look Mag­a­zine, The Jew­ish Mag­a­zine, Des­cant, and the LA Times best­selling The Mod­ern Jew­ish Girl’s Guide to Guilt (Pen­guin), win­ner of the National Jew­ish Book Award. Her awards and schol­ar­ships include the Toronto Arts Coun­cil, Bread­loaf Writ­ers’ Con­fer­ence, and Eden Mills Lit­er­ary Festival.

Orig­i­nally from Los Ange­les, Jenna received her MFA from Colum­bia Uni­ver­sity. She lives in Toronto, Canada, where she teaches writ­ing and works as a pri­vate writ­ing coach and edi­tor. She is in the final stages of a novel. She owns and runs One Lit Place, a full service writing center.
Jennifer Egan is the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of five books: The Invisible Circus, released as a feature film by Fine Line in 2001, Emerald City and Other Stories, Look at Me, nominated for the National Book Award in 2001, and the bestselling The Keep.  Her new book, A Visit From the Goon Squad was a national bestseller and won the 2011 Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Critics Circle Award for Fiction, and the LA Times Book Prize.  Also a journalist, she writes frequently in the New York Times Magazine. PHOTO CREDIT: Pieter M. Van Hattem.
Maria Granovsky uses her background as a cancer biologist and lawyer  to craft fast-paced, intricately plotted capers, where the protagonists rely on their wits rather than their brawn, and the body count rises only as much as is necessary.  She currently lives in New York City, but has lived a nomadic international existence. Her debut novel, Poison Pill, was published in October 2012. You can follow her on Facebook or Twitter. Photo Credit: Robbie Michaels.
Twitter account: @MGranovsky
Facebook: facebook.com/granovskym
Book page on Amazon: PoisonPill
Pang-Mei Natasha ChangRenée ZuckerbrotTodd Wellman
Pang-Mei Natasha Chang writes about identity, relationships, and the intersection of cultures, generations and the sexes. Her memoir, Bound Feet & Western Dress (Doubleday/Anchor), has been translated in ten countries, and made into a twelve-part television mini-series in China. Natasha's writings has been included in the New York Times Magazine, New Haven Review, and Saveur magazine. She has taught writing at Yale University and Bard College. Presently at work on a novel, she lives in Union Square with her two daughters.
John Culloty, photographer
Renée Zuckerbrot has been a literary agent for many years. She worked previously as an editor at Doubleday and in the editorial department at G.P. Putnam's Sons. She is on PEN's Membership Committe and the Board of the Council of Literary Magazines and Presses (CLMP). photo credit: Sarah Shatz.Todd Wellman (he/him), a Lambda Literary Fellow (2019), received his MA in writing from UW-Milwaukee and served as fiction editor for cream city review. His writing has appeared in The James Franco Review, Lunch Ticket, Indie Next, Lambda Literary Review, Emerge Anthology, Beyond Queer Words, LGBTQ Unbordered International Film Festival, Writers in Paradise conference, and more. He also volunteers with Newfound and serves in development at a leading southeastern US fine arts museum. Learn more at toddwe.com.
Renee SimmsLeigh NewmanVictor LaValle
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Having served on the Exec Board from 2020-2021, Renee Simms is a celebrated author who has read at the Pen Parentis Literary Salons. Her debut story collection, Meet Behind Mars, was a Foreword Indies Finalist and listed by The Root as one of twenty-eight brilliant books by black authors in 2018. She has received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and Bread Loaf, and teaches at the University of Puget Sound and in the Rainier Writing Workshop at Pacific Lutheran University. She is an Associate Professor in African American Studies at the University of Puget Sound in Washington state, where she teaches courses in African American literature and black feminist theory. She holds a JD from Wayne State University Law School as well as an MFA from Arizona State University.
Leigh Newman is deputy editor of Oprah.com, where she writes about books and life and editor-at-large for the indie press Black Balloon Publishing.  Her memoir about her Alaskan childhood, Still Points North (Dial, 2013), premiered while still in manuscript format at one of the earliest Pen Parentis salons. Her essays and short stories have appeared a variety of publications including One Story, Tin House, Fiction, the New York Times, Modern Love. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband, two boys and many, many light sabers. Her work can be found at leigh-newman.comVictor LaValle is the author of the short story collection Slapboxing with Jesus, three novels, The Ecstatic (PEN Open Book Award), Big Machine (Shirley Jackson Award for Best Novel, American Book Award), and The Devil in Silver, and a novella, Lucretia and the Kroons. He has been the recipient of numerous awards including several "best of" awards, a Whiting Writers' Award, a United States Artists Ford Fellowship, a Guggenheim Fellowship and the key to Southeast Queens. He now lives in Washington Heights with his wife, son and daughter. He is acting Fiction Director at Columbia University.
Emily PulleyLoretta ShapiroEmily Speer Ryan

Emily Pulley, a famed soprano known for her radiant voice and electrifying acting, has won both national and international acclaim on the operatic stage. Up next, Ms. Pulley will see her role debut as Georgetta in Il Tabarro for the Opera Theatre of St. Louis, performs Julie in Showboat with Central City Opera in Colorado, and returns to the Metropolitan Opera for their production of Shostakovich’s The Nose. She is an avid reader.Loretta Shapiro, having recently retired, is now devoting herself wholeheartedly to her painting. Bond Street in Tribeca recently held a retrospective exhibit of her works. As an ardent lover of literature she completed most of a Ph.D. in English Literature before deciding to get a fine arts degree from the School of Visual Arts. A resident of the Financial District for nearly three decades, she is delighted to have been an original attendee at the Pen Parentis Literary Salons, and has been a strong supporter of the series ever since. She also serves as a museum ambassador at the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian.Emily Speer Ryan is the Director, Success Management Strategy and Operations at Splunk. Founding Treasurer of Pen Parentis for many years, she was instrumental in creating Pen Parentis at its inception. Emily is an avid public speaker, creating the processes required for excellent communication and growth at Splunk. Prior to her work in the tech industry, Emily was an independent film and media producer in New York City. She considers herself a New Yorker (a title she earned after living in Manhattan for eleven years) even though she grew up in the wilds of northern Idaho, married in San Francisco, and now lives in Colorado. Emily is a classically trained vocalist. She has a degree in Musical Theater from The New School University. Emily has worked with several non-profits and has served on the board as treasurer for Canticorum Virtuosi, Inc. prior to working with Pen Parentis, where she was the Treasurer from 2013 to 2019. She was one of the three original board members of Pen Parentis (along with Milda De Voe and Michael Del Castillo).
Laura Rose BloxhamAditi DavrayArlaina Tibensky

Serving as Executive Board Member from 2015-2019, Laura Bloxham is a managing associate of the Technology Companies Group in the Portland office of Orrick. She represents high growth technology and life sciences companies in formation, venture capital and a variety of general corporate and governance matters. Working with partner organizations such as Lawyers Alliance for New York, she has previously represented several non-profit organizations, including Pen Parentis Ltd., in seeking incorporation, implementing by-laws and conflicts of interest policies and applying for 501(c)(3) federal tax exemption status. Prior to joining Orrick, Ms. Bloxham worked in New York at Milbank, Goldman Sachs and NYSE Euronext. She avidly reads in both English and French and was one of the first “regulars” at a Pen Parentis Salon.Serving as Interim Board Treasurer for 2019 having just joined the Executive Board, Aditi Davray did Pen Parentis a great service in her year on the Executive Board. She has a vast experience with nonprofit boards, and is a consultant to nonprofit, philanthropic and private sector organizations. Over the last decade, she has worked on projects with nonprofit organizations, in the areas of program management, resource development, program design and implementation, board development and strategic communications. Aditi received a Master's of Public Administration and Nonprofit Management and Public Policy from New York University's Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service. Aditi is co-Chair of the Board of Directors at Rescuing Leftover Cuisine and an Advisor to visit.orgServing as Executive Board Member from November 2015 to May 2020, Arlaina Tibensky also helped inaugurate the reading series at Pen Parentis and curated and co-hosted the events from 2009 to 2013, working with M. M. to transform them from an after-work reading series into the vibrant Salons we know today. She is the author of the young adult novel, And Then Things Fall Apart, a Junior Library Guild Selection, and an ALA/YALSA Reader’s Choice nominee for realistic fiction. Other work can be found in One Teen Story, One Story, Inkwell, McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, The Madison Review, and The Dinner Party Download on NPR. She’s taught adults and teenagers in workshops throughout New York city, has an MFA from Columbia University, and has been recognized by the Sustainable Arts Foundation, the New York Foundation for the Arts and The Northern Manhattan Arts Alliance. She is the parent of two boys and lives in New Jersey where she continues to teach creative writing.
Marina Aris
Marina Aris, author, speaker & creative entrepreneur, succeeded the founding President of the Board from 2018 until May 2020 and served as a brilliant Board member until 2023. She also serves as an ambassador for the Authors Guild NYC Chapter and is a member of ALLi, the Alliance of Independent Authors and IBPA, the Independent Book Publishers Association. Marina is the host of Life Lines The Books Podcast. She is the founder of the Brooklyn Writers Co, and the Brooklyn Writers Press. She is an author, speaker, publishing strategist and host of the Publishers Studio podcast. to help them write, publish, market and distribute their work.