Mission & Staff

Mission

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.

Advisory Board

Harry Elam
Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education
Doree Allen
Director, Program in Oral Communication
Eavan Boland
Director, Program in Creative Writing
Andrea Lunsford
Professor, Department of English
James Bettinger
Director, Knight Fellowship Program
Marvin Diogenes
Associate Vice Provost, VPUE
Adam Banks
Director, Program in Writing and Rhetoric
Charles Junkerman
Dean, Program in Continuing Studies

Staff

DIRECTOR

Jonah Willihnganz

Jonah has taught literature, creative writing, and media studies at Stanford since 2002. He 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. 

MANAGING EDITOR

Tiffany Naiman

Tiffany is an award-winning documentary film producer, DJ, electronic musician, and the experimental film and music programmer for the Outfest Film Festival in Los Angeles. Tiffany received her Ph.D. in Musicology from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) and also holds master’s degrees in African American Studies and Musicology, and a B.A. in American Literature and Culture, all from UCLA.

SENIOR PRODUCER & PROGRAM ASSOCIATE

Jenny March

Jenny March is an audio documentary producer and community-builder. She particularly loves exploring the human experience through intimate, non-narrated audio portraits. Jenny has taught audio courses at Duke University’s Center for Documentary Studies. She is the co-producer of Audio Under the Stars, a summer-long outdoor audio festival in Durham, NC. She has worked in communications at Duke University, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and Amherst College. She graduated from Hampshire College with a B.A. in Middle Eastern history and literature.

 

SENIOR PRODUCER & COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT LEAD

Alessandra Wollner

Allie is a creative nonfiction storyteller, podcast producer, educator, and community maker. She’s addicted to stories built on intimacy, vulnerability, and characters who sear themselves into your memory. She believes two things are integral to a well-told, true story: an attention to aesthetic beauty and a fierce commitment to integrity. She holds a BA from Brown University and MFA from Ohio State in Creative Nonfiction writing.

 

SENIOR PRODUCER

Christy Hartman

Christy is interested in narrative and its role in healing and transformation. Christy has a background in philosophy and environmental geography. She graduated from the Salt Institute for Documentary Studies in 2010 where she studied creative nonfiction.

 

ASSOCIATE PRODUCER

Adesuwa Agbonile

Adesuwa Agbonile is a sophomore hailing from Seattle, majoring in Economics and minoring in Creative Writing. In her spare time, she makes audio for the Stanford Storytelling Project, writes news for the Stanford Daily, and eats pasta.

 

ASSOCIATE PRODUCER / EVENTS

Aparna Varma

Aparna Varma is an English major in creative writing interested in all forms of storytelling. A daydreamer, storyteller, and avid Netflix binge-watcher, she especially loves mythical and fantastical stories and has penned some of her own. The ones with dragons are her favorite because it’s her spirit animal. That, and elephants.

 

ASSOCIATE PRODUCER

Melina Walling

Melina Walling started working with the Storytelling Project at the beginning of her freshman year. She is majoring in English and minoring in psychology and history, and is passionate about uncovering all kinds of stories! In her spare time, she enjoys yoga, photography, hiking, and consuming many different types of media…ask her for book, TV, or podcast recommendations and you’ll probably come away with a very long list.

 

ASSOCIATE PRODUCER

Erin Woo

Erin Woo is a student producer for the Stanford Storytelling Project pursuing degrees in communications and creative writing. Originally from Atlanta, GA, she is a journalist, an aspiring novelist, and a staunch defender of the Oxford comma.

SENIOR PRODUCER & WEB MANAGER

Victoria Yuan

Victoria Yuan is majoring in Biomedical Computation with minors in Classics and Human Rights. The intersection between stories and advocacy drew her to the Stanford Storytelling Project. Victoria spends her time painting messily and reading dreamily. Recently, she’s learned to touch her toes.

 

PRODUCER / EVENTS 

Megan Calfas

Megan loves stories — on air, on the stage, and on the page. Currently working towards a Masters in Journalism, she graduated from Stanford with a B.A. in English (Creative Writing) with Honors in the Arts and a minor in Theater and Performance Studies in 2018. At SSP in the past, she’s been a producer, teaching assistant, and story coach. As a playwright, journalist, actress, and podcaster, she gets hand-tingling joy at the process of finding the right mediums to tell stories in creative, compelling ways. Other things that bring her joy include hiking, yoga, cats, community, and glitter. 

 

ASSOCIATE PRODUCER 

Isabella Tilley

Isabella is an Environmental Systems Engineering major from the D.C. area and has no intentions of ever becoming an engineer. She is passionate about environmental and social justice, and in her spare time enjoys painting (see above) and playing the guitar, piano, and organ. She has two dogs that she misses dearly and a younger sister. 

 

ASSOCIATE PRODUCER 

Regina Kong

Regina loves painting, books, and all forms of storytelling. She’s also into ocean swimming, bird watching, and mountain hiking. Currently a sophomore, Regina is considering a double-major in Comparative Literature and Art Practice, possibly with a minor in Asian American Studies. 

 

 

ASSOCIATE PRODUCER

Will Shan

Will is an avid reader and podcast listener who loves learning about storycraft with the Stanford Storytelling Project. He cares a great deal about community, spending time outdoors, good writing, and self-reflection. He cares even more about hosting uproarious games of Mafia and re-reading Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality.

 

Dan Klein

EVENTS EDITOR
Dan Klein

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.

Michelle Darby

EVENTS DIRECTOR
Michelle Darby

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.

Former Staff and Contributors

Managing Editors 

Jake Warga 
Jake has been an independent radio producer for over a decade and taught humanities and social sciences in Morocco for years before coming to Stanford in the fall of 2015 as a Lecturer in the Stanford Storytelling Program. With a masters in visual anthropology from the university of London, he has reported from far-flung places, producing award-winning radio documentaries for such shows as: NPR’s All Things Considered, PRI’s The World, Studio360, This American Life and many more. Jake also uses photography to tell stories, his images have been exhibited at the Seattle Art Museum and featured on Wired.com among many others. His interests have always been in telling good stories and teaching how good stories are told.

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Killeen Hanson 
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.

Lee Kostantinou 
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.”

 

Rachel Hamburg
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.

Claire Schoen 
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.

Professional Staff

Dana Kletter
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.

Hannah Kopp-Yates
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.

 

Justine DeSilva 
Justine graduated from Stanford University with a Bachelor of Arts in Comparative Studies in Race and Ethnicity, a minor in Creative Writing, and Honors in the Arts. Throughout her undergraduate career Justine performed with five different student groups, was a member of Everyday People a Cappella, was a tour guide, and a member of Delta Delta Delta sorority. She also studied abroad in Cape Town, South Africa and at the University of Oxford.

John Lee
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.

Lizzie Quinlan 
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.

 

Natacha Ruck
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.

Sophia Paliza
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.

 

Tess McCarthy
Tess McCarthy likes making people laugh and have feelings, usually in that order. As a proud Theater major, Tess has very little free time and a lot of wonderful collaborators. Her ultimate goal is to make things up professionally.

 

Tina Miller 
Tina majored in in Science, Technology, and Society. While at Stanford, she spent 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 has also studied broad at Oxford University.

 

Senior Producers

 Jett Hayward
Jett is a Bay Area native who loves playing rugby but hates confrontation. She studied International Relations at Stanford and enjoys browsing the top charts of the podcast app in her spare time. She is interested in how stories can create and heal trauma.

 

 Claudia Heymach
Claudia studied Human Biology who is still trying to recover from the awful poetry she wrote in middle school. She is especially drawn to stories about healthcare disparities, ethics, and the brain. She loves how stories have the power to enthrall and to change minds.

 

 Chris LeBoa 
Chris LeBoas studied Human Biology, concentrating in disease ecology. He loves a good tale and believes in the power that stories have to bring about positive change in the world. He likes trying to turn scientific studies into fluent narratives and blast NPR at a volume the entire lower row can hear.

 

 Yue Li 
Yue is studying math and computer science and listens to too many podcasts while knitting. Her dream is to have a fluffy corgi.

 

 Siena White 
Sienna White studied Atmosphere/Energy Engineering and is Boise, Idaho. If you have a story, she wants to hear it, and if you ever want to talk about meteorology, poetry, commuting-by-ferry, dunes or guinea pigs, she will scramble over anything to get to you. Sienna is interested in how narrative affects our perceptions in life and how our perceptions in life might affect the way we see narrative.

 Jackson Wiley Roach
Jackson studied comparative literature. His favorite planet is Saturn.

 

 

Cathy Wong 
Cathy Wong studied computer science and creative writing. She reads a lot of books and can do an OK impression of Kermit the Frog.

 

 Catherine Girardeau
Journalist and independent producer Catherine Girardeau started out as a writer and violinist, and in searching for a way to combine her two passions, stumbled into radio. Since then, she’s made award-winning feature stories and audio tours for PRI’s The World, APM’s Marketplace, Radio Deutsche Welle, the Codebreaker podcast, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and many more. At her media company Earprint Productions, she mentors student interns and teaches writing and audio production workshops for museum digital teams and the USF Museum Studies graduate program. She’s passionate about helping people tell their stories.

Natacha Ruck
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.

 Jon Kleiman 
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.

 

 Nina Foushee 
Nina 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.

 

 Will Rogers 
Will graduated from Stanford in 2009 (Film & Media Studies). He spent a wonderful portion of the financial downturn at a mountain village in North Carolina, then he gravitated back to Stanford in 2013 to work at the Stanford Storytelling Project andTrue Story, and to go slow in this wild world. He loves taking poetry to places where poetry’s not often taken (eg bathrooms, cars, fields), and to play with the bonds between audio and video, like this.

 Charlie Mintz 
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.

Producers

Alec Glassford
Alec studied computer science (among other things), and he writes sometimes. He likes birds and the rain and scarves and more than a few other things. He listens to infinity podcasts.

 

Rosie La Puma 
Rosie majored in International Relations at Stanford with a minor in Creative Writing. She first discovered the power of voices during high school while collecting stories from other teens for Open Orchard Productions. Her childhood aspiration was to be the first ice cream maker on the moon.

 

Eileen Williams 
At Stanford Eileen majored in psychology and minored in math. When she’s not working, studying or doing research, she spends her time running, listening to infinite podcasts, and playing with her lovable maltipoo puppy, Izzie.

 

Hadley Reid 
Hadley Reid majored in human biology, with an interest in global health and infectious disease. Her parents will tell you she has loved hearing and telling stories ever since childhood (and she wasn’t afraid to critique when necessary!). In her leisure time Hadley can be found drinking chai tea, reading the New York Times, and curating a backlog of food blog recipes, usually simultaneously.

Reade Levinson 
Reade is a senior at Stanford and a recent convert to the world of radio. When she’s not wrestling with new software or trying to pass chemistry, you’ll probably find her at the climbing wall. A Palo Alto native, Reade is forever thinking up ways to escape the bay; she spent last summer chasing sky burials in Mongolia.

 

Kate Nelson
Kate studied human biology with a concentration in global health policy and infectious diseases. Her all-time favorite number is 17, so she’s lucky to be a part of the class of 2017. She’s constantly thinking-up new travel adventures. Last summer, she traveled to natural history museums around the world, recording kit in hand. Kate also loves to restore antique typewriters.

Justine Beed
Justine majored 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.

Christine Chen
Christine technically studied Human Biology, but informally studied a lot of other things – anagrams, maps, herpetology, how to befriend strangers. She first got involved with the Storytelling Project as a Braden Grantee. Now, she works behind-the-scenes on the website and other projects, attempting to be official but always slightly in awe of the stories and people she gets to meet.

Victoria Hurst 
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 S
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 Clark
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.

Hannah Krakauer 
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 Burbank
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 Larson
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
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.

 


Assistant Producers


Website Managers


Community Outreach Coordinators


Contributors