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 Framework that staff and board use in decision-making as we strive to embed anti-racist practices within our organization, the nonprofit sector and the places where we operate.

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. 


Elizebett (Liz) Eslinger
Executive Director
Emily Garcia
Volunteer Manager
Sarah Weller
Program Manager
Allison Specter
Development Director


Chris Bodamer
Board Chair, Manager, Kaiser Permanente
Kate Rood
Board Treasurer and Secretary, Director of Organizational Development and Culture, Beneficial State Foundation
Alex Larralde
Senior Manager, Customer Marketing, Intapp
Chenoa Philabaum
Community Partnerships Division Manager, Bureau of Environmental Services, City of Portland
Marisol Tawadros
Senior Demand Planner, Nike
Reggie Wideman
Director, Customer Strategy, Lytics
Molly Newgard
Executive Director, Blue Sky Gallery

Resource Council

Liza Halley
Co-Founder, Write Around Portland
Ben Moorad
Co-Founder, Write Around Portland
Robyn Steely
Write Around Portland Executive Director 2005-2015
Miriam Sontz
Former CEO, Powell’s Books
Dave Eggers
Author, Editor of McSweeney’s, Founder, 826 Valencia
Jeana Edelman
Owner, HOTLIPS Pizza + Soda
Julie Mancini
Former Executive Director, College Possible
Holly MacArthur
Founding Director, Tin House
Paul Lipscomb
Principal, Options Consulting
Jennifer Allen
Program Officer, James F & Marion L Miller Foundation; Former Write Around Portland Board Chair