Jill Winsby-Fein

Education Coordinator

I have been fortunate to live and work in Wassaic in a variety of capacities over the past six years, including bartending at The Lantern, co-leading youth summer camps, running the Amenia Performing Arts Program, directing the Webutuck Central School District performance of Fantastic Mr. Fox, and now coordinating after-school programming with the Wassaic Project.

I graduated from Warren Wilson College with a degree in creative writing and anthropology, where I wrote and directed the annual community-wide circus, and received my M.F.A. in fiction from Brooklyn College. Over the years I’ve worked many jobs, from woodworking to home caretaking to teaching college composition and up and down the service industry, and traveled out of a backpack, a car, and an old camper. I often wonder what this odd collection of experiences will amount to, what they are for besides maybe adding up to that vague thing called “experience,” and am always pulled back to Wassaic, where everyone wears many hats and brings the sum of themselves to bear on being here and the work they do with empathy, openness, and love. It’s not just that my family lives here, or that The Lantern’s pizza is the best I’ve ever had, or that I love asking Conrad, “The Mayor,” about a building problem over a beer, or that Deep Hollow is the most beautiful road I’ve ever seen, every single time I walk it — it’s also that the work the Wassaic Project does is work I deeply believe in and the community one I am constantly inspired by, and only more so with each passing year.

Grade school and growing up were rocky for me, isolating, difficult, and often directionless, and it seems to me like this is the case for many people. But growing up can of course also be full of wonder, exploration, and empowerment, and I was lucky enough to also have these elements sustain me. (And of course now I suspect there is no such thing as actually growing up. It’s not a destination so much as a lifelong journey… or something.) I believe wholeheartedly in the importance of creativity and community in providing outlets and support for youth, because this was and continues to be so important for me. I hugely admire the education work the Wassaic Project does, and I am so honored to be a part of it.

When not working with kids, you can find me slogging through my novel, hanging out with my incredibly cool nieces, or running, by which I really just mean fast walking.

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