The Magical Bureaucrats


Janet Heller

Janet Heller

Founder | CEO | Director of Education

Janet Heller is an Oakland poet, teaching artist and community arts leader.

She founded the San Francisco WritersCorps and during her tenure built an award-winning, highly respected literary arts program. She has published poetry (Back to Front: Red Window Press) and essays, but is currently working on a novel about an Oakland family with roots in Cuba.

She graduated from Tulane University (BA in English) and Florida State University (MFA in Creative Writing). She has been teaching creative writing for 20 years, most recently at North Oakland Community Charter School.

Contact her at

Tavia Stewart

Tavia Stewart

Co-Founder | COO | Director of Programs & Volunteer Enagement

Tavia Stewart has nearly 15 years of experience running literary and community nonprofits. Most recently, she left her post at National Novel Writing Month where she spent nine years building the organization, the final three as Deputy Director/COO.

Previously Tavia interned, volunteered, and worked for 826 Valencia, McSweeney's Publishing, ZYZZYVA, and Watchword Press. She has also helped with development for Oakland First Fridays and the Oakland Book Festival, is founder and Executive Director of Invisible City Audio Tours, and a co-author of Ready, Set, Novel (Chronicle Books).

Oh, and she is also the lucky mom of one highly energetic (and dramatic) five-year-old humanoid.

You can reach her at


Jahan Khalighi

Program Coordinator

Jahan Khalighi has been working with youth in the Bay Area as a teaching artist, enrichment coordinator, youth mentor and community event organizer since 2006. He grew up in the Bay Area as a first generation Iranian American, raised in a family of artists and teachers. He is an alumni of June Jordan's Poetry For The People program at UC Berkeley under the mentorship of Aya De Leon, and a former member of the Eugene Poetry Slam Team. He graduated from University of Oregon with a major in English Literature.

As a community arts facilitator he has led the Planetary Dance, a community based performance ritual for peace at the annual Venice Biennale arts festival in Italy, and with youth at ASPIRE middle school in Richmond, Ca. As a teaching artist for California Poets in the Schools he has facilitated creative writing workshops at public schools and juvenile halls across the greater Bay Area. His poetry has been featured at TEDxSonomaCounty and Whoa Nelly press online journal. 

You can reach him at


Regina Napolitano

Regina Napolitano

Field Trip Coordinator

Regina Napolitano is a writer, arts educator, and sensitive young person. She graduated from UCLA in 2016 with a major in Gender Studies and minors in Spanish and Arts Education. Regina grew up attending Oakland public schools and is passionate about improving them through the transformative power of art.

You can reach her at


Marjerrie Masicat

Senior Design and Programs Intern

Marjerrie Masicat is a graphic designer, maker, and sometimes poet originally from Los Angeles. She will be receiving her BFA in Graphic Design with a Minor in Writing/Literature in May 2018 from California College of the Arts. Aside from her artistic endeavors, Marjerrie also enjoys 90s RnB, sipping on tea, pretending city lights are stars, and exploring what it means to be a first-generation Filipino-American. 

You can reach her at

Board of Directors


Alicia Crawford
Interim Board Chair, BRIDGE Housing

Alicia Crawford joined BRIDGE as the Director of Programs in 2014 and oversees a portfolio of 100 properties’ programs and services for family and senior residents of affordable housing developments.

Alicia previously held positions at Leap Frog Inc. as a game designer, as a civic engagement strategist at VolunteerMatch and co-designed and launched Idea Lab, a youth program of the Humanities Council.

She holds an MFA in creative writing and is currently and slowly pursuing an Ed.D in education. She has an unhealthy fondness for stray dogs, accordion music and attempts to spend as many hours as possible at her place of faith, the Pacific Ocean.


Wendy Donner

Wendy spent the first chapter of her career as a K-8 educator and school administrator. Through her work founding a teacher training program at the Nueva School in Hillsborough, CA, she developed a passion for teacher development. In 2010, she joined the Abundance Foundation as the Education Program Director, and help start the Agency by Design research project, a collaboration with Harvard Graduate School of Education's Project Zero. This project has explored the promises and practices of maker-centered learning, and has included deep engagement with Bay Area teachers working in cross-context professional learning communities. Wendy is an impassioned writer and her work has been published by the Huffington Post, Momastery, and in several books including Maker Centered Learning and Shivering in a Paper Gown. Wendy earned a BA in Public Policy from Duke University and a Masters of Education from Lesley University, and she lives in Marin County with her husband and two children.


Ingrid Simone


Ingrid Simone is the Executive Editor at Toca Magazine. Toca Boca is a play studio that makes digital toys for kids. In her role at Toca Boca, she provides relevant and relatable content for families on the topics of play, creativity, technology and the kids’ perspective.

Previously Ingrid was the senior editor for apps at Common Sense Media. Ingrid has worked for a number of publishing and educational organizations such as National Association for the Education of Young Children, Houghton Mifflin, Voyager Expanded Learning, the National Geographic Society, Rally Education,, the San Jose Mercury News.

She has taught in early childhood settings and has worked with teachers and students on projects for Leapfrog, PBS Kids/SRI, and WestEd. She currently serves on the board of advisors for the Joan Ganz Cooney Center. Ingrid earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Florida A&M University and a master’s degree in early childhood education from the University of Michigan. 

Erica Lorraine Webb

Erica Lorraine Webb

Member, Writer

Erica Lorraine Webb’s young adult novel, Uses for Boys (St. Martin's Press), was named a Best First Book for Youth by the American Library Association's Booklist and a 2014 Quick Pick for Reluctant Readers.

A longtime volunteer at 826 Valencia, Erica runs the Berkeley Writers’ Workshop, a free workshop for teens at The Berkeley Art Museum. Erica has a MA in creative writing from the University of California, Davis and a BA in Writing & Poetics from Naropa University.

In 2014, she was awarded a Creative Work Fund grant and Center for Cultural Innovation Investing in Artist’s grant for her  collaboration with the Teacher Salary Project. Erica was a 2012 Artist in Residence at Headlands Center for the Arts and currently teaches English and social studies at Civicorps, a high school in West Oakland. 


Mariah Rankine-Landers

Mariah Rankine-Landers

Member, Integrated Learning Specialist Program

Mariah Landers is a committed educator, artist, and integrated learning practitioner with 20 years of teaching experience that includes Special Education, Outdoor Education, Kindergarten, First Grade and Adult Education. She holds a BA in Anthropology from UC Santa Cruz and an Ed.M in Equity and Social Justice in Education from SFSU.

She currently serves as the Director of the Integrated Learning Specialist Program in Northern California where she supports educators to understand and apply integrated, arts based learning, authentic assessment practices and curriculum design to achieve higher academic outcomes for student success.

In addition, she is an educational consultant with clients in Bay Area that include the Oakland Museum of California, Hack the Hood, Alphabet Rockers, Chapter 510, and Not Much But Good. Mariah has been featured on PBS’s “The Electric Company” for a teacher instructional series.

She is the recipient of an award from Teacher for Social Justice for her work to foster equity in the classroom and is 2016-2017 fellow at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts to investigate the question "What does Equity look like?" 



Maurice Emsellem

Member, National Employment Law Project

Maurice Emsellem is the Director of the National Employment Law Project’s (NELP) Access and Opportunity Program.  NELP is a research and advocacy organization that delivers on the nation’s promise of economic opportunity for low-wage and unemployed workers.

Maurice specializes in government systems of support for unemployed workers and the employment rights of people with criminal records. He and his colleagues at NELP have co-authored several publications, including scholarly articles that appeared in the Stanford Law & Policy Review and the University of Michigan Journal of Law Reform.  

Maurice was a Soros Justice Senior Fellow (2005), and a Visiting Public Interest Mentor at Stanford Law School (2003).  He received his B.A. in 1982 from the University of Michigan and his J.D. in 1986 from Northeastern University School of Law.

Teaching Artists


Amber McZeal

Amber McZeal is an artistic scholar steeped in the improvisational traditions of New Orleans.

Her current body of work, Mudzimu, is a combination of original music compositions and afro-futurist mythos explores the transgenerational inheritance of separation from land, home and personhood, and the subsequent psychic limbo that it conjures, as well as the generative abyss that it promises. Through sound and word, her sci-fi journey shifts the perception of this limbo from exile to chrysalis.

She relocated to the Bay Area in 2006 to complete her B.A. in Sound Therapy, Trauma Studies, and Sacred Intellectualism. Amber is currently a doctoral student of depth psychology at Pacifica Graduate Institute in the Community Psychology, Liberation Psychology, and Ecological Psychology specialization.

Anna Kingsley

Anna Kingsley

Anna Kingsley is an Oakland resident, presently waiting on her porch for her kids with the neighbor's cat who appears to be sticking out her tongue at her.

She is also a teaching artist, bookmaker, and printer of the printing press variety as part of her beautiful business Pickypockets Press.

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Brooke Doaks

Brooke Doaks is a poet, artist, and visionary. She is the founder and creative director of Goddessflow Presents, an engagement series highlighting the black feminine divine.

She earned her BA from Columbia College. Her forthcoming collection of poetry, A Grey Soul, will be published 2016. She's produced MTV2 featured music video "World Famous" by Brandun Deshay as well as a PSA for Greenpeace and short films. Brooke’s dedication to social justice movements has lead her to organize for organizations such as Greenpeace, the DNC, Action Now and SEIU. She worked as a community organizer during the Chicago Teacher's Union strike where she organized one of the first Freedom Schools in the country.

Brooke was one of the featured curators of "The Hundy," an Oakland poetry festival and a reader at last year's Beast Crawl. When she's not hiding in nature, you can find Brooke at Chapter 510 mentoring youth. You can listed to her poetics on her soundcloud here.

Marya Brennan

Marya Brennan

Marya Brennan taught 5th grade English at KIPP Bayview Academy in San Francisco for three years before leaving her job to travel, write terrible novels, learn Spanish, and adventure through Europe as part of a two-person street circus. She resettled in Oakland and just finished two years of teaching 7th grade humanities at Greenleaf TK-8 in East Oakland.

She’s excited to spend her time taking creative writing and film classes at CCSF, working with Chapter 510, and running through the streets of North Oakland with her little brown dog, Buster.


Jana'e Johnson

Jana'e Johnson is a black queer poet, community organizer, teaching artist, and full-time educator. Hailing from California, she is the 2015 Women of the World Poetry Champion as well as a 2015 National Poetry Slam Champion. She is also the Co-Founder of both: the Root Slam poetry venue in Oakland, California, and the House Slam poetry venue in Boston, MA.

Jana'e’s poetry has appeared in outlets such ESPN, PBS Newshour, Blavity, and Kinfolks: A Journal of Black Expression. Her work aims to address the intricacies of black masculinity while balancing her love for her family, Motown music, and women's basketball. Jana'e holds a M.Ed. in Educational Leadership, nd facilitates writing and performance workshops for all ages. She currently resides in Berkeley, CA.

Perla Yasmeen Meléndez

Perla Yasmeen Meléndez

Perla Yasmeen Meléndez is a writer, artist, teacher, and chef. She holds a BA and MFA in Book Art & Creative Writing from the University of California at Santa Barbara, and Mills College, as well as a Culinary Arts Degree from Costa Rica's Escuela Gourmet ARCAM. Meléndez has extensive experience teaching art, cooking, and creative writing to youth and adults.

She has worked as a teaching artist at Alameda County's Integrated Learning Summer Institute, Edna Brewer Middle School, and ACORN Elementary School. She currently teaches at Head Royce's ASP Program as well as in their Heads Up Program.

She is the founder of Oakland's Two Mamacitas Pop-Up Kitchen, a small scale catering business serving Latin American Cuisine.

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Sarah O'Neal

Sarah O'Neal is a queer Black Maghribia poet from the Bay. She is an alum of the 2015 VONA/Voices writers of color workshop. She is a two time member of the Brave New Voices team representing the Bay Area. Sarah’s work has been featured on AJ+, Upworthy, and Everyday Feminism. She has performed at the Empowering Women of Color Conference, The Kennedy Center, and UC Davis.

Sarah teaches poetry workshops on mixed and queer identity. Currently, she is a poet mentor at Youth Speaks and a student at Mills College where she studies English Literature and Ethnic Studies.

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Robert "Tres" Trujillo

Our web site and materials feature the work of local artist, father, and storyteller, Robert "Tres" Trujillo.

Robert's use of illustration, storytelling, and public art reflect the artist's cultural background, dreams, and political/personal beliefs.