Dr. Nalini Krishnankutty is a Penn State alum, a first-generation immigrant American, and an engineer turned writer, educator, and speaker, focused on shaping narratives about immigrants through Diversity and Inclusion workshops, classes, and talks. Nalini’s TEDxPSU talk on “How Immigrants Shape(d) the United States” is widely used across the country for education and training in school and university classrooms and in workplaces.
Sharon Barney, J.D., is a partner at Leech Tishman specializing in immigration and family law. Her work as an attorney requires a variety of communication skills, particularly in the arenas of legal writing/research, presenting arguments in court proceedings, and delivering advice to her clients. She is the current President of the Centre County Bar Association and is actively involved in the Pennsylvania Bar Association. Beyond her professional work, Sharon is also an engaged contributor to the State College community; for example, she spearheaded Centre County’s first Multicultural Unity Fair.
Charles Dumas is a teacher, writer, and lifetime political activist. He is professor emeritus in the School of Theatre at Pennsylvania State University, where he was the first African American to receive tenure, become a full professor, and be appointed emeritus. He directed the first play written by an African American on the PSU mainstage. He co-produced the first and only festival and seminar that showcased all of August Wilson’s Decade Series during his lifetime. He was a Fulbright Fellow at Stellenbosch University in South Africa.
Dumas writes a weekly column, “Under the Baobab,” which appears in the local newspaper, the Centre Daily Times. He has had thirty plays professionally produced and was a recipient of the Pennsylvania Council of the Arts Fellowship for his screenplay, SURFACING. He has published three books: NONTRADITIONAL CASTING, UNDER THE BAOBAB, and I, TOO, AM AN AFRICAN. He and his wife of fifty years are presently working on a memoir about their life together in the Movement.
In 1964, he was the SNCC project director in Leland during the Mississippi Freedom Summer. In 2012 he was the Democratic Party’s Congressional Candidate for the 5th District of Pennsylvania. He is a member of the Writers Guild, the Dramatist Guild, AEA, and SAG/AFTRA. He has a juris doctorate from Yale Law School and was a Hendler Fellow in screenwriting at the American Film Institute.
Elaine Meder-Wilgus founded Webster’s Bookstore Cafe in 1999; it has since become a State College institution. Webster’s is not only a bookstore and café but also a performance venue, so Elaine does a great deal with event coordination, including such writing tasks as corresponding with participants and writing scripts.
Elizabeth Brady is an Associate Teaching Professor in CAS where she teaches Public Speaking and enjoys a dual appointment with Penn State’s Global Programs as a Public Relations Consultant. After the sudden death of her son, Mack, in 2012, Elizabeth began research, writing, and participating in life after the death of a child. She is a contributing author to OpentoHope.com where she writes essays on child loss and serves on the board of the Tides program, a local organization that supports bereaved children.
Bellamarie is the Executive Director of the ACRES Project, a growing community designed by adults with autism for adults with autism. The ACRES Project (Adults Creating Residential and Employment Solutions) is a non-profit organization located in the heart of Central Pennsylvania. This unique team consists of people with autism, educators, parents, and community members working together to meet the social, vocational, and residential needs of adults with autism. ACRES provides a nurturing environment to help individuals build a foundation for a productive, independent life.
By fostering social, vocational, and self-advocacy skills, ACRES helps individuals optimize their potential to develop practical life skills, increase social capacity, and transition to work and independence. Bellamarie welcomes the opportunity to speak with students about the role that writing plays in the ACRES curriculum and how it empowers members to find and express their unique voices, as well as about the importance of considering accessibility and accommodations in writing.
Molly is the Executive Director for the Centre Foundation and a Board Member of ACRES (Adults Creating Residential and Employment Solutions). The Centre Foundation is an organization devoted to inspiring and facilitating a culture of giving which creates a vibrant community. Beginning in 1981, generous donors have invested in Centre Foundation, giving them over $35 million dollars in Foundation assets today. The Centre Foundation believes that everyone can be a philanthropist; they provide excellent personal service to donors and have a team of people ready to help them achieve their personal philanthropic goals. They pride themselves on a deep understanding of the community’s needs and their ability to provide innovative and traditional giving opportunities that match the passions of their donors with the needs of the community. The Centre Foundation believes in the organizations that are working to create a better future for the Centre County community; they provide services to help those organizations build endowments, to create support through community engagement, to strengthen themselves through training and research, to fund transformative projects, and to convene effective partnerships with stakeholders around community issues. To date, the Centre Foundation has invested over $18 million back into the Centre County community.
As the Executive Director, Molly is responsible for leadership and management of the organizations, as well as working with board of directors to develop and implement strategic plans that will ensure long-term growth and success.
Heather is, among many other wonderful things, a scholar, writer, blogger, wife, and mother of two girls. She graduated from the University of Virginia and then went on to finish her PhD in English Literature from the University of Michigan. She teaches college writing courses—both Freshman Composition and Advanced Writing—at Penn State. She serves on the staff of Cru with her husband, who is the Executive Director of Graduate Student Ministries at Penn State. She is also the author of six books that encourage writers and teachers to reflect on spiritual principles in everyday life: How to Write with Flair; Live with Flair: Seasons of Worship and Wonder; Seated with Christ; Guarded by Christ; Included in Christ; and Chosen for Christ. Additionally, Heather runs a vibrant, active blog titled Live with Flair (inspired by her first book How to Write with Flair), in which she explores the ways that we can make every day joyful and meaningful just as we can make a sentence beautiful with the right verb and punctuation. Heather would be delighted to talk with students about her writing habits, securing an agent and working with publishers, and marketing, among other topics.
Ali Rothrock is a speaker, author, educator and activist. She has delivered over 500 presentations nationwide. Ali has been in the volunteer fire service since 2005, enjoying more than a decade as a firefighter and Emergency Medical Technician.
Ali is the CEO & Lead Instructor for On the Job and Off, which is an online platform dedicated to building more resilient first responders. She is a member of the Cumberland County (PA) Critical Incident Stress Management Team and is a volunteer with the Medical Reserve Corps. Ali is a Certified Trauma Responder through the Association of Traumatic Stress Specialists. Ali has worked as a sexual assault and domestic violence counselor and has served on multiple national diversity and inclusion committees.
Ali is also a certified QPR Suicide Prevention instructor through the QPR Institute. She is the Eastern Division Trustee for Women in Fire. Ali is the author of Where Hope Lives, a memoir detailing her journey through her first few years in the fire service. She is currently writing her second book After, which details her story of trauma recovery while featuring other’s stories too.
Ali has an associate’s degree in Fire Science and is currently earning her bachelor’s degree in Psychology with an emphasis in crisis counseling. She lives in Pennsylvania with her husband. Check out her website: https://www.aliwrothrock.com.
Ann Donovan is a retired Watershed Specialist for the Centre County Conservation District. The Conservation District implements effective, locally-led conservation programs that include abandoned mine reclamation and acid mine drainage, agricultural assistance, erosion and sediment control, dirt and gravel road maintenance, stream stabilization and restoration, and conservation education.
As the Watershed Specialist, Ann was required to use her English degree on a daily basis as she composed documents ranging from brochures, pamphlets, and booklets to press releases, newsletters, and articles, to grant applications, quarterly reports, and partnership letters, email announcements and general correspondences, to displays and technical reports, and anything in between.
Though Ann has retired from her position as the Watershed Specialist, she remains interested in helping young people develop communication sills that will serve them well as they embark on various career paths. More specifically, she wants to help students learn how to present themselves in a professional environment because she knows how important it is for students to learn how to write correctly and handle themselves well so that they can communicate clearly in even the most intimidating of environments.