Our Mighty Team

Tim Whitaker

TIM WHITAKER, executive director, began his career teaching fifth and sixth grade in Philadelphia before becoming a writer and editor. He was the editor of Philadelphia Weekly (1994—2008), and previously the editor of PhillySport and Pittsburgh magazines. Whitaker was a head writer at NBC Radio and has written for The New York Times, Washington Post and Philadelphia Inquirer. He is also the author of “Crash: The Life and Times of Dick Allen.”
Email: twhitaker@mightywriters.org


RACHEL LOEPER, education director, has taught ESL, remedial reading and creative writing. In 2011, the Pennsylvania Statewide Afterschool Network honored her as an Afterschool Champion. She served as an Afterschool Matters Fellow with the National Institute on Out-of-School-Time from 2010-12 and wrote, “Combat Sports Bloggers, Mad Scientist Poets and Comic Scriptwriters: Engaging Boys in Writing on Their Own Terms,” (Afterschool Matters, Spring 2014). Email: rloeper@mightywriters.org

NAOMI LEVECCHIA, development director, worked in fundraising for The Westfield Symphony and American Repertory Ballet. Prior to her nonprofit work, Naomi practiced law, working with the public defender’s office and law firms. Originally from Toronto, Ontario, Naomi reads as much as possible (especially anything by or about Winston Churchill) and lives with more than 3,000 books. She has a bachelor’s degree from the Eastman School of Music, a master’s degree in French Horn performance and ethnomusicology from the University of North Texas and a law degree from Rutgers, Camden.
Email: nlevecchia@mightywriters.org

Ann Drabick

ANN DRABICK, development associate, is a reader and writer from Doylestown, PA who received her bachelor’s degree in English from Penn State and her master’s in Nonprofit Leadership from the University of Pennsylvania. Before joining Mighty Writers, she worked with organizations in Philadelphia, including HIAS Pennsylvania, Repair the World, and Project Safe. Catch Ann posting about Mighty kids on our Instagram, picking up The Phantom Tollbooth by Norman Juster when she needs inspiration and reading her poetry throughout the city. Email: adrabick@mightywriters.org


KHALIA ROBINSON, program director at MW West, received her degree in communications from Clarion University. Her passion for writing and creative arts first brought her to MW as a volunteer in the fall of 2013, when she first launched the popular “Carpe Diem” writing workshop. Email: krobinson@mightywriters.org

Amy Banegas

AMY BANEGAS, program director at MW North, earned her Masters of Arts in English with a concentration in Journalism from Arcadia University and a Bachelors of Science in Secondary Education with a concentration in English Literature from Temple University. Amy has been an English teacher for 14 years in North Philadelphia and has previously worked at Congreso de Latino Unidos as a youth coordinator. Her passion is writing poetry, journalism, creating art and working with youth in Philadelphia. Email: abanegas@mightywriters.org


MADELINE KARP, program director at El Futuro, has a bachelor’s in history from American University and a master’s in museum education from Tufts University. In 2013, Madeline moved to Philadelphia to work with underserved and at-risk youth as part of Please Touch Museum’s Community Learning team. Madeline loves children’s literature and hopes you’ll stop by to share your favorite books and stories at El Futuro in the 9th Street Market.
Email: mkarp@mightywriters.org

Jamiliah Thompkins Bigelow-768x777

JAMILAH THOMPKINS-BIGELOW, program director at MW South, earned her M.S. in education from the University of Pennsylvania and worked as an English teacher for over a decade before joining Mighty Writers. As a fellow with the Muslim Anti-Racism Collaborative (MuslimARC), she writes anti-racism curricula and facilitates anti-racism workshops. She is passionate about reading and writing children’s literature and her debut children’s book, Mommy’s Khimar, will be published in spring 2018. Email: jtbigelow@mightywriters.org


JAMES OWK, program manager at MW South, received his degree in World History from Temple University. Since Fall 2011, Owk has been supervising middle school writers in the afterschool program and leading the weekly Teen Scholars program.
Email: jowk@mightywriters.org


CHRISTINA RISSELL, program manager at MW West and MW’s mentorship coordinator, is a 2008 Ohio Wesleyan University graduate. Hired as MW’s very first intern in 2009, Christina served as a tutor and workshop assistant. She subsequently spent four years implementing federal government funded mentorship programs in the public schools. Christina works to foster mentorships so meaningful that students will want to become mentors themselves in the future. Email: crissell@mightywriters.org

Mario Meza

MARIO MEZA, program manager at Mighty Writers El Futuro, earned his M.S. in education from SUNY, Buffalo State College. In 2017, Mario moved to Philadelphia to volunteer as an Artist Teacher for the cultural program Taller Puertorriqueño helping students to understanding the real value of their Latin heritage. Mario’s passions are music and teaching. He is looking forward to sharing a wonderful creative writing experience with you.
Email: mmeza@mightywriters.org


SHANISE REDMON, program manager at MW South, graduated with a Bachelor of Arts from Temple University in 2013. Joining as a workshop leader for "The Creative Process" and "Books to Blues" in 2013, Shanise served as a dedicated volunteer for three years before being hired as a staff member in 2016. She currently facilitates the Teen Scholars and mentorship programs at MW South. Shanise anticipates earning her Masters degree in Africology and African American Studies from Temple University in May 2018, at which time she'll begin her PhD. journey.
Email: sredmon@mightywriters.org 


VICTOR JACKSON, program manager at MW Rivera, graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from UCLA in 2016. He has worked for the Juvenile Law Center and Philadelphia Youth Poetry Movement. Our first rec center program manager, Victor is currently designing comic book workshops aligned with in-house sports teams and facilitating a weekly teen comic book program.
Email: vjackson@mightywriters.org

MARTHA COONEY, lead toddler instructor, grew up in Northeast Philadelphia and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania on a Mayor’s Scholarship. She holds a Master’s Degree in Early Childhood Education from City College New York, where she focused on children’s storytelling. Martha lives in Philadelphia where she performs as a comedian and storyteller and publishes work for children, and is the founder and director of StoryUP! (www.storyupphilly.com). She joined Mighty Writers as a volunteer in 2012, and helped launch our first toddler programs in 2016.
Email: hello@mightywriters.org