Please send e-mail to maura [at] maurastephens.com.
Maura Stephens writes for independent media and speaks on varied subjects including journalism and media, human
sustainability, international affairs, corporate malfeasance and control, Burma, social justice, theocracy, entrepreneurship, organic farming, food, urban lot reclamation, writing,
editing, publishing, and health
policy. Since 2008 her primary concentration has been on fracking, the intensely violent industrial activity that is sweeping the planet, spurred by corporate-state collusion and greed and further hastening catastrophic climate change while fracturing Nature and human communities.
An independent writer, theater artist, educator, and activist, Maura began her professional life as a New York City
Later she learned the craft of journalism during 19 years in various
editorial positions at Newsweek and Newsweek International, while
simultaneously operating an organic sheep, poultry, and
crops farm, called Isle of Ewe, in central New
For many years her climb up the ladder at the magazine was
a journalistic dream, and would prepare her well for running later editorial ventures. She worked on stories as varied as the wars in Lebanon and Central America, the "troubles" in Northern Ireland, apartheid and its dismantling in South Africa, the quincentennial of the arrival of Europeans in the "New World," the Japanese stock market, and ongoing feminist struggles in the USA and elsewhere.
During her years on the farm, she grew or traded with neighbors for almost of all her family's food (except rice, spices, and tropical fruits). When she had to leave the farm to live in cities for a while, she studied horticulture and landscape design at Philadelphia's Morris Arboretum (through University of Pennsylvania) and then the New York Botanical Garden. At NYBG she had the great good fortune (and timing) to become one of the original shapers of Bronx Green-up. This program helped neighborhood residents reclaim trash-strewn, dangerous, abandoned city-owned lots and turn them into urban oases of crops, flowers, trees, songbirds, beneficial insects, and tranquility; to grow and preserve food; and to bring intergenerational neighbors together in healthful exercise and community-strenghthening, property-enhancing, invigorating, rewarding collective work. The program became a model for other such urban gardening programs around the country, and it continues to thrive today. After leaving Newsweek, Maura cofounded an innovative and financially successful early Internet "e-zine,” raising the launch funding via venture capital investments through personal contacts who believed in her abilities. She also benefited from the professional expertise, enthusiasm, and investment of members of Binghamton (NY) SCORE (Service Corps of Retired Executives), a service of the Small Business Administration. She enjoyed this entrepreneurship -- which she describes as the "equivalent of earning an MBA." From 1997 until mid-2010, Maura was publishing editor of ICView, the magazine of Ithaca College (IC), where she also guest lectured in classes from anthropology to writing, hosted 42 research-writing interns (some of whom are now running their own media ventures), served on numerous committees, and programmed or coprogrammed the visits of distinguished filmmakers, writers, humanists, activists, and alumni in various fields of endeavor. In May 2010 she began a new chapter when she was named associate director of the Park Center for Independent Media at Ithaca College. She is thrilled to work with founding executive director Jeff Cohen, a champion of independent media, to be collaborating with many dedicated independent newshounds around the country, and to be mentoring students toward careers as non-corporate-tethered journalists. In spring 2011 she also began teaching Multimedia Journalism in the Park School at Ithaca College.
Maura often teaches Community (Citizen) Journalism. Other teaching experience includes stints at Ithaca's Lifelong Learning (magazine writing) and many community education courses on a variety of subjects.
Weeks before the March 2003 invasion of Iraq,
Maura and her husband, playwright-director-photographer-teacher George Sapio,
first visited that country. They fell in love with the people and their culture
and published a book, Collateral Damage, about them. Since then Maura
has worked to help Iraqi people who have been endangered and misplaced because of this misguided invasion and subsequent occupation. With Rosemary Nuri she cofounded Iraqi Refugees Assistance
Connection, dedicated to helping imperiled Iraqis find safe haven and new
communities in the USA. Although the organization closed after a few years, both women continue to help Iraqis who made it to the USA and others who are still waiting in Iraq, Jordan, or Syria to be granted asylee status. After publishing a story about IC janitor Han
Lin (left, photo by Jeffrey Hellman) and his brave, inspirational fight for freedom in his homeland, Maura
became the chief policy strategist and US
spokesperson for the International Campaign for Freedom of Aung San Suu Kyi and
Burma, in which
capacities she volunteered nearly four years. Maura is pleased to be an "honorary Burmese" and to have many Burmese colleagues around the globe. (Sadly, the courageous Han Lin passed away in
2008, but his friends and comrades continue the struggle. Aung San Suu
Kyi was "freed" in October 2011 after a lengthy incarceration, but there
are many more political prisoners still languishing in Burmese jails.
Aung San Suu Kyi is now a member of the Burmese Parliament and faces a
new series of challenges since the USA decided in May 2012 to lift sanctions on the
country [for imports but not exports!], freeing the military regime to continue its egregious human
rights abuses unchecked and freeing multinational corporations to rush
in and begin their own regime of abuse.) Maura still works as a theater (and occasional film/TV) actor, director, and producer and as a voice-over artist. She is a member of Wolf’s Mouth Theatre Collective and
other troupes. In 2010 she played Martha in the workshop production of George Sapio's anticorporate satire, Better Than Nothing/Second to None, and in 2012 she read the part of Sr. Theresa (written for her) in Sapio's newest play, Fault Lines. It will premiere in spring 2013, with Maura in the same role. For Theatre Incognita she directed a revival of Natalie de Combray's Time, and Time Again and Aoise Stratford's Turtle Beach. In 2013 her own full-length play Promise/Insh’Allah, set in New York and Baghdad, will debut. Maura is currently busy working alongside grassroots activists in the groups Coalition to Protect New York, FrackBustersNY, RAFT (Residents Against Fracking Tioga), SAVE S-VE, and others to
keep shale-gas drilling via hydraulic fracturing
(“fracking”) from poisoning the water, polluting the air, and destroying
the scenery and lifestyle of the Marcellus and Utica shale regions, as well as the health
of their people and natural world. A lifelong learner, Maura studied theater arts and creative writing as an undergraduate and horticulture, landscape design, and communications as a grad student. She holds an MFA in creative writing
from Goddard College. In 2010 she was accepted into the Interdisciplinary Ph.D. program at Union Institute and University. She is a three-time graduate of Democracy School. |