Editorial Team

Georgia Monaghan - Editor in Chief 

Georgia Monaghan is completing a Doctor of Arts at the University of Sydney, Australia where she is researching the nexus between spectacle and the New Woman in New York City at the turn of the twentieth century. She also teaches in the University of Sydney's Creative Writing program and received a Dean's Citation for Excellence for this work. Georgia is a published author of short stories, arts features, and creative nonfiction essays that have appeared in magazines, newspapers and anthologies in Australia and the United States. She holds a Bachelor of Education and a Master of Creative Writing (USyd), and is currently working on a novel set in Brooklyn and Greenwich Village at the turn of the twentieth century. You can visit Georgia's writing and teaching website: www.georgiamonaghan.com

Aimee Pokwatka - Associate Editor and Fiction Editor

Aimee Pokwatka was raised in Wheeling, West Virginia. She earned her BA in Anthropology from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, and her MFA in Creative Writing from Syracuse University, where she received the Cornelia Carhart Fellowship and the Joyce Carol Oates Prize. While at Syracuse, she also edited the literary magazine Salt Hill. Her short stories have been published in Quick Fiction, Redivider, Other Voices, Hunger Mountain and elsewhere, and she has won awards from The Greensboro Review and The Literary Review. Since graduating, she has taught fiction writing and composition. After welcoming their first child, a son named Rainer, she and her husband, Jason Kyle, moved to Newtown in July 2010. She’s currently at work on a story collection and a novel. 

Wendy Wipprecht - Fiction Editor, Copy Editor, and Columnist

Wendy Wipprecht was born in Teaneck, New Jersey, and began reading anything she could get her hands on shortly thereafter. She earned her bachelor’s degree in History and Literature (England) from Harvard and her master’s degree in English from Yale. Her specialty was Romantic poetry; her favorite poets were those who were “mad, bad, and dangerous to know”— Blake, Byron, Coleridge, and Emily Dickinson. Her work on Blake, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, and William Morris reflects her love for writers who are also visual artists. She is also a passionate reader of fiction of all kinds, and she returns often to visit the novels of Austen, Trollope Dickens, Wharton, James, Pynchon, Richard Powers, and Ruth Rendell. A special place in her heart is reserved for Wilde, Saki, and Ronald Firbank.

She has been involved in literary magazines for many years, beginning with her high-school publication, The Leaf, to which she contributed poetry, short fiction, and cover art. At The Harvard Advocate she served on the poetry, prose, and art editorial boards, and created posters advertising its informal poetry readings. A series of fortunate events led her to The Yale Review, where she stayed for fifteen years, rising from editorial assistant to associate editor. She has been a manuscript reader, a copy editor, a fact-checking department of one, a managing editor, and an acquisitions editor.  During her time at the Review, she also taught advanced expository writing at Yale and began her career as a free-lance copy editor of scholarly works in the humanities and social sciences, work which continues to this day. She tries to edit without fear or favor, and to use her powers for good and not for evil.

When she is not saving English prose a sentence at a time, she sings with the Newtown Choral Society, delivers Meals on Wheels, works for the Friends of the Library Book Sale, and occasionally reviews chamber music concerts for The Newtown Bee. She lives with her husband, Mark Aldrich, their children, Lola and Miles Aldrich, two dachshunds, and a cat. Both in her personal and professional lives, she hopes to follow the advice of Henry James: “Try to be one of the people on whom nothing is lost.”

Lisa Schwartz - Poetry Editor

Lisa Schwartz moved to Newtown in 1993 and has been active in local politics and community affairs ever since. Currently a member of the Board of Directors of Kevin’s Community Center Free Medical Clinic, she has also served on the Board of Ethics, Legislative Council and the Board of Education, stepping down in 2007 to dedicate herself to writing. With a special interest in editing, she has worked for Fordham University School of Social Work and the New York State Society on Aging as a consulting editor for journal articles and organization newsletters. A true Francophile at heart, (Lisa graduated from Hofstra University with a BA degree in French) Lisa has also been known to craft her poetry both in French and English. An early poem entitled “Qu’est-ce Que C’est Qu’une Rose?” was published in the French Literary Review, Point-Virgule. Regarding the forthcoming launch of The Newtowner, Lisa hopes to uplift the hushed sound of verse; to inspire, provoke and enthrall; to rekindle our spirits, bestir our demons; and to find the poet within us all!  

Brenda McKinley - Creative Nonfiction Editor

Brenda McKinley is a librarian at the Cyrenius H. Booth Library. She currently serves as the head of the technical services and circulation departments as well as the systems librarian. Brenda has been a member of the memoir writing group that meets at the Booth library since the fall of 2008 working on family and personal memoirs. Brenda is also a member of the C.H. Booth Writing Group working on fiction. She has a M.S. in Neurophysiology and a Masters of Library Science. While most of her writing has been in the technical fields of science and library science she has relished the opportunity to branch out into more creative writing. Brenda lives in Newtown with her husband and their four children. 

Sue Kassirer – Acquisitions Editor

A veteran children’s book editor and writer, Sue has worked at Simon and Schuster, The Viking Press, Golden Books, Random House, and Harper Collins, most recently as Senior Editor.  She has published about twenty-five books for children of all ages. As a freelancer she worked for many years as Executive Editor of Breakfast Serials, which serializes novels for children in hundreds of newspapers nationally and internationally. An English Literature major, Sue is currently working on a middle-grade children’s novel along with other literary pieces and poetry. She and her husband have been coming up to Newtown for about thirty years and, upon their daughter’s departure for college, recently moved from Manhattan into their former summer home in Sandy Hook. 

Jennifer Jackson - Copy Editor and Proofreader

Jennifer Jackson is delighted to be working with the prestigious Newtowner staff. Armed with a degree in English Literature, she has worked as an editor and is honored to copy edit and proofread for The Newtowner.  Inspired by The Newtowner  and its staff, she continues her own writing in the hopes of being published. She is grateful to be working with an excellent team that fosters the creative process.

Darren Wagner - Director of Photography

Darren Wagner began his photographic career by being awarded Young Photographer of the Year by the Photographic Society of America. After graduating from a commercial photography school Darren managed several photographic studios before creating his own studio, Wagner Photography  Darren continues to win awards as a professional photographer for his wedding and dance photography. Darren achieved preferred photographer status with several world class island wedding resorts in Australia. Darren's other clients have included Italian Vanity Fair, The London Telegraph and German magazine, Aftenposten. Darren also provided digital imagery for Gillian Armstrong's innovative documentary, Unfolding Florence: The Many Lives of Florence Broadhurst, which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival. Darren currently specializes in wedding, bar mitzvah, and portrait photography. 

Sheryl Bassford Fatse - Special Projects and Promotions Coordinator

Sheryl joins The Newtowner with a wide range of experience in public relations, marketing, sales promotion, and print production, stemming from corporate roots with Norelco Consumer Products, Proctor and Gamble, and various Connecticut based creative agencies.  Immersed in raising a family she continued fundraising projects in and around Newtown, including managing production of a 100 page historical consecration book for the Orthodox Church of America, and raising funds for water and housing in adopted communities in Tijuana and Turkana. Sheryl is also a fine arts photographer and creative writer. Her broad and varied experience has been enthusiastically welcomed by the team at The Newtowner.

Maka Bakhbava - Media Relations Coordinator

Maka was born and raised in the small but beautiful country of Georgia, located between the Black Sea and the Caucasus Mountains. She graduated with a BA from Ivane Javakhishvili Tbilisi State University where she studied English Language and Western European Literature. Maka came to the United States twelve years ago with the help of her host family to further pursue her education. She graduated with an MBA degree from James Madison University. Maka is fluent in several languages including Georgian, English, and Russian. While growing up in Georgia, Maka witnessed the Soviet Union collapse, civil war, and multiple military unrests. During this time she developed a love for books; they provided solace and escape from the harsh political and social realities. 

Currently, Maka resides in Newtown with her husband, daughter and mother. During her spare time, she loves to read, photograph and paint. She also works as an Account Executive at Cartus. Konstantine Gamsakhurdia, one of Georgia’s greatest writers once said: “People are not paintings, two dimensional, but more like sculptures, multi dimensional. You have to walk around them, find the brightest light that shines upon them and gaze from that side.” The Newtowner magazine sheds light and allows the reader to celebrate the beauty and creativity in everyone including emerging writers, best-selling writers, and inmates at a maximum-security prison. Maka is honored to be a new addition to the talented Newtowner team. 

Victor Ellul - Social Networking Coordinator

Victor Ellul was born and raised in Danbury, Connecticut.  He earned his graduate degree in Information Security from James Madison University, his undergraduate from WCSU, and a certificate in Oenology and Viticulture from NVCC.  Victor holds multiple certifications in audit, security and information management, and is currently a Global Security Program Manager at IBM.  Apart from his technical and business interests, Victor enjoys musical theater and modern art.  Victor moved to Newtown with his wife in 2005 and has a daughter who attends the Housatonic Valley Waldorf School. Victor is honored to be part of The Newtowner team. 

Tracy H. M. Hubbard - Art Director for Special Issue and Creative Advisor

Tracy H. M. Hubbard is the Creative Director at Optima Group,  a marketing and communication consultancy for the financial services industry. She is responsible for developing innovative design solutions for print and electronic marketing programs. Tracy has extensive experience in conceptual development, branding, copy development, and print production. Throughout her career, Tracy has won numerous awards for her design work. She has worked for such notable design firms as Knoll International, Design Trust, and Weizs & Yang and has developed creative solutions for many Fortune 500 companies. Companies that Tracy has developed creative solutions for include GE, IBM, Victorinox Swiss Army, Avis and Rail Europe among others.Tracy also has a passion for making hand-bound blank journals as well as scrapbooking. She has lived in Newtown for the past 16 years, has a daughter at Hawley School and a son at the Reed Intermediate School. Tracy earned her Bachelor of Science in Graphic Design from Sacred Heart University.

Julie Stern - Columnist

Julie Stern  began her professional career as a high school English teacher in inner-city Manhattan, middle class Queens and suburban Redding.  After a hiatus to stay home with her young sons, she spent twenty-nine years teaching at Western Connecticut State University in the department of Humanistic Studies and Philosophy, where she taught courses including The Human Condition;  Moral Issues in Modern Society;  Philosophical Issues in Literature;  and The Human Adventure. Born and raised in the South Bronx,  she studied art at the High School of Music and Art, she graduated from Cornell and earned an MA in English and American Literature as a Woodrow Wilson Fellow at the University of California, Berkeley. For the past twenty years she has been the theater reviewer for the Newtown Bee, and for several years she wrote the tennis column,  as well as periodic special informational columns for the Board of Education. She  is the author of A Readers’ Guide to the Short Novels of Joseph Conrad, and has written two full length thrillers for her oldest granddaughter. A long time volunteer with the Friends of the Booth Library, she also teaches the mystery writing component of the young adult creative writing program,  and has led adult reading and discussion series on such diverse topics as Willa Cather,  Baseball,  Mysteries,  Realistic Novels,  and Reality Maps (a set of memoirs).  In addition to reading and writing, she is an avid hiker and tennis player, and a regular member of the Discussion Salon at Mocha Coffee House.  She and her husband (and best friend) Pete have two sons and three grandchildren, plus a very nice dog and cat.  She is known by her friends for the facts that she uses bad language, hates driving, and is a poor housekeeper, but she can do the New York Times crossword in ink, and tries to be a good citizen.

Nikki Barnhart - Youth Expressions Editor

Nikki Barnhart is a sophomore at SUNY New Paltz studying Journalism. She aspires to write professionally and dreams of publishing her own novel. Her views on writing are best expressed by Charles Bukowski: "I'd rather have both, the living and the writing, because I find them both inseparable." When away at college, she looks to The Newtowner as a connection to her hometown and for sense of community that keeps on growing.

Grace McKinley - Youth Expressions Editor 

Grace McKinley is a freshman at Quinnipiac University. She is a mathematics major with plans to become a high school math teacher. In addition, Grace continues to pursue her love of poetry and the arts. Grace is proud to be a part of The Newtowner's Youth Expressions staff. 

Caroline McArdle - Youth Expressions Editor 

Caroline McArdle moved to Newtown in 1999, two years after she was born.  Shortly after that, she moved into the C.H. Booth Library, where she can frequently be found at Young Adult Council meetings, poetry and fiction workshops, meetings of the Mask and Wig Players drama group, or between the shelves with a pile of books.  A great fan of language and culture, she has been studying French for almost as long as she has lived here and now composes poetry in French and English.  Recently, she decided to branch out into lesser-known languages (she loves lesser-known things of all kinds), dig into her heritage, and learn Irish Gaelic.  Although she is quite far from composing poetry in Gaelic, she has picked up some useful phrases, such as the dog is swimming.  Caroline is an actress and performer at heart.  She is obsessed with Shakespeare and is currently preparing to perform as Ariel in The Tempest.  She is a member of the Malenkee Ballet Repetoire Company and the Fairfield County Children’s Choir, and she enjoys playing flute and piano.

Lucien Formichella - Youth Expressions Staff and Advertising Associate

Lucien Formichella is fifteen years old and excited to be a part of The Newtowner staff as an advertising intern. This is his first internship of any kind, but he is eager to learn all he can about advertising. In his spare time Lucien enjoys acting, reading, writing, playing baseball, and partaking in the Model United Nations. 

Andrea Zimmermann - Advisor

Andrea Zimmermann is a writer and librarian with a keen interest in local history and preservation.  She is the author of The Case Files of Detective Laszlo Briscoe:  True Crime in Newtown 1889-1933, and Eleanor Mayer’s History of Cherry Grove Farm. She was a features writer for The Newtown Bee before becoming a freelance journalist writing for The New York Times Connecticut Weekly section and regional magazines.  For the past ten years she has been an interviewer for and editor on the Newtown Oral History Project. She established and was director of the Newtown Historical Images Archive, a Historical Society project to digitize and preserve more than 3,000 photographs that document life in Newtown between 1880 and 1950. Her current responsibilities at the C.H. Booth Library include caring for and expanding the Newtown Authors and Illustrators Collection.  She has a Masters of Arts in English and a Masters of Library and Information Sciences. 

Daniel Cruson - Advisor

Daniel Cruson, the Town Historian for Newtown, is a retired high school teacher who taught courses in anthropology and local history. A longtime member of the Newtown Historical Society, he served as its president for five years in the early 1990s. He also served as the Chairman of the Newtown Tercentennial Commission in 2005, and is an active member of the Heritage Preservation Trust of Newtown and the current president of the Archaeological Society of Connecticut. He has published several books including The Prehistory of Fairfield County, Newtown's Slaves: A Case Study in Early Connecticut Rural Black History, and Newtown: 1900-1960 in the Images of America series.  Most recently he has published A Mosaic of Newtown History, a collection of his essays, and a history of the Newtown Savings Bank, as part of the commemoration of that institution’s 150th anniversary. 

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