Regional Chapter Ambassadors

Get to know the people leading the Authors Guild’s regional chapters.

Bay Area

MK Chavez

MK Chavez photo

MK Chavez is an Afro-Latinx writer and educator. Chavez co-directs Berkeley Poetry Festival, is co-founder/curator of Lyrics & Dirges reading series, and is executive director of Ouroboros Coaching & Writing Lab. Chavez’s writing explores mixed-race identity, social justice, environmental resilience, horror cinema, ritual, and the creative process. Chavez’s work has been recognized with a Pen Oakland Josephine Miles Award, Alameda Arts Leadership Award, San Francisco Foundation/Nomadic Press Literary Award, and Ruth Weiss Maverick Award. Chavez’s work has been recognized by the Berkeley Public Library Foundation and with an Alameda Leadership Award. In 2023, she was a Yerba Center of the Arts 100. Chavez has received fellowships from CantoMundo, Caldera, Community of Writers, Hedgebrook, Playa, Small Press Traffic, and VONA. Chavez’s literary offerings include Dear Animal, Mothermorphosis, the lyric essay chapbook A Brief History of the Selfie, and Virgin Eyes. Recent work can be found on the walls of the art installation Manifest Differently.

Laird Harrison

Laird Harrison writes about science, health and culture. His work has appeared in magazines (TIME, Audubon, Discover, Health) and newspapers (San Francisco Chronicle, Chicago Tribune), and on Web sites (Salon, Reuters, MSNBC, He has produced video for Web sites including and audio for KQED and WUNC public media stations. His novel, Fallen Lake, tells the story of a powerful attraction between two couples and how it affected their children. Harrison has taught writing at San Francisco State University, UC Berkeley Extension and the San Francisco Writers Grotto, where he is a member. He grew up in Berkeley, California, and studied creative writing and politics at the University of California, Santa Cruz. He lives in Oakland, California.


Stephanie Schorow

Stephanie Schorow is a journalist, writing instructor, and the author of eight books on Boston history, including the soon-to-be-published The Great Boston Fire: The Inferno that Nearly Incinerated the City; Inside the Combat Zone; Drinking Boston; The Cocoanut Grove Fire; East of Boston: Notes from the Harbor Island; and The Crime of the Century: How the Brink’s Robbers Stole Millions and the Hearts of Boston. She currently coordinates a Citizen Journalism Program for Malden’s Urban Media Arts, teaches professional writing and editing at Lasell University in Newton, and serves as a communication writer for Ariadne Labs in Boston. She has worked as an editor and reporter for the Boston Herald, the Associated Press, and newspapers in Connecticut, Idaho and Utah. Her novel, Cat Dreaming, will be published in late 2022.

Nancy Rubin Stuart

Nancy Rubin Stuart is an award-winning author and journalist whose eight nonfiction books focus upon women and social history. Her latest book, POOR RICHARD’S WOMEN, will be published in 2022. A former journalist, Nancy’s work has appeared in the New York Times, Huffington Post, the New England Quarterly and national magazines. Nancy is also the Executive Director of the Cape Cod Writers Center.


Charles Grippo

Licensed as an attorney in Illinois, Charles Grippo concentrates his law practice in real estate, estate planning, entertainment, copyright, taxes, and business entities. He vets IP projects for legal risks and consults on theatrical productions and career management for artists. As an author, playwright, and theatrical producer himself, he is especially attuned to the legal and financial needs of fellow artists and strives to help them. His books include The Stage Producer’s Business and Legal Guide and Business and Legal Forms for Theater, both in their second editions and published by Allworth Press, a division of Skyhorse Publishing and distributed by Simon and Schuster. He is the founder and artistic director of two theater companies: New Lincoln Theatre, Inc., a commercial for profit producer; and Grippo Stage Company, Inc., a 501 ( c ) (3) public charity which uses theater to fight bigotry and hate. In addition to being a member of the Author’s Guild, he is also a member of The Dramatists Guild, the Alliance for Jewish Theaters, the League of Chicago Theaters, and the Producers Association of Chicago Theaters.


Weam Namou

Weam Namou is the author of 12 books, a journalist, filmmaker, vice president of Detroit Working Writers (DWW), a 118-year-old professional writing association, and founder of The Path of Consciousness, a spiritual and writing conference and retreat. Her book, The Great American Family: A Story of Political Disenchantment, won a 2017 Eric Hoffer Book Award and three of her memoir series received acclaimed reviews by Publishers Weekly. Earlier this year, Namou completed her first feature documentary The Great American Family (based on the book with the same title) and Francis Coppola and the staff of Zoetrope selected her script “Pomegranate” as one of quarter-finalists out of 1600 scripts. Currently, she is working on her 13th book, titled Mesopotamian Goddesses: Unveiling Your Feminine Power.  Namou received her Bachelor’s Degree in Communications from Wayne State University, studied fiction and memoir through various correspondence courses, poetry in Prague and screenwriting at MPI (Motion Picture Institute of Michigan). She has given readings, lectures, and workshops at numerous cultural and educational institutions, including colleges and universities. Her poetry, essays, and articles have appeared in national and international journals. In 2012, she received an Outstanding Contributions to the Arts Award from Erootha, a local arts organization.

Las Vegas

Teri Emory

Teri Emory is living proof that liberal arts majors are not necessarily unemployable. As evidence: She has taught writing and literature at the University of North Florida, Hunter College, Yeshiva University, and Fordham University. She lived in Rome, where she taught English to Soviet immigrants awaiting visas to the U.S. She survived an extended tour of duty as a corporate writer. Her articles and poems have appeared in print and online publications. She has edited essays and book-length manuscripts on absurdly esoteric topics. Her novel, Second Acts, was published in 2017, and she is currently at work on a sequel. Teri was born in the Bronx and grew up in and around New York City. She is proud to have been educated entirely in public schools, from kindergarten at P.S. 77 through grad school at U.C. Berkeley. She has lived and worked in several cities, some more fun than others, and has traveled widely. A devoted mother and besotted grandmother, she now resides in Las Vegas.

Los Angeles

Heidi Mastrogiovanni

A dedicated animal welfare advocate, Heidi Mastrogiovanni lives in Los Angeles with her musician husband and their rescued senior dogs. She is a graduate of Wesleyan University. Heidi is the author of the comedic novel Lala Pettibone’s Act Two (finalist, Foreword Reviews Book of the Year) and the sequel, Lala Pettibone: Standing Room Only. With series creator Cristina Negrón and Deb Martin, Heidi is having way too much fun writing The Classics Slacker Reads… series. Heidi and James Napoli (The Official Dictionary of Sarcasm) are co-hosts of the Movies Not Movies comedy podcast. Heidi is a contributor to the Washington Independent Review of Books and the New York Journal of Books. She is fluent in German and French, though she doesn’t countenance both those languages needing more than one definite article.

Paul Peress

Paul Peress is a poet and fiction writer. He uses both mediums to allow insight into his philosophical views of existence and the human condition. Peress is hard at work finishing up his first novel–an international action thriller, featuring a very capable and effective greater-than-life protagonist destined to return in future stories. His other passionate pursuit is as Music Producer, Composer, and Drummer, and his band, The Paul Peress Project, has appeared in over 20 countries. He has also been Music Director/Drummer for Chaka Khan, Moby, Brenda Russell, Deniece Williams, and many other well known artists. 

New York City

Diana Altman

Diana Altman is the author of Hollywood East: Louis B. Mayer and the origins of the studio system, still quoted in movie star biographies and books of film history. She was a guest on Entertainment Tonight. She is the daughter of the late Al Altman, the MGM talent scout who discovered Ava Gardner, Joan Crawford, and Jimmy Stewart. Diana’s award-winning novel In Theda Bara’s Tent was described as “sophisticated storytelling” by Library Journal and as “enthralling” by PW. Her recent novel We Never Told received a 5-star review on Booklist and was compared to Wally Lamb. It won first place/gold in the 2020 Feathered Quill Book Award contest. Diana’s short stories have appeared in Trampset, Notre Dame Review, StoryQuarterly, Cumberland River Review, and The Sea Letter. Her articles have appeared in the New York Times, Yankee, Boston Herald, Forbes, Huffington Post and elsewhere. She is a past president of the Boston chapter of the Women’s National Book Association. She lives on the Upper East Side with her husband, plays squash at the Harvard Club, and sings with the 92nd Street Y Broadway chorus.

Ginger McKnight-Chavers

Ginger McKnight-Chavers is an author and arts/entertainment attorney whose debut novel, In the Heart of Texas, won the 2016 USA Best Book Award in the category of African American Fiction.  An excerpt from her novel-in-progress, Oak Cliff, appears in the Summer 2019 issue of Solstice as a finalist in their annual literary contest. A native Texan, McKnight-Chavers is a graduate of Georgetown University and Harvard Law School.  She was awarded a Kathryn Gurfein Writing Fellowship at Sarah Lawrence College and is currently an instructor at SLC’s Writing Institute. McKnight-Chavers was a contributor to Oil and Water: And Other Things That Don’t Mix, and her work appears in Essence, New York Family, ShareBlue, The Huffington Post, and other publications.  McKnight-Chavers chairs the Board of Directors of Summer on the Hill and serves on the Executive Committee of the Black Arts Council at The Museum of Modern Art in New York City.

Catherine Martinez Torigian

Catherine Martinez Torigian was raised in an immigrant, working-class family in Brooklyn, NY. She earned a BA in English and Classics from NYU, did graduate work at the University of Toronto, and completed a Ph.D. in Classics at Brown University. She has taught classical languages, literatures, and culture at colleges in New York and Rhode Island and independent secondary schools in New York City. She was given the American Philological Association’s 2007 National Pre-Collegiate Teaching Award in Latin and was Vice-President of The New York Classical Club in 2007-2008. She has presented papers and organized academic panels on Greek and Roman tragedy, the poetic works of Pindar, Horace, and Theocritus, and contributed “The Lógos of Caesar’s Bellum Gallicum, Especially as Revealed in its First Five Chapters,” to Julius Caesar as Artful Reporter. The War Commentaries as Political Instruments, edd. Kathryn Welch and Anton Powell, 1998, Duckworth with the Classical Press of Wales. Catherine has also taught ESL at Brown University and the 92nd Street Y, and her fiction has appeared in Bellowing Ark and Digging Through the Fat. She is currently preparing a collection of short stories, revising her first novel, and writing a memoir of growing up in Brooklyn where she lives with her husband and teenage daughter.


Jaime Grookett

Jaime Grookett is an American author whose work is featured in literary magazines and anthologies, such as Typehouse Literary MagazineFlip Sides AnthologyThey Call Us Magazine, and Quail Bell Magazine. Her short story “Fine is for Sugar” earned “Best of Fiction, 2020” at Across the Margin. In 2021, she was shortlisted for the Philadelphia Writers Conference Emerging Writer Fellowship. In 2022, she received her MFA from Drexel University. She is guest editor at Valiant Scribe and teaches in the College of Education at Rowan University. Her debut novel, The Invisible Ones, which is inspired by her family history, is forthcoming in 2024.

Leah Mele-Bazaz

Leah Mele-Bazaz is the author of Laila: Held for a moment. Excerpts from her memoir were shortlisted for the Eunice Williams Nonfiction Prize and a finalist for The Southampton Review Nonfiction Prize. Her writing appeared in Schuylkill Valley Journal OnlineBarren Magazine, and elsewhere. In 2021, she won Barren Magazine’s December Instagram Poetry Contest. She earned her MFA in Creative Writing at Drexel University, where she also teaches rhetoric and composition. You can visit her at


Shaweta “Shay” Vasudeva

Shaweta “Shay” Vasudeva, MA (Pyschology), MS (Kinesiology, Pending), NFPT-CPT, NASM-CPT-CES, THSA-CNT, and Black Belt Karate Instructor is an author, teaching professional, speaker, coach, and cat lover! Her passion is to help people become the best version of themselves by using an interdisciplinary and holistic approach, bringing 10+ years of experience in Psychology, Personal Fitness Training, Corrective Exercise, Nutritional Coaching, Cranial Sacral Work and teaching Karate & Tai Chi classes to her business, ShayTheCoach. Shay teaches classes at Maricopa Community College District as an Adjunct Professor. Her published works are academic in nature, with four peer-reviewed scholarly journal articles. She has authored and developed course curricula at the college level in Kinesiology and Psychology. She is currently working on writing and developing Cultural Psychology, a three-credit academic course.


Bert Krages

Bert Krages is an attorney whose work mostly involves intellectual property and media law issues. He is a well-known advocate for the right to take photographs in public and is the author of books about photography and photography law. He obtained his law degree from the University of Oregon, where he served on law review. He also has an undergraduate degree in engineering from Northwestern University and a master’s degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.


Judy Allen Dodson

Judy Allen Dodson is the librarian and archivist at the Olivia Raney Local History Library with the Wake County Public Libraries. She has extensive experience working with special collections and local history research. As a children’s book writer, Judy, is the recipient of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) On-the-Verge Emerging Voices Award for her manuscript, Fast Friends. She attended the Rutgers University Council on Children’s Literature for her manuscript, Fast Friends, and received the United Arts Council of Raleigh and Wake County Professional Development grant for her manuscript, Micah’s Magic.  Judy’s other works include community service and engagement with the African American Cultural Celebration (AACC) event in Raleigh, NC as a board member and committee member/co-host with the Literature and Spoken Word section. Her mission is to help foster a growing community of North Carolina writers. She holds a B.A. in Communications from Western Michigan University and the M.L.S. from North Carolina Central University.

Kelly Starling Lyons

Kelly Starling Lyons is a children’s book author, teaching artist and founding member of The Brown Bookshelf ( Her books include CCBC Choices-honored picture book, One Million Men and Me; a Coretta Scott King Illustrator Honor book and Junior Library Guild selection; Tea Cakes for Tosh, a Notable Social Studies Trade Book for Young People, an IRA/CBC Children’s Choices selection and One More Dino on the Floor, a Scholastic Reading Club pick. Her Jada Jones chapter book series debuted last year with two titles: Rock Star and Class Act. Book 3, Jada Jones: Sleepover Scientist, will be released in January. She regularly presents at schools, libraries and conferences around the country. As an active member of the North Carolina creative community, Kelly has a heart for guiding emerging writers and a passion for celebrating diverse children’s literature. She is a member of the advisory board for the African American Cultural Celebration  and chair of its Literature & Spoken Word committee, mentor for the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators – Carolinas chapter, Authors’ Circle member of Book Harvest and founder of a book club for boys. Learn more about Kelly at

San Diego

Connie Bennett

Connie Bennett headshot

Connie Bennett is a journalist and author of the bestselling books, Sugar Shock (Berkley Books) and Beyond Sugar Shock (Hay House). Her next book, I blew my diet! Now what?  The Easy, Proven 21-Day Plan to Drop Pounds & Bounce Back Boldly, will be published in early 2025. The idea came to Connie when her once-resolute willpower went by the wayside and she ate badly for months after a heartbreaking year standing by her dying mother. Connie is a motivational speaker, Dream Builder Coach, certified health coach, life coach, and EFT practitioner. She has been featured by TIME, “CBS News Sunday Morning,” Woman’s World, Women’s WeeklyWomen’s Health, the Daily Mail, and hundreds of radio stations and podcasts. A former sugar and carb addict, Connie now leads a healthy lifestyle, including eating wholesome foods, taking daily walks or bike rides by the ocean, doing Pilates, meditating, and studying personal transformation. Learn more about her at

Wendy Wong

Wendy Wong is a writer, a creative coach, a Reiki Master, a yoga practitioner and student of the Tao. She is also a brand strategist and marketing communications professional. She lives in La Jolla and is revising her first novel.

You can find her on

St. Petersburg/Tampa

Matthew Lucas

Matthew C. (“Matt”) Lucas was born and raised in Tampa, Florida, and lives there now with his wife, their two sons, dog, and axolotl. He writes speculative fiction that ranges from dark and epic, to droll and historic, to a lot of stuff in between. His published novels include The Mountain (Montag Press) and Yonder & Far: The Lost Lock (Ellysian Press). He has published short stories in various venues, including Best Indie Speculative Fiction, Bards & Sages Quarterly, and Sword & Sorcery Magazine. He’s also the author of a legal textbook (Wolters Kluwer) and numerous bar journal and law review articles. Matt did his undergraduate work at Florida State University and completed his J.D. from the University of Florida, Levin College of Law. Since 2015, he’s been an appellate judge in the state court system. When he’s not working, enjoying his family, writing, or playing the bagpipes (badly), he can be found at the neighborhood bowling alley, an enthusiastic if not especially talented regular. He blogs (occasionally) at

Kirsten Ringer

Kirsten (“Kiki”) Ringer’s passion for writing began in kindergarten when she wrote her first book, Ruby Diamond and the Jewel Thief. With nearly 30 years in the publishing and entertainment industries, her experience includes The Walt Disney Studios, Penguin Putnam, and the venerable Russell & Volkening Literary Agency in New York, where she worked with Nobel and Pulitzer Prize-winning authors. Kiki is a 500-hour certified yoga instructor and mindfulness practitioner. When she’s not training for a triathlon, she’s most often found snuggling her Dobermans, though she does take off Saturdays during the fall to watch college football.