Willamette Writers is the largest writers organization in the Pacific Northwest. Writers of all genres and at all stages of their careers come to our meetings, annual conference, and workshops to connect with their community, develop their craft, and advance their career.
Across the state of Oregon, you will find a tightly knit community of writers who love working together to tell our stories and build our scenes: on paper, on the screen, and in front of the mic.
Need help writing a novel or short story, memoir or screenplay? Sharing expertise? Meeting other writers? Join us today. Be a Willamette Writer.
Willamette Writers was founded by Portland writer Kay Snow a half century ago with the goal of bringing published and unpublished writers together for mutual help and support. Our mission is to provide and make available opportunities, tools, information, and resources for writers and aspiring writers in the Pacific Northwest to connect with their writing community, to improve their craft, and to advance their writing career.
Willamette Writers has chapters offering year-round programming in Portland, Southern Oregon (Central Point), Eugene, Salem, Corvallis, and the Newport (Oregon Coast). Additional programming includes an annual writers conference, Kay Snow writing contest, FiLMLaB, Young Willamette Writers, workshops, and The Timberline Review. Membership provides a number of benefits.
Bylaws, Minutes, and More
Willamette Writers is 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization committed to increasing transparency in its operations and management. EIN: 93-0758252.
Our 2017 Board
Orit Ofri, President and Board Chairperson
Orit Ofri is the president and chair of the board of Willamette Writers where she leads the organization’s strategic planning, manages the organization’s digital media, and oversees programs and operations, including the conference.
A software engineer and an MBA, Orit is also a marketing and business coach for small businesses, nonprofits, writers, and creative professionals.
When working with writers, Orit focuses on building effective and personalized Author Platforms that enhance each writer’s career path and fit the writer’s skill-set and passions.
Gail Pasternack, Vice President and Membership & Chapters Director
Gail Pasternack is a writer and professional photographer. Her contemporary fiction focuses on characters in the arts who are at a crossroad in their life. These stories revolve around the relationships her characters make with others and how these relationships drive their journey. As a photographer, she helps clients get that perfect headshot, a photo that captures their inner self and fits their professional brand.
Gail has been the Secretary of Willamette Writers since 2015. In 2018, she will transition to the Membership and Chapters director position and will work to connect with our members and expand our membership base. She will remain in her leadership role for the Annual conference and will continue to serve as Willamette Writers's VP.
Gail received her bachelor’s degree from Cornell University and masters from Columbia University. For twenty years, she dedicated herself to teaching, yet always took time to embrace her love of the culinary arts, painting, photography, dance, and music. Today, writing and photography are her full-time jobs. She currently lives in Portland with her husband. Her short story “Asmodai in Portland” was published by Reclaiming Judaism Press in the anthology New Mitzvah Stories for the Whole Family in the fall of 2014.
Patri Ann Thompson, Board Treasurer
Matthew Swihart, Board Secretary and Editor in Chief of The Timberline Review
Matthew Swihart, JD, MFA, is the author of "Christianity Simplified: The Basics of the Christian Faith for New Believers and Curious Nonbelievers." During the day, he works as an attorney, mediator, and arbitrator. He also teaches Chito-Ryu Karate-Do and Yi Jin Jing Qigong. Matthew holds a Juris Doctor from Stetson University College of Law, a Master of Fine Arts in Writing from Goddard College, and a Bachelor of Arts in Creative Writing from the University of South Florida. Matthew spent most of his life in Florida, but now lives in Oregon with his wife and their two furry monsters.
Photo Credit: Jesseelee Kahaloa.
Ken Holt, Literary Programs Director
Stephanie Raffelock, Youth Programs Director
Stephanie Raffelock is an overly caffeinated, type-A personality, and novelist on the verge. A graduate of Naropa University’s program in Creative Writing and Poetics, Stephanie worked an internship at The Boulder Daily Camera and has penned articles for The Aspen Times, Quilters Magazine, Care2.com and Nexus Magazine. She currently writes a bi-monthly column for SixtyandMe.com, and is a regular contributor to The Rogue Valley Messenger.
As the Director of Youth Programs for Willamette Writers, Stephanie is committed to creating innovative learning environments that will stimulate and encourage young writers to experiment, express and play as they learn the elements of writing craft.
In addition to her position as the Director of Youth Programs for Willamette Writers, she is also a board member of Southern Oregon University's Friends of the Hannon Library.
A committed a student of story; Stephanie practices community outreach by teaching creative writing to marginalized populations that include incarcerated individuals. She enjoys literary representation by Dystel, Goderich and Bourett in New York City.
Photo Credit: Tina Bolling
Debby Dodds, Outreach Programs Director
Debby Dodds is the author of the novel Amish Guys Don't Call (Blue Moon, 2017), has stories in many anthologies, including the NY Times best-selling My Little Red Book (Hachette) and The Things That You Would Have Said (Penguin) The Sun, Salon, xoJane, Portland Family Magazine,Manifest-Station.com, and Hip Mama.
Willamette Writers Office
Kate Ristau, Business Manager
Kate Ristau is an author and folklorist who writes young adult and middle grade fiction. Her novels, Clockbreakers and Shadow Girl are available from Indigo Sea Press, and her essays are available at The Washington Post and Literary Mama. In her ideal world, magic and myth combine to create memorable stories with unforgettable characters. Until she finds that world, she'll live in a house in Oregon where she found a sword behind the water heater and fairies in the backyard.
Photo Credit: Adrienne Barnett
Founder Kay Snow, who had active Multiple Sclerosis when she founded the "Willamette Writers Club" in 1965, called upon her love of writing and help from her friends Leila Hasmann and Kate Herzog.
They served as president, membership chair and bookkeeper during the early years as the club became an incorporated non-profit.
By the time the organization grew to holding member meetings at the Imperial Hotel in downtown Portland (on the first Tuesday of every month - the same schedule the Portland meetings follow to this day), Kay Snow was confined to a wheelchair. However, she remained vitally involved until her death in 1976, also helping to establish the popular Willamette Writers Conference. Her friend, co-founder, and active member Kate Herzog died in 2010.
Since those early days with Kay Snow, Willamette Writers has provided meeting places for the exchange of ideas and information, and has initiated programs designed to help writers increase skills related to the craft of writing, including a writing contest named in honor of Ms. Snow.