Our Team

Jennifer Chauhan

Co-Founder, Executive Director & Writing Instructor

Jennifer fell in love with the workshop style of teaching writing at Teachers College. Amazed by what kids could produce with a notebook, freedom, and supportive peers, she’s used this method while teaching writing to children in New York City’s foster care system, as a public high school English and creative writing teacher in Rumson, N.J, and during her creative writing workshops at her private studio in Fair Haven. Jennifer’s passion is showing students that what they think and believe matters and that they can use their words to impact others. Her belief is that by writing and sharing our stories we open up ways to understand one another a little better, generating empathy. In addition to her teaching experience, Jennifer has more than 20 years as a professional writer. She began as the managing editor of Teacher Magazine and currently writes for businesses, organizations, and various publications. She lives in Little Silver with her three children (two girls, one boy … in that order).

MA, English Education, Teachers College, Columbia University
BA, English and French, Villanova University

Allison Tevald

Co-Founder, Program Director & Writing Instructor

With a background in book publishing and newspaper copy editing and reporting, Allison has a passion for precision and clarity in writing. She also has great interest in what the process of writing can bring about in terms of creativity, therapy, problem solving, and surprise breakthroughs. Allison believes everyone can benefit from deep play, either by working with words or by doodling, coloring, and sketching. By using the meditative space between paper and pen, one can create not just a piece of work but can also produce new ideas, come to realizations, or settle into decisions. She also believes that everyone has a unique and compelling story within, and she’s excited to work with Project Write Now and pursue the power of the written word. Allison is also a staff editor at Clockhouse literary magazine.

MFA, Creative Writing, Goddard College
BA, Sociology and Business, University of San Diego


Samantha Strauss

Co-Founder, Program Developer & Writing Instructor

Samantha is a third grade teacher at Point Road Elementary School in Little Silver, where her passion is instilling the love of writing while developing writing identities for her students. Her own writing identity was found in none other than Jennifer Chauhan’s high school creative writing course, where she learned that writing was not about fitting into boxes and bullets but an exercise in finding yourself. (And also extremely fun!) She is thrilled to be a part of Project Write Now. She believes that teaching children to write well gives them power and helps them find their place in the world. To her, there is nothing better than finding and sharing innovative ways to do this, and nothing more fulfilling than seeing it come to fruition!

MA, Education, Teachers College, Columbia University
BA, English, University of South Carolina


J. Greg Phelan

Co-Founder, Board Chair & Writing Instructor

After selling his Internet company, ePresence, in 2000, Greg dedicated himself to pursuing his vocation as a writer while also helping nonprofits further their missions. He has combined his two passions with Project Write Now, where he is leading the effort to grow the organization while also teaching and mentoring students. His articles and essays have been published in The New York Times, The Star Ledger, The Millions, and America. From 1993 to 1996, he also had a weekly technology column in the Asbury Park Press and other N.J. papers. When he’s not at the PWN studio, he’s working on his novel, running with his black lab, Luna, or teaching writing at Monmouth University. He lives in Fair Haven with his wife and two boys. Personal web site: www.jgregphelan.com

MFA, Creative Writing and Literature, Bennington College
MS, Computer Science, Columbia University
BA, English and Economics, University of Delaware

Lisa Hartsgrove

Program Coordinator & Writing Instructor

Lisa has always been passionate about writing. She is most often inspired by human interaction and reaction, and she loves delving into the subconscious, exposing the “dark side” of humanity. She is currently working on a young adult novel, among other writings (because a writer can never focus on just one thing). She has been previously published in the Pitkin Review, the Atlantic Highlands Herald, the Brooklyn Art Library, and Collage, Brookdale’s literary magazine. You can visit her writings on her website, lisahartsgrove.com. Her goal in teaching is to encourage new writers to harness the power of their voices. She encourages her students to be confident and to believe that writing can be fun. Lisa is excited to be a part of the Project Write Now team. She also teaches classes through the Monmouth County Park System. When she’s not writing or teaching, Lisa is creating other kinds of art, or spending time with her menagerie of pets at home.

MFA, Creative Writing, Goddard College
BA, English, Montclair State University

Lisa McLaughlin

Program Manager & Writing Instructor

Lisa practices an interdisciplinary way of working and thinking, encouraging experimentation and collaboration with other artists. Through her work she explores the nature of writing, the impossibility of writing, and the experiences that defy writing. Her approach is to present her students with the widest possible spectrum of aesthetic and formal choices, along with a context within which to consider those choices. Lisa has taught writing at Brookdale Community College and writing and literature at Georgian Court University. Most recently, she has been the writing specialist for the Horizons Program at Rumson Country Day School, a summer enrichment program for at-risk students primarily from the Red Bank community. She lives in Red Bank with her two children and is working on a novel. Lisa is absolutely electrified to be part of the Project Write Now tribe.

MFA, Writing, The School of the Art Institute of Chicago
BA, Political Science and French, Boston College

Colleen Doogan

Education Director & Writing Instructor

Colleen started her education career as a first grade teacher in Fair Haven and after eight years realized her passion for teaching reading and writing could take her beyond her classroom walls. Colleen left her job to pursue an opportunity as a reading specialist in Berkeley Heights, N.J., and then as a staff developer and literacy consultant at the Teachers College Reading & Writing Project with Lucy Calkins and her staff. While there Colleen not only helped others grow as writers, but she also rediscovered her own voice. She then worked in schools around the world teaching teachers about the reading and writing workshop as well as teaching at the TCRWP summer institutes in New York City and leading numerous coaching groups and institutes for those teachers who were becoming literacy coaches. Colleen’s love of writing goes back to when she used to write short stories sitting on the red shaggy rug in her childhood bedroom and keeping thousands of diaries and journals growing up. Now she records her daily thoughts as a mom of three children. She continues to have a passion for teaching and facilitating conversation about best practices for reading and writing.

MA, Education with a Reading Specialist Certification, Georgian Court College
BS, Elementary Education, Elizabethtown College

Gay Norton Edelman

Writing Instructor

Gay Norton Edelman is a writing coach, editor, and author of The Hungry Ghost: How I Ditched 100 Pounds and Came Fully Alive. She has more than 25 years’ experience in mass market magazines, most recently as senior editor at Family Circle. Previously, she held editorial positions at Rosie, McCall’s, Ladies’ Home Journal, Good Housekeeping, and Women’s Faith & Spirit. Gay also has written scores of articles for major markets and blogs at gayedelman.com. As a writing consultant, she works with individuals, entrepreneurs, and nonprofits to generate and hone their written materials. Personal website: coachgay.com

BA, English, SUNY New Paltz

Mimi Cross

Writing Instructor

Mimi Cross is an author, singer, and songwriter, as well as the creator of “Body of Writing,” a practice that adds an additional dimension to the traditional body/mind/spirit discipline of yoga: story. Mimi used techniques in that practice to shift her focus from songwriting to novel writing. Her debut novel, Before Goodbye, was published in January 2016. Her second novel, Shining Sea, was published several months later. Before becoming an author, Mimi taught music in the public schools, including two years at Forrestdale in Rumson. She loves helping children and adults discover and deepen their creative process. She’s thrilled to be part of Project Write Now. Mimi lives with her young son in Monmouth Beach. Her songs can be found on iTunes.

MA, Music Education/Vocal Jazz, New York University
BM, Music Education/Classical Guitar, Ithaca College
200-hour teacher certification, Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health

Jason Kady

Jason Kady

Writing Instructor

Jason’s life-long passion for writing was fully developed at Temple University, where, while playing baseball, he triple-majored in journalism, public relations, and advertising, with a minor in history. Upon graduation and after publishing a short story in a national academic journal, Jason earned a job as a music critic in Philadelphia. While working as a journalist, and later as an advertising executive, Jason experienced a life-changing event that urged him toward a path as a teacher, where he could mentor and share his passion for creativity. Jason teaches 8th grade English and history at Von E. Mauger Middle School in Middlesex, NJ. He has developed a nurturing work environment, where mutual respect is key and creative thinking is celebrated. Jason believes that developing and honing descriptive, figurative, and creative language skills is integral to the success of any writer. He is thrilled to be part of the Project Write Now movement, where he can share his love of writing and creativity with aspiring writers of any age.

MEd, Special Education, Kean University
BA, Journalism, Public Relations, and Advertising, Temple University

Christa Teter

Christa Teter

Writing Instructor

Christa has a background in social work, publishing, performing arts, and education. Before becoming a teacher, Christa wrote grants for a nonprofit housing agency in St. Louis, assisted the president of The New Yorker, and produced jazz concerts at Jazz at Lincoln Center. Upon leaving New York City, she decided teaching was a natural way to further integrate her passions for social justice, writing, the arts, and educating. Currently, Christa teaches reading and language arts at Ocean Township Intermediate School. Believing anyone can improve his/her writing skills, Christa enjoys guiding young writers to use their creativity, passion, and voice in order to convey their messages. She is thrilled to be a part of Project Write Now’s mission to propel the enjoyment of writing. Christa lives in Little Silver with her husband and three children.

MA, Education with Teacher of Students with Disabilities Endorsement, Georgian Court University
BA, English, St. Anselm College

Jennifer Shields, LPC, NBCC, DCC

Writing Instructor & Counselor

A licensed professional counselor, Jennifer has been listening to other people’s sacred stories for more than 25 years. She has developed a keen sense of the power of vulnerability and the efficacy of verbal unloading. In her private practice in Red Bank, she co-­creates stories of trauma and grief into stories of triumph and perseverance. Her philosophy is simple: connection. Connection is the key to unlocking the shame and isolation that mental illness and trauma often impart. With connection there is knowledge; with knowledge there is understanding; with understanding there is empowerment; and with empowerment there is hope. Writing is an essential tool along the road to recovery, and she is honored to be connected with this great institute of healing and discovery that is Project Write Now.

MEd, Psych Counseling, UMass Boston
BA, Sociology and Political Science, Salem State University


Julie Ford, LPC

Writing Instructor & Counselor

Julie is a Licensed Professional Counselor and Nationally Certified Counselor who specializes in working with children and adolescents. She is the school counselor at Point Road Elementary School in Little Silver, where she helps students improve their communication skills to better navigate their worlds. She is eager to have an opportunity to share her knowledge and experiences as well as facilitate opportunities for students to express themselves in healthy and effective ways.

MS, Mental Health Counseling, Monmouth University
BS, Biology, Quinnipiac

Madelyn Monaghan


Madelyn Monaghan is an actress and writer with a passion for stories in all forms. She is a recent graduate of The American Musical & Dramatic Academy’s two-year conservatory program in NYC and has just been accepted to the Riggio Writing and Democracy Honors program at The New School. She won a Scholastic Art & Writing National Gold Medal for her play and is a two-time National YoungArts winner for both theatre and writing. Madelyn has loved writing and performing since she was a little girl and she is as obsessed with learning as she is creating. She is currently writing weekly articles for The Odyssey Online magazine and working on a novel. Madelyn is so excited to be a part of Project Write Now!

Eileen Huang


Eileen Huang is the Northeast National Student Poet for the year of 2015, the nation’s highest honor for young poets presenting original work. She is also a junior at High Technology High School in Lincroft, NJ. As a National Student Poet, Eileen acted as a literary ambassador for her region, hosting workshops and readings in her community as part of a year-long community service effort. In addition, she was given the opportunity to read her poetry to First Lady Michelle Obama at a private ceremony in the White House. Much of her poetry focuses on her Chinese heritage, cultural fusions, and the general turmoil that comes with adolescence.

Vivian Parkin DeRosa


Vivian Parkin DeRosa is a Communications High School student with an intense love for books, which inevitably led to a passion for writing. She enjoys scribbling down both prose and poetry, particularly spoken word, and believes that the true key to writing is a thick black pen. She finds a happy mix of both expanding her own knowledge and teaching others at Project Write Now. Currently, she’s working on her first novel and performs poetry when she can find the chance. In the rare time that she’s not reading a book, writing one, or studying for a midterm, she spends time scrolling through Pinterest and turning her walls into a gallery of crafts.