“...Uniquely thoughtful and gifted educators...”

–Columbia University


Adam Falkner

Founder & Executive Director, Facilitator

Dr. Adam Falkner is an poet, educator and arts & culture strategist. He is the author of Adoption (Winner of the 2017 Diode Editions Chapbook Award) and The Willies (forthcoming from Button Poetry, 2020), and his work has appeared in a range of print and media spaces including on programming for HBO, NBC, NPR, BET, in the New York Times, and elsewhere. A former high school English teacher in New York City’s public schools, Adam is the Founder and Executive Director of the pioneering diversity consulting initiative, the Dialogue Arts Project, and Special Projects Director for Urban Word NYC, in which capacity he oversees the New York City Youth Poet Laureate program, and the organization’s partnerships with corporate and cultural institutions across the country. Adam has toured the United States as a guest artist, lecturer and trainer for thousands of students, educators and culture workers, and was the featured performer at President Obama’s Grassroots Ball at the 2009 Presidential Inauguration. He holds a Ph.D. in English and Education from Columbia University.

Aaron Samuels

Operations Consultant, Facilitator

Aaron Samuels is a writer, performer, and a strategy consultant. With work experience at Bain & Company, Monitor Group, and Google, Aaron has worked on a variety of strategic development projects ranging from the technology industry to financial services. Aaron has a passion for creating sustainable growth and applying best practices from the corporate world to the social sector. Aaron is also a nationally acclaimed poet, a Cave Canem Fellow, and the author of Yarmulkes & Fitted Caps (Write Bloody Publishing, 2013). His work has been published in a range of journals and anthologies including the Tidal Basin Review, Muzzle Magazine, and the Uncommon Core: Poems for the Living and Learning (Red Beard Press, 2013), and has also appeared on TVOne’s Verses & Flow, HBO’s Brave New Voices, TEDx Washington University, and elsewhere. Currently, in addition to touring the United States as a featured performer and workshop facilitator, Aaron works with the Dialogue Arts Project (DAP) to implement policies, procedures, and controls to further enable its sustainable growth trajectory.


Lauren whitehead

Program Director, Facilitator

Lauren Whitehead is a playwright, poet, and educator. She has presented her work at various venues around the country including The Sundance Film Festival, The Kennedy Center for Performing Arts, The Apollo Theater, The Nuyorican Poets Café, on HBO, NPR, and elsewhere. Lauren recently starred in the world premier of "We Shall Not Be Moved," a new opera directed by Bill T. Jones, for the Philadelphia Opera House, and served as the lead dramaturg for the original stage adaption of Ta Nehisi Coates' "Between the World and Me."  Lauren received her MFA from Columbia University, where she was a Schubert Presidential Fellow and continues to serve as a lecturer in the English and Dramaturgy programs. As DAP's Program Director, she works closely with Jon Sands to cultivate news partners and programs, and develops curriculum for DAP workshops.

Jon Sands

Program Director, Facilitator

Jon Sands is a writer, educator, and the author of The New Clean (2011, Write Bloody Publishing). He is the founder of the Creative Writing Workshop Series for youth and adults at Bailey House (an HIV/AIDS service center in Harlem, NY), and for seven years, was Director of Poetry Programming at the Positive Health Project (a syringe exchange center in Midtown Manhattan). His work has been featured in the New York Times, published widely, and anthologized in The Best American Poetry 2014. As Program Director, he works extensively with DAP’s booking partners to design and personalize the DAP workshop experience

SofíA Snow


Sofía Snow is a Boston-raised multimedia artist, educator, and arts administrator. Her work has been featured in a range of publications, television, and theater, as well as in The Boston Globe, Cosmopolitan Magazine, American Girl, WWE Network, The Public Theater, and elsewhere. Sofía is currently the Deptury Director for Urban Word NYC, one of the largest and most comprehsive youth literary arts organizations in the United States, before which she was the Education & Outreach Coordinator for the University of Wisconsin’s pioneering First Wave program.

Elana Bell


Elana Bell strives to create a space where all people’s voices and stories are heard and deeply valued. Her first collection of poetry, Eyes, Stones (LSU Press 2012) was selected by Fanny Howe as the winner of the 2011 Walt Whitman Award from the Academy of American Poets. Elana leads creative writing workshops for women in prison, for educators, for high school students in Israel-Palestine and throughout the five boroughs of New York City. She is also a consultant for the pioneering peace building and leadership organization, Seeds of Peace. Elana was a recent finalist for the Freedom Plow Award for Poetry & Activism, an award which recognizes and honors a poet who is doing innovative and transformative work at the intersection of poetry and social change. She teaches literature and creative writing at CUNY College of Staten Island and curates public art installations with Poets in Unexpected Places.

Carlos Andres Gomez


Carlos Andrés Gómez is an award-winning poet, actor, and educator from New York City. He is the author of the coming-of-age memoir Man Up: Reimagining Modern Manhood, released in 2012 by Gotham Books, an imprint of Penguin. Nominated for the Pushcart Prize and named Artist of the Year at the 2009 Promoting Outstanding WritersAwards, he costarred in Spike Lee’s #1 movie Inside Man with Denzel Washington, Jodie Foster, and Clive Owen.  He has headlined festivals all over the world, including South Africa, Ireland, Spain, Canada, the U.K., and as Guest of Honor at the Berlin International Literature Festival in Germany.A former social worker and inner-city public school teacher, Carlos has performed at more than 300 colleges and universities and been featured on NPR, TEDx, Upworthy, MSNBC’s “Melissa Harris-Perry,” the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women,  and the Clinton Global Initiative Annual Meeting.

Samantha Thornhill


Samantha Thornhill is a published author, educator and performance poet from Trinidad and Tobago. She has appeared in literary and arts festivals from South Africa to Hungary and frequently lectures at universities across the US.  A language arts educator, Samantha currently facilitates creative writing workshops for Poets & Writers Inc., and serves as writer in residence at the Bronx Academy of Letters, where she teaches nonfiction and journalism.  For the past decade, she teaches poetry and performance to actors in training at the Juilliard School, where she also serves on the audition board for the drama division. She has been the recipient of the Henry Hoyns Fellowship to the University of Virginia, travel grants to Trinidad and Cuba, as well as residences at the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, Squaw Valley, Cave Canem and Hedgebrook. In 2012, she was featured on Bill Moyers’ website for “Poets Under 40 to Watch.”

Nate Marshall


Nate Marshall is from the South Side of Chicago. His first book, Wild Hundreds (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2015), won the Agnes Lynch Starrett Prize. He is a coeditor of The BreakBeat Poets: New American Poetry in the Age of Hip-Hop (2015). His rap album, Grown, is due out in 2015 with his group Daily Lyrical Product. He is a visiting assistant professor at Wabash College. He earned his MFA at the University of Michigan, where he served as a Zell postgraduate fellow. He is a founding member of the poetry collective Dark Noise. A Cave Canem fellow, his work has appeared in Poetry Magazine, Indiana Review, The New Republic and elsewhere. He was the star of the award winning full-length documentary Louder Than a Bomb and has been featured on the HBO original series Brave New Voices. Marshall received the 2014 Hurston/Wright Founding Members Award for College Writers and the 2013 Gwendolyn Brooks Open Mic Award. In 2015, he was awarded a Ruth Lilly and Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Poetry Fellowship from the Poetry Foundation.

Aziza Barnes


Aziza Barnes is blk & alive. Her first chapbook, me Aunt Jemima and the nailgun (Button Poetry, 2015), was the first winner of the Exploding Pinecone Prize and published from Button Poetry. You can find her work in PANKpluck!MuzzleCallalooUnion Station, and other journals. She is a poetry & non-fiction editor at Kinfolks Quarterly, a Callaloo fellow and graduate from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. She is a member of The Dance Cartel & the divine fabrics collective. She loves a good suit & anything to do with Motown. Born in Los Angeles, Aziza is currently an MFA candidate in Creative Writing at the University of Mississippi.

Geoff Kagan Trenchard


Geoff Kagan-Trenchard is a poet and lawyer. His work has been featured on HBO, All Def Poetry, TEDx, and Upworthy and elsewhere, and have been published in numerous journals including Word Riot, The Nervous Breakdown, Freeze Ray, and elsewhere. Geoff has received commissions for theatrical work from the National Performance Network, Dance Theater Workshop, The Zellerbach Family Foundation, and the City of Oakland. He is a lawyer with the Court Square Law Project, where his work focuses on holistic youth representation.


Photo Credit by Jim Metzger.jpg



Caroline Rothstein is a New York City-based award-winning writer, poet, and performer. She has been performing poetry, facilitating workshops and teaching at colleges, schools and performance venues worldwide for over a decade. Her work has appeared in CosmopolitanMarie Claire,BuzzFeedNarrativelyThe Forward, and elsewhere. Caroline and her work have been featured widely including in The New YorkerMTV NewsChicago TribuneThe Huffington PostMicBustle, and Newsweek. She is the Creative Writing faculty for Brandeis University’s BIMA precollege summer arts-intensive program, on faculty for the Foundation for Jewish Camp's annual Cornerstone Fellowship, and is a Youth Mentor at Urban Word NYC. She sits as President Emeritus of the Board of Directors for Mental Fitness, Inc., and has a B.A. in classical studies from the University of Pennsylvania, and an M.S. from Columbia University’s Graduate School of