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.

Nina Boutsikaris is the author of the memoir I’m Trying to Tell You I’m Sorry (Black Lawrence Press), and her essays have appeared in Brevity, Entropy, Fourth Genre, Third Coast, Hobart, the Los Angeles Review, the Mid-American Review, and Redivider, among many others. Her work has been anthologized in The Best of Brevity: Twenty Groundbreaking Years of Flash Nonfiction, and named a Notable Essay by the editors of the Best American Essays series. She has worked at Ms. magazine, the Sonora Review, Riffle Books, and Skyhorse Publishing. She has taught at the University of Arizona and the New School, and been a teaching fellow at the Kenyon Review Writers Workshop. She holds a BA from Ithaca College and an MFA in Creative Nonfiction from the University of Arizona.

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 Allure, Business Insider, Cosmopolitan, Good Housekeeping, the Guardian, InStyle, the Kitchn, Marie Claire, Narratively, New York Magazine, Pacific Standard magazine, Real Simple, Salon, the Washington Post, and the Writer magazine, 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.

David Seigerman is the author of the nonfiction books Becky Sauerbrunn and Tamba Hali (both Aladdin), and the co-author of Take Your Eye Off the Ball, Under Pressure, and Quarterback (all with Triumph Books). He writes for the Newbridge Marketing Group and has written blogs and articles for numerous corporate clients, including Polo and Barnes & Noble. He has served as a senior producer for RealFootballNetwork, a senior analyst for Football.com, managing editor of College Sports Television, and a producer/writer for CNN-Sports Illustrated. He co-produced and co-wrote the feature-length documentary The Warrior Ethos: The Experience and Tradition of Boxing at West Point. He holds a BA from Ithaca 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) and hosts the podcast Losing It. 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.