Meet the Writing Challenge Judges

Read all about them!

Lakota Children’s Enrichment proudly introduces the panel of Judges for the Writing Portion of  LCE’s Writing and Art Challenge for Middle School students, High School students and Young Adults on the Pine Ridge Reservation. Check out the Official Rules, and then start writing and/or drawing (you can enter one or both challenges, but you have to enter the writing challenge first). Deadline for both challenges: Midnight February 13, 2014 by electronic submission.

In alphabetical order:

peter-balakianPeter Balakian

is a poet and nonfiction writer and is the Donald M. and Constance H Rebar Professor of the Humanities in the department of English and the Director of Creative Writing at Colgate University in Hamilton, NY.  He is the author of six books of poems most recently Ziggurat and other books including the memoir Black Dog of Fate, winner of the PEN/Albrand Prize for memoir and a New York Times Notable Book, and The Burning Tigris: The Armenian Genocide and America’s Response, winner of the 2005 Raphael Lemkin Prize and a New York Times Notable Book and New York Times and national best seller.

Balakian is the recipient of awards and prizes and civic citations, including the Alice and Clifford Spendlove Prize in Social Justice, Diplomacy and Tolerance, 2012; a Guggenheim Fellowship, a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship. Balakian’s work has been translated into many languages and he has appeared widely on national television and radio programs including 60 Minutes, ABC World News Tonight, Charlie Rose, and Fresh Air.  This will be Balakian’s second year judging LCE’s Writing Challenge.

Tim Giago by Talli Nauman 11 April 2012Tim Giago

is a journalist and author and a member of the Oglala Lakota Tribe who was born on the Pine Ridge Reservation. Giago attended the Holy Rosary Indian Mission, enlisted in the US Navy, attended San Jose Junior College under the G.I. Bill, and then transferred to the University of Nevada at Reno.  Giago was awarded the prestigious Nieman Fellowship in Journalism to Harvard University, and the Harvard Foundation honored him in 1991 for his contributions to American Indian newspapers and journalism.

In 1981, Giago founded the Lakota Times (later re-named Indian Country Today), served as editor and publisher for 18 years, and built it into the largest independent Indian newspaper in America.  He also founded The Lakota Journal and the Dakota Journal, weekly publications still in operation.  Giago founded the Native American Journalists Association and has received many professional awards and Honorary Degrees from entities across the country.  Giago was inducted into the South Dakota Hall of Fame in 1994 and is the author of several books including The Aboriginal Sin and Notes from Indian Country, Volumes I and II and Children Left Behind.  Currently, Giago is the publisher of the Native Sun News and writes a Huffington Post column.

JasmineJasmine Mans

is a spoken word star who has received national attention for her moving and dramatic performances of spoken word poetry. Mans was born in Newark, NJ to hard working African American parents and under the guidance of strong role models, Jasmine knew that she wanted to change the world with her words. In 2008, on the Kennedy Center stage, Jasmine became part of Robert Redford’s Green Team, raising awareness about global warming through performance poetry.  Now she’s a spoken-word star, thanks to her powerful topical poems about black life in America.

Mans is a senior at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and the recipient of an art scholarship from The Star Ledger-NJPAC, and a First Wave scholarship, a spoken word and hip hop from her university.  In 2012, Mans was named one of Glamour Magazine’s Top Ten College Women and her collection of poems Chalk Outlines of Snow Angels was released the same year.

Mans’ schedule did not permit her to judge last year’s competition, but after the winners were selected she read the poems and then sent along a congratulatory video that was a highlight of the Award Ceremonies.

picture-407Susanne Pari

is an Iranian-American journalist and author of The Fortune Catcher, a novel that explores multicultural identity and religious fundamentalism during the aftermath of the Iranian Revolution; it has been translated into six languages. Her non-fiction pieces have appeared in The New York Times Sunday Magazine, The Christian Science Monitor, The Boston Globe, The San Francisco Chronicle, National Public Radio, and Medium.  She was the Program Director for the 25 literary salons of Book Group Expo, teaches writing for the Afghan Women’s Writing Project, and is a judge for The California Center for the Book’s Letters About Literature Contest.   Pari is a member of the National Book Critics Circle and The San Francisco Writers’ Grotto.

Pari frequently speaks and writes on issues of immigration, religious fundamentalism, women’s rights and American identity. As a speaker, Pari has conducted interviews, panel discussions, and conversations with authors such as Amy Tan, Khaled Hosseini, Anna Quindlen, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, and others.  This will be Pari’s second year judging the LCE Writing Challenge. She is a recent addition to LCE’s Board of Directors.

JodyWilliams2Nobel Laureate Jody Williams

received the Nobel Peace Prize, for her work to ban landmines through the International Campaign to Ban Landmines, which shared the Peace Prize with her in 1997.  Williams served as chief strategist and spokesperson for the ICBL as it achieved its goal of an international treaty banning antipersonnel landmines during a diplomatic conference held in Oslo in September 1997.  Williams is an advocate of freedom, self-determination and human and civil rights who believes that working for peace requires persistence and a commitment to sustainable peace, built on environmental justice and meeting the basic needs of the majority of people on our planet.  In 2006, Williams co-founded the Nobel Women’s Initiative, which uses the prestige of women Nobel Laureates to support and amplify the efforts of women around the world working for sustainable peace with justice and equality.

Williams is the Sam and Cele Keeper Endowed Professor in Peace and Social Justice at the Graduate College of Social Work at the University of Houston.  In academic year 2012-2013, she became the inaugural Jane Addams Distinguished Visiting Fellow in Social Justice at the University of Illinois at Chicago.  Her memoir, My Name is Jody Williams: A Vermont Girl’s Winding Path to the Nobel Peace Prize, was released in early 2013.


Read the Official Rules of the Writing Challenge and Optional Art Challenge and get working!

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