Pamela Michael, CEL Director
Pamela is the co-founder (with Robert Hass) of River of Words. A writer, radio producer and host, and the former director of the United Nations Task Force on Media and Education, she has also worked for Save the Children (Egypt), the United States Coalition for Education for All, and many other development and educational organizations. She worked for the Discovery Channel’s Educational Division as a curriculum development consultant and was director of marketing and public relations for the San Jose Symphony. Pamela is the author of several books, including The Gift of Rivers; The Whole World is Watching: An International Inquiry into Media Involvement in Education, and many magazine, journal, and newspaper articles. Her anthologies of children's art and poetry are used in classrooms around the world. She has taught writing to aspiring and professional writers, as well as teachers, for over twenty years.
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Margie Simone was born in Fresno, California. She was raised on a fig and almond farm. She is currently a junior at Saint Mary's College. She is interested in a Health Science major and is also involded in the Dante Club. Margie also strongly believes in the SLOW food and social justice movements.
River of Words Advisory Council
Robert Hass, co-chair
River of Words judge, advisor, and co-founder, and former U.S. Poet Laureate, Bob is the author of several books of poems, including Field Guide (1973), Praise (1979), Human Wishes (1989), and Sun Under Wood: New Poems (1996); and a collection of essays, Twentieth Century Pleasures: Prose on Poetry (1984). His poetry collection Time and Materials (2007) won the National Book Award for poetry and the 2008 Pulitzer Prize for poetry. His awards include the Yale Younger Poets Award, the William Carlos Williams Award, the National Book Critics’ Circle Award for criticism in 1984, an Award of Merit from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, a Guggenheim Fellowship, and a John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Fellowship. A professor of English at the University of California at Berkeley since 1989, Bob served from 1995 to 1997 as Poet Laureate of the United States and as consultant in poetry to the Library of Congress. He is a graduate of Saint Mary's College.
Christopher Sindt is Vice Provost for Graducate and Professional Programs at Saint Mary's and was director of the College’s Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing program for seven years. Sindt has a doctorate in English and a master's degree in creative writing from UC Davis. His book The Bodies was published by Parlor Press in 2011 and his poetry chapbook, The Land of Give and Take, was published in 2002 and his poetry has recently appeared in nocturnes, Pool, Swerve and Xantippe.
Dr. Raina J. León
Dr. Raina J. León, Cave Canem graduate fellow (2006) and member of the Carolina African American Writers Collective, has received several prestigious poetry awards and is the author of the forthcoming 2013 book of poetry, Boogeyman Dawn, which was also a finalist for the Naomi Long Madgett Prize (2010). Her first collection of poetry, Canticle of Idols, was a finalist for both the Cave Canem First Book Poetry Prize (2005) and the Andrés Montoya Poetry Prize (2006) and is now available through Wordtech Communications. She headed the High School Literacy Project at the University of North Carolina where she recently received her doctorate in education and is currently an assistant professor of education in the Kalmanovitz School of Education at St. Mary's College of California. She came to Saint Mary’s from the Department of Defense Education Activity, where for three years she taught military dependents in Bamberg, Germany. Raina received her BA in Journalism from Pennsylvania State University, MA in Teaching of English from Teachers College Columbia University and PhD in Education under the Culture, Curriculum and Change strand at the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill. Her research interests include high school engagement and the teaching of poetry, critical literacy in the high school classroom, facilitating freshmen transitions and educational technology usage among high school educators. She also is a founding editor of The Acentos Review, an online quarterly, international journal devoted to the promotion and publication of Latino and Latina arts.
David Wood has worked for more than 25 years as an English teacher at Northgate High School in Walnut Creek, currently serving as department chair. He received a distinguished teacher award from Whitman College in Walla Walla, Washington, in 2002. He was a member of the board of the Aurora Theatre in Berkeley from 1998 to 2007 and served as board president from 1999 to 2001. He received an undergraduate degree from Yale University and a master of arts in teaching (MAT) in English education from the University of Chicago. Mr. Wood is also a director of the Wood Foundation of Chambersburg, PA.
John Muir Laws
River of Words art judge, Naturalist, educator and artist John (Jack) Muir Laws delights in exploring the natural world and sharing this love with others. Laws has worked as an environmental educator since 1984 in California, Wyoming, and Alaska. He teaches classes on natural history, conservation biology, scientific illustration, and field sketching. He is trained as a wildlife biologist and is an associate of the California Academy of Sciences. In 2009, he received the Terwilliger Environmental Award for outstanding service in Environmental Education. He is a 2010 TogetherGreen Conservation Leadership Fellow with the National Audubon Society. He was the 2011 artist for International Migratory Bird Day. Laws has written and illustrated books about art and natural history including The Laws Guide to Drawing Birds (2012), Sierra Birds: a Hiker's Guide (2004), The Laws Guide to the Sierra Nevada (2007), and The Laws Pocket Guide Set to the San Francisco Bay Area (2009). He is a regular contributor to Bay Nature magazine with his "Naturalists Notebook" column. His illustrations are informed by extensive field experience and capture the feeling of the living plant or animal, while also including details critical for identification. Laws is deeply committed to stewardship of nature and collaborates with organizations throughout the state. He is the founder and host of the Bay Area Nature Journal Club. A free, family friendly, intergenerational community who connect with nature through art and field journaling. He is the primary author and editor of the California Native Plant Society Curriculum: Opening the world through Nature Journaling. This standards based, curriculum is kid tested and teacher approved and integrates science, language arts, and visual arts through teaching students to keep a nature journal. He initiated Following Muir's Footsteps, an educational program to engender passionate love of nature, personal understanding of natural history and commitment to stewardship. This program gets students out in the field, learning from their own observations and using field guides and nature journals as the basis for discovering nature around them. As a part of this project, he is working secure funding to donate sets of field guides to every middle and high school in the Sierra Nevada.
Leonore Wilson has long taught English and creative writing at various colleges and universities in the San Francisco Bay Area. Her new book of poetry is Western Solstice (Hiraeth Press). Her poetry, stories and essays have been featured in such magazines as Quarterly West, Madison Review, Laurel Review, Pif, and Third Coast. She has won fellowships to the University of Utah and Villa Montalvo Center of the Arts. Her work has been nominated for four Pushcart awards. Leonore lives on her historic family cattle ranch in the east hills of the Napa Valley. She is the mother of three grown sons.
In addition to serving as the climate change information officer for the California Air Resources Board, Mr. Young is an author and journalist who has written books and articles on environmental subjects. As communications director of the California Resources Agency, the umbrella state agency for natural resources and environmental management, he oversaw the internal and external communications of 28 departments, boards, commissions, and conservancies and managed a budget of $5 billion and a staff of more than 14,000. Later, as director of marketing for Jones & Stokes, he oversaw communications and branding for this environmental consulting firm of 500 professionals with offices in seven states. He is currently the climate change information officer for the California Air Resources Board. A Commonwealth Scholar who attended universities in Canada, Israel, and England, Stanley has also worked as a modern dancer, yoga teacher, and chef, and was a field officer in a Cambodian refugee camp.
For the past 25 years Patty has been an arts administrator, both professional and volunteer. She wore many hats with the New Pickle Circus in San Francisco, managed a Concert Series at Lafayette Orinda Presbyterian Church, and was Concert Manager of WomenSing, a Bay Area choral group. Retired from that work professionally, she still shares her expertise with WomenSing. She is a dedicated choral singer!
On a fortuitous visit to River of Words’ Young at Art Gallery in Berkeley in 2003 Patty met ROW co-founder, Pamela Michael. WomenSing had just established a New Music Fund and the poetry and art at the gallery made a deep impression. With the enthusiastic involvement of WomenSing’s Artistic Director a partnership was developed with ROW called Youth inspiring Youth: Commissioning Emerging Composers. Using the inspired poetry of the children of the world from the River of Words collection, Youth Inspiring Youth holds a competition for young (under 25) composers annually and has premiered ten pieces for treble chorus, some of which include a children’s chorus, since the project began. The Library of Congress Center for the Book, a long-time affiliate of River of Words, sponsored a concert for WomenSing in Washington DC in 2011.
Patty is an involved grandmother to seven, a singer, an adventurous and frequent traveler to Nepal and Tibet, and a garden builder. Way back in the middle of the last century, she graduated from UC Berkeley with a degree in Rhetoric, followed by a stint at Stanford’s Summer Institute for Radio and Television Production.