John J. McLaughlin

John J. McLaughlin was born in San Antonio, Texas. He began his writing career while a student at the University of Virginia, where he worked as a freelance reporter for various publications, and published work in The Washington Post, Albemarle, and The Charlottesville Observer. He went on to earn his MFA in fiction writing at the University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop, studying under renowned authors James Alan McPherson, Bharati Mukherjee, and Frank Conroy. His work has been published in National Catholic Reporter, America, and HungerMountain, and has earned a Wagenheim prize for short fiction. His debut novel, Run in the Fam’ly (University of Tennessee Press, 2007), won the 2006 Peter Taylor Prize for the Novel.

In 1999, John founded the Pentecost Project, a service-learning program in Dominican communities he has now known for ten years. It is now part of Education Across Borders, the nonprofit organization which John directs. Through this program―which is spiritually-rooted, relationship-centered, and justice-oriented―over 300 individuals from the US have had a life-changing encounter with Dominicans and Haitians in poor rural communities. The program has built over 50 houses, a rural clinic (and supplied it with medicine), a church, sanitation facilities, a park site, and many green spaces in Dominican communities living in extreme poverty.

Education Across Borders also supports scholarships for talented Dominican students from these communities; at present, more than a dozen students are enrolled in pre-professional university studies, well on their way to breaking the cycle of poverty and dependency in which so many Dominican youths are trapped. EAB, in its mission to “transform communities through relationship,” sponsors Dominican-Haitian interchanges and dialog, to work toward healing wounds of racism and nationalism, both in the DR and the US.

John has completed spiritual formation programs at Seattle University, and at the Center for Action and Contemplation in Albuquerque, NM. He lives with his wife and two children in Seattle, where he is a member of St. Therese Parish; he serves on its Social Justice Commission, and volunteers in its winter overnight shelter.