Our Staff


Miranda Abadir received her MA in English Literature from the University of Maryland in 2009. She has designed and taught literary study abroad courses in both Egypt and Morocco.  She is currently the faculty director for the Writers’ House course in Morocco.


Paul Cote has been teaching courses in film studies, literature, screenwriting, digital media, popular culture, and linguistics at the University of Maryland for over a decade. He has a PhD in literature with an emphasis on sound and children’s media, and his research interests include film studies, film music, animation theory, children’s media, and contemporary American literature. His work has been published in the anthology Orbiting Ray Bradbury’s Mars and at the International Film Music Critics Association, of which he is a memberHe is also on the editorial board of the film music journal, The Soundtrack.


Zein El-Amine (Poetry Instructor) was born and raised in Lebanon and has lived in the U.S. since 1987. A graduate student in the MFA Program in Creative Writing, his poems have appeared in GYST, Pnumbra, DC Poets Against the War anthology, and Joybringer. He received first prize in the the Tallahassee Writers’ Association Annual Poetry and Haiku Contest. He is a regular contributor of political essays to Left Turn Magazine which he co-founded and his editorials have appeared in the Washington Post and the Washington Spark. Zein leads the Morocco and Ireland Education Abroad programs, and teaches for Terps Young Scholars.


picture of Dr. Naliyah Kaya

Naliyah Kaya (TOTUS Instructor) is an Assistant Professor of Sociology at Montgomery College. She previously served as the first full-time Coordinator for Multiracial & Native American Indian/Indigenous Student Involvement in the Office of Multicultural Involvement & Community Advocacy (MICA) at the University of Maryland, College Park (2013 – 2018) where she continues to facilitate the TOTUS Spoken Word Experience Program in partnership with the Jiménez-Porter Writers’ House. TOTUS utilizes the medium of performance poetry to promote a greater understanding of social justice by examining self and society in relation to systems of power and inequality.  As a “poetic public sociologist,” Dr. Kaya infuses poetry and photography into her sociological work. Her poetry has been published in Hampton University’s literary magazine The Saracen (2005, 2006), George Mason University’s Volition (2010), Voices of the Future Presented by Etan Thomas (2013) and Spindrift Art & Literary Journal (2002, 2010, 2015). She has hosted and planned numerous poetry events, facilitated courses and workshops in prison, middle schools, high schools, and universities, and presented at conferences such as Split This Rock Poetry Festival.



Laura Lauth (Founding Director, 2002-2005) teaches creative writing at the University of Maryland’s Jiménez-Porter Writers’ House, where she served as founding director from 2002-2005. She was recipient of the Orlando Prize in Poetry and The Tupelo Broadside Prize, and her poems have recently appeared in Bellevue Literary Review, The Los Angeles Review, Tikkun, and Painted Bride Quarterly, among others. She lives outside Washington, DC with her husband and two sons.


Danny McGee is a UMD undergraduate student pursuing his BS in Agricultural Science and Technology, which is paired with a minor in creative writing. He was a part of the Honors Humanities program where he created a collection of poetry titled “A Better Spectrum.” In the same program, he also worked to help create and publish the 2018 edition of Impressions, Honors Humanities’ annual magazine. He hopes to one day screen write in California once he graduates in the Spring of 2021.


Jacky Mueck is the graduate assistant for the Writers’ House. She is pursuing a masters degree in English with a certificate in digital humanities. She is also an alumnus of the Writers’ House and the University of Maryland, College Park. She received two B.A.’s in the Spring of 2019 from UMD, one in English Language and Literature and another in Spanish Language, Literatures, and Cultures with minors in creative writing and classical mythology. She will teach a screenwriting workshop for first-year members this Spring.


Ambi Narula (Social Media Strategist) is a UMD undergraduate student majoring in Multiplatform Journalism and minoring in Creative Writing. She is the Editor-in-Chief of UMD’s Odyessy Online, Co-President of Terpoets, Founder/Member of the Merrill College Transfer Committee, Staff Writer for Unwind Magazine and the MoCo Show, Marketing Director for Maryland Night Live, and a stand-up comedian at Milkboy Arthouse. Ambi is a passionate poet and dreams to publish a poetry book before she graduates in Fall 2020. 


Thibault Raoult has published three books—Person Hour, Disposable Epics, and «Pro(m)bois(e)». His poems and short fiction have appeared in BOMB, Lana Turner, Denver Quarterly, New American Writing, typo, Oversound,  Conjunctions, and elsewhere. He teaches writing, literature, and editing courses at University of Maryland and records/performs experimental pop as Historic Sunsets.


vivianne-websiteVivianne Salgado (Associate Director) is a native of Chile, and studied fiction for four years with Pia Barros at Ergo Sum, one of the most prolific literary workshops during Pinochet’s dictatorship. Vivianne received an M.A. in Contemporary Latin American Literature from University of Maryland. She is a fiction instructor at The Writers’ House and leads the Chile Education Abroad winter term course. She teaches a Freshman Connection introduction to literature and critical theory, as well as a summer creative writing course for the Terp Young Scholars Program.


johnna-schmidtJohnna Schmidt (Director) has been at the Writers’ House since its inception in 2002, and has been Director since 2005.  Johnna got her start in writing through an interest in theater, and has performed original work across the U.S., mostly in San Francisco and New York City. She later pursued and received an MFA in Creative Writing: Fiction, at UMD. Her work has been published in Beltway Journal for the Arts, Little Patuxent Review, On the Issues Magazine, The Rush, and Like Water Burning.  Awards include the American Writer’s Program Intro to Journals Nomination in Fiction. Johnna teaches incoming fiction students, as well as the culminating publication course for all Writers’ House students.  


Heidi Scott has taught college literature and screenwriting for more than 10 years.  She has a Ph.D in literature focused on Ecocriticism, and has published two books: Chaos and  Cosmos (2014) and Fuel: An Ecocritical History (2018).  She wrote and directed the short film Landfill (2019), and continues to work with local producers and playwrights on film and theater scripts. Her essays have appeared in Interdisciplinary Studies of Literature and the Environment (ISLE) and Victorian Studies.


Katie Stone (Administrative Assistant) is an undergraduate student at UMD majoring in Nursing and minoring in Spanish. She is a member of the Honors Humanities program and dabbles in as many arts as she can muster the time for. Katie has a passion for creative writing and poetry that will undoubtedly be fostered by her time working with Writers’ House.