MING LAUREN HOLDEN is the author of Refuge, winner of the inaugural Kore Press Memoir Award. She is an activist, translator, educator, humanitarian aid and development worker, theater artist, and photographer who was raised on a zebra ranch on California’s central coast. She has worked in the international development sector on four continents in thirteen countries since 2003. She earned her BA with Honors in Literary Arts at Brown University, earned her MFA at Indiana University, and is pursuing a PhD at UCSB.
Ming is the winner of Bellingham Review's 49th Parallel Poetry Award, Chattahoochee Review's Lamar York Nonfiction Prize and Glimmer Train's Family Matters Fiction Prize. She co-founded and served as Editor-in-Chief of the Brown Literary Review. Her poetry, fiction, creative nonfiction, journalism, interviews, photography, and literary translations have appeared in The Best American Poetry Blog, Hayden's Ferry Review, The Huffington Post, The Rumpus, and others.
Ming was invited by the United States Embassy to Suriname on a diplomatic speaking engagement under the U.S. Speakers Program to speak about creative writing and theater as tools for empowerment for Women's History Month. (Here’s the official press release.) In 2011, Ming founded the Survival Girls, a self-sustaining theater group for young Congolese women in the slums of Nairobi. Her book about the experience, a nonfiction novella The Survival Girls, received a limited release in 2013 from Wolfram Productions as a fundraising effort for university tuition for Survival Girls group members. Ming also won the USAID worldwide essay contest, for inclusion in Frontiers in Development, and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton gave the essay a nod in the introduction!
Ming's writing about the Survival Girls group was also nominated for the AWP Intro Award for Nonfiction. Ming has also worked in community development in Russia (at the Silver Taiga Sustainable Forestry Foundation); Syria (with Every Syrian); Turkey (independently); Ecuador (at the CEMOPLAF family planning clinic); Bolivia (at the Rio Beni Health Project): Mongolia (at The Asia Foundation and the Mongolian Writers Union): Kenya (independently; at the UNHCR; and with the Golden Globe Foundation); Suriname (through the American Embassy): as well as in California (at People Helping People and The Odyssey Project, and in New York (at Archipelago Books).
As a Henry Luce Scholar in Mongolia, Ming served the Mongolian Writers Union as its first-ever International Relations Adviser, and worked towards the formation of a Mongolia PEN Center. She has since returned to Mongolia to work for The Asia Foundation and advocated for an exiled Chinese writer in Turkey at the Writers and Literary Translators International Congress. She is the recipient of a Woon-Joon Yoon Memorial Fellowship, “for students who have exemplified tolerance and understanding across racial and religious lines through service, personal commitment, academic achievement and future potential." Ming is also the recipient of the Herman Wells Graduate Fellowship, Indiana University's most competitive graduate award, designated for “leadership abilities, character, social consciousness, and generosity of spirit." (Here’s the press release.)
As a recipient of the University of California's Special Regents Fellowship, Ming was a part of the pilot Graduate Affiliate Fellow program at the Interdisciplinary Humanities Center at UCSB, where she is currently earning a PhD in Theater and Dance. She recently served as the Instructor of Record for the Odyssey Project (which brings incarcerated youth and UCSB undergraduates together for theater workshops), as director of the concomitant show at Santa Barbara's Center Stage Theater; and as Instructor of Record for "Playsia” (a theater workshop and lab for UCSB's Asian American Studies majors). As an actor, Ming has worked with Plaza Playhouse, Dogstar Theater, and Dijo Productions.