Tonya Hays has an MFA in theatre with an emphasis in playwriting for young audiences. She is the founder and director of the nationally recognized WINGS Performing Arts program at the Lynn Meadows Discovery Center. The WINGS program is dedicated to nurturing talent, spirit and leadership in children and youth through the arts, community service and leadership training. WINGS strives to share the transcending and transforming power of the arts through inclusive and diverse experiences. Hays also serves as a teaching artist for the Mississippi Alliance for Arts Education and as an adjunct instructor at Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College and Mississippi State University. She lives on a Bayou in Gulfport, Miss., with her husband, Rick, and their two dogs, a boxer, Domino, and a pit bull rescue dog, Ju-ju.