About Us

Kimbilio® is a 501(c)(3) organization, incorporated in the state of Missouri.  Our board and staff are unpaid volunteers, and all donations directly benefit programming for the Fellows and the larger literary community.

We are grateful to the English Department and to Dedman College at Southern Methodist University for their ongoing support of the Kimbilio Retreat.  Kimbilio is also supported by grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Regional Arts Commission of St. Louis.

Kimbilio® is the registered trademark of the literary organization. The name and logo may be used only with permission of the Kimbilio Board of Directors.


Community and Networking

Building a network of writers from the African Diaspora and providing Fellows, faculty, and others with the opportunity to share resources, writing, and the joys of membership in a powerful and nurturing writing community.

Artistic and Professional Development for Diaspora Writers

Building the capacity of Diaspora writers by providing a range of workshops, classes, trainings, and other professional opportunities.

Presentation, Promotion, Supporting the Critical Conversation around Diaspora Fiction

Disseminating the work of Diaspora writers through hosted readings, social media, book reviews and other critical responses; uncovering and reviving lost and/or forgotten works by writers of the Diaspora.

Resources and Outreach

Creating platforms that provide resources to Diaspora writers and which provide information to those interested in exploring the work of writers from our communities.

Our Board of Directors

A lady, David, smiles for a close-up photo.

David Haynes

Board Chair

David Haynes is professor emeritus of English at Southern Methodist University, where he directed the creative writing program for ten years. For the past twenty-three years he has also been on the faculty of the MFA Program for Writers at Warren Wilson College. He is the author of seven novels for adults and five books for younger readers, most recently, “A Star in the Face of the Sky”, which was published in 2013 by New Rivers Press. His forthcoming book is “Martha’s Daughter: A Novella and Stories.” He does and has done a bunch of other stuff, too.

A lady, Elizabeth, smiles for a close-up photo.

Elizabeth T. Gray Jr.

Board Secretary

Elizabeth T. Gray, Jr. is a poet, translator, and corporate consultant. Her long poem, “Salient”, was published by New Directions in 2020. Recent work includes the poetic sequence Series | “India” (Four Way Books, 2015) and translations from classical Persian, Wine & Prayer: “Eighty Ghazals of Hafiz of Shiraz” (White Cloud Press, 2019). She has served as Guest Editor for Epiphany and The New Haven Review and currently serves on the Boards of Friends of Writers, Kimbilio, The Beloit Poetry Journal Foundation, and of Human Rights and Democracy in Iran (Washington, DC). She holds a BA and JD from Harvard University and an MFA from Warren Wilson College. You can learn more about her here. 

A lady, Diana, smiles for a close-up photo.

Diana Napier

Board Treasurer

Diana Napier received an MBA from the University of Chicago and worked for 15 years in finance and mergers and acquisitions until she regained control of her soul. She then received an MFA from Warren Wilson College in Creative Fiction and has served as Director of Operations for the Kimbilio Summer Retreat since its inception in 2013. Diana lives in New York City with her husband and (teenage but going on 30) daughter.

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George Higgins

Board Member

George Higgins is a poet, improviser, and former trial lawyer. He published a book of poems, “There, There”, and his work has appeared or will in Best American Poetry, Pleiades, Nimrod, Prairie Schooner, Catamaran, and Main Street Rag. He earned an MFA in poetry at Warren Wilson College where he was a Holden fellow. He was also a Cave Canem Fellow. Currently, he’s at work on a Young Adult verse novel.

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Ravi Howard

Board Member

Ravi Howard is the author of two novels, “Like, Trees, Walking” and “Driving the King.” He was a finalist for the Hemingway Foundation/PEN Award and a recipient of the Ernest J. Gaines Award for Literary Excellence. His short fiction has appeared in or is forthcoming in, Salon, Massachusetts Review, Saw Palm, Alabama Noir, and Gulf Coast. His essays have appeared in The New York Times, McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, Atlanta, and Gravy, and he has recorded commentary for NPR’s All Things Considered. He has received fellowships and awards from the Black Caucus of the American Library Association and the National Endowment for the Arts. He is currently an assistant professor in the creative writing program at Florida State University.

A man poses for a close-up photo outdoors.

James Bernard Short

Board Member

Writing under the pseudonym Bernard James, James Bernard Short is an emerging short fiction writer, essayist, and poet. Notions of what define emotional and geographic boundaries of the diaspora are of particular interest, as well as pieces that explore the dynamics of love, loss, and personal transition. James’ work has appeared in Auburn Avenue, Callaloo, The New Guard, Blood Orange Review, The McNeese Review, and SmokeLong Quarterly among other journals and literary publications. He is a 2018/2017/2016 Kimbilio Fellow, and a 2015 Givens Writing Fellow. James holds degrees from Northwestern and The University of St. Thomas. He is a lifelong introvert, but through his words, pretends not to be.

A lady poses for a close-up photo outside.

Jacinda Townsend

Board Member

Jacinda Townsend is the author of “Saint Monkey” (Norton, 2014), which won the Janet Heidinger Kafka Prize and the James Fenimore Cooper Prize for historical fiction. Saint Monkey was also the 2015 Honor Book of the Black Caucus of the American Library Association. Her second novel, “Kif”, will be published by Graywolf Press in 2022. In the fall, she will begin teaching in the MFA program at the University of Michigan. She is a mom of two and on the Board of Trustees of the Monroe County (Indiana) Community Schools Corporation.

Supporting Faculty and Staff


Organizational Development Consultant and Retreat Operations Manager: Diana Napier

Social Media Consultant: Lauren Garretson

Retreat Manuscript Management: Julia Brown

Chair of the English Department, SMU: Richard Bozorth

Assistant to the Chair of the English Department: Mary Felipe

Steadfast Tax and Accounting Solutions

Consigliere: Kima Jones


2024: Lesley Arimah, Jabari Assim, Angela Flournoy, Jacinda Townsend,

2023: Patricia Elam, Dana Johnson, Renee Simms, Asali Solomon

2022: Danielle Evans, Angela Flournoy, Ravi Howard, Rion Amilcar Scott

2019: Ravi Howard, ZZ Packer, Asali Solomon, Rion Amilcar Scott

2018: Natalie Baszile, Dana Johnson, Martha Southgate, Jacinda Townsend

2107: Danielle Evans, Angela Flournoy, Ravi Howard, Jacinda Townsend

2016: Jeffrey Renard Allen, Danielle Evans, Asali Solomon

2015: Jeffrey Renard Allen, Angela Flournoy, Dolen Perkins-Valdez

2014: Mat Johnson, ZZ Packer

2013: ZZ Packer, Dolen Perkins-Valdez

David Haynes teaches at the retreat as needed.