Our Staff

Dare Dukes – Executive Director

Dare is a musician, writer, and a nonprofit leader with more than 20 years of experience working in arts and social-justice nonprofit settings, both as an artist and leader. As a nonprofit professional, he worked for more than eleven years as development and communications director for Global Action Project (GAP), a New York City nonprofit that provides award-winning media-arts and leadership training for marginalized and low-income youth. There he directed fundraising and related organizational communications and strategy for one of the nation’s leading youth media-arts nonprofits. Dare has also consulted extensively for nonprofits across the country, and prior to his tenure at GAP, he was the manager of foundation and corporate relations for the Brennan Center for Justice at the NYU School of Law, where he oversaw an institutional-giving portfolio for a leading public-interest law firm working to strengthen democratic institutions, protect the poor, and ensure fairness in the U.S. criminal justice system.

As a musician and composer, Dare has written, arranged, and produced two critically acclaimed indie rock and folk records and performed across the country. As a writer and performance artist, Dare wrote numerous plays and performances presented in traditional and nontraditional venues in Boston and New York City; articles for periodicals; and two novels (one unpublished, another a work-in-progress). He earned an MFA in Creative Writing from The New School, a second MFA in Theater from the University of Minnesota, and a BA in English Literature from the College of the Holy Cross.

Dare has attended the Red Clay Writing Project’s Summer Institute, a site of the National Writing Project at the University of Georgia, Athens, and is a National Writing Project Teacher-Consultant.

Dare was a National Afterschool Matters Fellow for 2015-17, a co-project of the National Institute on Out-of-School Time at Wellesley College and the National Writing Project.

Dare is a member of the ArtsGeorgia advisory committee.


Megan Ave’Lallemant – Director of Restorative Practices and Culture

Megan Ave’Lallemant is a writer, designer, and emergent circle-keeper. She hails from small-town Ohio but has called Savannah home since 2005. After spending over five years in Deep’s youth-facing programs, her role evolved to support adults in our village in healing and creating systems change inside the youth-serving institutions like public schools and the juvenile justice system. This often looks like sharing culturally sustaining curriculum and implementing trauma-responsive, restorative practices to keep adults mindful and grounded as they work alongside young people. Megan is also Deep’s resident facilitator for transformative community conferencing, which seeks to address the root causes of social issues and create radical change through intergenerational, cross-class, cross-race, etc. storytelling and sharing. She’s excited about social-emotional practices to transform systems and policies, leading adults to play, and helping people connect to their joy and power through art and writing.

Megan has attended the Red Clay Writing Project’s Summer Institute, a site of the National Writing Project at the University of Georgia, Athens, and is a National Writing Project Teacher-Consultant.


Fridam Marley Pitts – Restorative Practices and Culture Specialist 

Originally from South Jersey, Fridam was raised on her family’s farm in the suburbs of historic Salem. She is an artist, social justice advocate, and a voice for healing and transformation. Fridam brings to Deep her wisdom and expertise as a circle-keeper and advocate for social equality. Her heritage is steeped in indigenous tradition and practices. She has organized and led healing circles inside youth-serving institutions like public schools and with women within the correctional institution. Her experience in bringing humanizing practices into the education and judicial system informs the work she does with Deep’s Healing Schools Project. In 2009, Fridam legally corrected her nationality as an Aboriginal American and received her name through a tribal ceremony. She now serves as member and minister of the Aboriginal Republic of North America.


Keith Miller – Director of Youth Programs

A Savannah native, Keith joined Deep as programs manager in 2015, and he is a storyteller, creative, and disruptor with several years of experience in education. Most notably, as coordinator of volunteers at iMentor, a youth mentoring organization based in New York City, he was in charge of the recruitment, screening, and training of 1,500+ mentors across 18 different New York City high schools, and he played a key role in launching corporate partnerships and leading borough-targeted recruitment. As marketing manager at TNTP, an education nonprofit with the mission of ending the injustice of educational inequality, he crafted compelling marketing campaigns while serving as the lead project and design manager for several publications and external clients such as the New York City Department of Education.

When he’s not toiling away in his office, Keith serves as the Managing Editor and Creative Director of The Pillow Talk Project, a website dedicated to helping men–and those who love them–rediscover the power of everyday intimate conversations through celebrating their stories about their own journeys into manhood. He also collaborates with photographers and fellow artists across the country, crafting marketing campaigns like #WeSmileToo, to celebrate diversity and bring the power of creative storytelling, healing, and empowerment to the masses.

Keith has attended the Red Clay Writing Project’s Summer Institute, a site of the National Writing Project at the University of Georgia, Athens, and is a National Writing Project Teacher-Consultant.


Maria Zoccola – Program Manager

Maria was born and raised in Memphis, Tennessee, and has been writing since she could hold a pencil. She graduated with a BA in Creative Writing and English from Emory University in Atlanta and an MA in Professional Writing from Falmouth University in Cornwall, England. She has freelanced for nonprofits both big and small, and is excited to be a part of Deep here in Savannah.

Maria enjoys writing young adult fiction and fantasy. When not working with young people at Deep, she is active in vegan outreach and animal activism.

Maria has attended the Red Clay Writing Project’s Summer Institute, a site of the National Writing Project at the University of Georgia, Athens, and is a National Writing Project Teacher-Consultant.


Martina Yvette Allen – Teaching Artist

Martina Yvette is no newbie when it comes to the spoken word scene. A Savannah native, Martina grew up serving and performing as a slam poet, actress, and host for local poetry events and engagements in the community while working with All Walks of Life Incorporated and Leaders of the Knew School. Nowadays, this amateur food blogger and former social media specialist spends her time educating others and advocating for awareness of black mental health needs, female empowerment, and HBCU education advancement.

In her free time, Martina is a punny-honey who loves all things Disney and the color yellow. She is ecstatic about being back in the city that taught her how to spread her poetic wings as she continues to share her love for spoken word with other young authors as a Teaching Artist.


Louise Tremblay – Deputy Director

Louise joined Deep in 2016 as operations manager, bringing two decades of experience in non-profit management and fundraising with a focus on youth empowerment, social change, and community enrichment through arts and education. Louise spent five years directing youth programming for The ArtsCenter in Carrboro, North Carolina, where arts enrichment was provided to 30,000 local students annually. Earlier in her career, she coordinated community education for a domestic violence support and prevention organization in coastal Maine. For five years, she provided best practices education for teachers, doctors, and law enforcement, as well as violence prevention programs for middle and high school students. And a youth educator program she founded empowered teen volunteers to develop and deliver dating violence prevention programs for their peers.

Her fundraising experience includes coordinating the inaugural year of Maine’s Mitchell Scholarship Fund and serving as Assistant Director of the Annual Fund at Maryland Institute College of Art, in Baltimore.

Louise has a BA in Human Ecology from College of the Atlantic, where all graduates design their own course of study. Her senior thesis, Reflections on a Life: Oral Histories of Maine Women, featured the stories of creative women in their eighties, and wove together her study of psychology, anthropology, gender, and art. She has long believed that stories matter and that developing personal narratives can be transformational. When she’s not managing the daily operations in the Deep office she is probably hiking, biking, reading, writing, and learning from her son, a second grader who asks a thousand questions per day.


Antwon Evans – Administrative Support Specialist

Antwon Evans is a Savannah native and Deep alumnus. He has always had a fierce passion for the arts and an intimate relationship with poetry and the Deep Center. He found his love for poetry in 2009 as an elementary school student in one of Deep Center’s first workshops with founder Catherine Killingsworth. In 2015, he returned  as a youth artist in Deep Center’s new high school program, Block by Block, until he graduated in 2017.  Antwon has also participated in the Black Youth Leadership Program (BYLDI), led by Dr. Mildred McClain of the Harambee House, where black youth leaders across the city explored environmental injustices, socioeconomic and racial inequalities, and advocated for the changes they wanted to see in their community. In addition to being active in the community and his passion for leading social change, Antwon can be found on a stage near you performing original music and spoken word poetry


Luis Zaldivar – Community Organizer

Born and raised in Peru, Luis has over 10 years of experience on policy interventions for development and public health programs in Latin America and the Southeastern United States. Having worked for years as a community outreach worker with communities in the Andes and Amazon, Luis moved back to the United States to work on public health programs and political campaigns. As an activist and organizer, Luis has been at the heart of progressive initiatives in North Florida and has moved to Savannah to work with Deep because he has seen first hand how important policy change is in order for people to be given a fair chance of a good living.


Coco Papy – Director of Development and Communications

Coco Papy is a community organizer, policy nerd, and born-and-bred Savannahian who came home to do the work. As Deep’s Director of Development and Communications, she works to shine the spotlight on the young people who are leading the way to a more just and equitable Savannah and push forward grassroots-created policy and advocacy initiatives. She has a long history with Deep, starting out as an educator in the Young Author Project.

She is also involved in numerous groups that work across the state of Georgia, serving as  a board member of the Planned Parenthood Southeast C4 policy team, co-founder of the Political Rascals PAC,  a Highlander Education Center Greensboro Justice Fellow, a PEN Prison Writing Fellow, and is trained in both Kingian non-violence and de-escalation practice. She is also an acting member of the Georgia Win List, a political action committee dedicated to changing the face of power in Georgia by recruiting, training, and electing women who will serve as advocates in their state. Coco was most recently recruited by the People for the American Way’s Front Line Leaders Academy, which gives progressive leaders the tools to ensure elected officials reflect the needs of their communities.

She likes big systems change and she cannot lie.


Raphael Eissa – Community Engagement Coordinator

Born in New York but raised in Savannah, Raphael is an Egyptian-American activist and writer who graduated from the University of Georgia with degrees in Political Science and International Affairs. Much of his academic career was spent advocating for oppressed peoples and marginalized communities, both around the world and in the United States. As a member of the largest Christian minority in the Middle East, Raphael has conducted research on state violations of physical integrity rights for the Sub-National Analysis of Repression Project and worked with Eshhad: Center for the Protection of Minorities to aggregate and collate sectarian incidents throughout Egypt, Syria, and Iraq. He dedicated his time at the University of Georgia to Palestine solidarity work and community organizing, where he co-founded the Progressive Action Coalition, and organized marches, protests, and rallies to advocate for marginalized youth, local workers, and recognition of the Armenian Genocide.

In addition to his work supporting Deep’s Action Research Team, participatory action research across programs, and organizational communications and outreach, Raphael serves as a media and programming subcommittee member for National Students for Justice in Palestine to organize annual conferences and quarterly newsletters. A former Young Georgia Authors Contest finalist, he strives to uplift the creations of individuals and groups who have experienced trauma, crafting social media campaigns and storytelling initiatives via workshops, panel discussions, and creative branding.

He is best friends with his cat, Olive, and enjoys hookah, Disney music, and love-centered conversations about politics in pursuit of an equitable world and an equitable Savannah.

Raphael has attended the Red Clay Writing Project’s Summer Institute, a site of the National Writing Project at the University of Georgia, Athens, and is a National Writing Project Teacher-Consultant.


Marquice Williams – Program Manager

Marquice Williams is known around the Savannah community for his inspirational spoken word poetry and energetic hip hop performances. When he is off the stage, you can find him teaching performance poetry workshops and mentoring at Park Place Outreach Youth Emergency Shelter along with various Chatham County schools.

As a native of Savannah, Mr. Marquice gives back in more ways than one. His roots in the local arts community dates back to when he was 6 years old. After the passing of his mentor, Clinton D. Powell, this young poet began his journey as a Co-director of The Spitfire Poetry Group.

While overseeing one of Savannah’s premier spoken word troupes, he successfully created a once-a-month open mic showcase and continued an annual, week-long festival in honor of National Poetry Month in April. He believes that everything true will survive. Nothing is truer than words from a poet’s heart. In 2016, Marquice officially joined Deep as an East Side Teaching Artist for Block by Block.

Marquice has attended the Red Clay Writing Project’s Summer Institute, a site of the National Writing Project at the University of Georgia, Athens, and is a National Writing Project Teacher-Consultant.


Ariel Felton – Teaching Artist, Publications Manager

Ariel Felton is a writer, editor, and Savannahian, originally from Byron, Georgia. Ariel holds a Bachelor’s degree in English from Valdosta State University and a Master’s degree in writing from the Savannah College of Art and Design. She is a teaching artist for Block by Block, Deep’s high school program, as well as the organization’s publications manager. She is also managing editor of Penelope Editions, the YA imprint of Penny Candy Books, an independent children’s book publishing company.

Her writing has been published in The Progressive, The Bitter Southerner, McSweeney’s, Under the Gum Tree, Atlas Obscura, Scalawag Magazine, Reductress, and more. Her book review column “Well, Lit” is published monthly in Do Savannah, spotlighting new authors from Savannah and from the South.


DiCo  – Program Manager

New York-born and Savannah-bred, Lana “DiCo” DiCostanzo’s involvement in the Savannah art scene dates back to when she was still in high school, attending Savannah Arts Academy as a dancer and participating in productions organized by the cultural arts community.

After graduating from high school, DiCo returned to New York where she pursued a BFA in Creative Writing from Pratt Institute. In between each of her fall and spring semesters from 2010-2013, DiCo assisted her mother, a Fashion Institute of Technology graduate who owns a custom design and alteration studio in Savannah, by creating handmade garments and curating numerous fashion shows under the name “No Explanation.” Once she obtained her degree, she moved to Jacksonville, FL, where she earned the nickname “DiCo” while teaching 9th grade English at William M. Raines High School.

Although she would later leave Jacksonville, the nickname stuck, and she returned home to Savannah in 2017. Since then, DiCo has actively mentored youth through Building Bridges Academy High and the Youth Advocate Program, while also being an advocate for healthy eating, physical wellness, and community engagement. More recently, DiCo has been integral to local success in creating affordable yoga classes and a community running club.


Anthonella Alvarez – Teaching Artist


Anthonella Alvarez is a Teaching Artist and freelance writer in Savannah, GA. Originally from Quito, Ecuador she works to share stories that expand people’s understanding of the word identity. In her free time she tries to be good at social media and likes spending time cuddling with her pets

Board of Directors – 2019



Our Co-Founders

Catherine Killingsworth

Catherine Killingworth co-founded and was the first executive director of Deep Center. She earned a BA in English at Yale University, where she won the Curtis Prize, the Wright Prize for Nonfiction Writing, and the Seymour Lustman Price for Arts and Culture. She studied creative writing at Cambridge University as a Thouron scholar.

In 2008, Catherine founded Deep, alongside Hartford Gongaware (founding board chair), Emma Lunbeck, Alex Borinsky, and Chelsea Dye. In 2010, she authored The Cure for IDK, a book of writing lesson plans inspired by Deep’s first year of writing workshops. As Deep’s executive director for five years, Catherine became known affectionately around Savannah middle schools as “that writing lady.” In 2013, Catherine stepped down as executive director in order to serve as an education professional.

Hartford Gongaware

A native of Savannah, Georgia, Hartford Gongaware in 2008 teamed up with a Catherine Killingsworth and a group of local authors to co-found Deep Center, for which he was the board chair until 2015.

Hartford graduated from Princeton University and earned an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of California, Irvine. Mr. Gongaware was one of the founders of Silverpoint.Net, a web design company.

As a partner in the creative services firm Beautiful Hype, he now tells brand and product stories for companies nationwide. Mr. Gongaware’s work has been published in the Ontario Review and the Savannah Morning News, and online at Gutfire!