Patrice Melnick, Founder. Patrice Melnick is a writer, arts administrator, educator and business owner.

Melnick taught English and creative writing at Xavier University in New Orleans for 13 years where she founded one of the first creative writing programs at a Historically Black University. She has also taught a Literary Nonfiction Workshop in the low-residency MFA program at the University of New Orleans.

Turning Up the Volume (Xavier Press), a memoir, was published in 2005 a new memoir, Contraband Po-boy: from Diagnosis Back to Life (Catalyst Book Press.) Her essays and poems have appeared in Grain, The Xavier Review, Buffalo Bones and Prism International and other journals.

Following Hurricane Katrina, Melnick moved from New Orleans to Grand Coteau, Louisiana, where she opened up a gift shop and started a literary reading and open mic series. In 2010 she established the nonprofit organization the Festival of Words Cultural Arts Collective which promotes the literary arts in the surrounding rural communities.

Patrice Melnick holds a B.A. in English from the University of Texas at Austin, and an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from the University of Alaska, Fairbanks. More information is available here: http://www.pw.org/content/patrice_melnick
Martha Garner, Executive Director, is an early childhood educator who has loved words from an early age. She has been part of Word Crawl and Festival of Words for several years. In January 2018 she took over as Executive Director. She is looking forward to retirement in 2019, so she can devote all her energy to Festival of Words.
A Yankee transplant who is thriving in Southern soil, she moved to Lafayette five years ago and has developed a love for the city and its amazing cultural variety. Has taught young children for 20 years, and is currently teaching preK in Iberia Parish. Has loved reading since she was a young child. Started writing poetry when in Acadiana Writing Project in 2009. Hopes to share her love of all things literary and support Festival of Words by serving on the board.
Bruce Coen, President, has lived in California where he spent time in L.A. studying acting and attempting a career in film. He lived in Bakersfield, CA for a year where he did 6-7 shows in a row including musicals and Shakespeare. Since moving to Lafayette in 2004, he's directed 5-6 shows, taught acting through ULL's Potpourri, and acted in numerous productions including Les Marionettes.
Marie Touchet, Vice President, Raised in Acadiana, Marie Touchet has always had a fondness for traveling, writing, and reading. She has worked for a computer software company for 10 years. She also helps run Lyrically Inclined, a spoken word poetry organization in Lafayette, LA. She is currently serving as Vice President on the board for Festival of Words.
Bruce Snow, Treasurer, grew up in Boston but has lived in Lafayette for most his life. Studied liberal arts in college and engineering in graduate school. Married with one grown daughter. Came to Louisiana as a petroleum geologist and then later became a database administrator, now (mostly) retired.

In retirement, stays busy maintaining websites (pro bono), teaching ESL, studying linguistics and flamenco guitar and enjoys international travel.

Serves on the board for several organizations: Shining Light Foundation, VITA, Unitarian Universalist of Lafayette and Food Net, mainly as a webmaster and/or treasurer.
Tracy Glenn, Graphics Designer, was born in Lafayette but moved to Anchorage, Alaska, when she was 11 and lived there until she was 21. She attended Louisiana Technical College and earned a degree in graphic design. She began her career in graphics working for the Quik Quarter and moved to The Daily Advertiser, where she was the most sought-after designer on staff. She eventually moved from advertising to the newspaper's marketing department. In 2007, she left the newspaper to accept the position of Advertising and Design Coordinator for Iberia Bank, where she has worked since. In her free time, she enjoys creating electronic music, painting and making frequent trips to Canada.

Jacqueline Lewis-Langston embodies the Musical Artistry of SoulfullyYoursMusic and also Musician/Singer-who loves the syncopated sounds of/Gospel/Jazz

Native of the Gulf South La Jacqueline has been active in Literary Community Svc, Music and Public Education. Born into a family with Missionary svc and Gospel/Jazz music at heart, her parents had always encouraged a love for the Literary and Musical Arts. Also inspired by Mentor -Local Honorary Music Educator/Conductor Mr. Paul Bonnee Sr. graduate of Xavier University.and the Late Ray Earl and Kathy Earl of Midnight Recordings Studio Thibodaux La.

Music influence ranges from singer/songwriter/flautist /keyboardist /church chorale; also developing and hosting. Faith based /Mentoring workshops. and Motivational Speaking.During her college years, she enjoyed flute performances with a Christian Bible College Orchestra in Jackson Mississippi.

After receiving her MSEd in graduate school, she continues to do meaningful and charitable work performing Music; Plays, with local Arts Councils, Red Cross and COCINA -- Coalition of Children In Need Association In Haiti. She counts in a wonderful, opportunity and privilege being a parttime keyboardist for the Baton Rouge La Legendary Henry Turner Jr Blues Band.
Nia DeCoux is a writer, educator, and activists with deep emotional and ancestral ties to Louisiana. As an educational consultant, she's travelled extensively domestically and abroad developing curriculums that center the wisdom and practices of marginalized peoples. Nia is particularly interested in the intersections between story, education, and identity. Her writing has been honored by the National Foundation for Advancement in the Arts and the National Black Arts Festival. She loves secondhand shops, trying new foods, and those unexpectedly wonderful conversations you have with strangers on public transportation.
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