We’re excited to introduce three new members to our 826 National team!

Our new Communications Manager, Zaneta Jung, comes to us from book publishing where she was a children’s book editor and a food & lifestyle editor before becoming a content strategist. She’ll be focusing on growing and developing 826 National’s brand and outreach through its mission.

Development Manager, Kai Lokken is a former educator with a background in non-profit. She’ll be working closely with our Development Director on new and innovative donor fundraising and raising more awareness about 826 National.

NaBeela Washington, our new 826 Digital Content Engagement Manager, is no stranger to the 826 Network. She comes to us from 826CHI and has extensive experience working in non-profits and education. She’ll be working with 826 Digital on launching their new site and facilitating its new aspects and content creation.

All three bring incredible vision, expertise, and heart to 826 National. Learn more about Zaneta Jung, Kai Lokken, and NaBeela Washington below, and join us in welcoming them!

Meet Zaneta Jung, Communications Manager

Smiling woman with long dark hair wearing a red shirt

A proud New Jersey native, Zaneta Jung is a storyteller and editor with a passion for community building and fostering creativity. Prior to joining 826, she worked in book publishing as a children’s book editor and as a food & lifestyle editor, and in the tech industry as a content strategist. When not in front of her computer, you can find her dancing in the streets of Berkeley and asking everyone, “May I pet your dog?” The quickest way to her heart is a personalized playlist, endless snacks, and a fuzzy animal.

What brings you to 826 National?
A journalism professor once told me, “You’re in this class because of two things. One, someone told you that you were good at writing, and your ego believed in it so much that you thought you should be paid for it. And two, because you’re nosy.” Both were—and still are—true.

But I believe that everyone is naturally curious and creative. Unfortunately, sometimes we forget or we’re too afraid to fail. I love that 826 National and its chapters create a welcoming space for everyone to tap into those natural abilities.

What is it about the 826 mission that resonates with you?
I really dislike that writing is seen as a “soft skill” when it’s such a crucial part of the way we live. From texts to emails to birthday cards, it’s all writing! Writing is an important way for us to connect with one another and with ourselves. It’s how we communicate ideas and feelings and share life experiences. I believe that strong writing creates empathetic people. And we need more of that in our society.

What are you looking forward to building with the 826 National team and the 826 Network in the months ahead?
I’m excited to strategize and collaborate with all of the comms coordinators, managers, and directors on cross-chapter campaigns to amplify student voices and expand 826’s reach! Everyone I’ve met has been so incredibly warm, open, and honest, and I look forward to continuing to learn from everyone. I’m also eager to work with Cynthia and Gabi on the Research team and Anna on the 826 Digital team to help tell that story to the public and propel 826 as a thought leader in writing education.

What was your favorite childhood book?
A View from Saturday by E.L. Konigsburg and Sloppy Firsts by Megan McCafferty.

Outside of my role, you should ask me about:
Taylor Swift (I once met her while dressed up as her!)

Meet Kai Lokken, Development Manager

Smiling woman in glasses with long hair

Kai Lokken is excited to be part of the 826 team. She partnered with 826CHI when she worked at Communities in Schools of Chicago (CISC) and fell in love with the 826 programs. Her background is in teaching and non-profit education. Besides teaching for six years, Kai worked for CISC and Technovation before joining 826 National. Kai enjoys reading, writing, movies, and eating popcorn and M&Ms.

What is it about the 826 mission that resonates with you?
As a former English teacher, I understand the need for high quality and engaging writing instruction for diverse student populations. 

What are you looking forward to building with the 826 National Team and 826 Network in the months ahead?
I hope to create new fundraising opportunities, increase our donor base, and become a Salesforce devotee.

What was your favorite childhood book?
My favorite childhood books: Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs and the Strega Nona books. I love food and I love magical stories. 

Outside of my role, you should ask me about . . .
Music, books, pop culture, and movies/TV. 

Meet NaBeela Washington, 826 Digital Content Engagement Manager

NaBeela Washington first fell in love with 826 in Boston before joining the secret agents of 826CHI. After more than seven years of supporting an array of nonprofits with branding, outreach awareness, and community-focused marketing and communications, NaBeela is thrilled to join 826 National, where her love for creative writing, radical educational programming, and communications can intersect.She received a Bachelor’s of Visual Advertising from The University of Alabama at Birmingham and a Masters’ in English & Creative Writing from Southern New Hampshire University. When she’s not counting characters or sewing, you can find her managing Lucky Jefferson, polishing her green thumb, cooking Southern staples, writing poetry, or traveling.

What brings you to 826 National?
A deep desire to connect with and support educators around the country! My relationship with teachers first began while partnering with teachers around Boston, MA to produce and showcase arts and humanities curricula that were equitable and allowed students to fully express their world view. 

What is it about the 826 mission that resonates with you?
I’ve always admired 826 National’s ability to be a part of and influence the national conversation around education. I believe that joy is one of the greatest influences for understanding your place in the world. 826 National’s ability to spark this through creative writing is so inspiring and it makes me more so much more hopeful for the state of education for future generations.

What are you looking forward to building with the 826 National Team and 826 Network in the months ahead?
I am really excited to partner with educators and establish new spaces for them to feel seen and inspired so that they can continue going the distance for our students. 826 Digital is such a unique and robust tool and I’m looking forward to leading future conversations around this and other resources.

What was your favorite childhood book?
The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein and Little Bear!

Outside of my role, you should ask me about . . .
The best southern eats in your area, and domestic and international travel tips.

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