Loft Staff Members
All photos courtesy of Anna Min of Min Enterprises Photography, LLC.
Kaitlyn Bohlin—Membership Manager, 612-215-2597
Kaitlyn hails from Chicago but became a Minnesotan when she moved to Grand Marais for four years to work at North House Folk School. Here in the big city, she enjoys connecting with a larger arts (and eats!) community. Her professional passions are nonprofit arts and education, where she feels she can best make an impact on her community and the world. With a BA in English from Calvin College, she never wished to be a creative writer or teacher, but loves using endless words to love on supporters of the Loft! When not dreaming of ways to show members just how fabulous they are, Kaitlyn quilts, listens to audiobooks, and serves as a throne for her black cat, Sushi.
Lynn Casale—Constituent Services Associate, 612-215-2573
Lynn's is the first face you see, voice you hear, and email you read when you contact the Loft. She also oversees the writers' studios and book club room rentals and bakes goodies for the staff. Lynn is forever indebted to the Loft for introducing her, through one of Jude Nutter's classes, to the wondrous world of poetry.
Favorite quote: "It is a good plan to have a book with you in all places and at all times." - Oliver Wendell Holmes
Fun Fun Cheng—Administrative Coordinator, 612-215-2582
Fun Fun holds a BA in English, an MA in Library & Information Science, and currently pursues a Master of Public Affairs at the Humphrey School. Her primary work has been in libraries dealing with information in all formats. Thus, it seems fitting that Fun Fun’s role at the Loft is to coordinate a slew of information to keep things running smoothly. In her spare time, Fun Fun enjoys laughing and sharing stories with people over a meal.
Cathy Coffman—Technology Manager, 612-215-2588
Cathy is a former software developer who went rogue into the world of nonprofits and now manages the Loft's IT infrastructure. After graduating with a degree in Math/Computer Science from UC San Diego, she worked in virtual reality research before jumping headfirst into non-profit administration and database management. A transplant from Los Angeles, Cathy is a serial hobbyist, with current favorites including knitting, gardening, and medieval swordfighting.
Jen Dodgson—Education Director, 612-215-2579
Jen Dodgson is the education director at the Loft, where she has created literary arts programs for kids and teens since 2007. Jenny manages the Loft's in-person classes for youth (ages 6–17) and adults. She also places local writers in area elementary, middle, and high schools for creative writing residencies that complement and support the academic curriculum taught in the classroom. She has worked with children and in the arts for over 15 years, including work as a multi-disciplinary theater artist with Pangea World Theater, Theater in the Round, Intermedia Arts, and Exposed Brick, where she currently also serves as Board President.
Abby Frank Taylor—Development Associate, 612-215-2598
Abby Frank Taylor was born and raised in Madison, WI and hopped a state over to purse a BA in Dance and a BIS with focuses in Political Science, Communications, and Gender Women and Sexuality Studies at the University of Minnesota - Twin Cities. At the Loft, Abby supports the development team with all things membership-related. With a background in dance and theater, her love of storytelling started early both within the pages of good books and on stage. When not at the Loft, you can find her in a dance studio, teaching pilates, or on a walk looking at other people's dogs, likely with a cup of tea and a favorite pastry in hand.
Favorite Quote: "Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean it is not real?" - J.K. Rowling
Marion Gomez—Program Associate
Marion is a graduate of Hamline University with a degree in, not surprisingly, English with a concentration in creative writing. As a program associate, she ensures that Loft events from readings to conferences run smoothly. In her free time, she writes and reads poetry, goes for long walks, and practices Spanish with her cat, Paco.
Chris Jones—Marketing & Communications Director, 612-215-2589
Chris received an MFA in poetry from the University of Florida. At the Loft, he works on organizational outreach, media relations, brand management, marketing and promotion, and print/video/Web design and development. Like Les Murray, he dreams of wearing shorts forever.
Favorite quote: “The man who does not read has no advantage over the man who cannot read.” - Mark Twain
Brianna Low—Program Associate, 612-215-2595
Brianna was born and raised in Minneapolis. She spent years moving throughout the Midwest before finally returning home to the Twin Cities, where she was lucky enough to join the Loft as a program associate. Brianna received her MFA in poetry from Indiana University. She credits her mother for teaching her how to read all those years ago and for instilling in her a deep and lifelong love of books.
Steph Opitz—Founding Director of Wordplay, 612-215-2586
Steph has curated literary events and festivals around the country—as the literary director of the Texas Book Festival, the fiction co-chair of the Brooklyn Book Festival, on the programs team for the PEN World Voices Festival, among others—and is thrilled to be the founder and director for the Loft's Wordplay annual book festival in Minneapolis, her hometown. She currently serves as a judge for Book of the Month club, as an advisory board member for Wordstock Literary Festival in Portland, OR, and on the junior committee for the National Book Foundation. Steph was the books reviewer for Marie Claire magazine for six years, and her book reviews can also be found in Garden & Gun, Departures, Kirkus, and elsewhere. Steph is an alumnae of the U of M (BA in English) and Cal State (MA in English). She loves recommending and talking about books, which is why she recommends you mark your calendar to attend Wordplay in May 2019.
Bao Phi—Program Director, (Equilibrium, Spoken Word Immersion Fellowship, Emerging Writers Grant, McKnight Award), 612-215-2585
Bao Phi oversees major Loft granting programs such as the McKnight Fellowships for Writers, Emerging Writers Grant, and the Spoken Word Immersion Fellowship, as well as community based readings and performances such as Equilibrium, Spoken Word at the Loft. He has been on the Loft staff since the late 90s, starting as a receptionist. As a spoken word artist, he has appeared on HBO’s Russell Simmons Presents Def Poetry Jam, and a poem of his was selected by former poet laureate Billy Collins for inclusion in the Best American Poetry series. He is a repeat Minnesota Grand Slam champion, a National Poetry Slam individual finalist, and continues to tour all over the country. He was featured in the award-winning feature documentary The Listening Project, and his work appeared in the Poetry in Motion project in Minneapolis. He is the author of two books of poetry published by Coffee House Press: Song I Sing (2011) and Thousand Star Hotel (2017); and a children's book, A Different Pond (Capstone, 2017).
Favorite quote: “I guess I should have known/by the way you parked your car sideways/that it wouldn’t last.” - Prince
Kathryn Savage—Program Manager, Loft Mentor Series Fellowship, 612-215-2590
Kathryn Savage oversees the Loft Mentor Series fellowship program for emerging writers. Her writing can be found in the Guardian, Poets & Writers Magazine, the Village Voice, the Star Tribune, and the anthology The Best Small Fictions of 2015. When not at the Loft, she teaches creative writing at the University of Minnesota, where she is pursuing a second MFA in poetry. She has studied creative writing at The New School, and holds an MFA in fiction from Bennington College. More about her writing and teaching can be found here.
Kurtis Scaletta—Online Education Manager, 612-215-2593
Kurtis Scaletta manages online classes, manuscript critique, and the First Pages program for the Loft. He has published eleven books for children; the most recent is entitled Rooting for Rafael Rosales.
"There are few things more helpful than having once been a weird little kid." - Katherine Paterson, on writing for children.
"Write up, not down." - E. B. White, on writing for children.
Beth Schoeppler—Managing Director, 612-215-2580
Beth Schoeppler has been on the Loft staff since 2008 but has had a long history with the organization taking her first Loft class in 1983. Her non-profit career –long enough that archeologists may soon be studying it – has included general management, communications, development, program planning, marketing, and evaluation for education, arts, and human service organizations of all sizes. As Loft managing director, Beth oversees finance, operations, IT, human resources, evaluation and institutional giving with most of the hands on work expertly executed by a team of talented colleagues. Her favorite saying is: “Every budget tells a story.” Beth believes that facts matter, but stories change minds.
Hadiya Shire—Program Associate, 612-215-2587
Hadiya is a graduate of Vassar College with a degree in English and a focus on creative writing. As program associate, Hadiya has a hand in most of the Loft's offerings—and will do her very best to answer any questions you have! She occasionally writes but prefers to read, and enjoys stories in whatever form they may come.
Favorite quote: "Nothing contributes so much to tranquilizing the mind as a steady purpose -- a point on which the soul may fix its intellectual eye. - Mary Shelley
Britt Udesen—Executive & Artistic Director, 612-215-2584
Britt Udesen joined the Loft in 2015 and is honored to help guide the Loft’s strategic direction as its executive director. She graduated from Macalester College in Saint Paul, and her career path includes leadership positions at arts organizations such as the Textile Center of Minnesota, Sun Valley Center for the Arts, and most recently at The Cabin in Boise, Idaho. When Britt isn't at the Loft or reading a book she is probably hiking with her husband, riding her bike, working on her fly casting, or watching sitcom reruns.
Melissa Wray—Outreach and Partnership Sales Manager, 612-215-2564
Melissa oversees Poetry Out Loud in Minnesota as well as the Loft's residency program and sponsorships. She will graduate with her masters in Arts & Cultural Leadership from the U of MN in spring 2018. She pursues her passion in community arts work as cofounder of Hazel & Wren (a community for writers and readers that ran from 2011-2017), founder of MinneStory (a podcast launching in 2018 that gathers personal narratives from rural Minnesota communities), and as a member of Coffee House Press' board of directors.
Rachel Yang—Marketing & Public Relations Coordinator, 612-215-2581
Rachel manages digital outreach and PR for the Loft, helping to craft the organization's voice and presence in the Twin Cities. She holds a BA in English literature from Swarthmore College, and worked in nonprofit education with the Breakthrough Collaborative before joining the Loft staff in 2017. Rachel is passionate about amplifying and empowering unheard voices in narrative arts. She loves smart, self-possessed stories that illumine simultaneously intimate and universal truths—and when she's not in the office, you can find her with a microphone in hand, producing audio stories that aim to do just that.