Elizabeth Grammer, a Teaching Professor of English at the University of the South, founded the Young Writers’ Conference in 1993 and is its full-time director. A graduate of Davidson College, she holds the M.A. and Ph.D. degrees from the University of Virginia. She is the author of a critically acclaimed scholarly book, Some Wild Visions: Autobiographies by Female Itinerant Evangelists in Nineteenth-Century America (Oxford University Press, 2003). Her essays and reviews have appeared in the Arizona Quarterly, The Journal of Southern History, American Historical Review, and The Oxford Companion to African American Literature. She is married to John M. Grammer, also a professor of English, and is the mother of three children.
Robie Jackson is a veteran educator with over twenty five years of classroom experience, teaching students who ranged in age from five to eighteen. She studied theatre and dance at UT-Knoxville and received her B.S. in education from Belmont College where she received the Outstanding Education Graduate Award. Formerly the Performing Arts Department Chair for the University School of Nashville, she moved to Sewanee six years ago. She is the performing arts coordinator for St. Andrews-Sewanee School (S.A.S.), where she teaches theatre and directs shows, and, for five years, served as a dorm parent. In 2010, Jackson was named Theatre Teacher of the Year, by the Tennessee Governor’s School for the Arts. In 2013, she was honored by the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. Along with her husband and co-director, she took a group of high school actors to Scotland to perform at the largest and most prestigious theatre festival in the world. Having received her M.F.A. (in creative nonfiction) from the Sewanee School of Letters in 2015, Jackson is currently completing her first book entitled “Talk About It Mama.”
Geoffrey Smith is interim dean of students at St. Andrew’s-Sewanee School (SAS), where he holds the Fort Chair in Writing and serves as chair of the history department. He teaches a place-based course in American Studies and electives on Southern Appalachian history, the Holocaust, and research methods. Smith has been recognized for teaching excellence by Humanities Tennessee and the Tennessee Holocaust Commission. At SAS, Smith is also the faculty representative to the board of trustees. Among other projects, Smith has examined themes of religion, labor, childhood, and the transition to adulthood in the work of James Agee. Smith taught previously at All Saints’ Academy in Winter Haven, Florida. He is a graduate of the University of the South.
Hellen Wainaina, a veteran staff member, having spent two previous summers as a dorm counselor, is currently an Assistant Editor for the Sewanee Review. A finalist for the Rhodes Scholarship, Hellen graduated with honors from the University of the South in 2018 with degrees in English and Music. She also received the Andrew Lytle and Charles Harrison Award for Excellence in English and the Judy Running Memorial Music Prize. She wrote a distinguished honor’s thesis, “‘The Continent Within’: Aesthetics and Perception in Ben Okri’s The Famished Road,” on postcolonial literature and literary criticism. When she’s not reading, writing, or editing, she loves to teach and has worked as a literature and composition, as well as an ESL, teaching fellow in the U.S. and abroad.
Kathryn Lee Willgus, another veteran staff member, hails from Charlottesville, Virginia, and she is currently a middle school teacher in New Orleans. She graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in English and Russian and a Creative Writing Certificate in fiction from The University of the South in 2016 and spent the 2016-2017 school year teaching English in Russia on a Fulbright U.S. Student Award. Kathryn’s work appears or is forthcoming in Anti-Heroin Chic, Coldnoon, Moonglasses Magazine and others