Board & Staff

Molly McCammon

President | Anchorage
Molly McCammon is the Founder, past Executive Director and now Senior Advisor of the Alaska Ocean Observing System, a non-profit established in 2003 to facilitate ocean observing activities and data products to meet the needs of marine stakeholders. Previously, she served as Executive Director of the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill Trustee Council for a decade. She holds a BA in Journalism from the University of California Berkeley and worked in journalism for many years. Her many volunteer commitments include ten years as a board member and past chair of the Great Land Trust. In 2020, she was awarded an Honorary Doctorate from the University of Alaska Anchorage in recognition of her many contributions to our state. Molly serves on the 49 Writers board because of her love of literature and the written word and her interest in “helping organizations think and plan strategically and facilitate networking opportunities to achieve goals.”

Emily Wall

Secretary | Douglas
Emily Wall is a Professor of English at the University of Alaska where she teaches creative writing and literature. She holds an M.F.A. in poetry from the University of Arizona and her poems have been published in journals across the US and Canada, most recently in Prairie Schooner and Alaska Quarterly Review. She has been nominated for multiple Pushcart Prizes and her most recent book, Flame, won the Minerva Rising Press chapbook prize. She has two books published with Salmon Poetry: Liveaboard and Freshly Rooted. Two new books are forthcoming: her chapbook Fist with Minera Rising Press and her full-length book Breaking Into Air: Birth Poems with Red Hen Press. Emily lives and writes in Douglas, Alaska

Toya Brown

Treasurer | Anchorage
Toya Brown is an Alaskan poet whose work can be found in different publishings like Alaska Women Speak and Forum Magazine. She has been a panelist for the Alaska Writers Guild and has run several writing workshops including a healing through the arts program where she taught literary techniques to Alaska’s at-risk youth. Her most recent workshop titled Unbalanced, but Stable explored sparking creative writing through 49 Writers in the fall of 2022. She is the mother of a young adult who has picked up her flare for the arts and is a two-time Alaska State Poetry Out Loud champion. Toya lives in Anchorage and loves getting out and exploring the great wild of this beautiful state.

Heather Aruffo

Program Chair | Fairbanks
Heather Aruffo is a 2019 graduate of the MFA program at UAF, where she studied with Frank Soos, and is currently based in Fairbanks. She has lived in Alaska since 2016 and considers it her adopted home. By day, she works remotely as a regulatory medical writer for Seagen, a cancer focused biotechnology company based in Seattle, and by night, she is an omniverous writer of prose. She was a 2019-2020 Fulbright Scholar to Mongolia, is an alumnus of the Tin House and Breadloaf Writers Worskops, and has received support from Storyknife and the Rona Jaffee Foundation. When she isn’t working on her essay collection, she can be found training for ultramarathons, hiking, wrangling her three dogs, Oaken, Olaf and Zoya, or exploring the interior with her fiancé Garrett.

Kendalyn Mckisick

Vice President | Membership/Development Chair | Anchorage
Kendalyn Mckisick (she/they) is the Director of Marketing and Communications at Camp Fire Alaska, and she is also an adjunct professor at the University of Alaska Fairbanks where she teaches creative writing and literature. She holds an M.F.A. in poetry from UAF. Her poems and reviews have been published in About Place Journal, Panoply Magazine, Antipodes, and others. Additionally, she is very invested in food justice and food literacy; she is the Community Roots Program Director for Calypso Farm and Ecology Center. She lives in Anchorage.

Katie Bausler

Podcast Producer | Ex-Officio Member | Juneau
Katie Bausler is a former award-winning broadcast journalist, PR Director for the University of Alaska Southeast and current Community Relations Director for Bartlett Regional Hospital. She holds an MA in English from Middlebury College and an MFA in Creative Nonfiction from the University of Alaska Anchorage. She writes occasional columns for the Sunday We Alaskans section in the Alaska Dispatch newspaper and has had several pieces published in the University of Alaska Southeast literary journal, Tidal Echoes. Katie and her husband Karl are devoted residents of the island kingdom of Douglas, across the channel from Juneau, Alaska’s capital.

Summer Christiansen

Board Member | Juneau
Summer A.H. Christiansen (she/they) is a queer writer, mother, educator, and lifelong Alaskan residing on the unceded land of T'aaḵu Kwáan and A'akw Kwáan. Her work has been published in Silver Rose Magazine, Tidal Echoes, Alaska Women Speak, and Drizzle Review. She is a recent graduate from the Rainier Writing Workshop and holds an MFA in Creative Writing: Non-Fiction.

Julianne Warren

Board Member | Fairbanks
Julianne Warren (she/her, settler) is a freelance writer and activist with a PhD in wildlife ecology. She has authored Aldo Leopold’s Odyssey: Rediscovering the Author of A Sand County Almanac (Island Press, [2006] 2016) and Unsettling Aldo Leopold’s Odyssey (Cambridge Elements, Accepted Manuscript). Julianne also has (co-)crafted several book chapters, creative writings, and sound art published in venues including Arcadia, Newfound, Minding Nature, Zoomorphic, The Poetry Lab of The Merwin Conservancy, Lost & Found Theatrum Anatomicum, the Deutsches Museum, and Environmental Futures at the University of Colorado Boulder. Julianne is on track to graduate with an MFA in Creative Writing from the Institute of American Indian Arts in Spring 2024. In an underway book manuscript, she is considering authority from multiple angles in episodes of lyric essay and prose poetry. Julianne lives gratefully in lands of lower Tanana Dene Peoples.

Geoff Kirsch

Board Member | Juneau
Geoff Kirsch is a writer and writing teacher based in Juneau, Alaska, with a BS in communications from Cornell University and MFA in fiction from New School University. His publications range from literary short fiction to newspaper/magazine feature. He also writes humor, most notably the book "Run for Your Life! Doomsday 2012!" (Workman NYC) and the column "Slack Tide," which has been running in the Juneau Empire since 2009 (with a short hiatus here and there). Additionally, he has written various stage, screen, and tele- plays for national, state and local production. Lately, he works as a writing instructor at University of Alaska Southeast, teaching composition and creative writing courses, although he has also taught writing at every level from elementary school to community adult ed.

Caroline Van Hemert

Board Member | Anchorage
Caroline Van Hemert is an adventurer, wildlife biologist, and author of the award-winning memoir The Sun is a Compass. Her work has been featured in the New York Times, Washington Post, Audubon, Outside, and Vogue. As a lifelong Alaskan, her professional and personal passions are closely tied to northern landscapes. In addition to freelance writing, she works as a research biologist studying avian ecology and wildlife health in the Arctic. When she’s not traveling, she divides her time between a remote off-the-grid cabin in southeast Alaska and a cozy home in downtown Anchorage, where she lives with her husband and two young sons.

Mistee St. Clair

Board Member | Juneau
Mistee St. Clair was born in Fairbanks and has spent most of her life in Alaska. She is an Alaska Literary Award recipient and has poems in, or forthcoming in, Northwest Review, SWIMM Every Day, and Sky Island Journal. Her chapbook This Morning is Different was published in 2021. Currently she lives in Juneau, where she has two fledging sons and works seasonally in the editing department of the Alaska State Legislature.

Sara Guinn

Board Member | Bethel
Sara Ayaniuq Guinn is Yup'ik from Bethel, Alaska. She is an English teacher at Bethel Regional High School, where she has worked since 2019. She has a BA in writing from Portland State University and an MA in teaching from the University of Alaska Southeast. She enjoys spending time with family, taking bike rides with her dog Ziggy, beading earrings, and journaling. Sara supports the mission of 49 Writers, because she knows how difficult it can be to find a community able and willing to nurture and amplify young writers' voices. She wants to empower young writers to understand the strength and necessity of their words and feel celebrated in expressing themselves.

Mandy Ramsey

Board Member | Haines
Mandy Ramsey is an artist, mother, photographer, and yoga teacher who loves to create and write. She self-published her first book Grow Where You’re Planted in 2019. She has been previously published in Cirque, Alaskan Women Speak, Tidal Echoes, Poets Choice, and Elephant Journal. She holds a M.A in Yoga Studies and Mindfulness Education and has been living off the grid in Haines since 2000 in the timber frame home she built with her husband. She believes that flowers and the natural world can heal, connect, inspire and sprout friendships

Carol Swartz

Board Member | Homer
Carol Swartz became the Director of UAA’s Kachemak Bay Campus-KPC in 1986 and recently retired from this role as Campus Director Emerita. One of the programs she developed is the nationally-recognized and community-building Kachemak Bay Writers’ Conference. Honors she has received include the Governor’s Award for Service to the Humanities and Arts, Alaska Adult Center for the Book’s Contributions in Literacy, Homer Woman of Distinction, UAA Meritorious Service, YWCA Alaska Women of Achievement and Alaska Women’s Hall of Fame. She lives in Homer.

Sarah Reynolds Westin

Board Member | Anchorage
Sarah tells true stories artfully, which catch people's attention and have resulted in her being featured internationally by The New York Times, BBC Radio 4, and Reader's Digest and by more local outlets, including Alaska Magazine (forthcoming), Cirque, Edible Alaska, FORUM, Alaska Business, and Alaska Women Speak. She studied under David Stevenson while earning her MFA in Creative Writing and Literary Arts from the University of Alaska Anchorage (UAA). Sarah has also earned an MA in English from UAA and a BA in Ancient Languages from OBU and has completed three years of graduate coursework in programs at Wake Forest University and within the College of Business and Psychology Departments at UAA. In total, Sarah's secured 34 publications, presented live storytelling 22 times, received nine professional artist awards (including from ADN/UAA Creative Writing Contest, Jason Wenger Award for Excellence, Alaska Writers Guild, and NYC Midnight), been appointed for two art residencies (with Alaska State Parks and Alaska's State Council on the Arts), and overseen two community art projects. She currently works at United Way of Anchorage as its Written Word Storyteller, has worked in communications for 15 years, and has taught as an adjunct professor in the English Department at UAA for four years. Sarah proudly shares that her first real adult decision was to move to Alaska, where she's remained for almost 20 years. When she's not writing or storytelling, you can find Sarah playing with her favorite person -- her 10-year-old child -- and their slew of pets, including a sled-dog rescue, two crazy cats, two feisty gerbils, and two frogs who just want to be left alone please.

dawnell smith

Board Member | Anchorage
dawnell smith finds a sense of belonging in mountains, big water, and the stories people share through words and art. She does communications work for Trustees for Alaska, a nonprofit environmental law firm, and has made a living and life in varied roles, including as a journalist and arts administrator. dawnell makes essays, poems, and stories as time allows. Her words have appeared in various publications, including the Anchorage Daily News, F Magazine, Forum magazine, Cirque, and "Building Fires in the Snow.” She received a master’s in creative writing and literary arts from the University of Alaska, Anchorage, and co-founded and helped open the Writer's Block Bookstore and Cafe, where she most recently focused on overseeing events and promotions. She lives on Dena'ina lands in Anchorage, Alaska, with a family of human and more-than-human animals to whom she is endlessly grateful for schooling her on the ways of relationships and motion.

Barbara Hood

Past President Ex Officio | Anchorage
Barbara Hood moved to Fairbanks with her family at age ten, and has called Alaska home ever since. She received a BS in Biology from the University of Alaska Fairbanks, where she was drawn to writing as a staff reporter for the Polar Star student newspaper. Her interest continued in law school at the University of California Berkeley, where she served on the editorial board of Ecology Law Quarterly, one of the country’s oldest environmental law journals. During her legal career, Barbara worked in the public sector for Alaska Legal Services Corporation, the Alaska Attorney General’s Office, and the Alaska Court System. In addition, she helped her husband found and manage Great Harvest Bread Co. in Anchorage for over 23 years. Now fully retired, she volunteers for justice and writing organizations and pursues her longtime interests in creative writing, photography, and human rights advocacy. Her essays, poetry, fiction and commentary have appeared in the Anchorage Press, Anchorage Daily News, and CIRQUE.

Alison Miller

Executive Director | Palmer
Alison Miller has an MFA from the University of Alaska Fairbanks and writes both fiction and nonfiction. Although she was born and raised in Texas, she has been chasing her dreams north for the better part of her adult life. She's passionate about literary communities and the creative process, and she hopes to empower others on their writing journey. When not working or writing, she's likely volunteering, cooking vegetarian comfort foods, running, or exploring Alaska. She lives in Palmer, Alaska, with her partner and is currently working on her first novel.

Kristen Ritter

Communications Director | Anchorage
Kristen Ritter is a writer and playwright whose work has been supported by the Alaska State Council on the Arts, the Kennedy Center, the U.S. Department of State Innovation Station, and Theater Alaska. She is a Fulbright Fellow and Alaska Literary Award recipient. She supports 49 Writers because she wants to provide resources and opportunities to artists across the state!

Past Board and Staff Members

Mary Katzke
Ben Kuntz
Cameron Leonard
Ron Andersen
Carla Beam
Karen Benning
Linda Caird (formerly Ketchum)*
Kirsten Dixon
Morgan Grey*
Erin Coughlin Hollowell*
Gabriel Olmos
Amy O’Neill Houck
Eric Larson
Matt Komatsu
Jeremy Pataky*
Joan Pardes
Shauna Potocky
Don Rearden
Carol Richards
Andromeda Romano-Lax*
Deb Vanasse*
Katrina Woolford
*Former Executive Director

 

Scroll to Top