18 July, 2022


M. D. Usher is a classicist, carpenter, and farmer who writes about
ancient philosophy and literature from the vantage point of
environmental humanities and ecology. He is author of the upcoming
Following Nature’s Lead: Ancient Ways of Living in a Dying World
(Princeton University Press, 2024), and other books for readers of all ages, including POEM: A Mashup (Fomite Press, 2022), The Golden Ass of Lucius Apuleius (David Godine, 2011), both illustrated by T. Motley, How to Be a Farmer (Princeton University Press, 2021), and Plato’s Pigs & Other Ruminations (Cambridge University Press, 2020).

Usher is the Lyman-Roberts Professor of Classical Languages and  Literature at the University of Vermont and a faculty member in the Department of Geography and Geosciences, The Environmental Program, the Food Systems Graduate Program, and the Gund Institute for Environment.  His work has been recognized by fellowships and awards from various agencies, including the Fulbright Scholars Program, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the French Institutes for Advanced Study, the Institute for Advanced Study in the Humanities at the University of Edinburgh, and the Center for Hellenic Studies in Washington, D.C. With his wife he built, owns, and operates Works & Days Farm—named after an ancient agronomic poem by Hesiod—where they raise sheep, Scottish Highland cattle, and manage a maple sugarbush.

12 July, 2022

O’Dell, Ph.D., Emily J.

Dr. Emily Jane O’Dell is the author of The Gift of Rumi (St. Martins, July, 2022) and a renowned expert on Sufism and Islamic law.  She has spent over two decades visiting Sufi masters from Indonesia to Mali, studied Sufi whirling in Cairo and Istanbul, and preserved historic Sufi shrines on the Silk Road.  For her expertise in Islamic law, she has been a Research Scholar in Law and Islamic Law and Civilization Research Fellow at Yale Law School, and an editor for Harvard Law School’s SHARIASource.

Stateside she has taught at Columbia, Brown, and Harvard, where she received an award for teaching excellence, and she has also taught abroad as the Whittlesey Chair of History and Archaeology at the American University of Beirut, an Associate Professor at Sichuan University–Pittsburgh Institute in China, and an Assistant Professor at Sultan Qaboos University in the Sultanate of Oman.  She has taught Sufi whirling in Istanbul, Beirut, and New York.

For her in-country field research on Sufism, she has received many prestigious fellowships and been an Edward A. Hewett Policy Fellow
(Tajikistan & Afghanistan), a Fulbright Fellow (Indonesia), a Harvard Traveling Fellow (Iran), a Columbia University Pepsico Fellow
(Uzbekistan/Karakalpakstan), an IREX Fellow (Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Czech Republic, Slovak Republic & Hungary), an American Center for Mongolian Studies Fellow (Mongolia), an American Councils Fellow (Turkmenistan), and a State Department Critical Language Fellow

Her research on Sufism and Islamic history can be found in the International Journal of Persian Literature, Iranian Studies,
Journal of Global Slavery, Journal of Africana Religions, Obsidian: Literature & Arts in the African Diaspora, Journal of Literary and
Cultural Disability Studies, Disability & Society, and Harvard Law School’s SHARIASource.  Her writing has appeared in The New York
Times, The Louisville Review, Al Jazeera, NPR, CounterPunch, Salon, TRT World, The Christian Science Monitor, and Huffington Post.

Currently a professor at Parami University in Myanmar and a fellow at the American Institute for Indonesian Studies in Java, she is
presently writing a memoir about her adventures in China and Tibet.

9 May, 2022


Lisa L. Lewis is a freelance journalist who covers the intersection of parenting, public health, and education. Her book, The Sleep-Deprived Teen: Why Our Teenagers Are So Tired, And How Parents And Schools Can Help Them Thrive (Mango Publishing, June 2022), is an outgrowth of her previous work on the topic, including her role helping get California’s landmark law on healthy school start times passed. Her book received a starred review from Publishers Weekly and been described as “a call to action” by Arianna Huffington and “an urgent and timely read” by Daniel H. Pink.

Lisa has written for The Washington PostThe New York TimesThe Atlantic, and the Los Angeles Times, among others. She’s a parent to a teen and a recent teen who inspire much of what she writes about—everything from concussions and heat stroke to teenage sleep. She has a master’s degree from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University, an MFA from Mills College, and a bachelor’s degree from UC Berkeley. Lisa lives in California with her husband, their high-schooler, and their polydactyl cat.

You can find Lisa on Facebook:


10 March, 2022


Roy Hoffman, a novelist and journalist, is author of four novels: The Promise of the Pelican (Arcade Crimewise, March 2022) which is at once a murder mystery, legal drama and family story, Come Landfall, a novel of hurricanes and war, involving three women and the men they love, impacted by World War II, Vietnam, and Iraq; Chicken Dreaming Corn, endorsed by Harper Lee, inspired by his grandparents’ sojourn from Eastern Europe to the Deep South; Almost Family, winner of the Lillian Smith Award for fiction, about a black family and a Jewish family in civil-rights-era Alabama. He is author of two nonfiction collections: Back Home: Journeys through Mobile, with a focus on the diverse cultures of the Gulf Coast; and Alabama Afternoons: Profiles and Conversations, portraits of authors, artists, civil rights figures, and ordinary folks “famous on their block.” A native of Mobile, Roy worked as a writer in New York City for 20 years, including a stint as a speechwriter, before returning South with his wife and daughter in 1996 to Mobile Bay. A former staff writer for the Mobile Press-Register, with a special interest in area culture, religion, and history, he received the 2009 Clarence Cason Award in Nonfiction Writing from the University of Alabama, and contributes essays and reviews to the New York Times and other publications. A graduate of Tulane, he teaches fiction and nonfiction in the low-residency MFA in Writing Program at Spalding University in Louisville, Kentucky. For more, go to


9 March, 2022


Michelle Dempsey-Multack  is a writer, mom, coach, speaker, and genuine girl power enthusiast. Michelle attended American University as a Journalism major, graduated Hofstra University’s Communications program with a Bachelor’s Degree in Communications, and then earned a Double Masters Degree in Education from Adelphi University.

She is the author of MOMS MOVING ON:  Real-Life Advice for Conquering Divorce, Co-Parenting Through Conflict, and Becoming Your Best Self (Simon Element, March 2022).

Michelle moved to Miami in her late 20’s where the “second part of her life” began. She married her daughter’s father and they brought beautiful Bella into the world. Years later, Michelle married her now-husband Spencer, and they live in North Miami Beach where they are raising their beautiful blended family, sneaking in as many ski trips as possible, going to every concert they can, and truly enjoying this new phase of their lives.

For more:


8 February, 2022


Karla Salinari is a Holistic Health Coach.  Born in Puerto Rico, raised in Miami, she lives in Brooklyn.  She helps moms and families to develop a healthier relationship to food.  She “flips” recipes, substituting higher quality ingredients, so that families can enjoy the recipes they love from their Latin heritage, but adapted to be much healthier. When she’s not coaching clients, she co-leads B.Well Collective, a female collective dedicated to curating experiences that support and empower women.

Her first cookbook, BEYOND ABUELA’S KITCHEN will be published by Skyhorse in Spring 2023.  It features vegan recipes that draw on her Latin roots.

2 December, 2021


Michael Feuer is Dean of the Graduate School of Education and Human Development and Professor of Education Policy at the George Washington University, Past President of the National Academy of Education, and Nonresident Senior Fellow in the Center for Universal Education at the Brookings Institution. In the fall of 2014, President Obama appointed Dean Feuer as a Member of the Board of Directors of the National Board for Education Sciences.

Prior to his joining GW, for the previous 17 years, Dean Feuer held positions at the National Research Council of the National Academies, most recently as the executive director of the Division of Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education. He also served as a senior analyst and project director at the US Congress Office of Technology Assessment.

Feuer received his BA (cum laude) in English literature from Queens College New York, an MA in public management from the Wharton School, and a PhD in public policy analysis from the University of Pennsylvania. He has studied at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and the Sorbonne, was on the faculty of the business school at Drexel University from 1981-1986, and has taught courses in education policy and research at Penn and Georgetown.

Feuer consults regularly to educational institutions and government in the US, Israel, Europe, and the Middle East. He has published in education, economics, and policy journals and has had reviews, essays, and poems in newspapers and magazines in Washington, Philadelphia, Los Angeles, and New York. He is also the host of the education podcast EdFix.

Feuer is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and of the American Educational Research Association.

29 October, 2021


SEAN KINGSLEY is an archaeologist, historian and writer specializing in the sunken past and the Bible Lands. He has a doctorate from Oxford University and is a former visiting Fellow at Reading University. For eight years Sean was the managing editor of Minerva, the international review of ancient art and archaeology. In 2020 he founded the world’s first popular magazine dedicated to the cultural wonders of the sea, Wreckwatch, and is its Editor-in-Chief ( 

Sean is the Director of Wreck Watch Int. that seeks to protect the sunken past and share its discoveries, as well as the lead archaeologist for the Maritime Heritage Foundation on the wreck of the English first-rate, 100-gun Victory, the greatest warship of the early Georgian age of sail, sunk in the English Channel in 1744. Beneath the waves, Sean has explored over 350 wrecks from Late Bronze Age and Byzantine ships in 2 meters off Israel to the world’s deepest wrecks found using robots down to 4,700 meters off Ireland. Riviera Buzz recently dubbed Sean the ‘David Attenborough of Shipwrecks’. 

Sean has published over 200 articles, news features, editorials and book reviews and written 13 popular and academic non-fiction books. They range from the threat of fishing trawlers bulldozing the sunken past, Fishing & Shipwreck Heritage. Marine Archaeology’s Greatest Threat? (Bloomsbury Academic) to God’s Gold. Quest for the Temple Treasure of Jerusalem (John Murray/HarperCollins). His work includes two scientific volumes about the world’s first deep-sea robotic wreck excavation on a Spanish trader lost in 1622 in 400 meters off the Straits of Florida. Sean is currently writing Enslaved. The Sunken History of the Transatlantic Slave Trade (Pegasus, September 2022) based on the award-winning TV series presented by Samuel L. Jackson. 

In 2019 Sean was Guest Curator of the exhibition Voices from the Deep at The Postal Museum in London that featured 700 letters saved from the 4.7 kilometre-deep British World War II steamship the Gairsoppa. He is currently developing temporary exhibits for the Shipwreck Treasure Museum in Charlestown, Cornwall, home to the largest private collection of wrecks in Europe. 


Sean has developed and appeared in documentaries for all the major networks from History and the Discovery channels to the BBC. In 2020 he appeared in Enslaved (Epix/BBC2) and Drain the Oceans for National Geographic. 


4 October, 2021


Susan Wels is a bestselling author, historian, and journalist. Her 1997 book Titanic: Legacy of the World’s Greatest Ocean Liner, published by Time-Life Books, sold 440,000 copies and spent 14 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list. It was also a Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, and USA Today bestseller. Wels subsequently spent six weeks in the North Atlantic as correspondent for the 1998 Titanic Research and Recovery Expedition, in conjunction with the Discovery Channel and NBC’s Today show. Wels’s 2001 book Pearl Harbor: America’s Darkest Day, also published by Time-Life Books, sold 180,000 copies. She is also the author of nonfiction books including Amelia Earhart: The Thrill of It (Running Press, 2009), Stanford: Portrait of a University (Stanford University, 1999), and The Olympic Spirit: 100 Years of the Games (Collins, 1995).

Her work has received praise and press coverage from The New York Post, People magazine, Smithsonian’s Air & Space Magazine, Publishers Weekly, the American Library Association, Booklist, Library Journal (starred review), School Library Journal, The Independent (UK), Elle Magazine (Italy), the San Francisco Chronicle, San Francisco Magazine, San Francisco Arts Monthly, the San Francisco Examiner, and the San Jose Mercury-News.

Wels is also an award-winning magazine editor and seasoned developmental book editor. Among many other titles, she edited the memoir Off Mike (Stanford University Press, 2007) by public radio host Michael Krasny, one of the nation’s leading interviewers of literary luminaries. In addition, she served as senior editor for The Genesis Series, published by HarperCollins, editing six natural history books on America’s national parks. She has written for publications including, The Independent, and Parenting, Stanford, and Diablo magazines.

Born and raised in Manhattan, Wels graduated from Stanford University with a B.A. in English literature and journalism. She also holds an M.A. in history from San Francisco State University. Her work as a historian includes her well-reviewed book San Francisco: Arts for the City—Civic Art and Urban Change, 1932-2012, published by Heyday in 2013, as well as her published research on the role of women at the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair and the 1915 Panama Pacific International Exposition in San Francisco. In the course of her historical research, she uncovered this fascinating story and has researched it exhaustively for a decade—discovering surprising, previously unexplored connections among the central characters in this tale that changed the course of American history.

Wels and her husband have two daughters and divide their time between the San Francisco Bay Area and their farm in the south of Chile.

30 August, 2021


Elisa A. Schmitz is an award-winning entrepreneur and professional journalist. She’s the Latina founder of, a highly-regarded digital media platform where women (and men) come to inspire and be inspired. She’s also the founder of iParenting, a “Best of the Web” digital media company that she sold to The Walt Disney Company in 2007. Elisa then worked for Disney as Director and Executive Editor of the Disney Interactive Media Group. She has been a newspaper columnist, magazine editor, radio and video host, and created content and marketing programs for various Fortune 500 companies.

Elisa earned her Bachelor’s degree in Communication Arts from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, which awarded her its Entrepreneurial Achievement Award, and her Master’s degree in Journalism from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University, where she is a frequent guest lecturer and panelist. Elisa is a high-profile and valued alum of her two universities. At UW-Madison, she sits on the Communication Arts board, while at Northwestern, she sits on the NUvention Media Entrepreneurship program board and is a member of the Council of 100, a mentoring organization made up of Northwestern’s top 100 female alums. Elisa cherishes each opportunity to mentor young women, entrepreneurs, business and nonprofit leaders who are navigating their careers, and she is frequently asked to speak to students and alumni at on- and off-campus events.  Elisa became an engaged member of various coveted business networks after she and 30Seconds were selected for inclusion in three highly-competitive startup accelerator programs: Springboard Enterprises Media/Tech Accelerator in New York City; Blackbox/Google for Entrepreneurs Accelerator in Silicon Valley; and 1871’s WiSTEM Accelerator in Chicago. She also was selected for the Dell Women’s Entrepreneur Network and is a member of the Ellevate, Astia, and Pipeline Angels networks, participating in their exclusive conferences and events. She also serves as an adviser to startup companies.

Elisa has been featured widely in the media, including: The Huffington Post, Fast Company, United Hemispheres, The Chicago Tribune, The Chicago Sun-Times, Crain’s Chicago Business, Modern Luxury, Windy City Live TV, ABC-TV, WGN-TV, WCIU-TV, WGN Radio, Women Tech Founders, Moms In Business (cover), Curated Chicago, Chicago Parent, Make It Better and more.  Elisa is considered highly influential because of her media, marketing and entrepreneurial expertise. By generating active engagement among audiences, she is often asked to report and write about business events, is regularly offered guest author and featured blogging opportunities, and is also frequently asked to be interviewed on radio shows and podcasts.

Through building her two media platforms, Elisa has become an expert in communicating with and marketing to women, audience acquisition, brand building, digital marketing, content marketing, social media marketing, building buzz and awareness for her clients and their campaigns. Elisa has worked with some of the leading companies in the world, including: AT&T, where she served as the Editor-in-Chief of the AT&T web parenting portal; Kimberly Clark, where she created content-rich micro sites for Huggies, Pull-Ups, GoodNites and more brands; Proctor & Gamble, where she was invited to speak to its female leaders about “Courageousness In the Workplace”; Quaker Foods, U.S. Cellular, Barilla Pasta, Capital One, CNBC, and more. Aside from business success, what also makes Elisa uniquely qualified to write Become the Fire is her personal background. Elisa’s mother, Maria Elisa, is from Puerto Rico. The youngest of 13 children, Maria was the only child in her family to go to college (on scholarship to the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where she met Elisa’s father). Elisa’s father, K. John, is from the former Yugoslavia. His family immigrated to the United States after World War II when he was a young teenager. The family started a custom cabinet company that grew to become a thriving business based on quality  craftsmanship.  The value of hard work and excellence in all you do taught by Elisa’s family are only two of the traits that propelled this first-generation American’s Become the Fire journey.