Staff

 

 

Noreen Tomassi | Executive Director

 

Noreen Tomassi became Director in 2004 and spearheaded the organization's transition from the Mercantile Library, a small membership library, to The Center for Fiction, a nationally known literary center, and its relocation to its dazzling new building in Brooklyn She came to the Center from Arts International where she worked for 16 years, first as a program director, then as associate director, and then as director. Prior to that she directed the Literature and Theater programs at NJSCA and she began her career in Play Development at McCarter Theatre in Princeton. Her books include American Visions/Visiones de las Americas: Artistic & Cultural Identity in the Americas and she was co-creator, with Jane Alexander and Birgitta Trommler, of What of the Night, a play based on the life and work of Djuna Barnes that was premiered by MCC at the Lucille Lortel in 2005. She earned her BA at Skidmore College.

 


 

Kristin Henley | Managing Director

 

Kristin Henley spent several years working at nonprofits and in the publishing industry before joining the staff of The Center for Fiction in 2006. She has worked on events, programs, and the website for the Center, and is now Managing Director. She received her MFA in poetry from Columbia University. She likes to take credit for the fact that so many poets have been hired at The Center for Fiction. 

 


 

 


 

Allison Escoto | Head Librarian

 

New Yorker by way of New Orleans, Allison Escoto received her BA in Creative Writing from SUNY New Paltz and closed out the 90s as a bookseller in Greenwich Village. After several years in publishing, she pursued and received her MLS from Queens College. Since then she has worked as a librarian for 15 years in various libraries in and around NYC and has been moonlighting as a poet and copywriter. She is the Associate Editor for Newtown Literary Journal, a publication dedicated to featuring writers from her beloved Queens. 

 


 

 


 

Linda Morgan | Development Director

 

Linda has recently come to the Center for Fiction from PEN America, where she was the director of planning & development for 13 years.  She particularly enjoyed working with PEN World Voices, the international writers’ festival, founded by Salman Rushdie in 2005. Prior to that, she served as the managing director of development at WNYC New York Public Radio for 12 years and before that as planning & development director for the French-American Foundation. That position came about as a result of coordinating international conferences and at Harvard University for such professors as Lawrence Wylie, author of Village inthe Vaucluse and Beaux Gestes: A Guide to French Body Talk.

 


 


Melanie McNair | Director of Public Programming

 

Melanie McNair is a writer who first found her love for the literary world at Malaprop’s Bookstore/Cafe in her home town of Asheville, NC. In her first iteration as a New Yorker, she worked in the director's office at the Brooklyn Museum and discovered the magic that is The Center for Fiction in a writing workshop at the old midtown location. After a hiatus from the city to earn her MFA from Rutgers University and spend some time with family in NC, she is thrilled to call Brooklyn home again.

 


 

Thierry Kehou | Writing Programs Manager

 

Thierry Kehou is a writer and literary translator shaped by his Cameroonian, American, and French upbringing. He earned his BA in Individualized Study focused on Africana and French Studies from New York University’s Gallatin School. After teaching in New York City public schools for several years, he was awarded a Fulbright to teach English in La Courneuve, France. A fluent French speaker, he is a founding member of Harlem’s New York French American Charter School. He received his MFA in Creative Writing from Rutgers University Newark. After six years away from Brooklyn, he is happy to call the borough home again.

 


 

Carla Cain-Walther | PR & Marketing Manager 

 

Prior to joining the Center for Fiction, Carla Cain-Walther held several marketing and digital media roles at a variety of companies, including a victims’ rights law firm and a private online community for women. She earned her BA in English Lit from Williams College, completing a fiction thesis under the advisement of Jim Shepard. Born in NJ, raised in PA and now living in Brooklyn, Carla has zero plans to leave the east coast. 

 


 

Benjamin Rybeck | Bookstore Manager

  

Benjamin Rybeck comes to the Center for Fiction from Brazos Bookstore (in Houston), where he worked for five years, first as marketing/events director, then as general manager. Prior to that, he taught writing at the University of Arizona, where he also received his MFA. His writing has received special mention in The Best American Nonrequired Reading and The Pushcart Prize Anthology, and his work appears in Electric Literature, Guernica, Houston Chronicle, Kirkus Reviews, Lit Hub, Ninth Letter, The Rumpus, The Seattle Review, The Texas Observer, and elsewhere. In 2016, Unnamed Press published his debut novel, The Sadness.

 


 

Riley Rennhack | Assistant Bookstore Manager

 

Riley Rennhack has worked at the finest bookstores around New York City. She is a freelance fiction reviewer for Kirkus Reviews. She majored in Spanish at NYU and loves works in translation, poetry and works from indie presses. She runs a book club out of her house, and is currently a volunteer literacy educator. She has been studying for her MLIS at Queens College. She is from Texas. 

 


 

Samantha Lust | Cafe Manager

 

Samantha Lust is a liberal arts alum of Sarah Lawrence College with concentrations in Digital Storytelling and Foreign Language. Since then, she’s gained operations experience in the film, fashion, and food industries. With plans of eventually opening a cafe and event space in her home state of Mississippi, she focused learning theo food business and was appointed to general manager roles of two Brooklyn cafes: Joyce Bakeshop and Blue Marble Ice Cream. At both locations she planned events for writer/reader events with Sweet Reads and Ice Cream Books. She aims to build a vibe of creativity, learning, and fun in The Center for Fiction's first cafe.

 


 

Matt Kafoury | Webmaster and Graphic Designer

 

Matt Kafoury received his B.A. in Communication from Trinity University, a small liberal arts university in San Antonio, Texas. After graduating, he taught English at an elementary school in Madrid, Spain for one year before relocating to Portland for a career in graphic and web design. After four years of designing in Portland, he relocated to Brooklyn and joined the Center. Matt is an avid reader, filmgoer, and doodler.

 


 

Jenny Park | Administrative Assistant

 

Jenny Park is a graduate of CUNY Hunter College, having studied Linguistics and Comparative Literature. An avid fiction reader, she spent a stint at Strand Bookstore and knew the only progression forward was to the Center. She aspires to be a writer and hopes her work can exceed the luster of Carrie Bradshaw's.

 

 


 

Iris Mahan | Development Associate

 

Iris Mahan is a writer with the head of a development specialist and the heart of a poet. She received her BA in English from the University of Tennessee in Chattanooga and her MFA from Adelphi University, where she was the recipient of the Robert Muroff Scholarship in Creative Writing. She is the co-founder of Village of Crickets, an online literary community that hosts readings, panels, and literary events in New York City, and the co-editor of the anthology Women of Resistance: Poems for a New Feminism from O/R Books. 

 


 

Karie Schulenburg | Assistant Librarian

 

Karie Schulenburg landed in New York City after spending her 20s in and out of Michigan working and studying in Alaska, Korea, and Europe. With previous experience working in nonprofits, publishing houses, and teaching English, she combined these industries and started working in libraries four years ago. She has two bachelor degrees in English Literature and Classical Studies from Calvin University and an MLIS from Indiana University.

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