Staff

Suzi Q. Smith, Executive Director

Suzi Q. Smith is an artist, activist, educator and mother from Denver, Colorado. She has served as the organization’s Executive Director since August 2014. Prior to serving as the Executive Director, she served for two years as the Vice President of the Executive Council. She has been an active member of Poetry Slam, Inc. since 2006, volunteering as a local slam organizer (the first Slammaster of Slam Nuba), as a competing poet (making her way to three PSi Finals stages), and as the host city chair of the Women of the World Poetry Slam. Suzi has a B.A. in English Writing from the University of Colorado at Denver and has worked with non-profit organizations in and around Denver for many years. In addition to serving as the Executive Director of Poetry Slam Inc., Suzi Q. is a teaching artist with Youth On Record, and she continues to perform her poetry throughout the United States.

Photo Credit: Benjamin Lzicar

Geoffrey Jarok, CPA, Financial Manager

Geoff Jarok came to PSi in 2012 bringing with him years of experience with businesses of all sizes and shapes including a number of non-profits.  He handles all of the financial record keeping and tax filings to allow the creators to create and the doers to do.  In trade, Geoff’s role with PSi has allowed him to continue to hone his Certified Professional Accountant (CPA), MBA, and Professional Manager of Projects (PMP) licenses into more than sharp letters.  He’s had a lot of fun interacting and supporting the Slam Family even if sometimes it seems an Accounting to English Dictionary may have been more lucrative than any of his publishing credits.

Maureen Benson, National Poetry Slam Event Coordinator

Maureen Benson is an educator, activist and community organizer from Oakland, CA who loves supporting organizations and events from behind the scenes.  As a former high school principal turned consultant, Maureen finds her hands in many incredible projects that support the arts, social justice and transformation in the world.  Having thrown national events for various clients since 2010, she loves engaging community in building a conference that offers learning, love and growth.  Maureen is incredibly excited to support PSi in taking the National Poetry Slam to the next level after its 25th anniversary and beyond!

Sherry “Candy” Zantea, Individual World Poetry Slam Event Coordinator

Sherrie Zantea (Candy) has been writing and performing poetry for over 20 years.  Candy made the 2007 Dallas Poetry Slam Team, and to date has been on 10 teams, the first woman to coach 4 and she is the current Slammaster/Executive Director of the Dallas Poetry Slam Organization.

Candy is a current teaching artist for Young DFW Writers, where she teaches curriculum based poetry techniques to students all over the country.
In addition to her poetry slam experience, she has added to her resume 2017 and 2018 Host City Coordinator of the Women of the World Poetry Slam, DFW Youth Workshop facilitator for Writer’s Garrett, and now the Event Coordinator for the Individual World Poetry Slam (iWPS).  She also maintains a 6 year partnership with WordSpace Non- Profit literary organization, where she serves as Administrator and Facilitator of social media affairs.
Candy has published a poetry/recipe book “Heirlooms”, a poetry cd “Candy Unplugged” and continues to provide workshops all over the world.

Mahogany L. Browne, Women of the World Poetry Slam Event Coordinator

Mahogany L. Browne is the author of books including Swag & Dear Twitter: Love Letters Hashed Out On-line, recommended by Small Press Distribution & listed as About.com Best Poetry Books of 2010. She has released five LPs and toured Germany, Amsterdam, England, Canada and recently Australia. Her journalism work has been published in magazines Uptown, KING, XXL, The Source, Canada’s The Word and UK’s MOBO. She is an Urban Word NYC mentor, as seen on HBO’s Brave New Voices, facilitates performance poetry and writing workshops throughout the country. She is the publisher of Penmanship Books, Director of Poetry & Friday Night curator of the famous Nuyorican Poets Cafe.

Paul Tran, Assistant Tournament Director

Paul Tran is a Pushcart Prize & Best of the Net-nominated poet. Their work appears in Prairie Schooner, The Cortland Review, RHINO, which gave them an Editor’s Prize, & elsewhere. They received fellowships & residencies from Kundiman, VONA, Poets House, Lambda Literary Foundation, Napa Valley Writers Conference, Home School Miami, Vermont Studio Center, The Conversation, & Palm Beach Poetry Festival. They also placed Top 5 at the National Poetry Slam & Top 10 at the Individual World Poetry Slam. Paul lives in Brooklyn, where they serve as Poetry Editor at The Offing & Poet In Residence at Urban Word NYC.

Porsha Olayiwola, Tournament Director

Black, poet, dyke-god, hip-hop feminist, womanist, friend, Porsha Olayiwola is a performance artist who believes in pixie dust and second chances. A resident of Boston, by way of Chicago, Porsha O is the reigning Individual World Poetry Slam Champion. Her intention is to speak, love, praise, and maintain a cypher that is undocumented, uncontrollable and just plain ole dope.