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Nicole Sealey, Executive Director

sealey-edBorn in St. Thomas, U.S.V.I. and raised in Apopka, Florida, Nicole Sealey is the author of Ordinary Beast, forthcoming from Ecco in fall 2017, and The Animal After Whom Other Animals Are Named, winner of the 2015 Drinking Gourd Chapbook Poetry Prize. Her other honors include an Elizabeth George Foundation Grant, the Stanley Kunitz Memorial Prize from The American Poetry Review, a Daniel Varoujan Award and the Poetry International Prize, as well as fellowships from CantoMundo, Cave Canem Foundation, Inc., MacDowell Colony and the Poetry Project. Sealey holds an MLA in Africana Studies from the University of South Florida and an MFA in creative writing from New York University.

Elizabeth Bryant, Programs & Communications Coordinator 

Elizabeth is a poetry and prose writer from Minnesota. She studied History and Black Studies at Swarthmore College, graduating with a B.A. Previously, she worked at The Given’s Foundation for African American Literature in Minnesota; at Cave Canem, she served as an intern and workshop assistant. Elizabeth is thrilled to join Cave Canem and contribute to the communities, programs and writers she cares about deeply.

Isissa Komada-John, Grants Manager

komada-john-isissaIsissa is a multidisciplinary designer, curator, and creative arts administrator. In addition to her work at Cave Canem, she manages and designs exhibitions at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture. She previously served as the Exhibitions Director of MoCADA, Museum of Contemporary African Diasporan Arts, working with over 100 artists to develop socially engaged projects and curating and organizing more than 30 exhibitions. Isissa holds a degree in Africana Studies from Brown University. A native New Yorker, she lives in Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn, NY.

Jayson P. Smith, Workshop Coordinator

smith-jayson-p-a-h-jerriod-avant-blk-n-whtJayson is a freelance writer, editor, & curator. Their poems & interviews appear / are forthcoming in journals such as Nepantla, Vinyl, The Offing, The Rumpus, & boundary2. Jayson has been the recipient of fellowships from The Conversation, Millay Colony for the Arts, & Callaloo as well as scholarships from Cave Canem & The New Harmony Writers’ Workshop. Currently a Mentor at Urban Word NYC & Creative Director for The Other Black Girl Collective, Jayson is also the founder of NOMAD, a Crown-Heights based performance series. Jayson lives in Brooklyn & at

Sharlene Piverger, Amazon Literary Partnership Fellow/Poets Tour Coordinator

piverger-sharlene-jeanpierre-photographySharlene is a New Jersey-born, Haitian-American poet. She earned her B.S. in Marketing/Finance with a minor in Africana Studies from New York University in 2012. An intern in 2015 and a workshop poet in 2015 and 2016, she is excited to rejoin Cave Canem’s team to promote and manage the Poets Tour and support the organization’s programming efforts.


Amanda Johnston, Retreat Coordinator

johnston amanda retreat-coordinatorAmanda Johnston earned a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing from the University of Southern Maine. Her poetry and interviews have appeared in numerous online and print publications, among them, Kinfolks QuarterlyMuzzlePoetry, Callaloo, Pluck! and the anthologies, Small Batchdi-ver-city and The Ringing Ear: Black Poets Lean South. The recipient of multiple Artist Enrichment grants from the Kentucky Foundation for Women and the Christina Sergeyevna Award from the Austin International Poetry Festival, she is a member of the Affrilachian Poets and a Cave Canem graduate fellow. Johnston is a Stonecoast MFA faculty member, a cofounder of Black Poets Speak Out, and founding executive director of Torch Literary Arts. Visit her online at