Our 2017 Team

Barbara Bell

Barbara Bell (Artistic Director) has extensive experience in programming, management, and event planning and production, including several years as Events Coordinator with Chapters Bookstore. She has produced numerous stage plays, several independent short films, including the award-winning “Digging Up Plato”, and a feature film. Barbara is also an award-winning actor and playwright and a freelance editor, and for two seasons programmed, produced, and hosted a monthly television book club –Page Turners – for TVCogeco in Kingston. Barbara sits on the Community Arts Advisory Committee for the City of Kingston, as well as on the Arts Advocacy Committee of Kingston Arts Council.

Kimberly Clarke (Author Patron Assistant) is a Kingston native, Queen’s grad (English ’85) and recent returnee after 30 years abroad. A life-long book fiend, she’s been an editor and writer in international development for the last 28 years, working freelance from Lyme Regis (UK), Nicaragua, and now Kingston. Kimberly volunteered at KWF ’15 a month after arriving, and knew she’d found her spiritual home. After helping on the Stewardship team part-time in 2016, this year she will be starting early and helping Jan to reach an ambitious new Author Patron target for KWF ’17. And trying harder to return her library books on time.

Ian Coutts

Ian Coutts (Profile Editor) was an editor at Toronto’s Madison Press Books for fifteen years. He is the author of five books, and co-author of two, including Brew North: How Canadians Made Beer and Beer Made Canada and The Perfect Keg. Ian is also a journalist whose work has appeared in Toronto Life, Canadian Geographic, The Globe and Mail, Taps: The Beer Magazine, and elsewhere. He has worked for the Canadian Museum of Civilization, the Canadian War Museum, and Queen’s University.


Kathy Cunningham (Authors @ School) has been an educator for many years in both the Limestone D.S.B and the Algonquin and Lakeshore C.D.S. B. working with students in both the elementary and secondary panels, retiring as an administrator of a secondary school. She is an avid reader and meets monthly with her book club. Kathy also volunteers at the Kingston General Hospital with her golden retriever Emma as part of the Therapy Dog Program.


Amanda Di Vito (Box Office Coordinator) is a Toronto native but moved to Kingston as a teen. She started with the festival as a volunteer in 2012 and has been excitedly coming back every year since. She has over 10 years of customer service and cash handling experience in various jobs in retail and working with children. An extremely avid reader, Amanda used to like to hold books (usually upside down) before she could even read because liked to imagine that she already knew how.

Melanie Dugan

Melanie Dugan (Profile Editor) has authored four novels, numerous short stories and book reviews, and has spent much of her career in publishing houses, bookstores, and libraries–including the Kingston Frontenac Public Library, where she works. Melanie is a former Associate Publisher at Quarry Press, and has been Managing Editor for Poetry Canada Review, Canadian Fiction, and Quarry Magazine.

Kristina Fennell (Profile Guide Editor) graduated from Queen’s University with an Honours degree in English and Classical Studies.  Her interest in the Kingston cultural community led her to volunteer for the festival in 2010, to develop the Booklover Donor Program.  Kristina is currently pursuing a Publishing Certificate through Ryerson.

Ashleigh Forsyth (Volunteer Manager) has worked in various fields, from tourism and hospitality to naturopathic medicine and marketing. She has organized many community arts events and public health fundraisers with the help of volunteers in British Columbia, the Yukon and in her hometown Kingston. Ashleigh has Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from Thompson Rivers University and is nearing completion of her Masters of Science in Rehabilitation Science at Queen’s University. An outdoors and fitness enthusiast, she has combined this passion with her past military service and is working towards a career in mental health services for Veterans. Ashleigh has been an avid reader and writer from a young age and loves reading local and international authors from all the places she’s lived in and traveled to.


Gayle Johnson (TeensWrite! Contest) is an avid reader, who enjoys exposing members of her two book clubs to WritersFest books! As an educator at Napanee District Secondary School, her love of literature directed her from a career in phys ed. to English and Library. For many years she shared her love of theatre by taking more than 60 school trips to Stratford and Toronto theatres. As well as encouraging creative writing in her classes and through organizing many creative writing contests she also supervised production of the school yearbook and newspaper for ten years.

Knowles, Tricia

Tricia Knowles (Marketing Manager) is a promotions and marketing professional with close to 20 years of experience working in media. She has held marketing, writing and on air positions with many prominent broadcasters before transitioning to media and public relations. Tricia is also a festival producer and event coordinator, having worked on a number of festivals such as Ottawa’s Music and Beyond, The Pan Am Cultural Festival, Fort Fright, Skeleton Park Arts Festival and the Limestone City Tattoo and Arts Festival. Passionate about the environment as well as the arts, Tricia founded and developed Kingston Unplugged, a local environmental music and arts event in support of the World Wildlife Fund’s Earth Hour initiative, and has been a volunteer with Kingston WritersFest since 2011. An adoration for festivals and how they can be incorporated into improving the quality of life for the city’s residents has lead Tricia to study cultural tourism and creative place-making as she works towards her certificate in Cultural Planning and Development with UBC.

Aara Macauley

Aara Macauley (Administrative Coordinator) has a B.A.H in Classical Studies and an M.A. in Latin Literature from Queen’s University. For four years she owned and operated a boutique selling primarily local, Canadian and independently created art, clothing and jewellery. As well as being an avid reader and staunch supporter of Kingston WritersFest, Aara has been involved in the fundraising, event planning and promotion committees for various local cabaret, film and arts festivals. She currently serves as Chairperson on the Reelout Arts Project Board of Directors and champions greater access to and awareness of our community’s diversity through the arts.

Lindy Mechefske

Lindy Mechefske (Newsletter Editor) is a former scientific copy editor turned freelance writer. Lindy is the author of Sir John’s Table and A Taste of Wintergreen. You can find her blogging about her adventures in the kitchen at lindymechefske.com

Ann-Maureen Owens

Ann-Maureen Owens (Education Manager) is a writer of magazine articles, website content and children’s books. She has retired from a teaching career that included working as a classroom teacher in both elementary and secondary schools, resource teacher for special education, consultant for gifted students, department head and instructor of professional courses at Queen’s University’s Faculty of Education. Her three co-authored books, published by Kids Can Press, have been short-listed for various awards. She is currently serving on the Friends of the Kingston Frontenac Public Library Board of Directors, as vice-president.

Pemberton, Sandy

Sandy Pemberton (Hospitality Manager) originally hails from Toronto and her background spans +25 years in the world of media advertising – most specifically on the print front.  She has always held an appreciation for the written word and longs to write a book of her own one day.  An advocate for mental health awareness, she concurrently offers her time as a guest speaker with KFMHA. Volunteerism has always played a role in her life and, as a self-proclaimed foodie, she is delighted with her new role as Hospitality Manager.

Bill Penner thinks, cr. George Forsyth

Bill Penner (Production Manager) has been working in presenting theatre and technical production for more than 35 years; creating events, running venues, and working in both the not-for-profit and the commercial theatre sectors. In 2010 , he acted as Director of Production for Soulpepper Theatre in Toronto before moving back to Kingston to work on planning the Tett Centre for Creativity and Learning, a City of Kingston initiative that is now open and very busy. Bill is also involved with Theatre Kingston and The Kick and Push Festival.

Angela Saxe (TeensWrite! Conference Coordinator) is a retired educator who taught English Literature and Creative Writing to generations of secondary students. She used writing clubs, the school newspaper and book talks to promote reading and writing for pleasure while supporting the students’ creative efforts. Angela is the former editor and contributor of Complete Health, a local health magazine and The Scoop, a news magazine that celebrates rural life and the people who live in the rural communities. As editor, Angela mentored and published the work of both high school and elementary students.

Kimberly Sutherland Mills

Kimberly Sutherland Mills (Library Liaison) is the Manager of Programming and Outreach at the Kingston Frontenac Public Library.  A graduate of the Master of Library of Information Science program at Western University, Kimberly has more than 20 years of program and special event experience, and has served as a juror for both the Canadian Library Association’s Young Adult Book Award and the Geoffrey Bilson Award for Historical Fiction.  This is her second year as liaison with Kingston WritersFest.

Shelley Tanaka

Shelley Tanaka (Profile Editor) is the editor of numerous award-winning young adult novels, an award-winning author of nonfiction for children, a translator, and a writing teacher. Shelley’s writing has won the Information Book Award, the Silver Birch Award, the Mr. Christie Book Award and the Science in Society Children’s Book Award. As an editor, she has worked on thirteen Governor General’s award-winning titles and is the fiction editor at Groundwood Books.

Jan Walter

Jan Walter (Author Patron Lead) is an editor and publishing consultant. She has held executive positions with a number of Canadian publishing companies and was a partner in Macfarlane Walter & Ross, an innovative publisher specializing in quality nonfiction. Jan is a recipient of a City of Toronto Arts Award for her contributions to publishing and writing.

Associate Member Bios

Bernard Clark

Bernard Clark (Festival Photographer) is a graduate of the St. Lawrence College Fine Arts program, and works as a Commercial/Fine Art Photographer. He has taken portraits of some of the most creative & powerful people of our time, ranging from rock stars to prime ministers. His fine art photography has been exhibited in several solo & group exhibitions in Kingston and Toronto. His commercial work has been published in over 300 magazines in Canada, USA, Mexico and Europe.

Tracy John

Ahmad, Faraz

Tracy John (Creative Director) is the creative director and owner of Tracy John Creative Communications, an integrated marketing communications company in Kingston Ontario, For ten years prior she was the creative director and founding partner of SmallWorld Marketing Inc; where one of her favourite projects was the re-branding of the Kingston Frontenac Public Library. During her 18 year career in Toronto she worked on the Ontario Tourism, Canada Post & Hudson Bay accounts at Fuel Advertising and was the art director of Homemakers Magazine where she won numerous awards and worked with multiple Fortune 500 companies. She has always been an avid reader.

Faraz Ahmad (Graphic Designer)


Michael Macdonald (Bookkeeper) is a CPA, CGA with over 10 years of accounting experience. The majority of his professional career has been spent in public practice at both a national and a mid-size CPA firm. He has extensive experience working with entrepreneurs, small andmedium-sizedd businesses and individuals providing accounting and tax services. Michael holds a Bachelor of Commerce Degree, a Diploma in Business Administration – Accounting and is a Chartered Professional Accountant.

Oscar Malan

 Oscar Malan (Festival Bookseller) is the owner of Kingston, Ontario’s celebrated independent bookstore, Novel Idea. He was granted Honourary Membership in the League of Canadian Poets in 2012.


Carol Tomalty (Festival Web Design) has combined life-long passions for visual communication and technology in her web design business, CarricDesign (www.carricdesign.com). In 2007, one of her websites was featured in the international publication Practical Web Design, for design, usability, accessibility and content display. Carol has been involved with the design, development and maintenance of Kingston WritersFest since 2010.