About us


Kate Reuther

Kate Reuther is the founder and director of Uptown Stories with the mission of providing young writers the chance to discover and develop their inner voices. Over the past ten years, Uptown Stories has offered nearly 200 writing workshops, and championed the voices of more than 1,500 kids in Manhattan’s uptown neighborhoods. Before Uptown Stories, Kate taught middle and high school Humanities for over 25 years, in both public and private schools, including the Tompkins Square Middle School, Calhoun, Fieldston, and Bank Street. Her own fiction has appeared in The Madison Review, Brain Child, Salamander, and The Ledge. Kate is a life-long New Yorker and has been living in Washington Heights since 2003 with her two kids. (she/her/hers)

Dorkys Ramos

Dorkys Ramos is the deputy director for Uptown Stories. She is a bilingual writer, editor, artist, and teacher born-and-raised in Washington Heights/Inwood. Her work has appeared in a variety of digital and print publications, including Travel + Leisure, BET.com, Time Out New York Kids, Parents Latina, the Syracuse Post-Standard, and the Manhattan Times, among others. She currently teaches writing and art to elementary, middle school, and high school students in Washington Heights and Inwood and is part of the steering committee for the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators’ metro chapter. She’s a graduate of Syracuse University’s S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications where she studied Magazine, Newspaper, and Online Journalism and is also the founder and illustrator of stationery company Porcupine Hugs. (she/her/hers)


Melanie Thibeault is the director of marketing and operations for Uptown Stories. She likes rules, guidelines and procedures, especially when they’re applied all at the same time. She also likes skateboarding and surfing, though she can do neither. Melanie lives in Washington Heights, but would consider moving to the Bronx to be a zookeeper. (she/her/hers)

Jack Chen

Jack Chen is currently a third-year student at Vassar College majoring in Economics. He helps out part-time at Uptown Stories, where he spends much of his time managing the organization’s new Airtable database and frantically scheduling social media posts for the upcoming week. In his free time, he likes to watch animated films, play trivia games, learn how to cook and do crossword puzzles. (he/him/his)

Daniel Ortega-Venni

Daniel Ortega-Venni is a recent graduate from Columbia University, where he majored in Creative Writing and Computer Science-Mathematics. He currently works part-time at Uptown Stories, assisting with grant-writing and the “It’s Your Thing” workshop. In his spare time, he can be found writing, listening to epic orchestral music, playing The Sims, or obsessively petting his cats. (he/him/his)

Njoli Brown

Njoli Brown is a teacher, activist, public speaker, martial artist and explorer. Njoli has worked designing youth development programs both internationally and domestically for over 20 years and obtained his Master’s in Education from Antioch University New England. He is a teacher of pedagogy and facilitator of programs with a passion for engaging community in the process of discovery. As a freelance writer, Njoli integrates his dedication to restorative practices in the generation of works pointedly introspective and connectively extrospective. His passion for martial arts, backpacking and travel are integral to his world view and the grounding of his work. (he/him/his)

Cozbi Cabrera

Cozbi A. Cabrera paints, illustrates children’s books, quilts, and designs clothing. Trained as an art director, this Parsons School of Design grad left her dream job creating music packaging in NY to make handmade collectible cloth dolls (Muñecas) in honor of her Honduran heritage. Her dolls have been featured on the Oprah Winfrey Show, Martha Stewart Living, and many US networks. She was artist in residence at Lincoln Center/Manny Cantor Center, conducting a collaborative quiltmaking project with culturally and generationally diverse residents of the Lower East Side, NY (2017-18). Cozbi’s illustrated titles include: Beauty Her Basket; Thanks A Million; Stitchin’ and Pullin’ A Gees Bend Quilt; Most Loved in All the World and Exquisite: The Poetry and Life of Gwendolyn Brooks. She authored and illustrated My Hair Is A Garden and Me and Mama. More at Cozbi.com(she/her/hers)

Shamie Cuthbert

Shamie Cuthbert is a teacher, writer, and local mom. After teaching creative writing workshops for about a decade, she attended Bank Street College of Education, where she received a Master’s in Early Childhood and General Education. She has been teaching in New York City independent schools for the past five years. Passionate about both teaching and writing, her main focus is to enhance the natural creative abilities of children, while facilitating the development of skills and strategies to execute ideas. As a freelance writer, Shamie has published several social perspective pieces for the independent publication, Circle Magazine. She is currently working on a collection of New York City based short stories for children. (she/her/hers)

Stacy Davidowitz – Headshot – Final

Stacy Davidowitz is a proud Washington Heights-based author and playwright. Her star-reviewed novel, The Chance to Fly, coauthored by Tony Award-winning actress Ali Stroker, was named a best children’s book of the year by Amazon, Chicago Public Library, Parents, and Bank Street College of Education. It was also selected by the National Education Association as a featured title for Read Across America. Its sequel Cut Loose! is set for publication in fall 2023. Stacy is best known for her four-book Camp Rolling Hills series, inspired by her coauthored Camp Rolling Hills the Musical, which continues to have productions across the country. She is also the author of the Hanazuki chapter-book series based on Hasbro’s YouTube series. Stacy has written award-winning plays that have been produced regionally and internationally, and are published by Broadway Play Publishing, Stage Rights, and YouthPLAYS. When she is not writing, she teaches creative writing and musical theater. She is a proud graduate of Tufts University and Columbia University, where she earned degrees in drama, psychology, and acting. Catch her running around the neighborhood with her twin boys, and learn the latest at stacydavidowitz.com and on Instagram @stacydavidowitzbooks. (she/her/hers)

Zetta Elliott

Zetta Elliott is the author of over thirty books for young readers, including the award-winning picture books Bird and Melena’s Jubilee. Her urban fantasy novel, Ship of Souls, was named a Booklist Top Ten Sci-fi/Fantasy Title for Youth. Dragons in a Bag, a middle grade fantasy novel, was named an American Library Association Notable Children’s Book and has been nominated for Young Reader’s Choice Awards in seven states. The sequel, The Dragon Thief, was named one of the best books of 2019 by the Cooperative Children’s Book Center. Her poetry has been published in several anthologies, including Show Us Your PapersWe Rise, We Resist, We Raise Our Voices and New Daughters of Africa; her young adult poetry collection, Say Her Name, was named a 2020 “Best of the Best” title by the Black Caucus of the American Library Association. Her latest picture book, A Place Inside of Me, was named an ALA Notable Book and a Notable Poetry Book by the National Council of Teachers of English. Elliott is an advocate for greater diversity and equity in children’s literature; her essays have appeared in The Huffington PostSchool Library Journal, and Publishers Weekly. She currently lives in Evanston, IL. (she/her/hers)

CJ Gardella

CJ Gardella is living the filmmaker’s dream. Since graduating from School of Visual Arts (2005), he’s worked as a producer assistant at Robert Altman’s Sandcastle 5 Productions and later as an assistant to director Noah Baumbach, then went on to make his first feature film Shunka (2011) which won the Kodak Vision Award for cinematography and Spirit of Slamdance Sparky audience award. he completed a short film Elegy (2017) which has garnered four awards since it began its festival run in 2017, which includes the Nitehawk Film Festival, the Night Terrors Film Fest, and Shorts on Tap. (he/him/his)

Jane LeCroy

Jane LeCroy is a poet, performance artist and educator who fronts the band The Icebergs and was a part of Sister Spit, the famed west coast women’s poetry troupe. Since 1997 Jane has been publishing student work and teaching writing, literature and performance to all ages through artist-in-the-schools organizations such as Teachers & Writers Collaborative and DreamYard, and as adjunct faculty at the university level. Her poetry book, Names was published by Booklyn as part of the award winning ABC chapbook series, purchased by the Library of Congress along with her braid!  Signature Play, her multimedia book from Three Rooms Press, features a poem that was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. (she/her/hers)

tess picture 2 – Tess Michaelson

Tess Michaelson is a writer, interdisciplinary artist, and teacher based in New York. Tess earned her undergraduate degree in English from Stanford University in 2018 and recently graduated from Columbia University’s Nonfiction Writing Program with a Master in Fine Arts. She writes about dance, books, and ideas. (she/her/hers)

B Sharise Moore

B. Sharise Moore is a New Jersey native and graduate of Rutgers University. Moore’s poems and short stories have appeared in several anthologies and journals including For Harriet, Chosen Realities: Summer 2020 and Fiyah Literary Magazine. At present, she is an educator, the host of Moore Books with B. Sharise on YouTube, and the poetry editor at Fiyah Literary Magazine. Her YA magical realism novel, “Dr. Marvellus Djinn’s Odd Scholars” is set for an early 2021 release. For more about B. Sharise Moore, visit bsharisemoore.com (she/her/hers)

daveroman2022crop – Dave Roman

Dave Roman is the author/illustrator of the Astronaut Academy series and writer of the graphic novel Teen Boat! Race for Boatlantis (with John Patrick Green). He teaches at the School of Visual Arts, is a former editor at Nickelodeon Magazine, and is currently the editor for First Second’s Science Comics and History Comics ongoing series of nonfiction graphic novels. He draws a webcomic called Pup & Duck, lives in NYC, and is always on the lookout for the perfect waffle.

Mimi Shelton

Mx. Mimi Shelton is a black, queer, gender non-binary educator who has lived in Washington Heights for the past three years and is originally from Louisa County, Virginia. For the past four years, they have taught Humanities, specifically Middle School English, at independent schools and non-profit programs in Philadelphia as well as Riverdale Country School and The TEAK Fellowship in New York City. Mimi received their Master’s of Science in Education from the University of Pennsylvania and their BA from the College of William and Mary. Their pedagogy, research, and facilitation emphasizes diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging for underrepresented students and faculty at all levels of education. In addition to teaching, Mimi works part time as an executive assistant for the Bronx-based LGBTQ center, Destination Tomorrow, and they serve on GLSEN’s National Educator Advisory Committee outside of the classroom. Their publications include a blog post for GLSEN entitled 4 Ways You Can Support Black, Queer, Trans & GNC Educators Today (2019) and a written contribution within Charity-Hudley, Dickter, and Franz’s (2017) The Indispensable Guide to Undergraduate Research: Success in and Beyond College(they/them/their)


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