Meet the Board Members
President, Web Administrator, Membership Director and Assistant Contest Director
Kathleen Cook began writing poems and short stories at an early age. At age eight, she sent one of her poems unaided to the Reader's Digest and claimed to be sixteen, believing that the magazine would take a "mature" writer more seriously. She received a very kind rejection letter from an amused editor. At age 18, Katy edited a weekly newsletter for the Port of Call, a Nazarene mission for homeless teens as well as her college newspaper. She worked for various publishers before opening her own editing service.
Katy joined the Arizona Authors Association in 2009 and served as its editor from 2019-2024. In 2020, she joined the Arizona Authors Board of Directors. She created the current website in 2021 and still serves as Web Administrator. She assumed the presidency in January 2024.
Contact Katy at: Kathleen Cook
Vice President, Treasurer and Contest Director
Award-winning novelist, essayist, and short story writer Jane Ruby served for several years as a judge for the Arizona Authors Association annual literary contests. She has directed the Association’s Literary Contest since 2019. A former Secretary of the organization, she has most recently performed in two capacities as both the Contest Coordinator—mercilessly enlisting her daughters as judges—and as the Treasurer of the Association. Once a research chemist, she has transformed her technical expertise into presentations for elementary and high school students.
Contact Jane at: Jane Ruby
Editor-in-Chief, Grants Consultant and Board Secretary
Penny Orloff has 25+ years of non-profit arts organization management and grant proposal writing experience. From 2008-present she has worked as nonprofit arts organization consultant, grant writer, and/or development associate for Los Angeles Ballet, Mt. Wilson Institute, Skylight Theatre, and others. She served as Managing Director and subsequently Development Director for LA’s award-winning Rogue Machine Theatre (2008-2012); as Producing Artistic Director of Seattle’s Radost Folk Ensemble (1999-2001); and as Executive Director of Chaspen Foundation for the Arts (www.chaspenarts.org)since 1991.
Contact Penny at: Penny Orloff
Mark D. Walker
Board Member, Million Mile Walker Review Columnist,
A former Peace Corps Volunteer in Guatemala, Mark has dedicated over 40 years to managing and raising funds for nonprofit organizations like Make-AWish International. Mark is a member of PEN America; a founding board member of Advance Guatemala; and served as former CEO of Hagar USA, and President of both the Greater Arizona Association of Fundraising Professionals and Scottsdale North Rotary, receiving the “Service Above Self” Award from Rotary International.
Find out more about Mark HERE.
Contact Mark at: Mark D. Walker
Toby Fesler Heathcotte
Since childhood, Toby has been interested in the past and has found many affinities with her ancestors. Unexpected psychic experiences led her to study reincarnation and psychic phenomena, and she took comfort in the fact that she was not alone. A high school teacher of speech and drama for many years, Toby wrote academic books before venturing into relating her psychic experiences in Out of the Psychic Closet. Those experiences also translated into a fictionalized series called the Alma Chronicles, a family saga of reincarnation and conflicts spanning centuries.
An early member of the Arizona Authors Association, Toby rejoined in 1996 and became active in a critique group. She took on the annual Literary Contest and hosted the first Contest Awards banquet. From 2005 to 2015 she served as President, assisting on the organization’s first two websites. She returned to the presidency from 2021-2024. She is delighted to pass the leadership to excellent new officers, and continues with the board as statutory agent, providing support and historical context.
Contact Toby at: Toby Fesler Heathcotte
The Arizona Authors Association is a nonprofit group founded in 1978 by Boyé Lafayette De Mente, a flamboyant and brilliant author, adventurer, and entrepreneur. He wrote many books on Japanese culture and language, and was also an associate publisher of the Tokyo Journal, the oldest English-language magazine in Japan.
Boyé also wrote a memoir entitled, Once a Fool! From Japan to Alaska by Amphibious Jeep! Boyé made that incredible journey when his friend Ben Carlin was circumnavigating the globe in his jeep, Half-Safe. He asked Boyé to accompany him on the last leg of the journey. Boyé jumped on it, and their names were enshrined in the Guinness Book of World Records. Boyé died in 2017.
Arizona Authors Association co-founder, David Rich, was a practicing attorney and helped to form the Association. He wrote its first charter and bylaws and contributed valuable advice, photos, and more over the course of more than 40 years. His photo of a cactus was used to redesign our newsletter header. He has served on the board, written for the newsletter, and is still writing books on travel, myths, and more.
The Arizona Authors Association would like to thank our members, Peter Bernhardt, David Rich, and Patricia L. Brooks, for contributing Arizona landscape photos to the Association, some of which were used on this website.