2018 Panelist Bios


 Nancy Slonim Aronie is the author of “Writing From the Heart: Finding Your Inner Voice” (Hyperion/Little, Brown) and the founder of the Chilmark Writing Workshop. She was the recipient of the Eye of the Beholder award at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, and received the Teacher of the Year Award at Harvard University the three years she taught there. She is a commentator for NPR’s “All Things Considered,” and she teaches memoir workshops at Omega Institute, Esalen, and the Open Center in New York City. Nancy is also part of the cutting-edge program in Narrative Medicine at Kripalu Yoga center in Lenox. chilmarkwritingworkshop.com

Chris Baer is the author of more than 160 illustrated historical columns (“This Was Then”) in The Martha’s Vineyard Times, as well as a new book, “Martha’s Vineyard Tales” (Globe Pequot, 2018). He has also written for the Dukes County Intelligencer, Martha’s Vineyard Magazine, Vineyard Style, Edutopia, MASCD Perspectives, and other publications. He has taught photography and graphics at the Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School since 1995, where he was named Educator of the Week by National Geographic in 2014.


LaShonda Katrice Barnett’s debut (historical) novel, “Jam on the Vine” (Grove Atlantic), was an Editor’s Choice pick at the Chicago Tribune, won ElIe magazine’s Reader’s Choice Prize, and earned Barnett the Emerging Writers Award at the Tennessee Williams Literary Festival. “Jam on the Vine” was awarded the Stonewall Honor Award by the American Library Association, and was a Lambda Literary Award finalist. Forthcoming books include “Sounding Off: Conversations with Women Musicians of the African Diaspora” (University of North Texas Press, 2019) and the story collection “Broken Shoes for Walking” (Wings That Never Fit). Barnett is currently at work on the novel “God’s Folly!” set in Gilded Age Chicago and Manhattan.  lashondabarnett.com

Frank Bergon is a novelist, critic, and essayist who has published a dozen books of both fiction and nonfiction. His true-crime novel “Wild Game” is based on the shooting of two Idaho game wardens by the self-styled mountain man Claude Dallas. “Jesse’s Ghost” is a fictional account of how a man killed his best friend, based on real-life people and events the author knew in California. His forthcoming nonfiction book is “Two-Buck Chuck & the Marlboro Man: The New Old West.” Frank taught literature and writing at Vassar for many years. frankbergon.com


George Brennan is the editor for The Martha’s Vineyard Times and a key contributor to The Minute, the Island’s only daily newsletter. His investigative reporting has won regional and national awards. He enjoys writing about politics and history, and gets particularly passionate when the two topics are combined. His journalism career includes 14 years as a bureau chief for the Cape Cod Times, managing editor of a group of weekly newspapers in Plymouth, and helping to launch the Talking Points newsletter.


Geraldine Brooks is the New York Times bestselling author of “Caleb’s Crossing,” “People of the Book,” “March” (winner of the 2006 Pulitzer Prize in Fiction), and “Year of Wonders,” and the nonfiction works Nine Parts of Desire” and “Foreign Correspondence.” Her latest book, “The Secret Chord,” was published in 2015. Born and raised in Australia, she lives on Martha’s Vineyard with her husband, the author Tony Horwitz, and their two sons. Geraldinebrooks.com.



Callie Crossley is a multiple awarding winner journalist and documentary filmmaker, including a National Emmy, the Gold Alfred I. Dupont-Columbia Award,plus Associated Press, Edward R. Murrow, and Clarion Awards, and top honors for  commentary from the Public Radio News Directors. She is the first African-American to win an Oscar nomination in the Documentary Feature category for her work as a Producer on “Bridge to Freedom,” her hour in the documentary series, “Eyes on the Prize: America’s Civil Rights Years 1954-1965.” Callie is known for her journalistic acumen, integrity, and personal warmth.  Her Monday morning commentaries on WGBH’s Morning Edition tackle wide-ranging subject matter—from the Steamship Authority’s operational woes, to Starbucks racial bias training, the return of the handwritten letter, to the Women’s March, and the Trump administration’s zero tolerance policy.

Bob Drogin is a journalist, author and longtime summer resident of West Tisbury. He joined the Los Angeles Times in New York in 1983, and has reported from 49 states and 51 countries, but never from Los Angeles. He is now Washington deputy bureau chief and national security editor, a job that took him to Singapore in June for the Trump-Kim summit and chili crabs. His 2007 book “Curveball,” about an Iraqi who conned the CIA about Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction, won the Cornelius Ryan Award for best nonfiction book on international affairs. In 2017, it was adapted into “Baghdaddy,” a money-losing Off-Broadway musical that he wishes you had seen. He has won or shared numerous other awards, including the Pulitzer Prize for Meritorious Public Service, the Robert Kennedy Award for National Reporting, and an Overseas Press Club Award.

Halley Feiffer is a writer and actress. Plays include “I’m Gonna Pray for You So Hard,” “Moscow Moscow Moscow Moscow Moscow Moscow,” “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Gynecologic Oncology Unit at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center of New York City,” “How to Make Friends and Then Kill Them,” and “The Pain of My Belligerence.” Her plays have been produced off-Broadway at MCC, Playwrights Horizons, and Atlantic Theater Company, as well as regionally (Williamstown Theater Festival and elsewhere) and in the U.K. She has a pilot at TNT, and is a producer on the upcoming Showtime series “Kidding,” starring Jim Carrey.

Nicole Galland is a novelist, primarily of historical fiction (including “The Fool’s Tale,” “I, Iago,” and “Crossed”), as well as the contemporary romantic comedy “Stepdog.” She is also an awardwinning, but recovering, screenwriter. Most recently she co-authored (with Neal Stephenson) the New York Times bestselling “The Rise and Fall of D.O.D.O.,” a genre-bending romp about time travel; she’s currently working on its sequel. A West Tisbury girl by breeding, she co-founded and co-directs Shakespeare for the Masses at the Martha’s Vineyard Playhouse with Chelsea McCarthy. She also pens the NENPA awardwinning cheeky advice column “MV Ps and Qs” for The MV Times, and has previously written for the Gazette. Her novel “On the Same Page” will be out next January from HarperCollins. It is set on Martha’s Vineyard in the off-season, and concerns itself with two fictional rival newspapers, and the woman who writes for them both. nicolegalland.com

Joshua Hammer is a freelance foreign correspondent and author based in Berlin. From 1992 to 2006, Hammer served as a Newsweek bureau chief and correspondent at large on five continents. He has won numerous awards for his reporting, including the 2016 National Magazine Award for his profile of a Sierra Leonian physician combating the Ebola pandemic. He is the author of four nonfiction books, including the 2016 New York Times bestseller “The Bad-Ass Librarians of Timbuktu: And Their Race to Save the World’s Most Precious Manuscripts,” which has been translated into seven languages. Hammer is currently working on his fifth book, “The Falcon Thief: A True Tale of Adventure, Skullduggery, and the Search for the Perfect Bird,” to be published by Simon & Schuster in late 2019.

Judith Hannan is an essayist and author of “The Write Prescription: Telling Your Story to Live with and Beyond Illness” and the memoir “Motherhood Exaggerated.” She leads workshops for those affected by physical and/or mental illness, the homeless, and those within the criminal justice system. She is a writing mentor and interventionist at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, and a workshop leader for Kripalu’s program in Narrative Medicine. She received a 2015 Arnold P. Gold Foundation Humanism in Medicine award, and serves on the boards of the Children’s Museum of Manhattan and the Mount Sinai Adolescent Health Center. judithhannanwrites.com

Melinda Henneberger is an editorial writer and columnist for the Kansas City Star. To the surprise of many friends, this is in Missouri, where she and her husband, fellow journalist Bill Turque, moved last year after two decades in Washington, D.C. She writes a monthly column for USA Today, and is the mom of 22-year-old twins, Della and Connor. She was previously a reporter for the Dallas Morning News, New York Newsday, and the New York Times, where she worked for 10 years as a Washington correspondent and Rome bureau chief. She’s an Illinois native, high-decibel Cubs fan, graduate of the University of Notre Dame and the Catholic University of Louvain in Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium, and a former fellow at Harvard’s Shorenstein Center and the Catholic University of America’s Institute for Policy Research and Catholic Studies.

Tony Horwitz is a Pulitzer prizewinning reporter who has worked for the Wall Street Journal and the New Yorker. His books include the New York Times bestsellers “Confederates in the Attic,” “Blue Latitudes,” and “A Voyage Long and Strange.” His latest work is Boom: “Oil, Money, Cowboys, Strippers, and the Energy Rush that Could Change America Forever.” Tony is a native of Washington, D.C., and a graduate of Brown University. He has also been a fellow at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study. Tony lives year-round in West Tisbury with his wife, novelist Geraldine Brooks, and their sons Nathaniel and Bizu. tonyhorwitz.com

John Hough, Jr. is a former speechwriter for Senator Charles Mathias of Maryland and a former assistant to James Reston at the Washington bureau of the New York Times. He is the author of six novels and, recently, of “The Fiction Writer’s Guide to Dialogue.” He lives with his wife in West Tisbury, and teaches creative writing to small classes in his living room. His most recent novel is “Little Bighorn.”



Charlayne Hunter-Gault is an award winning journalist with more than 50 years in the industry, extending her work to all media at various times. Hunter-Gault joined NPR in 1997 after 20 years with PBS, where she worked as substitute anchor and national correspondent for The NewsHour . She began her journalism career as a reporter for the New Yorker, to which she still contributes and then worked as a local news anchor for NBC/ WRC-TV in Washington, D.C.During her 10 years as a reporter for The New York Times, she also opened its  Harlem Bureau and served as its Bureau Chief. In 2005, she returned to NPR as a special correspondent after six years as CNN’s Johannesburg bureau chief and correspondent. For the paste three years, she has focused on solutions to racism in an ongoing series for the NewHour called “Race Matters.” Her  numerous honors include two Emmy awards and two Peabody awards. Her first book, “In My Place,” is an autobiography that details her desegregation of the University of Georgia in 1961. Her second, “To the Mountaintop: My Journey Through the Civil Rights Movement” was written for young readers. Her most recent book is the ebook “Corrective Rape: Discrimination, Assault, Sexual Violence, and Murder Against South Africa’s L.G.B.T. Community.” She has been inducted into  both the National Association of Black Journalists Hall of Fame as well as the the Atlanta Press Club’s. She has also received the  Washington Press Club Foundations Lifetime Achievement Award.

Peter D. Kramer, is the best-selling author of seven books, including Listening to Prozac, Should You Leave?, Against Depression, and, most recently, Ordinarily Well. His novel, “Spectacular Happiness,” was a finalist for the Vineyard’s One Book One Island program. His essays and reviews have appeared in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, and elsewhere. He has appeared on “Today,” “Good Morning America,” “Oprah,” “Charlie Rose,” and “Fresh Air,” among others, and hosted the public radio program “The Infinite Mind. Dr. Kramer divides his time between Chilmark and Providence, Rhode Island, where he is Clinical Professor Emeritus of Psychiatry at Brown University.”

Torrey Oberfest was until recently VP, Corporate Strategy at Hachette Book Group. At HBG, Torrey focuses on corporate acquisition and business strategy, identifying and pursuing acquisition targets and managing the execution of HBG’s investment strategy activities. Torrey contributes to the formulation of HBG’s corporate strategy, working closely with HBG’s executive management team to identify areas of growth and strategic value. Hachette Book Group is a leading trade publisher in the U.S., and a division of Hachette Livre, the third largest trade and educational publisher in the world. HBG publishes under the groups of Little, Brown and Company; Little, Brown Books for Young Readers; Grand Central Publishing; Orbit; Hachette Books; Hachette Nashville; Perseus Books; and Hachette Audio. Prior to joining the strategy team at HBG, Torrey was the managing editor of Bulfinch Press, a division of HBG. Torrey is a graduate of Barnard College and lives in New York City with her husband and two daughters.

Richard North Patterson is a New York Times bestselling author of 22 novels, including several about national politics. His political columns appear regularly in the Boston Globe and the Huffington Post, and in 2017, his columns for the Huffington Post were published in the book “Fever Swamp.” He is also a former chairman of Common Cause, and a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, and currently serves on board of the Renew Democracy Initiative. richardnorthpattersonbooks.com


Alissa Quart is the executive editor of the journalism organization the Economic Hardship Reporting Project. She is the author of three nonfiction books—”Branded,” “Hothouse Kids,” and “Republic of Outsiders”—and the poetry book “Monetized.” She writes the “Outclassed” column for The Guardian, and won the 2017 Los Angeles Press Club Award for commentary. She also writes regularly for publications including the New York Times, The Nation, and The Atlantic and is a former Harvard University Nieman Fellow. She lives in New York City with her family.


Arnie Reisman is an awardwinning writer, producer, and performer. At present he writes a column, “The Washashore Chronicles,” for the Vineyard Gazette. What began as musings from the point of view of an Island newcomer have turned into chapters of a memoir. In 2009, with Ann Carol Grossman, he produced for PBS “The Powder & the Glory,” a 90-minute film on the business rivalry of Helena Rubinstein and Elizabeth Arden. The film begat the stage musical “War Paint.” Starring Patti LuPone and Christine Ebersole, the Broadway production played at the Nederlander from March through November 2017. In 2015, the Martha’s Vineyard Playhouse produced his play, “Not Constantinople.” His national telecasts include “Hollywood on Trial” (Oscar-nominated documentary on the blacklist) and “The Other Side of the Moon” (90-minute PBS special for the 20th anniversary of the lunar landing). In 2014 he was named Martha’s Vineyard poet laureate. He has authored two books of poems, “Clara Bow Died for Our Sins” (2015) and “Sodom and Costello” (June 2016). Since the series began in 1996, he has been a panelist on National Public Radio’s “Says You!” weekly comedy quiz show, sitting next to his wife, Paula Lyons, former national consumer reporter.

Nancy Rommelmann writes for the LA Weekly, the Wall Street Journal, and the New York Times, among other publications. She is the author of several previous works of nonfiction and fiction. She grew up in Brooklyn, N.Y.; has spent many summers in Chilmark, and currently lives in Portland, Ore. Find out more at nancyromm.com.



RIchard Russo is the author of eight novels, most recently “Everybody’s Fool” and “That Old Cape Magic”; two collections of stories, with “Trajectory” published in 2017; and the memoir “Elsewhere.” In 2002 he received the Pulitzer Prize for “Empire Falls,” which like “Nobody’s Fool” was adapted to film, in a multiple-awardwinning HBO miniseries; in 2016 he was given the Indie Champion Award by the American Booksellers Association; and in 2017 he received France’s Grand Prix de Littérature Américaine. He lives in Portland, Maine.


Misan Sagay is an award-winning screenwriter and producer. She won the NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Writing in a Motion Picture for Fox Searchlight’s “Belle.” The “Belle” script, also nominated for a Humanitas Prize, was inspired by the true story of Dido Elizabeth Belle, the illegitimate mixed-race daughter of a British admiral who was raised by her aristocratic aunt and uncle. Sagay’s producing and screenwriting credits include “Secret Laughter of Women,” starring Colin Firth and Nia Long, and the ABC television movie “Their Eyes Were Watching God,” starring Halle Berry and executive-produced by Oprah Winfrey. Sagay wrote on “Guerrilla” with John Ridley for Sky Atlantic and Showtime. She is writing “Battersea Rise” for BBC, “Imprinted” for ITV, adapting the life of Dame Daphne Sheldrick, “Life, Love and Elephants” and FELA for Focus Features for the screen. Misan Sagay is also a medical doctor specializing in hematology.

Tom Shelby is an expert dog trainer with a specialty in search and rescue dogs. He has nearly four decades of experience, with over 800 training appointments a year. Tom was a dog handler at the Westminster Dog Show, trained a dog for an off-Broadway play, and has worked with well over 100 rich and famous clients. Creating harmony between two- and four-legged friends has given him the satisfaction of helping countless people and dogs. Tom is the author of “Dog Training Diaries: Proven Expert Tips & Tricks to Live in Harmony with Your Dog” (Skyhorse Publishing), “Michelle and Me: True Stories of a Heroic Search and Rescue Dog” (Berkley), and the “Ask the Dogcharmer” column for The Martha’s Vineyard Times. Instagram @dogtrainerdiaries

Rosemary Stimola, a former professor of language and literature and an awardwinning children’s bookseller, founded the Stimola Literary Studio in 1997. Representing both fiction and nonfiction from preschool through young adult, she is honored to count among her clients many awardwinning authors and illustrators, including New York Times bestselling authors Suzanne Collins, Jodi Lynn Anderson, and Lisa Papademetriou; National Book Award and Newbery Honor Medalist Thanhha Lai; Coretta Scott King; author and Newbery Honor Medalist Renee Watson; Caldecott Medalist Matthew Cordell; Sibert Medalist Tanya Lee Stone; and Edgar Award Medalist James Ponti; among others. Rosemary and her husband, photographer Michael Stimola, live and work on Martha’s Vineyard June through October, and spend time on-Island throughout all seasons of the year.

Alexandra Styron is an author, professor, and activist. Her latest book, “Steal This Country: A Handbook for Resistance, Persistence, and Fixing Almost Everything,” is for young adults, and will be in bookstores in September 2018. Alexandra’s adult books include the bestselling memoir “Reading My Father,” and “All the Finest Girls,” a novel. Her work has also appeared in the New Yorker, the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, and Vanity Fair, among other publications. Alexandra currently teaches creative writing in the M.F.A. program at Hunter College, and lives with her husband and two children in Brooklyn, N.Y. She has spent much of her life on Martha’s Vineyard. alexandrastyron.com

Kate Taylor was born in Boston and raised in Chapel Hill, N.C. She now lives on the island of Martha’s Vineyard. She has a life surrounded by music, art, and wit. Her father, Dr. Isaac Taylor, was a professor of medicine and dean of the UNC Medical School at Chapel Hill. He had the soul of a poet. Her mother, Trudy Taylor, was a singer, an artist, and a craftsperson. Her brothers Alex, James, Livingston, and Hugh are musicians, songwriters, performers, and sailors. Kate sang as a youngster and had her first combo at 15. She recorded her first album, “Sister Kate,” in 1971 with Peter Asher. It was released on Atlantic/Cotillion Records. Her second album, “Kate Taylor,” was produced by her brother James for Columbia Records. Her third record, “It’s in There and It’s Got to Come Out,” was recorded at Muscle Shoals Sound Studios in Muscle Shoals, Ala. and produced by Barry Beckett, the keyboardist in the famed Muscle Shoals Sound rhythm section. It was released in 1978 on Columbia Records.
After starting her family, her performing schedule changed as she took time to raise her daughters. Her daughters are now launched, and Kate is once again bringing her original songs and her favorite covers to her beautiful audiences. Her most recent albums include “Beautiful Road” and “Fair Time!” katetaylor.com

Sally Taylor is an artist and musician. In 1998, reluctant to sign to a major record label, she formed her own, producing and recording three albums (“Tomboy Bride,” “Apt #6S,” and “Shotgun”). She and a five-piece band toured 180 days of the year. She thrived on the production elements of running a label and the creative elements of writing, recording, and performing. When she retired from the road at age 30, she moved to Boston and began teaching music. She is currently taking time off from the Berklee College of Music to work exclusively on ConSenses, a multidisciplinary approach to artistic connectedness. In this effort she is dedicated to enlarging the scope of artistic collaboration, the recognition of art as a journey, and the exploration of human perception. sallytaylor.com

Isaac Taylor For more about Isaac’s music, go to isaactaylormusic.com.





Christine Cissy White believes in the power of open pages, heart, and laptop to hold all life offers. She’s Northeast Region community facilitator for ACEs Connection, and community manager of Parenting with ACEs (ACEs = Adverse Childhood Experiences). Her essays have been published in the Boston Globe, Spirituality and Health, Ms. magazine, To Write Love on Her Arms, ACEs Too High, and Elephant Journal. She’s led workshops on parenting with PTSD and ACEs for trauma survivors and treatment providers. Her survivor-led advocacy has been written about in the Atlantic, Huffington Post, and the Mighty. She’s a writer, health activist, and mother who’s been post-traumatically stressed and blessed.

Gretchen Young is Vice President, Executive Editor at Grand Central Publishing. She has edited close to 60 New York Times Bestsellers, including twelve books with Caroline Kennedy, and Elizabeth Alexander’s “The Light of the World,” which was a Pulitzer Prize finalist. Young has worked with a diverse group of authors, including: George Carlin, Ethan Hawke, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Congressman John Lewis, Google’s Eric Schmidt, MIT Media Lab’s Joi Ito, and the Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist, Oscar Hijuelos. She previously spent over fifteen years at Hyperion where she also launched the ESPN imprint and developed projects with the ABC Television Group.



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