Patrice Melnick, Executive Director. Patrice Melnick is a writer, arts administrator, educator and business owner.

Melnick taught English and creative writing at Xavier University in New Orleans for 13 years where she founded one of the first creative writing programs at a Historically Black University. She has also taught a Literary Nonfiction Workshop in the low-residency MFA program at the University of New Orleans.

Turning Up the Volume (Xavier Press), a memoir, was published in 2005 a new memoir, Contraband Po-boy: from Diagnosis Back to Life (Catalyst Book Press.) Her essays and poems have appeared in Grain, The Xavier Review, Buffalo Bones and Prism International and other journals.

Following Hurricane Katrina, Melnick moved from New Orleans to Grand Coteau, Louisiana, where she opened up a gift shop and started a literary reading and open mic series. In 2010 she established the nonprofit organization the Festival of Words Cultural Arts Collective which promotes the literary arts in the surrounding rural communities.

Patrice Melnick holds a B.A. in English from the University of Texas at Austin, and an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from the University of Alaska, Fairbanks. More information is available here: http://www.pw.org/content/patrice_melnick
Bruce Coen, President, has lived in California where he spent time in L.A. studying acting and attempting a career in film. He lived in Bakersfield, CA for a year where he did 6-7 shows in a row including musicals and Shakespeare. Since moving to Lafayette in 2004, he's directed 5-6 shows, taught acting through ULL's Potpourri, and acted in numerous productions including Les Marionettes.
Marie Touchet, Vice President, Raised in Acadiana, Marie Touchet has always had a fondness for traveling, writing, and reading. She has worked for a computer software company for 10 years. She also helps run Lyrically Inclined, a spoken word poetry organization in Lafayette, LA. She is currently serving as Vice President on the board for Festival of Words.
Martha Garner, Secretary, a Yankee transplant who is thriving in Southern soil. Moved to Lafayette five years ago and has developed a love for the city and its amazing cultural variety. Has taught young children for 20 years, and is currently teaching preK in Iberia Parish. Has loved reading since she was a young child. Started writing poetry when in Acadiana Writing Project in 2009. Hopes to share her love of all things literary and support Festival of Words by serving on the board.
Bruce Snow, Treasurer, grew up in Boston but has lived in Lafayette for most his life. Studied liberal arts in college and engineering in graduate school. Married with one grown daughter. Came to Louisiana as a petroleum geologist and then later became a database administrator, now (mostly) retired.

In retirement, stays busy maintaining websites (pro bono), teaching ESL, studying linguistics and flamenco guitar and enjoys international travel.

Serves on the board for several organizations: Shining Light Foundation, VITA, Unitarian Universalist of Lafayette and Food Net, mainly as a webmaster and/or treasurer.
Tracy Glenn, Graphics Designer, was born in Lafayette but moved to Anchorage, Alaska, when she was 11 and lived there until she was 21. She attended Louisiana Technical College and earned a degree in graphic design. She began her career in graphics working for the Quik Quarter and moved to The Daily Advertiser, where she was the most sought-after designer on staff. She eventually moved from advertising to the newspaper's marketing department. In 2007, she left the newspaper to accept the position of Advertising and Design Coordinator for Iberia Bank, where she has worked since. In her free time, she enjoys creating electronic music, painting and making frequent trips to Canada.

Harriet Maher began teaching as a first grader, when she would return from school to teach the alphabet to younger siblings, so that they were reading before they entered kindergarten. Teaching was always Plan A. She got her first teaching paycheck in 1974, and except for a few years in graduate school, has taught every year since then...English, French, journalism, and creative writing in public and private schools in Louisiana and Texas. A National Board Certified teacher, she worked as a lead or mentor teacher in Lafayette Parish for seven years. She is currently teaching French to third, fourth, and fifth graders at the Episcopal School of Acadiana Lower School.

For more than 20 years, she has been a teacher-consultant with the Acadiana Writing Project, an affiliate of the National Writing Project, and has collaborated with other teachers on Writes of Spring and Louisiana Writes local and state student writing contests. She has done numerous conference presentations and workshops, as well as Lafayette Reads Ernest Gaines, which resulted in a teaching guide on "The Sky is Gray." As students have been contest winners or finalists. She was named ROW Teacher of the Year in 2012.

Harriet lives in a 1930s farmhouse in Sunset with her husband, Mike, and adored Labrador, Roddy. Her adult sons, Brett and Kevin, reside in Texas and Shanghai.
Barbie Hedge
Rick Baily
Nettie McDaniel

The Festival of Words is funded in part by a grant from South Arts in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts and the Louisiana Endowment for the Arts.

The Festival of Words appreciates partnerships with Acadiana Writing Project; Grand Coteau Cultural Arts Foundation; the Thensted Center; Lyrically Inclined; Beth Fusilier of Sterling Kia, Graphic Designer Tracy.Duhamel; Chicorys Coffee & Cafe'; Grand Coteau Bistro, Giles Auto Rent; Nunu's Arts and Culture Collective, and St. Landry Parish Tourism. We are also supported by many generous donors of our community and from all over the country.

We also appreciate in-kind support from The Center for Louisiana Studies at UL, and C. Bruce Snow, Data Management.

updated 6/21/2012
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