The Torch Literary Arts Board of Directors is proud to announce its recently elected officers. Florinda Bryant will serve as Board Chair, Dr. Sequoia Maner will serve as Board Secretary, and Candace Lopez will serve as Board Treasurer. After many years of dedicated service as Board Chair, Sheree Ross will continue to champion Torch Literary Arts as a member of the Advisory Board. See the full list of directors and Advisory Board members here.
Florinda Bryant (Board Chair) is an interdisciplinary artist and arts educator who calls Austin home. Holding it down in every aspect of performance, whether writing, performing, or directing, Florinda’s passion and dedication to her craft is evident. As a performer and director, she is no stranger to many stages in Austin, having worked with Salvage Vanguard Theater, the Rude Mechs, the Vortex, Paper Chairs, and Teatro Vivo. Some of her favorite performances include Am I White ( by Adrienne Dawes), The Panza Monologues ( by Virginia Grise), Bright Now Beyond ( By Daniel Alexander Jones and Bobby Halverson), and Fixing King John ( adapted by Kirk Lynn). As a writer and poet, Florinda enjoys engaging audiences in explorations around identity, body, and community. Her award-winning one-woman show Half-Breed Southern Fried was produced as part of the Performing Blackness Series at UT and was directed by Laurie Carlos.
Dr. Sequoia Maner (Board Chair) is an Assistant Professor of English at Spelman College where she teaches classes about 20-21st century African American literature and culture. She is the author of the prize-winning poetry chapbook Little Girl Blue (2021, Host Publications) and co-editor of the book Revisiting the Elegy in the Black Lives Matter Era (2020, Routledge). Sequoia’s 33 1/3 book about Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp a Butterfly debuts summer 2022 (Bloomsbury). Her poem “upon reading the autopsy of Sandra Bland” was a finalist for the 2017 Gwendolyn Brooks Poetry Prize and her essays, poems, and reviews can be found in venues such as Meridians, Obsidian, The Langston Hughes Review, The Feminist Wire, Auburn Avenue, and elsewhere. She is at work on a poetic memoir about the foster care system in Los Angeles.
Candace Lopez (Board Treasurer) is a non-profit professional with over 14 years of experience in Fundraising and Development. She is a Development Generalist with a specialization in individual giving, program development, and operational efficiency. She is humbled to have raised money for organizations in Austin, San Antonio, Los Angeles, and the San Francisco Bay Area. Her fundraising portfolio is diverse and spans various causes including civil liberties, the arts, higher education, domestic violence, and gender equity. She currently serves as the Chief Philanthropy Officer for Horizons Foundation in San Francisco, the first community foundation of, by, and for LGBTQ people. In her current role, she leads the foundation’s development efforts as well as philanthropic advising. Candace is a member of The Austin Project, a writing project for women of color.
Sheree L. Ross (Advisory Board) is an award-winning writer and Wealth Literacy Activist. She is the founder of the popular social media platform Women Filmmakers of Color @womenfilmofcolr with over 18,000 followers on Twitter. Sheree is also the author of Affirming Life - A Daily Meditation and Affirming Business: For Career and Entrepreneurial Excellence. She was a co-writer for the Audible narrative drama, Loops, starring Vivica A. Fox, produced by Migrante Media, and her romantic comedy screenplay, Accidental Hearts, is in development with AdeRisa Productions. Sheree’s passion is around financial and wealth literacy, especially as it pertains to artists of color. She uses her metaphysical practice, business degree, and entrepreneurial background to push thought beyond perceived limitations towards more personal empowerment and success for Black women and queer people of color.
Torch Literary Arts is a 501(c)3 nonprofit established to publish and promote creative writing by Black women. We publish contemporary writing by experienced and emerging writers alike. TORCH has featured work by Colleen J. McElroy, Tayari Jones, Sharon Bridgforth, Crystal Wilkinson, Patricia Smith, Natasha Trethewey, Elizabeth Alexander, and others. Programs include the Wildfire Reading Series, writing workshops, and retreats.