Meet Our Staff

Sondra Hall, Founder

Sondra Hall, Founding Director
Sondra’s inspiration as an artist-educator is fueled by her belief in the power of the written word to transform both teacher and student. She’s seen first hand that when kids’ imaginations are ignited, they’re more engaged and enthusiastic about learning. Because she thinks a lot of students spend too little of their school day crafting stories, swimming in their imaginations and applying their creative spark to the page, she conceived of “Take My Word For It!” as a way to bring the adventure that is writing to elementary school kids.


Emily Phillips, creative writing instructorEmily Phillips, Bay Area Program Director
Emily has worked with Bay Area youth of all ages in several different capacities, as a creative writing teacher for elementary school kids with Take My Word For It! and SF Arts Ed, as the Middle School After School Program Coordinator at Oakland School for the Arts, and as a high school tutor, mentor, and substitute teacher. She received her MFA in Creative Writing from California College of the Arts in 2008 and when she’s not doing fifteen things at once coordinating our growing writing program, she writes as much as possible.

Christine Meade, Boston Program Director
With dreams of becoming a novelist since before she could read, Christine received her MFA in Creative Writing from California College of the Arts in May 2010 following her BA in English/Journalism from Northeastern University in 2006. Christine began her career as a reporter and later worked as a copywriter and creative writing instructor. After a six-year stint in California, she returned to the sweaty summers and numbing winters of her native Boston. When not writing, she coordinates writing programs for students and enjoys reading, hiking and walking her tiny dog.

Trish Kredell, Chicago Program Director
Trish Kredell earned her Masters in Education from the University of Pittsburgh. In the past several years, she has taken an active interest in elementary and middle school education through volunteer roles in her school district. During the summer, she encourages local kids in their love of reading by leading a book club for her son and his friends. She is excited to help bring “Take My Word For It!” to Chicago to give all kids in the area a chance to express their creativity through writing. When not reading on her own, you’ll likely to find her on a run with her family at one of the local forest preserves or river trails, attending a cross-country meet, or dreaming about and planning her next travel destination (hopefully Ireland!).

MPJulianheadshot2013Mary Pat Julian, Northern Virginia Program Director
Mary Pat Julian graduated with a major in English from West Virginia University. Mary Pat’s interest in finding unique enrichment programs for area schools combined with her love of all things written made her fall in love with “Take My Word for It!”. When not busy with TMWFI, you can find her entranced in photography or writing (her own or someone else’s), volunteering or, more often than not, ferrying her 3 boys all over the DC area while dreaming of summers at the beach.

Katrina South, Portland Program Director
Katrina graduated from Portland State with a Bachelor of Science in Business Management AND found her bliss serving as Fundraising Chair for a cooperative preschool in Portland. Soon after, she discovered her managerial skills and passion for education reform could best be utilized on the school board. As a parent and homeschooling teacher, Kat believes that nurturing children’s passions and creativity allows them to become empowered, lifelong learners. When not at work, she can be found wandering around Powell’s, drinking cream with a splash of coffee, and reading classical literature and world history aloud to her family.

Fharia Khan TMWFIFahria Khan, South Bay Program Director
Fahria graduated from MIT with a degree in Biology, however, she never worked as a biologist. She spent 4 years working as a software applications programmer before having her first child. Now, 5 kids later, she is extremely active as a volunteer and board member for multiple organizations, including the PTO, the school district and Girl Scouts. Fahria encourages all children, not just her own, to explore and pursue their interests. Coordinating creative writing classes for “Take My Word For It!” helps her fulfill this goal.

Susan ShaySusan Shay, Social Media Coordinator
Susan has been an operations & marketing consultant for over 10 years. Her clients stretch from coast to coast and include health & wellness professionals, yoga studios & arts organizations. Exercising her creative muscles, Susan has worked on & off stage in New York, Chicago, DC and San Francisco as an actor, stage manager, dramaturg and designer. She is a graduate of Georgetown University (BA, English Literature) and a proud member of Actors’ Equity Association. Her favorite audiences are under the age of 12, as they allow their imaginations to enrich storytelling – on stage and on the page!

Kim Bielak, social media marketing intern

Kim Bielak, Marketing Consultant 
Kim graduated from UC Berkeley with a degree in Media Studies. She found that her heart aligned with Take My Word For It!’s mission to give kids the opportunity to express themselves creatively and is thrilled to be able to employ her studies in digital media to interact with our online community. She finds her own creative outlet in dance, art and travel.

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