The Gulf Coast Writers Association provides a forum for fellowship, education and information among writers in the community. We promote writer welfare and spirit by encouraging members and others to pursue writing for pure joy or for compensation, whichever purpose better gratifies the individual.

The Gulf Coast Writers Association (GCWA) was founded in 1995, incoporated in 2004, and granted 501(c)3 status in 2006. As of April 2013 there were more than 200 members of the organization. The Executive Committee consists of eight officers who are elected yearly in March and are resposible for the general management of GCWA. The Corporate Board of Directors (required under IRS 501(c)3 regulations) consists of four officers who are elected for three year terms.

GCWA has reciprocal agreements with the Peace River Center for Writers, the Pine Island Writers, and the Marco Island Writers. We also have group memberships with the Alliance for the Arts and the Arts of the Inland organizations.

Volunteers are how we operate


Being on the Board or Executive Committee is extremely important to our association. Since we are a volunteer based, 501c3, the only way we can maintain the operation is through our member’s continuous donation of time.


We realize not everyone can give in this way all the time, and thus we have one-year terms for most of our officers. The Board meets four times per year outside of our general meetings, and the Executive Committee meets eleven times. Giving of just one year is all that is asked, and who knows, you may find you enjoy it and want to offer more. Each term begins on April 1st.

Corporate Board

(3 Year Term) Email: board@gulfwriters.org

Bob McCarthy Board Member
(term ends 2025)

Andrew Conlyn

Andrew Conlyn Board Chair
(term ends 2026)

Susan Grunin

Susan Grunin Board Member
(term ends 2026)

Irene Smith Board Member
(term ends 2027)

Executive Committee

(1 Year Term) Email: executive@gulfwriters.org


Mary CharlesPresident


Claudia GeaganSpecial Projects

David Aiken

David AikenVP, Membership

Claudia Volkman

Claudia VolkmanVP, Programming


Sheryl StillmanVP, Communications

Christie Zarria

Christie ZarriaSecretary


Ed DonlinWeb Manager


Michael ColeTreasurer


In 1995 Ilene Flores, a member of the South Florida Chapter of the National Writers Association in Miami, gathered six Southwest Florida writers in her living room. Within two hours they decided to form the Gulf Coast Chapter of the National Writers Association. Their mission was to support, educate and encourage local area writers of all levels and genres. The new Board of Directors elected Ilene founding Chapter President.

In mere months, multiplying membership sparked the first of what would become a pattern of meeting room relocations as participants and publicity spread the word. Camaraderie and monthly guest speakers continued to attract growing crowds.

Along the way we twice sponsored the acclaimed Southwest Florida Writers Conference. We sponsor, host and support several area literary events, workshops, writing contests and conferences each year. As a result, the quality of our membership has heightened and intensified. Monthly attendance regularly reaches 50 or more, with new visitors at every meeting.

As our membership has grown, so has our reputation. We maintain friendly relationships with authors, agents, writing teachers, columnists, editors and publishing houses. Writer’s Digest thinks enough of the club Web Site to ask for a link.

Today Gulf Coast Writers is a thriving independent entity. We continue to strengthen our membership services and programs, guided by a Board of Directors committed to high professional standards. Daily we learn from our peers better ways to keep writing, marketing and publishing what we write. Newcomers are always welcome. We stand ready to share and celebrate large and little successes.

The year 2015 marked the 20th anniversary of Gulf Coast Writers. It is with pride and a true feeling of accomplishment that the members celebrate this occasion. We have come a long way from those early days in 1995. The dream has come true.


In April of 1995 six writers met in the home of Ileane Hope Flores to discuss the need to organize a writer’s group.
These six members were: Eugene Craig, Ileane Flores, Jill Goodman, Crissie Dice, Jeri Magg and Beverly Hannermen.

The results of that meeting were to advertise for other writers and to meet on a monthly basis at Mrs. Appletons, then located next to Office Depot. We decided to charge a $3.00 fee for the meeting to cover the cost of donuts and coffee at Mrs. Appletons. Hence the $3 charge today.

During the subsequent monthly meetings a name was chosen: Our founding President – Ileane Flores was a member of the National Writers Association in Miami – so we applied to this organization to form a chapter – hence – The Gulf Coast Chapter of the National Writers Association. Within a few months a constitution and bylaws were written down by the founding members. Attendance at the monthly meetings went from sixteen to sixty by March of 1996.

We published our first newsletter, WRITE, in March of 1996 for our first annual meeting. Our first board of directors to be elected in March of 1996 was as follows: President – Ileane Flores, Vice President – Jill Goodman, Treasurer – Joanne Lalli, Secretary – Crissie Dice, Publicity Chair – Jeri Magg, Newsletter Editor – Jill Goodman, Parliamentarian – Walter Bittner. In the copy of the newsletter – we were looking for a Speaker Chairperson’s Slot. Our annual dues were $10.00

History of Association’s Presidents:

1996 - 1998

Ileane Flores


Harold Hunt


Carol Kennedy


Alison Chabonais

2001 - 2003

Jules Morreal

2003 - 2005

Jeri Magg


Sissel Robertson

2006 - 2008

Carol DeFrank

2008 - 2011

Richard Georgian

2011 - 2013

Tom Nelson

2013 - 2014

Tim Jacobs

2014 - 2016

Gary McLouth

2016 - 2018

Don Cappelli


Irene Smith


Current Constitution & By-Laws

This is the Constitution and By-Laws, voted in at the January 16th, 2016 meeting, and made effective on April 1st, 2016, amended March 25, 2017.

Attention Members: Two changes to the GCWA bylaws unanimously approved at the March 25, 2017 meeting. To review the changes

Constitution & By-Law History

  • The constitution and by-laws were ratified by charter members in 2003 and again in 2016.
  • GCWA incorporated on May 29, 2004.
  • The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) granted GCWA 501(c)(3) status on January 18, 2006.
  • The Bylaws were amended in 2004, 2007, 2016.
  • Constitution and Bylaws amended March 15, 2008. Constitution and Bylaws amended March 17, 2012.
  • Constitution and Bylaws amendments were voted January 16, 2016, and officially amended April 1st, 2016.
  • Click here to open PDF of our previous Constitution & Bylaws.
  • This is the Constitution & Bylaws was in force until April 1st, 2016.