Blake Schnirring – Board Chairman
Blake grew up in the Inland Northwest in Idaho and went to college at the University of Idaho. She moved to Los Angeles, where she sold advertising space in design engineering magazines and took Improv classes with the Groundlings. After jumping into technology sales, she moved east to NYC. She lives in Westport, CT and has been involved with the Kings Highway Elementary school, coordinating the Author Study program. Four years ago, she began performing with MouseMuse, the storytelling group operating out of Westport. She started taking classes at Westport Writers’ Workshop two years ago with a creative writing class taught by the talented Christine Kalafus and eventually moved into memoir. Immediately, Blake became an evangelist for Westport Writer’s Workshop and their first-rate writing coaches. Blake has always had her head in a book, and reading is her number one hobby.
Arthur Zinn is a graduate of Yale College and NYU Law School. He has practiced law in New York City and in New Canaan. In February 2000, Arthur Zinn and his wife moved to the heart of Tuscany to embark upon the project of Arthur’s dreams: to restore a dilapidated farming hamlet (with thousand year old foundations) that had been deserted for thirty years. This experience inspired Arthur to write a historical fiction thriller set in Renaissance Florence.
Valerie Ann Leff, Instructor
Valerie’s novel-in-stories, Better Homes and Husbands, was published by St. Martin’s Press in 2004 (paperback 2005) and optioned by NBC-Universal in 2006. Valerie’s stories and personal essays have appeared in literary journals such as The Antioch Review, The Seattle Review, Carolina Quarterly, The Southwest Review, The Sun, and many others. Valerie served as co-founder, co-director and teaching faculty for the Great Smokies Writing Program at the University of North Carolina–Asheville, and in 2014, she directed a one-day writers’ conference at the 92nd Street Y in New York. She has taught many writing workshops both privately and for organizations such as The Lighthouse Literary Workshop in Denver and the North Carolina Writers Network. She holds a BA from Sarah Lawrence College and Certificates in Group Leadership and Group Leadership for Underserved Populations from Amherst Writers and Artists. Valerie is the former Executive Director of the Westport Writers’ Workshop.
Linda Waterbury – Development & Fundraising
Linda Perani Waterbury encourages everyone around her to write! Her belief that each person has a voice has translated into creating a new writing program for middle school girls at the Boys and Girls Club in Stamford. She’s always looking to recruit more young writers and adult facilitators to help her in this mission. Educated at Skidmore College, Class of ‘80, Linda raised two daughters with her husband, Jim, while living in three foreign countries and various cities across the USA. Her sales and marketing career began in NYC with Saratoga Mineral Water. She’s worked at Lehman Brothers, Compton Advertising and The Legal Times division of Harcourt Brace. Throughout both the college years and the child-rearing years, Linda has taken on leadership roles in her local community, serving as an enthusiastic fundraiser for many organizations, including WWW, SAVE the Children, Skidmore College and Hamilton College. For many years, she has also taught Sunday school at St. Michael’s in Greenwich, CT.
Liz Matthews – Executive Director
Welcome to our new Executive Director who joined us on August 1, 2019
Liz Matthews is a writer and editor who received her M.F.A. in Writing from Vermont College of Fine Arts (2008) and M.A. in English Education from Teachers College, Columbia University. Liz began her professional career in publishing, both at a literary agency and as an Editorial Assistant at Random House before teaching middle and high school English at Poly Prep Country Day School in Brooklyn. Her work has appeared in Quality Women’s Fiction, Town & Country, Literary Mama, Brain Child, Mothers Always Write, and The Rumpus. She is in the process of polishing her first novel, Horseplay Hill, based on the photojournalist Margaret Bourke-White. Liz lives in Fairfield with her family and is on the board of Shakespeare on the Sound
Anne Lonergan – Secretary
Anne is a graduate of St. Lawrence University, with a B.A. in Literature. Her sales and marketing career took her from New Jersey to Connecticut, where she eventually settled back into her home town of Westport, with her husband, Lance, and their four children. Anne volunteered extensively in the Westport school system, focusing on literacy support and art education. Five years ago, she discovered the Westport gem that is the Westport Writers’ Workshop, and she began her fiction-writing career. She writes short stories, flash fiction, and essays and has been published in Brain, Child Magazine.