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Leah Henderson, Middle-Grade and Picture Book Author, Joins the Spalding MFA Faculty

By Katy Yocom, Associate Director of Communications and Alumni Relations

Leah Henderson

I couldn’t be happier to announce that award-winning author and Spalding MFA alum Leah Henderson has joined the Spalding MFA faculty in Writing for Children & Young Adults.

Since graduating from Spalding in 2011, Leah’s writing career has taken off. Her debut, the middle-grade novel One Shadow on the Wall, was published in 2017 by Atheneum/Simon & Schuster and was named an Africana Children’s Book Award notable and a Bank Street Best Book of 2017, starred for outstanding merit. Her short story “Warning: Color May Fade” appears in the just-published YA anthology Black Enough: Stories of Being Young & Black in America, alongside stories from Lamar Giles, Justina Ireland, Varian Johnson, and others. In a starred review, Booklist described the book as “a poignant collection of stunning short stories by Black, rock star authors.” Leah also writes picture books and has three forthcoming: Mamie on the Mound, Day for Rememberin’, and Together We March.

Katy Yocom and Leah Henderson

Leah has remained closely connected to Spalding well beyond her graduation in Rome during the summer 2011 residency. In 2013, she traveled with the MFA program to Ireland as a post-graduate residency assistant, and in 2018 she traveled with us to Japan, where she and I held a panel discussion on the debut novel. In 2017, Writing for Children & YA students at the spring residency read One Shadow on the Wall as the faculty/guest Book in Common, and Leah delivered a presentation about the novel’s genesis, writing, and path to publication.

MFA Program Director Kathleen Driskell says, “Leah Henderson is a rising star among writers for children and young adults and with good reason. She’s a marvelous writer—and as a teacher she’s just the sort of faculty member we value at Spalding: She has an adventurous intellect and a deep well of knowledge to draw from, and she is a supportive, generous member of the literary community. She’ll be an engaged and challenging mentor for our students, and I’m elated she’s joined our faculty.”

A teen mentor and avid traveler, Henderson’s volunteer work has its roots in Mali, West Africa. She attended Callaloo Writing Workshop at Oxford University, is a faculty member of the Highlights Foundation, and volunteers with Kweli Journal and We Need Diverse Books. She lives in Washington, D.C.

Welcome to the Spalding MFA faculty, Leah!

Katy Yocom’s novel Three Ways to Disappear won the Siskiyou Prize for New Environmental Literature. She is a 2019 recipient of the Al Smith Fellowship for artistic excellence from the Kentucky Arts Council. Her fiction, poetry, essays, and journalism have appeared in Salon, The Louisville Review, decomP magazinE, StyleSubstanceSoul, Louisville Magazine, and elsewhere. She holds an MFA in Writing from Spalding University and is a recipient of grants from the Elizabeth George Foundation and the Kentucky Foundation for Women.


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