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National Novel Writing Month (nonprofit)

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National Novel Writing Month is the name of a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that oversees National Novel Writing Month, Camp NaNoWriMo, and the Young Writers Program. It was founded in 2006 as The Office of Letters and Light.


While NaNoWriMo was not a nonprofit in its early years, it did share the goals of a nonprofit. After Chris Baty returned from Scotland on an apartment exchange in early 2006, he and nonprofit expert Wrimo Ellen Martin began the journey to create a nonprofit that would run NaNoWriMo. Chris came up with the Office of Letters and Light's current name after narrowing the list down to four finalists. The other finalists included The Eureka Project, International Letters and Light (which had the unfortunate acronym ILL), The Starting Line, and The Corporation for Public Letters.

Tavia Stewart-Streit joined The Office of Letters and Light as the first employee and managing editor in September 2006. The OLL team found an office in Oakland, California with the map company of Tim Lohnes, one of the original 21 Wrimos. They stayed there until May 2010. OLL was approved as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit just before NaNoWriMo 2006.

2007 saw the launch of Script Frenzy, led by Kristina Malsberger and the beginning of the Year of Doing Big, Fun, Scary Things Together. OLL also received its first foundation grants from the San Francisco Foundation and the Bennack-Polan Foundation to run its events.

In the spring of 2008 the OLL team and board of directors wrote a strategic plan for the next three years. Highlights in this strategic plan include launching NaNoWriMo programs in libraries, bookstores, and adult classrooms; a new OLL event; and a year-round way for participants to do NaNoWriMo. With this plan in mind, Tavia and Chris hired Lindsey Grant as the first community liaison. 2008 also saw changes: Jennifer Arzt took over as Script Frenzy program director as the event was moved to April, and Heather Dudley replaced Cybele May as forums moderator while Cybele moved on to test new site features.

In May 2010 the staff moved to a new office in Berkeley with two floors. The new office gave the team more room to grow and store the supplies that were starting to take over the office.

NaNoWriMo founder Chris Baty stepped down as executive director in 2011, with past board member Grant Faulkner stepping up as the executive director in January 2012.

2013 saw rearrangement for the nonprofit as most of the staff got used to new titles; Lindsey had just stepped down as program director to move to Switzerland. Instead of hiring someone new for her position, Chris Angotti became Director of Programs. This called for rearranging of titles all around: Tim Kim became Editorial Director; Tavia became Deputy Director; Sarah Mackey became Director of Community Engagement. Shelby Gibbs also joined NaNoWriMo full-time as Office Captain.

In September 2013 the name of the nonprofit switched to National Novel Writing Month to reflect its focus on NaNoWriMo events.[1]

Dave Beck joined NaNoWriMo as Technical Director in 2014, filling Dan Duvall's shoes. Tavia left NaNoWriMo in early 2015 to start a new adventure in restaurant ownership. Chris Angotti became the new Chief Operating Officer, and past Associate Board member Rebecca Stern joined as Director of Programs.

Board of Directors

The Office of Letters and Light selected a Board of Directors when beginning their pursuit of obtaining a nonprofit status. The original members of the board of directors were Eric Doherty, longtime Wrimo and journalist Kara Platoni, longtime Wrimo and computer guru Diane Reese, tech superstar Russell Uman, and former YWP director Ellen Martin.

Today's board consists of Chris Baty (board member emeritus), Buster Benson, Karima Cammell, Sharon McKellar, Paul Oh, Justin Quimby, Julie Russell, Tony Shen, and Michael Sippey. Viking hats are present at board meetings; in fact, board members indicate their willingness to pass a motion by donning their viking helmet[1].

Associate Board

The NaNoWriMo Associate Board formed in 2013 and consisted of eight inaugural members. Its current members are Bay Area professionals with connections to and interests in the literary arts and education. Members include teachers, professional writers, students, published authors, and other professionals.

The mission of the associate board in the nonprofit is to provide a face for NaNoWriMo within our local communities, serve as a resource for third-party review, and elicit greater creative potential as the vanguard for new and/or risky initiatives. The AB has worked on projects including consulting on the curriculum refresh, fundraising, staffing NaNoWriMo booths at public events, developing a prison pilot curriculum, helping to update the nonprofit's Code of Conduct, and boosting the signal for NaNoWriMo events.

The associate board was retired sometime before NaNoWriMo 2016.

Writers Board

Sometime before NaNoWriMo 2013, the NaNo nonprofit formed a Writers Board to help connect NaNo to the wider world of writing and publishing.

The Office

Main article: NaNoWriMo HQ
The office as seen from the outside, November 2011

The current office is located on 3354 Adeline Street in Berkeley, California. The first floor contains a display area, the workspaces of the OLL staff, the shipping station and supplies, storage areas (including a cupboard under the stairs) a bathroom, a painting of Tom Selleck, a sink area with hot water, and Voldefridge. All the NaNoWriMo and Script Frenzy winner certificates and posters are on display on the first floor, along with the winners of the Donation Derby.

The second floor contains a conference table, a bookcase, a couch, and a bathroom.

The office also has a yard area in the back, which connects to the Sweet Adeline Bakery next door.


  1. "Our Scintillating September Newsletter: Five Steps to Power Up for November." Newsletter. Sent via email. Received 19 September 2013.

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