About 826DC

826DC is a nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting students ages 6-18 with their creative and expository writing skills, and to helping teachers inspire their students to write.


Our Mission

826DC is a nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting students ages 6-18 with their creative and expository writing skills, and to helping teachers inspire their students to write. Our services are structured around our understanding that great leaps in learning can happen with one-on-one attention and that strong writing skills are fundamental to future success.

With this in mind we provide drop-in tutoring, field trips, after-school workshops, in-school programs, help for English language learners, and assistance with student publications. All of our programs are challenging and enjoyable, and ultimately strengthen each student’s power to express ideas effectively, creatively, confidently, and in his or her individual voice.

826DC is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt nonprofit corporation based in the District of Columbia. Our tax ID number is 26-2426166.

Great leaps in learning can happen with one-on-one attention. Click To Tweet

Our Story

Our staff and trained volunteers collaborate with teachers to create project-based learning opportunities appropriate for their specific classroom needs and educational goals. At risk for a zombie apocalypse? We’ve got a writing workshop lesson plan for that. Running for Kid President? We can help students craft their platforms.

We also work closely with teachers to design new workshops and long-term projects to suit specific content-areas, special curriculum units, interdisciplinary projects, and after-school programs.

Tivoli’s Astounding Magic Supply Company

Tivoli’s Astounding Magic Supply Company is the District’s only illusionarium and de-lux haberdashery. The storefront stocks everything a budding magician needs to embark on a path to mastery, from Stage Fright Antidote to our Micro Escapes (for starting a career in escapology). Every purchase makes real magic happen– in the writing center beyond the secret door.

826 National

826DC’s programs are modeled after those at 826 Valencia, the inspiration for the 826 National network. 826 National now counts seven organizational affiliates among its members, including 826DC, throughout the United States. 826 National was co-founded by author Dave Eggers and by veteran educator Ninive Calegari, whose experience as a teacher shaped the 826 model. To find out more about 826 locations in other cities, visit the 826 National website.

Our Team of Magic-makers

Executive Director

Zachary Clark


Zachary has worked in the youth development, education, and arts sectors throughout the U.S. Prior to joining 826DC, he served as the Director of Early Learning at Sitar Arts Center and led youth-oriented programming in collaboration with DC-based organizations including the Homeless Children’s Playtime Project and Capitol Hill Arts Workshop. His research work through Project Zero focuses on the intersection of youth’s creative productions and digital media, and has been published in Creativity Research Journal. He holds an Ed.M. from the Harvard Graduate School of Education, a B.A. in American Literature and Visual Arts from Brown University, and certification in non-profit management from Georgetown University’s McCourt School of Public Policy. Zachary is a poor but diligent runner, renowned doughnut enthusiast, and forever aspiring limericist.


Director of Development

Areesah Mobley


Areesah Mobley has been working in nonprofit development since 2005 for organizations that promote human services, human rights, and youth development. A graduate of George Mason University in Communications, Areesah joins us from Martha’s Table, where she held several roles, including Grant Writer, Executive Assistant and Assistant Director of Development. Before Martha’s Table, she was Director of Development at Kid Power, Inc., and Development Officer at the Marijuana Policy Project. Areesah spent many years in the performing arts, including dance, music, and theater, and is a black belt in Shaolin Wu-Shu.

Programs Director

Lacey Dunham


Before joining 826DC, Lacey Dunham worked for more than five years in publishing, including the roles of marketing director at Politics & Prose Bookstore and publicist for Atticus Books. In addition to publishing, Lacey has three years of experience as an educator in DC charter schools and non-profits, where she worked with students at various grade levels. When not supporting student writers at 826DC, she reads agented, solicited, and slush submissions for the literary journal A Public Space. She formerly served as a judge in the fiction/short story category for the Minnesota Book Awards and as a volunteer for Coffee House Press. She has a BA in Creative Writing and Social Politics from Hollins University and a graduate certificate in Early Childhood Education from Georgetown University. She’s lived in DC for the past decade, and she recently completed a novel set in the city. In her free time, she reads, hikes, camps, and motorcycles.

Programs Coordinator

Emily Moses


Emily Moses is a current graduate student at American University, finishing up her Master of Fine Arts Creative Writing. She writes nonfiction, and if you want to talk for hours about the freedoms and constrictions and frustrations and beauty of the personal essay form, she’s your girl. She grew up in Texas and, though she’s desperately homesick for some good hole-in-the-wall Tex Mex, adores living in DC. She learned about 826DC as a Publishing Intern in Spring 2016 and stayed on to compile and edit our first compendium: You Will Be Able to Say A Thousand Words.

Programs Assistant

Before joining 826DC, Crys Lee worked as a resident teacher at a DC public charter school. Prior to this experience, Crys served for two years in City Year Detroit, an AmeriCorps program, as both a Corps member and a Team Leader. He has a BA in English Writing with a minor in Biology from DePauw University, and a Master of Education from Lesley University. His love and passion for writing, literacy, education, and students brought him to 826DC. In his free time, he enjoys reading, writing, listening to music, playing chess, and checking out new vegetarian and vegan restaurants. He has lived in the DC area since 2014.

Development & Communications Coordinator

Caroline Odom


Caroline is a recent graduate of the University of Virginia with a degree in English & Art History. She previously worked with public programs and small humans as an intern for the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery and UVA’s Fralin Museum of Art. Caroline first caught the 826 bug during her stint as a Development Intern. She happily joined the staff as the Store and Events Coordinator through AmeriCorps VISTA, and has come onto the staff full-time as the Development & Communications Coordinator. You can find her in Tivoli’s Astounding Magic Supply, fumbling her way through “Card Tricks 101.”

Development Assistant - AmeriCorps VISTA

Ashley Gibson


Ashley Gibson is a recent graduate from Marymount Manhattan College, with a degree in Political Science. Just before joining the 826DC team, Ashley completed her first year as an AmeriCorps VISTA, serving as the development coordinator with a small, after-school STEM program for underserved youth in Westport, Baltimore. In her free time, she was also the vendor coordinator for a small farmers market in the Westport community. She currently works on the policy committee with the Baltimore Housing Roundtable, which focuses on affordable housing initiatives, and she co-chairs the Baltimore chapter of Democratic Socialists of America. During her college years, she interned with the Baltimore City Mayor’s Office and the NYC Office of U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, building an interest in economic development and policy as subjects for her future studies. Ashley enjoys learning new languages and observing different cultures, which led to a delay in graduation, as she spent a year teaching English in Barcelona. She is excited to work with the 826DC team this year, and looks forward to exploring and building connections in the D.C. community!

Volunteer Coordinator - AmeriCorps VISTA

Hank Walter


Hank is a recent graduate from the University of Dallas with a degree in Anthropology and an affinity for urban studies and art history. Before starting with 826DC, Hank spent a year conducting an ethnographic research project on urban development for his senior thesis in the South Dallas region. Hank comes to 826DC with a passion for social justice and a desire to serve his new community in any way he can. When he’s not trying new jogging routes or indulging in DC’s “foodie” culture, Hank enjoys reading short stories, poetry, or anything by Milan Kundera or Flannery O’Connor. Hailing from temperate California, Hank hopes to eventually get accustomed to DC’s diverse weather patterns.

Deputy Store Manager

James Bilbo


James joined 826DC after being a volunteer on and off since 2015. After graduating with degree in Fashion Merchandising from Virginia Commonwealth University in 2009, and working as a Sales Manager for Nordstrom over the last 10 years, James is excited to bring his experience in retail to Tivoli’s Astounding Magic Supply as the Deputy Store Manager. In his free time, James is a huge fan of the Legend of Zelda and DC’s restaurant scene.

826DC Interns are the Best

To put in plainly: our interns are the best. Not only do they go above and beyond in their work, they also take the time to teach our students magic tricks and keep us hip on the social media. We’d be lost without them (not to mention bored to tears when kids aren’t around).

Rachel Dennen

Rachel is a junior at The George Washington University majoring in Spanish and Psychology. Originally from Grand Rapids, MI, Rachel hopes to be an elementary teacher. Rachel is excited to work as the Spanish Language Outreach and Programming Intern because she will be able to combine her Spanish skills with her love for helping children. When Rachel is not interning, you can find her watching reality tv shows, reading books, and exercising.

Tori Dickson

Tori is a sophomore, English Literature & Public Relations and Strategic Communications double major at American University. On campus, she is an editor of Her Campus American and a member AU’s literary magazine, AmLit. Tori eventually hopes to work in the public relations sector of the publishing world. As an Educational Programming & Publishing Intern, she’s thrilled to help foster students’ imagination through writing.  From a small town in New England, Tori has an unnecessary wealth of knowledge about types of apples and an affinity for fall. Outside of 826DC, you can find Tori reading pretty much anything, going to heated poetry slams, and drinking copious amounts of overpriced coffee.

Allie Short

Allie Short is a current senior Communications major and Journalism, English, and Writing Studies minor at Eastern Mennonite University. She has worked as the Opinion Editor and a contributing writer for The Weather Vane, her school’s student run newspaper. Allie’s poetry has also been published in The Phoenix, Eastern Mennonite University’s literature and academic annual journal. Allie enjoys creative writing and is one of our Educational Programming and Publishing Interns here at 826DC.

Chloe Isaac

Chloe is a senior majoring in Communication Studies and Graphic Design at the University of Maryland, College Park. She’s involved in community service-learning through her school’s Alternative Breaks program, and is excited to combine what she loves about working in social justice with her passion for art. A self-proclaimed media junkie, she loves to go to the movies, watch TV, read, or listen to podcasts. She’s also been known to go to five concerts in a week, when the opportunity presents itself.

Catherine Gregoire

A native of Texas, Catherine came to Maryland after receiving an Associate’s in Creative Writing to help out her sister and get her foot in the door of DC’s thriving and opportunity-swollen metropolitan. With the goal to eventually achieve a Bachelor’s in English, preferably at the University of Maryland, she is currently spending her time seeking out internships, just like 826DC, where she can develop her skills, grow her experience, and make valuable connections that will, inevitably, help her reach the goal of becoming an editor in publishing. In her free time she likes to write, either for her blog Merely Inspired or one of her to-be novels, or pop into a Smithsonian and geek over some history. As our Communications intern this spring, she’ll be behind-the-scenes but also on the frontline, through our social media, website, and digital marketing.

Ashley Harris

Ashley is a sophomore at SUNY Plattsburgh in Plattsburgh, NY studying English and Education. She hopes to be a middle or high school English teacher. She is excited to work as an Educational Programming and Publishing intern because she wants to help children unleash their creative potential and find a love for writing. When she’s not interning, you can find her re-reading Harry Potter or learning Italian.

Audrey Smith

Audrey is a graduate student at Georgetown University’s English Masters program. She completed her undergraduate education at Grinnell College and has a BA in English and Gender, Women’s, and Sexuality Studies. When she’s not reading and writing for class, she’s reading and writing for pleasure. Audrey is thrilled to join 826DC as a Programming and Publishing Intern because their work is situated at the intersection of education and social justice, and because she likes to read stories about time travel and talking animals. You can find her watching competitive reality television, drinking chocolate milkshakes, and thinking about popular culture. She eats her chili with spaghetti.

Gabriela Grant

Gabriela is a first-year student at the University of Maryland, College Park. She is currently in the process of designing her own major, which will consist of Community Development and Social Change Through the Arts, with a General Business Minor. She has been involved in social justice since high school through programs such as Operation Understanding DC and the Chillum Youth Project. She is also currently pursuing dance, and is currently a part of two dance teams, Phunktions Dance Team and the JaM Youth Project. She is excited to be a Development Intern with 826DC because she wants to experience serving the DC community through behind-the-scenes work while also being surrounded by wonderful writing mentors and young writers.

Keith Wise

Keith is a junior, English Language & Literature major with a Creative Writing minor at the University of Maryland, College Park. He serves as co-director of Colleges Against Cancer: Relay for Life at UMD and as co-editor-in-chief of the university’s undergraduate art and literary magazine, Stylus. Currently, Keith has plans to enter the publishing world post-graduation to support his potential writing career. Possessing a deep love of nonprofits, he cannot wait to ignite the passion of writing in other students through the work at 826DC. In his free time, Keith can be found reading (or napping) under the shade of a tree, gossiping with his friends over dessert and coffee, forcing his family to watch sappy romantic comedies, or redrafting his novel for the umpteenth time.

Jasmine White

Jasmine is a junior at Georgetown University. She is majoring in English and minoring in Korean. She’s excited to be at 826DC as a Programming and Publishing intern because she believes writing is a fundamental skill and wouldn’t be where she is today without it. When she’s not at 826, she’s either working at her school’s performing arts department or watching Korean TV dramas.

Minji Go

Minji is a junior at Hanyang University in Seoul, South Korea. She is majoring in English Literature with a minor in English Education. She is a student of The Washington Center for Internships this semester. She has participated in several education programs such as Mentoring Programs of Korean Education and Samsung Dream Class as a mentor and tutor. She is so excited to work as a Programming and Publishing intern at 826DC. Minji believes that helping students read and write will be a helpful experience, and she hopes that she can be a friendly tutor and make happy memories with the great people at 826DC. During her free time, she loves to read essays and novels, especially ones written by Jane Austen!

Lara Fishbane

Lara is a senior at Georgetown University studying English and Economics. She is passionate about writing, education reform, and exploring the relation between the two. She’s excited to be working as a Publishing and Production intern with 826DC because she wants to help students express themselves through writing and create meaningful impact. When she’s not interning or studying, you’ll find Lara on long runs, hikes, or just lost in a book.

Want to join our staff as an Intern?

Learn How Here

Board of Directors

Governance Committee Chair

Joyce A. Cowan

Joyce Cowan, a partner in Morgan Lewis’ Healthcare Practice, has more than 25 years’ experience counseling healthcare organizations on transactions, regulatory, compliance, and public policy matters. Her clients include managed care plans and other health insurers, device manufacturers, investors, and other businesses in the healthcare sector. Joyce advises clients on healthcare financing, delivery, Medicare, Medicaid, fraud and abuse; she also represents private equity firms, other investors, and emerging businesses in mergers and acquisitions and private equity transactions.

Prior to joining Morgan Lewis, Joyce was a partner at another international law firm, where she focused on the healthcare industry.

Joyce received her BA from the University of Washington, and her JD from the George Washington University Law School.

J.C. Fulse

As Assistant Vice President / Private Client Group Regional Marketing Manager, J.C. is responsible for managing AIG’s Private Client Group’s broker relationships and Business Development Managers in the Capital Region consisting of Delaware, Maryland, District of Columbia and Virginia.

After graduating from Drew University in 1999, J.C. began his insurance career with the Chubb Group of Insurance Companies.  While at Chubb, he worked as an Underwriter in their New Jersey and New York City Personal Lines service centers, as well as a Marketing Representative in their Washington, DC branch office.  In 2005, J.C. joined AIG PCG in the New York City as a Business Development Manager where he managed some of the company’s largest broker relationships.  He transferred to Washington, DC in 2008 to assume his current position.

Tara Greco

Tara Greco is the Director of Communications for the NBA Players Association where she serves as the chief spokesperson, engages with traditional and social media outlets, and oversees all union communications. Tara started her career in the front office of the Washington Bullets (later the Wizards), and while in this position, she created a reading incentive program for DC-area elementary school students; more than 30,000 students participated in the program each year.

She has more than 20 years of experience in strategic communications, stakeholder engagement and issues management, working for both corporations (Deloitte and Walmart) and nonprofit organizations (America’s Promise and Reading Is Fundamental). Tara also spent seven years with APCO Worldwide, a global communications consultancy headquartered in DC. Tara previously served on the Board of Directors for the Friends of Fort Dupont Ice Arena, a nonprofit skating rink that provides free instruction to city children, and for United for DC, the D.C. United soccer team’s foundation. She graduated from The College of William and Mary with a BBA in Finance, and has also volunteered for a variety of literacy-focused organizations in the DC metro area. She is currently enrolled in Georgetown University’s Masters of Journalism program.


Jenna Kirkpatrick Howard

Jenna Kirkpatrick Howard is a producer at Lockton Companies, LLC based in DC. In this role, she works with senior management teams at companies to create risk management strategies, secure insurance programs, advocate when claims occur, and develop loss control techniques. Prior to joining Lockton, Jenna led the Washington, D.C. Construction Practice in an insurance brokerage firm. Jenna co-authored a book for the American Bar Association titled Construction Insurance: A Guide for Attorneys and Other Professionals. Jenna is passionate about building our community and impacting the lives of the District’s children through reading and writing. She is actively involved with Commercial Real Estate Women (CREW) DC, Associated Builders & Contractors (ABC-NV), Real Estate Group, Urban Land Institute (ULI) Baltimore, and Women’s Leader and Mentoring Alliance (WLMA). Raised in Charlotte, NC, Jenna holds a BSBA in Business Administration, Risk Management & Insurance with a Mathematics Minor from UNC-Charlotte.

Ray Kimsey

A graduate from Ohio University, Ray earned an MFA in the directing program of The American Film Institute. Ray has served as an acquisitions and creative executive for Village Roadshow Pictures (The Matrix, Ocean’s Eleven) and Atmosphere Entertainment (300, The Spiderwick Chronicles). Ray recently launched the production company Field Day Films LLC, specializing in feature films, documentaries, and non-profit videos. As a board member of The Kimsey Foundation, Ray focuses on supporting educational and cultural initiatives in the DC Metro area.

Amy Pastan

Amy Pastan is an independent editor, photo researcher, writer, and book producer. She has been responsible for the publication of hundreds of titles. Before starting her own business in 1998, she held staff positions at the National Gallery of Art and the Smithsonian Institution Press, where she developed an award-winning list of books in photography and fine arts. In addition to creating and producing works in all genres for print publishers, Amy is currently writing features for the Web and providing content for film and digital media.

A lover of the written word, the nation’s capital, and children—she has two grown sons who are DC natives—Amy first joined 826DC as a volunteer. She is an avid reader, frequent traveler to Italy, and enjoys walking, yoga, American history, and art. Amy and her husband, Peter, owner of several local restaurants, live in Chevy Chase, DC.

David Pryor

David Pryor, Jr is an Arkansas native who has spent the last 30 years in DC. He works for Microsoft’s Government Affairs operation, where he manages the relationships for all Senate Democrats. Prior to Microsoft, he spent nine years at FedEx managing House and Senate Democratic relationships in addition to overseeing the FedEx Field Corporate Suite for football games, concerts and other events. He was raised in a political family and has spent a lifetime in politics and campaigns. Prior to his corporate life, he formed a consulting practice to create and execute unique special events for political campaigns, inaugurals, and conventions. His signature event, The Blue Jeans Bash, was a celebration of Bill Clinton’s first inaugural and featured performances by Bob Dylan, Levon Helm, Clarence Clemmons, Dr. John, Stephen Stills and Little Feat. In addition to helping in family politics, he enjoys volunteering for campaigns including those for Bill Clinton, Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, John Kerry and Harold Ford.

David is married to Judith Pryor and they live next to the Zoo in Mt. Pleasant with their son, Hampton. When time permits, David enjoys yoga, photography, live music and fishing (sometimes in Rock Creek Park). He serves on the Board of Trustees for St. Coletta of Greater Washington, a non-profit charter school catering to the needs of more than 400 children and adults with cognitive disabilities. He was also recently selected to serve on the board of the Yoga Alliance, a non-profit entity which fosters accreditation and standards for yoga teachers.  He has a BA in Speech Communications from George Washington University. He still drives a 1963 Ford Futura convertible.

Gerald Richards

Gerald Richards is the CEO of 826 National. With close to 20 years of management and development experience at national nonprofit organizations including the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship, for which he served as the Executive Director of the Bay Area office prior to joining 826; the United Negro College Fund; the University of California, San Francisco; the J. David Gladstone Institutes; Chicago Panel on Social Policy; and The Cradle Foundation, Gerald is a respected advocate for youth and education access.

Gerald is currently a member of the Council of Chief State School Officers and Ed Steps Curiosity and Creativity workgroup in DC, an inaugural fellow in the California Leaders of Color Fellowship Program, and was a member of the 2009 class of Leadership San Francisco. He currently serves on the board of the Woodland School, and previously served on the boards of Juma Ventures and KIPP SF Bay Academy.

Born and raised in Harlem, Gerald has an MFA in Writing from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and a BA in Film Studies from Wesleyan University.


Eric Schwerin

Eric Schwerin is currently President of Rosemont Seneca Partners, an Alternative Investment and Advisory firm based in DC and New York. Prior to joining the private sector, Eric served as a Senior Policy Advisor to the Secretary of Commerce and at the White House as both the Director of Business Liaison and as the Policy and Outreach Coordinator for the China Trade Relations Working Group. He began his career by teaching English to elementary and secondary school students while living in the Czech Republic. Eric received his BA from the University of Pennsylvania and an MA in International Affairs from The George Washington University.

Development Committee Chair

Amy Tejral

Amy Tejral is a partner at Avenue Solutions, a DC-based government relations firm, which provides strategic legislative, policy and political expertise. Prior to this, Amy served as Legislative Director for Senator Ben Nelson, overseeing the development and implementation of the Senator’s legislative agenda.

During Senator Nelson’s tenure as Governor of Nebraska, Amy worked as Education Policy Advisor, and as the Governor’s education liaison to the Nebraska Department of Education, as well as the Western and National Governors Associations.

A graduate of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and the University of Nebraska College of Law, Amy and her husband Mike live in Chevy Chase, MD and have two little boys, Finnegan and Grady.

Vice Chair

David Wakelyn, PhD

As K-12 Policy Lead at The College Board, David currently leads a team that works with states and districts to rethink their assessment and accountability policies in support of college and career readiness. He was previously an education policy advisor to Governor Andrew Cuomo, where he led the effort to revamp the state’s teacher evaluation law. From 2005-2011, David was Program Director at the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices, where he headed projects on high school reform and efforts to improve instruction. He also worked on the development of the Common Core State Standards. David is the author of Raising Rigor, Getting Results: Lessons Learned from AP Expansion, “Increasing College Success: A Roadmap for Governors” and is co-author of “Retooling Career Technical Education.”

Previously, he worked for America’s Choice School Design and researched efforts to turn around low-performing schools in Chicago and Kentucky. David began his career as a middle school math teacher in South Central Los Angeles. David earned a BA in American History from Vanderbilt University, an MA in Public Policy from the Robert LaFollette Institute, and a PhD in Education Policy from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.


Howard Yoon

Howard Yoon is a literary agent and partner at the Ross Yoon Agency. The agency represents top New York Times bestselling and Pulitzer prize winning authors in popular categories such as narrative nonfiction, science, religion, politics, business, history, memoir, pop culture, and food. As an agent, he works closely with writers to help them find their writing voice, and assists in developing and commercializing their book ideas. He negotiates book deals on their behalf with major publishers, consults with authors on their manuscripts, and advises clients on marketing and publicity plans for their book launch. He has more than 21 years of experience in publishing, speaks regularly on the publishing business, and has served as a ghostwriter and book editor. He also has served as a freelance writer of food and travel articles, most notably for a food column for NPR.org. Yoon collaborated with Robert Egger, the founder of DC Central Kitchen, on his book, Begging for Change (HarperCollins).

Yoon is also an award-winning professor of narrative nonfiction writing for the Masters of Journalism program in the School of Continuing Studies at Georgetown University.

Yoon graduated from the University of Virginia with degrees in English Literature and Religious Studies. In his spare time, he and his son Ian love to hike, cook, and make fast cars out of Legos.

Tom Viehe

Tom Viehe is strategy consultant for EMD Strategies. In this role, he works with companies’ executive leadership on developing their strategic plan, improving their capture management processes, improving the quality of their pipeline, and building relationships within industry. His expertise is in providing private and public sector businesses with strategies for penetrating and diversifying their share of the federal market. Before joining EMD Strategies, Tom served as the Director of Research for IDS International, where he was responsible for all research and OCONUS-based programs. During his tenure he worked on proposal development, program management of several of the company’s first prime contracts, capture management, and determining PTW and pricing models. He attended the University of St Andrews for both undergraduate and graduate school, receiving a Masters of Arts in International Relations and a Masters of Letters in International Security Studies.

Advisory Board

  • Joe Callahan (Executive Director Emeritus)
  • Susan Shreve
  • Sally Bedell Smith
  • Rebecca Sinderbrand
  • Marcela Sanchez-Bender
  • George Pelecanos
  • E. Ethelbert Miller
  • Matt Klam
  • Carol Blue
  • Jessica Anya Blau
  • Marie Arana