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 firstname.lastname@example.org
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) four-year-old humanoid.
Volunteer Communications Manager
Christine Pepperdine is a recent transplant to the Bay Area, and is thrilled to be a part of the magic happening at Chapter 510.
She received her BA from McGill University in 2012, and has spent the past four years building brands in the marketing and advertising industry.
At Chapter 510, you will find her updating this lovely website, as well as running communications across our social media channels and blog.
Tamara Berdichevsky (Tammy)
Senior Intern & Teaching Artist
Tammy is a Mexican artist who moved to Oakland to study Sculpture at California College of the Arts. She is currently bridging her passion for both art and education. Tammy is an Art teacher for 1st graders in Happy Valley art school in Dublin, CA. She is also an education intern at the Children's Creativity Museum, where she is learning creative ways of teaching in the museum spectrum.
At the confluence of two cultures, Mexican and Jewish, she is seeking ways and means to incorporate into her teaching the stories of each one's portrayal of culture and identity, to thereby understand our past, present, and future.
You can find Tammy at Chapter 510 helping creatively develop workshops, always with a smile and enjoying the unique stories everyone brings to such a special place.
Board of Directors
Erica Lorraine Webb
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.
Secretary, 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.
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?"
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.
Member, Executive Editor, Toca Boca
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, Education.com, 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.
Executive Director, Chapter 510 Ink
Janet Heller founded WritersCorps, winner of the President’s Coming Up Taller Award, a widely recognized exemplary arts and humanities model. Janet raised over $2 million from NEA, Corporation for National Service, San Francisco Library, San Francisco Foundation, and numerous family foundations.
As founder of Chapter 510 Ink, Janet developed partnerships with local and national organizations such as Philanthropic Ventures Foundation, 826 National, Scholastic Youth Writing Awards, Oakland Public Library, Youth Speaks, Parcel Projects, Alameda County Office of Education, Oakland Book Festival, House/Full, and many others.
A poet, teaching artist and community arts leader, Janet has over 25 years as an Oakland-based literacy advocate.
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 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.
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 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.
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.
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.