for the 2018 San Francisco Writing For Change


The man behind the Pentagon Papers and bestselling/award winning author. He is an activist on the dangers of the nuclear era and the urgent need for patriotic whistleblowing.

After graduating from Harvard in 1952 with a B.A. summa cum laude in Economics, he studied for a year at King’s College, Cambridge University, on a Woodrow Wilson Fellowship. Between 1954 and 1957, Ellsberg spent three years in the U.S. Marine Corps, serving as rifle platoon leader, operations officer, and rifle company commander. From 1957-59 he was a Junior Fellow in the Society of Fellows, Harvard University. He earned his Ph.D. in Economics at Harvard in 1962 with his thesis, Risk, Ambiguity and Decision.  The research for it has become known as the “Ellsberg Paradox.” It is widely considered a landmark in decision theory and behavioral economics.

Ellsberg joined the Defense Department in 1964 as Special Assistant to Assistant Secretary of Defense (International Security Affairs) John McNaughton, working on the escalation of the war in Vietnam. He transferred to the State Department in 1965 to serve two years at the U.S. Embassy in Saigon, evaluating pacification in the field.
At the RAND Corporation in 1967, Ellsberg worked on the top secret McNamara study of U.S. Decision-making in Vietnam, 1945-68, which later came to be known as the Pentagon Papers. In 1969, he photocopied the 7,000 page study and gave it to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee; in 1971 he gave it to the New York Times, the Washington Post and 17 other newspapers. His trial, on twelve felony counts posing a possible sentence of 115 years, was dismissed in 1973 on grounds of governmental misconduct against him, which led to the convictions of several White House aides and figured in the impeachment proceedings against President Nixon.


NINA AMIR – Your Inspiration-to-Creation Coach, inspires people to combine their purpose and passion so they Achieve More Inspired Results. She motivates writers and non-writers to create publishable and published products and careers as authors as well as to achieve their goals and to fulfill their purpose.

 JIM AZEVEDO is the marketing director at Smashwords, the largest distributor of self-published ebooks serving over 130,000 independent authors, publishers, and literary agents. Since 2008, Smashwords has helped authors around the world release more than 470,000 titles to top ebook retailers, subscription services, and public libraries.. For best practices: Smart Author Podcast at or another podcasting service, @smashwords, Jim@jazzervedo.

BRENDA KNIGHT began her career at HarperCollins, working with Marianne Williamson, Huston Smith, and Paolo Coelho. Brenda was Publisher of Cleis Press and was awarded IndieFab’s Publisher of the Year in 2014.  She is the author of Wild Women and Books, Be a Good in the World, and Women of the Beat Generation, which won an American Book Award. She is the cofounder of PI: Promotional Intelligence for Authors, Publisher and other Creatives and Publishing Consultant to Mango Media.

DAVID LANDAU has been a recognized writer all his adult life. In 1971, as managing editor of The Harvard Crimson, he struck up a friendship with Daniel Ellsberg before the release of the Pentagon Papers. Since then, David has been a journalist, novelist, publisher and playwright. Because of its magical power to transform even the best writing, editing is his greatest passion.

MIKE LARSEN – Mike loves helping writers and does author coaching. He wrote How to Write a Book Proposal, How to Get a Literary Agent, and Guerrilla Marketing for Writers (coauthor). Mike is co-director of the conference and the San Francisco Writing for Change Conference.

MITALI PERKINS is the author of numerous books for teens and younger readers, including Monsoon Summer and Secret Keeper. She was born in India and immigrated to the United States with her parents and two sisters when she was seven.

BRIGID O’FARRELL, author of She Was One of Us:  Eleanor Roosevelt and the American Worker, is an independent scholar affiliated with the Eleanor Roosevelt Papers, George Washington University. Her writing in sociology and labor history focuses on changing public policy and gender equality in the workplace. Earlier books include Beyond Gender: The New Politics of Work and Family with Betty Freidan. Publications span academic journals, newspapers, magazines, and on-line. National Writers Union, UAW 1981:



PETER BEREN, AAR, is a literary agent and publishing consultant who specializes in photography, how-to and popular culture. The former publisher of Sierra Club Books and VIA Books, he is the author or co-author of seven books including The Writers Legal Companion (Basic Books), California the Beautiful (Rizzoli) and The Golden Gate (Insight Editions). His clients include photographers Art Wolfe, Franz Lanting, and Baron Wolman; and graphic artist Jack Katz.

LAURIE McLEAN is the co-founder and partner of Fuse Literary, actively creating the literary agency of the future and igniting author careers. Laurie ran her own eponymous publicity agency for 20 years and then spent 8 years as an agent before forming Fuse in 2013. Laurie specializes in adult/young adult/middle grade genre fiction, but also listens to pitches at conferences for the entire agency of 8 agents. Query her at

TED WEINSTEIN is a literary agent with broad experience on both the business and editorial
sides of publishing. He is also a widely published commentator and cultural critic. His clients include journalists, scholars, and other expert authors of books for adults, spanning the full range of narrative, practical, popular culture, and other non-fiction categories,


CRISTINA DEPTULA is a creative writer, former science and technology journalist, and editor of the literary magazine Synchronized Chaos. She leads the literary publicity team of Authors, Large and Small, which helps writers of all sorts find and reach audiences for their work.

PAMELA FEINSILBER was, for ten years, a senior editor at San Francisco magazine, working with both new and established writers. She edits novels and nonfiction, from consulting on theme and structure—her memos brought her the nickname “The Queen of Questions”—to line and copy editing. She is a mentor and editor in the Book Passage Path to Publishing program and writes occasionally, most recently for Huffington Post,,

TANYA EGAN GIBSON is a freelance editor and the author of the novel How to Buy a Love of Reading (Dutton), in which a bibliophobic girl’s entire life changes in the weeks leading up to her Sweet 16 because of a book her parents buy her—one she absolutely does not want. Tanya’s articles have appeared in Writer’s DigestThe Writer, and Parents, and her short fiction has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize.

MELISSA KIRK runs a full-service book coaching, publishing strategy, and creative marketing business called Words to Honey Publishing Services, specializing in nonfiction books for change, including psychology, self-growth, spirituality, relationships, and communications.  Her greatest joy is helping authors and creatives give voice to their message, and get their story to their ideal audience. Her new booklet is called “9 Steps to Impressing a Nonfiction Book Editor and Getting your Book Accepted,”

MARY RAKOW, Ph.D.’s name appears in the acknowledgments of Garth Greenwell’s What Belongs to You, long-listed for the National Book Award, and Gregory Boyle’s Amazon bestseller Barking to the Choir. “Rakow is a legendary editor,” says Tupelo Prize winner Ilya Kaminski. A San Franciscan, Mary also meets with clients. Her latest novel, This Is Why I Came, received outstanding reviews in the Washington PostBoston GlobeAtlanticHarvard Divinity Bulletin, and Christian Century,,

JORDAN ROSENFELD is a freelance editor, writer and author of seven books–five writing guides and two novels–most recently: Writing the Intimate Character: Create Unique, Compelling Characters, Through Mastery of Point of View and the novel Women in Red (Booktrope). Her articles and essays have appeared in The Atlantic, Mental Floss, New York Magazine,, Scientific American, The Washington Post and many more, @JordanRosenfeld,