Stesha Brandon, President
Stesha Brandon is a long-time advocate for the literary arts. As Program Director at Town Hall Seattle Stesha developed compelling programs focused on arts and ideas, in partnership with national and community partners. During her long tenure at University Book Store, she oversaw more than 500 events annually, and conceived of, edited and produced 110/110: A Collection Celebrating the One Hundred Tenth Birthday of University Book Store. She has also worked as an acquisitions editor, a reader for a literary agent, and served on numerous committees, including the Bumbershoot Task Force and the Washington State Book Awards jury. Having served as the Interim Executive Director for Seattle City of Literature, she is currently the Literature & Humanities Program Manager at The Seattle Public Library.
When she's not reading, Stesha keeps chickens, knits and bakes tasty treats.
Rebecca Brinbury, Vice President
Rebecca Brinbury, an editor and literary arts administrator, enjoys supporting writers from both the editorial and programmatic sides. In 2014, Rebecca cofounded Seattle City of Literature and served for a year as its founding managing director; she also wrote both the 2015 and 2017 UNESCO Creative Cities Network applications for Seattle (and she is very pleased the second one stuck). As a development officer, Rebecca has raised several million dollars for organizations like ACT Theatre and Hugo House, where she was development director. She has also worked at other Seattle-area organizations, including the Northwest Independent Editors Guild, 826 Seattle (now the Greater Seattle Bureau of Fearless Ideas), Poetry Northwest, where she is managing editor, and University of Washington Press, where she is assistant to the director. Rebecca also works as a freelance fiction copyeditor, specializing in works in translation.
Rebecca lives in North Seattle with her family and enjoys biking, knitting and crocheting, baking bread, working on projects around her house, and, when she gets the chance, traveling.
Didi Kader, Secretary
Didi Kader is a public relations professional and non-fiction writer in Seattle. Her work has been published in the Seattle Times, Roads & Kingdoms, Pacific Northwest Magazine, SOUND Magazine, and Paste Magazine. She enjoys reading and writing stories about urban green spaces, environmental issues, food, and other subjects that all humans can bond over. You can find her writing about these subjects in northwest Seattle whilst nibbling on the city’s best almond croissant.
Didi holds a master’s degree from the Northwestern University Medill School of Journalism and bachelor’s degrees in Political Science and Near Eastern Languages and Civilization from the University of Washington. She was the Opinion Editor and a columnist at The Daily of the University of Washington. She received the Farhat Ziadeh Distinguished Community Service Award in 2009. Didi is a lifelong Seattleite.
Jim Cantu, Treasurer
Jim Cantú has penned poems, prose, and personal essays. His written work has appeared in the Raven Chronicles (2017), Seattle Poetic Grid (2017), the online Whirlwind Magazine (2016) and the 4Culture & King County Metro "Poetry on the Buses" project (2015). In August 2016, he was the ‘Writer-In-Residence’ for the month long ‘La Cocina’ a Pop-Up Latinx Artists’ Salon hosted by ‘La Sala’ and held in conjunction with the Seattle Art Fair. He is also a graduate of the Artist Trust 2016 Literary Edge program.
Jim is a volunteer radio producer with KBCS 91.3 FM where he produces the Morning Blend show. He also produces the Arts and Cultural affairs program “Hearts and Soul” on KVRU 105.7 FM. In June 2018 he will become one of the regular hosts on KCBS’s “Sabor” Latinx Music program. Jim’s community activities include KBCS 91.3 FM, KVRU 105.7 FM, La Sala Seattle, the Raven Chronicles and Seattle City of Literature.
Rick Simonson has worked as a bookseller at Seattle's Elliott Bay Book Company since 1976. He is a book buyer there and also coordinates, with Karen Maeda Allman, Elliott Bay's long-running reading series. Started in 1984, that series annually helps present over 400 authors from near and distant places. Writers from over 75 countries, presenting in over thirty languages, have appeared along the way.
Rick has served on boards for the King County Arts Commission, Copper Canyon Press, the Central District Forum for Art & Ideas, and the University of Washington Press, and has served as a juror for the Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association, Seattle Arts & Lectures, Hedgebrook, the National Endowment for the Arts, the STORY Prize, the National Book Award, and the DSC Prize for South Asian Literature.
He has participated and/or presented at book and literary festivals and conferences in the US, Canada, Mexico, China, India, the UK, Palestine, and United Arab Emirates.
Jeffrey Lee Cheatham II
Jeffrey L. Cheatham II's passion for storytelling was evident from his days as a student at Seattle's John Muir Elementary School, where every written assignment he submitted was in the form of a story or comic. Jeffrey has self-published two children books, The Family Jones and The Eggs of Rex and Why is Jane so Mad? He has been a passionate and ardent supporter of all things literary, even going so far as to create the Seattle Urban Book Expo: an organization that provides a platform for authors of color to showcase their Literary work and connect them with readers in their community.
Garth Stein is the author of four novels: A Sudden Light, The Art of Racing in the Rain, How Evan Broke His Head and Other Secrets, and Raven Stole the Moon. The Art of Racing in the Rain has sold more than 4 million copies in 35 languages, and spent more than three years on the New York Times bestseller list. It has inspired a Young Reader edition as well as a children’s picture book adaptation, a stage adaptation by Book-It Repertory Theatre in Seattle, and is currently in development with Universal Studios for a major motion picture.
Garth is also the author of a full-length play, Brother Jones, which had its premiere in Los Angeles at Theater of Angels in 2005, and was described as “brimming with intensity,” by The Los Angeles Weekly. Brother Jones served as inspiration for Garth’s latest novel, A Sudden Light. Before turning to writing full-time, Garth was a documentary filmmaker, directing, editing, and/or producing several award-winning films, including The Lunch Date, winner of the Academy award for live action short in 1990, and The Last Party, starring Robert Downey, Jr. Garth is co-founder of Seattle7Writers, a non-profit organization dedicated to energizing readers and writers and their communities by providing funding, programming, donations of free books to those in need, and generally inspiring enthusiasm for the written word.
Born in Los Angeles and raised in Seattle, Garth’s ancestry is diverse: his mother, a native of Alaska, is of Tlingit Indian and Irish descent; his father, a Brooklyn native, is the child of Jewish emigrants from Austria. After spending his childhood in Seattle and then living in New York City for 18 years, Garth returned to Seattle in 2001, and lives there currently with his family.
Board Members Emeriti
Allison Durazzi is a marketing consultant specializing in social media and digital communication strategies. As a writer and poet, her creative work is concerned with how personal narratives shape the ways in which we effect social change.
Allison’s experience in the Seattle arts community spans more than two decades and includes work with ACT Theatre, Bumbershoot, and The Seattle Poetry Slam. She’s served on the boards of Omnidawn Publishers, Red Sky Poetry Theatre, and Northwest Bookfest, and is Managing Editor of NAIL Magazine. Allison is an alumna of Antioch University Seattle, Seattle Central College, and the Pennsylvania Governor's School for the Arts.
When she's not reading, Allison is scoping out the newest indie ice cream shops in Western Washington.
Alix Wilber is a writer and nonprofit arts professional in Seattle, Washington. Her novel, The Wives’ Tale (W.W. Norton), won the 1992 Governor’s Writing Award. A short story, "Romance Languages," was adapted for theater by Book-It in 1995. In addition, she has co-produced two documentary films (Voices in Wartime, and Beyond Wartime, 2004). In addition to fiction, Alix has published essays, articles and book reviews in publications including The Christian Science Monitor, The New York Times, and The Seattle Times. She was also lead writer on two Microsoft CD-ROM products (remember those?): Ancient Lands and Dogs (yes, Dogs). She is a former literary editor at Amazon, and was Program Director at Richard Hugo House from 2006 to 2011.
Following graduation from Syracuse University with a B.A. in English, Alix spent four years in the Peace Corps teaching English as a foreign language, first in Morocco and then Senegal. Among her claims to fame is getting deported from fourteen African airports in two days. She received her Masters in Teaching from the School for International Training in 1988. She is currently the Grants and Communications Officer at the University of Washington’s presenting arts organization, the UW World Series. She lives in Seattle with her husband and two dogs.
A former writer-in-residence for the Richard Hugo House and past editor of Real Change newspaper, Bob's credits also include creating and producing the guerilla haiku installation SLUG, the theater project Fringe the Puyallup!, the New Orleans-Seattle arts exchange Bilocal, and the visual arts (and conservation) project Flight Path. As an arts presenter, Bob co-founded the Seattle Poetry Festival, curated literary and other arts programs for Bumbershoot (2004-2009), and was Program Director at Town Hall Seattle.
Bob holds a BA from Georgetown University in English Literature, and was a Rhodes Scholarship finalist for Washington State in 1989. He was the founder of the non-profit The Common Acre, which works to synthesize arts and agriculture, and is the immediate past board president at Seattle City of Literature. He currently runs the small business Urban Bee Company.
Colin was born and raised in Wickenburg, Arizona, before moving to Seattle in 2004. He graduated from Northern Arizona University in 2003 with a Bachelors Degree in Electronic Media and held positions as a Research Assistant for the Arizona State Senate, radio personality in South Bend, Indiana, and janitor in Seattle. He received a Graduate Certificate in Editing from the University of Washington and has been a freelance writer and editor since 2006. Colin is currently an educator and received an MFA in Creative Writing and Poetics from the University of Washington, Bothell.
JC Sevcik holds degrees in writing from Emerson and Goddard College. As a digital journalist, he’s covered US News for the Daily Dot and United Press International and likes to write about social justice, the surveillance state, same-sex marriage, gender equity, the legalization of marijuana, politics, protestors, and the police behaving badly. His work has also appeared in the Stranger. He’s currently finishing his first book, a memoir about his experience in the troubled teen industry.