Jyoti Yelagalawadi—Executive Director

Jyoti YelagalawadiJyoti Yelagalawadi, a story teller and writer since her young days, studied creative writing at Lehman College, which is part of the CUNY system in New York City. She worked as a technical writer and managed a publication department in a software company until she decided to get back to her true passions—writing and working with children.

Jyoti started Lekha Publishers, LLC, to market books to children. In addition to having received praise for the books and stories that she has published, she has also enjoyed being a mentor to middle and high school students. She did this as part of her duties as editor-in-chief of Balagokulam, a popular children’s magazine, and through YMCA Citizen Schools, where she led the Write On program for middle school students.

Lekha Writing Center started as an experiment in the summer of 2006, when a friend asked Jyoti to guide her daughter and a few others in the art of writing. Jyoti’s experience that summer made her decide to start the writing school as a subsidiary of her publishing company. The workshop during the summer continued to grow into after–school classes and camps during winter break, presidents’ week, spring break, and summer vacation. Over the past couple of years, Lekha has brought on more experts in the field of creative writing to guide the increasing number of students. Since 2009, Lekha has been offering enrichment programs in various schools and park and recreation centers. This summer Lekha will conduct camps at fifteen different locations.

In the past eight years, Jyoti’s students have won prestigious awards in story writing and other creative works. Tyler Sadoff, one of the first Lekha students, published his first novel, A Journey in Time, in October of 2009. Tyler wrote the first draft of his novel during two weeks of summer camp at the age of ten, and was thirteen when the final draft was published. Since then, more than five hundred Lekha students have had their works published in anthologies, and many are working towards publishing their own solo works.

Novella Genelza—Director of Publishing

Novella GenelzaNovella Genelza is a writer, artist, graphic designer and poet from the San Francisco Bay Area. She has a bachelor’s degree in creative writing from the University of California Santa Cruz, where she guided freshman writing students as a teacher’s assistant and worked for the literary magazine, Chinquapin, helping with magazine layout, design and written contributions. Novella wrote and illustrated the children’s book, The Dragon Carousel. She has also illustrated other picture books, including Chirpy the Chipmunk, Red’s Adventures, The Vegetarian Cat, and Leo and Lola Sail Away. She has done cover artwork for numerous anthologies, novels, and other books, including A Journey in Time and Poems from the Playground. Novella’s poems and articles have been published in various literary magazines and anthologies. In addition to her passion for writing and visual art, Novella has always enjoyed teaching, tutoring and conducting recreational activities and has over ten years of experience working with children.

Keith White—Director of Staffing

Keith WhiteWith an extensive background in human resources and technical staffing, Keith White handles the candidate screening and interview process and serves as a consultant on all hiring related matters at Lekha.

Keith has also enjoyed his time as a head instructor for Lekha since the summer of 2009. He enjoys teaching creative writing and persuasive narrative essay classes that Lekha offers to its students.

Keith has written three novels: a suspense/mystery set in San Francisco and two supernatural thrillers. He is currently working on his 4th and 5th novels with plans to launch all of his fiction as e-books in 2013.

Since 2001, Keith has taught creative writing and self defense Northern (sil-um kung-fu) as a volunteer to 4th and 5th graders at Guadalupe Elementary School in South San Francisco. He has also worked as a volunteer English tutor and has always demonstrated a passion and enthusiasm for teaching children. He firmly believes that guidance tempered with patience and encouragement can unlock a treasure trove of creativity in any young mind.