Ainsley Hawthorn, President
Ainsley Hawthorn, PhD, is a cultural historian, nonfiction author, and speaker originally from Steady Brook and now based in St. John’s. She blogs for Psychology Today, writes for a variety of publications, and edited the non-fiction anthology Land of Many Shores: Perspectives from a Diverse Newfoundland and Labrador. She also co-created Apocalypse Then, a CBC radio series that looked at past pandemics to shed light on the COVID experience. As past Executive Director of the Community Foundation of Newfoundland and Labrador, Ainsley has a background in grant-making and endowment funds. She served as WritersNL Vice-President and Chair of the Literary Awards Committee for two years before becoming President in 2021.
Mandie Thomson, Vice President
Mandie Thomson is from a small town in Ontario. She moved to the west coast of Newfoundland in the fall of 2023 and is absolutely loving it! Mandie thinks she was meant to be a Newfoundlander.
Mandie was a Customer Service Assistant at the Hanover Public Library in Ontario for 4 years. Last year she covered a maternity leave there, working as the Library Assistant of Technology; she learned so much and really enjoyed the work. Working at the Hanover library inspired Mandie to begin college; she is currently in her final term of the Library and Information Technician Diploma online through Mohawk College. Mandie continues to work full time as a Library Clerk, and she hopes to become a Library Technician after finishing college.
Prior to working in libraries, Mandie earned a Bachelor of Arts from McMaster University. She double-majored in English Literature and Cognitive Science of Language. She also has a Master of Arts from McMaster, majoring in English Literature.
Mandie has been writing since public school, and always knew she wanted to be an author. Her work has not yet been published because she has been so busy with school, but she is excited to devote more time to her craft. She also can’t think of a better place to write than beautiful Newfoundland.
Weston Raske, Treasurer
Weston Raske was born in Calgary, AB but has lived in St. John’s since the age of two. He graduated with a Bachelor of Commerce Honours (Co-operative) degree from Memorial University of Newfoundland in 1992 and went on to earn his Chartered Professional Accountant (CPA) designation in 1995. For the first half of his career, Weston worked in public accounting with firms such as Ernst and Young and Grant Thornton. Since 2011, he has been employed as a senior manager in finance and accounting with Vision33 Canada Inc. a private company with a global reach in delivering information technology solutions for both private and public organizations. He has also previously served as Treasurer on the Board of TechNL.
During the pandemic, Weston wrote his first novel, The Dirty Dozen, and self-published it in May, 2023. He is currently working on a second novel in the series, tentatively titled South China Sea.
He married the love of my life, Judy, in 1994, and together they have raised two children. Weston has wide and varied interests with a love of the outdoors, various sports, watch collecting, and vintage automobiles – such as his beloved 1965 Mustang coupe. You might also catch Weston cruising around town on his Suzuki Boulevard motorcycle
Teresita Dziadura, Secretary
Teresita E. Dziadura is a speculative fiction writer from St. John’s, NL. She is an insurance broker by day and a writer by night. In a previous life, she studied biology and chemistry at MUN. Her debut novel Corporate Invasion was launched in May 2021 by Engen Books. She also has a number of stories in best-selling anthologies with both Engen Books and the New Zealand publisher Black Hare Press. Additionally, for the last five years, Teresita has helped to produce a quarterly newsletter for her employer, Johnson Insurance. Teresita spent ten years volunteering with Girl Guides of Canada as a leader of the Rennie’s River Sparks Unit and seven years volunteering with Cabot Habitat for Humanity.
Stacey Oakley, St. John’s/Avalon Representative (2 year)
Stacey Oakley has lived on both coasts of Canada, and now calls St. John’s home along with her cat, Sophia. She has a Bachelor of Arts, with a Major in Art History & Visual Studies and a Minor in Social Justice Studies and a Post-Grad Diploma in Cultural Resource Management from the University of Victoria as well as a Diploma in Executive Office Administration from the College of the North Atlantic, during which she completed an internship with WritersNL.
She has independently published two novels, Hunter’s Soul and The Necromancer, and four short stories, with sequels to both novels in the works. Her literary interests encompass both fiction and non-fiction, though her own work is primarily fantasy. She enjoys taking on new challenges, whether it’s in writing or in life.
Collin Glavac, St. John’s/Avalon Representative (1 year)
Collin Glavac is a #1 Bestselling Amazon author. He moved to Newfoundland two years ago with no job, friends, or family in town, but purely to write by the ocean.
He completed his B.A. and M.A. at Brock University. He has written, directed, and acted in two original stage plays: In Real Life and LoveSpell. Collin has written four self-published books: Ghosts of Guatemala, Operation Nicaragua, and Cuban Conspiracy, (spythriller trilogy) and Vaulter’s Magic, (young adult urban-fantasy), which he also does the voice acting for on audiobook. He is frantically working on the sequel, and you can catch him handselling at local markets and events.
Collin is the fortunate recipient of an ArtsNL grant, and his work has been recently featured in WritersNL’s Nightmare on George Street and WORD magazine. He is eager to get more involved in WritersNL, continue to work on his craft, and meet more scrappy writers!
Sheri Singleton, Central/Burin/Bonavista Representative
A graduate of Memorial University, Sheri teaches High School English. She lives with her two cats on the beautiful island of Twillingate, NL, a picturesque community of roughly 2500 people off the province’s northeast coast. Her poem The Drive appears in the English 3202 text Vistas used by grade 12 students province-wide. Her poem Sunday Morning, 9 a.m. was nominated for the 2020 Pushcart Prize.
She is currently working on her first novel.
Shelly Kawaja, Western/Labrador Representative
Shelly Kawaja’s first novel, The Raw Light of Morning, was recently released with Breakwater Books in September 2022. Her work has appeared in several literary magazines such as The Humber Literary Review, The Dalhousie Review, PACE, and WORD Magazine. She was longlisted for the Bridge Prize, the Writer’s Alliance of Newfoundland and Labrador’s Fresh Fish Award, and won the GritLIT 2020 short fiction contest. Shelly is a creative writing student in the University of British Columbia’s MFA program and a graduate of The Humber School for Writers and Memorial University of Newfoundland.
Leon Chung, Member at Large (2 year)
Leon Chung is a Newfoundland-based cartoonist and illustrator, with a design background (hand-drawn 2D art and animation and traditional painting/drawing). He currently works as a freelance artist/writer, creating illustrations, and written editorial comic pieces for magazines and art journals. His artworks have been recognized provincially and nationally, including by the Historic Sites Association of Newfoundland & Labrador and Canada Council for the Arts, and are displayed at some of the province’s most beloved landmarks, including the Cabot Tower of Signal Hill, Cape Spear Historic Site, and various Heritage Shoppe storefronts across Newfoundland. He has illustrated three children’s books, a cookbook, and drawn/written editorial illustrations for Riddle Fence Art Journal & Magazine and Newfoundland Quarterly, renowned as Canada’s longest running arts and culture magazine. Leon’s first graphic novel, Furusato | 故郷, is an anthology of tales about the bittersweet cycle of love, grief, and coffee.
Khadija Rhema, Member at Large (1 year)
Khadija Rehma (she/her) is a communications professional, fiction writer and mom of two teens and one guinea pig. With professional experience in non-profit communication for social impact, her aspirations are driven and informed by the human condition across cultures, countries, and social and economic power structures.
Born in Bangladesh, Khadija has had the opportunity to work with and learn from some of the most impactful and inspiring non-profits in the world. She currently works as a Media Relations Manager in the Department of Children, Seniors and Social Development, Government of Newfoundland and Labrador. Her literary endeavors include an unpublished novel Dishonourable Daughters, shortlisted in 2022 for the NLCU Fresh Fish Award. She is also working on a collection of short stories, one of which titled What Could Have Been was selected for the 2023 Arts and Letters Award.
Khadija has a BA in English from Coe College, Iowa, where she received the 2003 Paul Engle Award for Creative Writing; and an MPhil in the Humanities from the Memorial University of Newfoundland and Labrador.
Hannah Jenkins, Youth Advocate
Hannah Jenkins is the poet behind The Birds Come Back in the Spring, and the current Writer in Residence at the Corner Brook Public Library. She holds a BA in English Literature from MUN, and is currently completing the Master of Applied Literary Arts program at Grenfell Campus. Hannah’s past volunteer work includes running the Grenfell Campus Literary Society, sitting on the editorial board of The Paper Mill Press, and being an active member of WritersNL’s Youth Committee. Hannah has had work featured in various anthologies and journals, and was selected for WritersNL’s Emerging Writers Mentorship Program in 2020.
Susan Flanagan, Past President
Susan has worked as a freelance journalist (BJ, King’s College, NS, 1991) in St. John’s, NL for more over 30 years. Her written works have appeared in Canadian Geographic, National Geographic (maps), Canadian Running, Queen’s Quarterly, Newfoundland Quarterly, The Hockey News, Noia News, Doctors’ Review, Atlantic Progress, Atlantic Business, Saltscapes, Labrador Life, SOAR and Mariner Magazine, among others.
Susan contributed a bi-weekly column, 48 Degrees, to The Newfoundland Herald (2002-04) and a weekly column, The Kids are Alright, to The Telegram (2011-15).
She also contributed 40+ stories to Memorial University’s Gazette in 2017 and wrote the last two Annual Research Reports for Memorial’s Faculty of Engineering.
She has been a Contributor on CBC Radio (St. John’s), The Point, Out Front, Radio Noon and Definitely Not The Opera (DNTO) and has worked for both NTV in St. John’s and CBC TV in Halifax and St. John’s as reporter, producer and researcher.