In celebration of Black History Month, the CUNY SPS Black Student Union (BSU) is hosting an intimate conversation with Nicole Dennis-Benn, the two-time Lambda Award Winner and New York Times best-selling author of Patsy. The event is co-sponsored by the School’s Committee on Institutional Equity and Diversity (CIED).

Moderated by Kpana Kpoto, a graduate student in disability studies, the interview with Dennis-Benn will explore her journey as a writer, her success and challenges in writing about sexuality in a conservative Caribbean society, and the sources of her inspiration and tenacity.

Dennis-Benn’s work was hailed as particularly important by BSU leaders. “As a student, it’s important to learn that vulnerability is strength, and that your own story can give others the strength they need to move forward” remarked Jacklyn Tomlin. “At CUNY SPS, we’re all trying to grow and be better,” agreed Rachelle Russell. “Like Patsy, we all have to just keep pushing.”


Kpana Kpoto
Kpana Kpoto is the married parent of a feisty five-year-old daughter and a laid-back 14-year-old autistic son. After her son was diagnosed with autism, she made the career change from educational publishing to disability services. She considers it her life’s work to help families of disabled children get the support they need to function and thrive. She is deeply committed to being an ally to the disability community. Kpana wears many hats, including being a Manager for Parent and Family Engagement on the early childhood team at a New York City disability nonprofit. She is also the co-founder of the Bronx Parents Autism Support Circle, Inc., a nonprofit parent support group for parents of autistic children. Last but not least, Kpana is a covid survivor advocate and a graduate student pursuing her Master's in Disability Studies at CUNY SPS.


Nicole Dennis-Benn
Dennis-Benn was born and raised in Kingston, Jamaica. She is a graduate of St. Andrew High School for Girls and Cornell University; and holds a Master of Public Health from the University of Michigan and an MFA in Creative Writing from Sarah Lawrence College. Dennis-Benn is the founder of the Stuyvesant Writing Workshop and lives with her wife in Brooklyn, New York.