Faculty Bios

We proudly offer the bios of our accomplished teachers.

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.

Jon Reiner is the author of the memoir The Man Who Couldn’t Eat (Gallery Books/Simon & Schuster), based on his James Beard Award-winning story in Esquire. His nonfiction has appeared in The Atlantic, The New York Times, The Daily Beast, Creative Nonfiction, The Huffington Post, Graze, Slice, and on NPR, and his humor has been published by The New York Times, The Satirist, and Medium. He also co-wrote and directed the documentary film Tree Man, which was a selection of the Doc NYC, St. Lawrence, and World film festivals and which is now available on Netflix. He served as a communications executive for Sony, American Express, The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and several global public relations and marketing agencies. He has taught at the University of Maryland and Rutgers University. He holds a BA from Fairleigh Dickinson University and an MA in English from the University of Maryland.

Alysia Li Ying Sawchyn is the author of the essay collection A Fish Growing Lungs, and she is features editor for The Rumpus. Her essays, reviews, and short memoir have appeared in the St. Petersburg Review, Gulf Coast, Brevity, Prairie Schooner, Fourth Genre, the Southeast Review, Sweet: A Literary Confection, the Indiana Review, Hobart, Essay Daily, Assay: A Journal of Nonfiction Studies, and Brevity Blog, among many others. She has taught at Catapult Online, and the University of Maryland. She holds a BA from the University of Tampa, an MA in English from Ball State University, and an MFA in Creative Writing-Creative Nonfiction from the University of South Florida.

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.