Ms. Ekhlas Ahmed, a refugee and an activist from Darfur, Sudan, fled with her family to Egypt and lived there for two years before being resettled in Portland, Maine in 2005. She has since graduated high school with honors and earned a degree in sociology with hopes of helping resettle other refugees. She is the vice President and Co-founder of Darfur Youth of Tomorrow, an organization raising awareness in her community of the violence and needs in Darfur. The Darfur Youth of Tomorrow has taken Ahmed to a number of places, most recently to the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., where she was invited to speak about the genocide by the UN Refugee Agency and read a poem about her homeland. Ahmed teaches English at Casco Bay High School, her alma mater. She also runs a program called Make It Happen, which prepares multilingual students for college. She is writing a book called The Bridge Between, an autobiography in poetic form to share her experiences and raise awareness about Sudan.
Lydia Atwood is a Massachusetts native with strong family roots in Maine. She has over twenty-five years of experience in finance, accounting, human resources, and operational management. Her financial experience includes the full spectrum, from hands-on bookkeeping, budgeting, and cash management, to the role of financial manager and CFO. She is currently employed as a business valuation and forensic accounting consultant at a public accounting and business consulting firm. Since 2009, she has been Treasurer of the Board of SMART Child and Family Services in Windham, Biddeford, and South Portland. SMART’s mission is to partner with individuals, families, and communities to provide integrated and compassionate behavioral health services to improve the well-being of those in need. Her family resides in South Portland. She loves to write, and is an avid reader of just about everything. She considers writing to be one of the most important life skills.
Chris Bicknell has been working with youth since 1988 in a variety of settings including; community centers, therapeutic schools, residential programs, psychiatric hospitals, correctional facilities, shelters and street outreach programs. Chris began his career as an Art Therapist focused on working with youth who were unable to engage in traditional talk therapy and had experienced significant trauma. For the past fifteen years Chris has been doing program development and administrative work. He developed and implemented outcomes-based employment training and placement programs for incarcerated youth at both the Long Creek Youth Development Center (LCYDC) and the Mountain View Youth Development Center in Maine. Chris developed and implemented the “Project Adventure” program within LCYDC to facilitate self-determination, teamwork, responsibility, and respect through adventure-based counseling and restorative justice, a revolutionary approach in a correctional facility. For nine years Chris was Preble Street Teen Services Coordinator. He was responsible for the design and implementation of the Joe Kreisler Teen Shelter (the only purpose built shelter for youth in Maine). Chris is currently the Director of Access & Intake at the Opportunity Alliance where he is responsible for all administrative oversight and accountability of the Access and Intake Department for an Agency that serves 10,000 plus unduplicated clients per year. Since 2012 Chris has been a committed volunteer at The Telling Room. He has co-facilitated several workshops, supported several Glitterati and Big Night events, been a Slant storyteller and been a member of the development committee. This has allowed him to stay connected to youth, creativity and contribute to an organization that he had admired from a distance for several years.
Board President Susan Conley is a co-founder of the Telling Room, where she continues to teach writing workshops. She is the author of The Foremost Good Fortune (Knopf, 2011), which was excerpted in the New York Times Magazine and was an O, The Oprah Magazine Top Ten Pick, and a Slate Magazine "Book of the Week," and Paris was the Place (Knopf, 2013). Susan is the recipient of two MacDowell Colony residencies, a Breadloaf Writer’s Fellowship, and a Massachusetts Arts Council Grant. Other work of hers has appeared in The Paris Review, Ploughshares, The North American Review, and DownEast Magazine. In the past she taught workshops at Emerson College and Harvard's Teachers as Scholars Program. She lives in Portland, Maine, with her husband and two boys, and is completing a novel forthcoming from Knopf.
Apart from stints in Boston and Minnesota, Dan Edwards is a lifelong Maine resident. Dan was born in Lewiston, grew up in North Yarmouth and made it all the way to Yarmouth, where he lives with his teenaged son and almost teenaged daughter. He goes to a lot of soccer games. In a fit of worldly zeal, Dan attended – and graduated from – the University of Maine, located fully two hours away from his home town. He studied English, but took two science courses and one math course while there, because he had to. Not long after graduation, Dan entered the exciting, fast-paced world of advertising as a copywriter. He worked briefly with a small ad agency, then became a freelance writer. Apart from a three-year diversion to pursue a dream of dot.com riches (“riches” turns out to equal $3,000.00), and a brief ten-year career as a real estate attorney, he’s been working in writing, creative direction and brand development ever since. In his spare time, Dan coaches the Falmouth Boys’ and Girls’ Varsity swim teams with three close friends. He also plays blisteringly mediocre rhythm guitar in a band that somehow manages to find three or four places to play every year, presumably because (a) the other members of the band actually possess band-oriented talents and abilities; and (b) it’s not easy to find a band that’ll play for babysitting money.
A native of Massachusetts, Catherine Fisher has lived in Maine since 1994 and currently makes her home in Freeport. She’s been a Telling Room volunteer, supporter and enthusiast since 2008. Catherine’s interest in the Telling Room connects most directly with her work as a personal historian, a vocation and avocation since 1995 in which she works with individuals, families, companies and organizations to preserve their stories in custom, hand-bound books. Most recently, from 2009 to 2015 Catherine worked at the Maine Women Writers Collection at the University of New England, a special library archive devoted to work by and about Maine Women Writers. She recently left UNE to enroll in the MFA in Writing program at the Vermont College of Fine Arts, pursuing a degree in poetry, and perhaps creative nonfiction as well.
Currently an academic advisor at Portland Adult Education, Anja Hanson has taught writing and basic computer skills to refugees and immigrants at Portland Adult Education and Barber Foods. She has also served as volunteer coordinator and grant writer at PAE. She started work in education as an English teacher in middle and high schools in Maine and California. She is fortunate to live with her family just three blocks from the Telling Room.
Board Vice President Patty Howells is a cook and cooking teacher living in Portland. She is a graduate of Smith College with an AB in Economics, and she is a returned Peace Corps volunteer, having served 2 years in Niger, where her focus was on maternal and infant health. She lived for 9 years in San Francisco, where she was a staff investigator for an agency specializing in indigent defense and civil rights investigations. While in San Francisco she turned her attention to food, attended culinary school, and cooked in the city’s top restaurants before moving to Maine.
Board Secretary Kim Kalicky is the Assistant Vice President -- Operations at R.M. Davis, a wealth management firm in Portland. She has been with Davis for 22 years and in investments for 30, having begun her career as a stock broker. Kim runs the client side of operations and leads the firm's largest operational initiatives. Kim is also the author of Mothers Fulfilled (self-help) and Away at a Camp in Maine, a travel memoir and first place winner for nonfiction in the 2011 Beach Book Festival national writing contest. Her articles are featured on MarisShriver.com, the Huffington Post, and her own blog. Kim is a lifelong "Mainer." She's been married 29 years to a man she began dating at the age of 13. They have two grown sons - Matt, a musician who has produced 3 CDs, and Ben, a junior at The Savannah College of Art + Design studying Game Design/Computer Animation.
Lily King grew up in Massachusetts and graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1985 with a B. A. in English and Honors in Creative Writing. In 1991 she received an MA in English Literature and Creative Writing from Syracuse University. Lily is the author of the novels The Pleasing Hour, The English Teacher, Father of the Rain, and Euphoria. She is the recipient of the Whiting Writer's Award, the Barnes and Noble Discovery Award, the New England Book Award, and the Maine Literary Award in fiction, twice. She has taught English and Creative Writing at Syracuse University, Harvard Extension School, The American School of Valencia in Spain, Noble and Greenough School, and the Stonecoast Writers Conference, among others, and has visited many high schools and universities across the country as writer-in-residence. She lives in Yarmouth with her husband and children.
Board Treasurer Timothy R. Schneider is Maine’s Public Advocate. The Office of the Public Advocate represents Maine utility consumers in proceedings before the Public Utilities Commission, regionally and before FERC. Previously, Tim was a member of Pierce Atwood LLP’s Energy Group. His practice included a wide range of matters before state and federal regulators, in addition to energy-related transactions. He is a graduate of Harvard University and received his law degree from New York University School of Law. Prior to attending law school, Tim led youth programs for the Maine Sea Coast Mission in Washington County.
Maryann Shaw is the executive assistant to the New England retail sales leader for KeyBank. She is responsible for executive support, field communications, business event planning, data management and analysis, and employee engagement initiatives across the New England footprint. Maryann has been with KeyBank since 2006 and has worked in both the Retail and Business Banking segments. Maryann received her BA in Studio Art and Art History from Hartwick College in 2005. Her studio concentrations were Analog Photography and Sculpture. In 2007, Maryann obtained her MBA in Accounting from Colorado Technical University, and in 2010 she completed her K-12 Art certification through the University of New England. An active member of the Greater Portland community, Maryann has been a volunteer with The Telling Room on the Glitterati planning committee since 2011. A native of Walden, NY, she currently resides in Portland with her husband, Warren, and their son, Henry. She enjoys gardening, reading, art, anything involving water, and home improvement projects.
Beth Stickney began specializing in Immigration and Nationality law in 1986, and moved from private practice into the nonprofit world in 1994. As the Directing Attorney at the International Institute of Boston (now Int. Inst. of New England), Beth was selected under a Ford Foundation grant to train other immigration legal aid providers nationwide in nonprofit management to improve their programs’ sustainability. In Maine, Beth co-founded the Immigrant Legal Advocacy Project, Maine’s only nonprofit statewide provider of immigration legal aid to low-income Maine residents, where she served as executive director through June 2011. During her tenure, she grew ILAP from a purely pro bono attorney project to a brick and mortar agency with eleven staff and over 100 attorney and non-attorney volunteers. In addition to Beth’s work at ILAP, she initiated and taught the immigration law course at the University of Maine School of Law from 1994 through 2005 and again in 2016. She is co-author of Immigration Law and the Family (Thomson Reuters). Beth has been a frequent invited presenter at local, national and international conferences and continuing legal education seminars covering immigration and international human rights law issues, as well as immigration nonprofit management.
Sean Tabb is a marketing manager for L.L.Bean. Prior to that, he worked his way from product manager to vice president of marketing and new product development over a 13 year career at William Arthur, Inc., a Hallmark Cards subsidiary and maker of personalized stationery and wedding invitations. He brings a broad range of marketing experience including branding, national advertising, digital marketing and website development, licensing, public relations, market research and more. He also enjoys writing, and has published work at the website The Morning News. Sean lives in Portland, Maine with his wife and two children.
Paige Todorich is a financial advisor at HighTower Advisors in Portland. She attended the University of New Hampshire, where with just a few credits left to go, she announced her noble intentions to “live in the real world” without a degree. Like Hemingway! A year later, having found the real world to be as romantic and forgiving as her parents promised her it would be, she finished up her last few credits at USM with a degree in English. Realizing that her love of literature and her creative writing talents would translate perfectly into a job completely unrelated to her degree, she set forth in earnest into the highly artistic world of investing. She loves her job which, surprisingly, has a lot more to do with communication and humanity than she ever thought it would. She works with clients to create financial plans to meet their short and long term goals. She is also responsible for marketing, branding initiatives, and client outreach events. She is on the board of Partners for Rural Health in the Dominican Republic and wields significant power as the Yearbook Committee Chair of the Foreside Garden Club. In her free time, she vacuums up pug hair and obsesses over Excel spreadsheets.
Co-founder Sara Corbett is the author of Venus to the Hoop: A Gold-Medal Year in Women’s Basketball and A House in the Sky. She is a contributing writer at the New York Times Magazine. Her feature stories have covered topics like child-trafficking in Cambodia, the resettlement of Sudanese orphans in the U.S., and the psychological struggle of soldiers wounded in Iraq.
Gibson Fay-LeBlanc directed The Telling Room from 2006 to 2011 and still teaches workshops both here and at schools and organizations around New England. His first collection of poems, Death of a Ventriloquist, was chosen by Lisa Russ Spaar for the Vassar Miller Prize and published in 2012. His poems have appeared in magazines including Guernica, The New Republic, and Tin House, on the PBS NewsHour Art Beat, and have received awards from the Bellevue Literary Review and UC Berkeley. He lives in Portland with his wife and sons and is at work on more poems and a novel.
Ari Meil is director of marketing at Maine Media Workshops. His books include Portland's Best, Portland Through the Lens, and The Way Life Should Be: Stories by Contemporary Maine Writers. Ari is also the author of 2 short novels, Triptych and Fiction.
Genevieve Morgan was a founding board member of the Telling Room and served as board president from 2008-2012. She is a writer and editor who has authored numerous works of non-fiction and is currently the contributing health and wellness editor for Maine Magazine. Formerly, she produced a local radio show focused on health and spent several years writing about women's health. Before that she was the managing editor at Chronicle Books in San Francisco. She writes for a variety of corporate and editorial clients and is a marketing and brand consultant, but her true love lies in making up stories and telling them to anyone who will listen.
Co-founder Michael Paterniti is the best-selling author of Driving Mr. Albert: A Trip Across America with Einstein’s Brain and The Telling Room: A Tale of Love, Betrayal, Revenge, and the World's Greatest Piece of Cheese. His work has appeared in publications including Harper's, The New York Times Magazine, Esquire, and GQ.
Patty Howells, Chair
Chris Bicknell, Opportunity Alliance
Susan Conley, Board Member
Ruth Story, Community Volunteer
Ronnie Weston, Bull Moose Group
Mary Baumgartner, GarrandPartners
Sean Tabb, LL Bean
Tim Schneider, Chair
Brian Eng, Opus Consulting Group
Lydia Atwood, Berry Dunn
Austin Sutherland, Unum
Maryann Shaw, Co-Chair
Paige Todorich, Co-Chair
Blaise Maccarone, USM
Paige Todorich, Duffy Anderson
Catherine Fisher, Board Member
Kim Kalicky, Chair
Jen Harnish, Director of Human Resources, Baker Newman Noyes