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.

Read about The 826 Stand.

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.

On-Site Programs Manager

D'Real Graham


D’Real Graham has helped inspire students to develop zany stories across the 826 National network of writing and tutoring centers since 2007. A former in-school volunteer and full-time staffer, D’Real has five years of hands-on experience managing programs at 826michigan. Before relocating from the midwest to Washington, D.C., late-Spring 2017, D’Real served as a Commissioner on Human Relations, a Community-Police Relations Task Force sub-committee member focused on incentivizing residency for first responders, and an advisor at Radical Washtenaw in Ypsilanti, MI. He currently studies creative writing in addition to gender, culture and representation at Howard University. D’Real enjoys designing hashtags, traveling by bicycle, and eating pistachios.

Programs Coordinator

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 Manager

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. You can find her in Tivoli’s Astounding Magic Supply, fumbling her way through “Card Tricks 101.”

Development Coordinator - AmeriCorps VISTA

Brandon Moore-McNew


This is Brandon’s second time living in D.C., and he’s thrilled to be back as an AmeriCorps VISTA. Before joining 826DC, he taught creative writing and literature at the University of Iowa while facilitating writing workshops for military veterans and earning an MFA in the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. He holds a BA in English from George Mason University, where he investigated medieval festive practices as a research assistant, and an AA from St. Charles Community College that he earned while serving in the military. When he isn’t at 826DC, he’s usually playing roleplaying games with friends, up to his gills in poetry, or fiddling with a musical instrument (his most recent acquisition: panpipes!). He’s also picked up a book on card tricks from Tivoli’s Astounding Magic Supply, which gives his hands something to do when he feels fidgety.

Volunteer and Intern Coordinator - AmeriCorps VISTA

Akshita Sankepally


Akshita is a recent graduate of Bradley University with a degree in International Studies. Before joining 826DC as an AmeriCorps VISTA Service Member, Akshita served as a Team Leader for the International Humanitarian Law Action Campaign of the American Red Cross at Bradley University. This introduced her to her long term goal of working for the United Nations. She has also interned at a Congressional District office in Illinois, served as a Research Assistant for the International Economic Affairs Chairman, and interned at the International Trade Center at Bradley.

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).

Theo Smith

Theo is a double major in Journalism and Public Health at American University. At American, she is an ambassador for the School of Communications, Vice President of the Public Health Association, and the health section editor of American Word, a student lead publication. Also, she is the marketing chair of her sorority, Sigma Delta Tau. She is originally from Yonkers, New York but currently lives in Fairfax, Virginia with her family. Theo enjoys reading, taking buzzfeed quizzes, and exploring different parts of DC. In the past, Theo worked as a camp counselor and an instructional aide in an elementary school. This gave her experience working with children and getting involved with the education system in her community. As the communications intern, she gets to see a different side to how the education system works, focusing on management and development. Theo is so excited to work with 826DC this semester and learn how this organization works.

Dana Kopser

Dana is an Elementary Education major at University of Delaware through the Delaware in DC program at American University. Dana is a Peer Leader (mentors students), Girl Scout, Volunteer, Lifeguard/Swimming Instructor, and Camp Counselor at YMCA Camp Fuller. Since Dana is originally from Westchester, NY, she loves the hustle and bustle of DC. She loves adventuring around DC to art galleries, museums, concerts, bookstores, and coffee stores/eateries in her free time. When Dana’s not snapping pictures of people and objects, she can be found singing and playing the guitar or ukulele outside. Dana is very passionate about helping students develop their writing skills, so that they can become confident expressing their emotions and thoughts. She is excited to work hands-on with children in the classroom with other staff, interns, and volunteers.

José Negrón

José Negrón is a native of Caguas, Puerto Rico who is majoring in Political Science at American University in Washington, D.C., and is currently participating in the University’s Mentorship Program. As part of the Program, José is developing his internship search skills, as well as the skills necessary to be an effective contributor within an internship position at any given organization. Most of all, José is taking advantage of the politics and service oriented Mentorship curriculum to expand his knowledge and capabilities regarding the execution of effective and beneficial community service. He is striving to become an individual that truly understands how to cooperate with communities in need and other service-minded persons in order to construct a society built upon a foundation of equity, justice, and equal opportunity. José has experience in working with other people to help better themselves, as he has operated as a teacher’s assistant for a Kindergarten class of underprivileged public school children, and also as a peer minister at a high school-sponsored spiritual retreat. He is now dedicating himself to being a thoughtful and educational intern at 826DC with the hopes of changing the lives of the students who need it the most, no matter how small the change might be.

Genesis Portillo

Genesis is an English major at Marymount University in Arlington, VA who has a passion for learning, reading, and writing. In her free time, she could be found trying to find the best food, hanging out with her siblings, or working as a hair stylist.  A native of Alexandria, VA, she loves the quiet of the suburbs, while not compromising the flexibility of getting into and out of D.C. in her free time.  The metro has been around for her for as long as she could remember and has no problem navigating it when there are no delays. She loves to be out in nature and feels the most at home walking on trails and taking in the smell of the woods. Genesis is interested in the way that 826DC could help children and adolescents express themselves in their writing, and has a passion for helping them due to her own personal connection to the program.

Betsy Ramirez

Betsy is a Political Science and Philosophy major at Hamilton College in NY. At Hamilton, she helps coordinate volunteer groups and raises funds for HAVOC (Hamilton, Advocacy, Outreach, and Charity). Also, she is active in Tedx Hamilton’s efforts to bring diverse speakers to the annual Ted Talk event. Originally from Miami, FL Betsy loves big cities and adventuring through all the famous and not so famous sites. Currently, she is enthralled with the endless amount of art galleries, museums, and bookstores that inhabit D.C. When she is not hunting for the best espresso, Betsy can be found in the gym preparing for her next Powerlifting meet.Betsy is passionate about community engagement and is excited to learn about the work 826DC does and how it impacts children individually and the community as a whole.

Magdalena Mejia

Coming from Brooklyn, Magdalena is a Dominican-American that loves spending time with her sisters, playing Sims 4, and reading books that come in series.  She came to DC to finish pursuing her Bachelor of Arts in Latin American Studies and Human Development & Family Relations (Child Care Management) at SUNY Plattsburgh. Being a Brooklynite has made the metro her sixth sense and she likes how clean the metro is in DC. She wants to explore DC and take pictures at all the sights. She wanted an internship that let her involved in the schools and work hands-on with children in the classroom, which is what drove her to apply to 826DC. She believes that by helping students develop their writing skills children can become confident and comfortable expressing their feelings, thoughts, and opinions. As the Educational Programming and Publishing Intern at 826 DC, Magdalena is developing and honing skills learned in her major to apply for the TFA and work in a childcare setting in the future. When she’s not interning (or glued to her electronics), Magdalena can be found doing homework, shopping, or hanging out with friends.

Want to join our staff as an Intern?

Learn How Here

Board of Directors


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.

Vice 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.


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.

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.


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.

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.

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.

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.

Taryn Fielder

Ms. Taryn Fielder is Senior Vice President, General Counsel and Corporate Secretary of Washington REIT, a publicly-traded real estate investment trust. Prior to joining Washington REIT, Ms. Fielder served as Senior Vice President and General Counsel for ASB Real Estate Investments, a privately-held real estate investment management firm, from 2013 to March 2017. In this role, she was responsible for all legal affairs of the company, including property acquisitions, leasing and finance; fund formation; investor relations; compliance matters and human resources. She also served as the principal legal advisor to the firm’s management team. From 2011-2013, Ms. Fielder was the Assistant General Counsel of DiamondRock Hospitality Company, a publicly-traded hospitality REIT. Prior to her in-house career, she practiced corporate and real estate law at Simpson, Thacher & Bartlett LLP in New York City and Hogan & Hartson (now Hogan Lovells) in Washington, D.C. and served as Deputy General Counsel of the 2009 Presidential Inaugural Committee. Ms. Fielder is a graduate of Harvard Law School and Eckerd College.

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.

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.

Advisory Board

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