Carmen GillespieCarmen Gillespie, Director (
Carmen Gillespie received her Ph.D. from Emory University, and is a Professor of English and the Director of the Griot Institute of Africana Studies. Her research, writing, and teaching interests are in American, African American, and Caribbean literatures and cultures and creative writing. || Read more about Carmen's teaching philosophy and her work with the Griot.

​CoCo Harris

CoCo Harris, Diversity Arts Consultant  (
CoCo Harris is a native of Atlanta, GA and has traversed the Nation's capital, Nigeria, West Africa, Seattle, WA, Louisville, KY, Coastal Georgia, and currently the Susquehanna Valley of Pennsylvania. She earned a B.S. in Electrical Engineering at Howard University, did graduate work in African Studies, and began her Intellectual Property Law career working for the Patent and Trademark Office while becoming a wife and a mother of three daughters. She later entered the US Patent Bar becoming a patent law professional representing individuals, firms, and corporations in the US and abroad.

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On the other side of her life, and brain, CoCo received her Master of Fine Arts in Writing in Fiction from Spalding University, and is a Zora Neale Huston/Richard Wright Foundation alumna. As a lifetime diarist, she is drawn to personal narratives. For years she has guided others with crafting personal narratives through creative writing workshops and various memoir projects.
She is the Founding Editor of Telling Our Stories Press, which is an imprint showcasing the art of short memoirs and personal narratives. Her published works include THE BRIDGE: A Companion Journal for Unearthing Personal Narratives; ROLL: A Collection of Personal Narratives; TURNS: A Collection of Memoir Chapbooks; SO LONG: Short Memoirs of Loss and Remembrance; IMPACT: An Anthology of Short Memoirs. Her most recent publication REVERIE: Ultra Short Memoirs; and REFLECTIONS: Ultra Short Narratives.

Her photography is showcased in juried exhibits and literary journals of shared images from her photo diary. Her nonfiction has been published in literary journals such as Blood Lotus, Anchor and Plume Press' Kindred, and Sun Star Review and The Raven's Perch. CoCo Harris is constantly exploring the notion of how we tell the stories of our lives across genres and art forms.

Tameka Thompson, Administrative Assistant (
Tameka is a native of Scranton, Pennsylvania. She received her B.A. in Anthropology and Africana Studies at the University of Pittsburgh and her M.S. in Higher Education Administration from Marywood University. She is a New York Knicks fan and enjoys anything outdoors, road trips, family time, and her pets.

Maria Velazquez, PostDoctoral Fellow (

Steven Belskie, Graduate Assistant (


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