Community of Writers

aka Community of Writers   |   Nevada City, CA   |


The mission of the Community of Writers, established in 1970, is to assist talented writers, with diverse cultural perspectives, to achieve their goals in the genres they pursue. Through the interplay of professionals, established writers and talented participants in a community atmosphere, fiction writers are assisted in their arduous journey from writer to author, and poets to achieve a resonant framework for their collected words.

Ruling year info


Principal Officer

Ms. Brett H. Jones

Main address

PO Box 1416

Nevada City, CA 95959 USA

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Formerly known as

Squaw Valley Creative Arts Society



NTEE code info

Other Art, Culture, Humanities Organizations/Services N.E.C. (A99)

Humanities Organizations (A70)

IRS filing requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.

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Programs and results

What we aim to solve

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

For 50 Years, the Community of Writers at Squaw Valley has brought together poets & prose writers for separate weeks of workshops, individual conferences, lectures, panels, readings, & discussions of the craft & business of writing. Our aim is to assist writers to improve their craft & thus move closer to achieving their goals. Near the north shore of Lake Tahoe, Squaw Valley was the site of the 1960 Winter Olympics. 50 years ago, this conference was a large event in the valley, now Squaw Valley has become a destination resort. Despite our efforts to keep our costs modest for our participants, our future there may be threatened as costs for food & lodgings continue to rise as the corporate interests have become our landlords. With those increased costs, so must the financial aid we provide increase in order to attract & retain a diverse roster of the most talented writers. The place itself is essential to our identity & experience, so we'll do all we can to stay for another 50 years.

Our programs

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

Community of Writers Poetry, Fiction, and Nonfiction Writers Workshops

The Community of Writers has three week-long summer writing workshops: Poetry, Writers Workshops, and Screenwriting. Regular morning workshops, staff readings, craft talks, panel discussions on writing and editing, as well as individual conferences are offered during the week. Donations can be directed to particular programs' Scholarship Funds which pay for tuition, or can be directed to general operations for specific programs.

Population(s) Served

The Poetry Program is founded on the belief that when poets gather in a community to write new poems, each poet may well break through old habits and write something stronger and truer than before. To help this happen we work together to create an atmosphere in which everyone might feel free to try anything. In the mornings we meet in workshops to read to each other the work of the previous twenty-four hours; each participant also has an opportunity to work with each staff poet. In the late afternoons we gather for a conversation about some aspect of craft. On several late afternoons staff poets hold brief individual conferences.

Population(s) Served

These workshops assist serious writers by exploring the art and craft as well as the business of writing. The week offers daily morning workshops, craft lectures, panel discussions on editing and publishing, staff readings, as well as brief individual conferences. The morning workshops are led by the writer-teachers, editors, or agents of the staff. There are separate morning workshops for Fiction and Narrative Nonfiction/Memoir. In addition to their workshop manuscript, participants may have a second manuscript read by a staff member who meets with them in an individual conference.

Population(s) Served

Where we work

Goals & Strategy

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn about the organization's key goals, strategies, capabilities, and progress.

Charting impact

Four powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

The Community of Writers aims to stay faithful to our missions of convening every summer in Squaw Valley to provide intensive grounding in the craft of poetry and prose to a select group of talented and ambitious writers and poets.

Every year we receive upwards of 400 applications from aspiring writers and poets. From this group we select a group who have reached a level of attainment, or show a degree of talent, that will merit their admission. Then for two separate weeks in June and July, we house them and feed them in the summertime ski resort, and their days are devoted to intensive workshops, intimate critiques by
professional poets or writers and editors and agents, and lectures, panels discussions on technique. The poetry program is generative in nature, with a new poem produced from each participant (and teaching staff member) each day. These participants travel from all over the country – and the word – to attend.

We have one full-time employee, the executive director; and one part-time employee. We have several seasonal Program Directors, as well. We also have a large network of associates in the writing profession (who also teach) who are hired annually, on a contract basis, to teach during the summer workshops. About 50 or 60 such staff people are needed, in a typical summer. Eminent novelists, poets, screenwriters and the most influential editors and agents (all told, we’ve got a network of one or two hundred we can call on) are brought in during the summer weeks to act as staff. We have a longstanding relationship with the ski-resort establishment, whereby they rent us space and provide meals.

For fifty years we’ve provided a dependable beacon of hope, inspiration, practical knowledge, and fellowship to writers, who often work mostly in isolation. The mysteries of storytelling and verse have been opened for artists who are sincere about refining their craft. We’ve put unknown writers in touch with the New York industry people who can bring them to a wider world. We’ve always, from the beginning, practiced inclusivity/diversity in admitting, supporting and promoting our people. We’ve designed fellowships and tuition waivers to attract the underserved, and we have forged strategic partnerships with African-American and Latinx literary organizations, as well as other literary organizations who help us gain applicants from these underserved populations. Through all the years, we’ve sustained a robust scholarship program which serves to open up this experience to roughly 50% of our talented participants annually, many of whom would have been unable to attend without this help. Interestingly, it’s especially this group of scholarship students that go on soon to publishing and literary success.


Community of Writers

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The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.


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Connect with nonprofit leaders


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Community of Writers

Board of directors
as of 09/04/2020
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board chair

Mr. James Naify

Eddy Ancinas

Eddy Ancinas is a business woman and freelance writer. She serves on the Board of the Ski History Museum.

Jan Buscho

Jan Buscho is an award-winning graphic designer and fine artist. She was Marketing Director for Theatre on the Square in San Francisco and currently works in marketing and communications. She also ser

Christopher Sindt

Christopher Sindt is Associate Dean - School of Liberal Arts at St. Mary's College in Moraga. He is also an award winning poet.

Louis Jones

Louis B.Jones is the author of the novels Ordinary Money, Particles and Luck, and California's Over, all three New York Times Notable Books. His stories or nonfiction have appeared this year in the 20

Robert Hass

ROBERT HASS, former two-time Poet Laureate of the United States and two-time winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award, directs the poetry program. His most recent collection, Time and Materia

Al Young

AL YOUNG was California's poet laureate from 2005-2008. His most recent book, Jazz Idiom: Blueprints, Stills and Frames (The Jazz Photography of Charles L. Robinson) received the 2009 PEN-Oakland Awar

Lisa Alvarez

LISA ALVAREZ's essays and short stories have appeared in the Los Angeles Times, OC Weekly, Santa Monica Review and in the anthologies Latinos in Lotusland and Geography of Rage. She has work forthcomi

Amy Tan

AMY TAN’s novels are The Joy Luck Club, The Kitchen God’s Wife, The Hundred Secret Senses, The Bonesetter’s Daughter, and Saving Fish from Drowning, all New York Times bestsellers. She is also the aut

Diana Fuller

Diana Fuller is a free-lance curator, producer, arts advisor and Program Director for the Squaw Valley Community of Writers Screenwriting Program for twenty five years. From 1960 to 1990 she was owner

James Naify

James Naify is the owner of the 70-year-old Sacramento Beers Book Center and the real estate consulting company Naify Enterprises. He is also an adjunct faculty member of philosophy at Sacramento City

Nancy Cushing

Nancy Cushing is Member of the Board of the Squaw Valley Ski Corp.; Member of Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute; Trustee of Tahoe Forest Hospital; Trustee of Excellence in Education Foundation.

Michael Carlisle

founder of InkWell Management, a former director of the AAR, and an active member of PEN.

René Ancinas

President and Chief Executive Officer of Port Blakely Companies and serves on the National Alliance of Forest Owners (NAFO) Board of Directors, Seattle Chamber of Commerce Community Dvlpmt Round

Michelle Latiolais

Michelle Latiolais is a Professor of English and Director of the Fiction program at the University of California at Irvine. She is the author of A PROPER KNOWLEDGE and EVEN NOW.

Jason Roberts

Founder and former CEO of Learn2 Corporation, he is also author of A Sense of the World and Two Shipwrecks. He is the winner of the Van Zorn Prize for Fiction and other awards.

Lester Lennon

Lester Graves Lennon is a published poet and investment banker. Mr. Lennon currently sits on the LA Poet Laureate Task Force & the advisory board to the University of Wisconsin English Dpmt.

Carlin Naify

Carlin Naify is the owner/manager of Beers Books in Sacramento; Board Member of the Sacramento Region Community Foundation; and Past Chair of the Sacramento Metropolitan Arts Commission.

Ruth Blank

consults for nonprofits after recently retiring from the Sacramento Region Community Foundation where she served as CEO for eight years

Julia Flynn Siler

Julia is an author and serves on the Litquake advisory board.

Nancy Teichert

Nancy is an investigative reporter and journalist who now serves as the secretary for the KVIE public television station with a major focus on fundraising.

Cora Yang

Cora Yang is a lawyer focusing on corporate acquisitions and technology. She is also an angel investor and is on the boards of several nonprofits, and on the Executive Committee of Williams College.

April Ancinas

Novice writer, past participant, worked for IBM for twenty years in sales, marketing and management. She earned her BS in logistics management and an MBA from Michigan State University.

Alex Espinoza

Author of Still Water Saints, The Five Acts of Diego León. He serves on the board of California Humanities, and is an associate professor of English and Creative Writing at Cal State, Fresno.

Steve Rempe

Works for himself doing construction of high quality homes for over 40 years. Active member of his community, & serves on several boards and committees in Marin County and elsewhere. Participated in the Community of Writers Poetry Workshops in ’98, ’03, ’09, & ’11.

Ken Haas

He is a partner at Abingworth, a life sciences venture capital firm, and spent 25 years in the management of high technology and biotechnology companies. Sponsors a poetry writing program at the UCSF Children’s Hospital. Betsy Colquitt Poetry Award winner and Pushcart Prize nominated poet.

Katy Hover-Smoot

She is the founder and CEO of Wild Rye, a company dedicated to making design-forward outdoor apparel for women. Lives in Tahoe and is deeply involved with local land-use and cultural issues. Teaches art history at Sierra Nevada College, Sierra College and Cerro Coso College.

Board leadership practices

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

GuideStar worked with BoardSource, the national leader in nonprofit board leadership and governance, to create this section.

  • Board orientation and education
    Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations? Not applicable
  • CEO oversight
    Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year ? No
  • Ethics and transparency
    Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year? No
  • Board composition
    Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership? Yes
  • Board performance
    Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years? No