The get lit team
Diane Luby Lane
DIANE LUBY LANE is the founder and executive director of Get Lit–Words Ignite. An education luminary, she is transforming the landscape of teen literacy by empowering new generations in literature, self-expression, and performing arts. She is also the founder of the Get Lit Players, an award-winning classic teen poetry troupe that has collaborated with the United Nations, Dove, and Women in the World, and toured at the Kennedy Center, Lincoln Center, and the White House, and more, igniting communities across the globe with art and social consciousness. Lane is also the founding producer of Get Lit’s Classic Slam, the largest youth classic poetry festival in the world. Lane’s Lit Kit, a standards based, in-school curriculum, has been adopted by schools throughout the U.S. and internationally. She is the author of Words of Women (Samuel French) as well as the playwright and star of the critically acclaimed one-woman show Deep Sea Diving (also known as Born Feet First) which toured with iconic Chicano poet and author Jimmy Santiago Baca. Lane is a graduate of the Annenberg Foundation’s Alchemy + Leadership Program, a TedX speaker, a Southern California Leadership Network Fellow, a member of Mayor Eric Garcetti’s Poet Laureate Committee, and a recipient of the Presidential Lifetime Service Award. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband and two children. To book her for a speaking engagement, please visit www.dianelubylane.com.
AMANDA PITTMAN is the Finance & Operations Director at Get Lit. She oversees large and small inner-workings of the organization under Executive Director Diane Lane and Chief Financial Officer Karen Williams Redman, including event design and construction, budget and payroll, and human relations. Amanda is a proud native of Raleigh, North Carolina, and she is passionate about her dog Kolby (also known as the “office dog”), craft beer, and teen literacy! She is a graduate of the University of North Carolina’s prestigious journalism program, but she has dedicated her professional life to the maintenance and growth of small businesses. Prior to Get Lit, Amanda worked as the Director of Operations for HH Fremer, an architecture firm in Santa Monica, and for Raleigh-based forensics retailer S.A.F.E. Source. She is applying her corporate experience to carefully and effectively manage daily goings-on at Get Lit, and she is exhilarated by the work that Get Lit does inspiring and educating local youth.
Lydia Carmany is the Development Manager at Get Lit, where she oversees fundraising strategy including grants, events, donor communications, and sponsorships. Lydia is proud to be from Northeast Ohio (go Cavs!), where she studied Liberal Arts at Malone University. She is a career fundraiser with the heart of a teacher and artist. Prior to joining Get Lit, Lydia coordinated fundraising for Communities In Schools of Los Angeles, and prior to that she taught performance poetry and was a substitute teacher for Canton City Schools. For the past decade, she has made it her mission to help students find and share their voices and become advocates for their educational endeavors. She loves television shows, live jazz, Stephen King novels, and her adorable dog, Harvey. Lydia is thrilled to join the Get Lit team and share her experience in storytelling for this amazing organization.
VERONIKA SHULMAN is the Content & Communications Manager for Get Lit. She oversees all content strategy and manages thoughtful partnerships with other LA organizations, as well as collaborations & commissions for the Get Lit Players. She is the chief editor for all internal and public-facing documents, including Simon & Schuster’s Get Lit Rising, and she is a producer on Get Lit’s album, Rise. She also liaises with Get Lit’s designers, photographers, and public relations consultants to create a cohesive brand. A Los Angeles native, Veronika studied art history at Wellesley College and abroad for a year at Oxford University in the UK. She has since worked with communications for WriteGirl, Creed Strategic Imaging, and more. She is thrilled to make Get Lit her work home, and she is at heart a huge music and theatre nerd…she is finally writing a play. But first let’s talk about Lin-Manuel Miranda.
Kelly Grace Thomas
KELLY GRACE THOMAS is Get Lit’s Manager of Education & Pedagogy. For the past nine years Kelly has worked as an educator and poetry coach, including leading Get Lit’s classes at iLead NoHo, two-time champions of the Classic Slam! Kelly has worked with organizations such as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Kenyon College, and Button Poetry. She has taught AP Language and Composition, Journalism, Creative Writing, Dramatic Writing, and English Language Arts for grades nine through twelve. Kelly is also a certified BTSA coach, dedicated to helping new teachers transition and grow as educators, and a Pushcart Prize-nominated poet. Her number one passion as an educator is helping other writers develop their voice, and she is thrilled to have a job brings the power and peace of poetry to more classrooms. To read her work, visit www.kellygracethomas.com.
RACHEL KILROY is the Operations Associate at Get Lit. She aids the daily operations and long-term projects of the organization, including helping with marketing and designing promotional materials for all of the events, as well as completing various administrative tasks to keep the office organized and running smoothly! Rachel is a graduate of CSU Long Beach’s School of Art and a freelance artist in her own right, specializing in drawing, graphic design, and sculpture. She is also a strong advocate for arts education and believes that the evidence of the positive effects of art on youth is incontrovertible. It is with this passion that she endeavors to further the prestigious work of Get Lit!
MONIQUE MITCHELL is the Education Coordinator for Get Lit. A Los Angeles native, Monique served as a Get Lit Player in 2009 and 2010 before moving to New York to attend Manhattanville College. She studied Communications with a concentration in Cinema Studies and Creative Writing, and she has since worked as a content creator for the DTLA-based production company Contend. Monique is excited to return home to the organization that built her foundation and altered her destiny, and she hopes to utilize poetry to impact and serve her local and global community.
PAUL MABON is Manager of Arts Education for Get Lit. He operates the Saturday workshop classes open to all high school age students and coaches his own team, “Literate.” He also assists with school visits and event coordination. Paul is a committed scholar of classical Shakespearean sonnets and ballads. As a college student, he won numerous national poetry competitions that allowed him to present his work before poetry legends. After winning individual poetry slam competitions, in 2008 he was selected to travel with Da Poetry Lounge to compete in the (NPS) National Poetry Slam. Since the early 90′s Paul has been working professionally with high-school students in classrooms and auditoriums lecturing, mentoring, and coaching. He has the unique ability connect with kids through their poetry in a way that develops their poetic voice and also truly builds their confidence. Paul’s work has been seen on NBC’s ‘It’s Showtime at the Apollo,’ HBO’s ‘Russell Simmons Presents Def Poetry’ Season V, and TV-one’s ‘Verses and Flow’ Season III.
Alyesha Wise is a poet, teaching artist, & TEDx speaker from Camden, NJ. Currently residing in Los Angeles, Alyesha is the Get Lit Brave New Voices co-coach. She is also the 2014 Hollywood (DPL) Grand Slam Champion, a 3-time member of the Hollywood Slam Team, & a 2-time Women of the World Poetry Slam Finalist. Some additional highlights include a 2012 interview with Ron Howard, a 2014 inclusion in the Google Interstellar Project in conjunction with the film Interstellar, and the moment she was told by co-founder of Essence Magazine Russell Goings, “In all, you are awesome.”
Matthew ‘Cuban’ Hernandez is a poet, speaker, & coach from Jacksonville, Florida. Matthew traveled around the world from Duval to Abu Dhabi, performing & teaching poetry as well as coaching slam teams to final stages, before moving to Los Angeles in 2013. Matthew is currently the Get Lit Brave New Voices co-coach, as well as the Arts Program Educator for New Earth, working in youth detention centers across Los Angeles County. He has opened for artists such as Wu-Tang Clan & has performed for platforms such as Buzzfeed, Def Poetry, and more. Cuban’s favorite activity is making people feel great; sometimes he does this through poetry.
Colleen Hamilton-Lecky is a Teaching Artist and the Get Lit Player Coach. A Bay Area native, she moved to Los Angeles in 2014 to attend UCLA, where she studies Education. At UCLA, she is the Project Director of the Incarcerated Youth Tutorial Project and is currently finishing her Seniors Honors Thesis. Her work has been featured throughout the country, including platforms such as Refinery29 and RookieMag. Colleen’s goal is to create spaces where young people feel valued, and believes the Get Lit Player’s role is to enact love through poetry throughout the City of Los Angeles.
- Jimmy Santiago Baca
- Ned Colletti
- Paul Cummins
- Malissa Feruzzi Shriver
- Brad Koepenick
- Katherine Moore
- Ed Pearl
- Leslie Poliak
- Karen Redman
- Tim Robbins
- Luis Rodriguez
- Rebecca Woolf
- Jonathan Zeichner
- James Zukin
Board of Directors
Gary Romoff, Chairman of the Board, has had a diverse & fascinating career in the agriculture business. He started at Sunkist & Dole and now owns a business that invests in permanent crop real estate (ranches) in Yuma, AZ, Central Valley, Coachella Valley, and Northern San Diego County. He is a proud Get Lit parent and passionate about spending time with his family. Education: BS, Finance, San Diego State, 1990; MBA, USC, 1994.
Karen Redman, Chief Financial Officer, is a UK qualified Attorney that has broad experience with trusts and company structuring. Karen has advised a wide range of clients including individuals, families, business owners, corporate trustees, and charitable foundations. Since arriving in the US, Karen has founded a number of companies specializing in corporate legal services, some of which have recently been acquired. Karen earned her JD in the UK at the School of Law, Guildford and completed her LLM in International Tax and Trusts Law at the University of London.
Leonora Horwin, “Lee,” was a teen political organizer and an actor-singer for in her twenties and thirties. Her first of seven performances on The Johnny Carson Show earned a standing ovation. Her life after show business includes a five-level practice, including that of a certified rolfer. Today, Leonora is an active philanthropist, lecturer, writer, editor and event producer. She recently co-produced a production of the Vagina Monologues starring the Los Angeles Derby Dolls at their track arena, The Doll Factory. Leonora will be assistant director for the upcoming 25th anniversary celebration of the Broadway musical Grand Hotel at 54 Below in NYC, and she will also serve as stand-by for lead actress Karen Akers.
Paul Jablon is President of The Jablon Group, Insurance & Financial Services. Jablon specializes in counseling high net worth individuals and families in the areas of estate planning, business succession and charitable planning. A graduate from California State University at Northridge with a degree in Kinesiology, Paul started his career as a physical education educator. After earning his California Lifetime Teaching Credential, he taught biology and physical education. He was a Master Teacher for the graduate students at the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA). Paul draws on his teaching experience to explain and communicate difficult, complex estate planning issues to his clients and their advisors.
Diane Luby Lane is Founder/Executive Director of Get Lit-Words Ignite, Los Angeles’ leading nonprofit presenter of literary performance, education and teen poetry programs, and the Get Lit Players, an award-winning classic teen poetry troupe, who perform for over 10,000 teens each year. Get Lit partners with the Magic Poetry Bus, the official project of California Poet Laureate, Carol Muske-Dukes. Lane is author of Words of Women, a compendium of original monologues for women published around the world and has appeared in numerous films, television shows, and national commercials. Her critically acclaimed one-woman show, Deep Sea Diving (AKA Born Feet First), has toured high schools and colleges across America with poet Jimmy Santiago Baca. In recognition of her work as an educator and creator of Get Lit’s ground-breaking literacy curriculum, Lane received the James Patterson Page Turner Award for promoting literacy and the KNX Hero Award. In 2012, Lane was honored as a recipient of the Presidential Lifetime Volunteer Service Award.
Jill Rosenthal received her law degree at Georgetown University after graduating summa cum laude from the University of California at Berkeley. She spent 20 years working as an attorney in prestigious law firms, and then as General Counsel and Vice President of Legal Affairs for The Sports Club Company, before moving on to establish The Rosenthal Firm specializing in independent investigations. During Rosenthal’s time at UC Berkeley, she taught several courses focusing on the oral interpretation of classic poetry, an approach that aligned perfectly with Get Lit’s curriculum. In 2011, Rosenthal met Get Lit’s founder Diane Luby Lane at a dinner party and became an enthusiastic supporter of Get Lit’s mission. She is also a devoted “mentor “ to the “Get Lit Players” and even accompanied them to the White House in 2011 at the invitation of First Lady Michele Obama. Rosenthal has had several of her own poems published in literary journals including, most recently, the Columbia Journal of Literature and Art.
Alexander Trivas has taught English and Global Studies in independent schools for over 15 years. Currently he works at The Brentwood School in Los Angeles where he has spearheaded numerous service learning enterprises as well as annual poetry events. He holds his undergraduate degree from The University of Pennsylvania and his master’s degree in Education and Writing from Johns Hopkins University. When he is not evaluating his students’ writing, he serves as a de facto editor for his wife’s (Tracy Trivas) books. In his spare time, he writes poetry and children’s books. He recently launched onebillionpoets.com, a social networking site for teens around the world to share and discuss poetry.
Dr. Seniora Matthews is a Medical Doctor specializing in Psychiatry. She graduated from the University of Missouri Kansas City Medical School in 1994. In 1998, she opened a private medical practice specializing in Psychiatry in Arkansas, Tennessee and Mississippi, she made the decision to move her practice to California in 2009. She was introduced to Get Lit at a fundraiser in 2009, and joined the Board of Directors a year later. Her interest in poetry stems from her childhood of reciting poetry in school activities and church functions. Throughout her adolescence and young adulthood, her love of poetry blossomed through reading and performing poems throughout the Southern states. Her favorite poets include Langston Hughes and James Baldwin, among many others. Dr. Matthews remains as determined and committed as ever to bringing the power of poetry to youth throughout Southern California and across the country.
Ellen Picataggio has the hospitality industry in her blood. Her family emigrated from their native Korea to Las Vegas in 1971, and purchased their first hotel, the Minuteman, that same year. In 1979, the Cho family relocated to the quaint beach resort community of Lincoln City, OR, following their purchase of the historic Surftides. As principal of the Farmer’s Daughter Hotel Group, Ellen oversees the brand identities and design development of the Los Angeles hotel and its restaurant TART, as well as Surftides. She also is overseeing the design of the group’s newest restaurant concept, Saint Martha. Additionally, Ellen donates her time and expertise in support of her alma mater, assisting with branding and design for the Pinecrest Chalet—a historic Northern California family resort purchased in 2012 and currently being restored by the Cal Alumni Association. She is also a board member to NAKA (National Association of Korean Americans), a non-profit, civil and human rights organization providing a voice for Korean American youth and is a continuing supporter of LAYN (Los Angeles Youth Network), an organization that administers and houses homeless teens in Los Angeles. In her free time, Ellen is a devoted mother to her two sons, Graeme and Magnus.
Carolyn Rodriguez (2016-present) is a vice president and program and administration manager of the Marketing department at City National Bank. She joined City National in 1989 as part of the Controller’s department before moving to Marketing. Carolyn heads the bank’s award-winning flagship literacy program, Reading is The way up®. Since its start in 2002, this nonprofit initiative has donated more than $1.2 million in grants directly to teachers in elementary, middle and high schools in five states, and provided more than 500,000 books to classrooms, libraries and nonprofit organizations, which have benefitted more than 600,000 children. She has spent a large portion of her life volunteering to enrich the lives of children. Her passion is mentoring at-risk youth, which she has done since 2007. She has volunteered as a surrogate with the LAUSD’s Division of Special Education, sitting in on Individualized Education Programs and making educational decisions for children who are in foster care, homeless, or on probation. Carolyn also serves on the advisory board of Optimist Youth Homes and Family Services and the Children’s Defense Fund-CA Leadership Council.
Suzanne Stern Gilison (2016-present) is a passionate advocate for the arts with a professional background in business as well as museum administration. After an early career in tech and financial services public relations, Suzy returned to her true passion, the arts, and joined the Education Department at The Museum of Modern Art in New York (MoMA) where she developed programs for visitors with disabilities and special needs. Suzy then moved back to Los Angeles where she joined the Development Department at LACMA and was instrumental in expanding the museum’s donor base to young art enthusiasts and collectors. She is active in local and non-profit organizations such as InsideOutWriters, The Alliance for College Ready Public Schools, the Los Angeles Opera and the Brentwood School. Suzy earned a B.A. in English Literature from Tufts University and B.F.A. from The School of the Museum of Fine Arts (SMFA) in Boston.
The Actors’ Gang
The Actors’ Gang is an independent theatre founded by Tim Robbins and home to Get Lit’s monthly Open Mics, as well as the groundbreaking Prison Project, which brings commedia dell’arte to incarceration facilities across California. More at theactorsgang.com.
Center Theatre Group
Center Theatre Group is the largest performing arts organization in Los Angeles and home to the August Wilson Monologue Competition and so many other amazing youth outreach programs. We are so proud to partner with them! More at centertheatregroup.org.
Youth Speaks is the largest youth spoken word organization in the country, and maybe the world. Thank you for the guidance & inspiration! “The next generation can speak for itself.” More at youthspeaks.org.
Turnaround Arts is a partnership created by the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities, in coordination with the U.S. Department of Education and the White House Domestic Policy Council. The program is designed to bring arts into some of the lowest performing schools in the country. More at turnaroundarts.pcah.gov.
The Ash Grove has been a major voice for the experiences, beliefs and feelings of the music community since 1958, offering support and performance space to the Get Lit Players since its inception, under the guidance of Ed Pearl. More at ashgrovemusic.net.
Get Lit is proud to announce its status as a GuideStar Gold Participant, an award given to organizations based on transparency, financial responsibility, impact, and effectiveness. More at guidestar.org.
- The Ahmanson Foundation
- Annenberg Foundation
- Bloomberg Philanthropies
- California Arts Council
- The California Endowment*
- City National Bank*
- Department of Cultural Affairs
- Emotional Wellness Management, Inc.*
- Feldman Browne Olivares*
- Hudson Jeans*
- LA County Arts Commission
- Laird Norton Family Foundation*
- Paradigm Talent Agency*
- The Los Angeles Dodgers
- The White-Trivas Family Foundation
- The Farmer’s Daughter Hotel
- South Robertson Neighborhoods Council*
- Southwest Airlines
- The Village Recorder
- * = School Sponsor!