Who We Are

The get lit team

  • Diane Luby Lane

    Diane Luby Lane

    she/her

    Diane Luby Lane is the founder and executive director of Get Lit – Words Ignite, a California-based arts education nonprofit that has transformed 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 and the most watched poets on the internet with over 300 million views. The Get Lit Players tour throughout the country, have appeared at the White House three times, collaborated with the United Nations, were featured with John Legend at The Hollywood Bowl and perform each year for over 50,000 of their peers, igniting schools and communities with art and social consciousness. In 2012 Lane created the now annual Classic Slam, the largest youth classic poetry festival in the nation. Lane’s Lit Kit, a standards based, in- school curriculum, has been adopted by schools throughout the U.S. and internationally. She is an actress with numerous commercial, TV and film credits and the author of the award-winning Get Lit Rising, published by Simon & Schuster and Words of Women, published by Samuel French. She is also the co-writer and co-producer of DANTE, an original adaptation of Dante’s Inferno, which stars Get Lit Poets. She was the playwright and star of the one-woman show Deep Sea Diving which she toured with Chicano poet and author Jimmy Santiago Baca. Lane is a TedX speaker, a graduate of the Annenberg Foundation’s Alchemy + Leadership Program, a Southern California Leadership Network Fellow and served on L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti’s Poet Laureate Committee. She is a recipient of the Presidential Lifetime Volunteer Service Award. She attended USF and NYU, and lives in Los Angeles with her husband, two children, two dogs, and two cats. To book her for a speaking engagement, please visit www.dianelubylane.com.

  • Tess Jablon

    Tess Jablon

    she/her

    Tess Jablon is our Manager of Operations at Get Lit. She is a second-generation Angelino, whose involvement in community and social responsibility began at the young age of 7. As a member of our Free Verse Advisory board for 2 years, Tess understood the importance of philanthropic involvement and the impact an individual can make. Now officially a part of the Get Lit Staff, she brings her Business Management background to support the emerging artists at Get Lit. Allowing them to focus on what’s important – the art. Tess was the founder of Accounting for Others (“AFO”), an internal charitable charter within her previous 150+ employee firm. AFO advocates and implements paid volunteering time off for individual employees and monthly group volunteering events in connection with various local non-profit organizations. Tess’ furry friend, Karma joins us at the office often.

  • Sam Curtis

    Sam Curtis

    he/him

    Samuel Curtis is our Head of Productions and is responsible for developing the film and digital media program for our new content studio, Literary Riot Media. He currently lives in Topanga, California, producing two feature music documentaries, anticipating releases in the spring of 2018 and fall of 2018; He has produced web series’ for Red Bull, MeUndies, and DreamworksTV. His work has screened at The Grammy Museum, The Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences, The Skirball Cultural Center, The Actor’s Gang Theatre, The Sarasota Opera House, on national television on the CMT network, and at regional film festivals across the country. He also has a deep passion for folk music and produces live Americana shows throughout Los Angeles.

  • Leslie Poliak

    Leslie Poliak

    she/her

    Leslie is our Director of Strategic Partnerships. She volunteered with Get Lit for several years before joining the team in July of 2019.  Leslie’s background from her lengthy career in advertising and media strategy lends itself to promoting Get Lit among key communities, companies and media entities. Her job is to raise awareness, create partnerships that enhance Get Lit’s brand and raise funds so that Get Lit can continue to work with the schools we are in as well as “adopt” new ones. Leslie is a former photographer whose work has shown extensively in galleries and museums across the country.  She’s from the East Coast and while she loves being around palm trees, she never lost her NY State of Mind.

  • Gordon Ip

    Gordon Ip

    he/him

    Gordon Ip is our Development Coordinator here at Get Lit. He identifies as an Asian-American poet, teacher, and artist. He prioritizes the uplifting of Asian-American voices in all of his work, in an unapologetic, explicit fashion. He also speaks on issues of immigration, undocumented immigrants, and LGBTQ+ issues. He has performed at The Actor’s Gang theatre owned by Tim Robbins, at UCLA, at the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts, and has been featured twice in the Los Angeles Times.

  • Brian Sonia-Wallace

    Brian Sonia-Wallace

    Brian Sonia-Wallace is the Manager of Education at Get Lit, building on 12 years of experience as a teaching artist and poet. Brian started off writing poems on a typewriter for strangers on the street, and accidentally started his own company, RENT Poet, as featured on NPR’s How I Built This. Brian has been hired as a poet by tech companies and governments, written for The Guardian and Rolling Stone, and been the Poet-in-Residence for Mall of America, Amtrak Trains, and the National Parks. His first book of essays, Dustbowl Nation (Harper Collins 2020), tracks his journey with a typewriter to find humanity at the margins of America. A native Angeleno, Brian regularly lectures on poetry and performance at UCLA, and teaches as a guest artist at 50+ K-12 schools throughout LA County.

  • Marcus James

    Marcus James

    he/him

    Marcus James is our Education and Pedagogy Coordinator, and a Get Lit Teaching Artist, an educator, spoken word artist, and community organizer. He aims to create work that touches upon the nuances of his varying identities. From his navigation of transness, his love for food, or his admiration for his Salvadoran heritage, nothing is off limits. He has been featured in OUT magazine, The Los Angeles Times, Verses and Flow, and Button Poetry. He is one of the co-organizers of #TransMarchLA, one of the largest marches for trans and gender-nonconforming rights in California history. He is currently a Future Corps Fellow where he learns best practices to engage with the world of nonprofit and the communitues it serves. His work has been recognized by groups including the California Endowment for the Arts, The United Nation, and Planned Parenthood.

  • Hanna Harris

    Hanna Harris

    she/her

    Hanna Harris is an award winning spoken word artist, educator, and community advocate. She has performed at Warped Tour, the Women’s March, ENVSN, Dodger Stadium, and at over 300 other events in the LA area. She has opened for celebrities and politicians like Hillary Clinton, Matthew McConaughey, Gloria Steinem, Roxane Gay, & more. Hanna is Arts Education Coordinator at Get Lit Words Ignite, the Get Lit Players coach & co-coach of the Los Angeles International Youth Slam Team. She co-organized #TransMarchLA & Found Family Holidays, and her activism has been featured in Out Magazine. Her written work, teaching, and activism have received recognition by the United Nations, Planned Parenthood, the United Way, and numerous other organizations.

  • Khamal Iwuanyanwu

    Khamal Iwuanyanwu

    he/him

    Khamal Iwuanyanwu, also known as Atlas Speaks, is a Reseda based Teaching Artist, poet, musician, and VFX editor who tells his own personal story through multimedia in hopes that his audience can find peace in knowing they are not alone. His topics range from inequality to mental illness as he believes that there is nothing that should be left unspoken. He has worked on projects with organization such as the United Nations and ACLU and strives to support groups aligned with his ideologies of peace and prosperity for everyone under the sky.

  • Tyris Winter

    Tyris Winter

    he/him

    Tyris Winter is our Social Media Coordinator. Winter is a youth poet, and second year Get Lit Player, who’s been depicted in tell.tv , The Advocate Mag, and L.A. Times. Tyris expresses himself through graphic and fine art as well. whose Placing first every year at the A.V. Art Fair for the duration of his high school experience. Winter is also the winner of the Learn 4 Life 2018 overall slam and 2019 Classic Slam winner. His work embodies self empowerment and finding one’s true self. Follow Tyris’ creative journey @winterissues on Instagram.

  • Rodrigo Jose Sigala

    Rodrigo Jose Sigala

    Rodrigo Jose Sigala is currently a junior at OFY in San Gabriel. He is a Mexican-American poet and photographer who has worked alongside Get Lit-Words Ignite for 3 years. Aside from performing at open mics all across California he has also performed at venues such as the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion and the Disney Hall.. Apart from writing poems that take you on a rollercoaster ride, some of his hobbies include drawing, hour-long phone calls and cooking while his best friend reads poetry while sitting on the counter.

  • Kelly Grace Thomas Vojdani

    Kelly Grace Thomas Vojdani

    she/her

    Kelly Grace Thomas Vojdani is the Education and Pedagogy Advisor for Get Lit – Words Ignite. She is the co-author of Words Ignite: Explore, Write and Perform, Classic and Spoken Word Poetry (Literary Riot). Kelly is a three-time championship poetry coach and was a high school English teacher for ten years before joining Get Lit. Boat Burned, her first full-length collection, is forthcoming from YesYes Books in December 2019. She is also the winner of the 2017 Neil Postman Award for Metaphor from Rattle, a 2018 finalist for the Rita Dove Poetry Award, a multiple Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net nominee. Kelly’s poems have appeared or are forthcoming in: Best New Poets 2019, Los Angeles Review, Redivider, Nashville Review, Muzzle, DIAGRAM, Glass, and more. Kelly is also a screenwriter and novelist. She lives in the Bay Area with her husband, Omid. www.kellygracethomas.com

  • Michelle Bee

    Michelle Bee

    she/her

    Michelle Bee is a licensed expressive arts therapist, poet and the developer of Systems of Ease. She loves being in nature to journal and explore. Over the past decade, Michelle has been passionately working with diverse communities to provide transformational mental health and substance abuse treatment throughout Los Angeles. She has been recognized as a leading visionary, someone who brings creative solutions to common mental health barriers. She generates unique collaborations and joyfully travels to where she is needed. Cultural competency and community development are close to her heart.

    Michelle is an active board member of the National Association of Poetry Therapy (NAPT). She is also an active member of the California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists (CAMFT) and served as Chair of the Los Angeles CAMFT Expressive Arts Committee.
    For more information about Michelle Bee and her practice, please visit www.MichelleBee.com


Teaching Artists

  • Who We Are

    Austin Antoine

    Austin Antoine is a multifaceted performance artist that blends the lines between music, poetry, and theatrics. Austin commits to mixing all of his passions with abilities that span from singing soulful solos to conquering an opposing rapper in a contest of improvised wit. After graduating California Institute of the Arts with a BFA in acting, Austin has sustained artistic success through touring performances, rap battles, musical collaborations, and hosting creative workshops. His work can be seen with Sofar Sounds, Guinness Book of World Records, TeamBackPack, ThatLowd, Joomanji, and TheyGotTime.
  • Who We Are

    Raul Herrera

    Raul Herrera is the Education Coordinator and Get Lit Player Coach. As a Mexican-American spoken-word artist, playwright and educator, Raul Herrera has been involved with Get Lit for over 8 years facilitating growth within students across the nation. Herrera has served the organization as a Get Lit Player, Literati Fellowship member, teaching artist, and is currently Get Lit's Education Coordinator. In 2014, he received the Pentathlon award given to the overall speaker at the California State Championship of Speech and Debate for Community Colleges. His writing is featured in Get Lit Rising, Coiled Serpent published by Tia Chucha Press and, in 2017, he wrote Dante, a modern Hip-Hop adaptation of Dante’s Inferno, produced by Tim Robbins and The Actor’s Gang Theatre in Culver City. Raul plans on continuing his pursuits in screenwriting and education.
  • Who We Are

    Matthew Cuban

    Matthew is a poet, speaker, and performance coach from Jacksonville, Florida. He has toured nearly every major city in the United States and Europe, and as far as Abu Dhabi, performing, teaching and coaching poetry. A teaching artist for nearly ten years, Matthew has spent the last four years working in youth detention centers across Los Angeles County. He has opened for artists such as the Wu-Tang Clan, and has performed for platforms such as BuzzFeed and NPR. Matthew is also a three-time Southern Fried Poetry Slam champion and an award-winning poetry coach. He regularly hosts Get Lit’s monthly poetry open mics and annual Classic Slam.
  • Who We Are

    Monique Mitchell

    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.
  • Who We Are

    Miriam Sachs

    Miriam is a Teaching Artist for our Summer Film Camp. A former Get Lit Player, she is currently a Senior at the USC School of Cinematic Arts.
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    Whitney Clinkscales

    Whitney is a Teaching Artist for our Pilot 1 and Pilot 2 programs. She received her Masters in Film Production from Florida State University in 2015.

Advisory Board

  • Tim Robbins
  • Luis Rodriguez
  • Karen Redman
  • Shahira Tadross
  • Jon Hess
  • Barbara Williams
  • Jim Zukin
  • Lee Horwin
  • Jill Rosenthal
  • Ellen Picataggio
  • Jonathan Zeichner
  • Ed Pearl
  • Paul Cummins
  • Katherine Moore
  • DeAnna Gravillis
  • Peter Kim
  • Bill Plaschke
  • Carlos Lopez Estrada

Board of Directors

  • Delta Wright, Chairman of the Board, has a signature approach to designing interiors is based on her belief that every interior should be a portrait of those who live in them. Combining her technical grounding in architecture with an impressive creative pedigree, she exudes imagination and soul. Seeing home as a place of well-being, her environments radiate warmth through the use of sophisticated elements set against airy, relaxed interiors. Each project is crafted to elevate the soothing elements of nature – light, views and gardens. Her studio’s recent three-year collaboration with award-winning architect Hagy Belzberg was awarded “Best Large Residence, 2015” by Interior Design magazine. Over her 20-year career, her commercial projects include the models at the Commune-designed 8th & Grand in Downtown LA and the iconic Farmers Daughter Hotel. Delta is an honors graduate of Pratt Institute's master program in New York. Her conceptual and client-driven approach was honed through her 10-year partnership with bi-coastal firm Curated, which she cofounded in 2006.

  • Gary Romoff 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Cristina Pacheco is an activist, producer, and nonprofit consultant based in Los Angeles. Cristina works at the intersection of social justice and arts practice. Previously, she served as the Director of Programs at Arts for LA where she created the ACTIVATE Arts Advocacy Leadership Program, training community arts advocates in areas of policy, leadership, coalition building, and communication. She has produced live theater, innovative art exhibitions, and other immersive events to amplify justice-oriented movements. Cristina was one of the organizers of the Women’s March in Los Angeles and continues to organize locally as one of the founding members of Artivists LA, a collective of artists supporting resistance efforts. She also serves on the Mayor’s Blue Ribbon Commission on Employment Equity for the City of Los Angeles and on the Board of Directors for The Underground Museum in Los Angeles. www.cristinapacheco.com

  • Naveena Ponnusamy is a nonprofit development and communications executive with experience in local and global organizations. She currently serves as the chief development officer of Venice Family Clinic and was previously the executive director of development for the RAND Corporation. Naveena has also served in leadership roles at the University of Southern California including as assistant dean of external affairs for the USC Marshall School of Business. Previously in her career, she worked at Edelman's New York office where she managed communications strategies for a variety of clients in the nonprofit, corporate and economic development sectors. Naveena holds a BA from Columbia University and an MA from New York University.

  • Samantha Paige

  • Bennett Johnson

  • Harriet Aronow

  • Wendy Posner


Free Verse

Emerging professionals board dedicated to supporting Get Lit’s mission

  • Who We Are

    Yulia Rafailova

    Yulia Rafailova is an executive function coach dedicated to transforming the lives of children and adults living with ADHD and other neurodiverse needs. She founded MindFull Education to teach families how to create the systems they need to successfully navigate relationships, school, and life’s toughest challenges. Yulia believes that imagination, creativity, and the arts are our most powerful tools to transform the way we imagine ourselves and how we relate to our world.
  • Who We Are

    Bronwyn Leland Watson

    Bronwyn Leland Watson grew up in Washington state. After receiving her BA from Seattle University in theatre and philosophy she relocated to Los Angeles. Her accolades include directing three short plays as part of Susan-Lori Parks' 365 Project, having the playwright attend the staged reading, and receiving the Best Play Jury Award and Best Director Award in the Hollywood Short & Sweet Festival 2018. Since 2014, she has been with The Actors' Gang Theater Company. She is an associate company member, teaching artist, and director. This is her first year on Free Verse and she's thrilled to work with another nonprofit focused on empowering artists to emerge and share their stories.
  • Who We Are

    Charles Jensen

    Charles Jensen directs the Writers’ Program at UCLA Extension, one of the largest and most prestigious open enrollment creative writing programs in the nation. He has volunteered widely in the arts and literary community with Arts for LA, Americans for the Arts, the Association of Writers and Writing Programs, and Lambda Literary. He is the author of six chapbooks of poems and two full collections, most recently Nanopedia. He hosts a podcast for the Writers’ Program called The Write Process, in which one writer tells the story of writing one work from concept to completion.
  • Who We Are

    Lynz Floren

    Lynz Floren combines his loves for audio-visual production, human development,t and creative expression in every project and role he takes on. As the multimedia manager for the Los Angeles County Bar Association, he oversees event setups and live webcast/recorded programs and has recently developed the organization's first podcast, Admitted: A Podcast for Law Students. Lynz is also a guitarist, a songwriter, and a business and life coach for creatives. He is honored to be serving a second year on the Free Verse Board.
  • Who We Are

    Michael Green

    Michael Green is a practicing attorney, an educator, and a passionate leader currently working in civil litigation. After earning his bachelor’s from the University of California Santa Barbra, Michael worked relentlessly as a Teach For America corps member pushing to close the achievement gap. Working by day as a full time 4th grade educator and by night as an accelerated graduate student, Michael earned his master’s from Pace University, New York, while his students achieved significant gains in the classroom. After earning his JD at Thomas Jefferson School of Law, Michael continues to serve the education community.
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    Tiffany Mosely

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    Erika Abrams

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    Eugene Allen

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    Brenda Lozano


Community partners

  • The Actors’ Gang

    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

    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

    Youth Speaks

    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

    Turnaround Arts

    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.

  • Ash Grove

    Ash Grove

    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.

  • Wondros

    Wondros

    Wondros offers strategic consulting and a full suite of creative services for clients at the cutting edge of business, health care, philanthropy, public policy, and the arts. Wondros has been instrumental in the production of the Get Lit NOW weekly web series providing a platform for poets to respond to breaking news & celebrate free thought. More at wondros.com.

  • Taskforce PR

    Taskforce PR

    Taskforce PR creates culture that changes culture, consolidates power and builds momentum. Taskforce PR designs creative strategies, produces meaningful engagement, organizes communities online and offline, builds campaigns that inspire movements and changes prevailing narratives. They combine the quality, power and creativity of the commercial sector with the inclusive process, values and heart of the nonprofit sector. More at taskforce.pr.

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