Faculty Bios

We proudly offer the bios of our accomplished teachers.

Zaina Arafat has published short fiction in Granta and the Iowa Review, and her essays and articles have appeared in The Atlantic, The BelieverBuzzfeed, The Washington Post, The Christian Science Monitor, The New York Times, the Virginia Quarterly Review, and on NPR’s Tell Me More. She has worked for The International Writing Program, Italia 7 Public Television, and The New Yorker magazine. She has taught at Project Pen in Jordan, the Borj El Barajneh Refugee Camp in Lebanon, and at the University of Iowa. She holds a BA from the University of Virginia, a Master of International Affairs from Columbia University, and an MFA in Nonfiction Writing from the University of Iowa.

Janet Flora has published nonfiction in Yalabusha Review, Willow Review, Health Magazine, Salon News, Dramatics, Dan's Papers, and Makeup Artist Magazine, and she served as nonfiction editor of LIT. Her short fiction has been published in NDQ, New Orleans Review, and Hawaii Pacific Review. She has taught at NYU and the School of Visual Arts. She holds a BA from City University, Richmond College, and an MFA in Creative Nonfiction from the New School University.

Melissa Petro has published essays, articles, and criticism in Marie Claire and Pacific Standard Magazine, and on Allure, Cosmopolitan, Good Housekeeping, the Guardian, Narratively, New York Magazine, Salon, and the Washington Post, among many others. She is the editor of two anthologies: Pros(e): Writings by Individuals with Experiences in the Sex Industries and Corner Stories: Writings by the Washington Heights CORNER Project Community. She has been a finalist for the PEN/Fusion Emerging Writers Prize. She holds a BA from Antioch and an MFA in Creative Nonfiction from the New School.

Alanna Schubach has published essays, articles, and criticism in The Atlantic, Refinery 29, The Village Voice, and the LA Review of Books, among many others. Her fiction has appeared in the Bellevue Literary Review, Electric Literature's Recommended Reading, Post Road, the Lifted Brow, and Prick of the Spindle, and she has been named a New York Foundation for the Arts Fellow in Fiction. She has taught at the Japan Exchange and Teaching Program, the College Readiness Program, the Westchester County Department of Corrections, and Girls Write Now. She holds a BA from American University and an MFA in Fiction from Sarah Lawrence College.

Nelsie Spencer is the author of the novel The Playgroup, (St. Martin’s Press), and the feature screenplay A Girl's Best Friend. She co-wrote the feature film Valley Inn, which debuted at the Palm Beach International Film Festival. She wrote, produced, and co-hosted the radio show The Radio Ritas, (Greenstone Media). She co-wrote and starred in the play My Heart Belongs To Daddy, produced at the Pittsburgh Public Theater, Dorothy Lyman’s A Director’s Theater in Los Angeles, and at Duke University’s Pre-Broadway series, and her one-woman show Goodbye Cream played at the When I’m 34 Festival in Los Angeles. She studied dance and theater at Orange Coast College, and fiction at The New School.

Cullen Thomas is the author of the memoir Brother One Cell (Viking). His work has also appeared in the New York Times Magazine, the Washington Post, The Daily Beast, Salon, The Rumpus, The Sonora Review, World Hum, Current Biography, and Penthouse. He holds a BA from Binghamton University.