The Dramatists Guild is delighted to introduce two new members of the Guild staff, our new BA Consultant and Staff Attorney, Leesa Fenderson, who is an Intellectual Property attorney, and Elle Hartman, who is our new Volunteer Programs Manager.
Leesa Fenderson was born in Kingston, Jamaica and raised in Jamaica, Queens. She is a board member of Next Move Jamaica International, Inc, a non-profit that connects diasporic Jamaicans with students of need on the island. Before pursuing writing full time she was a member of the New York State Bar and an in-house attorney at an image licensing agency known for its curated art and representation of some the world’s most iconic image-makers. Leesa has been dedicated to preserving the rights of artists and educating them on how best to manage their intellectual property since she worked as a contract coordinator at Hachette Book Group. That dedication led her to law school, but her desire to create art began to tug at her, years into her career as a lawyer. She began writing stories about her family, her triple consciousness as an immigrant, and how space and location are deeply tied to our physical and mental health.
She attended Columbia University’s MFA program concentrating on non-fiction writing in an effort to explore her diasporic roots. Intending to further her research and exploration of the question, she applied to USC’s Literature and Creative Writing PhD program. At USC, she has expanded her foray of narrative into fiction. As Cherrie Moraga wrote in “A Xicana Dyke Codex of Changing Consciousness,” the fiction of our lives can sometimes provide a truth far greater than any telling of a tale frozen to facts. Leesa explores both forms in an effort to unearth complex truths. In particular, her collection of short stories was birthed from the diasporic voices of women who bend her ear and her will to ancestral wisdom.
Leesa has worked at Rolling Stone Magazine as an attorney, Banc of America Securities, Hachette Book Group, the School of the New York Times, and as a recruiter for her alma mater Brooklyn Law School. Leesa's fiction is forthcoming in Joyland Magazine and Story Magazine, and has appeared in Craft Literary Magazine, Callaloo Journal, Uptown Magazine, Moko Magazine, Paper Darts Magazine, and else where. She was a Finalist in Paper Darts' Short Fiction contest and Leesa’s fiction was chosen as a semi-finalist for American Short Fiction’s 2020 Halifax Ranch Prize. Currently, she is completing her PhD and is an attorney at the Dramatists Guild of America.
Elle Hartman is from Waterford, Connecticut, having lived steps away from The Eugene O’Neill Theater Center on Long Island Sound, where she had a summer job and spent many evenings listening to first-time readings of the works of playwrights such as August Wilson.
Elle received a dual Bachelor of Arts in English and Italian Literature from Albertus Magnus College. After college, Elle moved to Orlando and worked for Walt Disney World in human resources. While at Walt Disney World, she handled Service Trade Council Union ADA and workers’ compensation placements, along with leading the staffing for the openings of ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex, All-Star Movies Resort, World of Disney, and Disney Vacation Club off-site locations. She then became Head of HR for 1,100 cast members at Disney’s Grand Floridan Resort and Spa and, along with her team, the recipient of Disney’s first RAVE (Respect Appreciate Value Everyone) Award for diversity initiatives at the resort, including training manuals for all departments in several languages other than English.
Elle returned to the Northeast and continued in human resources, first in finance and then in public relations as a Senior VP. In between all this, she managed the acting careers of her two children, who worked on Wes Anderson pictures and Adam Sandler films, along with some work for Nickelodeon. In 2020, along with her daughter, she opened a casting and production accessibility coordinator agency. Her daughter Zoë now runs the business. Her son Jack graduated from the School of Visual Arts in 2021 and works full-time in film and television props fabrication. Elle recently produced two projects – Life Through My Eyes, which showed at the ReelAbilities Film Festival, and the Chicago-based Latinx web series Border’d.
An EMS Certified in Covid compliance management, Elle writes lyrics for a Long Island blues band in her spare time, is a golfer, an archer, and drives supercars from the car club she belongs to in Manhattan. She lives in New York and has a family home in Italy that she shares with her two sisters in a small resort, fishing village on the Adriatic Sea.