Our Teachers

Students earning their MFA in Creative Writing at Chatham University apply to participate in the Words Without Walls program. We currently offer the Henry Mansell Fellowship to an MFA student who teaches for two years at one of our sites and helps administer the program. We also offer opportunities for students to volunteer, earn course credit or complete publishing internships with Words Without Walls.

Words Without Walls teachers regularly find that teaching in alternative spaces is a life changing experience and one they can not forget. Our teachers are committed to continuing their outreach work after graduation and have gone on to create programs at various sites around the country.

Former Words Without Walls teachers are currently working with:


Our Students

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Words Without Walls students are our biggest inspiration. They generously share their writings with us each week and engage in rigorous examinations of contemporary literature. Our students regularly submit to the PEN America Prison Writing competition, where they have won national recognition for their work. They have also gone on to earn MFA’s in Creative Writing, continue publishing their work and participating in our program long after they leave the facilities where we meet them.

Each year, we award the Sandra Gould Ford Prize to an outstanding student who shows leadership in the classroom and dedication to the craft of creative writing.

Sandra Gould Ford Prize winners:

  • Lynne Agnew

  • Will Arrington

  • Joe Garfield

  • Terra Lynn

  • Stephon Hayes

  • MerShia Tuzlic


Board of Directors

The Words Without Walls Board of Directors include nationally renowned poets and writers; educators; former WWW teachers and students; Chatham alumni; and those working in the field of corrections.

Each year, Words Without Walls offers a Student Coordinator position to an outstanding MFA student at Chatham University who is committed to creative outreach.

Past Student Coordinators: Libba Nichols-Hockley, Jessica Server, Jessica Kinnison, Jen Ashburn, Johnny Caputo, & Jonny Blevins.

Through the generous support of Laurie Mansell-Reich and Henry Reich, we have established the Robert H. Mansell Fellowship. In honor of Robert Hull Mansell, this scholarship is specifically designed for an incoming student who will work as a Student Coordinator for the Words Without Walls program, which allows an MFA student the opportunity to work for two years at one of our sites and help with administration.

Mansell Fellows:  Rachel Kaufman, Michael Bennett, and Cedric Rudolph


Visiting Writers

Each year, Words Without Walls brings nationally renowned writers to engage with students at our sites. We have received generous support from The Pittsburgh Foundation to bring these writers to Pittsburgh. 

Visit our Upcoming Events page for a complete list of readings and events.