Naomi Kinsman Downing
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 tag with her Portuguese Water Dog, Turley. 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 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 is thankful for her 2nd grade teacher, Mrs. Huff, who instilled in her a love of reading and writing. She grew up in Orlando, Florida where she sharpened her creative skills at a performing arts high school and earned her BA in music with a focus in education. She spent several years teaching elementary school music before moving to California.
Sarah enjoys brand new notebooks, staring at the California coast, and good coffee (sometimes even not-so-good coffee). She lives in South Orange County with her husband Socrates, and her two young children, Cora and Miles.
Imtenan is currently working as a researcher and leading project management activities at KAPSARC, an independent energy policy think tank. She holds a Master’s degree in Software Engineering – Entrepreneurship & Technology Leadership with distinction from DePaul University, Chicago. Prior to that, she worked as a project manager and software engineer in several organizations, including a startup, in the States and Saudi Arabia. Imtenan participated as a mentor for gifted students at Saudi Aramco and in a number of events targeting tech entrepreneurs.
She is a Future Energy Leader at the World Energy Council in London. She was also appointed as a Sustainable Development Ambassador. Imtenan holds a patent in the United States (issued Nov 8, 2016) and a certified Project Management Professional (PMP) ®.
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.
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.
Eva’s innovations and leadership have been recognized with notable industry awards and patents. She was named Female Executive of the Year by the Stevie Awards and led her team to win the Stevie Award Marketing Department of the Year during her time at vArmour. She was recognized by Silicon Valley Business Journal as one of Silicon Valley’s 100 Most Influential Women and received the Marketer That Matters™ award, commissioned by The Wall Street Journal. She holds three patents in self-serve application development and has one pending in machine learning and adaptive optimization.
Eva also serves on the advisory boards of several companies including Weblife.io and tCell, which she advised from inception to successful acquisitions by ProofPoint and Rapid7, respectively. She holds a B.S. and an M.S. in Computer Science from Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Kelly has loved crafting stories all her life and published her first book at 15 years old. Her latest, Agnes at the End of the World (Little Brown, Young Readers), benefitted from a We Need Diverse Books Mentorship. She lives in Colorado with her partner and young daughter. For more information, visit KellyMcWilliamsAuthor.com
Melody Ramie Reed
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 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, will be published by Abrams Books for Young Readers in 2021. 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!!
Melissa Savage worked for many years as a child and family therapist and believes that expressing oneself through writing can be a very healing process when struggling with difficulties in life. Melissa attributes her love of writing to her second-grade teacher, Miss Mahle, who introduced her to writing at seven years old. The Lost Pony won critical acclaim from Melissa’s mom and was the start of her love of writing. She eventually earned a Master’s Degree in Writing for Children and Young Adults from Hamline University in Minnesota and published her debut book, Lemons with Penguin Random House’s Crown Books for Young Readers in 2017. Melissa has since begun teaching workshops for both children and adults. She has gone on to write The Truth About Martians (2018), Nessie Quest (2020), and Karma Moon, Ghost Hunter (2021). Melissa loves the process of writing and sharing concepts with fellow writers and is excited to be a part of Young Inklings. She looks forward to meeting writers of every age, experience level, and background. Melissa loves art, theatre, hiking, and eating marshmallows straight out of the bag. You can find her at melissadsavage.com.