Mission & Values

The mission of VONA is to develop emerging writers of color through programs and workshops taught by established writers of color. 

VONA's values are a commitment to artistic excellence, social justice, and empowering the community of writers of color. 

In VONA’s multi-genre workshops, developing writers of color:

  • Explore their craft in an atmosphere of support and understanding.
  • Learn from the teaching and writing of established writers of color.
  • Are empowered to write about their experiences as people of color.

VONA is the only writers' conference in the country with a multi-genre focus on writers of color as students and teachers.



Voices of Our Nation Arts Foundation (VONA) was founded by Elmaz Abinader, Junot Díaz, Victor Díaz and Diem Jones in 1999. Each envisioned an arts organization that could change the landscape for writers of color by supporting individual writer growth, creating a platform for community engagement and providing a workshop and mentor focus to expand writing opportunities. Over 2,000 writers from around the globe have participated in VONA.

VONA now makes its home at the University of Miami at Coral Gables and offers workshops in fiction, poetry, memoir, political content, LGBTQ narrative, travel writing, playwriting and a residency. VONA also hosts a free faculty reading, supports alumni events in cities across the country, provides an online forum for literary opportunities and launches community writing programs and events.



Who We Are

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Diem Jones, Executive Director

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Elmaz Abinader - Profile Picture.jpeg

Elmaz Abinader, Program Director

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Vanessa mártir


Andrea Walls


mona washington

development & Business Affairs

Mario Ariza Administrations

Mario Ariza


Dana De Greff

Public Relations

vince bernard


Keita erskine Workshop  

Keita erskine



Grace Jahng Lee


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Melissa Sipin