Our Philosophy:

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.

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
Program Coordinator
Elizebett (Liz) Eslinger
Executive Director
Emily Garcia
Program Assistant
Sarah Weller
Program Coordinator
Allison Specter
Development Director


Lisa Pearlstein
Board Chair, Behavioral Health Specialist, Palliative Services, CareOregon

Matt Blair
Board Treasurer, Software Designer and Developer, Elsewise

Pamela Fiehn
Board Secretary, Creative Director, AHA!

Lauren Isaac
Director, Customer Program Support, PGE

Alex Larralde
Director of Customer Marketing and Retention, Paycor

Chenoa Philabaum
Community Relations Program Manager, New Seasons Market

Kate Rood
Community Engagement Officer, Beneficial State Foundation

Jessica Yanhs
Business Analyst, D+H

Resource Council

Liza Halley
Co-Founder, Write Around Portland

Ben Moorad
Co-Founder, 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