Director Karen Schubert co-founded Lit Youngstown in 2015. She holds a B.A. in Professional Writing & Editing and an M.A. in English from Youngstown State, and an M.F.A. in creative writing with an emphasis in poetry from the Northeast Ohio Master of Fine Arts (Cleveland State). She is the author of The Compost Reader and five chapbooks, and her poetry, fiction, creative nonfiction, reviews and interviews have been published in AGNI Online, Diode, Apple Valley Review, American Literary Review and many others. She has taught in numerous academic and community settings, and her awards include an Ohio Arts Council Individual Excellence Award and residencies at Headlands Center for the Arts and Vermont Studio Center.



Outreach Coordinator, Cassandra Lawton is a student in the Northeast Ohio Master of Fine Arts program. She received her bachelor’s in Human Development and Family Studies and her master’s in Social Work from Michigan State University. Her career goal is to bring creative writing and its healing effects into therapeutic and community spaces, with a focus on expressive therapy and community outreach. She has served as the Assistant Editor and Editor-In-Chief of Jenny Magazine. She has flash fiction published or forthcoming in Bridge: The Bluffton Literary Journal and Rubbertop Review, nonfiction published in Entropy, and poetry published in Volney Road Review.



Melanie Murphy, incoming Outreach Coordinator at Lit Youngstown, holds an M.F.A. with a concentration in poetry from Northeast Ohio Master of Fine Arts (Kent State). Her service writing experience includes time spent at an assisted living center facilitating the creation of works celebrating the lives of the residents, including those living with Alzheimer’s. During her time in the NEOMFA she taught College Writing courses at Kent State and has since taught courses at a community college. Her poetry has been published in Cutthroat Journal of the Arts, Bordersenses a Bilingual Literary Journal, and the anthology The Chronicles of Eve (UK).



Development Coordinator Katelyn Urs earned her B.A. in English with a minor in creative writing at Youngstown State University. During her undergraduate career, she served as a writing intern at the Youngstown Jewish Community Center. There, she helped her clients undergo narrative therapy as she developed their personal stories into chapter books. She also worked as a writing consultant and student tutor at YSU’s Writing Center. Now, she is pursuing an M.A. in English on the professional and technical writing track at YSU. She currently enjoys copyediting for Jenny Magazine, leading workshops at the YSU English Festival, and crafting her own creative works. 

Board of Directors



Sarah Davis earned an MFA with a focus on fiction through the Northeast Ohio Master of Fine Arts program. She loves all things creative and has expanded her writing interests to focus on both fiction and tabletop games. In addition to unannounced projects, she’s contributed work in the anthology Latinx Screams, as well as the Pathfinder sourcebook, Lost Omens: The Mwangi Expanse. In her free time, she also enjoys picking up crafting and sewing projects.



Tricia D’Avignon (Board Chair) received her Bachelor of Fine Arts emphasis in Photography from Youngstown State University and her Masters in Urban Planning Design and Development from Cleveland State University. Currently, she works locally as an urban planner. She enjoys visiting other rustbelt cities with a group called Rustbelt Young Urban Preservationists to explore new cities, learn about their history, and photograph historic structures. Tricia spends her free time working on house projects, attending arts and music events, and volunteering with the Handels Neighborhood Association and Mill Creek Metro Parks.



Quincy Flowers is a writer, who lives in Brooklyn, NY. He holds graduate degrees from creative writing programs at the University of Houston and NYU, where he received a New York Times Fellowship. Awards include a grant from the Ludwig-Vogelstein Foundation and a residency at the Headlands Center for the Arts. His work has been published in Renaissance Noire, and Kehinde Wiley: A New Republic, and performed on stage at The Bushwick Starr and The Public Theater. Motivated to fill the void experienced during stay-at-home health and safety measures in September 2020, he cofounded at Louis Place, an independent online writing community for artists, musicians, filmmakers, activists, and others who write for pleasure, liberation, and rigor. 



RW Franklin lives in Northeast Ohio with her spoiled cat (Gus), loyal dog (Lily), and incredibly supportive husband. Her writing has appeared in Noctua Review, The Elevation Review, Jenny Magazine, and Five:2:One Magazine's #thesideshow. She was runner up in Lit Youngstown’s 2019 Short Short Fiction Contest. Since 2020, she has been leading the writing club at the Davis Family YMCA where all are welcome, no membership or fee is required. Visit her website at to learn more or to connect.



Liz Hill (Co-treasurer) is a writer and spiritual director who has led workshops in creative process, discovering authentic voice, storytelling, and un-journaling. She has a masters in non-profit management from Regis University, and has held leadership positions in a number of book-related non-profits in her previous home, Denver Colorado. She coordinated the Youngstown Stories project which culminated in publication of the book Phenomenal Women: Twelve Youngstown Stories.



Anthony Manna is a retired professor from Kent State University where he taught children’s literature, young adult literature, writing, and educational drama and served as a co-director of Kent State’s National Writing Project. A recipient of Kent State University’s Distinguished Teaching Award and the International Literacy Associations’s Arbuthnot Award for outstanding university teaching, he has taught in schools and universities in Turkey, Greece, Albania, and the US. Manna established and  co-directed the Virginia Hamilton Conference on multicultural literature for youth. Manna is a former member of the executive board and former director of publications and editor for the Children’s Literature Association. He is co-author of  award-winning picture books—Mr. Semolina-Semolinus: A Greek Folktale and The Orphan: A Cinderella Story from Greece—and the collection Folktales from Greece: A Treasury of Delights. His illustrated middle grade fantasy—Loukas and the Game of Chance—was a 2019 Book Excellence Award Finalist and 2020 eLit Awards Gold Medal Winner.


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Barbara Marie Minney, a native of West Virginia, is a transgender woman, award-winning poet, writer, and quiet activist. Her work has appeared in numerous anthologies and publications, including Politico and The Buckeye Flame.  Barbara also wrote the introduction to the 2021 Akron Pride Festival Guide. Barbara’s first collection of poetry, If There’s No Heaven, was the winner of the 2020 Poetry Is Life Book Award and was selected by the Akron Beacon Journal as a Best Northeast Ohio Book in 2020. Barbara is a retired attorney and lives in Tallmadge, Ohio,
with her wife of over 40 years.



Jeffrey Murphy (Co-treasurer) received his B.S. in Physics from Youngstown State in 1999 and his Juris Doctor from Cleveland-Marshall College of Law in 2021. Jeff has had his poetry published in Last Call: An Anthology of Beer, Wine & Spirits Poetry and legal papers published in the Cleveland State Law Review and the Georgia Journal of International and Comparative Law.



Mary Ozbolt holds a BA in AYA Language Arts and English from the University of Akron, and an MFA in Creative Writing with a focus on Poetry from the NEOMFA program through the University of Akron. She is a two-time recipient of the Sam Ella Dukes Memorial Prize in Poetry, and recieved a scholarship for the Juniper Summer Writing Institute in 2022. Mary has been published in Ashbelt, The Bind, and Wingles Dreamer's anthology, Field of Black Roses. She worked as Poetry Editor for Rubbertop Review, served as president for the Society of Akron Graduate English Scholars, and taught English Composition at the University of Akron during her MFA. She has a son named Walter and two cats. 



Penny Wells was born in Dallas, graduated from Brown University, and taught in Youngstown City Schools for over 35 years. In 2009, she created the nonprofit Mahoning Valley Sojourn to the Past, which takes high school students to the Civil Rights sites in the South where they visit historical sites, meet leaders of the Civil Rights Movement and learn the lessons of the Movement. They return home with an action plan to implement in their schools and community. These students were able to get the Ohio General Assembly to pass their Ohio Nonviolence Week bill into law in 2013. They organized the First Annual Nonviolence Parade and Rally in downtown Youngstown. There are now a full week of activities during Nonviolence Week, which is the first full week in October every year.

Advisory Council


Cynthia Atkins, Christopher Barzak, Jan Beatty, Jill Christman, Teri Ellen Cross Davis, Jeanne Dutton, Matt Forrest Esenwine, Mike Geither, David Giffels, David Hassler, Jon Kerstetter, Jacqui Lipton, Phil Memmer, Philip Metres, Craig Paulenich, Bonnie Proudfoot, Judith Vollmer, Janet Wong