Mira Ptacin, Founder & Director
Mira Ptacin is a creative nonfiction and children’s book author, as well as a New York Times Bestselling ghostwriter. Her compositions have appeared in Guernica, The Morning News, McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, The Rumpus, Smith Magazine, Anderbo.com, Nerve.com, Epiphany Literary Magazine, LUMINA, CommonDreams.org, and more.
She was born and raised by two freerange-thinking parents in Battle Creek, a small city in the southwestern part of the Michigan mitten where a certain Dr. John Harvey Kellogg invented cornflakes. After Michigan, she embarked on a dig in Mongolia to pursue archaeology, but soon learned that she’d much rather write about the living than the dead. After Mongolia, Mira headed to Maine to study at the Salt Institute for Documentary Studies, where she produced and published “Working for the Living”, a written documentary about the life of family-run funeral homes.
She earned her Masters of Fine Arts in Nonfiction Writing from Sarah Lawrence College, and is the former editor-at-large of their literary magazine, LUMINA. She’s led creative writing workshops at the Valhalla Women’s Correctional Facility, was a writer-in-residence at the Bronx Academy of Letters, served as guest faculty at Sarah Lawrence College’s Summer Writers Seminar for adults, and taught writing at CUNY-York College in Jamaica, Queens. In the summer of 2012, she moved to Peaks Island, Maine, where she resides with her husband and their two dogs. She currently teaches writing at the Salt Institute for Documentary Studies.
Kassi Underwood, Host
Kassi Underwood is an award-winning writer whose work has appeared in The New York Times, The Atlantic online, The New York Daily News, Guernica, The Rumpus, The Days of Yore, Publishers Weekly, Exhale’s Pro-Voice blog, and elsewhere.
She hails from Kentucky, the wild blue heaven that gave you fried chicken, whiskey, and Patty Loveless. She kissed a lot of horses and drove a great many pickup trucks before falling in love with the University of Vermont and moving northeast to study people and work as a seamstress at a vintage shop. Equipped with a B.A., she tipped her clunker southbound toward Austin, Texas to bust fraud. She edited books about white-collar crime, served as a contributing editor for Fraud Magazine, and spent long hours eating tacos, dancing like a gorilla, and frying her leathery skin.
She holds an M.F.A. in literary nonfiction from Columbia University, where she teaches in the Undergraduate Writing Program.
As one of many leaders in the pro-voice movement, she speaks about her personal experience with abortion at colleges and churches around the country to encourage people to tell their own stories, whatever they may be, and to listen to one another with unconditional love. Like Mother Theresa, Gandhi, and beauty pageant contestants everywhere, she strives to build world peace.
She represents Queens.
Michelle Koufopoulos, Managing Director
Michelle Koufopoulos is a writer and editor based in New York. She graduated from Sarah Lawrence College with a B.A. with Honors and studied writing at Oxford University. When Michelle isn’t working on Freerange, you can find her at Guernica: A Magazine of Art and Politics, where she is the Special Issues Editor, and in the editorial department of Riverhead Books. To reach Michelle, email: michelle (at) freerangenonfiction (dot) com or follow her on Twitter @_belletristic_
Mike Murphy, Director of Publicity
Mike Murphy earned his MFA in literary nonfiction from Columbia University and runs an after school program in Queens. As a contestant in Columbia’s Ding Dong Reading Series Tournament, he slaughtered 54 of his classmates and took home a paper crown with Best Writer at Columbia written in magic marker. His work has appeared in the Shady Side Review, The Alewife, and elsewhere. He writes about backyard wrestling, being the fat kid at the beach, and the slimming practice of BMX. He was born and raised in Beverly, Massachusetts, and he eats in Astoria. To reach Mike, e-mail: mkmurphy30 (at) gmail (dot) com
Ruby Brunton, Production Coordinator
Ruby Brunton is a writer, poet, and performer based in New York City. From her earliest experiences of theatre with the highly political New Zealand troupe Red Mole, Ruby Brunton has had an interest in art as a tool for social change. Ruby uses a cross-media approach to examine the question of expanding freedoms for all people. Her methods lie in listening, creating dialogue, and suspending judgment. You can keep up with her projects on Twitter @RubyBrunton and Instagram @ArmorAmour. To reach Ruby, e-mail rubybrunton (at) gmail (dot) com.
Andrew Piccone, Photographer
Andrew Piccone is a photographer and visual artist based in Brooklyn. After graduating from Moravian College with a BA in Photojournalism in 2008, he relocated to New York, where he honed his street photography skills amongst the canyons of midtown Manhattan. Since then, his body of work has evolved to include collage, street art, installation, and more. Themes of Piccone’s work include self identity in the age of the internet and the slow decay of American culture. His work can be seen at andrewpiccone.com, thishasgottostop.net, instagram/twitter: @andrewpiccone
François R. Caron, Website Administrator
François is the founder and principal consultant of Virtua Design, a web design boutique based in Ottawa, Canada. He is a graphic designer, web developer and teacher. You can follow him on Twitter and Facebook.