The AWWP Team

The Afghan Women’s Writing Project works to nurture and support the voices of Afghan women, who traditionally have not had any outlet for sharing their powerful, often heart-breaking stories and their compelling voices. AWWP believes that having the freedom to tell one’s own story is a human right too often denied to Afghan women. The project’s successes to date are due to an amazing volunteer team of creative, energetic visionaries, each of whom has made their own stamp on AWWP, creating and enriching its tapestry. Here’s who they are:

Richelle McClain, Executive Director, Programs. Richelle’s background and experience spans the business, publishing, and education sectors. She began her career in marketing research and worked in the newspaper industry for The New York Times and Contra Costa Times. After completing her MFA in Creative Writing at the University of San Francisco, she taught English and composition. A longtime advocate for women’s issues, Richelle has facilitated entrepreneurial business courses for the Women’s Initiative for Self-Employment and taught creative writing for the International Women’s Writing Guild and the Women’s Writing Experience. Before accepting the Executive Director position, she served as AWWP’s Workshop Director. 
Lori Noack, Executive Director, Marketing & Development. Lori brings to the Afghan Women’s Writing Project over twenty years of non-profit leadership, along with independent writing, editing, consulting, and arts management expertise. In addition to serving on governing and cultural boards from local to state levels, her professional positions have included executive director of nationally recognized music festivals in Oregon and San Francisco, newspaper editor, founder of an arts management agency, university lecturer, and writing instructor. She earned her MFA in Creative Writing in 2009. Today, Lori applies her expertise in building AWWP’s North American team to ensure program excellence and enhance public awareness for the benefit of women’s rights in Afghanistan.
Editing Director Susan Postlewaite is a journalist who has covered Cambodia and the Middle East for Business Week, the Asian Wall Street Journal, San Francisco Chronicle and others. She has also taught journalism at universities in the Middle East and Eastern Europe, and in India as a Knight International Press Fellow. She began her career with AP, then moved to the Miami Daily Business Review. She was an editor and writer at the Phnom Penh Post and later an AP correspondent on the Khmer Rouge Tribunal. She co-authored “Losing Ground: Forced Evictions and Intimidation in Cambodia.”
Stacy Le Melle Workshop Director Stacy Parker Le Melle is a former political aide who served five years in the Clinton White House. She is the author of a memoir, Government Girl: Young and Female in the White House(Ecco/HarperCollins) and the creator of The Katrina Experience: an Oral History Project, as well as the primary contributor to McSweeney’s Voices from the Storm: The People of New Orleans on Hurricane Katrina and Its Aftermath. She has also spent eight years teaching creative writing to students K-12 in Detroit, Houston, and New York City.
Country Director Seeta Habibi is a journalist and worked with the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) as a gender specialist. She has worked for AWWP both as a writer and as a provincial liaison. For a time, Seeta worked as the only female journalist in Farah province. Following threats from the Taliban, Seeta and her family were forced to relocate. After relocating, she earned a degree in Administrative Management.
Web manager Stefan Cooke worked for twenty years in a series of jobs at Harvard University—includingmolecular biology lab technician, copy editor, training coordinator, and web designer—while earning a B.A. at their Extension School. Now a freelance web designer, he lives with Resa Blatman, a fine artist, in Somerville, Mass. He is working on a book about his aunt, Barbara Newhall Follett.
 kathy-mccarthy Database manager Kathy McCarthy holds a PhD in Environmental Science. She has served as principal investigator for many large, complex science projects and has authored over forty scientific publications. To balance her largely analytical professional life, Kathy volunteers extensively as an advocate and mentor for abused women and children. In addition to her work with AWWP, Kathy volunteers as a mathematics tutor for adults in transition from prison who are working to earn their GEDs.

Editor Katherine J. Barrett holds a PhD in Botany and Ethics from the University of British Columbia and works as a freelance writer and editor. She recently returned to Nova Scotia, Canada, after four years in Cape Town. While in South Africa, Katherine wrote a monthly column on motherhood called “Mother City Mama.” She currently pens a column on food and family for the US magazine Literary Mama. Katherine has published essays, short stories, and numerous academic articles. She runs the editorial service LiteraryDesign.ca.
  Editor Pat Dunnigan is a Chicago writer, editor, journalist, and blogger whose work has been published in newspapers, books, magazines, and radio. Before moving to Chicago in 2006, she spent ten years covering law and the courts for Florida Trend magazine. She currently works as a freelance writer, tutor, and writing coach. Her humor blog, Suburban Kamikaze, has been featured on NPR’s All Things Considered and was named one of BlogHer’s Voices of the Year in humor in 2010.
Editor Mary Reed has a Master’s degree in English from Notre Dame de Namur University in Belmont, CA. She has published articles in Youth! and Parenting for High Potential magazines and the Acta Astronautica journal, and is currently at work on a historical novel. She enjoys helping other writers grow in their craft and she has been involved with AWWP since 2010. She has three grown children and lives in San Jose, California with her husband, dog and cat.
silhouette Editor Leath Tonino is a freelance writer from Vermont and currently lives in San Francisco. Leath’s work has appeared in The Sun, Orion, Sierra, and the New England Review, among other magazines. He’s received awards from Colorado College, where he studied philosophy, and the Bread Loaf Writer’s Conference. In addition to writing, he tracked hawks on the Grand Canyon’s North Rim for the US Forest Service and shoveled snow at the South Pole for the US Antarctic Program.
Editor Lynne Tweardy was a newspaper editor for sixteen years in South Florida and taught high school English for seven years. She now works with students with learning disabilties at Barry University in Miami. She received her B.A. from Penn State University.
Living Room Fundraiser Coordinator Pamela Hart, a former journalist, is writer-in-residence at the Katonah Museum of Art, Katonah, NY, where she directs a visual literacy program called Thinking Through Art: Young Artists & Writers. She was the inaugural poetry fellow in 2011 at the SUNY Purchase College Writers Center. Her chapbook, The End of the Body, was published in 2006 by Toadlily Press and her poetry has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and has appeared in such journals as Kalliope, BigCityLit.Com, The Cortland Review, Rattapallax and others. She’s currently completing a manuscript, Penelope at the Shooting Range. She has been an AWWP mentor since 2010.
mahnaz-rezaie Dari Workshop facilitator Mahnaz Rezaie graduated from Middlebury College in 2013 with a Bachelor’s Degree in International Studies and Film Studies. Originally from Afghanistan, Mahnaz’s family fled to Iran during the Taliban regime when she was nine years old. After the Taliban left, she returned to Afghanistan and in 2009 moved to the United States to attend Middlebury College in Vermont. Mahnaz is a writer, filmmaker, and photographer. Currently, she works as a Dari mentor and facilitator for AWWP’s Dari Workshop.
Newletter Coordinator Linda C. Wisniewski shares an empty nest with her retired scientist husband in Bucks County, PA. A former librarian, she teaches memoir workshops and speaks on the healing power of writing, when she is not walking, knitting, quilting, reading or writing. Her credits include the Christian Science Monitor, the Philadelphia Inquirer, The Rose & Thorn, Hippocampus, and other literary magazines as well as several anthologies. Linda’s memoir, Off Kilter, was published in 2008 by Pearlsong Press and she has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Visit her at lindawis.com and follow her on Twitter @Lindawis.
Intern Helena Zeweri is a PhD student at Rice University’s anthropology program. Her research focuses on the politics of educational development work for Afghan women.  Helena has worked with non-profit organizations in New York that focused on a wide range of issues, from US-Middle East relations to foreign language education in underserved communities. Helena received her MA in anthropology from The New School for Social Research and an MA in Near Eastern Studies from New York University.

 

AWWP Founder

Masha Hamilton is the author of four novels and the founder of two world literacy projects, the Camel Book Drive (2007) and AWWP (2009). A Brown University graduate, she teaches at writing workshops around the U.S. and has also taught in Afghanistan. Her novels have been translated into Italian, Dutch, and Mandarin Chinese. As a journalist, she spent five years based in the Middle East for the Associated Press, followed by another five years in Moscow, Russia, where she reported for the Los Angeles Times and NBC-Mutual Radio and wrote a monthly column, “Postcards from Moscow.”