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About: Meet Our Staff

Amber Cook

Amber CookAssociate Director of Faculty Outreach and Support
Contributing Faculty in CAEX

Before joining Walden’s writing center in 2005, Amber served as managing editor of Music Research Forum, taught courses at the community college level, and worked in the writing center of a military university. She joined Walden as a writing tutor and has presented at many residencies and webinars throughout her tenure. In her current role as Associate Director of Faculty Outreach and Support, her main focus is supporting faculty in their work with student writers. She ensures that course instructors have the necessary resources and strategies to assist their students, providing training and development opportunities online and at faculty meetings. Amber holds a bachelor's degree in music with an English minor from Vanderbilt University and a master's degree in musicology from the University of Cincinnati.

Amy Bakke

Amy BakkeManager of Writing Instructional Services

Amy Bakke joined Walden in 2013 after a few years of traveling, working, and learning around the world. Her academic career started at Concordia College in Moorhead, MN, where she graduated with a BA in Spanish and Business. After working for a couple of years, she pursued an MA in Teaching English as a Second Language (TESL), which led to multiple opportunities to study and work abroad, including two semesters studying and teaching in Chile as well as a year-long Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship in Bulgaria. She thoroughly enjoys working with students from diverse language backgrounds and cultures. Teaching and traveling have also given her the opportunity to develop her Spanish skills and understand what it is like to be an adult language learner.

Learn more about Amy B. in our blog spotlight interview.

Anne Shiell

Anne ShiellManager of Student and Faculty Webinars
Contributing Faculty in CAEX

Anne Shiell is the manager of student and faculty webinars in the Walden University Writing Center. She is also a contributing faculty member for student support courses in Walden’s Academic Skills Center. Previously, she was a writing instructor,  the coordinator of social media, and manager of writing instructional services in the center. Anne holds a BA in English from St. Olaf College in Northfield, MN, and an MA in English from the University of Minnesota Duluth, where she taught composition courses as a faculty member in the Department of Writing Studies.

Beth Nastachowski

Beth NastachowskiAssociate Director of the Office of Writing Instruction
Contributing Faculty in CAEX

Beth earned a BA in English Literature from Viterbo University and an MA in English Literature from the University of St. Thomas. Beth coordinates the Writing Center’s student webinars and self-paced modules, along with teaching at residencies and cohosting the Writing Center’s podcast. She is also a contributing faculty member for Walden’s CAEX support courses. She is passionate about helping writers clearly communicate their ideas and vision for social change to readers.

Brian Timmerman

Brian TimmermanDirector of the Writing Center

Brian joined the writing center in 2007 and has served as director since 2011. He received his BA at the University of Minnesota, Morris and his MA in English literature at the University of St. Thomas. When he has the opportunity to work with students, he enjoys focusing on global writing issues: thesis development, paraphrasing, transitions, etc.

Brittany Rogers

Brittany RogersWriting Instructor

Brittany Rogers has a BA in English and Creative Writing from Hiram College and an MFA in Creative Writing from the Northeast Ohio Master of Fine Arts (NEOMFA) program at Kent State University. For the past 8 years, she has taught writing at various institutions of higher learning. Her work has appeared in Still, Heartwood, and the ECC Literary Anthology. She lives in Northeast Ohio.

Cheryl Read

Cheryl ReadWriting Instructor and Coordinator of Asynchronous Course Visits

Cheryl Read earned her PhD in English from Duquesne University and her MA and BA in English from the University of Minnesota Duluth. She has taught academic writing at a variety of institutions since 2009 and has been with the Walden Writing Center since 2017. She loves helping students figure out how they can best convey their ideas to an audience of readers and especially enjoys figuring out the organizational “puzzles” of works in progress. Cheryl lives outside of St. Paul, Minnesota.

Claire Helakoski

claire helakoskiWriting Instructor

Claire Helakoski obtained her MFA in Creative Writing from Georgia College in 2015. She also holds a BA in Creative Writing and French from Grand Valley State University. Claire presented on the pedagogy of teaching writing at AWP national writer’s conference in 2015. She has also presented at the Michigan Academy for Science, Arts and Letters conference. Claire has taught English Composition, Literature and Creative Writing courses as well as acted as a writing center tutor, editor for Arts & Letters literary journal and a freelance copy and manuscript editor. In 2013 her work was nominated by Georgia College for the AWP Intro awards competition. She is originally from Michigan and lives in Grand Rapids.

Ellen Zamarripa

Ellen ZamarripaManager of Residencies

Ellen joined the Walden Writing Center in the summer of 2014 as a writing instructor after completing a BA in English Literature from the University of Wisconsin, Eau Claire, and an MA in English Studies from Minnesota State University, Mankato. During her educational career, Ellen tutored in multicultural centers, academic skills centers, and continues to teach writing to first-year college students. She is currently a doctoral candidate at a Minnesota university and plans to focus her dissertation topic on writing center pedagogy.

Learn more about Ellen in our blog spotlight interview.

Grete Howland

Grete HowlandWriting Instructor

Grete received her BA in English from Westmont College in 2003 and earned an MA in Creative Writing and Literature for Educators from Fairleigh Dickinson University in 2014. Before joining the Writing Center in the fall of 2019, Grete spent 7 years teaching English and humanities at the middle and high school levels. As a teacher of adolescents, Grete’s focus was on using progressive pedagogy to foster academic confidence and a life-long love of learning in her students. She has also worked as a private tutor and freelance copywriter and editor. Grete’s creative nonfiction writing has been published at Across the Margin and Tiny Buddha. Originally from Northern California, Grete now resides in Portland, Oregon.

James A. Horwitz

James A. HorwitzWriting Instructor

James received his MA and MFA from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, having first earned undergraduate degrees in both English and Psychology. James has taught at the college-level for over 13 years and is passionate about: student-learning, mentoring, and helping student writers develop their work.

Jeannie Headley

jeannie croichyManager of Writing Instructional Services

Jeannie Headley received her MEd in English Language Learner from Ashford University and BA in English Writing from William Paterson University of New Jersey. She is currently pursuing her EdD in Higher Education and Adult Learning.

Jeannie is a dedicated and well-rounded writing educator with extensive experience working with students from all over the world. With over ten years of teaching experience, Jeannie has experience in developing unique and innovative writing pedagogies to bring out the highest potential in students. She has taught writing courses in the first-year writing program at Bloomfield College, career development program for New York City’s Workforce1 Career Center, and ESL programs for various English language institutions. In addition to her teaching experience, Jeannie has experience as a college writing consultant as well.

Aside from teaching, Jeannie enjoys writing, reading, and walking in nature with her family and dogs.

Jes Philbrook

Jes PhilbrookManager of Writing Assessment

Jes Philbrook joined the Walden Writing Center in 2015 after tutoring and teaching English and writing for 10 years at multiple institutions in Minnesota and Missouri. Jes started at Walden as a writing instructor and now manages the doctoral writing assessment and teaches at residencies. She holds a BA in English from Bemidji State University and an MA in English from the University of Minnesota Duluth, and she completed doctoral coursework in English at the University of Missouri Columbia. Jes is passionate about helping students develop their writing voices and scholarly writing skills so that they can use writing to achieve their personal, professional, and social change goals.

Julia Shiota

julia shiota Writing Instructor

Julia Shiota joined the Writing Center in 2015 after completing her Master’s in English at the University of Chicago and a Bachelor’s in English from St. Olaf College. She has been interested in education for years and has had the opportunity to work with a wide variety of students. Her background includes teaching literacy skills to elementary school students and high school students, as well as instructing scholarly writing skills at the college and graduate level. Her academic interests include global Anglophone literature, modern Japanese literature, and critical theory.

Kacy Walz

kacy walzWriting Instructor

Kacy joined the Walden Writing Center staff at the end of 2016. She received her undergraduate degree from Gonzaga University where she double majored in English and History, and earned an accidental minor in Philosophy. After a year spent in the AmeriCorps service organization City Year, she completed her MA in English at Boston College in 2011. She is currently working on her dissertation for a PhD in English Literature from the University of Missouri. She lives in Columbia, Missouri but is a Minnesota native at her core.

Lauri Barnes

Lauri BarnesWriting Instructor

Lauri Barnes earned her PhD in English rhetoric and composition from Indiana University of Pennsylvania. With over two decades of teaching experience in higher education, Lauri has focused her career on helping both monolingual and multilingual writers of English communicate their ideas effectively. Through encouragement and motivation, Lauri helps students examine their writing process to see what is working well and what may need additional revision to be more successful. She poses questions to help students develop as scholars whose writing reflects critical thinking and analysis. She enjoys creative and research writing, traveling, and studying languages. Lauri, her husband, and their three children live in the panhandle of Florida.

Matt Sharkey-Smith

Matt Sharkey-SmithSenior Writing Instructor
Contributing Faculty in CAEX

Matt joined the Writing Center in 2010 with a BA in English from Saint John’s University in Minnesota. He earned an MFA in Writing from Hamline University in Saint Paul in 2011 and has worked outside of Walden as a technical writer, fact-checker, copy editor, tutor, and writing instructor. He lives in Minneapolis.

Max Philbrook

Max PhilbrookWriting Instructor

Max Philbrook has been working with graduate and undergraduate writers since 2008 and joined the Walden Writing Center in 2015. Max studied writing at the University of Missouri (doctoral coursework), the University of Minnesota Duluth (MA), and Gustavus Adolphus College (BA). Max comes from a family of workers, helpers, and tinkerers, so knowledge and intelligence of all kinds are celebrated in Max's work with Walden's scholar-practitioners. Max enjoys the role of supporting Walden writers as they develop their voice for positive social change in their personal and professional writing. Max lives in Minnesota on land and water that is the current and ancestral homeland of the Ojibwe and Dakota people.

Meghan Barnes

Meghan barnesWriting Instructor

Meghan K. Barnes joined the writing center in late 2015, after working both as a composition and literature instructor, and an educational project manager. She holds a BFA in Professional Writing & English, an MFA in Nonfiction Literature, and a MAT in Post-Secondary Adult Online Education. These degrees lead to multiple opportunities including a Fulbright Scholarship to study the nonfiction work of Sylvia Plath in England, three Pushcart Prize Nominations and four book publications.

As a writing instructor at Walden, Meghan works to help students master the tools needed to become critically literate citizens. She is excited to watch as her students grow and begin publishing within their fields.

Originally from the North, Meghan now resides in Charleston, South Carolina with her dog, Ziah.

Michael Dusek

michael dusekWriting Instructor

Michael Dusek joined the Walden Writing Center in October of 2015. He holds a BA in English from the University of Minnesota–Duluth and an MA in English Studies from Minnesota State University, Mankato. Michael has taught composition at Minnesota State University, Mankato as well as University of Wisconsin–Stout. In his professional life, he enjoys working with students and improving their writing. The idea that an essay is expressive as well as formal is a cornerstone of the way he views writing. Michael believes that approaching a writing project as a creative problem-solving activity can alleviate apprehension that students often encounter. In his personal life, he enjoys the outdoors, books, music, and all other types of art.

Miranda Mattingly

miranda mattinglyManager of Writing Instructional Services

Miranda Mattingly joined the Writing Center at Walden University in 2016. She earned her MA in English from Florida State University before completing her PhD in English at the University of Missouri. Miranda has over a decade of experience working in online education and has taught a variety of professional writing, composition, and literature courses at both public and private universities, community colleges, and in the online environment. When working with students, her primary focus is on encouraging students to have confidence in their skills as writers and to cultivate their voices as critical thinkers in an increasingly global community.

Paul Lai

Paul LaiManager of Website and Information Resources

Paul Lai joined Walden's editing team in 2011 after teaching college English for 10 years. He has published academic essays on contemporary Asian North American and Indigenous writers. He has also taught information literacy courses at a community college and works at a public library in the Twin Cities area in Minnesota. Paul received his bachelor's degree in English from Yale University, a master's degree in English from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and a master's degree in library and information studies from St. Catherine University. He now manages the Writing Center's website and other information resources.

Sarah Prince

Sarah PrinceAssociate Director of Resource Management

Sarah Prince earned a BA in English from Presbyterian College in 2004 and an MA and PhD in Women’s Studies in 2011 from Emory University. Her research interests include patterns of female friendship in contemporary women’s novels and changes to physical conceptions of self based on those friendships. At Walden University, she enjoys helping students develop the confidence, clarity, and unique critical voice it takes to become effective and articulate scholarly writers.

Tasha Sookochoff

Tasha Sookochoff Writing Instructor

Tasha Sookochoff joined the Writing Center in the fall of 2017. She has a BS in Technical Communication from the University of Wisconsin-Stout and an MA in Writing, Rhetoric, and Discourse, with an emphasis on teaching composition, from DePaul University. She also has a graduate certificate in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) from DePaul. Tasha is passionate about adult literacy, creating safe communities for women and minorities, and the convergence of education and technology. She has written documentation for the U.S. House of Representatives that increases government transparency, blogged for DePaul University, copy-edited the Journal of Second Language Writing, tutored immigrants and refugees at literacy centers, and taught academic writing to college students.

Veronica Oliver

veronica oliverWriting Instructor

Veronica Oliver received her PhD in Rhetoric and Composition, with an emphasis on community literacy and intersecting rhetorics of identity, from Arizona State University (ASU) in May 2015. Previous to attending ASU, Professor Oliver received a master's degree in rhetoric and composition (Southern Illinois University) and a bachelor's degree in theater (University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee). Born in Minneapolis, Veronica grew up predominantly in Wisconsin, although she has also lived in Los Angeles and Chicago. As a writing instructor, Professor Oliver’s passion is guiding students with developing their ideas on paper.