“Ilene’s ability to relay life’s complexities with sensitivity is only matched by her enthusiasm.” —Oona Abrams, ELA Teacher

I.W. Gregorio is a practicing surgeon by day, masked avenging YA writer by night. After getting her MD at Yale, she did her residency at Stanford, where she met the intersex patient who inspired her debut novel, None of the Above, which was a Lambda Literary Award Finalist, a Publishers Weekly Flying Start, and named to the American Library Association Rainbow List. Her second novel, This is My Brain in Love, is a contemporary romance for grades 7 & up that explores mental health, race and, ultimately, self-acceptance. This book won ALA’s Schneider Family Book Award.

I.W. is proud to be board member of interACT: Advocates for Intersex Youth, and is a founding member of We Need Diverse Books™ and its former VP of Development. A recovering ice hockey player, she lives in Pennsylvania with her husband and two children.

Bookshelf

About the Visit

I.W. Gregorio offers assembly presentations and interactive workshops for middle school and high school students. Her programs on mental health awareness are meant to give students the tools to speak about mental illness. She also loves to inspire students by delving into the writing process and finding your story.

Below are some of I.W.’s offerings, which can be customized for the needs of different groups.

When Words Heal: As the REM song says, “everybody hurts, sometimes”. Despite the huge increase in mental health awareness across the world, suicide rates are the highest they’ve been in twenty years. One in five American youth will have a diagnosable mental illness by the time they’re 18, yet 60% of kids with anxiety and depression aren’t getting treated.

Sadness creeps up on you, and shame and stigma prevent people from talking about it. In this presentation, I draw upon my own experience with anxiety and depression and talk about how books saved my life twice: First when I was a lonely child looking for empathy and compassion, and second when I was an adult seeking to find meaning and navigate my life. I’ll talk about how every day I fight against the fake news coming from my brain – and detail the strategies everyone can use to fact-check their own lives and stay mentally healthy.

Know What You Write: There’s the old saying that people who want to become authors should “write what they know” – but I would say that the opposite is true. Authors shouldn’t be limited by their own experiences, but they should be responsible about the level of research they put into writing about subjects that our outside their experience because perpetuating stereotypes can be harmful. In this presentation, I talk about the tools creators can use to make sure the representation in their art is informed and complex.

All the Ways You Can Be a Writer: Aspiring writers often as questions on how to be a writer, as if there were a one true path to success. I’m living proof that one can take a long an circuitous path to writing a novel – and indeed I know writers who were formerly doctors, lawyers, musicians, dancers, and baristas. All you need to do to be a writer is to have a story, and want a voice. In this presentation I talk about how people can find the stories embedded in their own lives and make them grow.

I.W. is also available for presentations at conferences and festivals.

Testimonials

“I.W. Gregorio was able to facilitate critical conversations about timely and relevant topics for teen readers, striking the balance between head and heart. We can always rely on her to offer abundant resources and professional expertise to critical literacy conversations.”—Oona Abrams, ELA Teacher, Chatham High School, Chatham, NJ

“On stage, she is deft, charismatic, and accessible—a crowd pleaser not only because what she’s talking about is interesting and important, but because she takes the time to connect with her audiences, and take them on a journey towards realizing how understanding our differences might actually in the end make us more alike.”—Kyle Knight, Senior Researcher, Human Rights Watch

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