Joshua Wolf ShenkJoshua Wolf Shenk
Joshua Wolf Shenk
Executive Director

A journalist, essayist, editor, teacher, and literary innovator, Shenk brings to BMI experience in nearly every aspect of the world of letters. He is the author of the national bestseller Powers of Two: How Relationships Drive Creativity and the acclaimed Lincoln’s Melancholy. A founding advisor to The Moth storytelling series, Shenk served on the organization’s board of directors, where he played a lead role developing The Moth Radio Hour, now on nearly 400 stations worldwide. Shenk began his career at The New Republic, The Washington Monthly, and The Economist, and has written cover stories for Harper’s, The Atlantic, and Time. He has taught creative nonfiction at The New School, and served as the Director of The Rose O’Neill Literary House at Washington College in Maryland. He founded the Arts in Mind conversation series and the Erikson Prize in Mental Health Media. After studying literature and history at Harvard College, Josh Shenk went to work at The New Republic, where he worked with writers such as Michael Lewis, Michael Kinsley, and Andrew Sullivan. He spent several years at the helm of The Washington Monthly, where he edited contributors Paul Krugman, James Fallows, and Taylor Branch, among many others. His own essays have been published in Harper’s, The New York Times, and The Atlantic, which featured his 2009 cover story “What Makes Us Happy?” Shenk is the creator of the Erikson Prize for Mental Health Media and the director of Arts in Mind, a conversation series on the intersections of the arts and psychology. He has been a creative advisor to the executive director of Literary Arts in Portland, working to re-launch the Wordstock literary festival, and is the West Coast Representative of the MacDowell Colony’s Fellows Executive Committee.

Kelleen BraddockKelleen Braddock
Kellen Braddock
Deputy Director

With a lifelong passion for poetry, Kellen Braddock achieves her greatest sense of purpose and fulfillment when pushing the needle forward for literary organizations. Before moving to Las Vegas, she was the business and operations director for Hugo House, Seattle’s literary arts center. In her spare time, she also served as a commissioner for the Seattle Center, an ambassador for On the Boards, and a volunteer arts business clinic consultant.

While pursuing her MFA in Arts Leadership from Seattle University, Kellen was the finance and development director for a small press and independent literature festival called APRIL (or “Authors, Publishers, and Readers of Independent Literature”). Before that, she developed her arts administration chops while working for Shunpike, a nonprofit that supports small to midsized arts groups with all aspects of the “business of art.” As a fiscal sponsorship manager, she extended financial services, reviewed grants, and secured licenses, permits, and insurance for over 200 arts groups annually.

Kellen received her undergraduate degree in English from the University of Michigan, where she was the recipient of the Rapaport Prize, Cowden Fellowship, and the Hopwood Award for her poetry.

Michael UrsellMichael Ursell
Michael Ursell
Development Associate & Special Events Coordinator

Development Associate & Special Events Coordinator

Michael Ursell is a writer, educator, and digital strategist with a background in development. He worked at the Los Angeles Review of Books as a communications director and an editor for the nonprofit magazine's poetry section. He arrived at LARB after winning a competitive fellowship from the American Council of Learned Societies "Public Fellows" program. Michael holds a PhD in literature from the University of California, Santa Cruz, where he wrote about French and English Renaissance poetry and taught many classes, from Shakespeare to intro composition. His academic writing has appeared in publications including Studies in English Literature 1500-1900, Connotations, and The Princeton Encyclopedia of Poetry and Poetics.

Maile ChapmanMaile Chapman
Maile Chapman
Witness Editor
Assistant Professor of English, UNLV

Maile Chapman is the author of the novel Your Presence Is Requested at Suvanto, short listed for the Guardian First Book Award and a finalist for the PEN Center USA literary award in fiction. Her stories have appeared in A Public Space, Best American Fantasy Writing, Dublin Review, Boston Review, and GRANTA Online, among others. She received her MFA in Fiction from Syracuse University and a PhD in English from UNLV, and has recently been a fellow at the New York Public Library’s Dorothy and Lewis B. Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers.

Maritza WhiteMaritza White
Maritza White
Adminstrative Assistant

Maritza White is a former executive assistant with 7-Eleven Corporation, Mid Pacific Division/Las Vegas. She has also held various civil service positions with the Naval Surface Warfare Center, Port Hueneme, California, including executive office manager for the Office of Corporate Business, secretary for the Theater Air Defense Logistics Department, and secretary for the Fleet Liaison and Veterinary Services offices. She holds an AA in Business Administration.

Leia Penina WilsonLeia Penina Wilson
Leia Penina Wilson
BMI PhD Fellow

Leia Penina Wilson grew up in Kansas City and St. Joseph, Missouri. She has an MFA from the University of Alabama, and her poetry collection i built a boat with all the towels in your closet (and will let you drown) is forthcoming from Red Hen Press.

Maegan PolandMaegan Poland
Maegan Poland
BMI PhD Fellow

Maegan Poland holds a degree in film from the University of Southern California, as well as an MFA in fiction from the University of Mississippi, where she also served as the Managing Editor of Yalobusha Review. She received a Special Mention in the Pushcart Prize XL anthology for her story, “Spores,” which previously appeared in Pleiades.

Lorinda ToledoLorinda Toledo
Lorinda Toledo
BMI PhD Fellow

Lorinda Toledo grew up in Albuquerque, New Mexico. She has a BA in Print Journalism from the University of New Mexico, and an MFA in fiction from Antioch University Los Angeles, where she served as an Assistant Editor on the online literary journal Lunch Ticket. Her short stories have appeared in Drunk Monkeys and Uno Kudo, and she's currently at work on a novel.

Hannah AndrewsHanna Andrews
Hanna Andrews
BMI PhD Fellow

Hanna Andrews is the author of Slope Move and the co-founder and editor of the feminist press Switchback Books. She has formerly served as Content Editor at the Academy of American Poets, and was most recently the curator of the Dikeou Collection Literary Series in Denver. She holds an MFA from Columbia College Chicago and a BA from Sarah Lawrence College.

Joe Milan Jr.
Joe Milan Jr.
BMI PhD Fellow

Joe Milan Jr. is a writer who teaches. Most of his stories and essays take place in and around Seoul, South Korea where he lives. Wonderful places like The Kyoto Journal, LitroNy, Numero Cinq, and others have published his work. He graduated with a MFA from the Vermont College of Fine Arts and is currently at work on a novel about a Korean adoptee raised in a rural American trailer park who journeys to find his heritage. Instead he finds conscription, North Koreans, and spies.

Oscar Oswald
Oscar Oswald
BMI PhD Fellow

Oscar Oswald is from Santa Fe, New Mexico, by way of Little Rock, Arkansas. He is currently living in Portland, Oregon, where he reads books, listens to music, and writes poems. He also plays bass guitar in the spazz-thud band Graveshare. His poems have been published in Blackbox Manifold, The Colorado Review, Denver Quarterly, Lana Turner, Laurel Review, VOLT, and the Portland-based Weekday, among others. He earned his MFA from UNLV in 2012.

Dan Hernandez
Dan Hernandez
Managing Editor, Witness

Dan Hernandez is a journalist, essayist and fiction writer whose work has appeared in The Guardian, The New York Times, VICE, and The LA Review of Books. His reporting on marginalized communities won him the 2015 Richard J Margolis Award as a promising new writer. He has an MFA from UNLV and recently completed an artist residency at Blue Mountain Center in Adirondack Park.

Emeriti Founding Members
Carol C. HarterCarol C. Harter
Dr. Carol C. Harter

Dr. Carol C. Harter is the founding Executive Director of Black Mountain Institute and President Emerita of UNLV. Prior to becoming UNLV’s first woman and longest-serving president, Harter was president of the State University of New York (SUNY) at Geneseo for six years and spent almost nineteen years at Ohio University as a faculty member and administrator. A native of New York City, Harter earned her PhD at SUNY-Binghamton and has co-authored books on John Irving and E.L. Doctorow. She currently serves as Chair of BMI’s Advisory Board.

Richard WileyRichard Wiley
Richard Wiley

Richard Wiley is author of the novels Soldiers In Hiding, winner of the PEN/Faulkner Award for best American fiction, Fools' Gold, Festival for Three Thousand Maidens, Indigo, and Ahmed's Revenge. His most recent novel, The Book of Important Moments, was published by Dzanc Books in 2013. Wiley was a member of the UNLV English Department faculty from 1989 to 2015 and cofounded UNLV’s graduate Creative Writing Program. His website is

Alumni PhD Fellows
Aurora BrackettAurora Brackett
Aurora Brackett
BMI PhD Fellow

Aurora Brackett's fiction and poetry has appeared in Nimrod Quarterly, Eleven Eleven, The Portland Review, Fourteen Hills and other magazines. She was an associate editor of Hope Deferred: Narratives of Zimbabwean Lives published by Voice of Witness/McSweeney's in 2010 and in South Africa under the title Don’t Listen to What I'm About to Say. She has an MFA in fiction from San Francisco State University where she received the Wilner Award for Short Fiction and the San Francisco Browning Society Prize.

Olivia ClareOlivia Clare
Olivia Clare
BMI PhD Fellow

Olivia Clare is the author of a book of a poems, The 26-Hour Day (New Issues, 2015). A short story collection, Disasters in the First World, and novel are forthcoming from Grove Atlantic. Her poems have appeared in Poetry, Southern Review, Notre Dame Review, London Magazine, and other journals. Short stories have appeared in journals including Southern Review, Yale Review, Kenyon Review Online, Granta, and Ecotone. Her awards for poetry include the Olive B. O’Connor Fellowship at Colgate University and the Ruth Lilly Fellowship from the Poetry Foundation. For her fiction, she’s received an O. Henry Award and a 2014 Rona Jaffe Foundation Writer’s Award.

Brett FinlaysonBrett Finlayson
Brett Finlayson
BMI PhD Fellow

Brett Finlayson was born in Bridgeport, Connecticut, and received his MFA from Syracuse University, where he served as editor of Salt Hill. His stories have appeared in Beloit Fiction Journal, KNOCK, New Delta Review, The Offending Adam, Stone Canoe and Third Coast.

Derek PollardDerek Pollard
Derek Pollard
BMI PhD Fellow

Derek Pollard is co–author with Derek Henderson of the book Inconsequentia (BlazeVOX). His poems, creative non–fiction, and reviews appear in American Book Review, Colorado Review, Court Green, Diagram III, H_ngm_n, Pleiades, and Six–Word Memoirs on Love & Heartbreak, among numerous other anthologies and journals. He is Assistant Editor at Barrow Street, Inc., and is on faculty at Pratt Institute and at the Downtown Writer’s Center in Syracuse, New York.