Founding Directors

Kira Brunner Don and Timothy Don

Kira Brunner Don was raised in Oakland. She has worked as a magazine editor for the last seventeen years in New York and as a journalist in Eastern Europe and the Balkans. She studied Philosophy at the New School’s Graduate Faculty and worked at a think tank at Columbia University before joining Lapham's Quarterly where she was the Executive Editor for eight years. She is Co-Editor of The New Killing Fields: Massacre and the Politics of Intervention (Los Angeles Times Book Prize finalist). 

Timothy Don has a degree in the History of Ideas from the Graduate Faculty at the New School for Social Research. Before moving to Oakland in 2014, he worked in New York City as the founder and creative director of the art/performance space 4Front. He took part in Tino Sehgal’s shows at the Guggenheim Museum and the Marian Goodman Gallery, and he wrote and produced work for Richard Foreman’s Ontological-Hysteric Theater. He currently serves as Art Editor at Lapham’s Quarterly, a journal in the history of art and ideas based in NYC.

Together, Kira and Timothy have worked in partnership with countless literary and artistic organizations, as well as with individual authors, artists, museums and galleries. Kira and Timothy have produced or participated in panel discussions at New York University, Columbia University, and the 92nd Street Y; intimate bookstore readings in New York and the Bay Area; cabaret theater events at the Public Theater; and on-stage interviews and discussions for the PEN World Voices literary festival. They live in Oakland, California with their two children.

Literary Council Chair

Rebekah Otto

Former Books Editor of the Rumpus and Content Director at, Oakland resident Rebekah Otto brings seven years of experience with the East Bay literary community to the Oakland Book Festival. As the Books Editor of the Rumpus, she championed local writers and explored the experimental edges of contemporary fiction. She has collaborated with such venerable Bay Area institutions as the Oakland Museum, McSweeney's and Chronicle Books. She has helped produce books on a wide range of subjects from Panic by Michael Lewis to Inside This Place, Not of It: Narratives from Women's Prisons, edited by Robin Levi and Ayelet Waldman. For the last four years, she has worked in online content strategy, as an Editor for Atlas Obscura, and more recently as Director of Content at 

Creative Partner

László Jakab Orsós 

László Jakab Orsós is the Director of PEN American Center World Voices Festival. He is an internationally recognized curator of cultural events with 15 years of experience. He is the founder of Hungary’s leading contemporary literary journal, and produced and hosted various cultural programs and talk shows for television in Hungary and Europe. He relocated to the U.S. in 2005, working as a diplomat and curator, overseeing Hungary’s cultural presence in New York and Washington, D.C. In 2009, he conceived and executed a year-long Hungarian art festival, with over 150 events. The Extremely Hungary Festival featured shows, exhibitions, and concerts in venues such as Carnegie Hall, the Kennedy Center, the Museum of Modern Art, The National Gallery, and Lincoln Center. Beyond his curatorial work, Orsós has also served as a board member at George Soros’ Open Society Foundations and he is currently an advisory board member at Human Rights Watch and Creative Time, a New York-based public art organization.

Editorial Partner

Hilary Flood

Hilary Flood is an editor at McGraw-Hill Education. After graduating from Texas Tech University in 2011, she moved to the Bay Area to intern with National Novel Writing Month. She currently resides in Oakland.

Festival Organizer

Nick Travaglini

Nick Travaglini is the lead of customer success and operations at a small tech company in San Francisco. He is a longtime reader and alumnus of the Philosophy and English departments at UC Berkeley. (Go Bears!) He currently lives in Berkeley, CA.

Festival Co-Curator

Sarah Burke

Sarah Burke is an independent writer, editor, and curator based in Oakland, California. Her work focuses on art, identity, social justice, internet culture, feminism, and the intersections therein. She is a regular contributor to KQED Arts and a current columnist in residence at SFMOMA’s Open Space. Her work has also appeared in The Washington Post, Broadly, Artsy, Hyperallergic, Complex, and the East Bay Express — of which she is the former Managing Editor. Find her on twitter at @sarahlubyburke.


Lead Image: Horseshoe shop on Franklin Street, Oakland, 1907. 
Courtesy Oakland Public Library, Oakland History Room.