Board of Directors

Many of our founding members reunited to ensure that Writers in Residence provides youth who are incarcerated in jails and prisons with the opportunity to express themselves creatively and to reflect critically. They will also guarantee that we educate our communities about the juvenile justice system to create systemic change.

Zachary Thomas


Zachary Thomas is one of the Cleveland Foundation’s Anisfield-Wolf Book Award Fellows. He graduated from John Carroll in 2018, where he first volunteered with WIR. He’s working on his M.A. in Nonprofit Administration at his alma mater.

Rachel Schratz

Vice President

Rachel Schratz is an assistant editor at the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) in Chicago. She finished her M.A. in literature at John Carroll University in 2019, and volunteered with the first cohorts of WIR.

Michalena Mezzopera


Michalena Mezzopera is an English teacher at Notre Dame Cathedral Latin School in Chardon, Ohio. She is an alumna of John Carroll University where she volunteered with the first female cohort of WIR.

Paul Gehrig


Paul Gehrig works for JumpStart and is one of the co-founders of a civic-tech organization called unBail that is working to democratize information about the criminal legal system and provide direction for those affected by it through an intuitive, Waze-inspired mobile app. He was fortunate enough to be a part of one of the first WIR cohorts at John Carroll University.

Anthony Shoplik

Anthony Shoplik is a Ph.D. student in American Literature and Culture at Loyola University Chicago. In 2018, he graduated from John Carroll University where he volunteered with the first cohort of WIR.

Philip Metres, Ph.D.

Philip Metres is the award-winning author of ten books, including Shrapnel Maps (2020). He is Professor of English and Director of the Peace, Justice, and Human Rights program at John Carroll University.

Curtis “Skip” Hill

Skip was born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio. He spent 28 years of his life learning from a mistake in various correctional facilities including federal prisons. During his incarceration, he chose to face himself, his situation, and his future, which added up to change. He calls this process the “180 Degrees to Change.” Skip also chose to help the younger generations to show them what they are in for through his story. He developed the Choices: Prison/Death or Change program for Urban youth who find themselves facing prison and also mentors youth through Ohio Guidestone.

The workshops have opened me up to a world of culture and life that I never really knew on a personal level. It allowed me to create bonds with people that I otherwise would have never connected to, and it has ignited a passion in me for allowing those who have voices to be heard, regardless of background or situation.

– A Student Volunteer from John Carroll University
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