Having grown up in a dance studio, Donna brings a theatricality to everyday life, usually involving accessories and embellishment. During her 35 years teaching high school Drama, Donna directed a lot of good stories. Her recent work with the underserved community has taken her down a new and heartbreaking path that requires no exaggeration. At home, she’s a collector of vintage costumes and anything kitsch. You say “Drama Queen” like it’s a bad thing.
Madeline (Maddie) Mitchell is a student at Miami University of Ohio and will be graduating this May with degrees in journalism and theatre. She's an Aurora native and attended Waubonsie Valley High School prior to Miami. Maddie has performed in multiple plays throughout her life, from being an ensemble member in Oklahoma! at age 5, to this past semester portraying the role of Kylie in Naomi Iizuka's Good Kids. Last summer she worked at The Cincinnati Enquirer as a breaking news intern, and at Miami she is an editor for the culture section of the student newspaper. Aside from her passion for storytelling, Maddie also has a passion for travel. She has been to 13 countries and is excited to add the United Kingdom to her list this June.
Alison Murphy is a writer and military brat, who spends most of her time teaching creative writing, taking her 10-year-old basset hound Murray to the park, and finishing up her first novel, about the second intifada in Israel and the Iraq War. She recently moved from Boston to Chicago, and likes Chicago better.
Charles Murphy is a musician and teacher who lives for the sound of several people singing together with varying degrees of accuracy. He was born and raised in north Alabama but has lived in Chicago the past 12 yearss.
Stacy Stoltz has been making theatre in Chicago for over 20 years. She’s an actor and she’s also directed and created documentary plays with Erasing the Distance. She’s a company member with The House Theatre of Chicago and has worked at a bunch of other theatre’s but her big moment was playing Stella in the critically acclaimed production of A Streetcar Named Desire at Writers’ Theatre. She recently started writing because waiting for satisfying roles for middle aged women was making her anxious. So she’s writing a play - which she finds both thrilling and terrifying. It’s saving her life. But it also might kill her. She’s very dramatic and she wishes she had more comedic instincts. Seriously. She loves story telling and she’s very excited about her recent discovery of Story Lab and the dozens of other story events that happen around Chicago. She lives in Bridgeport with her dog Ozzy and her husband - director, fight choreographer Matt Hawkins.
Paul is a Chicago based storyteller, teacher, and actor. He has told stories all over town at the Chicago Symphony Center, the Hull House, WBEZ, and Zanies. He is an arts educator and actor and has worked with Child's Play Touring Theatre, Pegasus Theatre, and Goodman Theatre. He can be seen in a number of commercials, web commercials, and independent films. Visit him at www.paulwhitehouse.net
Kevin Biolsi is a statistician and on-again, off-again empty nester who enjoys brewing beer and, every few years, attempting to learn to play the banjo. He first told stories in front of an audience in 2016 and found it to be more exhilarating than any drugs he’s ever taken, although to be honest, those have almost exclusively been analgesics and anti-inflammatories. He has performed two one-person shows, 0% Inspiration, 100% Perspiration and ‘Til This Show Do Us Part and has told stories at Moth StorySLAMs, First Person Live, and Do Tell: A Storytelling Event to Benefit the Evanston Dance Ensemble.
Carrie Campbell is a Chicago native and loves playing host and tour guide in this beautiful city; seriously, she'll take you on a made up tour through all the hot spots anytime. Currently, she works at Google. When she's not watching YouTube videos during work, she is off traveling (28 countries and counting), listening to podcasts, training for a triathlon (doing the Escape from Alcatraz in June!), or attending live events throughout the city. Ask her about the time her family and friends broke a Guinness Book of World's Record by visiting 172 bars in 14 hours. She charades competitively and karaokes with conviction. Always.
Lihy is the co-producer of Risqué Business - a performance event showcasing queer women, gender nonconforming and non binary folks. Business by day, community by night - when she isn't focused on keeping the family business going, you can find her slamming, storytelling or dragging across Chicago.
Aviva Levavi is an English as a Second Language teacher. Her adult students have enriched her life by telling their stories from around the world. Her other great inspiration is her dog who sees the world without borders and sometimes gets her in a lot of trouble. She is a world traveler, including spending 2 years in West Africa in the Peace Corps and riding her bicycle across the United States. She loves writing short stories, cooking for her family, gardening, and finding the next great story whether at the end of the block or around the world.
Jamie Morriss-Benoit moved to Chicago five years ago from southern California to work with youth on the far south side in Altgeld Gardens in a holistic after-school program. A lover of stories, words, and all things creative writing, you can generally find her nose in a book in her spare time, or listening to stories from friends, community neighbors, and The Moth (of course). She also enjoys camping and nature, summertime, and the smell of book pages. Her husband, David, and canine companion, Wiley, keep her company most days and make life pretty enjoyable.
Ted has spent much of his life making a living as a guitar/piano player. He also had 20-year sojourn molding the youth of America as a high school English teacher. Recently retired from youth molding, Ted is now playing as much music as possible. He is currently immersed in three main musical projects: Rockin’ with the renown 70’s tribute band Strung Out, leading oldies quartet Loretto Lane, and flying solo on his cocktail piano project featuring the great American song book.
Kim Calkins is a third generation librarian working in the western suburbs. She loves stories, both written and spoken, and believes her life has been saved by the stories others have shared. When she's not booking chefs, storytellers, and subversive cultural programs for her library, she can be found taking long walks or reading to her young son.
Kait Fieldman started out as a small-town jock and came of age as a full-blown suburban band nerd. She has taught music all over the state, picking up bits of theatre along way, and throws it all together to design shows for marching bands. Still on the hunt for what she wants to be when she grows up, Kait has taken a recent interest in ice hockey, office jobs, and now storytelling.
Faye Jacobs spent the first part of her life in Boston before settling in Chicagoland. Over the course of a very full life she has worn many hats; as a host of “Senior Stretch,” a cable TV show; as a volunteer for the Israeli Army (seriously), an ESL teacher and as a triathlete who at her first race in 1985 took 100th place….out of 101 racers (but really, whose counting?). Fear not; at subsequent triathlons, Faye has proven her mettle in the pool, on the bike and on foot. A natural storyteller, Faye illuminates the nuances of 21st-century life.
Beth Kander has lived in the rural Midwest, the East Coast, the Deep South, and currently works for one Mississippi nonprofit and two West Coast theatre companies while living in Chicago. Geographic gymnastics aside, Beth loves rescue dogs, BBC shows, travel, and Chicago staycations. She has graduate degrees in social work and creative writing, both of which helped her write a dystopian trilogy (the second book in her Original Syn series comes out this fall). She aspires to be a zen yogini, but is currently more accurately described as an over-caffeinated toddler-wrangler.
Graphic designer, illustrator, game artist, and hopelessly sleep deprived, Emilee Kieffer is kind of a walking stereotype of an artist (she even owns a cat, what artist DOESN'T own a cat?). When she's not slinging art, you can catch her at your local political protest or rally, dominating at karaoke, playing Fallout New Vegas, and collecting 70s Red Sonja comics.
A native St Louisian, Leah has called Chicago home for the last 15 years. As such, she can "claim" the Blackhawks but is also on the correct side of the provel cheese debate. By day, she is a "corporate storyteller", teaching economists how to communicate with other humans. By night, she does everything she can to not become a cat lady without denying her love of pajamas and naps.
Terilyn is a 25-year-old recovering homebody who has now lived in five states and traveled to twenty countries. She recently returned home to Chicago after a two month backpacking trip through Costa Rica, Panama, and Florida and is praying she doesn’t lose her tan before summer. Fingers crossed! Terilyn graduated magna cum laude from Connecticut College with a degree in Theater and American Studies, and has trained extensively around the world as an actor and playwright. Her original play “Lovelocked” is scheduled to premiere as a workshop in NYC during the spring of 2020. She also reads Tarot cards (I know, right?) and you can learn more about that at www.tarotbyterilyn.com.
Trevor Gertonson has had an interest in the arts since he was a child; Music, film and Stand Up were his favorites. In his school age years he took drama & music lessons. He started his first band at the age of 15. He wrote music for films which landed him a few cameos in independent films. After 13 years he wanted to give his true passion a chance and turned to stand up in 2010. He started in Minneapolis, Minnesota at the Acme Comedy Club where he was a semi-finalist in the 2010 Funniest Person in the Twin Cities Contest. He went on to perform his stand up throughout the Midwest and parts of the East and West Coast in rock venues and comedy clubs/festivals. He has been a regular at Gilda’s LaughFest in Grand Rapids, MI and the Elgin Fringe Festival. 2018 was his first year performing in the Milwaukee Comedy Festival. His first 30-minute special I've Seen better was released in 2012. He is also the creator of the comedy showcase DVD series Laugh You Bastards. Trevor’s stand up has been reviewed as “funny, weird and deeply human.” You should go see him. He would appreciate it.
Katherine Hermina, a Wisconsin native, has been a Chicago city girl the last 11 years. Her 10 year old German Shepherd has been a part of the adventure. Having a background in laboratory medicine along with a Masters in Business landed her the position of technical buyer by day. Driven by unnatural curiosity, Katherine set a goal a few years ago to experience new hobbies and explore this beautiful city while doing so during her free time in the evenings/weekends. Storytelling quickly became an area of fascination that she wanted to explore more. Along with Scott Whitehair’s class, her toastmasters club became a breeding ground for exploring different storytelling techniques and is still working on developing this skillset to become a better public speaker.
Rachel is a senior at Northwestern University where she studies Theatre, Dance, Playwriting, and Theatre for Young Audiences. She has been telling stories ever since she was little, but didn't realize her passion for it until she took Rives Collins' Intro to Storytelling class at school. Rachel was honored to be one of the NU tellers that told at this year's Evanston Storytelling Festival and is super excited about telling her first story with Story Lab Chicago. When Rachel isn't telling stories or getting ready to graduate, she loves to spend her time doing all things circus including Aerial Silks and Trapeze.
Jessica Schanberg grew up in NYC. She came to Chicago 12 years ago with only a hint of a job. She has been a graphic designer, writer, illustrator, and counselor. She is also the proud mama to 2 cats named Theo Monk and Lionel Hampton. Jessica is passionate about movies, Zumba and brunch.
Zach Selch, the VP of Sales for a high tech medical company, has traveled and sold in about 140 countries and has lived in 6, and loves nothing more than taking his family off the beaten path. As a child Zach lived in 13 places in his first 13 years, none of them places you’d probably want to grow up in. After his family broke up when he was 15, he was all on his own until he met his lovely Columbian archeologist wife and started their family of 3 children and a Corgi. He now lives in an apartment by the lake with 43 varietals of honey, 25 types of mustard and a dozen types of vermouth. His lovely wife would like to know if anybody wants some honey, mustard or vermouth. Zach was a paratrooper scout in two conflicts and a bunch of little disagreements, but has not aimed a gun at anybody in close to 30 years, and does not really miss it.
Matt grew up in the northern suburbs of Chicago and can proudly say he now lives downtown in a big kid apartment. Currently working in customer service, he is happy to be employed post grad and always looking for that next step- feel free to ask for his resumé. Matt is currently studying improv comedy at Second City as he has been passionate about it since college. Matt has many stories ranging from world travels to working retail and he hopes you enjoy his words!
Daina Lyons spent half her childhood south of Madison St. in Hyde Park and then the other half north of Madison St. in Edgewater. Graduating high school on a military base in Germany in 1982, she hightailed it back to Chicago to attend the Fiction Writing program at Columbia College for undergrad and an almost grad degree. She helped open Andersonville’s Swedish American Museum back during its founding on Clark Street and then spent years as a Chicago hotel concierge babysitting celebrities. Daina was also a weekly contributor re Chicago’s cultural offerings on WBEZ radio’s "Backstage Pass.” The show’s host Karl T Wright left for bigger in L.A. and the Fri eve time slot was taken by a new-in-town storyteller upstart named Ira Glass. Daina worked at Chicago’s 1st cell phone provider, Cellular One, developing marketing campaigns for “cellular telephones” back when they were bolted in your car and if you put the prototype handheld to your ear crowds gathered to stare at that weird thing. She’s currently an obsessed DNA genealogist. About to send the last of their 3 children to college, Daina and her husband will weep and then pour misplaced affection on their army of arrogant cats and one defeated dog.
Charlie has been performing around Chicago for the past 6 years, from plays (Murder at the WIP, Verbatim Verboten) to open mics (No Shame Theater), improv (Batsu) to one-man shows (Eagle Jackson, You're Not Depressed). He lives with his boyfriend, two cats, and a rat. His guilty pleasure is still-frozen Uncrustables and using a lot of parenthesis.
Valentina Ortiz is a storyteller, musician and a writer. Four books and four records show her intense work registering personal and community stories. She has toured Mexico and other countries with her storytelling and music concerts. She was recipient of the Mexico´s Ministry of Culture grant in 2014 for her personal story show called Canción para Omecihuatl, also she was honored with the Golden Cenzontle award for her social involvement through stories, with her nonprofit association Zazanilli Cuentos A.C. She has worked stories and music in different community healing projects for the last 10 years with very good results. As a musician she specializes in Latin percussion and Mexican prehispanic drums, she has played with Salsa orchestras and Big Bands for the past 25 years. Her last recording was the record 100% Xochiquetzal, Rumba y Sabor, with her Salsa music compositions.
Michele Popadich is a writer, runner, cat mom, project manager, and native Chicagoan. She’s self published various books of photography and poetry and also as creates and publishes content for her visual poetry instagram, Petit Poetry (@petit_poetry). She will be beginning her MFA in Creative Nonfiction at Northwestern University starting in June.
As the youngest of 7 children, Diamond has found herself with many stories to tell. She’s even made a career of listening to others’ stories as a therapist. Her first foray into storytelling was through writing and performing original music. She has traveled the world collecting diverse perspectives and stories. Diamond has recently started using live storytelling as a new creative outlet and looks forward to continuing her storytelling journey.
As the oldest child of a Coast Guard helicopter pilot, Lisa Zimmer grew up moving from coast to coast and back again. But she’s made a permanent home on the third coast for the past 2 decades. She runs the Meetings and Events team at MillerCoors, and yes, that means she’s paid to plan parties at a beer company. Between work trips, she finds time to travel to see her Mom and 3 brothers, who are scattered across the 4 corners of the country. And in her remaining spare time, she subsists on a steady diet of tickets; airline, concert, and movie variety.
Adam is an actor and teaching artist based in Chicago. Originally from Massachusetts, he graduated from Northwestern University last year with a BA in Theatre and a module in Theatre for Young Audiences. Adam loves to procrastinate by listening to podcasts, reading the news, and attempting to teach himself how to play the ukulele.
Chicago-based singer-songwriter Sue Fink was a story-teller (informally) long before she began performing musically. She comes from a short story and poetry writing background. Songs became a medium to tell stories via music and lyrics, and she often tells related stories between songs as well. Through her folk/acoustic songs, Sue shares her whimsical perspective and perceptive observations of the human condition. Telling stories without holding a guitar in front of her seems a little scary, but now she’s thinking of stories as songs, but without the music. Yes. That should work! http://suefink.com
Tara has loved storytelling for as long as she can remember. After spending nearly all her free time writing stories as a kid and then transitioning to scribbling angsty poetry as a teenager, she has come to appreciate the beauty of stories never been told the same way twice through Story Lab Chicago. She loves research (because data tells stories too!), cooking, and vintage earrings. Because they say it's good to have a calming hobby, she has had the goal to learn to knit for the past year, but she keeps going to brunch instead. At least brunch didn't keep her from telling this story today.
Steve Magnino was born and raised in Oklahoma, a real live Okie from Muskogee. He has been in the Chicago area since the early eighties when he took a job with Kraft out of college. He is a marketing strategy and research guy who has told stories with data about everything from processed cheese to credit cards to robotics – even tax policy. Steve is currently research director for a professional services firm in Chicago, focusing on business leader's perceptions of the economy. He discovered the power of telling stories in college when a professor told him "any answer is OK as long as you can defend it." To Steve, a question that has only one "right answer" usually indicates a lack of imagination. He and his wife, Marsha, live in Arlington Heights and are excited about becoming first time grand parents this summer.
Molly Sider grew up in the Chicago suburbs, but as soon as she was old enough, she ditched the Midwest for San Francisco. When the sun became too strong for her pale skin, she moved to New York City where she began her boozy career in the wine industry. Four years ago, Molly relocated back to Chicago where she continues slinging wine for a living. She survives the brutal winters here by listening to other people tell stories, and sometimes she reciprocates by telling one of her own.
Sheryl has lived in the Chicago area almost all of her life and is a professional fundraiser. Her writing has appeared in North Shore Magazine and she is the author of the blog Looking Up. As part of a 2019 resolution to try new things, she broke her shoulder while ice skating and is hoping not to incur any storytelling-related injuries.
Monica Carmean is an attorney who has worked in the House of Representatives, the United States Senate, and the Obama White House, as well as on the campaigns to elect our current Mayor and Governor, and the winner of the 2016 Presidential popular vote. Originally from Fresno, California, Monica is a graduate of Northwestern University and the Georgetown University Law Center. Monica lives in Rogers Park, Chicago, and is a barfly at Gilead Chicago, a queer storytelling bar church.
Jodi Dudek is a Pennsylvania-born art director, designer, strategist, writer, photographer, aspiring entrepreneur, and all-around Renaissance Soul. After stints in Pittsburgh, Los Angeles, Cleveland, Washington DC, and Austin, she’s finally made Chicago her home. And her pug Wrigley - whose name was much more novel before moving to this city - has been her sidekick through most of those moves. She loves a good adventure, rock show, and a balanced dinner of champagne & oysters.
Bex Ehrmann grew up in the northwest burbs and currently calls Edgewater home. She’s a graduate of Northwestern University and a 2019 Luminarts Cultural Foundation fellow in creative writing. Her favorite things include speculative fiction, comedy, kiwis, Queen, and consonance. Special thanks to Rives Collins, who ignited Bex’s passion for storytelling.
Megan Fulara is a Chicago native TEMPORARILY living in the suburbs. She is the host of the wildly successful ‘Live From Wherever We Are, It’s The Megan Fulara Show!’ (not a real show). By day she is a pencil pushing bureaucrat and by night a robust fitness enthusiast and yogi. She enjoys storytelling, comedy, and employment law.
Born and raised in small town Indiana Whitney spent many summer days wrecking her bike and still has the scars to prove it. She’s an advocate for s’mores culture and can often be found with a cup of coffee in her hand. Whitney has always loved writing and storytelling. Her ultimate life goal is help others feel less alone by telling stories about her life.
Heather Styka is an Americana singer-songwriter based out of Chicago. After growing up in the Chicago suburbs, Heather moved to the city to studying creative writing at DePaul, meanwhile honing her song craft among the city's long-standing folk community. After moving to Maine for a couple years, she returned to the Midwest to perform regularly around the Chicago and also tour throughout the US and Canada. Heather's honest, image-heavy songs have garnered her a number of songwriting awards. Styka recently released her her fifth full-length studio album, North, which was recorded with Danish backing band The Sentimentals in a cabin in northern Wisconsin.