Staff List

Meet the People of Poets & Writers



Melissa Ford Gradel – EXECUTIVE Director

Melissa joined the Poets & Writers staff as managing director in January 2010; in 2021 she was appointed the organization’s executive director. Her previous roles include development director at Poets House from 2003 to 2006, where she helped to secure a secure a permanent home for the organization in Battery Park City, and consulting to help raise millions of dollars for a range of arts and cultural organizations, including Brooklyn Public Library, Brooklyn Children’s Museum, Brooklyn Botanic Garden, Prospect 1: New Orleans, and International Center of Photography. Early in her career, she assisted Poets & Writers in crafting grant proposals that secured funding to launch Melissa holds a BFA from New York University.

Elliot Figman – SPECIAL ADVISOR TO THE Executive Director

As an earlier admirer of Poets & Writers, Elliot came to the organization as a volunteer in 1977. He served as executive director from 1981 to 2020, overseeing the creation of Poets & Writers Magazine, the launch of, and the expansion of the Readings & Workshops program. During his tenure, Poets & Writers’ budget grew six-fold and endowments, now valued at over $6 million, were established. He has served on the Board of Directors of Oberlin College and the Corlears School. An accomplished poet, his book, Big Spring, was published by Four Way Books in 2003; his chapbook, Interior Whistle, was published in 2017 by Green Zone Press. 


Tia joined Poets & Writers in March of 2021. Her extensive experience in non-profit finance includes roles with The Center for Reproductive Rights, Comprehensive Youth Development, Inc., Harlem United Community AIDS Center and Columbia University. She received her BS in Finance from Hampton University and her MBA from Baruch College. Tia is an avid tennis fan, and in her spare time volunteers with other non-profits and participates in local races with the New York Road Runners.

Rachel Schuder – Director, Development & Marketing

Rachel joined Poets & Writers' Development & Markeing team in 2011; in 2021 she was became Director of Development & Marketing. Her previous experience in the nonprofit arts sector includes roles with the Creative Capital Foundation and the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, both service organizations for artists. Rachel has a background in visual art and is inspired by creative people and storytellers of all types. She holds a BA from Bowdoin College and an MFA in Combined Media from Hunter College, and has received artist fellowships from the Fine Arts Work Center, the Bronx Museum's Artist in the Marketplace program, and Skowhegan. 

Bridget Irvine – Development & Marketing coordinator

After interning with Poets & Writers in 2014, Bridget joined the staff in 2016. She received her BA from Harvard University, spending much of her time there cultivating the undergraduate publication Tuesday Magazine. Her nonfiction has appeared in Electric Literature, and her other work has appeared in Tuesday Magazine and various zines. Bridget is from New Jersey, and loves amateur photography and challenging the notion of authenticity/the self.

Jason Thomas – Staff Accountant

Jason joined the Poets & Writers staff in June 2019. He has more than years of experience in accounting and finance, including with non-profit organizations such as Planned Parenthood of New York City and Saint Patrick’s Cathedral. He has an undergraduate degree in accounting from American International College and a master’s degree in professional accountancy from Southern University and A&M College. In his free time, Jason is a photographer and enjoys capturing the human spirit through his camera lens.

D. Sulaitis – Administrative Coordinator

D. has worked at Poets & Writers since 1991. Her short stories have appeared in Inkwell, New York Stories, and Painted Bride Quarterly, and one of her essays was included in My Father Married Your Mother (Norton, 2006). In 2006, D. won the Boston Review’s annual fiction contest, and she has been a finalist in both the New Letters and Zoetrope fiction contests, and for the Flannery O’Connor award for a collection of short stories. She is the recipient of two fiction fellowships from the New York Foundation for the Arts, and holds a BA in English/Creative Writing from the University of Hartford.



Kevin Larimer – Editor in Chief 

Kevin has been with Poets & Writers since 1999; he became editor in chief in 2013. He is the coauthor of The Poets & Writers Complete Guide to Being a Writer: Everything You Need to Know About Craft, Inspiration, Agents, Editors, Publishing, and the Business of Building a Sustainable Writing Career (Avid Reader Press, 2020). He holds a degree in journalism and received his MFA in poetry from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, where he was the poetry editor of the Iowa Review. He has given presentations and appeared on a number of panels on publishing at events such as the Library of Congress National Book Festival, the Sozopol Fiction Seminars, the Anguilla Lit Fest, the Slice Literary Writer’s Conference, the Iceland Writers Retreat, the Kauai Writers Conference, the Kachemak Bay Writers’ Conference, Poets Forum, the Bronx Book Fair, and the Writer’s Hotel. His poems have appeared in Poetry InternationalFence, Pleiades, Verse, and a dozen other literary magazines. He has written book reviews for American Letters & Commentary, American Book Review, Chelsea, and the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Dana Isokawa – Senior Editor

Dana joined the Poets & Writers staff in 2013. She is from the California Bay Area, where she previously worked at the Wikimedia Foundation, the nonprofit that runs Wikipedia. She graduated cum laude from Princeton University with a BA in philosophy and creative writing and received her MFA in poetry at New York University as the Fromer Fellow.

Ariel Davis – managing Editor

Ariel joined Poets & Writers in November 2016. She received a BA in Journalism and English from the University of South Alabama, where she received the Stokes Award in creative nonfiction. She has worked at several national publications, most recently at The Knot and Women’s Health magazines. Her essays have appeared in The Oracle and the online literary journal Human Parts. She lives in Manhattan.

Emma Komlos-Hrobsky –  associate editor

Emma joined Poets & Writers in 2019. Previously, she served as senior editor at Tin House magazine and associate editor at Tin House Books. She holds a BA from Wesleyan University and an MFA from The New School, where she later taught English and advised 12th Street, the Riggio Honors Program's literary magazine. Her writing has appeared in Conjunctions, BookForum, Tin House, and Guernica. With the support of the Elizabeth George Foundation, she is at work on a novel about quantum physics, family, and the Alps.

Spencer Quong –  assistant editor

Spencer joined Poets & Writers in the fall of 2019. He received his BA in English from Amherst College a year earlier, where he focused his studies in creative writing and queer literature. Before Poets & Writers, he held internships at Boston Review and the Paris Review, and published interviews at both publications. Born and raised in Whitehorse, Yukon, Canada, Spencer currently lives in Brooklyn. In his spare time, he dabbles in graphic design and reads widely.

Jessica Kashiwabara – digital director

Jessica joined Poets & Writers in May 2014. She received her BA from the University of California in San Diego, studying Human Development and Literature Writing, and has lived in New York City since 2000. She has worked in online media for Spin, CNET, and most recently the Child Mind Institute, a nonprofit for children's mental health. She was selected to participate in the JET Programme in 2007, teaching English in Japan. Jessica has trained in the martial art of Shorinji Kempo for many years and enjoys performing and writing music, photography, and comedy.

Francisco Márquez - Asssistant Web Editor

Francisco Márquez joined Poets & Writers in August 2020. He earned a BA in English from Florida State University and an MFA in Poetry from New York University, where he was a Goldwater fellow. He has received additional support from Tin House, The Poetry Project, Letras Latinas, and the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown. His work can be found in The Brooklyn Rail, Narrative, and The Common, among other publications. Born in Miami, and raised in Maracaibo, Venezuela, he lives in Brooklyn. 



Tim O'Sullivan – Associate Publisher

Tim joined Poets & Writers in 2008. He has published novel excerpts in A Public Space, one of which was re-published in the 2012 Pushcart Prize Anthology; another excerpt received special mention in the 2008 Pushcart Prize Anthology. He has been a Teaching-Writing Fellow at the Iowa Writers' Workshop, an Emerging Writer Fellow at the Center for Fiction, and a Residential Fellow at the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts and the MacDowell Colony. He is at work on a novel.

Amy Feltman – SENIOR Advertising MANAGER

Amy Feltman joined Poets & Writers' staff in June 2014. She earned her BA from Vassar College and holds an MFA in Fiction from Columbia University. Her work has been published in The Believer logger, The Millions, The Rumpus, Two Serious Ladies, The Toast, Limestone, ENDPAIN, Cosmonauts Avenue, and Slice Magazine, among others. Her short story, "Speculoos," was nominated for a Pushcart Prize in 2016. Her debut novel, Willa & Hesper, was released by Grand Central Publishing in 2019 and was longlisted for a Jewish National Book Award. Her second novel, All the Things We Don't Talk About, will be out in August 2022.

Anagha Putrevu – Advertising Assistant

Anagha joined Poets & Writers’ staff in August 2020. She was born in St. Catharines, Ontario, and studied English Literature at the University of Minnesota–Twin Cities, where she worked for the women’s hockey team and the university library. She moved to New York City in January 2020. In addition to her work at Poets & Writers, she works with adult learners at the Brooklyn Public Library and is studying acting with Polina Klimovitskaya.



Bonnie Rose Marcus – Director of Readings & Workshops (East) and the Writers Exchange

Bonnie joined Poets & Writers in July 2000, bringing more than twenty years of experience in the field of arts education. Bonnie has conducted theatre and writing workshops at numerous community-based organizations in New York City and created a model program, Project VIP (Voice, Identity, Power), a theatre writing initiative for adolescent girls, which continues at New Settlement Apartments in the Bronx. A writer and performer, Bonnie has presented her poetry at a variety of venues in New York City including  ABC No Rio, Boricua College, Cornelia Street Cafe,  Playwright's Horizon, Two Moon Art, and Night and Day Cafe. She has also presented her poetry at the Third Midwest Literary Walk, in Michigan, Split This Rock Festival in Washington, D.C, and at the New Mexico Poetry Convention. Her theatre credits include a three and a half year run in the Off Broadway show, Tony ‘n Tina’s Wedding. Bonnie's book of poetry, The Luminosity, was released in June 2013 with 3: A Taos Press.

ricardo hernandez – Program COORDINATOR, Readings & Workshops (East) AND THE WRITERS EXCHANGE

Ricardo was the 2016-17 McCrindle Foundation Readings & Workshops Fellow, before becoming the Program Assistant in June 2017. He earned his BA from Baruch College and holds an MFA in Poetry from Rutgers-Newark. A recipient of fellowships from Lambda Literary, Poets House, and the Vermont Studio Center, and a semifinalist for the 2019 Vinyl 45 Chapbook Contest, Ricardo’s work has appeared in Muzzle Magazine, Witness Magazine, Hyperallergic, and The Offing, among others. Born in Mexico City and raised in Queens, he now lives in Jersey City.


Jamie Asaye FitzGerald – Director, California Office and Readings & Workshops (West)

Jamie has worked for Poets & Writers since 2005. While an undergraduate at the University of Southern California, she received an Academy of American Poets College Prize and the Edward W. Moses Poetry Prize. She has taught creative writing, composition, and literature at San Diego State University where she received an MFA in poetry. She also has extensive experience as a copywriter. Her poetry has appeared in Ariel, Fulcrum, LORE, Poetic Diversity, Speechless, and Snow Monkey, as well as the King County Poetry on the Buses Project. Jamie is originally from Hawaii.


Jason Chapman – Director, Information Technology and Web Development

Jason has worked in the IT industry for over twenty years, and joined Poets & Writers in 1997. His diverse experiences include mainframe operations for the Georgia Institute of Technology, application development for a military contractor, and Web development for a variety of businesses. He is also the author of the novel, The Heretic, an early success in the still-developing arena of electronic publishing.