Hamilton Prize Selection Committee Bios

Wesleyan University has announced the distinguished members of its inaugural Hamilton Prize Selection Committee. The all-star committee, made up of Wesleyan alumni, will choose the first-ever recipient of the university’s newly established Wesleyan University Hamilton Prize for Creativity—a four-year full-tuition scholarship that will be awarded to the incoming Wesleyan student of the Class of 2022 whose creative written work is judged to best reflect the originality, artistry and dynamism embodied in Hamilton: An American Musical

Hamiton Prize Biographies

Thomas Kail ’99 (honorary chair) (right) is the Tony-winning director of Hamilton: An American Musical, Emmy-winning director of Grease Live and Tony-nominated director of In the Heights.

Lin-Manuel Miranda ’02, Hon. ’15 (honorary chair) is a Pulitzer Prize, Grammy, Emmy and Tony award-winning composer, lyricist and actor. He is the creator and original star of Broadway’s Tony-winning Hamilton and In the Heights. His additional Broadway credits include Bring It On: The Musical (co-composer/co-lyricist, Tony nomination for Best Musical), and West Side Story (2009 revival, Spanish translations). A 2015 MacArthur Foundation Award recipient, Miranda has recently composed songs for Disney’s Moana (2017 Oscar and Golden Globe nominations for Best Original Song) and has been actively supporting the relief efforts in Puerto Rico following Hurricane Maria in September 2017, creating the benefit single, “Almost Like Praying.”

Hamiton Prize Biographies

Carter Bays ’97 is the co-creator, executive producer and writer of How I Met Your Mother, which received seven Primetime Emmy Award nominationsHe is currently developing two new comedy series, for CBS and Amazon. He also co-founded the band The Solids, which performs the theme songs to How I Met Your Mother and Oliver Beene, among other music. He lives in New York City with his wife and three children.

Hamiton Prize Biographies
Amy Bloom ’75 is the author of Come To Me (National Book Award finalist), A Blind Man Can See How Much I Love You (National Book Critics Circle Award finalist) and the New York Times bestsellers Away and Lucky Us, among other titles. Her latest book, White Houses, is due out in February 2018. Bloom is the Shapiro-Silverberg Professor of Creative Writing at Wesleyan.
Hamiton Prize Biographies
Alexander Chee ’89 is the author of two novels, Edinburgh and The Queen of the Night, as well as an essay collection, How to Write an Autobiographical Novel, forthcoming in 2018. He is a contributing editor at The New Republic and an editor at large at The Virginia Quarterly Review. His honors include a 2003 Whiting Award, a 2004 National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship in prose, and a 2010 MCCA Fellowship, among others. He is an associate professor of English and creative writing at Dartmouth College.
Hamiton Prize Biographies
Maggie Nelson '94 is the author of the National Book Critics Circle Award-winner The Argonauts, The Art of Cruelty and The Red Parts, among other titles. A 2016 recipient of a MacArthur “genius” fellowship, Nelson is on the faculty of the California Institute for the Arts and chair of the school’s MFA creative writing program.
Hamiton Prize Biographies
Amanda Palmer ’98 is a singer-musician-writer who also performs as half of the acclaimed punk duo The Dresden Dolls, among other collaborations. After her viral TED talk about crowdfunding and trust, “The Art of Asking,” Palmer went on to pen a New York Times best-selling book of the same name. She now funds her films, recordings and blogs about compassion, feminism and art with the support of over 11,000 online patrons on Patreon.com. She co-taught a course at Wesleyan in the Fall of 2017 on “The Art of Doing: Creative Project Production and Making it Happen” that culminated in students creating a music video to an original song Palmer wrote for the class.
Hamiton Prize Biographies
Mary Roach '81 is the author of the New York Times bestsellers Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers, Gulp: Adventures on the Alimentary Canal, Packing for Mars and Grunt: The Curious Science of Humans at War, among other titles. Roach’s writing has appeared in National Geographic, the New York Times, Wired and other outlets.
Hamiton Prize Biographies
Bozoma Saint John ’99 is the chief brand officer at Uber. Previously, she was head of global consumer marketing at Apple Music and iTunes. During her career, Saint John has been included among Fortune's 40 Under 40, Billboard Magazine’s Top Women in Music and Top Executives 40 Under 40, Fast Company’s 100 Most Creative People and Ebony Magazine’s 100 Powerful Executives. She is a member of the American Advertising Federation Hall of Achievement.
Hamiton Prize Biographies
Kaneza Schaal ’06 is a New York City-based theater artist. Her recent work GO FORTH premiered at Performance Space 122 and then showed at the Genocide Memorial Amphitheater in Kigali, Rwanda, Contemporary Arts Center New Orleans, Wesleyan University Center for the Arts, and in Cairo, Egypt at the International Contemporary Theater Festival. Schaal received a 2017 MAP Fund award, 2016 Creative Capital Award, and is the current Aetna New Voices Fellow at Hartford Stage. Her new work JACK & was commissioned by Portland Institute for Contemporary Art (OR), On The Boards (WA), Walker Arts Center (MN), REDCAT (CA), Center for Contemporary Art (OH), and will also be presented by Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago (IL), LUMBERYARD (VT), and in BAM’s 2018 Next Wave Festival (NY).
Hamiton Prize Biographies
Craig Thomas ’97 is the co-creator, executive producer and writer of How I Met Your Mother, which received seven Primetime Emmy Award nominations.  He is currently developing a new comedy series for Sony/Amazon Studios with Carter Bays ’97. He also co-founded the band The Solids, which performs the theme songs to How I Met Your Mother and Oliver Beene, among other music.
Hamiton Prize Biographies
Santi “Santigold” White ’97 is a multi-genre singer-songwriter, record producer, visual artist, and humanitarian based in Los Angeles. She has released three critically acclaimed albums and several popular singles, while also collaborating with a diverse group of celebrated musicians and artists.
Hamiton Prize Biographies
Simone White ’93 is a poet and critic whose work includes Dear Angel of Death, Of Being Dispersed, House of Envy of All the World and Unrest. White received a JD from Harvard Law School, an MFA from The New School and a PhD in English from CUNY Graduate Center. She was selected as a New American Poet by the Poetry Society of America and was a recipient of the Whiting Award for poetry in 2017. She is program director at The Poetry Project (at St. Mark’s Church) and visiting assistant professor of literary studies at The New School, Eugene Lang College. In Spring 2018, she is visiting associate professor of creative writing at the University of Iowa Writers' Workshop.