We designed this training according to both what we wish we knew when we were starting out informed by best practices for finding your calling and developing the work you love.
We bring to you our decades of experience as writers and performers, facilitators and consultants, working widely with organizations and businesses as well as fellow travelers listening to the pulse of our own right livelihoods.
Our guest teachers -- Gregg Levoy, Ada Chang, Marianela Medrano, Huascar Medina, and Heather Forest -- illuminate how to craft a livelihood, sustain a practice, and serve others.
Laura Packer has been performing, coaching, writing, consulting, and leading the storytelling field for 25 years. She knows the best way to the truth is through a good story, and that this universally accessible artform creates empathy, builds bridges, and has the power to both heal and change the world. The winner of multiple awards for performance and leadership, Laura is the author of From Audience to Zeal: The ABCs of Finding, Crafting and Telling a Great Story. When she isn’t performing, Laura is the sole proprietor of ThinkStory, LLC, one of the nation’s foremost organizational consulting firms.
Laura’s storytelling work is focused on helping everyone live a full life, with a full range of experiences, including building and growing healthy relationships, radical forgiveness, environmental advocacy, listening, demystifying and destigmatizing grief and other powerful feelings, and trying to live as authentic and engaged a life as possible. You can learn more about her storytelling and coaching work at laurapacker.com, and her organizational work at thinkstory.com
Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg, Ph.D., Kansas Poet Laureate Emerita, is the founder of Transformative Language Arts, and a creativity consultant, coach, and workshop facilitator. She is the author of two dozen books, including How Time Moves: New & Selected Poems; Miriam's Well, a novel; Needle in the Bone, a non-fiction book on the Holocaust; The Sky Begins At Your Feet, a bioregional memoir on cancer and community; and the award-winning Chasing Weather. With singer Kelley Hunt, she co-leads Brave Voice writing and singing retreats.
Caryn has extensive experience founding, coordinating, and serving on the boards of arts and ecological/bioregional not-for-profits, and her expertise includes program development, organizational development, grant-writing, fundraising, marketing, and especially facilitation. Born hard-wired to make something (in art, music, and especially writing), Caryn’s long-time callings include writing as a spiritual and ecological path, yoga, cultivating a loving marriage, family, and community, and helping herself and others make and take leaps into the miraculous work of their lives. www.CarynMirriamGoldberg.com
Dr. Ada Cheng is a professor-turned-storyteller, solo performer, and storytelling show producer. She has been featured in storytelling shows and done her two solo performances all over the country. She is the producer and the host of four storytelling shows, including Pour One Out, Am I Man Enough?, Talk Stories: An Asian American/Asian Diaspora Storytelling Show, and Speaking Truths Series. She creates platforms for people to tell difficult and vulnerable stories as well as spaces for people and communities who may not have opportunities otherwise. She works as an Education and Outreach Specialist for Women's Leadership and Resource Center at UIC. Her interests span multiple fields, including academia, storytelling/performance art, and advocacy. Her motto: Make your life the best story you tell.
Gregg Levoy, author of Callings: Finding and Following An Authentic Life (Random House) and Vital Signs: Discovering and Sustaining Your Passion for Life (Penguin), the former “behavioral specialist” at USA Today, and a current blogger for Psychology Today. He has presented at the Smithsonian Institution, Environmental Protection Agency, International Conference on Positive Aging, Microsoft, American Counseling Association, National Career Development Association, and many others, and has appeared on ABC-TV, CNN, NPR and PBS. A former adjunct professor of journalism at the University of New Mexico, former columnist and reporter for many publications, including New York Times Magazine, Washington Post, and Fast Company.
Heather Forest is a modern-day bard. Her storytelling performances are a fusion of poetry, prose, original melody, and the sung and spoken word. A pioneer in the American storytelling revival she has shared her repertoire of world tales in theatres, schools, literature conferences, and storytelling festivals throughout the United States and abroad. A multiple award-winning author and recording artist, she has published seven children's picture books based on folktales, three folktale anthologies, eight audio recordings of storytelling and a popular educational web site StoryArts Online here. Ms. Forest is a recipient of the Circle of Excellence Award presented by the National Storytelling Network, U.S.A.
Huascar Medina, the Kansas Poet Laureate, is a poet, writer, and performer who lives in Topeka. He currently works as a freelance copywriter and as the Literary Editor for seveneightfive magazine publishing stories that spotlight literary and artistic events in northeast Kansas. His poemscan be found in his collection How to Hang the Moon, published by Spartan Press. He is the winner of ARTSConnect’s 2018 Arty Award for Literary Art. His forthcoming book Un Mango Grows in Kansas will be released in 2020. Listen to Huascar's "Three Rules for Writers" here. Photo by Dave Leiker.
Marianela Medrano is a Dominican writer, poet and a psychotherapist with a Ph.D in psychology whose practice include Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, Mindfulness, and Integral Psychotherapy. The author of numerous poetry books, Medrano's poetry has been widely published and translated. She is a certified poetry therapist and serves as a mentor/supervisor for the International Federation for Biblio/Poetry Therapy. She also is in the incoming president of the National Association for Poetry Therapy.