Meet the Puttyteam
Hi there! Puttylike and the Puttyverse community are run by a small dedicated team. Here’s a little about each of us.
Emilie Wapnick // Founder and Creative Director
Emilie Wapnick (she/they) is an award-winning author and community builder. She is the founder and creative director at Puttylike, where she helps multipotentialites (people with many passions and creative pursuits) integrate all of their interests to create dynamic, fulfilling, and fruitful careers and lives. Unable to settle on one path herself, Emilie studied music, film production and law, graduating from the Law Faculty at McGill University.
Emilie’s TED talk, Why Some of Us Don’t Have One True Calling, has been viewed 8 million times. Her book How to Be Everything was published by HarperCollins in 2017. It has been translated into 13 languages and won a Nautilus Book Award. Emilie has been featured in The New York Times, Fast Company, Forbes, New York Magazine, The Huffington Post, BBC and Vice.
Emilie hails from Montreal, lived in Portland, OR for a while, and now lives with her wife and two bearded dogs on a remote island in British Columbia.
Joel Zaslofsky // Puttyverse Connections + Operations Guy
Joel Zaslofsky (he/him) is the community-animator, multipotentialite, and quantum biology fanatic behind a bunch of neat stuff. He’s the Connections and Operations Guy for the Puttyverse and has one overarching theme in life: bringing people together. You’ll often find him deep into a minimalist spreadsheet, making his wonderful wife roll her eyes at his antics, or playing with his two young sons around Edina, Minnesota. Otherwise, Joel’s out walking on frozen lakes (when possible) and reigniting his personal renaissance.
Valerie Wernet // Puttylike Managing Editor and Entire Social Media Department
Valerie Wernet (she/her) very happily wrangles the brilliant team of writers at Puttylike. She also develops recipes and makes poems. Given the chance, she will rearrange the tchotchkes on your shelf, and it will look great afterward. During the summer, she makes and sells Glass Moon ice cream. Valerie lives with her wife Emilie and their two dogs Gorse & Grendel, in coastal British Columbia and a rotating list of other wonderful places.
Neil Hughes // Puttylike Regular Contributor and Puttyverse Moderator
Neil Hughes (he/him) is the author of Walking on Custard & the Meaning of Life, a comical guide to life with anxiety, and The Shop Before Life, a novel set in the prelife. His time is spent on humorous talks about mental health, standup comedy, physics, computer programming, music, video games, languages and pub quizzes. He struggles to answer the question “so, what do you do?” and is worried that the honest answer is probably “procrastinate.” He would like it if you said hello at enhughesiasm.com.
Malika Ali Harding // Puttylike Regular Contributor
Malika Ali Harding (she/her) writes at the intersection where the sacred meets the profane. An American expat living in Amsterdam, she tells visual stories by any medium necessary – previously producing independent films, curating art shows, and now publishing photographic books. Malika is the founder of Story Rebels, where she designs immersive experiences that take creatives away from their ordinary, and onto the vast landscape of world cultures. A multipod and a hermit, she dreams often of escaping to a flower farm on a sparsely populated corner of the globe. You can dream with her on Instagram @storyrebels.
D.J. Billings // Puttylike Regular Contributor
D.J. Billings (they/them) is a writer, illustrator and WordPress geek. D.J. loves to tell stories and has spent a lifetime expressing them visually through books, animation, and websites. Their work has been seen in Wired, Highlights, Blue’s Clues, and too many cocktail napkins to count. D.J. is a WordPress website consultant and many, many other things. They live with their wife and kids in Los Angeles and love tinkering with their 1966 VW Beetle.
Mel Atkins // Puttylike Regular Contributor
Mel Atkins (she/her) is an educator, coach, public speaker, singer, dancer, classical pianist, and the co-founder of Strengths Within. Between earning an ARCT in Piano Performance from the Royal Conservatory of Music and a PhD in Educational Psychology from the University of Western Ontario, she spent her most favourite summers working at seven summer camps after missing out as a very allergic kid. She loves fireworks, brunch, musicals, sci-fi, and coffee. Connect with her on Instagram @strengths.within.
Erika Backberg // Puttyverse Events Jedi
Erika Backberg (she/her) is an Immersive Experience Designer, Ethnographic Researcher (field sociologist), and Solutions Strategist. Based in Los Angeles, CA & St. Paul, MN Erika also expresses her passions through her ECOethical fashion line, Erika Bee, and her creative agency, Mo Mo Monocle. Erika loves exploring big questions, including but not limited to, the topics of: equity, sustainability, education, functional health, and futurist design. At its most fundamental level, her work is about helping others to uncover their own potential through mindful creativity.
Heather Ussery-Knight // Puttyverse Guide
Heather Ussery-Knight (she/her) helps people work with their Inner Critics (and other fun Inner Bits) to open up creative flow. She’s a writer (with blogs and at least one actual “published” book), into Integral/AQAL (Ken Wilber), Systema (Russian combat martial art), video gaming, psychology, ecology/environmentalism, languages, photography, WP multisite networks, jewelry creation, crochet, chainmail… you know how this goes. She hangs out with her super specialist husband, two parrots and a tiny hamster in the Bay Area, CA.
Deborah Beckwin // Puttyverse Content Maven
Deborah Beckwin (she/her) is a writer, editor, and content strategist. Based in Seattle, Washington, she’s the disembodied voice of the Puttyverse newsletter and provides content for the Puttyverse and Puttylike. A fan of all things art and community, Deborah loves to connect with people about the stars (astronomy and astrology), spirituality & the esoteric, music, giftedness, HSP life, and photography. When she’s not playing a mobile game or working on her romance novel, you can find Deborah taking nature photos and unabashedly watching reality TV.