Juniper Staff and Teachers

Juniper Staff


The enthusiasm, knowledge, and sensitivity of our staff is part of what makes Juniper great. They make it fun and inclusive, bringing their own curiosity and exploratory nature as writers into the mix. In non-pandemic times, staff develop, lead, and participate in carefully-designed semester-long trainings which emphasize creative writing pedagogy, developing an interactive classroom, mentoring in a residence-life environment, and strategies for supporting students away from home. They've collaborated to create the new online program's schedule and operations, and work together to supplement the basic curricula with write-alongs, write-ins and writing challenges. They work year-round to shepherd the Juniper experience into being. Please don't hesitate to reach out to them.

Juniper staff receiving roses in the Old Chapel




Betsy Wheeler author photo

Betsy Wheeler, Director (she/her)

Betsy Wheeler is the author of the poetry collection Loud Dreaming in a Quiet Room and the poetry chapbooks Start Here and Mental Detours. She earned her MFA in poetry at The Ohio State University in 2005, and held the Stadler Fellowship at Bucknell University from 2005-2007. Her poems have appeared in Tupelo Quarterly, Windfall Room, The Journal, Bat City Review, Better, MiPoesias, Forklift Ohio and elsewhere. She lives with her wife and daughter in Amherst, MA. 



Saffron Turner, Program Coordinator (they/them)Saffron Turner photo

Saffron is an undergraduate junior transfer student majoring in sociology. They received an Associate of Arts degree in Sociology from Santa Fe College, Gainesville, FL. Their research interest is disability studies with a focus on autistic self-advocacy. Saffron is a writer and previously took poetry workshops at Hampshire College. After a prolonged sojourn in their home state of Florida, Saffron now resides in Northampton, MA with their two cats.




Porter Lunceford, Program Assistant (he/him and they/them)Porter Lunceford photo

Porter Lunceford is a poet and playwright from Northern Utah. Porter holds a BA in English with a Creative Writing emphasis from Weber State University and is an MFA candidate in poetry at UMass Amherst. Porter has written children’s musicals with their partner, Kyle, and the pair currently live in Northampton, MA with their dog.




Allie McKean, Program Assistant (she/her)Allie McKean

Allie McKean holds a B.A. in Communication and Writing Studies from the University of Massachusetts-Amherst and currently a poet in the UMass Amherst MFA for Poets and Writers, and teaches college composition. Allie is always down for a cup of black coffee and a riverwalk !






Vika Mujumdar, Program Assistant (she/her)Vika Mujumdar

Vika Mujumdar was born in New Jersey and raised in Pune, India. She holds an MA in Comparative Literature from UMass Amherst, where she is an MFA student in Creative Writing (Prose). She edits Liminal Transit Review.







Noy Holland, Creative Director and Co-founder (she/her)Noy Holland author photo

Noy Holland received the Katherine Anne Porter Prize from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Her books include I Was Trying to Describe What It Feels Like, New and Selected Stories; the novel Bird; and three collections of short fiction—Swim for the Little One First, What Begins with Bird, and The Spectacle of the Body. She has published fiction and essays in Best American Short Stories, The Kenyon Review, Epoch, Antioch, Conjunctions, AGNI, The Believer, and NOON, among others. She is a co-founder and Creative Director of the Juniper Institute, and a partner in the collaborative interdisciplinary series Art Sustainability Activism at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.

Jeff Parker Author Photo

Jeff Parker, Creative Director (he/him)

Jeff Parker is the author of several books including Where Bears Roam the Streets: A Russian Journal, the novel Ovenman, and the short story collection The Taste of Penny. His many collaborative books and anthologies include: Clean Rooms, Low Rates; Erratic Fire, Erratic Passion: The Poetry of Sportstalk; A Manner of Being: Writers on their Mentors; Rasskazy: New Fiction from a New Russia; Amerika: Russian Writers View the United States; and The Back of the Line. His short fiction and nonfiction have appeared in American Short Fiction, McSweeney's, Ploughshares, Tin House, and others. He teaches prose in the MFA Program at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, and he is the Co-Founder and Director of the DISQUIET International Literary Program in Lisbon, Portugal.

Jennifer Jacobson author photoJennifer Jacobson, Director of Community Engagement & Alumni Relations (she/her)

Jennifer Jacobson is Director of Community Engagement & Alumni Relations for the MFA for Poets & Writers at UMass Amherst and the Juniper Initiative for Literary Arts and Action. She founded the nonprofit organization When Children Save the Day to unite language arts and social action. Her work has been honored with a Creative Teaching Fellowship from the Massachusetts Cultural Council, the National Storytelling Network’s Brimstone Award for transformative community projects, along with support from the Solidago Foundation and the Community Foundation of Western Massachusetts. Her short story “Heat” received an honorable mention from Glimmer Train, and “Trouble and Bones” was a Tennessee Williams Festival’s Fiction contest finalist. Jennifer teaches creative writing at Smith College’s Young Women’s Writing Workshop, and with Voices from Inside, created the Family Storybook Project curriculum for incarcerated women and their children.

Dara Barrois/Dixon author photoDara Barrois/Dixon, Co-founder (she/her)

Dara Barrois/Dixon's newest book of poems in the still of the night was released in fall 2017 from Wave Books, which has been her publisher since the book length poem Reverse Rapture. In 2014, The Believer named You Good Thing a reader's choice book of the year. Her poems have been awarded the American Poetry Review’s Jerome Shestack Prize, a Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship, a National Endowment for the Arts fellowship, a Massachusetts Cultural Council Artists Award, and the San Francisco Poetry Center's Book of the Year Award; are included in the Pushcart Prize and Best American Poetry anthologies; limited editions include (X IN FIX) and the big broadside The Usual Ratio of Banality To Wonder from RainTaxi’s brainstorm series, A Civilian's Diary of the War Years from The Song Cave, and with James Tate, The Lost Epic of Arthur Davidson Ficke, the Author’s Annotations, Commentary, and Notes of Reference for a Millennium’s Teardrop from Waiting for Godot Books. Recent poems can be found in Boston Review, Conduit, Volt, Plume, Poor Claudia, Bat City Review, Divine Magnet, Epiphany, LITERATURA, Hyperallergic, and elsewhere. She's been a poet-in-residence at the University of Montana, University of Texas, Emory University and the University of Utah; she was the 2005 Louis Rubin chair at Hollins University in Roanoke, Virginia and is a member of the poetry faculty of the MFA Program for Poets and Writers at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. She is a publisher and editor of the small independent press factory hollow press, and the literary magazine jubilat. Along with Noy Holland she co-founded the Juniper Initiative for literary arts and action and the Juniper Summer Writing Institute. Dara Barrois/Dixon was born in New Orleans, Louisiana. She writes the ongoing series about reading and writing INSIDE UNDIVIDED.