Executive Board

Julie Paddleford
Board President
Elisabeth Wixon
Interim Board Treasurer
Jamie B. Clarke
Board Secretary
Interim Board President 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.Interim Board Treasurer Lisa Wixon wrote the award-winning novels DIRTY BLONDE AND HALF-CUBAN (HarperCollins) and the Spanish-language CASI RUBIA EN LA ISLA DEL DESEO (HarperCollins/Rayo). Her political opinions on Latin America have appeared in The Washington Post and USA Today. Born and raised in the American West, she began writing for her hometown newspaper as a teen and won Nevada state press association awards for her reporting. While at university, she interned Kroll Associates, the world’s first private corporate intelligence firm. In her later career, she returned to risk analysis and intelligence and currently advises high-net-worth individuals and private companies as to political, economic, and social instability. Since 2010, Lisa has served as treasurer on the Executive Board of MusiCan , a nonprofit that provides children’s music programming in public schools in disadvantaged New York City neighborhoods. She also serves on the events committee for the Choose Creativity Awards for the Lulu & Leo Fund . For both work and pleasure, Lisa has traveled to more than 100 countries and has sailed throughout the Atlantic and Caribbean aboard the 28-meter ketch Shere Khan. She is currently at work on a geopolitical thriller about art. Twitter: @LisaWixon
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 brings 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.
Renee SimmsMilda De Voe
Founder and Executive Director
Joining the Board in 2020, 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.
ReneeSimms.com
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 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, and she funded the first Fellowship in 2010 from her own pocket. She is also 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, which was produced off-Broadway in 2015. 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 to complete the amazing, thoughtful works of fiction they had been planning before starting a family.

Her author website: www.mmdevoe.com
Facebook: www.facebook.com/mmdevoe
Twitter: @mmdevoe
Marina Aris
Helene M. EpsteinChristina Chiu
Succeeding the Founding President in 2018, Marina Aris, author, speaker & creative entrepreneur, was the President of the Board until May 2020. 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, Co-host of the Content Billionaires Podcast and the founder of the Brooklyn Writers Project and the Brooklyn Writers Press. She works with writers one-on-one or in small group settings to help them write, publish, market and distribute their work.
brooklynwritersproject.com
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
An executive board member since 2019, Christina Chiu is 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.
Mai Lauren Hoang
Helen Wan
Irena Gecas-McCarthy
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.Helen Wan joined the executive board in March 2020 as a trustee. She is a media lawyer and author, writing on diversity, equity and inclusion, and how race, sex, class, and family impact the pursuit of happiness. Her novel THE PARTNER TRACK (Macmillan), about an Asian American woman navigating the alien culture of a corporate law firm, is taught in law schools and colleges. Her work has also appeared in The Washington Post, The Daily Beast, and HuffPo. Helen has taught fiction at The Writers' Circle Workshops and The Asian American Writers Workshop. Before this, Helen was Associate General Counsel at Time Inc., focusing on entertainment and intellectual property law, and is now Counsel at A+E Networks. She attended Amherst College and The University of Virginia School of Law and was a featured author at Pen Parentis. Helen lives in New Jersey with her family, and is honored to serve on the Board.Irena Gecas-McCarthy joined the board in June 2020. She is a principal in Deloitte & Touche LLP’s US Banking and Securities Regulatory practice with experience in providing clients assistance with regulatory, compliance, risk management, and operational controls issues. She advises clients for pre-examination diagnostic, post-examination remediation, and supervisory action response purposes. She has led remediation projects and performed gap analyses. Prior to Deloitte, she was a senior examiner for the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.

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
www.arthurphillips.info
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.
darinstrauss.com
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.  
emilyraboteau.com
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.
jenniferegan.com
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
pmchang.com/
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 helps people and organizations improve. He works as an editor, writer, and learning designer in several fields, including literary fiction and nonprofits. Recent highlights have been writing for NewFound/HotHouse; helping Boswell Books curate its Emerging Writers program; editing for Cream City Review; designing learning programs for Public Allies, Inc.; and judging the MIT IDEAS Global Challenge. toddw.wordpress.com
Allison ScollarLeigh NewmanVictor LaValle
id="attachment_368" align="alignnone" width="120"]
Allison Scollar is a lawyer at Meisel Real Estate. Previously a partner at Gold Scollar Moshan, specializing in the arts and real estate, she was listed in 10 years of Outstanding Women in Real Estate. She has always loved to watch individuals advance their careers and has been a gallery owner specializing in emerging artists, a volunteer at Lawyers for the Arts, and currently also serves on the board of Concert Artists Guild which helps young classical musicians launch careers, and is currently at work on a children's book.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.