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. 826 has chapters around the country including: 826Michigan, 826Valencia, 826Chi, 826NYC, 826Boston, 826 New Orleans, and 826LA.

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.

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, Cris Lee worked as a resident teacher at a DC public charter school. Prior to this experience, Cris 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, before later becoming the AmeriCorps VISTA Store and Events Coordinator. 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.

Deputy Store Manager

Cedric Brown


A public relations exec from 9-5, Cedric comes from Detroit, MI, where he volunteered as a freelance consultant for local youth-serving nonprofits for five years; this while balancing full-time jobs doing marketing, PR, social media, and digital analytics. His success leading nonprofits’ PR and social media strategies led him to DC, but not before earning his master’s degree in PR from the Newhouse School at Syracuse University. Using his combination of professional experiences – and improv skills – Cedric provides an enjoyable experience for our customers at Tivoli’s Astounding Magic Supply Co. When not working, you can catch Cedric at a movie, concert, game, or hitting bombs at social softball leagues.

Interim YABP Manager

Shaheen Qureshi

Shaheen Qureshi was born and raised in the DC area by multicultural immigrant parents from whom she learned to always be around good food and expertly interpret ESL at a young age. She is the former managing editor of Tadween Publishing at the Arab Studies Institute where she oversaw the publication of pedagogical texts, political cartoons, and activist books. Now a literary agent seeking diverse and underrepresented voices in fiction and nonfiction, she also writes poetry and leads writing workshops. Shaheen has volunteered with 826DC for the past two years, and was once a programs intern back in 2012, the same year she received her BA from Bard College. She’s thrilled to be involved in the Young Author’s Book Project this year, helping SEED students tell their stories through poetry.

Interim Off-Site Programs Manager

Gigi Mascarenas


Gigi recently moved to DC in August 2017 after living abroad for two years in Seoul, South Korea where she taught English. Prior to that jump, she had been living and working as a graphic designer in Chicago, where she also graduated from Columbia College with a degree in Illustration. Despite where she lived, or what career she was doing, she always had a love for storytelling and sought the community spaces that nurtured it. It’s no wonder that she came across 826DC when in search of such spaces here in the DC area. She is really excited to be part of an organization that merges youth, community, stories, education, and design! When not at 826DC, you can find Gigi at a local open mic, acting in community theater, writing her own poetry and prose, jamming out on her ukulele, trying to beat her own sudoku time record, or watching a foreign or independent film with her niece cat, Molly, while munching on a delicious vegetarian meal.

Public Programs Coordinator

Emily has worked for 826DC in (almost) every capacity possible, from Publishing Intern in spring and summer of 2016, to volunteer, to Interim Programs Coordinator in spring 2017. She is proud of her involvement with over five book projects in the last two years, including her role in curating, editing, and producing You Will Be Able to Say A Thousand Words in 2016. Emily holds a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing from American University, and is the former editor in chief of Cafe MFAFOLIO, and The Shinnery Review. When she’s not reading, writing, or stalking her favorite writers on Twitter, you can find Emily combing the neighborhoods of DC, looking for beautifully overgrown secret gardens.

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).

Juan Forni

Juan is a senior in business strategy at Tec de Monterrey. He lives in Sonora, Mexico but right now is enrolled in a civic engagement seminar at The Washington Center. Passionate about his career but also wanting to integrate the culture into his daily life, in his hometown he participated in oral communication contests, presenting on ideas like women’s rights and CSR. He has been passionate about learning and teaching since he was a kid, always looking to get new knowledge and share it with his friends. His objective at 826 DC: “Make an impact with the students and help to develop a better community”.

Laura Vazquez Lopez

Laura is a recent graduate of West Virginia University with a degree in Communications with a focus on Strategic Social Media, Entertainment Media, and Creative Writing. At WVU she was Vice-President of the undergraduate LGBTQ+ student organization and published a short story in the literary journal. She is originally from Carolina, Puerto Rico and in her free time enjoys writing and talking about superheroes or whatever TV show she’s currently watching.

Saralisa Helleberg

Saralisa graduated from the University of Nebraska at Kearney in May 2016 with a degree in English and a minor in Spanish.  She recently moved to the Washington, DC area for this internship.  This is a big change from her hometown of Kearney, NE, a city of about 30,000 people.  She loves children and her goal is to become a children’s book editor, so this internship is perfect for her! Saralisa enjoys reading, crocheting, and knitting, and has an avid love of animals.

Anna-Bella Sicilia

Anna-Bella studied History and Philosophy at the University of Maryland and loves writing creatively on the side.  She is passionate about education as a means for empowerment, and founded an English-teaching program in Crete, Greece after spending a summer teaching E.S.L. in rural Thailand.  Anna-Bella also tutors incarcerated students hoping to pass their G.E.D. and interns with an organization assisting refugees find employment.  She loves traveling (especially to visit her second home in Crete), making art, and petting strangers’ dogs.

Grayson Quay

Grayson is graduate student currently working toward an M.A. in English at Georgetown University. He earned his undergraduate degree in English with a business minor from Grove City College, where he also served as managing editor of the college newspaper and met his future wife. Grayson has worked as a high school drama teacher, an ESL teacher in Spain, and a writing tutor. In addition to his current internship with 826DC, Grayson also works as a freelance writer, an intern with Georgetown University Press, and an Uber driver. In his free time, you can catch Grayson taking long walks, attending plays, admiring all the beautiful churches scattered across D.C., or writing in the journal he’s been keeping since eleventh grade. He also has a passion for creative writing, and is looking forward to using this internship to hone his teaching, writing, and editing skills.

Güilu Serrano Ferrer

Güilu is a senior at the La Salle Pachuca University, studying Science of Education. She was born and has always lived in Mexico, but moved to Washington DC for this internship. Güilu has this unique opportunity thanks to The Washington Center for Internships and Academic Seminars. Teaching and learning different languages has been her passion since she was little, so this is the perfect chance to improve all her skills. Her name is something she loves because it was created by her great-uncle and chosen by her mother. She adores her family and her dog, Goldie.

Manny Ceron

Manny is a senior at the University of Maryland pursuing a bachelors degree in Family Science and a minor in Spanish Language and Culture. He is a third year member of the coed cheerleading team and enjoys performance and movement/dance. Upon graduating, Manny hopes to continue working with non-profit organizations that focus on poverty, health inequalities, mental health, and/or immigrant rights. In his free time he enjoys cooking and discovering new vegan/vegetarian foods, seeing musicals, going the gym, and seeing live music performances. He also loves visiting his family and getting to see his 2-year-old cat named Oliver.

Jocelyn Esparza

Jocelyn is currently a junior at the University of Maryland, College Park. She is working towards a degree in International Business at the Robert H. Smith School of Business at UMD. She is interested in learning from and about different cultures and, their arts. A step she is taking towards this interest includes learning new languages. Currently she is fluent in Spanish and English and is at a basic level in Japanese and American Sign Language. Aside from languages, another passion of hers is music.

Nikhil Modi

Nikhil is a sophomore at the University of Maryland, working towards a degree in Business Administration. At UMD, Nikhil is involved with multiple student organizations – he currently serves as the President of the CIVICUS Student Advisory Board and the Executive Vice President for his Chapter of the Alpha Kappa Psi Professional Fraternity. In his free time, Nikhil loves dancing, watching movies, and practically anything outdoors.

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.

Katherine Feeney

Katherine Feeney is a Case Team Leader at Bain & Company, where her experience spans industries including retail, pharma, industrials, and private equity. Based in Washington, DC, Katherine has also spent significant time in Bain’s Johannesburg, South Africa office. Prior to Bain, Katherine worked at two consulting firms focused primarily on education finance, and philanthropy strategy and impact investing. She has additional experience in the edtech startup space as both an investor and consultant. In addition to her involvement with 826DC, Katherine serves on a local grantmaking committee focused on homelessness and social justice, and is involved with a DC-area fellowship focused on spirituality and leadership formation for young professionals. In her spare time, Katherine is an avid hiker, reader, and yoga practitioner and teacher. She received a double Bachelor of Arts from the University of Virginia in English Literature and Studio Art, and a Master of Business Administration from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.

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.

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.

Tom Lawler

Tom has 20 years of experience in energy and environmental policy.  He ran Lawler Strategies, an advocacy firm; managed the Subcommittee on Clean Air and Nuclear Safety for the Environment and Public Works Committee for Senator Tom Carper (D-Delaware);  was Deputy Director of State-Federal Relations for Governor Mitt Romney (R-Massachusetts), and was Director of Public Policy for Natsource, a provider of asset management, origination, and advisory services in both global renewable energy markets and carbon emissions trading.

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.

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