Over 80 professional storytellers featured below have joined the RaceBridges initiative in sharing their stories about race relations and inclusion.
You will find some brief bio information below about these wonderful professionals who are using the magic of storytelling to share the urgent call for a more just world. Sometimes with humor, sometimes with anger, always with passion and hope.
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Christopher Agostino has enjoyed a 30-year adventure in theater, storytelling, facepainting and bodypainting as chronicled in his book Transformations! The Story Behind the Painted Faces. He combines these arts in a unique performance style called StoryFaces. This piece is a synthesis of lessons learned through his explorations of world cultures and the art of transformation. Before Cave Walls…the story on our skin is a full-length educational presentation on the history and cultural significance of masks and body art. Samantha Desom, medical student, models for the story.
Charlotte Blake Alston
Charlotte Blake Alston is a storyteller, narrator, instrumentalist and singer who performs in venues throughout North America and abroad including the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, the Smithsonian Institution, the Kimmel Center, the Women of the Word Festival in Cape Town, South Africa, a refugee camp in northern Senegal plus prisons, detention centers and major festivals, museums, universities and concert halls.
Originally from Japan, Karin Amano was trained in Japanese traditional song, dance, and theater. After performing in numerous Japanese theaters and on TV, she moved to New York City and performed in off-off Broadway productions including Shakespeare plays, one-woman shows, storytelling, and musicals. From 1997 to 2000, she also emceed the Enjoy Japan Festival at Carnegie Hall. She was hired as an actor by Walt Disney World in Florida in 1999 and performed as a full-time actor/storyteller at Epcot till 2010. She still performs there as a storyteller for Holidays Around the World every year. Recently she has been telling Japanese Folktales at cultural festivals, Young Authors Conference, Asian American Storytelling Summit, schools and libraries in Chicago, St. Louis, Kansas City and Orlando.
Brenda Wong Aoki
Brenda Wong Aoki is a writer, performer and recording artist. Weaving together Japanese Noh and Kyogen theater, dance and everyday life experience her plays have been produced in the U.S. Japan, China, Singapore, Australia and Austria. She has been awarded National Endowment Theater Fellowships, Drama-logue Awards, INDIE awards for Best Spoken Word recordings, a Critics’ Circle Award, and continued ASCAP Innovation Awards for new libretto. She is the first nationally recognized Asian Pacific Storyteller in the nation (NSN Circle of Excellence Award 2014). Her stories are part of the California Collection at the Library of Congress Folk Life Center. Her commissioners include the Japan Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation, the Asian Arts Council, U.S. Congress, the City of San Francisco and the NEA. Brenda has deep roots in San Francisco. Her paternal grandfather was a founder of Japantown in the 1890’s, and her maternal grandmother was a leader of the first Chinatown garment union in the 1920’s. She is a founding faculty member of the Institute for Diversity in the Arts (IDA) at Stanford University and continues to teach and perform internationally.
Mama Edie McLoud Armstrong
Mama Edie McLoud Armstrong, an African Native American, is a bilingual storyteller, voiceover artist and percussionist of the Drum Divas. She travels the world, weaving songs into stories in Yoruba, Twi, Sanskrit, English, Cherokee, Sign Language and Spanish. She seamlessly blends Spanish and English into tailor-made interactive performances for students and adults. She was awarded a National Storytelling Network Grant and a RaceBridges Fellowship for her residency “What About the Children?” encouraging refugee children to tell their own stories. Mama Edie’s personal, historical and folk tales encourage self-knowledge and empowerment, learning to see the light in everyone, and daring all to make a difference.
Sheila Arnold has been gifted by God with performance skills and has been using this talent since she was eight years old. Since 2003 she has been a full-time Storyteller traveling through the United States and sharing a variety of stories – “whatever tells good in her mouth”, as well as doing Historic Character Presentations and Christian Monologues.
Carrie Sue Ayvar
Carrie Sue Ayvar, an award winning, Arabic surnamed, Eastern European Jewish woman from Pittsburgh, PA tells stories that flow effortlessly between Spanish and English. As a storyteller, speaker, Teaching Artist and Chautauqua Scholar, she loves to connect people, languages and cultures via shared stories. Believing, as her grandfather taught her, that “If you don’t know the trees, you may be lost in the forest, but if you don’t know the stories, you may be lost in life”, she guides her listeners through cross-cultural experiences in her performances at venues large and small throughout the U.S. and Mexico.
Award winning storyteller/playwright Robin Bady is based in Brooklyn, and performs and teaches across the United States and Europe. Her repertoire includes world tales, Jewish stories, social satire, oral histories, literature, ghost experiences and personal stories.
Zahra Glenda Baker
Zahra Glenda Baker is a vocalist, storyteller and teaching artist. She has worked in collaboration with musicians, poets and storytellers for the past 30 years. She loves to research and to connect personal experiences with historical events and political action. She has long-term partnerships with Emily Hooper Lansana as a partner in their Performance duo: In the Spirit. She also enjoys a musical and storytelling partnership with Shanta Nurullah as ShaZah.
Born and raised in Jerusalem, Noa Baum trained in theatre at Te-Aviv University, studied acting with Uta Hagen and received and MA in Educational Theater from NYU. Since 1982, she’s performed and led workshops internationally and crated award-winning CDs. Her one woman show and new memoir A Land Twice Promised-An Israeli Woman’s Quest for Peace-recounts her journey from girlhood in post-Holocaust Israel to her adult encounter with “the other.” She’s a recipient of multiple Individual Artist Awards from The Maryland State Arts Council and The Arts and Humanities Council of Montgomery County.
Carol Birch is an internationally acclaimed storyteller, author, workshop leader, lecturer, recording artist, and director of storytelling recordings who has been a featured storyteller six times at the National storytelling Festival in Jonesborough, Tennessee. Her concerts for adults include the story of Lou Gehrig and works by John Steinbeck and Ray Bradbury, while others celebrate immigrants, women, and love.
Judith Black’s wide-ranging repertoire includes adult theater pieces, original stories based on the real lives of America’s unsung heroes and heroines, stories for religious communities, women’s stories, and programs for school audiences that include traditional folklore and original pieces. She also leads workshops for students, educators, storytellers, religious educators, and natural and historic interpreters.
Kucha is a rogue English major who believes in sharing stories—from books, from experiences, from history, from the news, wherever the messages that resonate with truth and beauty can be found. She shares stories and songs with all age groups and believes that the more we know about one another, the more likely we are to realize that we have more in common than differences. She is cofounder of Ase: The Chicago Association of Black Storytellers and works with youth, teaching storytelling.
British born Geraldine Buckley is an award-winning storyteller, speaker, writer and educator who shares folk tales, and true stories based on her own globe-trotting adventures, at festivals, schools, theatres, house-concerts, colleges and conferences. Until January 2010 Geraldine was a chaplain at the largest men’s prison in Maryland and she is currently developing middle school storytelling projects and curriculum aimed at keeping at-risk teenagers out of jail. Known for her warmth, wit and humor, Geraldine lives in Frederick, Maryland, but she is an audience favorite on three continents – her most recent trip was a storytelling and speaking tour of New Zealand.
An internationally known performer, a produced playwright, a published poet and fiction writer, a lauded director and dramaturg, an award-winning recording artist, a storytelling revival archivist, an educator, and scholar, Milbre Burch is a storyteller in every sense of the word. In 2012 her teaching and touring schedule took her to Seville, Spain, Dublin, Ireland, Shropshire, England andWashington, DC. She received an NSN Oracle Award in 1999 and was nominated for a spoken word GRAMMY in 2007.
Margaret Burk is a storyteller and writer. She believes there is power in story to touch the heart, embolden the spirit, and remind us of the greatest of human potential! Margaret is President of Illinois Storytelling Inc. and co-hosts two monthly storytelling venues in Oak Park/River Forest, IL. Margaret has co-authored four books on scripture for children.
Jasmin Cardenas is a bilingual storyteller and 1st generation American born to Colombian parents. Her repertoire includes ancient myths and legends from the Americas, as well as person stories, for all ages that tell about the joys and challenges of growing up bi-cultural. A recipient of The Race Bridges Storytelling Fellowship, Jasmin performed this story at the 2016 National Storytelling Festival as an Exchange Place teller.
Shannon Cason is a writer and award-winning storyteller. He has shared his stories on large stages, dive bars, and small living rooms. Shannon is Chicago’s first Moth GrandSLAM champion and has hosted shows for The Moth throughout the country. He has been heard on NPR, WBEZ, WGN and many other programs and podcasts. He hosts his own storytelling podcast called Homemade Stories, available on iTunes.
Cynthia Changaris heard stories as an adult for the first time at the Corn Island Storytelling festival in 1983. She became immediately connected to Storytelling and has been studying stories and telling ever since. Cynthia believes stories connect us to each other, to our past, to our future, and celebrates our common humanity.
Ada Cheng was a tenured professor in sociology at DePaul University in Chicago for 15 years. Her areas of expertise included gender, sexuality, immigration, and race. She resigned from her position to become a full-time storyteller, improviser, and a standup comic. She is a one-time Moth story slam winner, a presenter at National Storytelling Network’s Conference, and a runner-up at Bughouse Square Debates.
Arif Choudhury is a storyteller, filmmaker, and stand-up comic who shares a tapestry of stories about growing up in one of the Chicago area’s few Bangladeshi-Muslim families. Focusing on issues of ethnic and religious identity, immigration, assimilation and diversity, Choudhury explores the humor in how we think about and relate to one another.
Rives Collins is a storyteller, a theatre director, and an Associate Professor at Northwestern University. He recently offered the keynote address at the National Conference of the National Storytelling Network, a talk that he will be reprising at an international symposium in South Africa in the spring of 2017. He is the co-author of The Power of Story: Teaching Through Storytelling, and is especially fond of telling stories to children and families.
For over twenty years, Kevin Cordi has told stories in over forty states, England, and Japan. His story work has been commissioned by the National Youth Storytelling Hall of Fame, Newsweek, and The Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. As a story teacher he is considered one of the nation’s primary advocates for youth storytelling.
Carmen Agra Deedy
Carmen Deedy grew up hearing stories in the Cuban community within Decatur, GA. The love of stories that she acquired as a young person was solidified the first time she experienced The National Storytelling Festival as a listener. Since then she has gone on to tell Nationally and Internationally. Deedy has authored numerous children’s books, among them a New York Times Bestseller, 14 Cows for America. She is the recipient of various literary awards, and is the Emmy-winning host of Love That Book, a children’s book program, produced in her home state of Georgia. A frequent speaker to adults, children remain her favorite audiences.
Nancy Donoval is the 2010 National Story Slam Champion. Coming to storytelling 26 years ago from a background as a theater director, she is a highly respected storyteller and story coach specializing in finding humor in the hard stuff. Nancy tours her one-woman show “The Road to Shameless” to campuses nationwide to promote sexual violence prevention. Originally from Chicago, she now makes her home in Minneapolis.
MaryGay Ducey learned about stories in the best way possible—from family. Descended from Southern women who treasured a sassy mouth, she grew up in New Orleans with its rituals and play. She has appeared twice at the National Storytelling Festival and on Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood. She is also a children’s librarian in Oakland, California.
Website: not available
Email: not available
Kate Dudding has told stories since 1995 and has a special interest in giving voice to people from the past, people who have made a difference in their communities and the world. Kate has created two websites advocating for storytelling in education: Storytelling – It’s News! and Storytelling in Schools.
Eldrena Duomo is a professional storyteller who travels throughout the United States sharing stories from her American Indian background and presents workshops on creative writing and storytelling. Her experience as a storyteller began as a child listening to her Pueblo family members and other adults in her community tell stories about life experiences, history and folktales. Today, Eldrena continues to develop stories of her own unique creation which stand to become as much a part of her rich heritage as the traditional stories she grew up with.
Parents’ Choice Award winner Motoko blends her hilarious and poignant tales from Asia with mime, songs and origami. A native of Osaka, Japan, Motoko has performed in schools, libraries, and festivals across the U.S. since 1993. Her featured appearances include PBS’ “Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood”, the National Storytelling Festival, and Carnegie Kids in Miyazaki, sponsored by Carnegie Hall.
Whether he’s singing about catfish, pontificating on possums, extolling the virtues of dandelions, pondering the “nature” in human nature, telling wild snake tales or wailing out a jivey harmonica tune, storyteller, Doug Elliott, will take you on an unforgettable, multifaceted cultural tour of North America’s back country.
Telling personal tales, Appalachian and Texas tales, and stories of heroic American women, Elizabeth Ellis’s storytelling journey has taken her from her local library to as far away as New Zealand. Her workshops, storytelling intensives, and interactive keynotes open doors for participants to communicate on a deeper level, and her school and library performances enhance curriculum, promote character education, stimulate reading, and celebrate diversity.
Andrea Jane Fain
Andrea Fain is a storyteller and published poet. She spent many years working in Chicago Public Schools and even more years working as a community activist. Her stories and poetry capture real life moments and weave in memories from her past. She tells it “like it is” and “like it was”.
Diane Ferlatte continues to focus on schools and libraries as much as possible because she believes this is where the tradition of storytelling is to be nurtured and the lessons of the stories most need to be heard. In fact, she was honored to be featured in Language of Literature, McDougal Littell’s latest textbook series for middle school grades.
Gerald Fierst is one of America‘s most acclaimed storytellers. As a performer, he has appeared throughout the US, in Europe, and in Asia, telling original stories, stories from his own Jewish tradition, and stories from world folklore; as a writer and teacher, he has worked for school systems and universities across the US, leading workshops for teachers and students in writing and performance. He has served as a Co-director of the MidAtlantic Storytellers‘ Gathering, as a member of the board of The New York Storytelling Center, and as artistic director of the Jewish Storytelling Center at the 92nd St Y in NYC.
A fourth generation storyteller, Lyn Ford shares stories seasoned with humor, hope, and her multicultural African American family’s storytelling wisdom. She is an Ohio teaching artist who has facilitated workshops for literacy, early childhood education, storytelling, and diversity events across the country.
Heather Forest, Ph.D. is a noted storyteller, musician, recording artist, children’s book author, and storytelling educator. For the past thirty-five years, she has toured her performance repertoire of world folktales told in a fusion of original music, guitar, poetry, prose and the sung and spoken word to theatres, schools, conferences and major storytelling festivals throughout the United States and abroad. An award-winning author, she has published seven children’s picture books, three folktale anthologies, eight audio recordings of storytelling and a popular educational web site Story Arts Online http://www.storyarts.org.
Ms. Forest holds a Master’s Degree in Storytelling from East Tennessee State University and a Ph.D. In Leadership and Change from Antioch University. She is a recipient of the Circle of Excellence Award presented by the National Storytelling Network.
Julie Ganey is an actress and writer in Chicago, where her original solo shows The Half-Life of Magic and Love Thy Neighbor…till it hurts have received multiple productions. She is a company member at 2nd Story, a professional collective of writers and storymakers, and her work has appeared in their recently published anthology and also on NPR. Julie is especially proud of her work as a teaching artist with students of all ages.
Elizabeth Gomez is a Chicago-based comedian, storyteller, writer, and experienced napper. She is a founder of the Windy City Rollers (all female roller derby league); cast member of the Kates; storytelling teacher for Fear Experiment; and has performed at The Laugh Factory, Drop Comedy Club, Zanies, and Chicago Women’s Funny Festival. Her biggest dream is to live the rest of her life without tucking her skirt into her pantyhose
Nestor was born in Guatemala and has lived as a naturalized citizen in Chicago for the last twenty plus years. He is currently working on a novel, a collection of poems and a solo storytelling show.
For the past 25 years, Linda has engaged audiences with interactive folktales, distinctive myths, notably twisted fairy tales, riveting well-researched historical stories, and humorously heartfelt stories about family life. In 2016 Linda was awarded the Distinguished National Service Award by the National Storytelling Network. She also received the Linda Jenkins Brown Nia Award for Service from the National Association of Black Storytellers. Linda was a 2016 ‘Featured Teller’ at the Timpanogos Storytelling Festival in Orem, Utah and as a ‘New Voice Teller’ at the National Storytelling Festival in Jonesborough, Tennessee and a “Teller in Residence” at the International Storytelling Center in 2015.
Bill Harley is a storyteller, songwriter and author known for his work with families and children. He has won two Grammys for his spoken word recordings. His recording of Freedom Songs, I’m Gonna Let It Shine was named a best album of the year by Entertainment Weekly
Yvonne Healy was born in Ireland, but grew up on an American Main Street with Irish language, stories and culture. Her unique tales come from Irish myth, folk life and history. She has spent decades in professional storytelling, writing, acting, and improvisation and teaching college courses, conference workshops, and artist residencies.
Judith Heineman’s stories include tales of the Jewish tradition and around the world, the darker side of traditional fairy tales, and nature-based myths and legends. With musician Daniel Marcotte, she presents songs and stories from ancient Mesopotamia and Egypt. Her work has been commissioned by the Oriental Institute Museum at the University of Chicago, the Chicago Historical Society, and the Museum of Science and Industry, among others.
Megan Hicks is a storyteller, writer, and mixed media “trash artist.” Her storytelling credits include the National Storytelling Festival, regional festivals, schools and libraries throughout the U.S., and tours on three continents. She lives in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Gwendolyn Hilary, former librarian and educator, has been sharing stories that spark the imagination and touch the soul for more than 25 years. She regularly performs with Enoch Williamson, world-renowned musician, and together they create an energetic fusion of music and the spoken word. Gwen especially enjoys sharing multicultural folktales and the history, contributions, and powerful
Steven H. Hobbs is a storyteller, educator, lawyer, poet, ethicist, historian, quilter, entrepreneur, consultant, actor, community organizer, and world traveler. Steven sees himself as a storyframer, one who structures stories around history, law, entrepreneurship, culture and life. He likes to share stories of wisdom, humor and the triumph of the human spirit.
Priscilla Howe has a gift for sizing up audiences and delivering a whopping good time. A former librarian, she has been a full-time storyteller since 1993. She’s not easy to pigeonhole—Priscilla is as comfortable with kids in Juvenile Detention as she is with preschoolers as she is with elders in retirement communities. She tells a mix of stories from books, folktales and her own stories, most
with a generous dollop of humor. Priscilla lives in Lawrence, Kansas and travels the region, the country and the world telling stories.
Archy Jamjun is a writer and storyteller from Chicago. He is a graduate of Second City’s Writing Program and an MFA candidate in Creative Writing at Roosevelt University. In 2015, he won The Moth Grand Slam in Chicago. His fictional story Jai Awn was published by The Coachella Review’s Summer 2016 Edition and you can see more of Archy’s work on YouTube.
Eunice listened to personal stories of family and friends for many years before she knew social storytelling was “a thing.” Retired from classroom teaching and mental health work, she studies and performs stand-up comedy and storytelling in the Midwest.
Carol Kerman is a storyteller, story educator and drama specialist. Her folktales are full of energy and engage the audience to participate through chants and movement and help children be “smart from the heart.” Her personal stories hope to spark in her listeners their own stories.
Storyteller, author, musician and educator Dan Keding grew up with his Croatian grandmother filling him with the stories of the old country. He has pursued this passion for over forty years telling at some of the most prestigious venues both nationally and internationally. He has won numerous awards including the ALA Notable Recording for Children, nine Storytelling World Awards, and two Anne Izard Storytelling Choice Awards. In 2000 he was awarded The Circle of Excellence by the National Storytelling Network. Dan is an adjunct lecturer at the University of Illinois in the Graduate School of Library and Information Science. He has over a dozen recordings and six published books and travels worldwide telling stories. He lives in Urbana, Illinois with his wife, Tandy Lacy, and their Australian Shepherd, Mac.
Robert Kikuchi-Ynogo, together with his storyteller wife, Nancy Wang, founded Eth-Noh-Tec in 1982. This is is a kinetic story theater company based in San Francisco, weaving [tec] together distinctive cultural elements of the East and West [eth] to create new possibilities [noh]. Eth-Noh-Tec produces and performs contemporary presentations of traditional folktales from the many countries and cultures of Asia through storytelling, theater, dance, and music. Robert is available for performances in schools and colleges solo, or with his wife as Eth-NohTec.
Susan Klein is noted for a variety of presentations involving Story. She tours her one woman shows internationally in theaters, at conferences, and at special events. Her highly acclaimed storytelling and memoir writing workshops are held annually on Martha’s Vineyard and around the nation and in Europe. Her substantial repertoire includes selections from the world body of folklore and myth, literary stories, rites of passage and love stories for adults of all ages.
Kevin Kling, playwright, author, and storyteller, has had his plays and adaptations performed around the world. His commentaries can be heard on NPR’s All Things Considered and he has been awarded numerous arts grants and fellowships. He travels around the globe to numerous storytelling festivals and residencies and has released a number of CD collections of his stories.
Archana Lal-Tabak, M.D.
Archana Lal-Tabak, M.D. is an Integrative Physician, Storyteller, Speaker, Writer, and Visual Artist. Archana completed the Honors Program in Medicine at Northwestern University and practices Ayurveda, Homeopathy, Holistic Psychiatry, Nutrition and Mind-Body-Soul Integration into Wellness & Wholeness. She is often a guest on television, radio and speaks to groups throughout the U.S.. She is a Co-Founder of Heart of Transformation Wellness Institute in Evanston, IL with her husband, Jim. Archana was raised in a Punjabi Hindu family from India and now practices Interfaith & Trans-denominational Spirituality.
Erica Lann Clark’s has performed in storytelling festivals, as an Artist in the Schools, and as a scholar in residence with congregations of many faiths. She is the Associate Director of Storytelling for Stagebridge, a senior theater company based in Oakland, and she hosts a storytelling radio show on KKUP Cupertino, 91.5 FM.
Emily Hooper Lansana
Emily Hooper Lansana, noted storyteller and educator, is the former Director of Education at Lincoln Center Theater. Her experience includes teaching storytelling and performance at: Columbia College, Chicago State University, the University of Chicago, The Guild Complex and in the Public School Schools. In addition to her performance work, she currently serves as Arts-in-Education consultant for ETA Creative Arts Foundation and Muntu Dance Theater.
Website: not available
Syd Lieberman is an internationally acclaimed storyteller, an author, and an award-winning teacher. Many of his best-loved stories deal with growing up and raising a family in Chicago. He is also known for his original historical pieces and his signature versions of Jewish and literary tales. Syd’s work has garnered awards from ALA, Parent’s Choice, and Storytelling World. He has taught storytelling at the Kennedy Center and Disney World, and received commissions from NASA; the Smithsonian Institution; Johnstown, Pennsylvania; Historic Philadelphia; and the Van Andel Museum Center.
“Diagonally parked in a parallel world”, Angela Lloyd sees the art of storytelling as a way to tell what we see. A teaching artist, worker of the word and musician, Angela was raised abroad with three languages: English, Spanish and music.
Before she was a storyteller, Latina American Olga Loya was many things. Like many of her storytelling colleagues, she spent years working as a teacher. (She even founded her own alternative school after a few years in the public school system.) The classroom is a gateway for many professional performers who learned their trade in front of a demanding audience of students.
Rebecca Mabanglo-Mayor has been performing stories based on Filipino folktales and Filipino-American history as a member of the Bellingham Storyteller’s Guild since 2004. As a creative, culturally-inspired entertainer with a Tagalog/Ilocano/Pangasinan heritage, she encourages others to celebrate their uniqueness within community. She has worked closely with indigenous peoples of the Philippines, British Columbia, Canada, and Coast Salish Nations to advocate the preservation of traditional knowledge through story. A desire for wholeness drives her art and weaves past and present, folktale with fact, and subjectivity with objectivity, into works that entertain and enliven others.
Diane Macklin storyteller has delighted audiences for over 15 years, sharing tales through a “dynamic” style seasoned with rhythm, sounds, and movement, engaging listeners of all ages. She has performed from Massachusetts to California for venues such as the National Air and Space Museum, Cincinnati’s Playhouse in the Park, Wolf Trap’s Theatre-in-the-Woods, and the National Storytelling Festival’s Exchange Place. As a performer,certified educator, and writer, Diane believes in “Making a difference, One Story at a Time.”
Michael D. McCarty
Michael McCarty (“Have Mouth Will Run It“™) is a multicultural storyteller of African, African-American and International Folk tales, Historical tales, Stories of Science, Spiritual stories as well as stories of the brilliant and absolutely stupid things he has done in his life. His stories inform, educate, inspire and amuse. His storytelling style is energetic and enthusiastic.
Earliana “Earl” McLaurin is a Chicago-based actor, writer, and teaching artist. Earliana has worked with such companies as Stockyard’s Theatre Project, Hell in a Handbag Productions, and is a company member with 2nd Story storytelling collective.
Onawumi Jean Moss
Onawumi Jean Moss is a storyteller, narrator, keynote speaker and author. This talking book and rhythm master encourages pride of heritage, appreciation of cultural differences and recognition of kinship. Onawumi’s sponsor-supported solo performances, keynotes, workshops and residencies inspire imagination, motivation, reflection and inquiry.
Loren Niemi has spent more than a quarter century as a professional storyteller, creating, collecting, performing and teaching stories to audiences of all ages in urban and rural settings. In 2001 he created Public Policy Project, working with Children’s Home Society & Family Services (St. Paul, MN), helping low-wealth and communities of color shape and tell stories that illuminate issues of race, equity and social change.
Bobby Norfolk’s national and international community and educational programs promote positive character education traits and cultural diversity, literacy, drug awareness, nature, and history. He delights audiences with his first person living history and musical programs, and his workshops and keynotes are favorites among educators, corporations, festivals, and conventions.
Jay O’Callahan, recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts fellowship, has performed his original work with the Boston Symphony Orchestra, at the Abbey Theatre in Dublin, Lincoln Center and in theatres throughout the United States. Time Magazine called his work “genius.”
Andy Offutt Irwin
Susan O’Halloran is a story artist, writer, television personality and keynote speaker. Her stories focus on family, a sense of place and how our past affects our present and future. She is the author of several books and diversity curricula plus a producer of multicultural performances and films. In addition, Sue teaches diversity and inclusion seminars in Fortune 500 companies and Graduate Schools of Business and Story Power seminars for nonprofits.
The daughter of a writer and librarian, Laura Packer has been telling stories her whole life. She has told and taught around the world and is the winner of the Brother Blue Award and the National Storytelling Network’s Oracle Award. When she isn’t telling or teaching, Laura works with organizations to help them understand the value of storytelling and listening.
A native Mainer of French-Canadian descent, Michael Parent has performed as a storyteller and singer, in both English and French, throughout the United States, and beyond, since 1977. He has been featured at many events, including the National Storytelling Festival in Jonesborough, Tennessee, and international events in France, England, Ireland, Poland, and New Zealand. In addition to his performances in schools, libraries, theaters, and festivals, Michael also leads storytelling, story writing, and performance workshops.
Over the past fifteen years, Jo Radner has performed in theaters, festivals, conferences, schools, colleges, and at community events. She creates personal and family tales as well as stories about the people and history of Maine. She leads storytelling workshops for children and adults and also conducts fieldwork and oral history projects for communities, veterans’ organizations, and other groups.
Patricia J. Redd, given the storytelling name of Serenity, has captivated diverse audiences of all ages with style and grace. She has been telling stories professionally for over 15 years and tells tales of yesterday, transforming tomorrows through folk, cultural and personal stories. An educator for over 30 years, she has been a teacher, has held leadership roles as principal for both the private and public sector; currently she is the Director of Community Schools for the University of Chicago School of Social Service Administration.
Connie Regan-Blake has entertained audiences in 47 states and 16 countries, bringing the wisdom, humor, and drama of stories to main stage concert halls, libraries, and the corporate world. She has been featured on seven award-winning recordings, both as a solo artist and a member of the acclaimed Folktellers duo, and at the nation’s top folk music and storytelling festivals.
Antonio Rocha, a native of Brazil, began his career in the performing arts in 1985. His unique solo shows of stories and mime have been performed from Singapore to Hawaii and many places in between including ten countries on five continents.
Gail Rosen trained in theater and special education and as a bereavement facilitator and educator, she leads hospice and adult bereavement camps. Her programs include Jewish storytelling, Holocaust oral history, wisdom stories, folk tales, literary stories, and personal adventures. Gail is the founder of the Healing Story Alliance, a special interest group of the National Storytelling Network.
Arianna Ross and her company, Story Tapestries,create international, dynamic programs that weave the power of storytelling, dance, theatre, and music. She is known for her ability to entertain and educate children and adults with equal success. For over 14 years, Arianna has performed and taught workshops across the United States, India, and Brazil in festivals, concert halls, colleges, libraries and schools.
Antonio Sacre, born in Boston to a Cuban father and Irish-American mother, is an internationally touring writer, storyteller, and solo performance artist based in Los Angeles. He earned a BA in English from Boston College and an MA in Theater Arts from Northwestern University. He has performed at the National Book Festival at the Library of Congress, the Kennedy Center, the National Storytelling Festival, and museums, schools, libraries, and festivals internationally.
Autumn, Misty & Amber Saskill
Florida born Autumn Joy Kornreich Saskill is an eighteen year-old college junior currently studying to be an interpreter for the Deaf. Recipient of national awards for excellence in youth storytelling, Autumn has told stories to many groups including the National Storytelling Pre-Conference (St. Louis, MO); Ebony Talent Association (Chicago, IL); the Sterling, IL Storytelling Festival, and the National Association of Black Storytellers Festival (Atlanta, GA); and has presented her own workshop series, The Art of Creating Stories, for hundreds of children from area schools. Autumn uses her special gifts as a singer, pianist, professional voice-over artist and multilingual Storyteller to embody the talent of today’s youth.
Misty Saskill is a storyteller and poet par excellence that is fluent in Spanish and Haitian Creole and has spent extensive time as a workshop presenter and volunteer in the Dominican Republic. She is part of a multilingual storytelling family that brings a unique blend of language, music, movement, and teaching to their high demand interactive tandem-tag-team performances. Misty has been recognized throughout the United States for her storytelling and poetry and is published in the National Association of Black Storytellers’ anthology, Sayin’
Born in Evanston, Illinois, Amber Saskill is a talented storyteller who has performed stories and songs in English, Spanish, French and Russian in schools, museums, libraries and festivals around the world. As a youth, in the year 2000 the National Storytelling Youth Olympics Committee chose Amber from among thousands to be the National Ambassador of youth storytellers. As an adult, she continues to perform individually and with her family that is one of the premiere multilingual storytelling troupes in America.
Sadarri Saskill is a Chicago-born writer, educator and multilingual storyteller whose work is seasoned with cultural richness and diversity. Sadarri is part of a vivacious family of teaching artists offering programs worldwide for audiences of all ages; taking her performances to places like Haiti, Spain, France and North America including the Exchange Place at the National Storytelling Festival and the International Storytelling Center – both in Jonesborough, TN; NABS Festivals in San Diego and Atlanta; and the International Art of Storytelling Festival in Miami. Specializing in multi-cultural literacy, their stories and songs have also been showcased in numerous award-winning audio and video recordings.
For Barbara Schutzgruber, stories are the threads that connect the world. A freelance performer since 1985, she performs for audiences of all ages across the United States, weaving images from the depths of your imagination and sharing the threads of life through folktales, ballads, and personal stories of resilience. As a recording artist, she has won two Parents’ Choice Gold Awards, an American Library Association Notable Award, and two Storytelling World Awards.
Leeny Del Seamonds
Leeny Del Seamonds is a multi award-winning, internationally acclaimed master performer of Hispanic/Latino, original and World stories spiced with exquisite mime, a cornucopia of characters, and love of people. With a twinkle in her eye and fire in her heart, Leeny breathes life into her stories, as she masterfully and effortlessly springs from one story character to another.
Shanta is a nationally known storyteller who blends traditional folktales, contemporary stories, and world instruments in exciting and inspiring presentations. Since 1978 Shanta has been presenting storytelling programs at festivals, colleges, museums, schools and libraries throughout the U.S. She brings a unique blend of music and message to her work.
Nancy Shapiro-Pikelny is a teacher, storyteller and ‘oral archaeologist’ who uncovers and brings to the stage, narrative layers of history, folktales and family legends. Her stories come from Jewish life in Eastern Europe to the Middle East, her ancestors’ immigrant experiences in America and her original work. Nancy has performed at schools, libraries and community events, including the National Storytelling Festival Exchange Place, Piccolo Spoleto, the Chicago Jewish Folk Arts Festival and the Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education Center.
Like many Japanese-American families, Anne Shimojima’s family didn’t talk about their experiences during World War II. Gathering family photographs and interviewing a 91-year-old aunt opened the way to uncovering the story, and helped Anne to articulate her own identity as a Japanese-American. Anne performs folk tales, literary stories, and historical pieces in schools, libraries, museums, and festivals, and gives workshops on the use of storytelling in education and the creation of family history projects.
Judy Sima is one of Michigan’s favorite award-winning storytellers, author, and teaching artist. She has been featured at conferences and festivals, schools and libraries across the country. She is co-author of Raising Voices: Creating Youth Storytelling Groups and Troupes.
Laura Simms is an internationally-renowned storyteller, writer and advocate for healing, transformation and community change through engaged storytelling and mindfulness as compassionate action. This author of six books performs worldwide and is the artistic director of the Hans Christian Andersen Storytelling Center and the founder of GIRLS WRITE HAITI.
Kiran Singh Shira
Kiran Singh Shira is President of the International Storytelling Center, producers of the world-acclaimed National Storytelling Festival, based in Jonesborough, Tennessee. Kiran has established a number of award-winning arts, cultural and human rights programs used in the UK, Scotland and Northern Ireland. As a previous Rotary Peace Fellow Kiran’s many presentations have included a keynote address at the UN headquarters, entitled Telling Stories That Matter – a project that encourages the use of arts, culture and diverse storytelling within the international peace building community.
Joseph Sobol is a storyteller, musician, folklorist, and author of “The Storytellers’ Journey: An American Revival,” a history of the American storytelling movement. Since 2000 he has directed the Graduate Program in Storytelling at East Tennessee State University. He is currently Director of the George Ewart Evans Centre for Storytelling Research at University of South Wales.
Jon Spelman’s thirty years as a performer, storyteller, writer, teacher, and coach have won him awards and acclaim. He has developed more than thirty-two hours of narrative performance material, which he performs throughout the United States and Europe, and his work has been commissioned by Ford’s Theatre, The Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, and The Smithsonian Institution, among others. Jon also offers master classes and school and community residencies.
Jane Stenson is a storyteller, author, and master teacher who instills world folktales and personal stories with images and metaphors crafted from her love of nature and belief in diversity. Her stories stimulate and inspire her listeners to think more humanistically about each other and their place in the world. Jane is the co-author of three books on storytelling in the classroom.
Jim Stowell, award-winning actor, writer, director, and storyteller, has been producing theater in the Twin Cities for forty years. He has taught creative writing, performance, playwriting, and storytelling here and abroad. Jim has also written and performed eleven one-man plays and twelve full-cast plays.
Gene Tagaban, “One Crazy Raven,” is Cherokee, Tlingit and Filipino. For over 25 years, Gene has worked as an influential storyteller, trainer, speaker, mentor and performer. Through his culture and traditions, Gene facilitates workshops and gatherings, nationally and internationally, on empowerment, leadership, relationship, communication, self-awareness, prevention, spirit and honor to participants of all ages.
Alton Chung grew up with the stories, superstitions, and magic of the Hawaiian Islands. This combined with his Japanese and Korean roots, gives him a uniqueperspective to tell cultural tales and personal stories with a deep sense of reverence and authenticity.
Dovie Thomason learned Indian stories from her Apache and Lakota relatives, and has performed throughout the United States and internationally in schools, libraries, conferences, powwows, and festivals. The National Endowment has recognized her commitment to traditional cultural arts and education as a Master Traditional Teaching Artists for the Arts and she is a winner of the Parents’ Choice Gold Award, Storytelling World Honors Award, and the American Library Association/Booklist Editor’s Choice Award for her recordings of traditional Native stories.
DiGgSy Twain is a dreamer that envisions a world where people are more empathetic by understanding each other. He believes storytelling is a powerful tool to help people understand each other so he is on a mission to tell stories in the hopes that people will join him in promoting creativity, understanding, and silliness.
Gene Unterschuetz has been studying the dynamics of race since 1990 and engaged in field research on racial conditioning for the past 15 years. He and his wife, Phyllis, have traveled extensively around the country telling stories of their personal struggles to overcome their own racial conditioning. These anecdotes eventually became the basis for their book, Longing: Stories of Racial Healing, which was published in May 2010.
Phyllis Unterschuetz is the co-author with her husband Gene of Longing: Stories of Racial Healing, a white couple’s personal account of a journey that pulled them out of their comfortable notions about race and into the lives of people of African descent, where they faced their greatest challenge – their own racial conditioning. She has been engaged in field research on the dynamics of race for the past 15 years, sharing her stories of healing for organizations around the country. Phyllis is also a founding member of the Race Story ReWrite Project, a movement to claim authorship of our collective race story and write a new ending that reflects our inherent nobility.
Csenge Virág Zalka
Csenge Virág Zalka is a storyteller and former Fulbright student from Hungary, currently working on her PhD studies in the USA. She performs internationally, telling folktales and legends in three languages. As a storyteller and author she focuses on the merging of oral tradition and popular culture.
Nancy Wang, together with her storyteller husband Robert Kikuchi-Ynogo founded Eth-Noh-Tec in 1982. This is is a kinetic story theater company based in San Francisco, weaving [tec] together distinctive cultural elements of the East and West [eth] to create new possibilities [noh]. Eth-Noh-Tec produces and performs contemporary presentations of traditional folktales from the many countries and cultures of Asia through storytelling, theater, dance, and music. Nancy Wang is available for performances in schools and colleges solo, or with her husband as Eth-NohTec.
Donna Washington has been a storyteller for twenty-seven years. She’s travelled the world sharing stories with anyone who will listen. She lives in Durham, NC with her husband/business manager, and two cats named Love Bug, and Flash.
Pippa White calls her One’s Company Productions “part storytelling, part theatre, part history.” Her true stories are those of immigrants, pioneers, Orphan Train Riders, resistance fighters, reformers and other brave individuals who seek to better the world. She has performed in 31 states.
Scott Whitehair is an international storyteller, producer, and instructor living in Chicago, Illinois. Scott has been featured on NPR, Risk! Podcast, Sirius XM, as well as other media. He is producer of This Much Is True and StoryLabChicago and on the Board of the National Storytelling Network.
Marsha Wong has been telling stories all of her life. She has traveled around the world collecting and creating stories to fill her trunk. Her stories will educate, enlighten and entertain you in the most enthusiastic manner.
Nationally acclaimed storyteller, La’Ron Williams, shares stories that are educational, musical, and highly participatory. Drawing inspiration from the lessons of struggle, perseverance, and survival of Africans in the Western Hemisphere, Williams’ stories are noted for their ability to offer hope, and to provide alternatives to despair.
For more than 30 years, Linda Yemoto was “Ranger Linda” to thousands of kids and adults in the San Francisco Bay Area. Now retired from her career as a Park Naturalist, she continues to tell stories that convey an appreciation of natural and cultural history. Linda is Chair of the annual Bay Area Storytelling Festival.
Reverend Robert Jones
with Sister Bernice Jones
Rev. Robert Jones has more than twenty years of experience as a performer, musician, storyteller, radio producer/host and music educator. He has opened for and played with some of the finest musicians in the world. Still, Robert considers his greatest honor to be his call to the gospel of ministry. He currently performs with his wife of twenty-two years, Sister Bernice Jones.