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Dedicated to an equitable and sustainable education program

Our Team

Katy Ryan


Katy Ryan teaches graduate and undergraduate courses in twentieth-century American literature, prison studies, and modern drama. In 2004, she founded the Appalachian Prison Book Project (APBP), a nonprofit that mails free books to people imprisoned in six states, creates prison book clubs, and provides college tuition for incarcerated students. She also teaches literature courses in prison and is the Founder of the WVU Higher Education in Prison Initiative.

Professor Ryan's research focuses on the history and literature of imprisonment in the United States. She is the recipient of the Sigma Tau Delta Outstanding Teaching Award; the Neil S. Bucklew Award for Social Justice; the WVU Foundation Outstanding Teaching Award; the Eberly College Outstanding Teaching Award; and the James and Arthur Gabriel Brothers Faculty Award for teaching and service.

Rayna Moman

Program Coordinator and Instructor

Rayna Momen (they/them), PhD, is Program Coordinator and Instructor for the Higher Education in Prison Initiative at West Virginia University, where they recently earned their doctorate in Sociology with an emphasis in crime. Their dissertation centered on the criminalization of transgender people using a queer criminological and intersectional lens. Momen is a Black, trans* poet, queer criminologist, and abolitionist.

Advisory Council members

Outside Advisory Council (2022-2023)

  • Lauri Andress, Associate Dean, University of New Mexico College of Population Health
  • Laura Brady, Director, Center for Writing Excellence, WVU
  • Lupe Davidson, Woodburn Professor of Women’s and Gender Studies; Associate Dean for Social Justice, WVU
  • Jihad el-Amin, Program Specialist, WVU
  • Nisan Hubbard, Teaching Assistant Professor, Academic Advisor, Biology, WVU
  • John Kilwein, Chair, Associate Professor, Director of Undergraduate Studies, Political Science, WVU
  • Darrin Lester, Master’s Student, Social Work, WVU
  • Rayna Momen, Program Coordinator and Instructor, Higher Education in Prison Initiative, WVU
  • Gloria Negrete-Lopez, Assistant Professor of Women’s and Gender Studies, WVU
  • Jim Nolan, Director of Graduate Studies, Professor of Sociology, WVU
  • Ann Pancake, Freelance Writer
  • Katy Ryan, Eberly Family Professor of Outstanding Teaching; Professor of English, WVU
  • Ellen Skirvin, Lecturer of English, Penn State University; Appalachian Prison Book Project Board of Directors
  • Lou Slimak, Assistant Provost for Undergraduate Curriculum, WVU

Inside Advisory Council (2023)

Kyle, Neil, Todd, Rudy, Destinee, Jodi, Katy, Dakota

The team stands outside in the early spring wearing jackets.

The Inside-Out and Higher Education in Prison Initiative team in May of 2023