Meet the Community Literacy Staff!

jacobi 2Tobi Jacobi is a composition and literacy specialist in the CSU English Department and the current director of the Community Literacy Center. She teaches graduate and undergraduate courses in public writing, composition and literacy theory, critical pedagogy, and prison writing.

Her recent research focuses on understanding the complexities of moving adult literacy beyond the GED, the ethics of community-university relationships, and incarcerated women writers as activists. In addition to co-editing a special issue of Reflections: A Journal for Writing, Service Learning, and Community Literacy on prison literacy, she has published essays on community service learning and activism in the writing classroom and on the ethics of university-community collaborations. She is currently co-editing a collection of essays entitled, Word by Word: Women, Writing, and Incarceration with DePaul University Professor, Ann Folwell Stanford and completing a series of articles on prison literacies.

For her, work with the Community Literacy Center interns and community writers represents literacy in action, a concrete way to enact a commitment to challenging the uneven power relations that attempt to “fix” the life experiences of some people through limited access to education. Like Bell Hooks, Adrienne Rich, and Gloria Anzaldua before her, she believes that language has the power to cause ruptures, pain, joy, and hope-and that our work at the Center can contribute to moving literacy beyond pages with red marks.


ehlers-zavalaFabiola P. Ehlers-Zavala, Ph.D., a native of Valparaiso, Chile, is Assistant Professor in TESOL/pedagogical linguistics, teaching courses in the M.A. in English with focus on teaching English as a foreign and second language, TEFL/TESL.

Her research includes the following areas of expertise: second language reading, second language assessment, and ESL/bilingual teacher preparation. She is the co-author of Reading Strategies for Spanish Speakers. Other publications in journals and books include: “Assessing English Language Learners (ELLs) in Mainstream Classrooms,” The Reading Teacher (2006); “Bilingual reading from a dual coding perspective.” Proceedings of the 4th International Symposium on Bilingualism. (2005); “Preparing quality bilingual/bicultural teachers in the 21st Century: A PDS Model for Educational Change and Success,” Transforming Teacher Education Through Partnerships (2004); “Use of lexical borrowings in Sonoran border Spanish,”MEX TESOL Journal, (2003). She serves in the editorial board of the The International Multilingual Research Journal, and she has been an active member, and frequent presenter at the annual meetings of the American Association for Applied Linguistics, Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL), and the International Reading Association (IRA). In addition to serving in various TESOL committees, she is Past-President of Illinois TESOL, and a current member of Colorado TESOL.


stephtrainAssistant Director Stephanie Train is a graduate student at Colorado State University. She has completed her MFA in creative writing/fiction and is new pursuing a graduate degree in education. She and her husband John have a daughter who turned four in July, 2011. Before completing her bachelor’s work at the University of Colorado at Denver, she was a freelance writer for the computer gaming industry. “Book Girl” is her first published short story and she plans to continue pursuing publication. She has enjoyed her time with the SpeakOut! program, facilitating creative writing workshops for women at the Larimer County Detention Center and overseeing the publishing of the SpeakOut! journal. She looks forward to sharing her knowledge of creative writing but more important she eagerly anticipates what she will inevitably learn from the detained women who courageously pour their souls onto the page.


talishahTalisha Haltiwanger is a second year graduate student at Colorado State University. She is currently pursing a master’s degree in Rhetoric and Composition with interests in community and alternative literacies. She is particularly interested in the literacies of at-risk youth populations. Her previous experiences working with at-risk youth include two summers as an AmeriCorps intern for a literacy program for elementary aged children in low income areas and working as an instructor and TA for the Upward Bound program at her undergraduate institution. Talisha has been a volunteer with the SpeakOut! Writing Workshop since March of 2012 and is looking forward to taking on the role of intern. She is also a graduate teaching assistant of Composition 150 for the CSU English department.


emmastewardEmma Steward has joined our team this year as an AmeriCorps intern and will assist in facilitating the SpeakOut! Writing Workshops. Her interests include reading, writing, teaching, and volunteering in the community. She was first exposed to the SpeakOut! Journal in an intro to Poetry course led by Amanda Billings at CSU. Emma was captivated by the Community Literacy Center’s effort to construct a creative outlet for people who otherwise might not get such an opportunity. She could not wait to get involved. Emma is a third year undergraduate student at CSU and is currently pursuing her teaching license in English Education.


Edward Wells II is a first-year AmeriCorps intern working with the SpeakOut! Writing Workshops at Turning Point. He is a senior at Colorado State University (CSU). His major is English with a concentration in Creative Writing. He received a TEFL certification in Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico and taught English there and elsewhere in Mexico. His recent creative writing has been published in the online journals This Great Society Is Going Smash and at Eunoia Review. Edward has a facebook page or three, but in lieu of that, he would encourage you to check out his CLC blog, here.

He’s probably somewhere right now working or agog over existence.


LaurenALauren Alessi is a second year Masters student in the Sociology Department at CSU. With a concentration in criminology and criminal justice, she is especially passionate about re-entry and rehabilitation services, as well as community corrections. Lauren is interested in researching the experiences of those incarcerated, with specific regard to the services received following incarceration. What first attracted her to the SpeakOut! Program was its focus on bringing literacy and education to underserved groups in the community, in particular incarcerated and at-risk populations.



Dianne Bacorn

Larimer County Detention Center

Gwen Bell

Turning Point Center for Youth and Family Development

Matthew Cooperman

CSU English Department (Creative Writing)

Pattie Cowell

CSU English Department (Literature)

Fabiola Ehlers-Zavala

CSU English Department (ESL/Linguistics)

Gordon Hadfield

Faegre & Benson, LLP

Tobi Jacobi

CSU English Department (Rhetoric/Composition)

Cindy O’Donnell-Allen

CSU English Department (English Education)

Marilyn Thayer

Community Organizing to Reach Empowerment (CORE)