The Stanford Storytelling Project is an arts program at Stanford University that explores how we live in and through stories and, even more importantly, how to deepen our lives through our own storytelling. Our mission is to promote the transformative nature of traditional and modern oral storytelling, from Lakota tales to Radiolab, and empower students to create and perform their own stories. The project sponsors courses, workshops, live events, and grants. In 2012, we created a new radio show, State of the Human, where we share stories that deepen our understanding of single, common human experiences—fighting, giving, lying, resilience—all drawn from the experiences and research of the Stanford community. Tune in every Wednesday at 5pm on 90.1 KZSU or download our podcast on iTunes.
Jonah has taught literature, creative writing, and media studies at Stanford since 2002. He has published fiction, essays, and literary criticism, and holds a PhD in English from Brown University and an MFA in Creative Writing from Hollins University. He is currently trying to write three books at the same time. It's slow going.
For the past thirty years Claire Schoen has been involved in media production, working on a wide variety of documentary and educational projects. As a producer/director, she has created several documentary films and over 25 long-format radio documentaries, as well as numerous short works. As a sound designer she has recorded, edited and mixed sound for film, video, radio, webstory, museum tour and theater productions. Claire has taught media production in several venues, including U.C. Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism and Duke University Center for Documentary Studies.
Nina is a senior at Stanford who likes collecting: names, words that have lost their meaning, and conversations where people give more than they expected. She is prone to making ethical generalizations from specific situations and then back-peddling wildly. When she was younger, she thought she wanted to be a rabbi. Today, she wants to look at history and ethics through stories.
Joshua graduated from Stanford with a BA in English and Cultural and Social Anthropology. The combination reflects an interest in not just using outside disciplines to study narratives, but also in using stories to study everything else. That sounds pretty fancy, but really I (you already knew I was writing this myself, didn't you?) just take great pleasure in well told stories, and I think stories are tremendously worthwhile and vital.
Jon works as a lecturer in Stanford’s d.life lab, helping students apply Design Thinking to the big, thorny life problems they face. Jon has a master’s degree in Learning, Design, and Technology from the Graduate School of Education. Before landing in California, Jon worked in the space of girls’ education in both Rwanda and Ethiopia. He’s been wikileaked.
Dan teaches Improvisation in the Drama Department, the Graduate School of Business and at the d.school. In 2009, Dan was named Stanford Teacher of the Year by the Student's Association. At the GSB he co-teaches (with Professor Deb Gruenfeld), "Acting With Power" which explores the use of status behaviors to increase organizational effectiveness. Beyond Stanford, Dan has lead similar workshops for various groups, including the High Performance Leadership program at IMD Business School in Switzerland. Dan has also partnered with Stanford Professor Carol Dweck to create interactive workshops on her breakthrough research on Mindset.
Brandon graduated from Stanford in 2014 with a B.A. in English & Creative Writing and an unofficial minor in student theatre. He has produced shows on both the MemAud mainstage and on Marguerite buses. Ask him about the gay teen novel he's writing...actually, no, don't ask him. Besides Broadway, Brandon's dream is to live out his days in a small New England town with Bernese Mountain Dogs (plural). Contact him if you can help with this.
Eileen is a sophomore at Stanford University, majoring in psychology, and completely addicted to public radio. When she’s not working, studying or doing research, she spends her time running, drinking tea, and generally pining for her adorable Great Dane, Winston, and her illegal pet bunny, Cheerio.
Jackson Wiley Roach
Jackson is a sophomore at Stanford, and was born and raised in Los Angeles. You could ask him about board games, color, poetry, myth, wikipedia, and radio drama, but his favorite thing to do is listen.
WEB EDITOR & PRODUCER
Alec arrived at Stanford in the autumn of 2013 and promptly found himself singing and acting in a musical set on a moving bus. He’s still a little bit confused about that. Alec is pretty sure that his hometown of Seattle is the best place in the world, but he’s keeping an open mind. After all, he has been known to call Luna Lovegood his patron saint.
Rosie La Puma
Rosie is a sophomore at Stanford still grappling with her fuzzy-techie dual identities. She discovered the power of voices during her senior year of high school while collecting stories from other teens for Open Orchard Productions. When not listening obsessively to RadioLab, she enjoys tutoring through EPASA, playing viola with the Stanford Symphony, and improvising to jazz standards on her electric violin. Her childhood aspiration was to be the first ice cream maker on the moon.
Lora Kelley is a sophomore from Evanston, Illinois studying Classics in the philosophy track. She is interested in the stories museums tell and how we read things that aren't written down. Currently awaiting the next installment of Serial, she enjoys podcasts, sketch comedy, "Wait, Wait…Don't Tell Me," and wearing turtlenecks when it's not that cold.
Alka likes weird, she's all about creative, and a few people would even dare to call her unique. After changing her major 14839 times, she's fairly set on Product Design and minoring in Computer Science. Coming back from a year off of adventuring/working, she feels a tad confused because though she is a junior, she feels like a senior. She's avidly passionate about people, helping others, gender issues, playing squash, food, laughing, global health and water issues, new experiences, and learning. That's kind of a lot, but it's better than being passionate about nothing, right?
SENIOR PRODUCER & PROJECT ADMINISTRATOR
Natacha is a storyteller and a story-monger. She strives to use print, film and radio to deepen our understanding of the world we live in, and to help others reach a better understanding of their lives through narrative and storytelling. Her documentary and video work has appeared at the MoMA, the Whitney Museum of American Art, as well as on National Geographic, NBC NY, and Link TV. Natacha is a Senior Producer and Administrative Associate for the Stanford Storytelling Project where she's explored what joking, belonging, singing, lying, and returning home from war to to us.
Will graduated from Stanford in 2009 with a degree in Film Studies. He is one of the only people on staff who has listened to every single story the project has produced, and much of this listening occurred while he was working at a farm in Texas and at a nursery in North Carolina. He is now happily back in California, where he helps coordinate True Story Podcast, alongside a number of other projects.
Christy studied writing at the Salt Institute of Documentary Studies and loves doing research, shaping things and digging stuff up. Recently she has been experimenting with fiction. She likes the words of children and strangers and keeps a blog of this wisdom. Luckily for her, most of the people on the planet fall into this category, so she's rarely bored.
John has taught writing at Stanford since 2005. He received his MFA from the University of Michigan and has been a resident fellow at the University of Wisconsin, Yaddo, the Headlands Center for the Arts, and the Helene Wurlitzer Foundation. Currently he lives in San Francisco and is completing a collection of short stories about Korean exiles in Asia and the West.
Michelle Darby is the co-creator and teacher of StoryCraft with the Theater and Performance Studies Department. During the year, she is a Resident Fellow of Rinconada Dorm here at Stanford. Prior to teaching StoryCraft, she was the founder and Artistic Director of Just West Theater Company in Tallapoosa Georgia. In San Francisco, she coordinated and taught Compelling Communications at the Academy of Art University which revolved around creativity, spontaneity, teamwork, performance and leadership skills. As well as directing and acting in the Bay Area, Michelle has studied performance at the Alliance Theater, the American Conservatory Theater, Bay Area TheatreSports, and with Seydways Acting Studio. Michelle has taught and directed for middle schools, high schools, Native American Youth, university students, and professional actors.
TEACHING ASSISTANT AND EVENTS COACH
Tess McCarthy is a junior who likes making people laugh and have feelings, usually in that order. By choosing Theater and Symbolic Systems, she is essentially majoring in everything. Someday, she would like to make things up professionally.
Bonnie was a founding producer of the Storytelling Project and graduated from Stanford in 2008 with a BA in History of Science. She has an MFA from Konstfack University in Sweden, where she studied supportive design in end-of-life care. She lives in her native Seattle with her husband and young daughter.
Kate is a sophomore who wants to study too many things. Her love of interdisciplinary connections goes back to high school when she founded an educational YouTube channel about the science and math in great works of art. Before coming to college, she owned a cupcake truck back in Connecticut. When not in school, Kate loves traveling the world with her camera and restoring manual typewriters.
Justine is a sophomore at Stanford who is majoring in Anthropology and minoring in Creative Writing. She’s a lifelong nomad, never staying in one country for more than four years. Russia, Namibia, Maryland, Mexico, Paraguay, Japan, Egypt, and now California. The places she’s lived, the people she’s met -- their stories are her story. Travel, people, stories, appalachian throwback music, and tea are a few of her favorite things.
Mischa is an insatiably curious psychology major at Stanford. She finds human beings to be fascinating, but perplexing. She likes trying to figure them out and encouraging them to better understand themselves through stories. Prior to returning to Stanford in 2013, Mischa worked as a children's book designer at HarperCollins Publishers, travelled the world as a professional masochist, and acquired a feline sidekick named Kahimi.
Helen graduated from Stanford in 2014 with a degree in Science, Technology & Society and a minor in creative writing. Caught in the academic quicksand, she found herself unable to leave and decided to chase down another degree, this time in computer science. Sometimes she accidentally ends a sentence with a semicolon. When she's not writing prose or code, you might find her singing vocal jazz, probably in a stairwell.
Preet Kaur is a junior majoring in Human Biology with an area of concentration in Narrative Medicine. She relishes every opportunity to claim her "Britishness" (8 month pregnant mother went to a family wedding and birthed her at the hospital where Robin Hood used to get his annual bloodletting) but was raised in Turlock, California. For her, stories, especially those with strangers, ward off lethargy from even the longest of train rides. If you're interested, she invites you to join in on the conversation.
Contributors and Former Staff
FORMER MANAGING EDITOR
Rachel graduated Stanford in 2011 with an M.A. in English Literature. She loves stories that validate unusual or under-explored perspectives. When she's not working for SSP, she's usually freelancing, trying to figure out how to make the news more fun (without sacrificing clarity and complexity), and creating immersive theatre events. Or she's hanging out at her co-op. Probably in the kitchen.
Andrew is the author of three books, including the PEN USA Literary Award-winning A Meal Observed, and dozens of articles for national publications including National Geographic, The Atlantic and The Wall Street Journal, among others. His subjects range widely, from a frozen gully in the Scottish highlands, to the ship’s bar of a German freighter, to the pastry kitchen of a Parisian restaurant. He has worked on numerous film and projects, including productions for Lucasfilm and National Geographic Television. and teaches at Stanford through the Department of Biology and the Program in Writing and Rhetoric, and co-directs The Senior Reflection, a creative capstone course series for scientists in the arts.
FORMER EVENTS MANAGER
Lizzie graduated from Stanford in 2013 with a B.A. in Comparative Literature. A defiantly proud New Jersey native, she currently lives in San Francisco. She has worked at the Institute for Diversity in the Arts for the past two years. Lizzie spends the rest of her time writing songs about nature and playing a small harp named Oscar.
Austin is a Junior from beautiful Santa Rosa, California and is majoring in Creative Writing. When he isn't playing the beautiful game for the Stanford Men's Soccer team, Austin is jammin away on his mandolin, making music videos with friends, or relaxin under a tree. Always up for an impromptu conversation or storytelling exchange, if you see Austin out and about, make sure to give him a shout. He's the one with the freckles.
Sophia is a senior majoring in History with a minor in Arabic. She has recently spent a lot of time singing, and though still madly obsessed with musicals, has decided to take a break to explore other things, like storytelling. She loves learning languages and reading sci-fi, and though she hails from good 'ol Indiana she is started to feel like a true west coast girl.
Tina is a sophomore, majoring in Science, Technology, and Society. She spends her time writing poetry for the Spoken Word Collective, making, scavenging, singing, & breathing music for KZSU radio and Talisman A Capella, and drinking tea. She is currently studying abroad at Oxford University.
Faradia studied Human Biology and minored in French. She became involved with The Stanord Storytelling Project as a story editor while studying abroad in Paris. Originally from Miami, Florida, she's a fan of humidity and telling a good story.
FORMER MANAGING EDITOR
Killeen graduated from Stanford in 2008 with a degree in English Literature. After two years of working to communicate differing perspectives graphically through her research at the Spatial History Lab at Stanford and orally with the Storytelling Project, she relocated to Portland, Oregon for an MFA in Applied Craft and Design at the Pacific Northwest College of Art (PNCA). She's eager to continue exploring how stories build community.
Liz is the author of two collections of poetry: Approaching Ice (Persea, 2010) and Interpretive Work (Arktoi Books, 2008). The founder of Broadsided Press, her poems have appeared in The Atlantic Monthly, Poetry, Field, and elsewhere. A former Wallace Stegner Fellow at Stanford, she works as a naturalist and web designer. Her favorite animal today? The rhinoceros auklet. Visit her websites: Ebradfield.com, Broadsided, & Pelagic Design.
FORMER FICTION EDITOR
Dana Kletter is a writer and musician, a recent Wallace Stegner Fellow and Jones Lecturer in Fiction. She received her MFA from the University of Michigan, where she won Hopwood prizes for Short Fiction and Novel. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming Five Chapters, The Sun, Michigan Quarterly Review, San Francisco Chronicle, Boston Phoenix, and Independent, and on Mammoth, Hannibal, Interscope, and Rykodisc Records. She currently teaches in the Creative Writing Program, and is at work on a novel and a memoir.
Micah was one of the founding producers of the Storytelling Project. He studied International Relations and Creative Writing at Stanford before graduating in 2008. He now lives and writes in Los Angeles.
Hannah believes that stories are the universe's way of understanding itself. She's hoping to avoid growing up altogether, but in the meantime she meditates, learns languages, and tries her best to be like a plant, turning towards the light.
Esteban received his PhD in Developmental Biology from Stanford in 2009. His grandfather instilled in him a love of storytelling by saying things like: "See that tree over there? You can use its fruit to patch up the holes in your hydroplane's radiator."
CONTRIBUTER & FORMER SENIOR PRODUCER
Charlie spends his time trying to figure out what's true, and how to tell people about it without being didactic or boring. Or to phrase that more affirmatively: to tell people what's true while being compelling and conversational. Lately he's been caught up in Oakland, researching a book about the city, and translating what he learns into radio pieces along the way. He's just figured out what's obvious. Now he's after what's surprising. He contributes semi-regularly to KALW's CrossCurrents and his work has appeared on Marketplace as well as in the East Bay Express. In his free time you can find him behind a basketball, over a chess set, or somewhere in the midst of drums.
Austin Smith grew up on a family dairy farm in Illinois. His first full-length collection of poems, Almanac, was published by Princeton University Press in September. He lives in a cabin near the booming metropolis of La Honda and is currently a Wallace Stegner Fellow in fiction.
CONTRIBUTOR AND FORMER PRODUCER
Victoria Hurst graduated from Stanford in 2013 with a in English and a minor in Education. She is very interested in how people interpret the Bible and how it is used in literature. She grew up on an island, but wants to travel the world.
Miles is a recovering computer science major at Stanford. He is often found skateboarding wildly through campus or fidgeting with a microphone to capture a compelling sound. He once found a grey M&M when he was young but threw it away thinking it had gone bad.
Xandra worked with the Storytelling Project for nearly three years from 2010-2013. She was an actress who simply picked up a microphone to interview her dad, and she ended up as a Senior Radio Producer and the Events Director for the project. Xandra graduated from Stanford with a Master's degree in Journalism and a Bachelor's degree with Honors in Theater & Performance Studies. Since leaving Stanford, she has taken up a new job as an Intern at StoryCorps, the largest oral history project in the world.
FORMER WEB MANAGER
Azmaan is a senior at Stanford majoring in Computer Science with a concentration in "Human Computer Interaction". Coming from Sri Lanka, he's glad the internet enabled him to enjoy great American radio shows like This American Life and Radio Lab. If he's not buried under work load, he's probably trying to get better at tennis.
Hannah studied neurobiology and philosophy at Stanford before getting her masters in science writing at MIT. Her radio work has appeared on KUOW Presents, and her writing on Inside NOVA and Scope Magazine. She harbors a mild obsession with the brain activity of cephalopods.
Noah is a PhD student in Management Science and Engineering. He studies Decision and Risk analysis, and likes making hip hop. You can find his music at soundcloud.com/nburbank and at noahburbank.com. He loves post- producing audio.
Matt received his PhD in Biophysics from Stanford in 2010. He is a contributor to the NPR program Snap Judgment, and a producer with the Storytelling Project. At Stanford he divided his time between a basement research lab (where he studies gene regulation) and the basement of KZSU (where he has produced audio essays about scientific fraud, superheroes, unicycles, the San Francisco dump, and sperm banks).
Dan Hirsch graduated from Stanford in 2009 with a BA in American Studies. His work has appeared in the North Bay Bohemian, the Santa Cruz Weekly, the SFGate.com and on the airwaves of WLEZ Jackson, Mississippi. He lives in San Francisco and works for a Bay Area tech company you might know.
FORMER FICTION EDITOR AND MANAGING EDITOR
Lee Konstantinou is an assistant professor in the English department at the University of Maryland, College Park, and an associate editor at the "Los Angeles Review of Books." He co-edited the essay collection "The Legacy of David Foster Wallace" with Samuel Cohen, and wrote the novel "Pop Apocalypse."
Heidi has long explored interests in storytelling through her undergraduate majors in English and Drama, and a creative honors thesis in Feminist Studies (Inclusive Language: Rediscovering Women in the Bible through Poetry) at Stanford University. She worked with the project as Events Manager during the 2012-2013 school year.
Daniel is a graduate of Stanford, where he studied computer science. He was also a member of the Stanford Savoyards. When not making radio, you may find him enjoying wacky musical theater, cooking delicious and exotic foods, or playing Scrabble. He was once described as "a perfectly goofy but lovable book-wormish adventurer."