About

Born in Bucheon, South Korea and raised in the Midwest, Katie Hae Leo’s creative work explores the multiple intersections of the adopted body with received notions of race, ethnicity, gender, (dis)ability, and popular culture.

Katie’s writing has appeared or is forthcoming in such journals as Asian American Literary ReviewWater~Stone ReviewKartika ReviewMidway JournalAsian American Poetry & Writing, Line BreakMascara Literary Review, and Utne Reader, as well as anthologies The Heart of All That Is: Reflections on Home (Holy Cow Press), Flip the Script (The An-ya Project), and The Field Guide to Poetic Playwriting (Red Metal Press).  Her chapbook Attempts at Location was a finalist for the Tupelo Press Snowbound Award and is available through Finishing Line Press. She holds an MFA in Creative Writing from The University of Minnesota.

Her produced plays include Four Destinies (Mu Performing Arts), Bride/price (with MaMa mOsAiC), and Hmonglish Musical (Center for Hmong Arts & Talent’s YLG), as well as adaptations of the children’s books A Single Shard and Baseball Saved Us (Stages Theatre Company/Mu Performing Arts).  Her solo performance piece N/A, developed with Zaraawar Mistry, premiered at Asian Arts Initiative in Philadelphia and was remounted at Dreamland Arts in Saint Paul, as part of The Origin(s) Project.

Katie Hae Leo is creating an original and beautiful new American voice, one that penetrates far below the surfaces of our realities and histories.”
-David Mura, Author of
Turning Japanese and Famous Suicides of the Japanese Empire

She has received two Pushcart Prize nominations, The Academy of American Poets’ James Wright Prize, The Minnesota Emerging Writer Award, and a Gesell Award for nonfiction, as well as funding from the Arizona Commission on the Arts, Minnesota State Arts Board, Metropolitan Regional Arts Council (MRAC), and Southeast Minnesota Arts Council (SEMAC).  She has been a two-time participant in The Loft Literary Center’s Mentor Series, once for poetry (mentors: Elizabeth Alexander, G.E. Patterson) and once for nonfiction (mentors: Toi Derricotte, Patricia Weaver Francisco), as well as a two-time participant in The Playwrights’ Center’s Many Voices Program.

Before she decided to focus on writing, Katie was an actor in the Twin Cities and worked with companies like Mu Performing Arts, MaMa mOsAiC Theatre, The Guthrie, Pangea World Theater, Red Eye, Outward Spiral, and The History Theater.  She has also worked as an organizer for numerous groups, including Asian Pacific Community in Action (APCA), the National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum (NAPAWF), OCA-Greater Phoenix Chapter, the 2011 National APIA Spoken Word & Poetry Summit, MN Advocates for Human Rights International Women’s Day, and the Twin Cities leg of Still Present Pasts, a national touring exhibit centered around the Korean War.

Most recently, Katie worked as Director of Philanthropy for the ACLU of South Carolina, based in Charleston.  In June of 2019, she returned to Minnesota, where she currently serves as the inaugural Development Director at Springboard for the Arts, Saint Paul’s groundbreaking arts and community development organization.