Founder, Executive Director
Kathy has been mentoring young writers since 2003 and is passionate about empowering others to tell their stories. She loves words and loves to teach. She has been pursuing this love all over the place -- from elementary schools in rural Japan to college classrooms in the American South to inner-city high schools in Washington, DC -- and with many different communities: adult literacy learners, refugees, gifted writers, reluctant writers, kids, teens, college students, those who've written many stories, and those who are writing their very first. Prior to founding Shout Mouse, Kathy was the DC Director for Writopia Lab as well as the regional affiliate for the Scholastic Writing Awards, through which her students have won national recognition every year. Her own writing has earned recognition from places like the DC Commission on Arts and Humanities as well as fellowships to writing programs in Kenya and Prague. Kathy received her BA from Duke University and her MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Arizona. She has also completed the Nonprofit Management Certificate Program at Georgetown University. Kathy is originally from Cincinnati, Ohio and enjoys running, hiking, reading, traveling, and dreaming big dreams for Shout Mouse and its authors!
Community Impact & Partnerships Director
Lana is based in Washington, DC after living abroad for 17 years in London, Nairobi, and Paris. She has diverse work experience as a photographer, educator, television broadcaster, and creative director. In 1997, Lana founded Shootback – a youth photography and development project in the Nairobi slums that harnessed the creative voices of young Kenyans so they could tell their own stories. Inspired by this experience and her creative collaborations with international organizations, local NGOs, foundations, youth, and artists, Lana is thrilled to be working with Shout Mouse to utilize the power of words and images for advocacy, education, and development. Lana earned a BA in Visual and Environmental Studies from Harvard University and a Master’s in Photography from the Royal College of Art in London.
Barrett Smith is a writer, educator, trapeze artist and faery. She is a Duke Ellington School of Arts alum and a graduate of the University of Texas, where she was Dedman Scholar. Her creative thesis explored the education of black children with AD(H)D in public schools. She spent a year abroad in Dakar, Senegal where she conducted research and interned teaching circus workshops. In addition to teaching, Barrett writes short stories and creative nonfiction and creates literary zines. Her writing has won Best In Grade in the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards and the Horowitz Playwriting Competition. This is her third year working with Shout Mouse. She loves writing with young people and the excitement that comes in the moment they agree on a story that needs to be told.
Hayes Davis holds a Masters of Fine Arts from the University of Maryland. He is a former Bread Loaf working scholar as well as a founding member of Cave Canem, a writer's center with a focus on African American poets and writers. His work has appeared in New England Review, Poet Lore, Gargoyle, Beltway Poetry Quarterly and several anthologies. Hayes teaches English at Sidwell Friends School in Washington, DC, where he also serves as the Upper School Coordinator for Equity, Justice & Community. He is excited to work with Shout Mouse to promote diverse voices within children’s literature!
Writer and performance artist Holly Bass has been published in Callaloo, nocturnes (re)view, Beltway, Roll Call and The Ringing Ear. Her performances have been presented at the Kennedy Center, the Smithsonian Museums, the Seattle Art Museum and the South African State Theatre. A Cave Canem poetry fellow who has received numerous grants from the DC Arts Commission, Bass was one of twenty artists to receive a Future Aesthetics grant from the Ford Foundation/Hip Hop Theater Festival. She is a founding member of DC WritersCorps and continues to work nationally and internationally as a teaching artist in schools, colleges and community centers. In 2011, she was named one of the “Top 30 Black Performance Poets” by The Root. Since 2014, she has directed a year-round creative writing and performance program for adjudicated youth in DC’s Department of Youth Rehabilitation Services.
Marisa Kwaning is a writer, teacher, and editor who is passionate about cultivating and promoting diverse young voices in literature. As an educator, Marisa has developed curricula to strengthen the language arts skills of students from all walks of life. She has also facilitated writing workshops for non-profit organizations as well as for senior military personnel within the U.S. Department of Defense. Marisa is currently working on her first children’s book for middle grade readers: a fiction story, loosely based on her early childhood in Freetown, Sierra Leone. Marisa holds a Bachelor’s degree in English Writing and Rhetoric from Pepperdine University and a Masters of Public Policy from George Mason University. She is thrilled to be a part of the Shout Mouse Press community. You can connect with her online at www.finaldraftwriting.com and follow her on Twitter @FreetownMarisa.
Sheila McMullin is author of daughterrarium, winner of the 2016 Cleveland State University Poetry Center First Book Prize chosen by Daniel Borzutzky. She is a community organizer with a focus on working with youth to amplify their voices through storytelling and civic participation. She holds an M.F.A. from George Mason University and volunteers at her local animal rescue. Find more about her writing, editing, and activism online at www.moonspitpoetry.com.
Sarai Johnson is a 2014 graduate of Howard University, where she earned a BA in Print/Online Journalism and minored in English. She also holds an MA in Literature from American University and teaches College Writing there. Sarai has worked for several newspapers and magazines including The Indianapolis Star, DC Modern Luxury, and the Alexandria Gazette. She loves writing creative nonfiction and fiction, and reading everything. Her favorite authors are Haruki Murakami, Lorraine Hansberry and the writers who work with Shout Mouse.
Stacey Picard has been involved with the Theatre Lab Life Stories program at N Street Village in Washington, DC since 2013, and has directed that program since 2015. She has also directed similar stories programs for formerly incarcerated women in a transitional re-entry program andmiddle school children in the inner-city of Cleveland, Ohio, including a program specifically designed to empower young women. Inspired by this work, she launched The Urban Stories Project in 2017. She holds a Masters degree from John Carroll University and a Certificate in Non-Profit Management from Case Western Reserve University. She is a graduate of the Theatre Lab’s Life Stories Institute, and has apprenticed under Thom Workman and Elizabeth Pringle. She has a lifelong passion for theatre and for community work, especially with the poor and marginalized, and has served on numerous boards of organizations supporting those communities. She has taught in the immigrant community of Northern Virginia since moving to the area in 2012, and is super excited to join the Ballou Story Project Team at Shout Mouse Press this year.
Zeynep Cakmak recently graduated with a Masters Degree in Literature from American University in Washington D.C. She is the Program Assistant for the American University's Humanities Lab and will be an adjunct instructor in the Writing Studies Program at AU next year. Her favorite books are Exit West by Mohsin Hamid and We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. She is currently working on a Sufi poetry translation project. She is very excited to be a part of Shout Mouse for the first time and is inspired by the mission of the Next Wave Muslim Initiative and Shout Mouse partnership.
Born and raised in Washington DC, Evan Keeling received a BFA in graphic design from the Corcoran College of Art + Design. Evan is an accomplished illustrator who has worked with a variety of clients. He is a founding member of the DC Conspiracy a collective of Washington, DC area comic book artists and writers. He has been published and self-publishes comic books for print and for the web. He recently colored the Eisner and Harvey nominated graphic novel “Captive of Friendly Cove” from Fulcrum and developing comic book based programing as well as creating mini-comics for the Smithsonian. For the last 12 years Evan has been an exhibit specialist in graphics at the Smithsonian Exhibits. His work can be seen here.
Santiago Casares is a Mexican writer and illustrator who has produced webcomics for over 10 years. He is the creator of Chili's World, Lunatic Tales, and is currently illustrating adaptations of nursery rhymes. Santiago has an MFA in illustration from the Academy of Art University in San Francisco.
Liz Laribee is a writer, illustrator, and organizer. She has taught creative writing, found-poetry and reuse methods of art-making to students of all ages. Liz was granted the Spectrum Arts Award, the YWCA Emerging Leader Award, and the title of Artist in Residency for the City of Harrisburg. She launched The MakeSpace Arts Collective, Sprocket Mural Arts, and DCBA Lawyers for the Arts in pursuit of arts advocacy. Her most recent comic project, “Amira in America,” serves as an illustrated story and reference guide on refugee resettlement.
Mira is an illustrator residing in Richmond, VA. She is currently pursuing a BFA in Communication Arts with a minor in Painting and Printmaking at Virginia Commonwealth University. Her passion is for illustrating narratives, whether children’s books, adult literature, magazine publications, or animation scripts. Mira is available for illustration projects and welcomes inquiries. See more of her work at www.behance.com/mirako.
Mira's Shout Mouse book credits:
Light graduated with a BFA in Painting and Printmaking from Virginia Commonwealth University in 2016. Since graduating, they have been actively involved in the DIY music and art community in Richmond, VA, created music and performed under the moniker Yaya, and curated experimental shows and art projects with two other collaborators in their art space, 3 Moons. They developed a strong interest in and compassion for supporting people, especially youth, who are marginalized by their identities, cultures, and disabilities. Recently, they have rekindled their love for illustration, comics, and animated media, and hopes to pursue their many talents and passions as far as they can go. See more of their work at: www.liu-light.tumblr.com.
Light's Shout Mouse book credits:
Illustrator / Design Intern
Zoë Gatti is an illustrator, graphic designer, web designer and photographer based in Brooklyn, New York and Washington, D.C. She is currently pursuing a BFA at Pratt Institute in Communications Design with a concentration in Illustration and a minor in Creative Writing. Her passions include narrative illustration, freelance illustration, medical illustration, animation and photography--both digital and darkroom. You can see her work at www.zoegatti.com.
Zoe's Shout Mouse book credits:
Nathaniel is a Painting major at the Rhode Island School of Design. He enjoys creating art through a range of mediums – drawing, painting, photography, graphic design, sculpting, and printmaking. He is a perpetual learner and loves challenging himself to gain depth in his craft. When not painting and drawing, he enjoys writing poems and short stories. Nathaniel is available for illustration projects and welcomes inquiries. He is excited to be a part of Shout Mouse!
Nathaniel's Shout Mouse book credits:
Noam is a Baltimore-based illustrator and student at the Maryland Institute College of Art. They are passionate about art. storytelling, and making children's media diverse and accessible. In their free time, they write stories and poems for all ages and continues their never-ending quest to pet every dog on the eastern seaboard. Their work can be viewed at colorfullparis.wixsite.com/noamparis.
Noam's Shout Mouse book credits:
Leslie graduated from VCUarts with a BFA in Painting and Printmaking in 2016. She is in love with words and pictures, and her favorite picture books are those that make you cry — happy or sad tears are fine. She works with oils, colored pencils and crayons, or cut paper, always with a focus on color. She is currently trying to get her first original children's book published and is an assistant editor with F&B publications. See more of her work, learn about her other endeavors, and start a conversation at www.lesliepyo.com.
Leslie's Shout Mouse book credits:
Jamilla Okubo is a 2016 graduate of Parsons School of Design, where she earned a BFA in Integrated Design, a self-driven interdisciplinary program where she integrated Fashion and Fine Arts. Jamilla is a mixed-media artist and combines collage, painting, and print design. Her work has a consistent theme of exploring the intricacy of belonging to an American, Kenyan, and Trinidadian identity. These identities help her explore the cross-cultural exchange in the African Diaspora and how fashion provides the African Diaspora methods of self-expression, identity, and self-authorship in attempts of reclamation. She has exhibited her work at Busboys & Poets (in Washington, DC), Studio 301 (in New York), Weeksville Heritage Center (in New York), Stanford University, and the Dray Walker Gallery (in London). This is her first time illustrating a children's book and is very excited to work with Shout Mouse! You can see some of her work at cargocollective.com/JamillaOkuboart
Jamilla's Shout Mouse book credits:
Carson McNamara is an illustrator based in her hometown of Richmond, Virginia. She’s a Communication Arts student at Virginia Commonwealth University, a bookseller, and an avid reader who thinks all books would be better with pictures. She loves using illustration to clarify and enhance someone’s story, and working on projects with groups like Shout Mouse where illustration can represent all people and be a force for good. You can see her work at carsonmcnamara.com.
Carson's Shout Mouse book credits:
West is an illustrator and designer from Washington, DC. She loves animation, branding, comics, and research-based, informational design. She admires Shout Mouse's vision and hopes to honor its values of inclusion and accessibility, especially as they relate to the art world, narrative media, and her city. You can see her work at westcahall.com.
West's Shout Mouse book credits:
Emma Sullivan is an illustrator from Richmond, VA who recently graduated from VCUarts. Growing up in a household full of elementary school teachers, her passion for kids' books started young. Madison, Sit Down is her first book with Shout Mouse and she's excited to work with young authors to help bring their creations to life. She loves working in unconventional mediums and animates in her spare time. She makes a surprising amount of stickers! Most of them are dogs! Find more of her work at sullivanillustration.com.
Emma's Shout Mouse book credits:
Originally from Shanghai, China, Jiaqi went to United States by herself when she was 18 to pursue her dreams. She graduated from Virginia Commonwealth
University with a BFA in Communication Arts in 2017. Currently, she is continuing her art adventure in New Jersey as a freelance illustrator, designer. She loves to read, write and illustrate stories and passionate with delivering feeling and emotions in her work. You can see more of her work at jiaqizhou.com
India Valle is an illustrator based out of Richmond, Va. She graduated from Virginia Commonwealth University with a BFA in Communication Arts in 2018, and has a passion for fiction stories, character design, and children’s illustration. In addition to being a freelance illustrator, India also works in early childhood education, and loves when her work with children and her art can inform one another. She takes inclusiveness and creating positive imagery for underrepresented groups very seriously, and wants to continually explore how illustration can be a powerful tool to help young people of any background understand the complex experiences and emotions they have growing up. See more of India’s work and contact her at indiavalle.com.
Story and Outreach Intern
Eva Shapiro is a student at UC Berkeley and a graduate of Wilson High School in the District. She has been an intern and story coach on Shout Mouse projects including Reach and Beacon House books since 2014.
Board of Directors
Suzanne Greenfield, a longtime school and social justice advocate, currently services as the Director of the Citywide Bullying Prevention program in the DC Office of Human Rights. In that capacity she works with all public and public charter school, nonprofits and city agencies that have youth programming to establish bullying prevention programs that are holistic and supported by research. Prior to joining the Office of Human Rights she worked on education policy issues for youth with special needs. Before that she was at DC Public Schools where she teamed with schools and school leaders to address behavior concerns and create systemic approaches to changing school climates. While at Parents, Families, & Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) she created a national program to support the needs of LGBTQ youth in schools. Her work focuses on combining evidence based programs with strong and supportive relationships to create safer climates for youth.
Laura Hayman joined the Shout Mouse board in 2014. She is employed by Booz Allen Hamilton, a global technology and management consulting firm, and oversees the firm’s employee volunteer programs, charitable giving activities, and related marketing and communications efforts. She spends considerable time on Booz Allen’s education initiatives.Laura has long been a student of the nonprofit sector, social entrepreneurship, philanthropy, and education: she holds a BA and Master’s in Public Policy Studies from Duke University, and a Certificate in Corporate Citizenship Practice from Boston College. Laura is a member of the Junior League of Washington, and volunteers regularly for literacy-related organizations and events in Washington, DC.
Koye Oyedeji is a writer, researcher and educator focused on fostering emerging writers and promoting diverse voices. He is currently an instructor in the Duke Ellington School of the Arts' Literary Media and Communications Department, where he teaches creative writing and multicultural literature. Koye is dedicated to innovative approaches to teaching and promoting literacy, and in 2012 he was awarded the D.C. Mayors Arts Award for teaching Language Arts. In addition to teaching, Koye applies his passion for Literatures of the African Diaspora to his doctoral research at the University of London, where he is currently focused on the works of emerging Black British authors. He is a frequent panelist for both his research and his pedagogy at conferences such as AWP, MLA, 826National, and the Harlem Book Fair. Koye’s own fiction, nonfiction, and poetry has been published widely; he is currently at-work on a novel.
Ben Page is an economist at the Congressional Budget Office, where he specializes in the economic effects of fiscal policy. He received a PhD in Economics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Zahir Rahman is a transactional associate at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom in Washington, DC. Zahir was born and raised in Baltimore, MD and attended Wake Forest University where he studied political science. Zahir was a finalist for the Truman, Gate-Cambridge, and Rhodes Scholarships, and he was awarded a Fulbright research grant to study the Arab Spring and youth political activism in Morocco from 2010-2011. While in Morocco, Zahir’s work was published in a number of peer-reviewed journals and by Foreign Policy. Upon returning to the U.S., Zahir attended the University of Pennsylvania Law School, where he served on the executive board of the University of Pennsylvania Law Review and graduated cum laude in 2015. Zahir is passionate about Shout Mouse Press and its mission, and he hopes to help the organization continue to grow and prosper!
Savannah R. Overton is an educator, social activist, media and diversity scholar and public speaker that has worked around the world addressing some of the most pressing issues of our time. In 2014 she was recruited as the Director of Admissions at Duke Ellington School of the Arts. Now as Director of Enrollment she oversees enrollment, residency verification in addition to admissions and educational partnerships. Through the DCPS Global Education Program, she has served as a Travel Ambassador taking students on study abroad trips to Peru, Senegal, Ecuador, France and Italy. Savannah earned two BA’s from Pepperdine University: in Intercultural Communication and in Sociology and later a MA in Media Studies from Syracuse University. She spent three years in reality television as a Coordinator for Alternative Entertainment at Fox Broadcasting Company working as a liaison between production companies and the network on shows such as: American Idol, So You Think You Can Dance, The Emmy Awards and so on. As an Adjunct Professor she has taught courses in Race, Class & Gender and School Violence. In addition to teaching, consulting, and shaking up the world, she loves to volunteer with youth organizations and is an avid sports enthusiast.