WE ARE DRIVEN TO MAKE WRITING
Writing is a daunting challenge for many Ohio students, but it need not be. At PenOhio, we rely on praise and inspiration to help young people develop confidence in a written voice that is uniquely and powerfully their own.
The place where praise shines brightest is at PenOhio's signature Interscholastic Writing Tournaments. 300 writers. Three rounds of nail-biting sweat. An afternoon of fellowship, applause, and bows.
PenOhio is the flagship State Charter of The United Fellowship of The Pen (UFP), a new national non-profit organization aiming to make writing a sport all across America. UFP was formally chartered on February 24, 2017, and was sanctioned by the IRS as a stand-alone 501c(3) non-profit organization on April 25, 2018, to provide educational support to public, private, and parochial schools across the United States.
United Fellowship of the Pen is managed under the governance of an active and engaged Board of Trustees representative of all of Ohio now. In future years, the Board will expand to involve representatives from other States where charters are seeded.
Tournaments are only one part of the PenOhio story, though. Of equal--and perhaps greater importance--the PenOhio system creates an avenue whereby excellent writing can be identified and used by teaching community for instruction. This distinct feature of our organization extends extraordinary benefit to educators.
PenOhio provides an exceptional value at a very low cost in a content area that presents difficulty for many schools. We must continue to work very hard to realize that we are in the service business, and that customer teachers and students have very busy lives and many challenges of their own. Our shared vision as an organization must be to be the one place where people can come to enjoy a chance to experience blue sky, feel sunshine and warmth, and bask in the glow of constant encouragement. So long as we always strive to do right by those we serve, we will reach our shared goal of making writing a sport all across the land.
Newbery Award-Winning Author Jack Gantos addresses a crowd of 1,500 guests at the PenOhio 7/8 State Finals on May 25, 2018, at The College of Wooster. Jack's positive message is part of United Fellowship of The Pen's broader goal to help teachers and students better writing by inspiring, praising, and rewarding excellence in written expression.
PenOhio President and New York Times Best Selling Author D. Watkins congratulate the Sweepstakes Award Winning Team from the Historic First PenOhio 9-12 State Finals on May 19, 2018, from Western Reserve Academy in Hudson, Ohio.
THE 2017-2019 UNITED FELLOWSHIP OF THE PEN BOARD OF TRUSTEES
EXECUTIVE BOARD (VOTING)
Shaker Heights Middle School
Interim President & Programs Chair
Erika Pfeiffer teaches 8th grade Language and Literature at Shaker Heights Middle School, where she has been a writing coach for 11 years. She earned her B.A. in English Literature from Kent State University, her 7-12 Language Arts certification from Notre Dame College, and her M.S. in Educational Leadership from Western Governors University. Erika is a mental health advocate, currently writing a book about parenting struggling children. She and her educator husband, Brent, reside in Kent, Ohio, and are the parents of two college-aged children.
Veronica Becker, M.B.A.
Veronica Becker is the Chief Financial Officer at ASM International, the world's largest non-profit association of materials-focused engineers, scientists, technicians, educators, and students.
A member and volunteer-based organization, ASM International serves as a central resource that gathers the latest applied information from the field and disseminates it back to industry, academia, and government through published content, classes, conferences, expositions, and local chapter engagement. By acting as a catalyst for vigorous professional activities, ASM International fuels a passionate sense of community, energizes members to aspire to new levels of success and satisfaction, advances the development of materials, and ultimately elevates the importance of its professions.
With an MBA from the Stern School of Business in New York, Mrs. Becker has an extensive career background of business/financial management expertise at the executive level with comprehensive management experience, including a proven track record of producing actionable analysis, ensuring strategic objectives are met, and balancing deliverables and deadlines for multiple initiatives and projects. Her past experience also includes significant time spent in service to the Girl Scouts/Great Trail Council.
In this role, Mrs. Becker assumes officership and leadership in service to United Fellowship of The Pen's Board of Trustees in the exercise of Duties of Loyalty, Care, Compliance, and to Maintain Accounts, as required by Ohio law of 501c3 organizations.
J.A. Garfield Middle School
Jackie Lovelace teaches 7th grade language arts at James A. Garfield Middle School in Garrettsville, Ohio. She was introduced to writing competitions during student teaching and has been coaching writing for nineteen years. Jackie earned her BA in Theater at Kent State University and returned to earn her BS in English Education. She is currently the United Fellowship of the Pen Board Secretary, PenOhio's Registrar and Tournament Operation Director. She lives in Kent, Ohio, with her two adult children, Thomas and Tyler.
Dr. Janet Bland
A native of Seattle, Washington, Dr. Bland joined the Marietta College faculty in 2005, after serving as the Director of First Year English at the University of Denver. At Marietta she helped develop the Creative Writing Concentration in the English Department and taught for many years in the Honors program. After serving as a McCoy Associate Professor, Division Coordinator for Arts and Humanities, and Associate Dean for Accreditation, she was appointed Provost and Dean of the Faculty in July 2015.
Dr. Bland's research interests include Creative Writing, Twentieth and Twenty-first Century Fiction, (Post Modernist, Women’s, Non-western), Narratology, Poststructuralism, and Cultural Studies. An award winning teacher and writer, her publications include a writing and civic engagement textbook; a short story collection; and other short stories and essays on topics including creativity, the first year experience, and campus engagement in accreditation. Dr. Bland and her partner Elinor have two adult sons, Mike and Jeff.
Beachwood City Middle School
Communications Committee Chair
Thomas Merrill earned a B.S. in Mass Communications at Miami University with concentrated study in Journalism in 1988, and a Masters in Curriculum and Instruction from The University of Akron in 2016. Thomas has worked with Pen Programs since 1985, when he was Managing Editor at The Miami Student in Oxford, Ohio, and his mom announced that she would launch Power of the Pen. Upon graduation, Thomas went on to earn a living as a creative writer for decades, first in non-profit, and then in brand marketing. At the height of his corporate career, his clients were many and very well to do. Thomas led major marketing campaigns for Microsoft, Louisiana Pacific Corporation, Limited Brands, Cleveland Clinic, Blackberry, OMNOVA Corporation, Kent State University, and many more.
Thomas is a 4-time Best of Show honoree for Creative Excellence via The American Advertising Federation. In 2014, he addressed the National Conference of The American Association for the Advancement of Curriculum Studies, and was named Community Partner of the Year in 2013 by The LeBron James College of Education at The University of Akron. Thomas has three grown children, and has one grandchild. He is an avid skier and outdoor adventurist. He has cycled across the United States twice, and has restored two national historic homes. PenOhio's current office is a national historic restoration project that Thomas is reconstructing in his spare time in cooperation with the Historic District Management, Ltd. of Akron, Ohio.
P.R. Miller, Artist and Wizard, has been in the recycling industry 70 years, starting in the junkyard and finishing as owner of a demolition contracting firm. Access to unlimited materials from recycled goods provided ample supply for him to develop as a producing artist, primarily of large public sculptures. His art pieces can be found in most states East of the Mississippi River. He has been featured in a movie, “The Grizzled Wizard of Waste Naught Want Naught”, and has coauthored a book of the same title. He has been Artist-in-Residence at Stan Hywet Hall and Gardens, Mount Union College, Walsh University, and Cleveland Botanical Gardens. P.R. is currently Artist-in-Residence at Blueberry Hill Family Farms near Loudonville, Ohio. He has been featured on several radio and television programs, including The History Channel’s award-winning program, American Pickers.
A STATEMENT BY THE BOARD CONCERNING THE FIRST AMENDMENT
In one small hamlet, tucked amid the rollicking New England countryside just west of the Chesapeake Bay, townsfolk who read their morning paper on July 5, 1776, may not have noticed The Declaration of Independence. It was brazenly plastered all over the front pages of newspapers everywhere else in America. But not in this village.
The Maryland Gazette published The Declaration of Independence on Page 2 that day because, the newspaper explained, journalistic patriots dedicated to the people of Annapolis, Maryland, must attend to the news needs of their own home town first. News of the outside world need come second.
Twenty score and two years later, United Fellowship of The Pen and PenOhio stand in salute, in prayer, and in union with all of the journalists at this very same newspaper, just as we do with all journalists who are under attack in today's world. For it is at The Capital Gazette--the organization sired by The Maryland Gazette--where a tragic shooting on July 28, 2018, claimed the lives of five journalists and injured two more. Such an attack on our right to know the truth is an a attack on the foundation on the values of our country.
These people were killed and injured pursuing the same mission that was in place the very day when our country was born. They were and are men and women seeking to better their community through the written word, which is a mission that our organization endeavors also to do. We can think of no higher nor more important calling than this.
We owe our Democracy and our Constitutionally-guaranteed freedoms to a free press. The men and women of our local newspapers--journalists and writers--are the front-line defenders of these freedoms. We owe them honor for their work. We owe them respect. We owe them prayer, Godspeed. We owe them thanks, as our lives are blessed by and through them.