Board, Staff, & Volunteer Assistants
Board of Directors
Andrea is poet, writer and a long-time friend of the Guild Complex. She has been a part of the Chicago poetry community for over 20 years. Her work has been published in a number of poetry magazines, journals and included in such poetry anthologies from Tia Chucha Press as Powerlines and Stray Bullets. Her poetry was also included in the 2001 Steppenwolf Theatre production, Words on Fire. A hometown girl, born and raised in Chicago, much of her poetry is inspired by her experiences growing up in the city. Other influences range from the classic poetry of Browning, to Pablo Neruda, to poets from the Harlem Renaissance and the beat poets of the ‘60s. A graduate from Northwestern University, she is still learning and is constantly fascinated by the great voices she hears at local area poetry readings. She is mother to one son, Phillip and Sasha, the dog. Still an active member of the poetry and arts community, she currently resides in Rogers Park.
Andrea’s first Guild event was when a friend invited her to see Sterling Plumpp at the book store. “I’d never been to a poetry reading in a book store before so it was quite a novelty Sterling Plumpp was amazing and right away I was hooked. But my favorite memory is of days when I would meet at a cafe, usually a place called the Why Not? Cafe, and sitting with Mike Warr (Guild founding Director), Rohan Preston, Quraysh Ali Lansana (former staff and Board) and my son, Phillip, in tow. They weren’t just these intellectual giants of Chicago Poetry, they were also just guys who never made me feel uncomfortable or left me out of the conversation always treated me like an equal. So many good conversations, I always walked away feeling enriched.”
Reginald Gibbons, Vice President
Reg, one of the co-founders of The Guild Complex, is the author of nine books of poems and two chapbooks, a novel, a number of edited books, other books, and many essays about poetry. He has also published translations of Spanish and Mexican poetry and of ancient Greek tragedy. In the 80s and 90s, he was the editor of TriQuarterly magazine, and he has long been a member of the faculty at Northwestern University and in the MFA Program for Writers at Warren Wilson College.
Among the many great GC moments he remembers with special pleasure and pride are the reading by Gwendolyn Brooks, the reading/performance of writer John Edgar Wideman and harmonica player Sugar Blue, the 10th-anniversary gala at the then Chicago History Museum, and readings by Grace Paley, Eduardo Galeano, the reading by Angela Jackson and Carolyn Rodgers, and an evening when, as part of the program, several adult students from a literacy program read their first compositions in English, on how they came to America. Well… and also the TriQuarterly/Guild readings with piano performance by Bethany Pickens in the 1990s, the great benefit with Alex Kotlowitz and Steve James in 2010, the two International Writers Exchanges, and many more memorable events. (reginaldgibbons.northwestern.edu)
Vesna Neskow, Treasurer
Vesna has been a Guild board member since 2010 and is the author of six travel guidebooks on Paris, Rome, London, Florence & Tuscany, and New York. She writes museum audio tours and has written TV scripts and documentaries that have aired on PBS, A&E, The Disney Channel, and RAI-2 TV Rome. Her short stories have been published in Paris, Milan, and Athens and she has written reviews for The New York Times Book Review. She has served as translator for Galatée Films in Paris.
Michael Puican, Secretary
Mike has had his poetry published in journals such as: Poetry, Michigan Quarterly Review, New England Review, Another Chicago Magazine, Malahat Review and The Bloomsbury Review, among others. Mike was a member of the 1996 Chicago Slam Team. He regularly writes book reviews for Another Chicago Magazine and TriQuarterly.
Mike has been a board member since 2005 and has been board president since 2009. For more than 15 years the Guild Complex has been instrumental to Mike’s development as a poet. The first performance poetry event he ever attended was a Guild Complex event at the Hot House on Milwaukee Ave. It blew both his socks and the top off his head off. He left that event with a strong desire to explore writing poetry. The first time he was a featured reader happened a couple of years later at the same Guild Complex series. Later, his chapbook, 30 Seconds, was chosen as the winner of the Tia Chucha Chapbook contest in 2004. Mike feels a real indebtedness to the Guild Complex and strives to work with the organization to help other emerging writers in similar ways.
Debbie Carlson, Marketing Committee Chair
Debbie is an award-winning journalist who has been published internationally. She has written for newspapers, newswires, magazines and websites including Reuters, the Wall Street Journal, Barron’s, Kitco News and SFO Magazine. She has won awards for feature writing from the Illinois Press Association and for spearheading a series of articles on water from the North American Agricultural Journalists Association, in addition to other awards. Debbie has also spoken publically on business topics for the Midwest Press Institute and to agricultural groups in Sao Paulo. She was chosen to attend the International Women’s Media Foundation leadership conference in 2008. A graduate of Eastern Illinois University, she is working on her first novel.
Debbie briefly discovered the Guild Complex in the late-1990s, but became reacquainted with the group during a BYOP (Bring Your Own People) event and loved how the Guild is trying to connect with writers of all genres and backgrounds to unite literary artists across Chicago.
Andrea Baird, Director
Andrea is the Marketing Manager for Triumph Books, where she specializes in author tours and promotions. She received her B.A. from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, with a focus in fiction, screenwriting, and journalism, and her Master’s in Writing and Publishing from DePaul University. She has experience as a columnist, fashion blogger, social media consultant, publicist, brand supervisor, and served as the Editor-in-Chief of DePaul’s literary and arts journal, Threshold. She first got acquainted with the Guild during her time serving as their original Marketing Director in 2010.
Rosellen Brown, Director
Rosellen has published ten books – novels, short stories, poetry, essays – and has lived in almost as many places – New York, Boston, San Francisco, Mississippi, New Hampshire, Texas and, currently, Chicago. Half a dozen of her stories have appeared in the annual prize collections (O. Henry, Best American, and Pushcart) and one was chosen by John Updike for his Best American Storiesof the Century anthology. One of her novels, Before and After, was translated into 23 languages and became a movie starring Meryl Streep and Liam Neeson. She has been on the faculty of the MFA in Writing Program at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago since 1997 and for many summers led the Spoleto Writers’ Workshop in Umbria, Italy. From 1965-67 she taught at Tougaloo College in Mississippi; in 1976 served on the faculty of the first low-residency writing program, at Goddard College in Vermont; taught at Boston University and the University of Michigan and, from 1982-95, at the University of Houston. Brown’s awards have included two National Endowment for the Arts fellowships, a Guggenheim fellowship, a National Council on the Arts award for Some Deaths in the Delta and other poems, the Great Lakes College Association prize for best first novel for The Autobiography of My Mother, Ingram-Merrill and Howard Foundation grants, the Janet Kafka best novel award for Civil Wars. She was named a Ms. Magazine Woman of the Year in 1984 and in 1987 received a literature award from the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters.
One of Rosellen’s first experiences with the Guild was as a participant on a panel about writing as a socially committed artist. She also took part in two lively and well-attended public conversations with visitors from the University of Iowa International Writers’ Workshop who, through fascinating accounts of their lives as writers in diverse and sometimes difficult circumstances, put our own conditions in perspective.
Susana Darwin, Director
Susana is a lifelong activist who has served as the secretary of the Guild Complex board and president of West Andersonville neighborhood association and the Lesbian and Gay Bar Association of Chicago. She is currently co-chair of the Executive Committee of the Alliance of Bar Associations for Judicial Screening, which evaluates candidates for the Cook County bench. She trained as a lawyer but has spent her career in publishing in various editorial and management roles. She is now executive editor for the Business Law Section of the American Bar Association. Her short narrative film “Hatboxes” is making the rounds on the film festival circuit.
Darwin got acquainted with the Guild Complex and its unique position in Chicago’s literary scene in 2007, when she was recruited to join the planning committee for The Exchange. “The Exchange program brought together a group of overseas authors with several Chicago-based writers for a cozy salon-like conversation about the doing and being of writing in places like Moscow, Hong Kong, Cairo-and Chicago. It was a gem of a project: stimulating, thought-provoking, and just plain inspiring.”
Eric Charles May, Director
Eric is the author of the novel Bedrock Faith, which was named a Notable AfricanAmerican Title by Publishers Weekly, and a Top Ten Debut Novel for 2014 by Booklist Magazine. A 2015 recipient of the Chicago Public Library Foundation’s 21st Century Award and a former reporter for The Washington Post, May’s fiction has also appeared in Fish Stories, Solstice, Hypertext, Flyleaf Journal, F, and Criminal Class magazines. In addition to his Post reporting, his nonfiction has appeared in Sport Literate, Chicago Tribune, and the personal essay anthology Briefly Knocked Unconscious By A LowFlying Duck.
Lew Rosenbaum, Director
Lew is a founder of the Guild Literary Complex and an anchor in Chicago’s literary and activist community. He edits and publishes the Chicago Labor & Arts Notes e-mail newsletter. He has been employed as a garment worker, printer, social worker, and history teacher, but for most of his life he has been a bookseller, first at the path-breaking Midnight Special Books in Santa Monica, CA, then at the legendary Guild Books in Chicago. As the proprietor, Rosenbaum helped to seed Chicago’s present-day literary community decades ago by hosting numerous readings and meetings that gave rise to the Guild Literary Complex in 1989. After Guild Books closed he worked for 10 years at Barnes & Noble, and he had the distinction of having been fired for not pushing the workers to work hard enough. He has a degree in Biology and three years in medical school, with postgraduate education with California farm workers, health care workers in Cuba, studying philosophy with radicals at the Institute for the Study of the Science of Society, and working alongside Occupy activists. He writes on education and independent politics for The People’s Tribune newspaper.
L’Oreal Patrice Jackson, Director
L’Oreal is an Artist rooted in theatre, music, movement and writing. A queer, gender fluid and non-conforming black woman, L’Oreal was raised on the edge of poverty by a single working mother. “Growing up I watched my mother navigate unjust and often humiliating social systems in order to provide for our family. She always stressed the importance of education in order to establish a foundation for my future, and guided me towards the arts as a way to find expression.” L’Oreal grew up on the east coast and graduated from the Philadelphia High School for Creative and Performing Arts, where she studied creative writing. After High School L’Oreal moved to Chicago where she received her BFA in Acting from The Theatre School at DePaul University and began her career in arts education and youth development. Currently, L’Oreal lives in Los Angeles and works at CalArts as the Company Manager for the School of Theater. She also serves on the CalArts committee for equity and diversity and is the Staff Advisor for the CalArts Black Student Union. “My mission is to connect marginalized communities to educational, social and cultural resources that enrich and promote their voices.” L’Oreal is also a certified yoga teacher and serves as a youth leader for Soka Gakkai International, a lay Buddhist organization.“I believe in the unlimited capacity of humans being to create value no matter the circumstance. Thus, I’m not afraid to live in ambiguity and ask very difficult questions.” In general L’Oreal says she is passionate about “Almost everything”! But most often finds herself drawn to talk about sex, sexuality, gender, and race.
Ann Folwell Stanford, Director
Ann is Vincent DePaul Professor of Literary and Multi‐Disciplinary Studies at DePaul University’s School for New Learning in Chicago. Her scholarly book, Bodies in a Broken World: Women Novelists of Color and the Politics of Medicine, was published in 2003 and her co‐edited collection, Women, Writing and Prison: Writers, Activists and Scholars Speak Out, in 2014. She has also published poetry in JAMA, Michigan Quarterly Review, Borderlands, Southern Poetry Review, Blue Mesa Review and has poetry forthcoming in Slipstream and the Syracuse Cultural Workers Women Artists Datebook.. She lives in Chicago and Sarasota, FL.
M. Quinn Stifler, Director
M. Quinn Stifler holds a BA in Creative Writing and Gender Studies from DePaul University. In 2012, they co-founded No Assholes Literary Magazine, a quarterly journal highlighting underrepresented writers. Presently, Stifler is collaborating with Chicago’s Guild Literary Complex, aiming to assist exiled and refugee writers.
Lisa Wagner, Executive Director
Lisa Wagner is the Executive Director for the Guild Literary Complex, celebrating the presentation of literary arts as a means to challenge centralized narratives through the performance of language and the spoken word. With a background in nonprofit administration, publishing and editing, Lisa has worked on projects as diverse as The Egyptian Book of the Dead, Shakespeare and the Stars, and an illustrated children’s book on Dinosaurs filled with modern limericks. Having worked as the Managing Editor for Hotel Amerika, as the Acquisitions Manager and Development Editor for KWS Publishers, Partner at Intrinsic Books, Writing and Rhetoric Instructor, and as Research Assistant to writer Linda Hogan while also Directing Chicago’s Uptown Chamber of Commerce, Lisa continues working to forward the legacy of literature through education, production, book creation, and nonprofit arts administration with an emphasis on community, collaboration, and cultural disruption. Recently branching into her quiet passion: writing, she is completing her MFA in Creative NonFiction Writing at Columbia College Chicago, with particular attention paid to the longform and polemical essay. Utilizing her background in Art History and Religion, and MA in Critical Theory, Literature, and Women’s and Gender Studies from DePaul University, her work continues to focus on the political and historical elements of story and how those narratives shape contemporary and future thinking.
Christian Collado, Assistant to the Executive Director
Mary Hawley, Palabra Pura Coordinator
Noëlle Pouzar, Sister(hood) Program Coordinator
Timothy D. Rey, Spring Benefit Committee Chair
Joshua Corson, Reapplying Words Program Curator
Henry Dykstal, Development and Fundraising Assistant
Ayo La Daemon, Podcast, Sound Design, and Media Assistant
Alexa Michalow, Reapplying Words Program Curator
Blair Paddock, Annual Program and PR Assistant
[Interested in volunteering for the Guild Complex? Email email@example.com.]