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 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.
826DC’s programs are modeled after those at 826 Valencia, the inspiration for the 826 National network. 826 National now counts nine 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
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 a certification in non-profit management from Georgetown University’s McCourt School of Public Policy. Zachary is a poor but diligent runner, a renowned doughnut enthusiast, and a forever aspiring limericist.
Director of Advancement
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.
Director of Education
Andrea has spent her career working with and on behalf of young people. Prior to joining 826DC, she taught elementary school in New York, built partnerships to support children’s play at KaBOOM!, and developed a literacy fellowship for school leaders at Bank Street College. She holds a master’s degree in Elementary Inclusive Education from Teachers College and a bachelor’s degree in political science and art history. Andrea is always in search of a good bagel, a good cookbook, and a good place to swim.
Development Coordinator - AmeriCorps VISTA
Alexandra Banks is a native Detroiter and invested in increasing access to creative arts. She is a researcher, writer, and scientist. She attended the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor where she received her B.A. in German Studies and is also a graduate of the Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science MPH program. Alexandra loves music and is an avid Star Wars fan.
Deputy Store Manager
A public relations pro during the week, 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. 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 local social softball leagues.
In-School Programs Manager
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.
Young Authors' Book Project Manager
Deb Monti is a Uruguayan-American painter and writer. She grew up in Pittsburgh and attended large public schools before enrolling and graduating from Yale University. As an undergraduate Deb worked with New Haven public school students on their creative writing, and during the 2019-2020 school year she taught art and literature at an elementary school in southern Spain. Deb believes in the power of a byline, and is excited to give students the opportunity to publish work. Outside of 826DC she runs a small, hand-painted and all-gender clothing line.
Development and Communications Manager
Sarah Richman is a writer, author, and poet with a development and communications background across the nonprofit space and the tech industry. She believes that well-told stories can change the world. Sarah holds cum laude degrees in Creative Writing and International Studies from Macalester College in St. Paul, Minnesota. She loves dogs and feels the most herself when she’s in a garden.
Community Programs Manager
Shayna Baggatts-Porter is a visual artist and native Washingtonian. She attended DC Public Schools from Kindergarten through high school graduation and spent five years working and serving in DC Schools as an Americorps member, Team Leader, and Program Manager with City Year DC. Shayna left the education world in 2017 to pursue a dog training career after welcoming the cutest pit bull puppy, Quimby, into her life. Through her work in education, Shayna has determined that allowing young people the space and resources to explore and define themselves on their own terms is the greatest and kindest gift. When not walking or cuddling her dog, Shayna is most likely painting, sculpting, lazily teaching herself French, dyeing her hair, or eating red onions.
Volunteer Engagement Specialist - AmeriCorps VISTA
Tiffany Washington is a graduating senior at Trinity Washington University, where she has studied human relations. She is from Washington, DC. Tiffany has varied experience in childcare development, from planning lessons to implementing new learning styles and documenting student profiles. Tiffany loves to collect crystals, to ride her bike around DC, and to try new restaurants. Most books she buys are self-help books.
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 the young people aren’t around).
Chante Yarbough goes to American University in Washington, DC, where she majors in Public Health with a minor in Anthropology. Chante, who grew up in the DMV area, wants to focus on health equity and social justice in her career. In her downtime, she likes to watch Netflix, listen to music, and hang out with friends and family. During the summer and in quarantine, Chante has also slowly started to get back into video games. She is excited about this summer with 826DC and learning so much about education and helping students express themselves, especially in isolation.
Chloe Plefka is a recent graduate of Political Science from The George Washington University. Originally from Connecticut, Chloe moved to the District to study politics, and along the way developed a passion for service, advancing positive social impact, and strategic communication. She is excited to bring her background in fundraising and marketing to her role with 826DC in order to support students and their discovery of the wonder of writing. In her free time, she enjoys discovering new music, dabbling in graphic design, and digging through second-hand store racks.
Darrica Mann is currently a senior at Howard University in Washington, DC. By studying Community Development and minoring in Strategic, Legal, and Management Communication, she plans to enter the nonprofit sector and become an educator in her home state of Florida. Through her career and personal life, she wants to work toward equal access to education, racial justice and the encouragement of creativity in youth. Drawing and painting take up much of Darrica’s free time. Lately, she’s also been practicing different hairstyles, improving her graphic design ability, and learning the ins and outs of the nonprofit world. She’s a bit of an astrology nerd and next on her list is learning to sew! She’s super excited to work with 826DC this fall and hopes to positively contribute to this organization’s mission to serve the students of DC.
Kayla Calvin is currently a junior at Howard University in DC, where she majors in English with a focus on creative writing while double minoring in History and Journalism. Kayla has a deep passion for the way literature and creative writing express the human condition and how it translates into a form of human connection. Kayla is centering her work around the success and social justice of her community as she plans to enter the nonprofit sector, continue her writing, and teach in the DMV area. In her free time, Kayla enjoys cooking for herself and other’s, trying new teas, painting, going on hikes, finding new indie films to watch, and spending time with her kitten and family. She is looking forward to helping students become aware of what they are already equipped with through their writing skills.
Natasha Sookrah is a junior at American University in Washington, DC. She’s studying Musical Theatre and Business and Entertainment – she hopes to also get her master’s degree in Arts Management and work within the theatre non-profit sector post-graduation. Natasha has a strong passion for education and is excited to use her past experiences in fundraising and education to enhance her role at 826DC. She’s very excited to be on board this fall! Natasha loves performing and taking in the rich theatre scene in DC. She also loves to explore the different restaurants and museums in DC, cook, and watch movies in her free time.
Nickie Johnson is a Northern Virginia native. She currently is a sophomore at George Mason University, where she is studying History to pursue a career in secondary education. While working towards her degree, she has discovered her passion for working with students and helping them find their inner voice. She is a staff writer for an on-campus publication and involved in several clubs at her university that have allowed her to help others and serve her community. When she’s not working or studying, Nickie enjoys reading and writing, spending time with friends, listening to showtunes, and watching as many movies as she can. She is thrilled to be a part of 826DC this fall and cannot wait to help students discover the wonderful benefits of
Toluwani Roberts is a personable and creative individual with a passion for equity in education interest groups. Currently a Senior at Howard University, Toluwani has gained a vast amount of experience in education and cultivated her leadership skills through community involvement both on and off-campus. Toluwani aims to continue to build a solid foundation in her career path by merging her passion for pedagogy and communication, with the hope of changing the direction of secondary education in the U.S. You can always find Toluwani baking sweet treats and listening to Brent Fiyaz.
Want to join our staff as an Intern?Learn How Here
Board of Directors
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, Taryn 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, Taryn 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. She is a graduate of Harvard Law School and Eckerd College.
Tom Viehe is a 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.
Miah Daughtery, Ed.D. is the Executive Director of Literacy and Professional Learning at Odell Education and former Director of ELA and Literacy at Achieve. A focused and passionate educator, Miah has more than ten years’ experience at the classroom, district, and state levels. Miah completed her doctoral studies at Vanderbilt’s Peabody College, obtaining an Ed.D in Educational Administration and Public Policy.
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.
Programs Committee Chair
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
Richard Nash is a Vice President of PayPal, leading the Global Government Relations Group, comprised of teams based in the North America, Europe and Asia-Pacific regions. Richard leads PayPal’s work on key legislative and regulatory issues across the globe, focusing on emerging FinTech public policy. His work includes collaborating with, and informing global governments on the development of modern financial services regulation and legislation; additionally, his team manages PayPal’s contributions to discussions on consumer protection, cross-border trade expansion, intellectual property protections, cybersecurity and data protection. Prior to joining eBay Inc., Richard ran the Brussels office of European public affairs consultancy Political Intelligence. In addition, he was Secretary General of the European Internet Services Providers Association from 2005-2008. Richard began his career with a German law firm, based in Freiburg (Germany), having studied law in the UK and Austria. Richard speaks fluent German and Spanish. He resides in Washington, DC with his wife and son.
Governance Committee Chair
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.
Literary Liaison Chair
W. Ralph Eubanks is the author of Ever Is a Long Time: A Journey Into Mississippi’s Dark Past (Basic Books), which Washington Post book critic Jonathan Yardley named as one of the best nonfiction books of 2003. A graduate of the University of Mississippi (B.A.) and the University of Michigan (M.A., English Language and Literature), he is a recipient of a 2007 Guggenheim Fellowship from the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation and has been a Fellow at the New America Foundation. From 1995 to 2013, he was Director of Publishing for the Library of Congress and is the former Editor of the Virginia Quarterly Review at the University of Virginia. He is currently a Visiting Professor of English and Southern Studies at the University of Mississippi, and at work on a book about Mississippi’s literary heritage. Ralph lives in Washington, DC, with his wife and three children.
As Vice President/Marketing Manager, J.C. is responsible for managing Chubb’s distribution relationships in the Mid-Atlantic Region consisting of the District of Columbia, Maryland and Virginia. Chubb is the world’s largest publicly traded P&C insurance company and the largest commercial insurer in the USA. Chubb combines the precision of craftsmanship with decades of experience to conceive, craft and deliver the very best insurance coverage and service to individuals and families, and businesses of all sizes. With operations in 54 countries and territories, Chubb takes seriously its role as a global citizen, driving positive change and making a long-term impact in communities around the world. After graduating from Drew University in 1999, J.C. began his insurance career with the Chubb Group of Insurance Companies. During his first tenure 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 Private Client Group in NYC as a Business Development Manager where he managed some of the company’s largest broker relationships. He moved back to Washington, DC in 2008 to assume the role of Assistant Vice President, Capital Region Marketing Manager for AIG PCG. He served in that capacity until rejoining Chubb in October 2018 in his current role.
Jill Dowell enjoys a career in federal government relations concentrating on health care, tax, and trade issues. In her 25+ years in DC, she has represented corporations and national trade associations before policymakers both in the Administration and in Congress. When not working, Jill lives for baseball season (cheering on both the Washington Nationals and the Houston Astros), reading, and experimenting in the kitchen. She is a graduate of Baylor University and majored in Political Science and Journalism.
Kurt Wimmer is a Partner at Covington, where he is the current U.S. chair of the Data Privacy and Cybersecurity Practice Group. He previously chaired the Privacy and Information Security Committee of the American Bar Association’s Antitrust Section. He is rated in the first tier by Legal 500, designated as a national leader in Chambers USA, and is included in Best Lawyers in America in four areas. Kurt represents major social media companies, global technology companies, and multinationals on privacy, cybersecurity, and technology law issues. Sources for Chambers USA describe him as “a leading person in the field” and “extremely gifted at what he does.”
Susan Gerock is the Vice President, Information Technology and Chief Information Officer at Washington REIT. In her capacity, she is responsible for the leadership, integrative management and direction for company information systems including corporate-wide planning, budgeting for information technologies and coordination and integration of all company information technology matters. She has over 25 years of management and information technology experience in commercial real estate, manufacturing, and retail. Susan holds an undergraduate degree in Government from The College of William & Mary and holds a Master of Science, Management of Information Technology degree from the University of Virginia, McIntire School of Commerce. She is active in numerous initiatives focused on young people, including having served as a Big Sister in the Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Greater Chesapeake, volunteering with SafeShores DC, and serving as a Side By Side Investor with ACT for Alexandria.
Tait Sye is a veteran communications strategist with more than fifteen years’ experience in the government, nonprofit, and private sectors. He is currently a senior director with the Planned Parenthood Federation of America. Previously, Tait was a political appointee for President Obama, serving at Deputy Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs in the US Department of Health and Human Services. Tait also recently co-founded, with his brother, a family foundation that provides impact grants focused on food justice. Tait holds both a Master’s degree and a Bachelor’s degree from the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor.
Matthew Bressler is a Principal at TDF Ventures and brings prior experience investing in and working with startup and growth stage companies. Prior to TDF, Matt worked with GE Ventures supporting investments and strategy in intelligent environments. Matt also served as the Director of Investments for the Wharton Social Venture Fund and as an Associate for FOUNDER.org, investing and assisting early-stage startups. Matt started his career as a management consultant for Oliver Wyman where he focused on growth strategy in a diverse set of industries including consumer electronics, transportation, energy, and healthcare IT. Matt graduated cum laude with a BA in Mechanical Engineering from Yale University and earned his MBA with honors from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.
- Joe Callahan (Executive Director Emeritus, Co-Chair)
- David Wakelyn (Co-Chair)
- Susan Shreve
- Sally Bedell Smith
- Rebecca Sinderbrand
- Marcela Sanchez-Bender
- George Pelecanos
- E. Ethelbert Miller
- Matt Klam
- Carol Blue
- Jessica Anya Blau
- Marie Arana
- Katie Hinman
HOLLY JONES (CO-FOUNDER) JULIA SMITH (CO-FOUNDER) KIRA WISNIEWSKI (CO-FOUNDER) JOE PETERS (FOUNDING BOARD MEMBER) MIKE SCALISE (FOUNDING STAFF MEMBER)