Staff & Board
Raised in Oklahoma, Root resides in Oakland. They first came to love visual storytelling through comics, an interest that led to co-facilitating a comics workshop in a prison near their college. Root enjoys coordinating many of the things that keep StoryCenter’s work moving forward, from reviewing registrations to sharing our story with the supporters who make us possible. BA, English with a Concentration in Gender and Women’s Studies, Grinnell College.
Tatiana Beller is a media educator, filmmaker, and transmedia producer. She has 20 years of experience organizing events and working in media related fields, and has directed and produced a feature film and numerous shorts. In addition to working with StoryCenter as a facilitator and videographer, Tatiana has her own production company, Gaia's Flame Productions. At StoryCenter, Tatiana has co-facilitated numerous workshops in English and Spanish over the last three years, and has been involved in our California Listens Project, a statewide project in collaboration with California Public Libraries. BA, Mass Communications, Washington State University; MFA, Film Studies, New York Film Academy; MFA, Animation/VFX, Academy of Art University- in process.
Silence Speaks Director
Amy is a fourth generation Californian, with deep roots in Sonoma County. After spending 12 years coordinating women’s health and violence prevention projects throughout California for the state’s Department of Health Services, Amy discovered digital storytelling and launched our Silence Speaks initiative, which since 2000 has used oral history, participatory media, and popular education strategies to support people in countries around the world as they’ve shared personal stories of gender, health, and human rights. She lives in Berkeley, where she continues to lead Silence Speaks and guide much of our communication and outreach work. BA, British and American Literature, Scripps College; MA, Gender Studies, Stanford University.
Having moved between California, Scotland, and Ireland, Heather finds herself living in the Eastern U.S., where she has been teaching in the Writing and Rhetoric Department at the University of Rhode Island for ten years. In courses that include Immigrant Voices and Writing & Empathy, digital storytelling helps her students to experience the power, and challenges, of active listening. As a StoryCenter facilitator, she has worked with youth, cross-generational groups, and educators. Telling her own story in her first StoryCenter workshop led her to become a volunteer facilitator with the children's bereavement center Friends Way.
BA, English, University of California, Berkeley; H Dip, Irish Literature, Trinity College, Dublin; PhD, Contemporary Women's Writing, Edinburgh University, Scotland.
Anand Kalra is an artist, coach, and facilitator based in Oakland, California, with a focus on communication, emotional authenticity, and body-based mindfulness. Prior to launching his independent practice, Anand applied his skills, training, and knowledge in a wide variety of settings, including academic libraries, elementary school and university classrooms, and health clinics. He spent four years organizing public policy wins in the healthcare system for transgender and gender non-conforming people and began leading workshops with us when he was Health Programs Manager with the Transgender Law Center. Anand lives in Oakland, California, with his cats. BA, Sociology and Math; MS, Library and Information Sciences, University of Michigan.
Director of Public Workshops
Rob is a photographer, designer, and writer who began working on story and photography projects with remote communities in Canada’s Northwest Territories in 2001. He is the author, co-editor, and co-designer of four books about the history and ecology of various areas in northern Canada. Before joining our staff in 2007, Rob spent time publishing a small-town newspaper and working on an oilrig. BS, Ecology and Communication Studies, University of Calgary.
Born and raised in Texas, Joe has been active in the Bay Area arts community for the last 25 years as an arts activist, producer, administrator, teacher, writer, and director. In 1986, he co-founded Life On The Water, a successful nonprofit production company that served San Francisco's diverse communities. Almost ten years later, with then-wife Nina Mullen and colleague Dana Atchley, Joe founded StoryCenter (formerly the Center for Digital Storytelling). Joe has produced over 500 shows, ranging from theatrical runs and single performances, to citywide festivals and digital story screenings. Prior to his career in the arts, he was trained as a community organizer and assisted in numerous local, statewide, and national public policy campaigns on issues of social justice and economic equity. BA, Theater and Political Science, University of California at Berkeley.
Elvis is a U.S. Army Veteran and film producer from Denver, Colorado. He deployed to Iraq for 15 months and returned with too many stories to tell– without a medium they all stayed bottled in. In 2009, Elvis started making movies and documentaries. Later, he signed up with AmeriCorps and worked to help military service members successfully reintegrate into communities. Elvis currently lives in London, where he is working on virtual reality projects, but when he’s in the states, he teaches digital storytelling with our team in the Rocky Mountain region. BFA, Film Production and Screenwriting, Regis University.
Marie is currently based in New Orleans, where she explores storytelling through a variety of mediums. For two decades, she worked as a traveling artisan, braiding hair and painting faces at renaissance festivals. Later, she served for six years as the Executive Director of The Foundation for Entertainment, Development and Education, distributing grants to performing arts educational projects. Digital storytelling, for Marie, is the synthesis of her many interests; a way to explore the human condition through words, visuals, and sound. BA, Theater, Florida State University; Audio Documentary Studies, Duke University Center for Documentary Studies.
Holly is a graphic designer, filmmaker, editor, and expert rock skipper living in Denver. Since joining us as a facilitator in 2012, she survived cancer– all the while keeping her sense of humor. Holly played a big role in our storytelling project with the Positive Women’s Network in Colorado, holding space for women living with HIV. She is a Denver native and enjoys spending time in the woods on skis, listening to the sounds of the forest. BFA, Graphic Design and Painting, Colorado State University.
Most of Mary Ann’s work has been with educators, museums, libraries, and universities, but she enjoys working with groups of all sorts. Before joining our staff in 2008, she spent many years as a museum educator at History Colorado, where she curated and designed exhibits, specializing in interactive components such as touch-screen programs and the use of digital stories in exhibit galleries. For Mary Ann, historical photographs and family snapshots provide a fascinating window into the lives and stories of people across time. She has a passion for finding new ways to harness the power of story. BA, History and Anthropology, and Teaching Certification, University of Northern Colorado. Graduate work in Museum Studies, University of Arizona.
Yvonne is an educator and media artist living in Amherst, Massachusetts and working at the University of Massachusetts Fine Arts Center. Through her involvement with New WORLD Theater (a multicultural, social justice theater company), Yvonne quickly grasped the importance of storytelling and its impact on communities. She completed her training in digital storytelling at StoryCenter in California, and has been teaching workshops with youth and adults throughout the eastern United States since 2009. She is currently developing a storytelling and creative writing project for first generation college students in western Massachusetts. BA, Graphic Design, Hampshire College; MA, Media Studies, New School for Social Research.
Southern Region Director
Allison's background as an artist, educator, community builder, and lifelong appreciator of story have all served her in her work at StoryCenter. She comes to our work with two decades of personal and professional experience in international and cross-cultural settings, including four years as a program coordinator of a U.S. Department of State-funded international exchange program with community colleges. Before joining our staff in 2008, Allison taught ESL and Communication in the Maricopa Community College System in Arizona. She was also part of a team that developed a leadership and service-learning program for young leaders from countries around the world. BA, Literature and Communication, Vanderbilt University; MA in Humanities and Intercultural Communication, University of Colorado, Denver.
Lisa is the Executive Director of Philadelphia Young Playwrights (PYP), where she helps young people discover their potential through the art of the play. An award-winning storyteller and teacher, Lisa has facilitated digital storytelling workshops for us for more than seven years, primarily on the East Coast of the U.S. She’s also a Leeway Foundation Art & Change grant recipient for the Redline Project. BA, Mass Media Arts, Hampton University.
Thomas has always cherished the stories of his family and culture– his long history of doing translation and subtitling for Ethiopian films keeps him connected to the place where he was born and lived until age 23. Although he works full time as a Business Analyst at CISCO, Thomas always enjoys the opportunities he has to co-facilitate StoryCenter workshops– he’s been involved in our work in Ethiopia and Kenya, with the Christensen Fund. BS, Management Information Systems, San Jose State University.
Emily, a trained visual artist and educator, is the youngest of eight children born and raised in Iowa. She developed The Mom Project, a web site that examines issues of family narrative and the use of technology in the art classroom. In addition to leading technology classes for public school K-12 art educators, Emily taught art in Iowa public schools for five years, specializing in web design, video production, and photography. Before joining our staff full-time in 2002, she was a volunteer at a community center in Japan, where she taught used art and storytelling to teach to women and children. BFA, Painting and Printmaking; K-12 Art Teaching Certification; and an MA, Art Education, University of Iowa.
Eunice spent two years facilitating film and animation workshops for children K-12, in various schools and communities in western Canada. After interning with us, she began working as one of our a digital storytelling co-facilitators in the San Francisco Bay Area. Eunice is now back in school in Berkeley, to learn and create as an animator. She is passionate about storytelling as a tool for social change, and believes life is richer when stories are shared. BS, Journalism, Mount Royal University.
Benjamin is based in New York City, where he is an Associate Professor of Speech, Communications, and Theatre Arts at the City University of New York’s Borough of Manhattan Community College. In addition to facilitating selected workshops with us, Ben uses digital storytelling in the classroom as a tool for students to communicate their ideas critically while developing and articulating their emotional inner lives. He tells his students that their stories are complex and necessary, and that they need to be heard now more than ever. While he loves New York, his heart is in New Orleans. Sadly, he’s afraid of flying.
Orchid Pusey is the Associate Director of Asian Women’s Shelter (AWS), where she has led a national peer-to-peer training and technical assistance program, and has focused on cultural responsiveness in work to end violence, language access systems for community interpretation and translation, programming for LGBTQ communities, and organizational and movement sustainability to end violence. Orchid loves the empowerment that digital storytelling can bring to storytellers and the transformation that it can provide for story watchers and media culture. She has been involved in digital storytelling production and facilitation with marginalized communities since 2002.
Canadian Projects Director
Rani worked for more than 15 years as a film programmer, video artist, and VJ in many cities, countries, islands, clubs, and festivals around the world, before pursuing a second education in environmental studies, with a concentration on community arts, environmental education, and social justice. It was during this time, in 2008, that she was first introduced to StoryCenter, and she has been facilitating digital storytelling workshops ever since. Rani studied film at Ryerson University, and she has a Masters in Environmental Studies from York University.
East Coast Region Director
Stefani began telling stories professionally in the late 1970s, as a founding member of Teatro Nuestro, a Latino theater company based in her hometown of Washington, DC. She is an award-winning documentary producer– working independently and for Discovery Communications before joining the staff of StoryCenter in 2007. Her awards include documentaries for the Travel Channel and the Discovery Channel; and documentary shorts for Animal Planet and the Discovery Global Education Partnership. A product of border crossings, Stefani is Filipina, Russian, German, English, and Scottish. She is passionate about the complex intersections of race, culture, gender, community, and place – and about stories that captures these experiences. Coursework in Theater and Television Production, The George Washington University.
West Coast Region Director
Andrea was raised by her bilingual/bicultural family in both Argentina and the United States. Before coming on board as a staff member in 2006, she worked for 12 years as an educator in a variety of settings, including a jail GED project in Wisconsin, a training program for rural schoolteachers in Bolivia, and a substance abuse prevention initiative for youth in San Francisco. Andrea’s work at StoryCenter is varied– she focuses on public health projects that have included stories with HIV-impacted communities and workshops in behavioral health settings. In addition, she leads bilingual (English-Spanish) workshops. BA, International Relations and Spanish, University of California, Davis; MS, Adult Education, University of Wisconsin, Madison.
Schuyler is a radio and multimedia producer based in Brooklyn, NY. She has told stories about the history of immigration, as an Educator at the Lower East Side Tenement Museum, and managed an online community of storytellers as the Editorial Director of Cowbird.com. She co-facilitated our “Audio Stories for Public Health” webinar series for the Rocky Mountain Public Health Training Center. BA, Sociology and Music, Wesleyan University; Transom Story Workshop, Woods Hole, Massachusetts.
Ryan is a Chicago resident and full-time lecturer in the Columbia College Chicago English Department. His scholarship and creative non-fiction have appeared in Computers and Composition Online, Kairos, and the North Dakota Quarterly. Ryan taught for six summers at the Digital Media and Composition Institute at Ohio State, and two of his video essays have been screened at the SSML Midwestern Film Festival. After taking one of our workshops in Denver nearly ten years ago, he began working with us and facilitating digital storytelling in locations around the country. Ryan blogs sporadically at his informal, professional blog, New Media Scholar. He also hosts and produces the Masters of Text podcast with his frequent collaborator, Ames Hawkins.
Rocky Mountain/Midwest Region Director
Daniel has been telling stories and helping others to find and tell their own for more than 20 years. Born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area, Daniel taught creative writing during his post-graduate writing work at the University of Colorado. In 2000, he took a workshop with Joe Lambert, caught the bug, joined our staff and established an office in Denver. He specializes in exploring the impact that the stories we tell about ourselves have on our identity. Daniel developed and currently manages our Nurstory initiative, and has also done considerable work with museums and radio/television broadcasters in the Denver area. He is a recipient of Colorado Public Television's Independent Media Award. BA, English and Creative Writing, University of California, San Diego; MA, Creative Writing, University of Colorado, Boulder; MSW (in progress), Metro State University.
Board of Directors
Associate Director of Policy and Communications, Asian & Pacific Islander Wellness Center
Stephanie Goss is the Communications Manager for Asian & Pacific Islander Wellness Center, a San Francisco-based health, education, research, and policy nonprofit with local, regional, and national programming. A&PI Wellness Center transforms lives by advancing health, wellness, and equality for people of all races, ethnicities, sexual orientations, gender identities, and immigration statuses. Stephanie oversees strategic communications planning and external messaging for the agency, including brand storytelling and management, public and media relations, crisis communications, marketing, and social media. She also manages the creative development and distribution planning for the Banyan Tree Project, A&PI Wellness Center's national HIV stigma-reduction social marketing campaign. Stephanie joined A&PI Wellness Center in 2006 as a volunteer and has served as the communications manager since 2008. She also has over ten years of experience in the tech industry and worked at Macromedia, Inc. (now Adobe) on the Dreamweaver and Flash development teams. Stephanie has a B.S. in Radio-Television-Film from the University of Texas at Austin.
Dean of the College of Social Sciences, San Jose State University
Walt is the Dean of the College of Social Sciences at San Jose State University. This appointment follows two years as the Founding Dean of the College of Social Sciences & Professional Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Parkside. From July of 2007 through June of 2012, Walt was Chairperson of the Department of African American & African Studies at the University of Minnesota. He received a B.S. degree in electrical engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology, and M.A. and Ph.D. degrees in sociology from Indiana University. His initial academic appointment was in the U of M General College. He is an "open-door storyteller" who has authored a book on undergraduate media literacy, co-edited an anthology on educational environments, and published a memoir about "sociological ghosts." His current research explores personal and social possibilities of undergraduate students' generation of creative digital nonfiction; see "The Pedagogy of Digital Storytelling in the College Classroom" as an example. Walt documented his first year as a Dean in a blog on The Society Pages, "Dispatches From a New Dean" and is continuing the blog about his first year experiences at SJSU.
Campaign Director, East Bay Alliance for a Sustainable Economy
Kristi guides and supports the inspiring network of FAME faith leaders and spiritual activists. She is passionate about connecting the gifts of the faith communities to the economic justice movement. She has been involved in community organizing and advocacy for over fifteen years, working at the Volunteer Legal Services Program and Global Exchange, as well as engaging deeply in immigrant rights work since her days with the Jesuit Volunteer Corps. Kristi has her masters from the Graduate Theological Union and is a lay associate of the Religious of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. She lives in an Oakland co-housing community with her husband and son.
Nina Shapiro-Perl has been working as a filmmaker, anthropologist, and teacher for 35 years. Between 2008 and 2017, she served as Filmmaker in Residence at American University, teaching documentary film and digital storytelling and founding the Community Voice Project, which produced 80+ films for 25 non-profit organizations in the greater Washington D.C. area. Before that, Nina worked for 20 years for the two-million-member Service Employees International Union (SEIU), where she created scores of films and programs for and by workers. In 2006, she left SEIU to write, produce and direct the film Through the Eye of the Needle, which tells the story of Holocaust survivor and artist Esther Nisenthal Krinitz. Nina’s latest film, Landscape of Power: Freedom and Slavery in the Great Dismal Swamp, carries to the public a story of agency, resistance, and resilience among escaped slaves living in swamp communities for more than 200 years. After living on the East Coast all her life, Nina recently moved to the Bay Area to be near her children and grandchildren and continue her film and digital storytelling work.