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Center Staff and Contact Information

Founding Director / Virginia G. Piper Endowed Chair
Jewell Parker Rhodes

Jewell Parker RhodesDr. Jewell Parker Rhodes is the author of six novels: Voodoo Dreams, Magic City, Douglass' Women, Season, Moon, and Hurricane; a memoir, Porch Stories: A Grandmother's Guide to Happiness; and the children's novel, Ninth Ward.  She has also authored two writing guides: Free Within Ourselves: Fiction Lessons for Black Authors, and The African American Guide to Writing and Publishing Non-Fiction. Her play, Voodoo Dreams; was cited as "Most Innovative" Drama in the 2000-2001 Professional Theater Season by the Arizona Republic and she is currently at work on a theatrical version of Douglass' Women.  Her work has been published in Germany, Italy, Canada, Turkey, and the United Kingdom and reproduced in audio and for NPR's "Selected Shorts." Her literary awards include: a Yaddo Creative Writing Fellowship, the American Book Award, the National Endowment of the Arts Award in Fiction, the Black Caucus of the American Library Award for Literary Excellence, the PEN Oakland/Josephine Miles Award for Outstanding Writing, two Arizona Book Awards, a finalist citation for the Hurston-Wright Legacy Award, and a Coretta Scott King Honor Author Award. She received a Bachelor of Arts in Drama Criticism (Honors) a Master of Arts in English, and a Doctor of Arts in English (Creative Writing) from Carnegie-Mellon Universitty.

Click here to watch Jewell's Sept. 17, 2010 appearance on 'The Today Show'

Assistant Manager
Karen Sideris

Karen SiderisKaren Sideris joined the Virginia G. Piper Center for Creative Writing in June 2010. A former banker, she earned a bachelor's degree in management from Miami University and a MBA degree in finance from Wright State University. As a fiction writer and humorist, Karen is active in the local writing community. She is an exercise enthusiast, loves a great story and all things funny. She volunteers at the Arizona Museum for Youth and at Lowell Elementary School in the Phoenix Elementary School District.

Communication Coordinator
Tom McDermott

Tom McDermottTom McDermott joined the Piper Center for Creative Writing staff in August of 2007 after spending 17 years as sports information director at Southern New Hampshire University in Manchester, N.H. While at SNHU he was responsible for promoting the school's 15 intercollegiate athletic teams. While new to the arts community, he brings with him nearly two decades of communication and marketing experience, having also previously worked for Rochester (N.Y.) Institute of Technology and the Buffalo Bills of the National Football League. He is a native of Buffalo, New York and a graduate of SUNY-Brockport.

Publications Specialist / Managing Editor, Hayden's Ferry Review
Beth Staples

Beth StaplesBeth Staples received her MFA degree in fiction from Arizona State University in 2007, where she taught composition and creative writing before joining the Piper Center for Creative Writing staff as Publications Specialist and Managing Editor of Hayden's Ferry Review. Her work has appeared in The Portland Review and Phoebe. She likes to bowl, see live music, eat pickled things, play fantasy football and feed her fat cat, Starla.

Program Coordinator
Janet Pinhorn

Janet PinhornJanet Pinhorn joined the Virginia G. Piper Center for Creative Writing in June 2010. A Summa Cum Laude graduate of Arizona State University with a bachelor's degree in museum studies & writing certificate, she has established a strong background with Arizona non-profit organizations, coordinating their annual and special community events. In 2006, she joined the Changing Hands Bookstore events and marketing team and worked for two-year period organizing/facilitating author events, including locally self-published writers to a wide range of bestselling, internationally known authors. In her spare time, Janet’s passion is to record with the Arizona Braille and Talking Book Library, a cause that has been close to her heart over the past 10 years.

Program Coordinator for Global Engagement
Catherine Murray

Cate Murray is a second year MFA student in poetry at Arizona State University. Prior to joining the program she lived in the Mississippi Delta for two years where she worked as a 4th grade teacher as a member of Teach for America.  In addition to a semester studying abroad in Ghana, she has traveled extensively in 33 countries throughout Africa, Europe, Asia and Australia.