About Us

The California Institute of Arts and Letters (CIAL) was founded in 2003 under the vision and leadership of Jeff Munnis. Jeff founded CIAL with the help of Stelli Munnis, Mark Yoslow, and Jessica Duttlinger.  We promote the work of contemporary poets through the publishing imprints of Black Zinnias and Pessoa Press. Coimbra Editions publishes poetry in translation and books that explore the process of writing.


318120-809284-thumbnail.jpgJeff Munnis,  Executive Director, Publisher & Managing Editor

As Publisher and Managing Editor, Jeff is responsible for selecting the writers CIAL publishes. Jeff thrives on bringing different perspectives together in dialogue through literature and art. His interests are in publishing contemporary poets and writers, in expanding Latin American and Hispanic literature in translation, exploring the connections between mysticism, psychology, and poetry, and in expanding the dialogue between artists and scholars. CIAL grew out of his desire to create a unique community of writers and scholars willing to explore new ideas in publishing and education, combining elements of prior literary traditions with new and emerging ideas. Jeff grew up in Titusville, Florida next to the Indian River. He is a graduate of the University of Florida (BS) Goddard College (MFA) in Vermont, and Pacific School of Religion (M.Div.) at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, California.

318120-824008-thumbnail.jpgStelli Munnis, Ph.D., Planning Director

Stelli has a deep love for the arts and she enjoys helping others connect with their artistic and creative abilities. Her primary role at CIAL is strategic planning and organizational development. Stelli was born in Managua, Nicaragua and has lived in Texas, Louisiana, Florida, California, Managua, and Richmond, England. She has a BA in economics from the University of Florida and a Ph.D. in psychology from the Institute of Transpersonal Psychology in Palo Alto, CA. Stelli is the author of The Kali Guide: A Directory of Resources for Women, and the illustrator of a comic book series called, The Exploits of Cosmic Commander and Adventure Girl.

318120-832207-thumbnail.jpgJessica Foreman, Creative Director

Jessica is the Creative Director and one of the founders of the CIAL. She holds a BFA from the University of Illinois and has been working as a graphic designer in the magazine and book publishing world for over a decade. Jessica is the designer of the Institute's poetry journal, Black Zinnias, as well as the lead designer of the books the Institute produces. Jessica first met Jeff, the Publisher and Managing Editor of CIAL, by chance, when he came in to speak to the publisher of the company where she was working at the time. She overheard him mention his plans of starting a literary magazine and, having an interest in such a venture herself, copied down his e-mail on the sly. She sent him a note, and her role in the organization grew from there. Believing that everything happens for a reason, Jessica considers herself very fortunate to be part of the talented team of people who make up CIAL. She admires and believes in each of the group's members and is proud to share in their common vision. Jessica lives in the Berkeley hills with her husband, Todd, and their cat, Curtis. She rarely gets enough sleep, but she always wakes up happy.