People

    Story District is run by a team of talented staff, board members, teachers, artists, and volunteers. 

    • Amy Saidman

      Artistic Executive Director

      Amy Saidman, Artistic Executive Director of Story District, has been the driving force behind the growth of storytelling as a performance genre in Washington, DC and regionally. Called DC's "matriarch of storytelling", she's been running Story District's programs, telling stories, hosting, inventing new ways to present storytelling, building relationships with other local arts groups, and spreading the gospel since 2001. She began coaching and teaching storytelling in 2006 and, along with the Story District teaching staff, has developed a curriculum and pedagogy for teaching the art of storytelling  that includes more than five different classes at different levels and customized trainings for corporate, government, and nonprofit clients. 

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    • Ben Thomas

      Program & Communications Coordinator

      Ben is a communications and marketing professional, with extensive experience leading engagement strategies for a diverse range of political groups, non-profit organizations and private companies.  When he is not at Story District, he is probably outside or concocting a culinary adventure. Feel free to ask him about the time he got a live cheetah into the U.S. Capitol Building, why he walked 500 miles in borrowed underwear, or the night he spent on Stonewall Jackson's grave.

    • Stephanie Garibaldi

      Education Director

      Stephanie Garibaldi designs and teaches storytelling classes, leads trainings for businesses and organizations, runs Story District's youth programs, and coaches all the performers on Story District's monthly 2nd Tuesday Series. Since 2006, Stephanie has coached well over a thousand individuals in the art of contemporary storytelling for professional as well as artistic settings. 

    • Kian McKellar

      Vidoegrapher

      Kian is a full time videographer, photographer and editor and has been capturing Story District's live shows on film since 2008. Find out more at http://www.kianmckellar.com

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    • Alexander Morozov

      Photographer

      When Alexander Morozov was growing up in Russia, he remembers watching his father take black and white photographs. That is where his passion for photography took hold. PhotographyByAlexander is the sum total of a lifetime spent behind the camera, a devotion to creativity and craft of photography. He has been taking photos for Story District since 2007. 

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    • Vijai Nathan

      Business Development Coordinator

      Vijai has been performing and teaching the art of storytelling since 1997 and is bringing all her experience to the new job of managing and growing the number of businesses, nonprofits, and community organizations that are interested in developing storytelling as a powerful communication skill. 

    • Dave Peterson

      Artist

      If you live in DC, you've seen Dave's art all around the city on t-shirts, dog parks, and arts fairs. Since 2010, Dave has been using his imaginative and slighlty twisted mind to create graphic interprations of Story District's monthly themes. 

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    Story District's Board of Directors

    (L to R front row): Emily Wooten (front row) Molly Kelly, Monica Hopkins-Maxwell, Kathy Baird-Westfall, Arielle Kouffman,  (L to R back row) Chris Kingsley, Jenny Splitter, Derrick Walton, JR Russ (not pictured Gina Cavalier, Ian Hoffman, Kate Morton)

    Kathy Baird-Westfall is a Senior Vice President at Social@Ogilvy in Washington, D.C., and leads the digital strategy team. As a senior strategist, Kathy oversees large integrated programs that incorporate digital and social channels across the disciplines of reputation management, public relations, marketing and advertising. Her client experience at Ogilvy includes digital and social media strategy for McGraw Hill Education, Mozilla Firefox, Blue Cross and Blue Shield, BP, DuPont, Caterpillar, UN Foundation, USAID and Atentiv. She has worked in the digital and integrated marketing space in both the agency and client environment for over 18 years and her assignments have included corporate, association, government, nonprofit and academic programs. In addition to her work at Ogilvy, Kathy is an adjunct professor for Digital Strategy at Georgetown University for the Public Relations and Corporate Communications Graduate School.

    Gina Cavalier is an attorney and a Partner in the Washington, DC office of King & Spalding, LLP. She focuses her practice on representing entities in the health care and life sciences industries, including medical device and pharmaceutical manufacturers, hospitals, and equipment suppliers. A seasoned private practitioner, she assists clients in complying with broad federal anti-fraud authorities, and navigating large-scale government investigations and inquiries. Additionally, she is a Certified Information Privacy Professional, providing legal counsel on safeguarding personal information, particularly sensitive medical information. She is a frequent speaker, teacher and author on fraud and abuse, privacy, and related compliance topics. When not lawyering, Gina is an enthusiastic organic gardener, novice dog whisperer and unapologetic picture-taker (in addition to practicing a limited number of highly-curated domestic arts, including preserving fruits). Gina is originally from California, and earned her undergraduate degree from Boston University, and her law degree from Georgetown University Law Center.

    Monica Hopkins-Maxwell became the Executive Director of the ACLU of the Nation’s Capital in 2014. Monica served as the Executive Director of the ACLU of Idaho since 2008 in which time she oversaw sweeping statewide victories, particularly in the areas of criminal justice reform, LGBTQ equality, immigrants’ rights and upholding the First Amendment. Prior to joining the ACLU, Monica had a distinguished career in the nonprofit sector which included executive and development positions. She currently serves on the Advisory Board for Boise State University’s College of Social Sciences and Public Affairs and has been a recipient of numerous awards including the Idaho Business Review’s “Accomplished Under 40” and Women Making History Award. In 2008, she was a Rotary Group Study Exchange participant in Sri Lanka and in 2012-13, she was a Rockwood Leadership Institute Fellow for LGBTQ Advocacy. Monica holds a Bachelor’s of Arts in Social Science from Boise State University.

    Kate Morton acts as the Community Manager of Mess Hall, a culinary incubator in northeast DC, where she helps support and accelerate local small food and beverage businesses through strategic planning, partnership development and community outreach. She also crafts branding and social media messaging on behalf of Mess Hall and its Members. Kate joined the Mess Hall team after honing her business development and marketing skills at the Podesta Group, a top DC strategic communications firm. She cut her teeth working behind the scenes at one of DC's largest law firms, Williams & Connolly, and gained media and marketing experience at a grassroots advocacy organization. She graduated from Stanford University with a degree in Political Science and has called Washington, DC home ever since. Outside of Mess Hall and Story District, Kate is working to help launch a new fine dining restaurant concept in DC.

    For over twenty years, Molly Kelly has been helping nonprofit organizations develop digital solutions to communicate their mission, reach monetary goals, and create real world impact. She works as Senior Director, Digital Services as Zuri Group and is the driving force behind peer-to-peer fundraising tools for the American Heart Association, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and the newly released Amplfiy on the Engaging Networks platform. Molly is also a playwright, storyteller and performer who has told stories on the Story District stage since 2008 and has performed at Baltimore's Stoop Stories, Story League and in the Bay Area at The Vent, Fireside, WordUp and The Moth.

    Chris Kingsley (Chair) is Principal / Consultant at Better Measured, where he advises national organizations on using data and evidence to improve results for the social sector. Prior to starting Better Measured, Chris served as associate director for local policy at the Data Quality Campaign and principal associate for data initiatives at the National League of Cities, leading a variety of advocacy and technical assistance projects to help schools, cities, and communities work together on behalf of kids and families. Chris has authored reports on performance management, municipal social media strategies, citywide information systems design, and economic development. As a Watson Fellow, Chris studied telecommunications policy in Africa, India, and China. He is a graduate of Haverford College and the University of Pennsylvania.

    Arielle Kouffman (Treasurer) currently works at an international business council, promoting private/public partnerships between the private sector, U.S. and Foreign Governments. Previously, Arielle worked at Chemonics International in their Middle East Department on an Egypt-based economic growth project, promoting economic competitiveness, financial reforms and entrepreneurship in Egypt. Before moving to DC, Arielle lived and worked in Chile for two years. While in Chile, Arielle worked with the international nonprofit, NESST, leading their research on poverty alleviation and livelihood programs in South America, identifying the needs and beneficiary profiles of local producers, artisans, and marginalized communities in order to target niche markets. Fun fact about Arielle - she's a beekeeper!

    When Ian Hoffman moved to DC from Cleveland a few years ago, he loved exploring the world-class art museums and high-profile concert halls, but he sure did miss the scrappy, independent art scene that thrives on Ohio’s North Coast – until he discovered Story District.  Real people from all walks of life telling soul-baring stories live on a bar stage?  That’s the scrappy spirit! So now, during the day Ian is an antitrust attorney with the Department of Justice, on weekends he’s a swimming/biking/running enthusiast, and in between he’s proud to help Story District make DC a little less buttoned down and a lot more fun.

    JR Russ is a Washington, DC native who has spent his entire professional career in the metropolitan DC area. He has worked on and off stage with local and regional dance and theatre companies, including Adventure Theatre, BosmaDance, Discovery Theater, Jazzlan Dance Theater, Studio Theatre 2nd Stage, and the Washington Savoyards. He is the Communications and Development Manager at the DC Alliance of Youth Advocates by day, and engages in artsy shenanigans by night when possible. This includes serving on the board of Dance Place, being a company member with Synetic Theater, and working as an Artistic Collaborator with dog & pony dc. He is also active in the local Burning Man community, where he might be known by some as Nexus.

    Jenny Splitter (Secretary) is a storyteller, playwright and blogger. She has told stories with Story District, the Risk! podcast and Story League. She blogs at GroundedParents.com, a sister site to Skepchick.org. Her play H Street Housewives enjoyed a successful run at the 2013 Capital Fringe summer and fall festivals. Birth Goddess was accepted for development as part of the New Works program at Spooky Action Theater. Prior to that, she worked as a trademark attorney in Washington, DC and Palo Alto, California. She is a graduate of the University of California at Berkeley and George Washington University Law School.

    Derrick Walton is currently the Head of Global Operations and Implementation at Western Union Business Solutions where he manages the Bank portfolio and relationship of all the banks globally. Prior to working at Western Union, he was the Director of North American and European Operations at Travelex Global Business Payments where he oversaw all back office operations and led a team of over 200. He also was a briefer to the Navy Command and served as an Action Officer in the Joint Command Center at the Pentagon. Derrick is a graduate from the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md and a proud Washington DC native.

    Emily Wooten was drawn to Story District when she moved to Washington, DC to earn her Master’s degree in Communications. Before joining Story District, Emily worked with organizations such as The Coca-Cola Company, Bank of America, and The Ritz-Carlton as a Human Resources Business Partner and strategic communicator. Emily's focus is developing, executing and managing company programs with corporate communication strategies that engage audiences and drive positive business results. Now as an independent consultant, Emily provides collaboration, innovation, strategy and management in both communication and human resource initiatives for public and private organizations. Emily is a native of Boston, graduate of Spelman College and master’s degree recipient from Georgetown University.