The WPWP Team

The WPWP enjoys a model of shared leadership with frequent contributions from many of its Fellows. Here are a few faces and the positions they currently hold.

WPWP Administrative Staff

lauraroopLaura J. Roop, Ph.D., Director

Laura Roop, director of the Western Pennsylvania Writing Project and assistant professor at University of Pittsburgh School of Education, previously worked for fifteen years at the University of Michigan School of Education as director of outreach and as school-research relations coordinator.  She directed National Writing Projects of Michigan, the state network of 10 NWP sites—each a university-school partnership, three times in separate stints, and directed the Oakland (MI) Writing Project for 18 years.  She worked as an intermediate school district literacy consultant in both Oakland and Washtenaw counties, and served as dissemination coordinator and professional development facilitator for the Michigan English Language Arts Framework Project, a state standards effort, in the mid-90s.  From 2009-2012 she followed a cohort of Ypsilanti students who had been assessed as being in the bottom quartile from ninth grade through college, designing summer programs and organizing trips and presentations, under the auspices of the Algebra Project, a national network founded by civil rights organizer and mathematician Bob Moses.  With MDE consultant Steve Best and NBPTS-certified teacher and consultant Linda Denstaedt, she wrote Doing and Making Authentic Literacies, published by the National Council of Teachers of English in September 2014.

Cj Coleman, Co-Director Summer Institute for Teachers

Cj Coleman, a 2000 WPWP Fellow, has worked for the Pittsburgh Public Schools since 1990.  She currently teaches 5th  and 6th  grade Creative Writing at the Pittsburgh Gifted Center, is a current member of Madwomen in the Attic, at Carlow University, and has co – directed the WPWP Summer Institute for Teachers since 2003.  During the few free moments that fall in between, she writes.

Tameka Cage-Conley, Coordinator for Young Writers Institute, Grades 9-12

Tameka Cage Conley is a multi-genre literary artist living in Pittsburgh. Her first play, “Testimony,” was produced in May 2011 at the August Wilson Center for African American Culture, where she was a Fellow in literary arts from 2010-2011.  In 2011, she received the Advancing the Black Arts grant for two community-based theater projects with young African American men.  This fall, she completed the Cave Canem Pittsburgh poetry workshop. Her second play, “I Said Good Night,” was part of the 2011 Pittsburgh Playwrights Theatre Black and White Festival. She is completing her first novel and works as a teaching artist and educator. She is a proud 2010 SIT Fellow of the Western Pennsylvania Writing Project.

Stacy Biggs, Coordinator for Young Writers Institute, Grades 4-8 (2013 Winter Young Writers)

Stacy Biggs is a 2007 Western Pennsylvania Writing Project Fellow who has taught high school English in Delaware as well as the School District of Philadelphia and the Abington School District, near Philadelphia, PA. She has spent the last six years with the Hampton Township School District, in Pittsburgh, where she has taught both high school and middle school English. She loves reading, writing, theatre and dance, the latter two of which she has gotten to do regularly as the choreographer, from 2006-2008, for Hampton High School’s musicals and as the current assistant director and choreographer of Hampton Middle School’s musicals. She taught from 2008-2010 at the high school Young Writers’ Institute in Oakland and, since 2011, has directed and taught the Young Writers’ Institute, grades 4-8, in Oakland, Mt. Lebanon and downtown at the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust.

Elisa Greb-Link, Coordinator for Oakland Young Writers Institute, Grades 4-8

Elisa Greb-Link is a 2008 Fellow of the Western Pennsylvania Writing Project.  She has been teaching 8th grade English in the East Allegheny School District since 2006 and has been involved with several Young Writers Institutes since the summer of 2009 (and plans to keep going until forever).  Elisa earned a B.A. in English Literature in 2005, a teaching certification in English 7-12 in 2006, and a M.Ed. in Secondary English Education in 2010—all of which were acquired through the University of Pittsburgh’s main campus, which partially explains her adoration of the Cathedral of Learning.  She loves reading, writing, teaching, traveling, and spending time with her family.

Sarah Falbo, Coordinator for Mt. Lebanon Young Writers Institute, Grades 4-8

Sarah Falbo started her teaching career with Teach For America where she taught third and fourth grades at an elementary school in Compton, California. She then taught fourth grade and sixth grade Literature in the Mt. Lebanon School District for seven years. At the Environmental Charter School at Frick Park she taught fifth grade and developed persuasive writing workshop units during the 2011 school year. A 1997 Fellow with the Western Pennsylvania Writing Project, she taught at the Mt. Lebanon site of the Young Writers Institute for ten summers. Sarah graduated from the University of Notre Dame with an English major and has a Masters in Education in Reading and Language Arts from Duquesne University.

Kathy Giegel, Coordinator for Pine-Richland Young Writers Institute, Grades 4-8

Kathy Giegel is a 2006 Fellow of the Western Pennsylania Writing Project. She has taught elementary students at Pine Richland School District for the past ten years. Kathy was one of the finalists chosen for Pennsylvania’s Teacher of the Year in 2011, and has received Teacher of Excellence Recognition Awards for a number of years. She has enjoyed teaching and coordinating the Young Writers’ Institute both at the University of Pittsburgh and at Pine Richland.  She delights in spending time writing and working with the students that attend!  She also enjoys camping, biking, hiking and reading.


Michelle King, Digital Inquiry Coordinator

MICHELLE KING is a Learning Instigator and former fellow of the Writing Project.  Hailing from University of Southern California, Michelle is currently teaching at the Environmental Charter School. Michelle has taught for 15 years, is a self-described dreamer and a life-long learner. Michelle’s mission is to be disruptive not for the sake of destruction, but in service to a greater good.

Sheila Carter-Jones, Co-facilitator of WAIP Fellowship

Sheila Carter-Jones is a 1988 Fellow of the WPWP.  She taught Communications for the Pittsburgh Public Schools for thirty-five years and is a Nationally Board Certified Teacher. Sheila credits the WPWP for much of the success in her teaching and writing careers. She says, “Participating in professional development and personal writing opportunities offered by the WPWP has been instrumental in refining my teaching and writing practices. In this community of teachers as consultants and teachers as writers, I have found like minded people who believe in the power of writing to transform not just the teacher but the student as well.”  Sheila now works as an educationl consultant and spends what extra time she has working on personal writing. In 2011 she won the Naomi Long Madgett Poetry Book Award.

ErinMErin Manifold, Continuity Director

Erin Manifold is a 2009 Western Pennsylvania Writing Project fellow. She graduated from Indiana University of Pennsylvania in 2005, and moved to Pittsburgh, where she began her career teaching 7th grade English at Wilkinsburg Middle School. Since 2008, she has been teaching for Pittsburgh Public Schools at Pittsburgh Allegheny K-5, where she teaches 5th grade Reading/Language Arts. She believes in empowering students with as many writing opportunities as possible. She facilitates a student publishing program through Student Treasures, and partners with Saturday Light Brigade radio station within the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh to allow her students’ voices to be heard. She has also lead after-school writing clubs. Most recently, she is beginning to regularly co-author plays with her students which they perform. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, writing, travelling, seeing live music, playing piano, and completing home renovation projects. She is excited to have the opportunity to plan continuity events and to bring fellows together to write.


Barbara Dahlberg, Publications

Barbara Dahlberg has been an artist forever and a WPWP fellow since 2001. She taught art in Public Schools for 20 years and now spends her time writing with the Madwomen in the Attic.


Andrew Halter, Webmaster, Director of YWI Publications

Andrew is  2000 fellow and an instructional coach at Hampton Township School District. He has also taught English for fifteen years and has been the publications director for the Young Writers Summer Institute in Oakland for the past six years. He delivers technology based professional development to districts across Western PA, blogs regularly about technology integration and is currently writing a book on the subject.

Karen Howard, Coordinator for Scholastic Writing Awards

Ashley Tate, Administrative Assistant

Ashley Tate is the new grants assistant in Grants Management Office and the Administrative Assistant for the WPWP. Ashley graduated from Youngstown State University with a Bachelor’s degree in journalism and a Master’s degree in English. She won honorable mention from the Society for Collegiate Journalists for an article on the life of a lesbian student and was recognized by Ohio state representative Robert Hagan. She has participated in a grassroots organization, A Bridge from Coal to Diamond Girls, as a development associate and facilitator of the program in after school programs. She was a substitute teacher of Language Arts for grades 7-12 for Youngstown City Schools for a short while. She also worked with battered women by writing grants to provide legal and shelter services free of charge through a domestic violence agency. She loves to read books of all sorts, edit collegiate papers, watch the NBA, go shopping, and spend time with family and friends.

MIchelleBioPicWPWPStephanie Michelle Fitzhugh, Archivist and Website Manager

Fitzhugh is currently a University of Pittsburgh undergraduate student working towards degrees in French, German, and Global Management, with plans to continue her studies on the graduate level, earning Masters and Doctorates in French and German. Fitzhugh is a Federal Work Study student with the Western Pennsylvania Writing Project, serving as Archivist and Website Manager.

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