Executive Board Candidate Information (2023)

Candidate for President

Jessica Kem, Amherst College

Professional Biography: I am the director of Amherst College’s writing center. I’ve been in this role for about 5 years, and was a professional writing associate (tutor) here for about ten years before that. I have served as the SLAC-WPA secretary for three years.

Position Statement: After three years on the executive board, I am committed to the future (and present) of the organization and to building on the collaborative opportunities to engage more members.

I recognize challenges ahead, both for the SLAC-WPA organization, and for our members and institutions. Most of us are at the edge (or beyond it) of our bandwidth in our varied roles as staff, faculty (whether tenure-track or contingent), and administrators. Some of our colleges are struggling or changing rapidly, and many of us are still regrouping from pandemic challenges.

And yet, in this organization, many of us find professional community and camaraderie. A breath of air. I became more engaged in SLAC-WPA during the first year of the pandemic as we came together regularly for Zoom conversations and workshops. I ran for secretary to continue to develop the community and maintain our infrastructure. I run for president now in the same spirit, to sustain the organization that sustains many of us.

I’m curious to see what our first in-person conference brings up, and I’m eager to explore how we can continue to engage online. Our listserv, blog, and subcommittees offer some avenues, and perhaps more ideas will emerge. I’d like to play a role in that development.

Candidate for Vice President

Hannah Bellwoar, Juniata College

Professional Biography:I am Director of General Education and Writing and Professor of English at Juniata College. I teach professional writing courses, and I administrate general education, first year writing, writing in the disciplines, and the professional writing major. In my recent research, I’ve been focusing on reciprocal relationships in mentoring, tracing literate activity of undergraduate students composing, collaborating, and publishing with faculty. I’ve co-authored articles with undergraduate students published in Harlot, OneShot, and Composition Studies.

Position Statement:I first joined SLAC-WPA in 2012, and the organization has really supported my transition from large state universities to a small liberal arts college. I was grateful to find a friendly community of rhet/comp/writing studies folks in the unique writing programs and positions of SLACs. I have since attended and presented at four conferences, participated in the ad-hoc group for publishing, served on the Martinson committee, the events committee, and most recently on the Executive Board serving as an at-large member.

I am applying for a Vice President position because I am committed to the work of SLAC-WPA and want to see this organization continue to flourish and support our members. I have been on the Executive Board for a couple of years now, and I’ve appreciated the opportunity to contribute ideas and vision to the community. I would be happy to continue to serve on the SLAC-WPA board in the position of Vice President and then President to see us through in-person conferences that reinvigorates our community.

Candidates for Secretary

Magdelyn Helwig, Furman University

Professional Biography: Magdelyn Hammond Helwig is the Writing Programs Director and Associate Professor of Rhetoric and Composition at Furman University, where she directs the first-year writing seminar program along with WAC initiatives and upper-division Writing and Research courses while also teaching courses in writing and editing. She received her PhD from the University of Maryland, College Park, in 2010, and prior to joining Furman in 2021, directed the writing programs at Western Illinois University for ten years.

Position Statement: Though she is relatively new to SLAC-WPA, Magdelyn Hammond Helwig has found the SLAC-WPA to be a welcoming and supportive group and hopes to contribute to its continued success. She is passionate about collaborating with colleagues, which stems from and feeds her primary research interest in collaborative writing (and writing collaboratively about that research!), and is dedicated to lending support to colleagues across various networks. She hopes that serving as Secretary for SLAC-WPA will allow her to contribute directly to the mission of the organization to support the teaching of writing at SLACs by inviting new members to the group, curating channels of communication among members, and helping ensure that the website provides useful information and resources.

Nicole Weaver, Le Moyne College

Professional Biography: I am in my seventh year at Le Moyne College and my fourth as the Director of Writing. My primary responsibilities include serving as the administrator for our first-year writing program and developing our Advanced Writing minor. My recent work has included replacing a longstanding proficiency exam with a common essay programmatic assessment; currently, I am leading a team of first-year writing faculty to assess and revise our first-year writing course learning objectives.

Position Statement: I am interested in serving as the secretary on the SLAC-WPA Executive Board because I want to develop my relationship with this organization and contribute to its growth and mission. I have found my own WPA work at a SLAC to be isolating at times; over the past two years, however, this SLAC-WPA group has provided me with a sense of connection and support that I wanted and needed. For example, after feeling stuck with my own writing for years, two members encouraged me to get started again, and that effort resulted in a forthcoming chapter in an edited collection. In addition to bringing my strong sense of organization and my desire for collaboration to this role, I can contribute my own experiences and realizations to bring awareness to issues and feelings common to SLAC WPAs. I am seeking opportunities for both professional and personal connection. Serving as the secretary of SLAC-WPA would be a great starting point to fulfilling these goals and to giving back to an organization that has helped me navigate my own journey as a WPA.

Candidates for Treasurer

Tennyson O’Donnell, Trinity College

Professional Biography: Director, Allan K. Smith Center for Writing and Rhetoric; Senior Director of the Center for Academic and Experiential Advising; Director, First Year Seminar Program; 17 years experience as Writing Center Director and 12 years experience as WPA.

Position Statement: My passion in higher education includes working with faculty, students, and staff to support students’ academic and experiential pathways as they connect and engage with campus resources, embracing the profound value of a liberal arts education as students grow as learners and citizens, pursuing their particular intellectual curiosities and exploring transformational opportunities. Since my first SLAC-WPA conference in 2013, the organization has always been a source of learning and support for me. I’d like to give back by serving as a Board member.

Gwendolynne Reid, Oxford College of Emory University 

Professional Biography: As director of the Writing and Communication Program at Oxford College of Emory University, I direct both first-year writing and communication across the curriculum and collaborate closely with the director of the Writing and Communication Center. I also support other general education programs through faculty development and assessment. I teach first-year writing and other rhetoric and writing courses and am passionate about undergraduate research. My research focuses on disciplinary and professional digital and multimodal genres.

Position Statement: As the beneficiary of a SLAC education and now a WPA at a SLAC, I strongly believe in this model of education. SLACs offer something unique within higher education and can be especially consequential for students from disadvantaged backgrounds. I am passionate about teaching through relationships to help students achieve lives of consequence and contribute meaningfully to society.

While somewhat prepared by my student experience at a SLAC, I still found it challenging to adjust to my faculty and administrator roles, especially considering my prior work at a public research institution. The SLAC-WPA organization has been invaluable to my adjustment, often helping me realize that a felt dynamic was indeed a product of the SLAC environment and that others had found excellent ways to use that dynamic to give students a strong writing education.

I am grateful for the generous, collaborative spirit of the SLAC-WPA community and am motivated to serve it in whatever way I can as it transitions to the next phase in its journey. I am a listener and collaborator by nature—I thrive in interdisciplinary spaces—and am also a detail-oriented, systems thinker who knows her way around a spreadsheet. I am eager to continue learning from this community and to use my talents to contribute to its long-term continuation.

Candidate for At-Large Representative

Catherine Becker, Northwest Nazarene University

Professional Biography: I am an Associate Professor of English and the Chair of the Department of Language and Literature at Northwest Nazarene University. I also serve as the Chair of the General Education Council at NNU. Previously, I built and directed the NNU Writing Center and served as assistant professor of Writing and Writing Program Administrator. I have presented on SLAC writing programs at the Rocky Mountain Writing Center Association Conference, the National Association of Christian Librarians Webinar Series, and CCCC’s.

Position Statement: For years, I sought a professional organization that fit my professional context but found that most were dominated by representatives from larger institutions. I was excited to find an organization directly related to SLAC’s. I would like to participate on the executive board because I believe strongly in the SLAC mission and my research relates to how writing programs are situated within small liberal arts institutions.

I have been the secretary of a local nonprofit for six years and understand the working of an executive board. I also serve as the Chair of the General Education Council at NNU and have experience with organizational leadership. I feel I could serve well in the capacity of at-large member or secretary of the SLAC-WPA board and am interested in engaging with the mission of the organization at this pivotal time.