As a boy, Grant spent his allowance on all sorts of pens and paper, so there was never much question that he would become a writer. He received his B.A. from Grinnell College in English and his M.A. in Creative Writing from San Francisco State University. He has published stories and essays in The New York Times,Poets & Writers, Writer’s Digest, The Southwest Review, The Rumpus, Gargoyle, and The Berkeley Fiction Review, among dozens of others. He’s also the founder and editor of the lit journal 100 Word Story, and has a collection of 100-word stories, Fissures, coming out in the spring of 2015. He believes quite simply that everyone is a writer—that we create our world through the stories we tell—so he enthusiastically prods everyone he meets to write a novel and discover how life can be transformed through a daring creative act.
Chris Angotti, Chief Operating Officer
Chris Angotti is a former middle and high school teacher who believes in encouraging creativity among all ages. In his spare time, he tries to make his own things, as well as read, watch, and listen to as much as he can. Also, he will never get tired of looking at dogs. Here at the office, Chris oversees our nonprofit’s daily operations—including budget, HR, and internal systems—and collaborates with all staff on big-picture strategy and fundraising.
Tim Kim, Interim Program Director
As Director of Communications, Tim oversees communications, including the blog, newsletter, and general updates from HQ. In other words, he is a glorified town caller. Please feel free to picture him with a speaking-trumpet, as it is his accoutrement of choice—preferably bedazzled rather majestically to separate him from the other town callers. As a former NaNoWriMo intern himself, Tim also oversees our intern program, the most difficult part of which is frantically searching for ways to permanently retain these fantastic folks.
Tim has worked for Once, Wired, and San Francisco magazines, as well as at Condé Nast. He is searching for new ways to humble-brag about the fact that he is only two degrees of separation away from Taylor Swift, and that his dog is possibly the cutest dog ever.
Marya Brennan, Young Writers Program Manager
Marya taught middle school English and History in San Francisco and Oakland for five years (with a small break in between to travel, write a terrible NaNoWriMo novel, learn and forget Spanish, and adventure through Europe as part of a two-person street circus). She’s worked with other literary non-profits like Chapter 510 & the Dept. of Make Believe and the Oakland Book Festival, and is excited to be NaNoWriMo’s Young Writers Program Manager. She loves writing novels for the same reasons she loves working with young people: they’re hilarious, surprising, and strange, and even when you’re furious with them, you love watching them grow. When she’s not working, she’s writing a YA dystopian sci-fi novel set in East Oakland, lying about how much she watches Netflix, or exploring the Bay Area with her husband and little brown dog.
Dave Beck, Technical Director
Brownian motion is Dave’s career arc. With a B.A. in Italian Literature and a Doctorate of Jurisprudence, he has worked as a chef, reporter, editor, museum exhibit developer, website designer, computer programmer, and now the Director of IT for the most awe-inspiring community on the planet. When he’s not helping people achieve their literary dreams he builds wooden kayaks, writes browser-based interactive mysteries, and creates extravagant book-themed birthday parties. He and his beloved twin daughters are attempting to watch every great movie ever made.
Sarah is a nap enthusiast and fanatical knitter with a background in libraries, an English degree, a diploma in Public Relations, a toddler named Eleanor, and a cat named Weasley. She lives in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, and thus spends a great deal of time on webcams and Google chat with her coworkers. As Director of Community Engagement, Sarah is responsible for coordinating NaNoWriMo’s more than 800 volunteers around the world, running various social media accounts, working with hundreds of libraries, bookstores, and community spaces through the Come Write In partnership, coordinating the Ambassadors program, and helping to organize the annual Night of Writing Dangerously fundraising gala.
Shelby Gibbs, Operations Manager
Shelby Gibbs received her B.A. in English Literature from Mills College in Oakland, California. She has written literary criticism, essays, and the occasional poem on the color purple since childhood. Before NaNoWriMo, she worked at a small publishing house and penned a senior thesis on Virginia Woolf. In her free time, she enjoys grocery shopping (especially the free samples), and further exploring her native Bay Area. At HQ, she holds down the fort by tending to office plant life, managing NaNoWriMo’s Donation Station and Store, helping out with bookkeeping and financials, planning the Night of Writing Dangerously Write-a-thon, and managing the intern program.
Heather Dudley, Lead Forums Moderator
Heather is a 30-something mother of two and a hopeless writing addict. She is currently the Lead Forums Moderator for the community forums. A relapsed webmaster with extensive moderating experience, she started volunteering in the NaNoWriMo forums in 2003. Her dreams came true in 2007 when she was asked to join staff as the Forums Moderator. She wrangles the hundreds of thousands of posts and participants that flow through the forums on a daily basis, moving them around, answering questions, and reporting feedback to the staff back at HQ. In 2012, she was promoted to Lead Forums Moderator, and is responsible for overseeing the volunteer and staff moderators over both the main and YWP websites.
Jezra Lickter, Web Developer
Jezra enjoys writing code in various programming languages, as well as riding a bike, trying not to fall off a skateboard, and playing the bagpipes. When he grows up, he hopes to be an an astronaut.
Katharine Gripp, Programs Associate
Katharine is a multi-faceted creative human who wears many metaphorical hats (although, surprisingly, very few literal ones). Since moving to Berkeley three years ago, she has at various times worked as a professional modern dancer, ballet teacher, online news journalist, publishing agent assistant, art model, personal trainer, and nonprofit website designer/project manager – clearly putting to good use the B.A. in English and correlate in Medieval and Renaissance history that she received from Vassar College in 2013. She has published a couple sci-fi/fantasy short stories in anthology magazines, and hopes that this year, really, will be the one where she completes that novel she’s been working on for so long. This is her third year working with NaNoWriMo, and she couldn’t be happier to be a part of this wacky, wonderful community again.
Wesley Sueker, Customer Service Captain
Wesley is a long-time NaNoWriMo enthusiast. Ever since first participating in the Young Writer’s Program at the tender age of 12, he has been involved one way or another—attending events, volunteering, interning, and now answering your emails! He is currently working toward a B.A. in Linguistic Anthropology. In his spare time, he writes stories, draws comics, and takes naps with his Basset Hound, Milo.
Paige Knorr, Community Liaison
By day, Paige works for a youth emergency shelter in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. By night (evening, weekend) here at NaNo HQ, she flits around in the background coordinating the ML Mentors program, answering questions in the forums, and tackling assorted other projects related to our team of NaNoWriMo volunteers around the world. Paige also has a degree in Professional Writing, hosts karaoke on Saturdays, and enjoys anything involving science-fiction or cats.
Rob Diaz, YWP Forums Moderator
Rob hoped to major in Coffee Studies at Rutgers University but settled for a degree in Computer Science instead. This degree helped him get a foot in the door at a large software company where he spent over 13 years as Chief Coffee Officer. Rob signed up for NaNoWriMo in 2006 and has participated alongside his wife and children every year since then. He has now had five short stories published, two plays produced and has become a regular contributor to the Write Anything blog. Rob is often found on baseball diamonds or marching-band fields, or in his dungeon plotting new ways to bring on a golden age of Vegetarian World Domination. Or drinking coffee—he’s been known to do that occasionally, too.
Lena Heller, NaNoWriMo Intern
Lena Heller has lived in five different places in the last seven years, but that hasn’t stopped her from participating in NaNoWriMo in each one! Currently, she lives in San Francisco while taking a semester off before going back to school to finish her degree in Film Production. She spends the majority of her time playing video games, taking pictures, wandering around the Bay area, and reading random Wikipedia articles.
Madeline Porter, NaNoWriMo Intern
Maddi is a recent graduate from the University of California, Davis with a degree in English. She’s been writing since she was seven-years-old, starting off where she believes everyone should–with terrible Harry Potter fanfiction. She dearly hopes and believes that her writing has grown a great deal since then. She’s done and won NaNoWriMo 8 times, and her dream is to one day write a novel that makes it onto the ALA’s Banned Books list. Currently, she is the Operations Intern at NaNo, where she enjoys free cookies and bothering Chris Angotti.
Rebecca Stern, Leave of Absence
Rebecca Jackson Stern was an elementary and middle school teacher for a decade, after which she was a Senior Digital Editor at Pearson Education, where she worked on a tablet-based curriculum. Rebecca co-edited an anthology of essays by notable authors for kids called Breakfast on Mars.
Rebecca has experienced NaNoWriMo from every angle: she had her fifth and sixth grade students participate in the Young Writers Program, did a victory dance in the 50K winner’s circle, served on the Associate Board, and now is our Director of Programs.
In the office, Rebecca oversees the development of our websites, collaborates with staff on strategic planning, and leads the program team. When she’s not working, you can find Rebecca poking around in bookstores, trying to break her addiction to Candy Crush, drinking shots of espresso, and hanging out with Laika, her cosmonaut dog.