Assistant Professor of Literary Arts
Bridgette Shade is an Assistant Professor of Literary Arts at Point Park University and an Instructor for the Creative Nonfiction Foundation. She teaches writing with an emphasis on social justice and believes in the power of positive language, of words--when well chosen--that empower us to transform outrage into outreach and apathy into action. She is the co-founder of West Side Stories, a literary reading series celebrating the words of writers with a western Pennsylvania connection. Her own words have appeared in a variety of publications and have been honored by the Flannery O’Connor Award for Short Fiction, the Katherine Anne Porter Prize for Fiction, the Meyerson Fiction Prize, and others.
Inspire U.S. Coordinator
Hilary Kinney is the West Virginia Regional Coordinator for Inspire U.S., an organization that supports high school students in planning and conducting peer-to-peer voter registration and engagement activities. She is the creator and host of the podcast, “Holler: Voices of West Virginia Women,” a recent graduate of the West Virginia University Reed College of Media, and enjoys teaching children about the U.S. government and civic engagement as her personal platform as Miss Rhododendron 2017.
Sexual Health Educator
Katya Slater is a cheerful student of human behavior and a Master of her ABCs. After earning undergraduate degrees in Russian and History, she combined her love of psychology and theology to obtain a Master of Arts in Biblical Counseling. She now works as a sexual health educator in the Pittsburgh area. When she’s not having awkward conversations with teens, she’s usually working on her latest fantasy novel, bingeing Netflix, or spending time with her husband
A Mama on a Mission
Muffy is a mama on a mission. At heart she is an advocate for Black mothers who believes Black parents can be the catalyst for change in Black communities. Muffy runs a local support group for Black mothers called Pittsburgh Brown Mamas. She also runs the regions premier website for reaching and engaging with moms-of-color brownmamas.com.
Natural History Educator
A native Pittsburgher who has worked as an educator at Carnegie Museum of Natural History for more than thirty years. He is a bird watcher, hiker, deer hunter, and nature writer. His public service experience includes nine years as a board member of the Allegheny Land Trust. A recent unique professional experience involved assisting his wife, paleontologist Amy Henrici, on an expedition to collect frog fossils in central Nevada.
Holistic Yoga Instructor
Founder and owner of Shandor’s Yoga Room, Rachel Shandor is an instructor of holistic yoga. Rachel is committed to practicing and teaching asana, pranayama, mantra, yogic diet, and meditation. She began her formal studies in the science of hatha yoga twenty years ago, and now teaches in the Pittsburgh area, encouraging people of all ages to practice with joy and dedication to find stillness and peace.
Chief Engineer, Product Manager, Optimist
With an Engineering degree and an MBA, Raymond Poole has worked in roles ranging from Chief Engineer to Product Manager. When his wife went into respiratory failure from end stage cystic fibrosis, he left his corporate role to support her during an extended amount of time on a ventilator and throughout her double lung transplant journey. His first book “Lessons from a CF Cornerman” describing what he learned during this journey, was awarded a gold medal from the Reader’s Favorite book awards. Raymond discusses reasons to move forward, be optimistic, and maintain perspective be it in the hospital room, the boardroom, or in life between those rooms.