Executive Director

Gwydion Suilebhan (he/him/his) is a writer, arts and technology innovator, and arts advocate. A founding member of The Welders—a Helen Hayes Award-winning playwrights collective in Washington, DC—Suilebhan was elected to the Council of the Dramatists Guild of America in 2017. He previously held the position of Director of Brand and Marketing for Woolly Mammoth and has worked as a brand and technology consultant for a variety of large arts and culture organizations, including Ford’s Theatre, the Drama League, and the Playwrights Center, among many others. Earlier phases of his career included extensive work in publishing, education, and journalism. Suilebhan also holds the position of chief architect and evangelist of the New Play Exchange for the National New Play Network.

As a writer, Suilebhan’s work has been noted for its “dexterous theatricality and unexpected pleasure” (Washington Post). He is the author of several plays, including The Butcher, Inner Harbor, Reals, Abstract Nude, Let X, The Faithkiller, and the Helen Hayes Award-nominated Transmission. His work has been commissioned, developed, and produced by Centerstage, the Ensemble Studio Theatre, the Gulfshore Playhouse, the Taffety Punk Theatre Company, Theater J, and Theater Alliance, among many others. Suilebhan is also the author of Anthem, a short film directed by Hal Hartley, and a forthcoming web series called All Souls.

Writers in Schools Director

Lacey N. Dunham (she/her/hers) is a writer, editor, and arts educational professional with fifteen years of experience in nonprofits, education, and publishing. She is the current Fiction Editor at Necessary Fiction and Assistant Editor at Story. Formerly at Politics & Prose Bookstore and 826DC, she also served stints at the journals A Public Space and Electric Literature, was a judge for the Minnesota Book Awards, and a panelist for the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities. She has edited several anthologies, including the collection Having to Tell Your Mother Is the Hardest Part, which received recognition in the New York Times and the Washington Post. Her own fiction and essays have appeared in Ploughshares, McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, Midwestern Gothic, and The Other Stories, among others. Lacey holds a BA in creative writing from Hollins University and a certification in early childhood education from Georgetown University. A Michigan native who grew up on a farm, she is an avid birder, runner, and backcountry camper, and she enjoys summertime motorcycle rides. She is a first-generation college graduate.

Programs and Logistics Director

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.

Nuestras Voces Associate

Adriana Thornton (she/her/hers) grew up in Arlington, VA but has roots in Cochabamba, Bolivia. In 2016 she was the first in her family to graduate from a U.S. college, DePauw University, with a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature and Spanish. After moving back to her hometown, Adriana served as a State and National AmeriCorps member at Edu-Futuro as an Emerging Leaders Program Facilitator. Then she spent two years in Brooklyn teaching 5th grade at Success Academy Myrtle Middle School, first in a STEM role and then as a Lead ELA Teacher. Adriana has supported the educational, social and emotional development and growth of all the students she’s had the privilege of working with.

At PEN/Faulkner she is the Nuestras Voces Associate where she gets to combine her love of literature and her Hispanic background. Adriana’s personal experiences and the experiences of her students support the idea that education is transformative, especially for those with immigrant backgrounds, like her own. Outside of work Adriana enjoys baking, reading, and taking long walks with her dog, Pebbles.

Media and Communications Associate

Amanda Liaw (she/her/hers) is a Singaporean and graduate of the USC School of Cinematic Arts. Growing up with a love for literature, theatre, film, and all forms of storytelling, she brings her writing and strategy skills to the PEN/Faulkner Foundation where she advocates passionately for the power of literary education in shaping lives and communities. She views her prior experiences in film production, stage management, and digital media strategy through an interdisciplinary lens – with narrative at the heart of human connection and empathetic understanding as its purpose. In her personal life, Amanda spends most of her time dancing, some of her time reading and arguing about philosophy, and the rest of her time figuring out how she might build her own self-sustainable home one day.

Our Spring 2020 Interns

Natalie Davis, Education Programs

Matt Dwyer, Literary Events

Alice Tsai, Research & Evaluation

Want to join us? Read more about our internships.