STORY 2020 • September 24-25
The World’s Premier Virtual Conference for Creators & Storytellers
Gain the tools and insights you need to succeed
STORY is a global gathering designed to inspire, challenge and equip artists, creators and storytellers who work in a variety of industries.
Our 2020 Gathering is not a traditional conference that is merely "going virtual." Driven by the renowned creativity of our community, this year's virtual experience is being completely reimagined from the ground up.
STORY 2020 is NOT a 48-hour Zoom call like so many other "virtual conferences" are in this season. It's a truly interactive experience where you'll not only be stretched by innovative talks, unique performances, and educational workshops, but where you will discover a supportive global community of forward-thinkers and visionaries who will champion you as you set out on creative endeavors.
If you're innovating in an organization or part of a team, come regroup and redefine your process as you set out to push past your organizational goals, together.
Join thousands of storytellers from organizations like:
Global Leadership Summit
Charles Koch Foundation
Announcing the coming of the sun
Last year at STORY, we explored liminal space—the space between no longer, and not yet, and all of the magic found there. The season of liminal space is still with us. A global pandemic has uprooted every stitch in the fabric of "normal life." Businesses adapt or close. Routines are upended. Community gatherings cause as much fear as they once did joy. At the same time, we are witnessing the creative genius and immense generosity that burgeons under pressure and dire need. There is hope for a new normal.
The old story of life as we know it is gone-already the fodder for great memes. And the new story hasn't quite emerged yet either.
We find ourselves in another liminal space-between the old and the new, but at the edge of a threshold. We're standing in dawn, between night and day. Another signal there is hope on the horizon.
At STORY 2020, we'll explore the power of stories to help usher humanity into a new day. We'll journey through our own night, dusk and vision of daylight, all the while harvesting insights to weave into stories. Whether as a freelance artist or creator, or as a marketer, communicator or brand messenger, storytellers will help mold the new normal. We gather to imagine what that will look like-and how we can help lead people there with compassion, courage, and connection.
This conference was EVERYTHING. As graphic designers, creative consultants, and videographers, we are digital storytellers. This has directly impacted our day-to-day work.
It was a slap to my conference cynicism.
It is the BEST conference I have ever attended by a MILLION. I can’t imagine this not being a part of my life. It motivated me so much that 2 days later I wrote a book proposal that I’d been struggling with for four years.
STORY is a catalyst and a huge encouragement for my husband and me. We always look forward to this time of year; from the first time we came in 2015, it’s been magical to see it evolve and grow. Thank you for showing us the seeds of hope and the enormous life creativity can bring not just to moments but to generations. This is just the beginning.
The 2019 STORY Conference was worth every penny. My team left empowered and with new found purpose and direction. We now recognize when we’re in liminal space personally or professionally. It’s a really great thing to understand and explore as a creative.
What to Expect
Become a better storyteller by learning how to:
And so much more...
STORY 2020 is a unique, virtual experience filled with both inspiration and instruction. Learn from creative voices who have worked with some of the largest brands in the world to transform modern culture.
Presenters are listed below and be prepared for surprise guests and unexpected experiences along the way.
*Due to the global pandemic, presenter lineup is subject to change without notice.
Day one is driven by innovative talks from our virtual main stage, intermingled with breakout conversations as a small group, all in response to content from each general session.
Don Hahn has produced some of the most successful animated films in recent history, including The Lion King and Beauty and the Beast, the first animated film to be nominated for the Oscar for Best Picture. Along with producing and executive producing, Don is an award-winning director, the author of multiple best-selling books, and even sits on the board of PBS.
Early in his career, he set up and managed the Disney School of Animation, an internal training program for a generation of young artists coming up within the Disney Studio animation department. In 2006, Don was interim head of Disney's animation division during its successful merger with Pixar. He is the Executive Producer of the Disneynature films, and owns his own film production company, Stone Circle Pictures.
Three of Don’s films have been adapted into stage musicals. In all, his films have been nominated for 18 Academy Awards. We could go on and on, but what you need to know is this: Don is a legendary storyteller, and after one of the highest attendee-rated talks ever delivered at STORY, he is back this year to share a new talk that has yet to be shared anywhere else.
Morgan Harper Nichols is an artist and poet whose work is inspired by real-life interactions and stories. Morgan spent the first couple of years of her professional life as a college admission counselor, and then, as a full-time touring singer-songwriter and musician. It was on the road that she cultivated her curiosity and passion for writing, art, and design and slowly began to share her work online.
In 2017, Morgan started a project where she invited people to submit their stories to her website. From there, she creates digital mixed media art as a response to their stories and sends it to them before sharing the work publicly. All stories and names are kept private. The fruit of this project is shared daily around social media, in publications, and various creative collaborations and installations.
In Morgan’s words, “I like to include both abstract and figurative elements in my work, as well as both conversational and poetic language. For me, this is about learning to hold what is known and unknown, in grace. My work is inspired by real life and in-the-moment experiences, including my interactions with others. At the heart of what I share, I believe art and creativity are valuable ways to connect with others about matters most.”
As an artist, Morgan’s work has found an incredibly large audience, with more than 1.4 million followers on Instagram alone. She has collaborated with a wide range of brands including Coach, Adobe, LiveNation, Aerie, and more. As a designer and author, her work has been available in many stores, including Anthropologie, Barnes and Noble, and Target. Her book of poetry and art, “All Along You Were Blooming,” is available wherever books are sold. She is on the board of directors at TWLOHA (To Write Love on Her Arms).
We are thrilled to have the opportunity to learn from and be inspired by Morgan this year at STORY.
Erin Colasacco is the Senior Art Director at On Being. As an art director, designer, and curator, she translates the distilled essence of an organization into precise and beautifully executed visual form across platforms.
Prior to Erin’s role at The On Being Project, she spent nearly a decade in the advertising industry, developing dynamic storytelling content for global clients such as Fossil, Behr, American Standard and Président. Her work has been recognized by The Webby’s, Adweek, The Drum, and Ad Fed MN.
Whatever the pursuit, Erin employs an innovative approach and an adaptable and creative disposition. We can’t wait to experience her magic this year at STORY.
Born in Heidelberg Germany, Cress Williams currently stars as DC’s title-character in The CW’s critically acclaimed Greg Berlanti drama Black Lightning from powerhouse producers Mara Brock Akil and Salim Akil. The first season scored a thunderous debut drawing the best series premiere ratings launch numbers for The CW in two years which also marked the network’s first show with a black actor in the lead role.
On the theatre side, Williams has performed in over 20+ plays including: Othello, Elephant Man, Extremities and Red Noses.
Williams’ extensive acting resume also includes the classic films Two Days in the Valley opposite an all- star cast including James Spader, Jeff Daniels, Teri Hatcher, Keith Carradine, Eric Stoltz and Charlize Theron, as well as the still ever popular Never Been Kissed with Drew Barrymore, Michael Vartan, David Arquette, John C. Reilly, Molly Shannon, Gary Marshall and Octavia Spencer.
In television, Williams has had roles on some of the most iconic, critically acclaimed and #1 shows of their time including E.R., NYPD BLUE, The West Wing, Grey's Anatomy and Friday Night Lights. Other TV credits include four successful seasons as a series regular on Hart of Dixie starring alongside Rachel Bilson as well as other stints on Prison Break, Living Single, Nash Bridges, Close to Home, Code Black, Cold Case and Beverly Hills 90210.
Imagine that it’s your job to help tell the story of how NASA explores the solar system and beyond.
Imagine it’s your job to make people feel more connected to the cosmos.
Imagine it’s your job to help people remember they are explorers.
That’s the responsibility of Preston Dyches, and he still pinches himself every day that he gets paid to do it.
Preston is a writer, editor, producer, and host at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Southern California. He's a dedicated science communicator with a profound interest in sharing stories of discovery that help people remember they're explorers at heart. He produces and hosts live events, as well as NASA's longest running video series to share monthly stargazing highlights. (Inspired by STORY 2019 speakers like Linda Woolverton and Ken Black, he added a Basset Hound-shaped constellation into the March video.)
Together with STORY 2016 speaker Dan Goods, Preston rallied thousands of ham radio operators to transmit a Morse code greeting to a passing NASA spacecraft. (It heard them!) In 2017, he coordinated communications for the end of NASA's robotic Cassini mission, which dove repeatedly beneath Saturn's rings before burning up in the atmosphere. He wrote and produced an animated video, "Cassini's Grand Finale," to frame Cassini's end as a heroic final mission, rather than a tragedy. For their efforts in interactive storytelling, the JPL Cassini team won NASA's first Emmy award.
Preston also works to enhance storytelling for teams of scientists and engineers developing new missions for NASA. He and his colleagues bring the tools of story to the technical realm, to help modern day explorers find the most compelling case for the journeys they dream of taking to distant worlds.
We can’t wait to for Preston to help us bring the STORY 2020 theme to life!
Adrienne Brown was born in Omaha Nebraska and for as long as she can remember, she’s always had a love of music, history, and art. Unable to attend art school, Adrienne provided her own art education by visiting museums, art galleries and studying the work of the masters both historical and contemporary.
After deciding on a move to Los Angeles in hopes of getting work in the entertainment business, she worked as a pastel portrait artist for over 30 years. However, without college credentials, her job searches failed to bear fruit and her art future looked bleak. While taking night art classes, her work came to the attention of a local art director. Impressed by her talents and work ethic, Adrienne was soon offered a job in the theme park company. In time, that work led to a two-year stint in Tokyo, Japan where she continued her work as a set designer for Landmark Entertainment, designing attractions for Sanrio.
Returning to the states, Adrienne arrived at the Walt Disney Company to provide technical assistance to the publishing department which was then undergoing a transition from traditional illustration to digital. In time, the entire publishing production pipeline would be digital and the Disney Company found itself lacking in artists who were adaptable to working in both mediums. Soon, the Disney Company insisted Adrienne give up her position as a freelancer and begin working for the company as a full-time employee.
Today, Adrienne has been with the Walt Disney Company for 26 years, freelancing included. She has been working as an illustrator and art director on the many storybooks published by Disney Publishing Worldwide. She continues to be an important creative asset for the Disney Company and her work is enjoyed by readers the world over.
Joining Adrienne at STORY this year is her husband, Floyd Norman, where together they’ll have a conversation with our community, enabling us to soak up the years of experience that come from a long and successful career as storytellers.
Floyd Norman is an animator, writer, and comic book artist who worked under Walt Disney’s personal supervision. He was born in 1935 in Santa Barbara, California, and began producing animated films while he was still in high school. Early in his career, Norman worked with Bill Woggon on the animated comic book series, Archie.
In the 1960s, Norman attended the Art Center School in Pasadena, California, majoring in illustration. After only two years of study, Norman was hired at Walt Disney Studios. He started working as an animator on the film, Sleeping Beauty and was promoted to the story department, working directly for Walt himself on the story sequence for scenes in the animated film, The Jungle Book. Norman met fellow African American animation artist Leo Sullivan right after Sullivan graduated from college and began searching for employment. The two animators realized that they had similar interests and started working with each other on various animated films. In the mid-1960s, Norman left Walt Disney Studios, and alongside Sullivan, founded Vignette Films, Inc. where they produced six animated films on the subject of black history.
In the 1970s, Norman wrote and produced animated segments for Sesame Street, Villa Alegre, and dozens of other educational films. In addition, Norman supervised the animation layout at Hanna-Barbera Productions and storyboarded several shows, including The Flintstones, The Smurfs, and Scooby Doo. In the 1980s, Norman returned to Disney and wrote the syndicated Mickey Mouse comic strip.
Norman went on to work on feature-length animated films such as The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Mulan, Toy Story 2, and more. Quite simply, he is a legend in his craft, and we can’t wait to sit at his feet and soak up his more wisdom this year at STORY through a much requested, extended conversation.
Brooke explores the darkness and light in people, and her work looks at that juxtaposition. As a self-portrait artist, she photographs herself and becomes the characters of dreams inspired by a childhood of intense imagination and fear. Being the creator and the actor, Brooke controls her darkness and confronts those fears.
After studying films for years in college, she realized her love of storytelling was universal. She started photography, then in 2008, excited to create in solitude and take on character roles herself. Brooke works from a place of theme, often gravitating toward death and rebirth or beauty and decay.
Ultimately, her process is more discovery than creation. She follows her curiosity into the unknown to see whom her characters might become. Brooke believes the greatest gift an artist has is the ability to channel fears, hopes and experience into a representation of one's potential.
While her images come from a personal place of exploration, the goal in creating is not only to satisfy herself; her greatest wish is to show others a part of themselves. Art is a mirror for the creator and the observer .
Brooke's passion is storytelling, and her life is engulfed in it. From creating self-portraits and writing to international adventures and motivational speeches, she wants to live a thousand lives in one. She keeps her curiosity burning to live a truly interesting story.
Seth Worley is a writer and director of branded films and commercials for clients like JJ Abrams’s Bad Robot, Sandwich Video, and most notably Red Giant, where since 2012 he has served as Senior Content Creator, making award-winning short films, ads, and tutorials to show off Red Giant’s tools for VFX and motion design.
Seth is also the creative director at Plot Devices, a company heco-founded in 2017 with his friends Anne Fogerty and Micah Lanier to make tools for turning ideas into stories. Tools like the Storyclock Workbook for outlining and breaking story ideas, and the Storyboard Workbook for shotlisting and storyboarding. Plot Devices’s first product, the Storyclock Notebook, was brought to life by 5,354 Kickstarter backers, raising over $120,000 in 30 days.
Usually mixing character-driven comedy with high-concept spectacle, Seth’s short films include the Webby-winning Plot Device, Seussian fable Old/New: Narrated by Patton Oswalt, dark comedy Real Gone (winner of the Music Bed Film Festival judge's choice award), sci-fi action set piece Tempo (one of Slate's "Six Best Sci-Fi Shorts of 2012”), and the “24-meets-Take-Your-Daughter-To-Work-Day” dramedy Form 17.
Seth’s work has been featured in Forbes, USA Today, The Hollywood Reporter, Fast Company, Slate, io9, SlashFilm, The Tonight Show, and more.
It’s rare for STORY to host a speaker two straight years in a row, but judging by last year’s conference surveys, Seth’s new talk will go down as one of the most talked-about presentations of the conference. Don’t miss it. And if you do, don’t say we didn’t warn you.
Christina Blacken is a public speaker, performer, podcast host of “Sway them in Color,” and founder of The New Quo. The New Quo is a leadership development and communication consultancy helping leaders tap into their narrative intelligence and the psychological power of story to transform behavior, build inclusive culture, and communicate new ideas with deeper connection and influence to achieve status quo breaking goals.
Christina’s mission is to help every person become a leader through the power of their narrative intelligence and storytelling skills, bringing gender and racial equity into leadership in work and business. She provides copywriting services for underrepresented founders, and has taught 445 leaders how to transform themselves, their habits, and their workplace cultures on the topics of inclusive leadership, imposter syndrome, bias, and culture change.
Before running her business, she worked for 10 years in corporate America using stories to drive change including inspiring 300k teens to take action on pro-social causes, and closing 6.5M in sales with the teams and household brands she's worked with. The New Quo has been featured in Elle.com, Cosmopolitan, Marie Claire, Huffington Post, Forbes, Business Insider, and Thrive.com among other outlets.
As an Utah native & NYC resident for 10 years, she knows more uses for jello than she’d like to admit. We can’t wait to hear about some of them, and learn from her wisdom and creative genius along the way at STORY 2020.
Brad Montague is no stranger to the STORY community. Back for a FIFTH repeat appearance on the STORY main stage due to never-ending demand, he’s practically part of our family, and at this point, it’s hard to imagine a STORY gathering without him. Brad is a writer and director on a mission to create things for kids and former kids.
He is the creator of Kid President, the popular web series featured on Rainn Wilson’s Soulpancake Youtube channel that has been viewed more than 16 million times. He’s also the New York Times Bestselling Author of the book, Kid President’s Guide to Being Awesome, and is a popular online storyteller whose stories of birds, balloons and floating people have become friends of classrooms all over the world.
Will Brad be making his way on stage in a spacesuit again, after time-traveling from the future? Will he be back to passing out hand-drawn maps for all 1000+ STORY attendees to guide them on their creative journeys? We never really know until he shows up in Nashville, but we can’t wait to see what he has up his magical storytelling sleeves yet again at STORY 2019.
Chené Swart is a Narrative Therapist from South Africa who has been translating these ideas and practices with organisations, communities and individuals from various cultures and contexts. Her work builds on the gifts of narratives, human connectedness, diversity, transformation and magic that inspired the book, Re-authoring the World! For the last 20 years she has been exploring how we can take back the pen and re-author with dignity and beauty our human presence in this world.The work she brings is an offering to change and challenge the way we look so that we can see and do differently in our relatedness with ourselves, one another and the world. She believes that “the way things are” can be challenged, re-authored and transformed and is committed to participate in and contribute to conversations and actions that re-author our world towards the common good, one narrative at a time.
After completing her degree in graphic design, Alicja promptly gave up artboards for apertures when she discovered photography. After a 10-year stint as a photographer, Alicja discovered the flexibility of paper imagery and fell in love.
We can’t wait to show you what Alicja has been working on, and the magic she’s bringing to life for us as part of the STORY 2020 experience. Trust us, it’s far from “virtual.”
Shabazz Larkin is an American artist, painter, writer, illustrator, book-maker, and product designer. He has worked as an art director for many creative advertising agencies, working with many of the world’s largest brands from Pepsi to Sean Combs, and helped Barack Obama launch the My Brother’s Keeper Alliance, his first initiative after leaving the White House.
Larkin lives in Nashville, TN, where he has become a rising voice in the fine art world. He paints portraits of black people in stark black or red skin, a rebellion against Eurocentric notions of beauty, and is best known for his desire to capture the beauty of resilience in black culture. His technique of vandalizing photographs, overwhelming use of colour and bold typography veils his true intention to explore issues of race, justice, and spirituality.
Larkin’s many projects and interests include the God Speaks Project, which documents accounts of normal people’s encounters with God, which he’s begun writing on oversized paper and placing them around Nashville, TN. He is also the founder of Larkin Art & Company, creating a line of creative products that bridge the mindfulness gap for Black, Indeginous, and People of Color, like children's books with black protagonists, a family game that celebrates the intersection of African and American culture, and self-care tools that leverage black culture. His books have environmental themes and include Farmer Will Allen and the Growing Table (2013) and The Thing About Bees (2019).
Shannon previously served as the Associate Brand Writing Manager for Action Brands at Hasbro Toys, where she helped create stories for some of the world’s biggest brands including Star Wars, Marvel, and Jurassic World. Shannon is an intrepid learner with a love for data and dad jokes alike. She takes great pride in her role in giving voice to new stories and sharing them with the world through surprising avenues and unexpected outputs. Shannon passionately supports the Oxford comma and will talk vintage mopeds with you any day of the week.
Previously the Associate Director of Creative Strategy at Skyword, Inc. in Boston, Shannon is now pursuing her next great creative adventure.This will be Shannon’s fourth year attending Story and her second time presenting. Her 2018 workshop received rave reviews, and we can’t wait to learn from her from the STORY stage.
Eric Jones has made a name for himself in the world of magic. Armed with sleight-of-hand, Eric dazzles his audiences with his digital dexterity. He uses these tools to entertain and astound his audiences. Ordinary, everyday items become objects of fancy as Eric delicately handles them. Coins multiply, cards fly, and audiences cheer.
An award-winning performer, Eric Jones’s magic has been showcased at the world-famous Magic Castle in Hollywood and Monday Night Magic, NYC’s longest-running Off-Broadway magic show.
Eric has appeared on television in 19 countries spanning 5 continents and has wowed dozens of A-List celebrities all over the globe. As an author, creator, performer, and consultant, Eric's expertise is sought out by Fortune 500 companies such as Merrill Lynch, State Farm, Coca-Cola, and more.
Eric was a contestant on Season 2 of Penn & Teller: Fool Us where he successfully fooled the duo and was a top 12 semi-finalist on Season 12 of NBC's America's Got Talent.
We can’t wait to see what he has up his sleeves for STORY.
(Photo by Karsten Staiger)
Dixon Chibanda is the founder and CEO of the Friendship Bench. The Friendship Bench programme is a brief psychological intervention delivered by community health workers. It was started in 2006 in Mbare, one of Harare, Zimbabwe’s townships, and is now impacting the stories of live around the world.
In his role as PI, he led the Friendship Bench team through the rigorous exercise of a randomized control trial (RCT) which was able to deliver the evidence of the intervention’s effectiveness which went on to be published in the Journal of American Medicine Association (JAMA). With this backing evidence he has refined, adapted, and scaled the intervention up both nationally and internationally.
Dixon is a key player in bringing various stakeholders from local health authorities, health professionals, national and international researchers, and donors together to form successful collaborations. Chibanda's research interest focuses on the development of interventions delivered by non-professionals aimed at narrowing the treatment gap for mental, neurological, and substance use disorders.
He is passionate about connecting with ordinary people in ways that improve their lives using simple but effective programs that can be carried out by non-specialists. He likes to think outside the box as he explores ways of helping people with common mental health disorders. He is a black belt martial arts instructor and is passionate about using alternative interventions such as tai-chi and karate to enhance resilience in young people.
When our team became aware of Dixon’s work through the Friendship Bench, we knew it was special and is sure to be a highlight of STORY 2020.
David Hutchens has been exploring the intersection of narrative, leadership, and complex systems change for more than 20 years. A bestselling author, business writer and learning designer, he creates solutions for Accenture, Harvard Business Review, L’Oreal, PayPal, The Coca-Cola Company, Wal-Mart, IBM, The US Olympic Committee, and many others. His partnerships include a recurring instructor position with the globally renowned INSEAD School of Business in Fontainebleau, France.
David speaks to organizations and leadership teams all around the world on the topic of storytelling as an organizational capacity. His new book is “Story Sprint”, due Winter, 2021, and will be his tenth book. He is the author of “Circle of the 9 Muses: A Storytelling Field Guide for Innovators and Meaning Makers,” (Wiley & Sons 2015). He is also the creator of the Leadership Story Deck — an innovative, card-based resource for developing narrative driven communications.
David has served as an executive speechwriter or ghostwriter for global thought leaders such as Stephen M.R. Covey, and the CEO of The Coca-Cola Company.
In partnership with Experience To Lead, he develops or facilitates immersive story-driven leadership programs such as The Team USA Leadership Experience at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado springs; and The Apollo Leadership Experience at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston.
We have much to learn from David’s vast experience as a highly successful storyteller, and we can’t wait to do so together this year at STORY.
Dr. Kandiah is a social entrepreneur with a vision to help solve some of society’s seemingly intractable problems through building partnerships across civil society, faith communities, government, and philanthropy.
Dr. Kandiah is the founding director of Home For Good, a charity seeking to find loving homes for children in the care system. He is a passionate advocate for family reunification, fostering, and adoption in order to make a real difference in the lives of vulnerable children worldwide.
Dr. Kandiah has written 13 books including the catalytic “Home for Good: Making a Difference for Vulnerable Children” and the award-winning “Paradoxology.” Dr. Kandiah is a regular contributor to The Times of London and The Guardian and is a regular broadcaster on BBC Radio 4 and Radio 2.
Dr. Kandiah is in demand as a speaker at both national and international conferences. He has presented to a full house at TEDx Oxford on the topic “Can Hospitality Change the World?” He is a member of the Global Leadership Summit faculty and has spoken in places as diverse as Apple HQ in Cupertino, the GooglePlex, the Cabinet Office in Westminster, and the Royal Albert Hall.
We are looking forward to learning from him at STORY 2020.
JOE TOWNE is an award-winning writer and director with a degree from USC (the University of Southern California.) He’s coached people for the past 19 years working with professional athletes, corporations and artists. Joe wrote a book about how our inner reality affects our outer experience. He has acted with Hillary Swank and was the on set voice for Garfield the Cat. Most recently, you can see Joe opposite Rebel Wilson in Isn’t It Romantic. He founded the Performers Mindset in 2018, and is playing an important, integrated role in STORY 2020 that is not to be missed.
John Bucher is a mythologist and storyteller based out of Hollywood, California. He serves as Content Curator for the Joseph Campbell Foundation and is an author, podcaster, and communicator.
John has worked with companies including HBO, DC Comics, The History Channel, A24 Films, The John Maxwell Leadership Foundation, and served as a consultant and writer for numerous film, television, and Virtual Reality projects. He is the author of six books including the best-selling Storytelling for Virtual Reality, named by BookAuthority as one of the best storytelling books of all time. Disruptor named him one of the top 25 influencers in Virtual Reality.
John teaches writing and story courses in the Los Angeles area and around the world. He holds a Ph.D. in Mythology and Depth Psychology and has spoken on 5 continents about using the power of story and myth to reframe how individuals, organizations, cultures, and nations are viewed.
John is no stranger to the STORY community. We can’t wait to soak up his invaluable wisdom and perspective this year at STORY 2020.
Marc Pimsler is an entrepreneur, published author, sought after experiential trainer, therapist, and coach. Since 2004 Marc has worked in a variety of counseling and consulting capacities. He is as passionate about being a part of clients’ healing, as he is about helping others unlock the power of experiential work to support the change process in individuals and teams.
Marc owns and operates MVP Consulting, a therapeutic consulting firm, where he serves individuals and families in need, specializing in addressing addiction, shame and trauma. Marc is the Clinical Experiential Specialist at Onsite Workshops, a world-renowned emotional health retreat center located in the rolling hills of Tennessee, an hour outside of Nashville.
Marc also serves as the executive director of the International Society for Experiential Professionals (ISEP). In 2019, Marc was awarded the Georgia Counselor of the Year by the Georgia Addiction Counselor Association. In addition to his therapy certifications, Marc is certified as a yoga and meditation teacher.
Marc is passionate about the work of recovery, both his own as well as his clients’ and believes that sometimes all we need is a helping hand and a fresh perspective. Grounded in the belief system that everyone has the capacity to recover, Marc brings humor, spirituality, and creativity to everything he is involved in.
What does experiential therapy have to do with your work as a storyteller? More than you may currently realize, regardless of your creative medium. Find out by experiencing Marc’s main stage talk at STORY 2020.
Susan is on a mission to free people’s self-expression. Susan is a Broadway, film and TV actor, a writer, an interviewer, a teacher, and on top of that, spent 20 years in corporate and management. She blended all of that experience into Susan Blackwell + co., where she and her team are teaching artists who apply creative and performance techniques to real-world challenges. They’ve created and led transformational development experiences for thousands of people at fortune 100 companies, world-class arts organizations, universities, and other institutions.
Susan is no stranger to the STORY stage, and we’re excited to show you what’s in the works for this year’s collaboration.
Ben Stewart is co-founder of Louder Agency, a proud partner of STORY. He’s spent over a decade helping brands make a great first impression online with intentional, customer-centric marketing and web strategies. Today he’s on a mission to help purposeful leaders increase their impact on the world by telling better stories, and will help you do the same through his main-stage talk this year at STORY.
Harris III (“the third”) is the visionary director and curator behind STORY and has almost 30 years of experimentation as a creative entrepreneur.
Harris began his career at a young age, traveling the world as an award-winning, professional illusionist. He has performed for and spoken live to more than two million people in more than 30 countries on five continents. His performances have been televised to millions more on the Travel Channel and ABC Family.
After traveling the globe and making a million dollars by the age of 21, only to go bankrupt a year later, Harris kick-started a decade-long journey to understand the stories we tell ourselves and how they drive all human behavior. Armed with a unique perspective, his career re-exploded as a world-renowned speaker, storyteller, and entrepreneur.
He is the creator of Transformation Theory and author of the book, The Wonder Switch. In 2016, Harris founded the Istoria Collective, a consultancy and innovation agency. He is a sought after coach, creative consultant and experience designer, and a quiet producer behind a diverse slate of TV and film projects, backed by a 7-figure development fund. In 2019, he founded the STORY Foundation, a non-profit focused on raising up and empowering the next generation of storytellers to change the future.
Join us at STORY 2020, where Harris will serve as our host and guide, delivering a brand-new talk on the power we have as storytellers to leverage both our individual and collective power to initiate and navigate change.
On day two, you’ll have the opportunity to choose from a variety of expert teachers and facilitators, interact with other participants, participate in panel conversations and if you choose, jump on camera and ask questions in real-time along the way. In addition to extended sessions with most of our day one presenters, we’re excited to offer breakout-style workshops from the following presenters.
From pursuing that advertising corner office on Madison Avenue before she had even finished college to helping found and build charity:water alongside her husband, Scott Harrison, to creating and launching her own company, The Branded Startup, Viktoria Harrison has helped to tell some amazing stories over the years.
Viktoria is an entrepreneur, former graphic designer, and non-profit strategist who recently launched her company, The Branded Startup, which comes alongside first-time creative entrepreneurs to help them navigate the early and lean years of starting a business. She quips that entrepreneurs are often “building the plane as you’re flying it”, and through intentional strategy and her years of experience, Viktoria knows how imperative creating your public image is through branding, website building, social media, and even customer service emails. Her goal is to help new businesses find their voice and create a remarkable brand, all while having fun in the process.
Danielle is a second-generation daughter of refugees of Indian/Central Asian/European descent living on the traditional lands of the Haudenosaunee/Anishinaabek/Mohawk and Métis Nations of Turtle Island.
Danielle is a Sony-sponsored and award-winning documentary photographer/filmmaker, and her first feature documentary is called “Reckoning with the Wendigo” (with plans to enter the festival circuit this year). She has created several award-winning short documentaries for Photographers Without Borders (which she is Founder and CEO), and her images have been published by the British Journal of Photography, National Geographic, the United Nations, The Independent, The Economist, and the book Cities, Slums, and Gender in the Global South: Towards a Feminised Urban Future, among others.
Danielle has done two TEDx talks called “Grassroots Narrative” and “Connection is the Key to Conservation”, is a speaker for Sony Canada, and is also a speaker for Nat Geo Aveiro Fest in November 2019. She has worked with hundreds of NGOs and communities, traveling to over 80 countries, and learning more than 6 languages including French, English, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, some Swahili, and Indonesian. She is currently learning Hindi and Arabic.
Danielle has Honours BS’s in Conservation Biology, Psychology, and Global Studies from the University of Western Ontario and an MSc in Environment and Development from the London School of Economics. She has published research in the book Climate Governance in the Developing World and completed a distinguished Master’s dissertation exploring the psychology of climate change messaging. She was also an instructor at Fleming College for the Environmental Visual Communications post-graduate program taught at the Royal Ontario Museum.
She is most passionate about helping humans decolonize, heal, protect, reimagine, and reconnect with themselves, Earth, and all things we share life with.
Nora Rahimian is a creative consultant who helps artists and entrepreneurs achieve success on their own terms. By putting power back in the hands of cultural creators, Nora ensures that artists and brands never have to give up creative control or personal integrity. She sees the arts and storytelling as ways to create the emotional catalysts that lead to behavior change, whether it be changing people’s emotional behavior around social justice issues or connecting consumers to products that better serve them. With her unique approach to conscious business-building and artist empowerment, Nora’s work has been recognized internationally; she is a UNAOC Fellow, has spoken at conferences such as ISPA, SXSW, and A3C, was named one of iStandard’s Women Who Run The Music Industry, and has been recognized as a trailblazer by VoyageLA.
In 2011, while earning a Master’s in International Affairs, she began managing Liberian hip co-artist, Takun J, making her the first artist manager in Liberia. During her time with Takun J, Nora secured partnerships with the EU and UNICEF, placements in outlets such as BET and Forbes, and started Liberia’s first music festival, successfully bringing together 20,000 people in 2 days.
In 2014, Nora co-founded #CultureFix, a global network of cultural producers who collaborate across borders and use their platforms for social change. #CultureFix has produced various events, including a conversation series in partnership with Artivist Entertainment, facilitated creative collaborations for artists across borders and genres, and advised several entertainment-education campaigns, including the Honesty Oscars with Accountability Lab and ONE. Nora also co-produces Den Music Fest, an independent hip hop festival in Atlanta that celebrates good music and good people over follower count and vanity metrics.
In her spare time, Nora is a board member for Year Up Los Angeles and volunteers as a Senior Domestic Violence Support Group Facilitator with Sojourn. We can’t wait to learn from her this year at STORY.
A brutally honest consultant, Emily Cohen has been honored to consult and work with many leading design firms across the country. Through these experiences, she has developed, tested, and curated key business insights and strategies that have helped firms become more effective, profitable, and fun to work at.
Emily conducts strategic business planning retreats and provides confidential, best-practice insights and advice to staff, client, and process-management strategies. She loves sharing her expertise through speaking engagements, guest posts, her courses on LinkedIn Learning/lynda.com and Skillshare, her industry activism, and, most recently, her new business book for creatives, Brutally Honest: No-bullshit business strategies to evolve your creative business. Emily is also a fast-talker, a designer by degree, an avid reader, a trend-spotter, a connector, and her client’s advocate.
Jim Krueger is an award-winning filmmaker, New York Times best-selling author, copy-writer, video game developer, and comic book writer. He is quite literally one of the best storytellers we’ve ever met. He’s worked on everything from the X-Men to Batman and Superman to the Avengers, Star Wars, and the Justice League of America. Because of his curiosity about comic books and stories, he developed two new comic book formats, both of which were later utilized by DC and Marvel. Creator's dream of doing work with one of their industries leading brands—like DC. Or Marvel. Jim’s formats were utilized by both. (No big deal, right?) He is a former Creative Director at Marvel Entertainment Group and has since gone on to consistently produce extraordinary work.
We aren’t sure we need to say much more than that. Don’t miss his workshop this year at STORY.
Vera Leung is the Creative Director at International Justice Mission, the world's largest anti-slavery organization. She is leading a bold team of change-makers and storytellers to create ground-breaking, award-winning work, leading many to comment that IJM is producing some of the best storytelling work in the world.
Vera is passionate about creating social change through inspired people, powerful stories, and compelling design. She has taken her passion and skills to countries all around the world to tell the stories of those enslaved in some of the darkest situations. Her work brings these issues to light in the most beautiful ways that initiate change and celebrate the hope that can be found in the darkness.
Rick has worked in kids & family entertainment development his entire career, including over 20 years with DreamWorks Animation, featuring projects such as The Prince of Egypt, Shrek, Kung Fu Panda, How To Train Your Dragon and Trolls. Past properties include Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles; The Lost World: Jurassic Park; Men in Black and Small Soldiers.
Rick is currently Executive Vice President of Breyer Horses, the industry-leading lifestyle brand for anyone who ever loved horses, and recently announced a broad content development deal with Ron Howard & Brian Grazer’s Imagine Entertainment, led by an original live-action TV series being developed for HBO Max.
In 2019, Rick created Shapes, an original comic book series published by Cave Pictures Publishing; and is the author of One Small Step, a personal story of a young family dealing with the effects of suicide and alcoholism recovery.
Rick serves on advisory boards for Los Angeles Pacific University; The National Mental Health Innovation Center; Blueprint 1543; and the Wedgwood Circle. A proud dad of three strong independent daughters, Rick lives in Pasadena with his wife Vicki of 27 years and their schnoodle-dog Winston.
Rick has been a long-time friend of STORY, and we consider him one of the world’s leading storytelling experts. We can’t wait to learn from him alongside you.
Gillian grew up immersed in creativity, travel and adventure. At 21, she began her career as a professional dancer and actor. For the next 20 years she toured Europe and North America performing on stage with innovative dance and theatre companies, as well as acting in TV series, movies and hundreds of commercials.
In 2004, she joined Cirque du Soleil’s casting team, and began travelling the world scouting and auditioning artists for the company’s 22 shows. In 2006, was named the artistic casting director The Beatles LOVE show, featured at the Mirage Hotel in Las Vegas. She was promoted in 2012 to Director of the Creative Lab for Cirque du Soleil Media, where she developed and co-produced projects for the international film, TV and new media (VR/AR) markets. Highlights include the video game Child of Light with Ubisoft, the preschool animated series Luna Petunia for Netflix in partnership with Saban Brands and the Emmy-award winning VR short Inside The Box: Kurios with Felix & Paul Studios.
Gillian is a certified coach of the Hendricks Institute, and a graduate of their 2-year Transformational Leadership program. She has coached artists, designers and entrepreneurs; clients include Sarah Selecky, Jeff McErlain, Emilie Baltz, Harris III, Melissa Mongiat and Suzy Batiz.
In 2018, Gillian founded Kite Parade, bringing together her years of experiences in storytelling, creative direction and large-scale production, with her knowledge and expertise in business and creative leadership. Kite Parade clients include: Cirque du Soleil, Poopourri, San Pellegrino, Supernatural, Toursime Montreal, Daily Tous Les Jours Design Studio, Neurological Institute of Montreal and others.
For more than a decade, Louis has served as Chief Storyteller within a variety of global brands across the tech landscape.
Technology can be complex, people are complex, and the intersection of the two can be overwhelming. Louis lives at this intersection where he leverages the power of well-crafted and often, very simple stories and analogies to assist business leaders in understanding challenges and imagining solutions.
Louis has been honored to share his insights in hundreds of conferences in 20+ countries. He’s passionate about the need to respect and revive the creative spirit in individuals and organizations, which fuels his desire to share stories with audiences of all sizes.
Dan Goods is passionate about creating moments where people are reminded of the gift and privilege of being alive.
During the day he leads an amazing team of artists and creators at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory transforming complex concepts into meaningful stories that can be universally understood. The team's work is seen in public spaces, art museums, and is in outer space.
Dan was recently honored with NASA’s Exceptional Public Service Award. In the past, he was selected as “One of the most interesting people in Los Angeles” by the LA Weekly. In 2002 he graduated valedictorian from the graphic design program at Art Center College of Design. Dan currently lives in Altadena, CA with his wife and three kids.
After presenting at STORY 2016, we’re excited to have Dan back this year, tuning in from JPL for an insightful workshop that will help you improve your craft as a storyteller.
Rachel K. Cross is a globally-accomplished marketer, business coach, writer, speaker, and the Chief Marketing Sherpa of Rachel K Group, a boutique marketing consulting firm specializing in launching brands, developing world-class marketing communications, and helping creative professionals start the solopreneur business they’ve always dreamed of.
Rachel’s Freelance Freedom Program is a groundbreaking way to help corporate professionals create careers aligned with their overall life vision so they can experience more freedom, flexibility, and joy in all areas.
In her free time, Rachel loves globe trotting, snowboarding, scuba diving, and cooking. She’s trying to stretch her way into being a yogi and finds meditation an essential part of her day. The thing that makes her life most extraordinary is spending time with her “plus one” and an incredible community of friends.
Benjamin Von Wong's work lies at the intersection of fantasy and photography and combines everyday objects with shocking statistics. It has attracted the attention of corporations, like Starbucks, Dell, and Nike, and has generated over 100 million views for causes like ocean plastics, electronic waste, and fashion pollution. Most recently, he was named one of Adweek's 11 content branded masterminds. He is also the host of the Impact Everywhere Podcast.
Back for another year at STORY, Ben was a STORY 2019 favorite. His enthusiasm and ability to speak to the heart of why we create has had a massive impact on the community. Don’t miss the way he’ll be serving photographers this year through a value-packed breakout opportunity.
Jason Jaggard is an entrepreneur, leadership coach and activist. He is the founding partner of Novus Global, a tribe of elite executive coaches on 3 continents working with professional athletes, world-renowned story-tellers and leaders in business and government to create teams that go beyond high performance.
Sabrina is a mother, writer, storyteller, potter, and an award-winning actress. In her film and television career she has worked with such greats as Aaron Sorkin, Patrick Swayze, Gabriel Byrne, Judd Hirsch, and starred in such shows and films as Sports Night, Sliders, Numbers, FatherHood, and Hello Lonesome.
Sabrina took a break from acting to study creative writing at Columbia University in NYC and received a degree in English Literature from The University of London. Throughout her studies she moved around the world, living in Uganda, Rome, and Kenya, ending up on an island in the Salish Sea.
Sabrina’s life has been immersed in story. First, as an artist telling other people’s story, and now as an artist telling and shaping her own. You’re going to love the creative exercises you will be invited into throughout her interactive workshop this year at STORY.
Danielle is a narrative strategist, an analytical creative, and a professional poet. She deeply believes in the power of poetry as a cathartic tool and means of compelling storytelling. As a poet and content developer, she’s grown a deep belief in the power of poetry as a cathartic tool and means of compelling storytelling. Her work has been featured on the podcasts The Story of Her, The Back Pew, The Refined Woman Collective, Sounds Like a Movement, and of course The Story Podcast, as well as numerous other online publications.
Danielle has a Masters in Education, and wrote her thesis on arts education as a venue for social justice. She’s an east coast native, former Teach For America corps member, and Thai food lover. One day, she hopes to complete a New York Times Sunday crossword puzzle entirely on her own.
Steve embodies and defines the in-between - the bridges, the connections, and the culture - of community. By standing astride disciplines of design, architecture, culture and communications, he equips the creative community to speak for and solve for its own needs and aspirations.
Steve is the Founder of Culture Design Studio where he helps creative teams transform their culture and communication through workshops and coaching.
Sally Z is the founder of BeMoved and an award-winning speaker with a passion for helping purpose-driven leaders create and deliver talks that move their audiences and the world.
She is the host of This Moved Me, an Apple Podcast “New and Noteworthy” show on the art of public speaking, and has had the privilege of interviewing some of the biggest names in the industry, sharing insights and inspiration with her audience.
Sally has worked with a wide array of clients - from corporations like Viacom, Cargill, Chick-Fil-A and Thomson Reuters - to small agencies, entrepreneurs, authors and creative professionals. She offers Premium 1:1 coaching, speaking and workshops - as well as online course offerings, webinars and community support through her learning platform, Movers-U.
While most speaker coaches focus on creating more ‘perfect’ presentations, Sally’s focus is on bringing the human connection back to the front of the room through clear, compelling, authentic and intentional experiences.
Jeremy Casper is a filmmaker, a virtual reality animator, story consultant, instructor, and illustrator. Through his production company, Cornfed Pictures, Jeremy wrote, directed, and animated Lightning: A VR Story, the world’s first 360˚ 3D narrative animated film, created entirely IN virtual reality FOR virtual reality; it has been featured on Facebook360, YouTube360, VeeR, AmazeVR, and SamsungVR, and recently premiered on Oculus video.
Jeremy leads screenwriting and directing seminars all over the world, in partnership with The Global Short Film Network and the Visual Story Network. He co-authored two books on writing for short films – The Inside Out Story: Discovering Structure for Short Films, and his most recent, Master of the Cinematic Universe: The Secret Code to Writing in the New World of Media. He is the former Co-Director of the Los Angeles Film Studies Center where he taught Narrative Storytelling, Professional Screenwriting, and Animating in Virtual Reality.
Our episode of the STORY Podcast with Jeremy on the subject of “Transcendent Storytelling” is still one of our most downloaded and commented on episodes of all time, and we’re thrilled Jeremy is back at STORY this year to lead a workshop.
A life-long history buff, Blake discovered wet plate collodion photography in 2010—a perfect combination of science, history, and art. The meticulous process of creating civil war-era photographs presented a new challenge and medium for his photography and presents an incredible opportunity for us to gain insight into the concept and value of liminal space. Last year, Blake helped us gain insight into the concept and value of liminal space by turning the Schermerhorn Symphony Hall into what might have possibly been the largest darkroom in the world.
This year, Blake will be presenting the wet plate collodion process virtually, giving attendees to his workshop a more in-depth and interactive walkthrough from start to finish. Sit along with him as he exposes an image and then steps into the darkroom to develop, fix, and wash the tintype to completion (minus the smell of ether and collodion, of course).
Janet Wood is an Executive Coach and the Director of The Meta Performance Institute for Coaching at Novus Global. She’s also a firebrand for limitless growth. It’s her drive for mastery that draws in Fortune 500 executives, founders, and creative entrepreneurs.
Janet has catalyzed clients across media, technology, music, public relations, and fashion. She’s also done the same for high performers she leads worldwide at The Institute, a year-long executive coaching certification that trains individuals to develop coaching practices that catapult leaders.
She honed these practices alongside today’s leading coaches who rank in the top 10% of industry earners. Their continued collaboration allows Janet to bring the power of a global firm to each of her clients. Together, they constantly put a microscope on each other’s processes and keep up with the cutting edge of reinvention.
Joel McKerrow is an award winning writer, speaker, educator, creativity specialist and, having performed for hundreds of thousands of people throughout the world, is one of Australia’s most successful, internationally touring, performance poets.
Based out of Melbourne, Australia he is the Artist Ambassador for the aid and development organization ‘TEAR Australia’ and was the co-founder of community arts organization, 'The Centre for Poetics and Justice.’ Joel was the third ever Australian representative at the Individual World Poetry Slam Championships in the USA, is a successful play-wright, author of four published books, has released three spoken word/music albums and he hosts the podcast: The Deep Place: On Creativity and Spirituality.
Joel is passionate about the shaping force of narrative upon our identity and how story can reveal who we are and who we may become both individually and collectively. Richard Rohr says of Joel’s work that he, 'draws us through a much better window, appeals to a deeper knowing and helps us see with a clearer lens.'
David is a technology entrepreneur who uses data to craft business narratives. He founded the tech company Dialsmith. Their tech is used to capture real-time opinions—moment by moment. What they quickly learned is that they can also use that data to understand people’s motivations and actually predict how they will behave.
From this, David founded Engagious—a unique messaging consultancy that leverages science for effective storytelling. David and his team at Engagious use qualitative research—and a healthy dose of behavioral science—to help companies craft stories that elicit action. His Engagious team has worked for clients such as Coca-Cola, Comcast, TED, and many others.
David showcased his expertise last year at STORY, when he used the audience as guinea pigs in his social experiment. He is thrilled to be back this year talking about his new findings on creative barriers.
David grew up in the ‘burbs of Philadelphia, but has lived in Portland, Oregon, for the last 25 years with his wife and 2 teenage kids. In the (very narrow) margins, David spends time on photography (drone included), video production, and as much family time as he can get.
Self-described as a “Human, husband, father, pastor, singer-songwriter, and book lover,” we also know Seth as one of the STORY team’s favorite Enneagram teachers.
He is the creator and founder of the Integrated Enneagram, and the co-host of the popular Enneagram podcast, “Fathoms.”
Whether you are new to the Enneagram, or just want to deepen your understanding of its wisdom as a storyteller, don’t miss Seth’s workshop. He is a kind soul and a wise coach, leaving all who come in contact with his teaching transformed.
Jinahie (“my wings” in Arabic) is an Egyptian-American performance artist, educator, and social justice activist. Now in the fifth year of her national tour performing at colleges and universities across the country, we’re thrilled that she’ll be joining us by making a stop at STORY. Throughout her touring journeys she has collected hundreds of Potluck Poems, a collaboration among strangers in which a poem is completed during live performances by the contribution of a line from each audience member.
With her incredible presence on stage, combined with her extraordinary storytelling abilities, it’s no wonder she has performed at Sundance Film Festival, the U.S. Department of Education, United Nations, Smithsonian Institution, the Kennedy Center, and for Michelle Obama.
Prepare to laugh, be amazed, charmed, and likely shed a few tears as you experience one of the most impressive and fresh voices we’ve discovered in years.
Jim Woods is a writer who loves helping others bring their story into the world. He has written three books and is the founder of StoryCrafting. If you’re on a mission to give birth to a book of your own, his STORY 2020 workshop will show you the way.
More than Awesome Presenters
At STORY, everybody is a somebody, and sometimes your most meaningful insights may come from the discussions you have with those participating with you. In fact, each year over half of our main stage speaker lineup comes from within the STORY community. Many of today's A-list speakers were in the audience last year. You never know who you're going to meet and this year will be no different.
In addition to the two days of interactive programming, you’ll continue to have the opportunity to foster connections and build relationships with other members of the STORY community.
Built into the STORY 2020 experience are opportunities for you to intentionally network on specific topics of your choosing, or with other individuals or groups who work in a specific medium, artform, or industry.
Throughout the conference, you’ll have access to a variety of other opportunities such as Q&As with top presenters, industry panel discussions, supporting materials, an online community group, and a whole lot more.
Don't worry. This isn't a 48 hour-long Zoom call. We believe this will be our best year yet.
Innovative talks from the virtual main stage
Session 01: Meet Aurora
Session 02: Seeing in the Dark
Session 03: Magic Hour
Session 04: A New Day
A Special Evening of Storytelling
Interactive, virtual workshop experiences
Day Two Kick-Off Season
Workshop/Breakout Selection #1
Workshop/Breakout Selection #2
Workshop/Breakout Selection #3
Workshop/Breakout Selection #4
Closing Session + Send Off
All times listed are central time
Want to partner with STORY?
STORY is imagined and produced by Istoria: part consultancy, part innovation lab. Istoria is a Collective of artists, dreamers, strategists, and storytellers. We overcome challenges and solve large problems by establishing new narratives, with the vision of being the most positive and disruptive force to transform the future...through the power of story.
Want to partner with us? Email [email protected] to begin a conversation
Frequently Asked Questions
No, unfortunately STORY tickets are non-refundable.