What matters to you.

Leora Skolkin-Smith


Born in Manhattan in 1952, Leora spent her childhood between Pound Ridge, New York, and Israel, traveling with her family to her mother's birthplace in Jerusalem every three years. She spent a long time as an actress and in the theater. But, during college, the influence of many of the writers who taught her was powerful, and she started to write. She earned her BA and MFA and was awarded a teaching fellowship for graduate work, all at Sarah Lawrence. After being optioned for a contract while still in graduate school, she worked for several years on a novel with an editor. She also began developing writing programs for psychiatric patients with her husband, now a psychiatrist. As the optioned novel failed, she spent her time creating programs for different mentally ill populations in New York City and also became a teacher of writing for homeless women. Her nonprofit organization operated in eight major psychiatric hospitals in the New York area and was fully funded for ten years. In the last few years, she co-founded the Emmett Till/Anne Frank program, a multicultural educational initiative for Afro-American and Jewish youth in Brooklyn.