Executive Director: Tree Swenson
Tree Swenson became executive director of Hugo House in 2012, after ten years as executive director of the Academy of American Poets in New York. She co-founded Copper Canyon Press and was executive director there for twenty years, publishing poets including Nobel Laureates and Pulitzer Prize winners, and garnering numerous book awards. Tree also served as director of programs at the Massachusetts Cultural Council and is a former board president of the Association of Writers and Writing Programs.
Development Manager: Donna Ma
Donna Ma is a writer and development professional with a background in public relations. Previously, she was the development officer at the Wing Luke Museum of the Asian Pacific American Experience. She freelances for the Arts, Etc section of the International Examiner and enjoys volunteering for the Seattle International Film Festival in her spare time.
Facilities, Technology, & Production Management: Michael Hayes
Michael White Hayes calls Hugo House home after years spent wandering the film and theatrical wilderness. He keeps everything in the House humming smoothly and has slowly been upgrading many of the facilities and technical capabilities of the classrooms, performance spaces, and administrative areas. Michael is a sound designer who won the Gypsy Rose Lee award in 2013, and he runs Tin Can Studio with his dancer wife Kendra. His black pug Brutus is a common fixture at the House.
Education Programs & Organizational Management: Laura Scott
Laura Scott is a writer and administrator. She’s contributed to Monkeybicycle and Vice Magazine, and she was an editor at CutBank Literary Magazine and an assistant editor for two books in the McSweeney’s Voice of Witness series. She holds an MA from New York University and an MFA from the University of Montana.
Marketing & Program Coordination: Kristen Steenbeeke
Kristen Steenbeeke graduated in 2012 from the University of Washington with a BA in creative writing. She spent six months in 2011 as the blog intern for Hugo House and has been a devotee since. Her poems have appeared in Pacifica Literary Review and Mare Nostrum. In her spare time, she enjoys writing, playing the musical saw, and copyediting billboards.
Finance & Organizational Strategy: Zac Raasch
Zac Raasch graduated from the University of Washington with a double major in creative writing and entrepreneurship. He is the author of The MS Children’s Book, a charity children’s book written to explain Multiple Sclerosis to children whose family members have the disease, and his literary works have appeared in Mare Nostrum. Outside of work and writing, he enjoys swing dancing, soccer, and a myriad of nerdy activities.
Member, Student, & Youth Services: Sarah León
Sarah León recently graduated from The University of Texas at Austin with an MFA in poetry and is new to the PNW. The rest of her life was spent in Phoenix, Arizona, where she spent nearly ten years in community advocacy work for underserved youth and families. When not walking or writing, she is probably either baking, camping, or beating her boyfriend at Gin Rummy (and losing at pool). Sarah's poems have recently appeared in ILK and Forklift, Ohio.
Events Curator: Brian McGuigan
Brian McGuigan was the full time program director at Hugo House until July 2013, when he transitioned to a quarter-time position to finish a book – based on his piece that was featured on Salon. In 2010, Brian was shortlisted for The Stranger’s Genius Award in Literature, and in 2011, City Arts Magazine selected him as one of the Power 50 Culturemakers in Seattle. Spankstra Press published his chapbook of poetry, More Than I Left Behind.
Events Curator: Peter Mountford
Peter Mountford is the 2013-14 Writer-in-Residence at Hugo House, where he began curating events in 2013. He has also taught at Hugo House often in the last six years. Peter's first novel A Young Man's Guide To Late Capitalism won the Washington State Book Award, and his second novel The Dismal Science will be out from Tin House Books in 2014. His work has appeared in The Atlantic Monthly, Best New American Voices 2008, Granta, Slate, Boston Review, Salon, and Conjunctions.
Youth Programs: Becky Berryhill
Becky Berryhill grew up in the vibrant arts and music culture of Olympia, and intends to never stray further than an epic bicycle ride away from Seattle. Becky has been working with middle and high school aged youth since 2006, designing curriculum and facilitating programs focused on everything from environmental restoration and social justice to sex education, songwriting, and bicycle maintenance. Becky plays music and performs in several bands, including an acoustic pop band and riot grrrl group.
Arts Administration Intern: Claire Woodard
Accountant: Steve Haugen
Bookkeeper: Beth Carroll
Front Desk Staff: Elisa Chavez, Matthew Spencer, & Mary Thompson
Cafe Staff: Jake Ynzunza & Heidi Biggs
Social Media Volunteer: Sarah Salcedo Samudre
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Gary Gigot (President) is a Seattle area marketing/technology investor and professional. Additionally, he is actively involved in philanthropic work, having started the Out of Rain Homelessness Initiative at United Way and sitting on the Mendoza College of Business Advisory Council at Notre Dame and on the advisory board on Notre Dame's Innovation Park. His business background is primarily in advertising, software and angel and venture capital investing and he has diverse board of directors experience. Gigot's current business focus is with a set of vertical Software as Service businesses. Gary was one of the original benefactors of the Hugo House.
Connie Petersen (Vice President) is a strategic marketing consultant. Prior to owning her own business, Connie worked for Callison Architecture in Seattle, where she was Interim Marketing Director. Her career was founded with USG Corporation in Chicago, where she served in various sales and marketing management positions. Connie is also a writer and her published essays have appeared in “Ophelia’s Mom” (Random House, 2001), The Chicago Tribune, The Seattle Times and The Chicago Suburban Pioneer Press. She most recently completed a memoir, “The Taste of Rain,” and has served on the Board of Richard Hugo House since 2007. Connie also serves on the Steering Committee for Design in Public, a non-profit organization in Seattle, has been a Board member of AIA Seattle and is a 2007 graduate of Leadership Tomorrow.
Brad Meacham (Secretary) is a former business journalist who now provides strategic communications for major companies. He ran for a seat on the Seattle City Council in 2011 and currently lives in Columbia City with his wife and baby son. Brad, who joined the Hugo House board in 2007, wants more people to have a chance to engage in the craft of writing. His eyes were opened to reading and writing for the first time when he received a scholarship to a rigorous summer writing course in California during high school. The cormudgeon newspaper editors in his first jobs taught Brad that there is always more to learn. As Raymond Carver said: “If a writer has ‘fundamental accuracy of statement’ going for him, he’s at least on the right track.”
John Burgess (Treasurer) grew up in upstate New York, worked on a survey crew in Montana, taught English in Japan and since 1985 has lived in Seattle, where he works corporate communications for PEMCO Insurance. He’s been a featured poet at bookstores, art galleries and coffee shops throughout the Northwest. Ravenna Press publishes his poetry: “Punk Poems” (2005), “A History of Guns in the Family” (2008) and “Graffito” (2011). He was a 2006 Jack Straw writer; co-founder of the original Burning Word Festival; and the 2008 Words' Worth curator for the Seattle City Council. He's currently editor for the online lit journal Snow Monkey, Board member at Richard Hugo House since 2009 and coconspirator with the Band of Poets.
Donte Felder is fueled and inspired by the students he teaches at Orca K-8, an alternative school in the south end of Seattle. Besides exploring the formation of the United States and the philosophy of story, Felder is energized by the many possibilities that are presented when writing a screenplay. Felder is a recent graduate of Goddard College and received his MFA in Creative Writing with a focus on screenplay. Besides teaching and writing, Felder is happily married with three wonderful children.
Isla McKetta is a novelist and blogger. She earned a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing at Goddard College and worked in various capacities for the literary magazines Pitkin Review and Farfelu. In 2009, Isla was a guest reader with the Artsmith Salon Series in Doe Bay, Washington. A native of Moscow, Idaho, Isla’s undergraduate studies included Bachelor’s degrees in Political Science and Sociology from the University of Washington and a certificate in literary fiction from UW Extension. Isla lived in Poland and Chile and speaks several languages.
Thomas Ball began his technology career in the US Air Force 25 years ago, working in a variety of positions, including as communication specialist on board Air Force One and our country’s National Emergency Airborne Command Post. Moving to the private sector, Tom was part of the core team for a successful Internet startup in Colorado. Tom then came to Seattle and has worked in leadership positions in telecommunications and now in retail. With a penchant for writing and making technology more accessible and useful, Tom is now shifting his technology passion to the non-profit sector. In addition to working with Richard Hugo House, Tom has been an Art Docent volunteer at North Shore School district and has been a featured speaker worldwide, including at MIT’s Sloan School at their Future Health and Technology conference in Cambridge MA.
Sean Clemmons is a writer and entrepreneur who resides with his wife in Capitol Hill. His company Piraeus Data is a management consulting firm focused on business process and intelligence, and works with enterprise companies across the Northwest. He earned his MFA from the University of Washington and has published stories in a handful of journals including Gulf Coast, Copper Nickel, and The Cream City Review.
Kip Robinson Greenthal holds a B.A. in English Literature and Creative Writing from Sarah Lawrence College. Her previous work experience includes eighteen years as a librarian in schools and public libraries. In 1993, she became the Education Director for Seattle Arts & Lectures, where she founded and directed the Writers in the Schools program until 2001. Now a fulltime writer, she has recently completed a revision for her first novel, “Shoal Water.” In 2000, she was selected for the 2000 Jack Straw Writers Program, and was also awarded a Hedgebrook residency. Her short story, "Tattoo Emporium," has appeared in print, online, and through the publication of Currents, an anthology published by the Lopez Writers Guild in 2004. In January 2007, Elizabeth Austen selected her short story, “Stealing,” to be aired on KUOW’s On the Beat. “Stealing” is a piece to be included in Kip’s second novel, “East Lee,” a story about leaving her old family home.