Our Steering Committee 2018-2021

Who’s Who on the Boston Chapter Steering Committee, 2018-2021 (from the most recent candidate statements)

Barbara Beckwith, Co-Chair: beckwithb@aol.com

I joined the union when I started freelancing, was active in our Boston Globe struggle and in the union’s national and local diversity and inclusion efforts, and have served on the NWU national executive Committee.  I’m now focusing on our chapter, connecting members with similar interests to each other and to the union resources, and involving members in planning and participating in programs that can advance their careers. I’m a journalist and essayist (and writing teacher): my writing appears in dozens of national, local, and movement publications – newspapers, magazines, online. Most recently, I’ve written personal essays about everyday racism, including my own as white person:  the What Was I Thinking? booklet series is distributed by www.cddbooks.org.  Blog: www.barbarabeckwith.net.

Charles Coe, Co-Chair: charles52@comcast.net

I am retired from my position as grants program officer after eighteen years with the Massachusetts Cultural Council and am now writing and teaching full time. Before coming to the council, I was an editor and writer for Northeastern University Publications. I now teach poetry in the low-residency MFA program at Salve Regina University in Newport, Rhode Island. I am author of two books of poetry and one novel. I’ve been a member of the NWU since the mid 80’s and served for two years on the National Executive Board (since renamed the National Executive Committee). As co-chair, I would like to continue helping mentor NWU members who want to become more active in the local. Other goals are to expand our collaborations with other regional writers organizations and to attract younger writers to the union.

John L. Hodge: hodge.john@gmail.com

I have been a NWU member for about 25 years. My nonfiction writings address our roles in furthering or frustrating the growth of democracy, since our democracy is partial and unfulfilled. As a current member of the Steering Committee, I seek to help NWU more fully meet the needs of writers who are not adequately served by the troubled publishing industry. I have a particular interest in helping NWU provide services to those considering self-publishing and other ways of making their writings available to the public. To learn more about me, my blog and my writings, please visit my website at JohnLHodge.com.

James Kates: jkates@worldpath.net:

Doubly resident in Boston and New Hampshire, a poet, literary translator and independent publisher, I have been a member of the NWU since its founding. In addition to strengthening the union as it is, I am interested in broadening the NWU beyond local, English-language-only interests to serve the multicultural writers and readers of New England.

Christopher Kenneally: chris@kenneally.com

As a Steering Committee member serving since 2002, I want to make more effective and more efficient the local’s various activities. I believe that the National Writers Union and the Boston chapter can build for writers an important forum enabling open discussion with editors, agents and others from the media industry. I especially want to help writers of all genres address the many professional challenges facing us, and to work toward growing the value of professional writing in the minds of readers and publishers. My latest book, Massachusetts 101, a short history of our state — from Redcoats to Red Sox — was published by Beverly-based Commonwealth Editions (seewww.mass101.com). I have contributed to numerous publications including the Boston Globe, Boston Business Journal, and Mass. High Tech.

Barbara Mende: barbara@moosehill.com

I’ve been active in the Boston chapter since 1994, including a few terms on our outstanding Steering Committee. Recently I’ve served as financial secretary. Nationally I coordinate assignments for the Grievance and Contract Division — which, along with the chapters, I believe makes us great. I’m a longtime delegate and spent 12 years on the NEC, where I learned that the most effective work is done on the chapter level and we have one of the most active chapters. I hope I can help to keep it that way. I write about careers, business, computers, and other humorous topics.

Shannon O’Connor: shannonboconnor@gmail.com

I have been a member of the Boston National Writers Union Steering Committee for two years, and I have been a member of the union for five years. I want to work for writers’ rights, and also to open doors for writers who might not have the opportunity to say what they need to say. I believe in helping underrepresented voices, such as writers with disabilities. I write novels, short stories, poetry, and a blog.

Willie Wideman-Pleasants: willieaweb@gmail.com

Willie is an author, poet, producer, director, speaker, and Cable TV show host. Her books are comprised of uplifting and thought-provoking short stories and poems about true-to-life experiences. She hopes to use her easy-to-read short stories and poems to encourage reading and to inspire the love of the art.  She is a team leader for a Jumpstart program that helps three-to-five year old children prepare to enter kindergarten to succeed with language and literacy skills. She created and facilitates a class called “Storytelling at Tea,” which is offered as a course for the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at UMass Boston and the south shore. Willie tells her stories to provoke thoughts and conversations so that ideas and information can be shared. She is the producer and host of the award-winning cable show “Willie’s Web,” Boston Neighborhood Network (BNN).  She also co-hosts Authors Without Borders. In 2013 she wrote and narrated a short film that was accepted in the Roxbury International Film Festival. She has done extra work in major films like “Fever Pitch”, “The Proposal,” and “Here Comes the Boom.”  She says, “Write, write, and write.  Publish your work and share your stories.  Someone may benefit from what you have to say.”

Susan E. Schopp: schoppse1@gmail.com

My background is in nonfiction, and includes journal and newspaper articles, texts and pamphlets for museums, website copy for museums and small businesses, and teaching materials for undergraduates in history and art history. I’ve been a member of the Boston Chapter for a little under two years, as well as for several years during an earlier period of residence in the Boston area.