Meet our 2024 speakers


Check out our Line Up from 2023 below:
Thorne Anderson Thorne Anderson
Thorne Anderson is Co-Director and Content Curator for the Mayborn Literary Nonfiction Conference.
Anderson is a professor and Mayborn Endowed Chair for Narrative & Multimedia Journalism at the Mayborn School of Journalism at UNT. He has worked internationally as an independent photojournalist for publications including the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Boston Globe, Chicago Tribune and Time, Newsweek, U.S. News & World Report, and Stern magazines. He is a co-author/photographer of Unembedded: Four Independent Photojournalists on the War in Iraq. Anderson is documentary filmmaker and frequent contributor of documentary shorts to public radio and television, for which he has been recognized with a national Edward R. Murrow award for excellence in video. 
Leonara LePeter Anton Leonara LaPeter Anton
Leonora LaPeter Anton is a Florida-based journalist who spent 36 years as a staff writer at five newspapers. At the Tampa Bay Times in St. Petersburg, FL, she wrote long-form and investigative narratives, with a focus on mental health and criminal justice, and produced and hosted an 11-part true crime podcast, Blood and Truth. In 2016, she was part of a three-person team that won the Pulitzer Prize for Investigative Reporting.
Cecilia Ballí Ashtin Ballard
Ashtin Ballard is an Associate Publicist at Fortier Public Relations, an award-winning PR firm for nonfiction authors and thought leaders. She has enjoyed working with New York Times bestselling authors such as Susan Cain​, A.J. Jacobs, Peter Singer, Max Lugavere, and more. Prior to joining Fortier, she worked at Stuart Krichevsky Literary Agency and Writers House Literary Agency. She has a special interest in the intersection of book publicity and social advocacy. .
Cecilia Ballí

Cecilia Ballí
Cecilia Ballí is a writer, journalist, and cultural anthropologist who writes about history, identity, race and ethnicity, culture, and the U.S.-Mexico border. Ballí was a writer-at-large for Texas Monthly for twenty years. She has also written for The New York Times Magazine, Harper’s Magazine, and the Columbia Journalism Review, among others.

Her book in progress follows three of the most competitive high school mariachis in the country, based in tiny Starr County, Texas, preparing to compete in their biggest contest of the year, considered the national championship of school mariachis.

Rodney Carmichael

Rodney Carmichael
Rodney Carmichael is NPR Music's hip-hop staff writer. He was the creator and co-host of the podcast Louder Than A Riot, which deftly weaves narrative storytelling with criticism focusing on black cultural production and all its sociopolitical implications.

Photo credit: Christian Cody

Stella Chavez Stella Chavez
Stella M. Chávez covers immigration for KERA, the NPR station in Dallas. She’s received several national and state awards, including a 2021 Investigative Reporters & Editors award for the collaborative series “Hot Days: Heat’s Mounting Death Toll on Workers in the US”. In 2007, she received the Livingston Award for Young Journalists in National Reporting for “Yolanda’s Crossing,” a seven-part series that reconstructs the journey of a young sexual-abuse victim from a village in Oaxaca to Dallas.
Before joining public radio, Stella spent nearly 13 years as a daily newspaper reporter for The Dallas Morning News, The South Florida Sun-Sentinel and The Ledger in Lakeland, Florida.
Lane DeGregory

Lane DeGregory
Lane DeGregory writes human interest stories for the Tampa Bay Times. She has published more than 3,000 stories across a 30-year career during which she has won dozens of awards, including the Pulitzer Prize for feature writing. The Girl in the Window and Other True Tales, released in 2023, is an anthology of her work with tips for writing narrative nonfiction.

Kristin Diaz Kristin Diaz
Kristin Diaz is Anchor for NewsRadio 1080 KRLD. Diaz previously worked in television as an anchor and reporter for KIII, Corpus Christi’s ABC affiliate and at KDAF in Dallas,   
Originally from Houston, TX, Kristin grew up in the Dallas/ Fort Worth Metroplex where she graduated from the University of North Texas where she cut her journalism teeth at NTTV, North Texas Television.
Angel Ellis

Angel Ellis
Angel Ellis is the Director of Mvskoke Media and a free press activist. She is the real-life hero protagonist of the Sundance award-winning film, Bad Press, a documentary thriller which documents the struggle she championed for an independent press withing the Muscogee (Creek) Nation. Ellis serves on the Oklahoma Media Center board, Native American Journalist Associations Board of Directors, and the SPJ Ethics Committee. 

Will Evans Will Evans
Will Evans is an award-winning publisher, writer, translator, bookstore owner, professor, and literary arts advocate. In 2013, he founded Deep Vellum, a nonprofit publishing house, bookstore, and literary arts center in Dallas, Texas. In its first 5 years, Deep Vellum published 90 works and hosted dozens of literary events. He was awarded CLMP's Golden Colophon Award for Paradigm Independent Publishing in 2019, and was admitted to the Texas Institute of Letters in 2022.  
Casey Gerald Casey Gerald
Casey Gerald  is the author of There Will Be No Miracles Here, a memoir that stands the American Dream narrative on its head, while straddling the complex intersection of race, class, religion and sexuality. TWBNMH was named a Best Book of the Year by NPR and The New York Times. His "Leon Bridges After Dark" cover story for Texas Monthly won a national City and Regional Magazine Award. His two TED Talks have been viewed over five million times. He is at work on a new book. 
Tom Huang Tom Huang
Tom Huang is Assistant Managing Editor for Journalism Initiatives at The Dallas Morning News, where he edits enterprise stories, oversees the newsroom’s internship program and leads the newsroom’s community-funded journalism initiative. He has helped launch The News' Education Lab, which has expanded education reporting; Arts Access, a partnership with KERA; and the Dallas Media Collaborative, an alliance of news outlets and universities. He is a popular adjunct faculty member of The Poynter Institute for writing, reporting and editing.. 
Michael Merschal Rebecca Landsberry-Baker
Rebecca Landsberry-Baker is an enrolled citizen of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation and the executive director of the Native American Journalists Association. She is a recipient of the 2018 NCAIED “Native American 40 Under 40” award and was selected to the Harvard Shorenstein News Leaders Fall 2022 cohort. Landsberry-Baker made her directorial debut with the documentary feature film, BAD PRESS, which was supported by the Sundance Institute, Ford Foundation JustFilms, NBC, and the Gotham. BAD PRESS premiered at the 2023 Sundance Film Festival and received the U.S. Documentary Special Jury Award for Freedom of Expression. The film was also recognized with the One in a Million Award from the 2023 Sun Valley Film Festival.
Beth Macy Beth Macy
Beth Macy is a Virginia-based journalist, the author of Dopesick: Dealers, Doctors, and the Drug Company That Addicted America, and an executive producer and cowriter on Hulu’s Peabody Award-winning “Dopesick” series.
Brittany Martin Brittany Martin
Brittney Martin is an independent journalist based in Houston, Texas. She's the executive producer and co-host of Sugar Land, a new investigative podcast series from The Texas Newsroom. The podcast unspools the story of a community forced to confront its history of slavery and convict leasing.
Michael Merschal Brittany McElroy
Brittany Pieper McElroy is Co-Director for this year’s Mayborn Literary Nonfiction Conference overseeing logistics, sponsorships, and grants. She is an award-winning multimedia journalist, having worked in television news as a reporter, anchor, and producer for a decade before she began teaching in the Mayborn School of Journalism at the University of North Texas.  McElroy is the producer of a 5-part narrative podcast on pandemic parenting for DFW Child. She serves on the education committee for the Radio, Television, Digital News Association.
Michael Merschal Michael Merschel
Michael Merschel's is the former books editor for The Dallas Morning News. He's also the author of the novel Revenge of the Star Survivors, which won the Texas Institute of Letters’ award for best middle-grade book in 2018. He now writes about cardiovascular health for American Heart Association News.
JK Nickell J.K. Nickell
J.K. Nickell is an executive editor at Texas Monthly, where he shepherds the ambitious narrative features for which the magazine is renowned. He has also edited and co-produced Texas Monthly's critically acclaimed narrative podcasts and is an executive producer on the upcoming television series Land Man. His own writing has been honored by The Best American Sports Writing and the Lowell Thomas Travel Journalism Awards. 
Joe Peeler

Joe Peeler
Joe Peeler is a Sundance award-winning director and editor whose work has appeared on NETFLIX, HBO, FX, ESPN, Hulu and CBS. Joe began his career apprenticing under legendary director Peter Bogdanovich, and from there edited Lucy Walker’s Academy Awards Shortlist documentary short The Lion’s Mouth Opens; multiple episodes of the Netflix original series Flint Town; and Margaret Brown’s SXSW premiere documentary short The Black Belt. Most recently, Joe co-directed Bad Press, which premiered at the 2023 Sundance Film Festival and won the U.S. Documentary Special Jury Award for Freedom of Expression.

Andrea Pitzer

Andrea Pitzer
Andrea Pitzer is the author of Icebound: Shipwrecked at the Edge of the World, which narrates the three Arctic voyages of Dutch navigator William Barents, and One Long Night: A Global History of Concentration Camps, which was named a best history book of 2017 by Smithsonian Magazine. She has written for The Washington Post, The New York Review of Books, Outside, GQ, Slate, and elsewhere. Her reporting has taken her to four continents and on multiple expeditions to the Norwegian and Russian Arctic.

Naomi Reed Naomi Reed
Naomi Reed is a sociocultural anthropologist who studies whiteness and Blackness and cultural heritage in Texas. Her primary focus has been on Sugar Land, Texas, US History curriculum, and the Sugar Land 95. She received her Ph.D. in African Diaspora Anthropology at The University of Texas at Austin. She is currently an Assistant Professor of Anthropology at Southwestern University in Georgetown, Texas.
Monte Reel Monte Reel
Monte Reel is Senior reporter at Bloomberg and a features contributor to The New York Times Magazine, The New Yorker, Harper's and other magazines. He is the author of The Last of the Tribe (2010), Between Man and Beast (2013), and A Brotherhood of Spies (2018). Before joining Bloomberg he was a correspondent for The Washington Post based in South America, Iraq and Washington DC. His essays have been featured in The Best American Travel Writing and The Pushcart Prize Anthology.
David Hale Smith David Hale Smith
David Hale Smith is a literary agent with InkWell Management in New York. He represents both fiction and nonfiction authors. Prior to joining InkWell in 2011, he operated his eponymous literary agency in Texas. His fiction list includes Matthew FitzSimmons, Gary Phillips (writer for hit FX series Snowfall), Chad Zunker, and mega-selling novelists Greg Rucka (creator of “Stumptown” on ABC and “Old Guard” on Netflix) and Blake Crouch, author of the Wayward Pines trilogy. 
In nonfiction, Smith represents Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch, co-authors of the classic Intuitive Eating; Top Chef stars John Tesar and Isaac Toups; and New York Times Bestsellers including Skip Hollandsworth (“Bernie”) and barbecue superstar Aaron Franklin. Smith develops projects from concept to finished book, and is active in selling film and television rights for his clients.


Kathy Wise Kathy Wise
Kathy Wise is the editorial director of D Magazine. A licensed attorney, she won a CRMA Award for reporting for “The Most Lawless County in Texas,” a feature about a Collin County judge who was convicted of a crime she didn’t commit, and a Folio Award for “The Rogue Shepherd,” a profile of Bonton Farms founder Daron Babcock. She has also written about the Dallas Diamonds women’s basketball team, funny car drag racing, and pickleball. 
Rosanna Xia

Rosanna Xia
Rosanna Xia weaves narrative storytelling with scientific reporting at the Los Angeles Times, where she specializes in environmental issues pertaining to the coast and ocean. She was a Pulitzer Prize finalist in 2020 for explanatory reporting, and her long-form multimedia investigation into a DDT dumpsite in the deep ocean has been anthologized in the "Best American Science and Nature Writing" series. Her first book, "California Against the Sea," comes out September 26, 2023.