Our Board

Our Board

I67A1466 Kate boy on floor

Kate Reuther (Ex Officio) 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 over 200 writing workshops, and championed the voices of more than 1,700 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 husband and two kids. (she/her/hers)


HK Dunston is an expert in digital product design and product management. She started working at a web design agency in the early days in 1995. Over the course of a 13-year consulting career she continued to focus on trends in online user experience, collaboration and communities. During this period she built and led the Experience Design team for Katzenback Partners.

HK then spent several years at Thomson Reuters as VP for Digital Communications, leading product stragy and operations for the company’s intranet, websites and social media. She’s currently consulting and supporting other mission-based organizations and recently earned a Master’s Degree in Urban Planning at Columbia. (she/her/hers)


Johanna Garcia is the Executive Director of the City College Partnership. With a streak for social justice and equality, she has long been involved in the community and political landscape of Washington Heights.

Johanna was recently appointed by the Manhattan Borough President to serve on the Community Education Council and was elected by her peers to serve as its President. While in her previous position as Chief of Staff at the City Council of New York, she enjoyed making sure that government worked for the people instead of the other way around. Hoping to give the community a bigger voice in government, Johanna co-founded and currently serves as President of the Uptown Community Democrats.

Johanna Garcia is a native of Washington Heights and daughter of Cuban immigrants. She is proud to be raising her children in the same neighborhood she grew up in. She is committed to helping public education give every child the opportunity to thrive. All three of her kids are alums of Uptown Stories. (she/her/hers)


Shelly Cornell has close to 20 years’ experience in individual, major and principal giving for NYC cultural institutions including American Ballet Theatre, the League of American Orchestras, and currently, WNET, the metro area’s public media provider and the country’s largest producer of PBS content. Her career highlights to date include raising the first major gifts for ABT’s public school program, Make-A-Ballet; advising volunteer development staff at community and youth orchestras nationwide; and most recently, securing lead funders for Films BYkids, a public television series that pairs aspiring documentarians aged 12–19 with established filmmakers including Ric Burns and the late Albert Maysles.

Shelly has lived in Upper Manhattan since 2001. She and her wife, Melanie, are the proud parents of Laura and Robert, who attended P.S. 187 in Washington Heights and Columbia Secondary School in Harlem. Shelly graduated from Smith College with a double major in English and History, and attended Trinity College, Oxford where she studied the poetry of T.S. Eliot. Shelly is a staunch believer in the power of storytelling to create understanding and build community. (she/her/hers)


See what parents, teachers and students have to say about Uptown Stories.