Our Vision:

Everyone can be a writer and benefit from and contribute to their community through the literary arts.

Writing is a powerful tool for individual and societal transformation, self-expression, healing and the realization of the dignity of one’s self and others.

Writing and sharing stories helps us access our common humanity and connects individuals and groups who are often separated by age, race, income level, gender, ethnicity, language, sexual orientation, health status, education level and the geographic and social boundaries of neighborhoods.

In any life, especially one lived in poverty or isolation, there is a vital need for art, community and joy.

Our History

Write Around Portland was founded in 1999 by Liza Halley and Ben Moorad. Since then, we have held 600+ writing workshops for 5,000+ adults and young people, more than 75% of whom live below the federal poverty level. We have published 50+ anthologies, partnered with 200+ community organizations and trained 300+ volunteer workshop facilitators.

Our Commitment to Equity:

Write Around Portland is committed to understanding and changing historical legacies of inequity and patterns of oppression, especially as applied to communities of color. We recognize that working towards equity requires active investments in changing structures and practices to be more culturally responsive. We are committed to advancing racial equity as a foundational element of all aspects of our work, which we believe will also inform our work addressing other inequities in our organization and our community. Read our Racial Equity Assessment Report and our Racial Equity Plan here.

Our Diversity Statement:

Diversity is a fundamental part of Write Around Portland’s value system and is essential to our ability to develop and deliver programming that is consistent with and supports our mission to change lives through the power of writing.

We believe that diversity is a strength that makes our workshops, anthologies and readings rich and reflective of our greater community.

We are intentional in our recruitment, support and inclusion of diverse people throughout our organization, including our board members, staff, volunteers, workshop participants and agency partners.

We value diversity in all its forms and work to create meaningful and respectful connections among people of different socioeconomic levels, races, ages, ethnicities, nationalities, genders, sexual orientations, health statuses, physical and mental abilities, education levels, religions and backgrounds.

We continually work to cultivate an environment and organizational culture in which all who are involved in our organization feel respected, included and valued. Our commitment to inclusiveness will be evident in our organizational policies and procedures, as part of our strategic plan, within our organizational goals and throughout our programs. 


Jenny Chu
Community Engagement Manager
Elizebett (Liz) Eslinger
Executive Director
Emily Garcia
Program & Operations Coordinator
Sarah Weller
Program Manager
Allison Specter
Development Director


Chris Bodamer
Board Chair, Manager, Kaiser Permanente
Alex Larralde
Board Treasurer, Senior Manager, Customer Marketing, Intapp
Kate Rood
Board Secretary, Community Engagement Officer, Beneficial State Foundation
Chenoa Philabaum
Senior Community Relations Program Manager, New Seasons Market
Marisol Tawadros
Senior Demand Planner, Nike
Reggie Wideman
Marketing Consultant, Salesforce
Molly Newgard
Development Manager, Morrison Child & Family Services

Resource Council

Liza Halley
Co-Founder, Write Around Portland
Ben Moorad
Co-Founder, Write Around Portland
Robyn Steely
Former Executive Director, Write Around Portland
Miriam Sontz
CEO, Powell’s Books
Dave Eggers
Editor of McSweeney’s, Co-Founder of 826 Valencia and award-winning author
Jeana Edelman
Owner, HOTLIPS Pizza + Soda
Julie Mancini
Executive Director, College Possible
Holly MacArthur
Founding Editor, Tin House
Paul Lipscomb
Principal, Options Consulting
Jennifer Allen
Executive Director, Friends of the Multnomah County Library