Staff & Board

Our mentors are hard-working, creative professionals, dedicated to the art of mentorship as well as to their own writing, illustration and storytelling projects.

Below, meet the talented pros who make up our Inklings community.

Society of Young Inklings is always looking for creative individuals to join our thriving community! Check out our current opportunities here.


Naomi Kinsman

Founder And Executive Director

Author of the From Sadie’s Sketchbook Series and Spilled Ink, the award-winning Inklings Writers’ Notebook, Naomi is passionate about sharing her love of writing and creativity with young writers. Naomi’s background in improvisational and story theatre as well as her arts education work in Chicago, Portland, and the Bay Area has convinced her that creative play is a doorway through which learners can find inspiration and transformative learning experiences.

Naomi loves to play in many ways, but some of her favorites are tap-dancing, sketching, experimenting in the kitchen and playing with her Portuguese Water Dog, Lexi. Naomi has a BA in Theatre Arts from Seattle Pacific University and has studied theatre with the Piven Theatre Workshop and ACT. She also has a Masters in Writing for Children and Young Adults from Hamline University.

Sarah Perez

Operations Manager

Sarah joined the Inklings team in 2015. Her love for organization and problem-solving along with her passion for arts education make her a key partner in handling the behind-the-scenes tasks that help keep the Young Inklings wheels turning.

Sarah is a life-long musician and book-lover. She graduated from Rollins College in Winter Park, Florida and spent several years in music education prior to working with Society of Young Inklings. Sarah loves reading, going to the beach, and good coffee (sometimes even not-so-good coffee).  She lives in Central Florida with her husband and her two children. You can follow her on Instagram @fromsarahsbooknook.


Director of Youth Publication Programs, Mentor

Beth Spencewood grew up in Minneapolis, Minnesota where she spent the long winters reading her favorite books and writing funny short stories starring her friends. She got a bachelor’s degree in psychology and worked in nonprofit management for many years. Now she has an MFA in writing and writes novels for young adults. When she isn’t writing, she’s traveling, playing board games, biking with her family, or cross-stitching.

Travis Greenlee

Membership Experience Facilitator

Born and raised on islands in New York and Rhode Island, Travis has always pulled his creative inspiration from the outdoor world. He says that “nature feeds my own innate sense of wonder.” A teacher in humanities and outdoor education for over 20 years, working with kids from pre-K through Middle School, Travis jumps at every opportunity to support kids with their creative expression. Whether it be through music, visual art, creative writing, nature engagement or design thinking, helping a child to find and connect to their authentic voice is Travis’ wheelhouse.  As the Young Inklings Membership Facilitator, his interests and expertise come together to provide an engaging experience for our member community.

Travis has a BA and teaching degree in English Language Arts from Hobart & William Smith Colleges. He is also the founder of Parent Sidekick, a parent and family coaching and support company. When not gallivanting outside, Travis can be found writing children’s stories, songwriting, designing hands-on family games, and adventuring with his wife, Bonnie, little baby, Quinlan, and very demanding husky, Juna.

Sonja Solter


Sonja spent her childhood summers in her mother’s homeland of Finland and traveled the world extensively with her family. She read so voraciously as a child that she once brought over 70 books on a trip. (Her mother is still trying to figure out how that slipped by her.) Sonja graduated with an interdisciplinary degree in Human Biology from Stanford University and has an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from Hamline University. She writes for all age levels and has had a reader published for the educational market. She has also been a Music Together director and teacher, where she especially enjoyed the collaborative improvisation aspect of the program. Sonja lives with her husband and two children in Louisville, CO, and enjoys nature, travel, and yoga. Her debut middle grade novel in verse, When You Know What I Know, is an ILA Honor Book and Colorado Book Award Finalist.

board members

Kelly Hoy

Board Member

Kelly Hoy has been a public and private school teacher for more than 20 years. After completing her degree at the University of Rhode Island, she started her public-school career as a computer specialist at Crim Elementary in Bridgewater, NJ and as a third-grade elementary school teacher in Dunellen, NJ. She then moved to California private schools: teaching special education at Star Academy in San Anselmo, fifth-grade at Phillips Brooks School in Menlo Park, and currently, fifth-grade humanities at Katherine Delmar Burke School in San Francisco. Teaching and writing are her passions. She has published a number of case studies and analyses in several editions of Anita Woolfolk’s best-selling psychology text, Educational Psychology. Her goals as a teacher are to develop an appreciation for the unique stories of her students, strengthen their voices, cultivate empathy, and advance social justice, as they all grow academically, socially, and emotionally.

Ravi Kalkunte

Board Chair

Ravi is a Global Product Manager in the field of polymers and plastic films. He has been involved in new product development all his professional life and continues to develop new strategies and new products. He has a Master’s in Textiles from the University of Georgia and an MBA from Wake Forest University. He came to the US as a student to pursue higher education. Ravi likes to travel and play tennis. He has 3 children and has experienced first-hand how good writing skills can facilitate access to great opportunities. He is passionate about encouraging children into trying new and creative pursuits.

Tracy Piombo

Board Member

Tracy Piombo began her career as a misunderstood writer at the age of five, when her kindergarten teacher called her first story “too depressing.” To date, her most rewarding writing experiences have been a fantasy fanfiction novel she wrote in fifth grade, and a college thesis on the science fiction of Ursula K. LeGuin. Since then, Tracy’s calling has been to inspire a love of writing and reading in young people, first as an English Language Arts teacher in New York, then as a Library Teacher at Hillview Middle School in Menlo Park, California. Tracy has a BA in English from Wellesley College and a Masters in Library and Information Science from Queens College. She still loves science fiction and stories that some might mistakenly label too depressing.

Daniella ROYSTER

Board Member

Daniella is a global health professional, focusing on advancing health equity, health promotion, and policy advocacy. Her fondest childhood memories are of reading her favorite books (over and over again!) and writing short stories about her family’s travel adventures. She hopes to inspire kids/teens to try new learning experiences and develop good writing skills. Daniella has a Masters in Global Health from Northwestern University, BA in Management from Benedictine University Goodwin School of Business, and BS in Biology/Health Sciences from Andrews University. She enjoys reading, volunteering, and traveling with her husband and family.

Indupriya sasidharan

Board Member

Indu is a Program manager and has worked with many large technology companies. She has a masters in Marketing & Project Management and is also a certified PMP professional. She has been actively involved in volunteering organizations like Toastmaster’s International and Project Management institute where she has developed her Public Speaking & Project Management skills and has also held leadership positions. Writing began as a passion when she started participating in essays, speeches & debates in school and over time turned into one of her key strengths at work and she strongly believes writing is the best form of unleashing the thoughts in your mind.

Gina DeCiani 

Board Member

Gina DeCiani is the General Counsel and Vice-President of Human Resources for the Association for Supply Chain Management. She received her MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from Hamline University in 2014. She also received her undergraduate and law degrees from the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign. Gina has co-authored several textbooks on professional ethics, and she is currently a member of Forbes Human Resources Council and SHRM’s Executive Network. She lives in a Chicago high-rise with her incorrigible maltipoo, Hemingway.

Oriana Clapper 

Board Member, board administrator

Oriana Clapper earned her BA in Communication from Santa Clara University (and interned with the Society of Young Inklings) before moving to the east coast to work in publishing at Hachette Book Group and HarperCollins for several years. Back in the Bay Area, she meets monthly with her writing group of ten years to continue to hone her craft for poetry and short stories. She lives in Sonoma County with her husband and her Australian Retriever, Scout


Jodi Anderson-Wolhaupter


Jodi loves the energy that comes with being part of writing communities! In middle school, she was lucky to have a teacher who helped her start a writers’ club, which ignited her desire to stay connected with other writers. Jodi earned a B.A. in English Literature and Writing and an M.A. in Teaching from Bethel University. For the past 15 years, Jodi has been striving to encourage young writers’ voices in her role as a middle school English and creative writing teacher at an arts magnet school in Minnesota. She has recently published some editorial pieces with the Star Tribune and a local racial equity organization. She is currently working on a chapbook of pandemic-related poems. When not writing, Jodi enjoys being part of book clubs with friends, playing the piano, biking with her husband, spending time with her family (especially sharing puns with her mom), and cuddling with her Maltipoo dog named Molly.

Alex Doherty


Alex is a writer based in the Bay Area and has an MFA in screenwriting. He worked as a Story Assistant for film and TV production in Los Angeles before working as an Assistant Producer at LucasArts in San Francisco. He’s querying his first novel, a Middle Grade adventure! He’s inspired by the creativity of others and enjoys theater, movies, reading and finding time to practice his green thumb when he’s not hiking.

Malar Ganapathiappan


Malar is a writer, writing mentor with Inklings, writing coach, and member of the SCBWI.  She holds a bachelor’s degree in Psychology.  Sharing inspiration, creativity, and perspective through stories gives her joy.  When not reading or writing, she enjoys nature, fitness, art, and cats.

Olivia Ghafoerkhan


Olivia grew up in rural north Florida, hiking through the woods imagining different worlds. She now lives outside Washington DC. She received her BA from Florida State University, where she majored in English and minored in Women’s Studies. She received her MFA from Hamline University, specializing in writing for children and young adults. She writes both fiction and nonfiction. When she’s not hard at work, Olivia enjoys hiking, visiting the beach, and Bollywood movies.

Kesha L. Grant


Kesha is a Georgia-based writer and editor whose projects include picture books, middle-grade fiction, non-fiction, and folklore. Prior to launching a writing career, Kesha spent many years as a Language Arts and history middle school teacher. Her first nonfiction text, Women in the Civil Rights Movement, published by Scholastic, debuted in 2020. She was bitten by the writing bug in middle school when she entered her first writing contest. Kesha didn’t win the contest, but her love for writing stuck. She received her MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from Hamline University. Kesha also holds a master’s degree in education. When not writing, she enjoys cooking, yoga, and spending time with her family.

Erin Halden


Erin landed her first writing gig at age eight, when she named herself editor of Spot News, the leading daily newspaper on Jupiter. After that, she wrote her own book of myths – this time with GIRLS in them – and rewrote scenes from The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe so that Lucy led the charge instead of her brother.

After earning degrees in creative writing and journalism, she worked in the grown-up (but still fun) world of documentary television, producing, directing, and writing more than fifty shows and specials. But she missed making stuff up. So she started writing fiction again, and got her MFA in writing for Very Wise People, a.k.a. children and young adults. She’s excited to be a part of the Society of Young Inklings.

Erin lives in a 104-year-old house in St. Paul, Minnesota with her husband, three kids, and a dog who thinks she’s a cat.

Avalon Lee


Avalon Felice Lee received a nomination for Best Small Fictions 2022. Her words are internationally published or forthcoming in The Boiler, Brain Mill Press, Kissing Dynamite, The Lumiere Review, and elsewhere. She is pursuing a B.A. in Writing & Literature at the College of Creative Studies in UC Santa Barbara.

Tasslyn Magnusson


As a fourth grader, Tasslyn Magnusson once tried to read her school library from A to Z, backward. She got stuck on P. L. Travers and Mary Poppins and has been reading anything and everything since. When she’s not writing her poetry or working on her middle grade novels, she’s reading fan fiction written by her teens and trading book recommendations with their friends. Tasslyn received her MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from Hamline University in January 2017. She has had several poems published and won the 2017 Room Magazine Poetry prize.

Melody Ramie Reed


As a child, Melody could be found sitting on the floor surrounded by books at the public library. The friends she met in those pages and the adventures she experienced sparked her imagination. Her love of story led to her love of writing at an early age.

As an adult, Melody can still be found surrounded by books at the public library, but now she’s behind the desk. She enjoys helping patrons find enriching tales and shares her passion by leading writing classes for adults and teens. Melody is a creative professional with over 15 years teaching children. She has a BS in Computer Science from St. Francis University and an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from Hamline University. When she’s not writing, reading or revising, she fancies walking her dogs, listening to beach waves, or eating ice cream. She has raised 3 children and lives with her husband near Chicago.

Lisa Riddiough


Lisa Frenkel Riddiough is a Northern California based writer whose projects include picture books, middle-grade, and short fiction. She earned her MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from Hamline University. Her debut middle-grade novel, Elvis and the World as it Stands, released in August 2021, and her debut picture book, Letters to Live By, released in January 2022. Lisa is a former sales executive, an avid squirrel watcher, and a frequent baker of chocolate pound cake. She is pro-Oxford comma! Also, she likes exclamation points!!

Elizabeth Verdick


Elizabeth Verdick loves to write for all ages, from toddlers to teens. Some of her picture books include Small Walt, Bike & Trike, and Peep Leap. She received her MFA from Hamline University in St. Paul, Minnesota. She has two French bulldogs that (along with her two grown children) are the light of her life. Elizabeth enjoys mentoring because she gets to work with kids who believe in their writing dreams.

advisory board

Odette Harris

Advisory Board Member

Dr. Odette Harris is an Associate Professor of Neurosurgery at Stanford University School of Medicine and Director of Brain Injury for Stanford Medical Center. Dr. Harris manages and coordinates the medical and surgical care of all patients suffering from traumatic brain injury that are admitted to the Stanford System. She focuses on implementing and streamlining current treatment algorithms aimed at improving the outcomes of this growing population. The primary focus is specific not only to mortality but to functional outcome improvements. Dr. Harris works in a collaborative manner with colleagues in Surgical Trauma, Neuro-Critical Care, Nursing, Rehabilitation, and all related specialties.

Youth Advisory Board

Lexi Friesel

Ainsley Lin

Alister Sharp

Allison Xu

Anna Yang

contributing artists

Collaborating and Contributing Artists

We also partner with a group of professional authors, illustrators, and creatives that we call our Collaborating Artists. Collaborating Artists serve as volunteers and encouragers for Society of Young Inklings and our young writers. Click here to see our featured partners.