• A brilliant view from the Manhattan Penthouse, site of the Friends of Writers Spring Gala on April 28th.
  • Holden Scholars Reginald Dwayne Betts (2010) and Chloe Martinez (2009)
  • Members of the Gala Steering Committee, Maeve Kinkead (2008), Co-Chair Mary Jo Thompson (2009), and Maudelle Driskell (2008) with books by Holden Scholars
  • Gala Co-Chair Abigail Wender (2008) with guest Helen Hovdesven and faculty member Martha Rhodes, publisher of Four Way Books
  • Faculty member Daniel Tobin, with alumna Gail Peck (1987) and her husband, James Peck
  • Friends of Writers board member Rolf Yngve (2010) with alumni Nathan McClain (2013) and Carrie Mar (2013)
  • Amanda Manning, faculty members Maurice Manning and Eleanor Wilner, Robert Weinberg, and current student Laura Swearingen-Steadwell
  • David Roth, Obie winning actress Ellen Parker, poet and writer Daniel Wolff, and Martha Roth
  • Penguin Group editor Megan Newman and actress Sonja Sohn with Reginald Dwayne Betts (2010)
  • Jeremy Bass (2010), Annie McCain Engman, W. W. Norton publisher Drake McFeeley, poet Kimiko Hahn, and Norton editor Jill Bialosky
  • Shakespearean actor and Yale School of Drama professor Peter Francis James
  • Kelsey Lauritano, Mezzo Soprano
  • Faculty member Monica Youn, MFA Director Debra Allbery, and faculty member Megan Staffel
  • Do I hear $1000? Master auctioneer C. Hugh Hildesley, Executive Vice President of Sotheby’s
  • Writers who dance


Friends of Writers celebrated its second Spring Gala on April 28th in New York City. The successful benefit was held in support of the Holden Fund for Diversity, which enables students from varied backgrounds, and with serious financial need to pursue graduate studies in the Warren Wilson College MFA Program for Writers.

After cocktails and dinner, guests enjoyed a program of Shakespearean readings by actor and Yale Drama School faculty member Peter Francis James, and musical entertainment from mezzo soprano Kelsey Lauritano, who was accompanied on the piano by J. J. Penna (2008).  The program concluded with wonderful short readings by Holden Scholars Chloe Martinez (2009) and Reginald Dwayne Betts (2010). C. Hugh Hildesley, Executive Vice President of Sotheby’s and the evening's auctioneer, delighted the crowd by declaring that, after having heard the program, he'd decided that his new favorite charity, Friends of Writers, deserved a splendid auction. With great style, Mr. Hildesley then went on to help raise significant funds for the Holden.          

The end result of all this fun was a serious achievement: because of the generous support of more than 100 guests and donors, many of them new to the FOW and MFA community, enough monies were raised to substantially expand the Holden Fund. We are deeply grateful to all those who helped make this a delightful and financially successful evening.

It’s not too late to contribute. To make a donation, please visit our online donation page or send a check to Friends of Writers, Inc. P.O. Box 128, Marshfield, VT 05658. A donation to Friends of Writers is an investment in new and vital literary voices from diverse social, ethnic, and national backgrounds. Your support for Friends of Writers’ scholarships makes it possible for students with financial need to study fiction or poetry writing in the MFA Program for Writers at Warren Wilson College. Thank you for your essential contributions to Friends of Writers, now and in the future.

  The Gala Steering Committee

Abigail Wender and Mary Jo Thompson, Gala Co-Chairs

Maudelle Driskell, Geoff Kronik, Maeve Kinkead, and Martha Rhodes