PEN America welcomed its first cohort of PEN America Gap Year Fellows in 2020. The Fellows worked side-by-side with colleagues across PEN America, contributing to our mission to advance and celebrate free expression while developing new skills in advocacy, communications, event management, research, and other areas.
Erin Carden, Communications Fellow
Erin Carden has worked as a copy editor for the Brooklyn Rail, a Pre-K teacher, a Writers at Risk intern for PEN America, an ESL instructor in Thailand, and a freelance writer. Her interests include the intersection of the written word and the human conscience, freedom of expression, education reform, and the relationship between media and civic engagement. She loves spaghetti and meatballs, washing dishes, window seats, plot twists, and creating and completing to-do lists. She will be a fall 2021 MA candidate in media, culture, and communication at NYU, and holds a BA in human rights and literature from Bard College.
Jaime Gordon, Literary Programs Fellow
Jaime Gordon graduated from Duke University in May 2019 with a BA in cultural anthropology. Gordon previously interned at a literary agency and volunteered at Housing Works Bookstore. Her writing has been featured by Buzzfeed, USA Today, and MTV News. Next fall, she will attend law school, where she hopes to learn more about the intersection of creativity, technology, and intellectual property.
Malaina Kapoor, Free Expression Programs Fellow
Malaina Kapoor will be a freshman at Stanford University in September 2021. Kapoor is the recipient of two national gold medals from the Scholastic Art and Writing Competition. In 2019, she was named a Coolidge Senator, an honor designated annually by the Calvin Coolidge Presidential Foundation to 100 students who demonstrate academic excellence and an interest in public policy and service. She is also the recipient of the Caroline D. Bradley Scholarship, a merit-based scholarship awarded to 30 students annually nationwide. Kapoor is a trained opera singer and has given two solo performances at Carnegie Hall.
Frances Keohane, Prison and Justice Writing Fellow
Frances Keohane is a recent graduate of the Brearley School, a high school in New York City, and has a great passion for criminal justice reform. Though she had planned to attend Yale University as a member of its Class of 2024, Keohane decided to defer matriculation, and instead, focus this year on mass incarceration—specifically, on its timely intersection with the COVID-19 pandemic and storytelling/narrative. In her free time, Keohane enjoys reading, writing, being outdoors (hiking, playing soccer, running), playing board games, watching Sherlock and Black Mirror, and spending time with her family.
Marta Lasota, Free Expression Programs Fellow
Marta Lasota recently graduated magna cum laude from Harvard University with a BA in English and minor in psychology. During her senior year, she served as captain of the Harvard Fencing Team and wrote her honors thesis on human rights poetry. Lasota plans to pursue a Ph.D. in English in the near future.
Will Leggat, Development Fellow
Will Leggat recently graduated from high school at Phillips Academy in Andover, MA, where he served as the editor-in-chief of their literary magazine and coordinated several writing outreach programs. He’s currently taking a gap year before starting college at Yale University next year, where he hopes to major in a combination of English, economics, and history. He resides just a few blocks from the Brooklyn Museum, and he spends most of his free time running and writing poetry and short stories.
Piper Morrison, Artists at Risk Connection Fellow
Piper Morrison is pursuing a degree in history and arts management at Oberlin College with a minor in studio arts. At Oberlin, she is an active member of the dance community, both in performance and working for the department’s publicity team. This past summer, she founded Create/Move/Share, an online visual art and dance program for middle school students in isolation due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Maria Riillo, Literary Awards Fellow
Maria Riillo previously worked as a virtual intern with human resources at PEN America during the summer of 2020. She is a recent graduate of the University of Pennsylvania, where she studied comparative literature and creative writing, with a focus on dramatic writing. During her time at UPenn, she was an active member of the performing arts scene, specifically theater. She also interned at a large nonprofit theater in Philadelphia, where she assisted the literary and artistic departments, reading scripts and providing feedback on the artistic vision.
Statz Tatsumi Saines, Artists at Risk Connection Fellow
Statz Tatsumi has both an arts background and an interest in pursuing a legal career. Tatsumi Saines graduated from Mount Holyoke College in 2020 with a BA in English. In college, she focused her studies on critical social thinking, and she looks forward to expanding her knowledge outside of academia. Apart from writing and research, she enjoys music and learning new languages.