Director of Literary Programs
Shahenda Helmy (she/her/hers) is a graduate of the College of William & Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia, where she rediscovered her love of literature through her English major. She went on to obtain a Masters degree in Education (with a focus on second language learning) from the University of Edinburgh in Scotland in 2016. That is where she discovered her love of highland coos and shortbread cookies. At the PEN/Faulkner Foundation, Shahenda uses her passion for literature and steadfast belief in its ability to change lives to bring incredible writers to share their stories with the Washington, DC literary community. Before joining the PEN/Faulkner team, Shahenda developed a valuable background in public relations during her time at the Walker Marchant Group, a global public relations and issues management firm based in Washington, DC. As a native Arabic speaker, she spent several years as a Teaching Assistant for William & Mary’s Arabic Department. Shahenda also has a background in college admissions from her time as a Senior Interviewer throughout her final year of college. When she’s not surrounded by books at the PEN/Faulkner office, you can find Shahenda planning her next international adventure or exploring DC’s hidden ones.