Black Writers Collective

Our Team

Jessica Murphy

Jess Murphy

Community Director

Jessica “Jess” Murphy is a technical writer and a freelance creative writer with a lifelong passion for writing, speaking, and community enrichment and engagement. Her passion for writing emerged in her teens as she navigated the tribulations of teen parenting. She’s equally passionate about public speaking and sharing her experiences and insight through both written and spoken forms. She has co-hosted a thought-provoking iTunes podcast, engaging listeners on Christian and life topics, and will serve as hostess of the Black Writers Collective’s podcast and Clubhouse channel launching in 2021. Jess seeks to create more avenues for people to be more fearless in expressing their truths, both within BWC and beyond. 

La'Cole Martin

Community Leader

La’Cole Martin is an educator and native of Oakland, CA. La’Cole started her career as an English teacher for the Oakland Unified School District in 2006, and over the past 14 years, has worked in various capacities for nonprofits throughout Oakland, primarily coordinating educational programs for African American children and families. In 2011 La’Cole became a professor of African American Studies at Laney College, where she had the pleasure of serving students from all over the Bay Area until 2018.

As a scholar of Africana Studies, La’Cole has an extensive background writing about the historical, social, cultural, political and psychological, lived experiences of Black Americans. La’Cole is currently writing her first book—a memoir about the social-emotional trauma of crack cocaine on Black families and communities–with hopes of publication in 2021. Thus, it is La’Cole’s mission as an educator to use storytelling not just as a means for teaching, but as a guide to healing. La’Cole received her B.A. in African American Studies from the University of California, Berkeley and a M.A. in Ethnic Studies with an emphasis in Africana Studies from San Francisco State University.

Sherian Brown

Sherian Brown

Community Leader & Editor

Sherian Brown has written two novels and has edited several types of fiction, nonfiction, and other creative writing projects for nearly 20 years. When she’s not engrossed in editing her latest project, she enjoys reading, yoga, and traveling. She has a Master of Science in Cardiopulmonary Science and a Bachelor of Science in Biology. A freelance copyeditor with WordWiser Ink, Sherian edits medical, nonfiction, and fiction projects. 

Denise Matthews

Denise Matthews

Community Leader

Denise Matthews possesses a lifelong passion for writing. Her journalistic and creative work has been featured throughout the U.S. in trade publications, magazines, and newspapers, as well as broadcast, print, and social media-based advertising campaigns. Three months shy of her 49th birthday, Denise walked away from a lucrative career in the corporate world to indulge her literary, musical, and global travel aspirations and hasn’t looked back. She is also a past managing editor of Arizona Black Pages, Nevada Black Pages, and AZJazz magazines. A closet comedian at heart, Denise enjoys entertaining others with the tall tales she now captures on paper. She also writes memoir and personal essays on topics ranging from her family history to racism, sexual harassment, and colorism. Denise holds a B.S. degree in Business Administration from the University of Southern California, and now studies the craft of creative writing. She resides in Mesa, Arizona, and plans to publish several collections of her short stories.
Kim Bibbs

Kimberly Bibbs

Community Leader

Kimberly Bibbs is an author from Houston, TX, who writes to take people to another world. She knows she was born to write. She has dreamed of becoming an author for as long as she can remember, starting back in elementary school. She published her first book in 2013, Haters and Chasers, a fiction book about women with unconventional business plans. She also writes and edits academic literature. She enjoys collaborating with writers in person or via web meetings. Kimberly is an avid reader and enjoys reading both nonfiction and fiction. Her goal is to help other writers turn their manuscripts into books.

Shameyka McCalman

Shameyka McCalman

Community Leader & Freelance Writer

Shameyka McCalman approaches every opportunity to write as a way to intricately craft together thought-provoking and envelope-pushing phases and ideas for her readers. This freelance writer is a wordsmith who normally highlights fashion, art, and creatives of color in her work. Since earning her Communications degree from the University of Massachusetts Boston, she has assisted various communications teams with content creation and PR strategies. Currently, Shameyka splits her time between Boston and New York City where she enjoys vintage shopping, attending local plays, and exploring the latest exhibitions on view.
Shaundale Rénā

Shaundale Rénā

Community Leader & Editor

Shaundale Rénā is an American author and entrepreneur who holds a bachelor’s degree in Computer Information Systems from Grambling State University and a certification in technical writing from the University of Texas at Arlington. She is the author of one published book entitled Once Broken, Now Blessed (2009), as well as a contributing author for two additional publications that include If Only I Knew Then What I Know Now (2017), which debuted at #16 on Amazon Self-Help/Self-Esteem, and My Story, My Journey: Collateral Beauty (2019). She enjoys reading, writing, and traveling.

Darlene Burnett

Community Leader

A native of New York City, Darlene is a writer and an elementary school teacher with a B.S. degree in education. While working as a teacher she made a commitment to manage her two loves, teaching and writing.

She is presently writing her first fiction novel. Darlene is also co-authoring a narrative nonfiction. Her collection of writing consists of essays and short stories in the genres of fiction and nonfiction. Many of her nonfiction pieces offer her views on race and issues affecting women. Darlene is a devoted investor in her craft with a tangible vision of publishing and sharing her prose.

Desiree Winns

Desireé Winns

Social media-Twitter

Desireé Winns is a screenwriter and college student with dreams of becoming a lawyer and TV writer. Her scripts often consist of magic realism, with modern everyday black people in fantastical situations relevant to their culture and experience. These screenplays have been recognized by the National YoungArts Foundation, Screencraft Fellowship, BlueCat Screenplay Competition, and more. She currently runs the storiesfortheculture.net website for up-and-coming filmmakers and screenwriters of color. Her goals are to go to law school, become an Air Force JAG, provide mentorship, internships, and legal advice for screenwriters, and eventually write her own shows for television. She is now in her third year of undergrad at the University of Central Florida, studying political science and mass media.

Kyra Barr

Brandy Patton

Founder | Director

Tia Ross - Founder, Director Emeritus, Entrepreneur

Tia Ross

Founder | DIRECTOR | editor | webmistress

Chief creative ninja and entrepreneur Tia Ross is known for her contributions to the Black writers and editors communities. For nearly three decades since creating the first iteration of Black Writers™ Collective in 1996, Tia has supported these communities in countless ways, all borne from her lifelong affinity for Black writers.

In addition to serving as Director of BWC, Tia is a habitual entrepreneur and the founder of the renowned Black Writers Reunion & Conference in 2000, through which she produced seven conferences. She’s co-founder of Writeful Places luxury writers retreats and programs and founder of The Editors Retreat, the first retreat getaway for editors of the written word, both of which she hosts in top destinations around the globeTia further consults as a business event and group travel strategist through her firm Boss Events & Travel, where she produces and organizes conferences and retreats such as the Editorial Freelancers Association conference and EAST Retreats comprehensive training programs for entrepreneurs, authors, speakers, and trainers.

At the same time, Tia remains firmly rooted in her first and greatest passion as a sought-after freelance copyeditor. Tia has been polishing the written words of fiction and nonfiction authors, playwrights, screenwriters, attorneys, coaches, and others since 1995. She is the founder of WordWiser Ink, a boutique copyediting firm with a team of elite editors and proofreaders, although she continues to serve clients under her own brand as Tia Ross, Editor. She also supports fellow editors through forming both a network, Black Editors Network, a place for Black editors to fellowship and find leads and resources, and a directory, Black Editors & Proofreaders Directory, which lists a dozen or so vetted freelance professional editors that perform developmental, substantive, academic, and other types of editing along with copyediting and proofreading. Additionally, Tia is mentor and coach to numerous aspiring and beginner editors. She is currently finalizing a book called So You Wanna Be an Editor…But Can You Edit? to be published in 2021.

Tia lives near Houston, Texas, where she enjoys cycling, yoga, and quick flights to the Caribbean and Central America. She has an AAS in Computer Information Technology—Software & Database Programming, an AA in General Studies—Professional & Technical Writing, and a BS in Information Science & Technology. To learn more about Tia, her events, and her other companies, visit www.tiaross.com.

Advisors

Dr. Venise Berry

Dr. Venise Berry

Advisor

Venise Berry is an associate professor of Journalism and African American Studies at the University of Iowa in Iowa City. Berry is published widely in academic and creative circles with books, short stories, journal articles and book chapters. Her academic research focuses on media, African Americans and popular culture. She is the author of three national bestselling novels, with a fourth to be published in 2022, and recipient of an Iowa History Makers Award from the African American Museum in Cedar Rapids Iowa. In 2003, she received the “Creative Contribution to Literature” award for Colored Sugar Water from the Zora Neale Hurston Society. All of Me received a 2001 Honor Book Award from the Black Caucus of the American Library Association.

Dr. Anita Heiss

Dr. Anita Heiss

Advisor

Professor Anita Heiss is the award-winning author of non-fiction, historical fiction, commercial women’s fiction, children’s novels and travel articles. She is a proud member of the Wiradjuri Nation of central New South Wales, an Ambassador for the Indigenous Literacy Foundation, the GO Foundation and Worawa Aboriginal College. Her adult fiction includes Not Meeting Mr Right, Avoiding Mr Right, Manhattan Dreaming, Paris Dreaming and Tiddas. Her most recent books include Barbed Wire and Cherry Blossoms which was longlisted for the Dublin International Literary Prize and was named the University of Canberra’s 2020 Book of the Year.

As an advocate for Indigenous literacy, Anita has worked in remote communities as a role model and encouraging young Indigenous Australians to write their own stories. Anita is a board member of the State Library of Queensland, the University of Queensland Press and Circa. Anita is a Professor of Communications at the University of QLD and artist in residence at La Boite Theatre, adapting her novel Tiddas for the stage.

Anita enjoys eating chocolate, running half-marathons and being a ‘creative disruptor’.

Partners

Rekesha Pittman

Rekesha Pittman

Partner

Affectionately known as “The Midwife,” Rekesha Pittman has successfully trained hundreds of authors to publish worldwide. Through the use of innovative strategies, step-by-step instruction and personal coaching, Rekesha’s courses continue to explode in popularity each year. As an established author of multiple books, newspaper columnist, public speaker and innovative trainer, she has inspired thousands of people to turn their unique talents into treasure. 

Rekesha currently helms Get Write Publishing, which includes an elective-style publishing university for business owners, corporate managers, organizational leaders and anyone with a message that needs to be spread. In 2020, she launched EAST Global, LLC for development and expansion of entrepreneur-author-speaker-trainers. She also partners with Tia Ross to offer luxury writers retreats in exotic destinations worldwide through Writeful Places LLC.

delmetria millener

delmetria millener

Partner

Literary activist, high school English teacher, literary commentator, freelance writer, and founder of #TeenWritersProject and #BrownTeensRead, delmetria millener understands the historical and cultural impact that literacy can have on teens.  

Now, as an English teacher, millener also recognizes that teens have become disconnected from the generational pride that writing, reading, social and cultural literacy fostered. Her organizations use using writing opportunities, book clubs and literary-themed social events to reconnect teens to literacy and give them back the responsibility of storytelling that they are obligated to write.

#TeenWritersProject

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Now Accepting Proposals from Presenters and Speakers! Speak to Us!

Our Team

Jessica Murphy

Jess Murphy

Community Director

Jessica “Jess” Murphy is a technical writer and a freelance creative writer with a lifelong passion for writing, speaking, and community enrichment and engagement. Her passion for writing emerged in her teens as she navigated the tribulations of teen parenting. She’s equally passionate about public speaking and sharing her experiences and insight through both written and spoken forms. She has co-hosted a thought-provoking iTunes podcast, engaging listeners on Christian and life topics, and will serve as hostess of the Black Writers Collective’s podcast and Clubhouse channel launching in 2021. Jess seeks to create more avenues for people to be more fearless in expressing their truths, both within BWC and beyond. 

La'Cole Martin

Community Leader

La’Cole Martin is an educator and native of Oakland, CA. La’Cole started her career as an English teacher for the Oakland Unified School District in 2006, and over the past 14 years, has worked in various capacities for nonprofits throughout Oakland, primarily coordinating educational programs for African American children and families. In 2011 La’Cole became a professor of African American Studies at Laney College, where she had the pleasure of serving students from all over the Bay Area until 2018.

As a scholar of Africana Studies, La’Cole has an extensive background writing about the historical, social, cultural, political and psychological, lived experiences of Black Americans. La’Cole is currently writing her first book—a memoir about the social-emotional trauma of crack cocaine on Black families and communities–with hopes of publication in 2021. Thus, it is La’Cole’s mission as an educator to use storytelling not just as a means for teaching, but as a guide to healing. La’Cole received her B.A. in African American Studies from the University of California, Berkeley and a M.A. in Ethnic Studies with an emphasis in Africana Studies from San Francisco State University.

Sherian Brown

Sherian Brown

Community Leader & Editor

Sherian Brown has written two novels and has edited several types of fiction, nonfiction, and other creative writing projects for nearly 20 years. When she’s not engrossed in editing her latest project, she enjoys reading, yoga, and traveling. She has a Master of Science in Cardiopulmonary Science and a Bachelor of Science in Biology. A freelance copyeditor with WordWiser Ink, Sherian edits medical, nonfiction, and fiction projects. 

Denise Matthews

Denise Matthews

Community Leader

Denise Matthews possesses a lifelong passion for writing. Her journalistic and creative work has been featured throughout the U.S. in trade publications, magazines, and newspapers, as well as broadcast, print, and social media-based advertising campaigns. Three months shy of her 49th birthday, Denise walked away from a lucrative career in the corporate world to indulge her literary, musical, and global travel aspirations and hasn’t looked back. She is also a past managing editor of Arizona Black Pages, Nevada Black Pages, and AZJazz magazines. A closet comedian at heart, Denise enjoys entertaining others with the tall tales she now captures on paper. She also writes memoir and personal essays on topics ranging from her family history to racism, sexual harassment, and colorism. Denise holds a B.S. degree in Business Administration from the University of Southern California, and now studies the craft of creative writing. She resides in Mesa, Arizona, and plans to publish several collections of her short stories.
Kim Bibbs

Kimberly Bibbs

Community Leader

Kimberly Bibbs is an author from Houston, TX, who writes to take people to another world. She knows she was born to write. She has dreamed of becoming an author for as long as she can remember, starting back in elementary school. She published her first book in 2013, Haters and Chasers, a fiction book about women with unconventional business plans. She also writes and edits academic literature. She enjoys collaborating with writers in person or via web meetings. Kimberly is an avid reader and enjoys reading both nonfiction and fiction. Her goal is to help other writers turn their manuscripts into books.

Shameyka McCalman

Shameyka McCalman

Community Leader & Freelance Writer

Shameyka McCalman approaches every opportunity to write as a way to intricately craft together thought-provoking and envelope-pushing phases and ideas for her readers. This freelance writer is a wordsmith who normally highlights fashion, art, and creatives of color in her work. Since earning her Communications degree from the University of Massachusetts Boston, she has assisted various communications teams with content creation and PR strategies. Currently, Shameyka splits her time between Boston and New York City where she enjoys vintage shopping, attending local plays, and exploring the latest exhibitions on view.
Shaundale Rénā

Shaundale Rénā

Community Leader & Editor

Shaundale Rénā is an American author and entrepreneur who holds a bachelor’s degree in Computer Information Systems from Grambling State University and a certification in technical writing from the University of Texas at Arlington. She is the author of one published book entitled Once Broken, Now Blessed (2009), as well as a contributing author for two additional publications that include If Only I Knew Then What I Know Now (2017), which debuted at #16 on Amazon Self-Help/Self-Esteem, and My Story, My Journey: Collateral Beauty (2019). She enjoys reading, writing, and traveling.

Darlene Burnett

Community Leader

A native of New York City, Darlene is a writer and an elementary school teacher with a B.S. degree in education. While working as a teacher she made a commitment to manage her two loves, teaching and writing.

She is presently writing her first fiction novel. Darlene is also co-authoring a narrative nonfiction. Her collection of writing consists of essays and short stories in the genres of fiction and nonfiction. Many of her nonfiction pieces offer her views on race and issues affecting women. Darlene is a devoted investor in her craft with a tangible vision of publishing and sharing her prose.

Desiree Winns

Desireé Winns

Social media-Twitter

Desireé Winns is a screenwriter and college student with dreams of becoming a lawyer and TV writer. Her scripts often consist of magic realism, with modern everyday black people in fantastical situations relevant to their culture and experience. These screenplays have been recognized by the National YoungArts Foundation, Screencraft Fellowship, BlueCat Screenplay Competition, and more. She currently runs the storiesfortheculture.net website for up-and-coming filmmakers and screenwriters of color. Her goals are to go to law school, become an Air Force JAG, provide mentorship, internships, and legal advice for screenwriters, and eventually write her own shows for television. She is now in her third year of undergrad at the University of Central Florida, studying political science and mass media.

Kyra Barr

Brandy Patton

Founder | Director

Tia Ross - Founder, Director Emeritus, Entrepreneur

Tia Ross

Founder | DIRECTOR | editor | webmistress

Chief creative ninja and entrepreneur Tia Ross is known for her contributions to the Black writers and editors communities. For nearly three decades since creating the first iteration of Black Writers™ Collective in 1996, Tia has supported these communities in countless ways, all borne from her lifelong affinity for Black writers.

In addition to serving as Director of BWC, Tia is a habitual entrepreneur and the founder of the renowned Black Writers Reunion & Conference in 2000, through which she produced seven conferences. She’s co-founder of Writeful Places luxury writers retreats and programs and founder of The Editors Retreat, the first retreat getaway for editors of the written word, both of which she hosts in top destinations around the globeTia further consults as a business event and group travel strategist through her firm Boss Events & Travel, where she produces and organizes conferences and retreats such as the Editorial Freelancers Association conference and EAST Retreats comprehensive training programs for entrepreneurs, authors, speakers, and trainers.

At the same time, Tia remains firmly rooted in her first and greatest passion as a sought-after freelance copyeditor. Tia has been polishing the written words of fiction and nonfiction authors, playwrights, screenwriters, attorneys, coaches, and others since 1995. She is the founder of WordWiser Ink, a boutique copyediting firm with a team of elite editors and proofreaders, although she continues to serve clients under her own brand as Tia Ross, Editor. She also supports fellow editors through forming both a network, Black Editors Network, a place for Black editors to fellowship and find leads and resources, and a directory, Black Editors & Proofreaders Directory, which lists a dozen or so vetted freelance professional editors that perform developmental, substantive, academic, and other types of editing along with copyediting and proofreading. Additionally, Tia is mentor and coach to numerous aspiring and beginner editors. She is currently finalizing a book called So You Wanna Be an Editor…But Can You Edit? to be published in 2021.

Tia lives near Houston, Texas, where she enjoys cycling, yoga, and quick flights to the Caribbean and Central America. She has an AAS in Computer Information Technology—Software & Database Programming, an AA in General Studies—Professional & Technical Writing, and a BS in Information Science & Technology. To learn more about Tia, her events, and her other companies, visit www.tiaross.com.

Advisors

Dr. Venise Berry

Dr. Venise Berry

Advisor

Venise Berry is an associate professor of Journalism and African American Studies at the University of Iowa in Iowa City. Berry is published widely in academic and creative circles with books, short stories, journal articles and book chapters. Her academic research focuses on media, African Americans and popular culture. She is the author of three national bestselling novels, with a fourth to be published in 2022, and recipient of an Iowa History Makers Award from the African American Museum in Cedar Rapids Iowa. In 2003, she received the “Creative Contribution to Literature” award for Colored Sugar Water from the Zora Neale Hurston Society. All of Me received a 2001 Honor Book Award from the Black Caucus of the American Library Association.

Dr. Anita Heiss

Dr. Anita Heiss

Advisor

Professor Anita Heiss is the award-winning author of non-fiction, historical fiction, commercial women’s fiction, children’s novels and travel articles. She is a proud member of the Wiradjuri Nation of central New South Wales, an Ambassador for the Indigenous Literacy Foundation, the GO Foundation and Worawa Aboriginal College. Her adult fiction includes Not Meeting Mr Right, Avoiding Mr Right, Manhattan Dreaming, Paris Dreaming and Tiddas. Her most recent books include Barbed Wire and Cherry Blossoms which was longlisted for the Dublin International Literary Prize and was named the University of Canberra’s 2020 Book of the Year.

As an advocate for Indigenous literacy, Anita has worked in remote communities as a role model and encouraging young Indigenous Australians to write their own stories. Anita is a board member of the State Library of Queensland, the University of Queensland Press and Circa. Anita is a Professor of Communications at the University of QLD and artist in residence at La Boite Theatre, adapting her novel Tiddas for the stage.

Anita enjoys eating chocolate, running half-marathons and being a ‘creative disruptor’.

Partners

Rekesha Pittman

Rekesha Pittman

Partner

Affectionately known as “The Midwife,” Rekesha Pittman has successfully trained hundreds of authors to publish worldwide. Through the use of innovative strategies, step-by-step instruction and personal coaching, Rekesha’s courses continue to explode in popularity each year. As an established author of multiple books, newspaper columnist, public speaker and innovative trainer, she has inspired thousands of people to turn their unique talents into treasure. 

Rekesha currently helms Get Write Publishing, which includes an elective-style publishing university for business owners, corporate managers, organizational leaders and anyone with a message that needs to be spread. In 2020, she launched EAST Global, LLC for development and expansion of entrepreneur-author-speaker-trainers. She also partners with Tia Ross to offer luxury writers retreats in exotic destinations worldwide through Writeful Places LLC.

delmetria millener

delmetria millener

Partner

Literary activist, high school English teacher, literary commentator, freelance writer, and founder of #TeenWritersProject and #BrownTeensRead, delmetria millener understands the historical and cultural impact that literacy can have on teens.  

Now, as an English teacher, millener also recognizes that teens have become disconnected from the generational pride that writing, reading, social and cultural literacy fostered. Her organizations use using writing opportunities, book clubs and literary-themed social events to reconnect teens to literacy and give them back the responsibility of storytelling that they are obligated to write.

#TeenWritersProject
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