Writing and Public Speaking Center Staff

Meet the Writing Center Leadership Team!

Director Shareen Grogan, MA. Shareen studied English and French as an undergraduate, and began her teaching career as an English-language assistant at a high school in Southwest France. She returned to the University of Montana to study English as a graduate student, then moved to San Diego where she completed a Master’s degree in Linguistics, with emphasis in second language acquisition and phonological processes like nasalization. Shareen began directing writing centers in 2001, and she’s been at UM since 2018. Her tutoring interests include the self-talk that gets in the way of our writing. Shareen’s writing advice: Messy, messy, messy! (Learn to embrace it!)

Associate Director Catherine Filardi, PhD. Catherine studied Biology and English at Amherst College prior to pursuing a PhD in Zoology from the University of Washington where she studied the evolution of bird diversity across the Solomon Archipelago. She has worked as a Program Director at UM’s Wilderness Institute, as a free-lance editor and grant-writer for Missoula-area nonprofits, and as a consultant at the Writing and Public Speaking Center for five years prior to becoming Associate Director in 2021. Catherine’s writing advice: The often-daunting and always-messy challenge of putting words on a page helps you think more clearly. Just do it.

Associate Director Amy Ratto Parks, MFA, EdD. Amy studied English and Philosophy at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. She earned her MFA in Creative Writing, MA in Literature, and EdD in Education at UM. Her poetry, fiction, and essays appear in literary, popular, and academic journals. She has worked as a reporter, a freelance writer, online writing course designer, and magazine editor – and for the past 20 years has been teaching student writers at UM. She is fascinated by the behavior of translating thoughts into written words. Her ongoing research in metacognition pursues answers about why we get stuck and how we can leverage the power of writing to help us overcome a variety of academic and non-academic challenges. Amy’s writing advice: Chaos comes before clarity -- you just have to keep going.

Meet our Writing Center Associates!

Writing Center associates bring a variety of academic and professional backgrounds and skills to the UM Writing and Public Speaking Center. Some are current graduate students, many are published writers, all bring a wealth of relevant writing and teaching experiences and a passion for providing individualized support to writers across the UM campus.

Billy Belsom, BA, JD. Billy earned his Bachelor of Arts at the University of Texas at Austin, and his Juris Doctor at the Louisiana State University School of Law. His legal career spanned twenty years, primarily as a litigator for a private firm, and then as the Chief Administrative Officer and General Counsel for Louisiana Public Broadcasting. His writings included court memoranda, client reports, contract provisions, and advisory opinions. In 2015 he left the practice of law and moved to Missoula to focus on raising his three children. He joined the Writing Center in 2017 and enjoys collaborating with students to help them learn to express their own thoughts and ideas more effectively. Billy’s writing advice: If you are wondering where to start, make an outline! It can be a simple list of words, phrases or ideas that can organize your thoughts and get your writing started without worrying about grammar or punctuation.

Sarah Capdeville, MFA. Sarah graduated from the University of Montana with a B.S. in Resource Conservation and a B.A. in Spanish. She holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Chatham University in Pittsburgh, PA and has been an editor, reader, and contributor to a wide array of literary journals. As a nature and environmental writer, her seasonal work as a Wilderness Ranger in the Absaroka-Beartooth, Welcome Creek, and Rattlesnake Wildernesses has fueled her creative nonfiction. Sarah’s writing advice: Everything has narrative, and the task (but mostly joy) of writing is to explore those connections and braid them together into meaning, whether that is academic, technical, or creative writing.

Sam Dunnington, MFA candidate. Sam graduated with a Bachelor's in History from Grinnell College in 2014, where he first worked as a writing tutor. Since then, he has published fiction, essays and journalism articles, and taught writing to a wide variety of students in classrooms, jails, and online. He is currently working on completing an MFA in Creative Writing at the University of Montana. Sam’s writing advice: The best way to write well is to read widely.

Kelly Franklin, MS, PhD. Kelly received her Bachelor of Science degree in Resource Conservation from the UM, her M.S. in Aquaculture and Aquatic Resource Management from the Asian Institute of Technology in Thailand, and her PhD in Systems Ecology, from the UM. Kelly joined the Writing Center as a consultant after attending the graduate student workshop series during early stages of her Ph.D. and since then has led many graduate student writing workshops both in-person and online. Her work as an international consultant for the UN and academic institutions in Central and Southeast Asia involved integrating writing skills and strategies into undergraduate and graduate programs. Kelly’s writing advice: Having a regular writing schedule and setting goals helps keep you motivated and productive. Early in a writing project, concept (or mind) mapping is a great way to brainstorm and identify connections between ideas. 

Suzanne Garcia Pino, MFA candidate. Suzanne hails from Albuquerque, New Mexico, where she received a Bachelor of Arts in Fine Arts from the University of New Mexico. After working in elementary education and design and marketing, Suzanne recently returned to the University of Montana to pursue her life-long interest in writing through an MFA in nonfiction creative writing. Suzanne’s writing advice: Sometimes it can seem like a good idea to adapt someone else's writing solutions or aesthetic, but that's the easy way out and your writing will always lose its charge. Time and time again, I have learned that the only way to get the writing unstuck is to double down on your own singular solutions and aesthetic, even if it scares you to do so.

Zoey Greenberg, MA candidate. Zoey has a Bachelor of Arts from the College of the Atlantic and is pursuing her master’s in Environmental Studies (writing track) at UM while also serving as senior editor for Camas magazine. As a science writer and naturalist, Zoey has published extensively across a range of styles and mediums – from the technical to the creative, and everything in between – and has worked in a variety of instructional settings, indoors and out! Zoey’s writing advice: Let your hair down. Play with words, write incoherent thoughts, embrace your scattered mind. Then retrieve the nuggets. Nuggets aren't born beautiful. 

Steve Kalling, MFA. Steve has worked with writers and aspiring teachers of writing for over twenty years. He has a bachelor’s degree in general studies with an English Teaching credential from the University of Michigan, and an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Montana. Since 2013 he has taught writing to graduate students in the Creative Pulse program, and since 2017 has worked as a consultant at the UM Writing Center. Steve has written scripts and composed music for several science communication touring programs, spends summers in a remote fire lookout in the Bitterroot Mountains, and is a jazz bassist and composer. Steve’s writing advice: Write quickly and badly. Write something every day. 

Annie Kolle, MFA candidate. Annie has an undergraduate degree in English from Tufts University and is currently pursuing her MFA from the University of Montana. She has supported student writing in a wide range of settings and with a huge diversity of students, from teaching 8th grade English in rural New Mexico, to working with international students as a tutor at the University of South Carolina Writing Center. Annie is a published fiction writer and an experienced editor and reader. Annie’s writing advice: Have fun with your first draft and allow it to be long, messy, and emotional. When it comes time to edit, however, be ruthless with your cuts.

Caitlyn Lewis, MA. Caitlyn received her undergraduate degree from Utah State University, and a master’s degree in Communication Studies from the University of Montana. While teaching public speaking courses at the UM, she started the Public Speaking Center that was later incorporated into what we now know as the Writing and Public Speaking Center. Caitlyn believes that the power of words can shape reality, and because of that, she loves to help students communicate their big ideas. Caitlyn has been an associate at the writing center since 2017, and when she isn't tutoring, runs a bicycle powered composting nonprofit in Missoula. Caitlyn’s writing advice: ​Your experiences inform your life, and therefore your writing. Don't be afraid of what you have to say. 

Charley Macorn, MFA. Charley received a Bachelor’s Degree in History and an MFA in Media Arts from the University of Montana. Charley’s passion for teaching has led them to instruct university classes on media literacy and screenwriting, as well as computer literacy classes to seniors, and storytelling and filmmaking workshops to students of all ages. Charley is also an award-winning stand-up comedian! Charley’s writing advice: Reading your writing out loud may disturb the other passengers on the bus, but it can help you catch typos and repeated words.

Megan McNamer, MA. Megan has a Bachelor of Arts in music from the UM and a Master of Arts in Ethnomusicology from the University of Washington. Her varied and extensive background in writing and teaching includes teaching English in Taiwan, local grant-writing and editorial work, numerous published works of fiction and nonfiction, and a 13-year stint directing the Missoula Writer’s Collaborative. Megan loves precise and compelling communication of all kinds. Megan’s writing advice: Just begin. Lay something down. Look at it. Go slow, if you want. Go back. Forge on. Take pleasure.   

Blake Sherman, MA. Blake received his B.A in Communication & Culture from the City University of New York, and his M.A in English from the University of Montana. He has studied at six colleges, lived in Los Angeles, New York City, and Brazil, but at the end of the day, is just a Montana boy at heart. Currently, he teaches entry-level writing and communication courses at UM, while pursuing personal writing projects.Blake’s writing advice: Trust the process. The outcome might be different in the end, but finding value in the journey might shine some light along the way. Many of us do all we can to avoid writing but at some point, we have to start. So jump on in. The ominous looking water is actually quite fine.

Clay Snell, MA. Clay received his undergraduate degree from Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma, Washington in 2017 and his Master of Arts Program in the Humanities from the University of Chicago in 2018. He worked at PLU’s writing center for three years, and as a private tutor in Chicago, and then taught high school English in Washington State. Clay has a soft spot for baking but rarely makes his current favorite thing -- sourdough donuts -- because it takes three days! Clay’s writing advice: Find somewhere you can focus intently, like a coffee shop or library. Tune in some Hip Hop – Wu Tang is great for this and helps with writer’s block, too. Remember: A first draft can be terrible!