Board of Directors

Lit Youngstown’s Director:

Karen Schubert is a Northeast Ohio Master of Fine Arts grad, the author of The Compost Reader (Accents Publishing, 2020) and five chapbooks, most recently Dear Youngstown (NightBalletPress 2019). Her poetry and creative nonfiction have been published in numerous journals including Postcards Poems & Prose, Best American Poetry Online, Grist: A Journal of the Literary Arts, Rat’s Ass Review and Lake Effect Poetry (Edith Chase Symposium). Her awards include an Ohio Arts Council Individual Excellence Award and residencies at Headlands Center for the Arts and Vermont Studio Center. She’s been dreaming up Lit Youngstown for a few years and is thrilled over how much we’ve been able to do in such a short time.

Lit Youngstown’s Board of Directors:

Elaine Arvan Andrews (2019) is the Assistant Director of Academic Affairs and Associate Teaching Professor in English at Penn State University, Shenango Campus, in Sharon, Pennsylvania. She is also serving as President of the College English Association in 2019-2020. She has published scholarly and creative writing on a variety of subjects, including Charlotte Bronte.

Tricia D’Avignon (2019) 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.

Cherise Benton (2019) loves plants, food, and language, and shares these loves with as many people as possible. She does cooking demonstrations at farmers markets throughout Northeast Ohio and Western Pennsylvania, volunteers at local farms and in community gardens around Youngstown, and participates in Lit Youngstown, YSU English Festival, and SMARTS events as often as possible. Cherise writes recipes, poems, and creative nonfiction, and hopes to become an audiobook narrator.

Timothy Francisco (2019) is Professor of English and Director of The Center for Working Class Studies at Youngstown State University. He earned his Ph.D. in English from The University of Alabama where he was awarded a Hudson Research Strode Fellowship in Renaissance Studies and a Mellon Fellowship in Critical Pluralism. His research interests include working-class studies, Shakespeare and early modern drama, intersections of literary and political cultures, public policy and inequity in higher education, literary theory and the critical turn, and queer studies. He teaches early British literature, Shakespeare, early modern literature, and working-class literature.

Liz Hill (Cofounder, Treasurer) (2015) 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.

Courtney Kensinger (2018) is a promotions editor and photographer at WFMJ-TV. During her time at YSU she helped create the YSU Film Club. Courtney is currently working on a non-digital interactive zine about childhood and emotional growth. When she is not crafting musical numbers in her head about clam chowder, she is googling “affect VS. effect.”

Nicole DiPiero (2019) works for the Public Library of Youngstown and Mahoning County where she is a head clerk, union delegate, and sometimes plays the Library’s mascot. Nicole likes to bake, hike in Mill Creek Park, read, watch movies, and spend time with her family and friends and her two dogs, Spazz and Louise.

Nicole Robinson (2016) is the author of a chapbook of poems, The Slop of Giving in, The Melt of Letting Go (2008). She holds a MFA in poetry from Ashland University, and her recent poems have appeared in Artful Dodge, Great River Review, The Louisville Review, The Pittsburgh Poetry Review, The Tahoma Literary Review, and elsewhere. She was awarded an Ohio Arts Council Individual Excellence Award for her poetry in 2016. Robinson is the former assistant director of the Wick Poetry Center at Kent State University where she also taught. Currently, she is a writer in residence at Akron Children’s Hospital where she leads creative writing workshops for patients, families, and staff under the auspices of the Emily Cooper Welty Expressive Therapy Center.

Liz Skeels (2018) is a visual artist, and lover of the literary arts.  She is currently a senior at YSU working towards a BFA in Interdisciplinary Studio Art with concentrations on sculpture and painting.  Her work has won many awards including most recently the Alexander Family Award at the 2018 SAA Student Art Show at the McDonough Museum of Art, and the Art Committee Award at the 2018 Youngstown YWCA’s 36th Women Artists: A Celebration! Her paintings have sold to many private and public collections. She is mom to three daughters, and has been told she is a quality paper shoe maker.

Penny Wells (2019) 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.