Deborah Mashibini-Prior

  • Poetry/Creative Writing/nonprofit program management
  • 2008


Deborah Mashibini-Prior serves as Outreach Manager for AVA Gallery and Art Center in Lebanon, New Hampshire. In addition to many years of experience working for nonprofit organizations, she is a published poet and has worked as an adjunct English instructor in community college, university, and technical college settings. In 2008, the same year she became a CAT Fellow, Deborah returned to school to complete an MA in English and refocus attention on her own poetry. That resulted in a career shift into teaching. Before 2008, Deborah spent close to 30 years working with nonprofits serving people with disabilities and those who are homeless in Arizona, New Mexico, New York, San Diego, and South Africa. She was also the founder of VSA Missouri, the state organization on arts and disability. Much of Deborah's nonprofit work has focused on serving as an advocate for artists living and/or working outside of the mainstream. As assistant director for the National Coalition for the Homeless in New York in the 1980's she began one of the first efforts in the country providing support and outlets for artists living on the streets and in emergency shelters. Her Unforgotten Voices Creative Workshop presented exhibits and performance events, and that led to publication of Forgotten Voices/Unforgettable Dreams, an anthology that generated national press attention (including a stint on the Sally Jessy Raphael Show). In Deborah's 16 years with VSA New Mexico she ran an innovative AmeriCorps Program that recruited artists with and without disabilities to collaborate on community service projects, spent ten years as director of an arts-based day habilitation program serving adults with developmental disabilities, and facilitated a statewide career development support network for artists with disabilities. She has also served as a consultant with VSA Arizona and VSA Hawaii. In the St. Louis area she worked with That Uppity Theatre Company. She also collaborated with musician Zimbabwe Nkenya on a two-year series of free community music and poetry events through the BAG II (Black Artist Group II) collective at Scott Joplin House. Deborah is also an award winning poet whose work has appeared in anthologies and journals including What Does it Mean to be White in America, (2Leaf Press), Bloodroot Literary Journal, HEArt Online, the 2013 edition of The St. Louis Black Pages, Drum Voices Revue, and others. Deborah is also the author of Including People with Disabilities in Service in New Mexico: A Resource Manual and editor (or contributing editor) of four anthologies: Where we can read the wind and Blindness Isn't Black, and The Best of the Enabled Writer, co-editor Steve Brown, all anthologies of work by people with disabilities and Forgotten Voices Unforgettable Dreams, a collection of writing and art by people who were homeless in NYC in the 1980's.