A love letter to 2015 and the last 10 years

    Deep Thoughts from the Director January 11th, 2016 By Amy Saidman
    A love letter to 2015 and the last 10 years

    Before we leave 2015 completely behind, I’d like to say thanks to all the people that made it a fantastic year for Story District.  This marks the 10th year that I’ve been running this organization, and with the name change and growth, it’s given me pause to think back on all that has gone into bringing us to this moment.  2015 was a particularly challenging, but also rewarding, year thanks to a small army of smart and dedicated people and a combination of financial and philosophical support from our city government, local businesses, community leaders, donors, and funders. I can't possibly thank everyone, but for a start...

    To Mike Boyd who chaired our board of directors for many years; took leadership of our fundraising campaign ever after his tenure on the board; hosted dozens of meetings in his apartment, always after a panic-driven rush to clean and cook for us and ply us with plenty of wine on his own dime; spearheaded the overwhelming effort of changing our name from SpeakeasyDC to Story District; co-directed Out/Spoken with me at a time when I needed someone I love and trust to take the place of former co-director, Kevin Boggs, and seriously, has had my back, without fail, for nearly a decade.

    To Ben Thomas who wears many hats as the second in command in the Story District office; attends to the needs of our storytellers, teachers, students, and donors; makes sure our shows and classes run smoothly; handles hundreds of requests and questions; has recruited a fantastic team of volunteers and interns; and rolls deep wherever he goes with a crew of friends that he has seduced into the Story District fold. 

    To Vijai Nathan who joined the Story District staff this year as the Business Development & Training Coordinator and who is a ray of sunshine, a voice of reason, and an outstanding spokesperson on behalf of what Story District, and storytelling, have to offer to businesses, government agencies, community groups, and nonprofits.

    To Chris Kingsley who, as board chair, steered us through this big transition with enthusiasm and wisdom; who continues to remind us to keep our eyes on the prize – a sustainable future; and who is always willing to share a Bojangles fried chicken wing or two with me at the 2nd Tuesday shows.

    To Jenny Splitter, our board secretary, whose knowledge and leadership carried us (me!) through a long and semi-grueling trademark process, and who has generally helped us get our shit together.

    To all the Story District teaching artists – to Stephanie Garibaldi who directs every 2nd Tuesday show at Town, our annual Valentine’s Day show, and leads many of our corporate trainings; to Amy Couchoud who directs Top Shelf and Show & Tell (and made it work despite the worst snow storm of the year!) and who has been an honest, empathetic and fair-minded liaison for the faculty; to Meredith Maslich who not only teaches classes and directs shows, but also served as our first board chair, invented and ran Tour de Telling, published our first anthology, and helped us design and build our business-to-business activities; to Joseph Price, who helps us raise the bar; and to our to newest additions: Katy Barrett (co-diretor of My So Called Jewish Life & Unhinged) and John Tong, who I adore and am so grateful to have on staff.


    To everyone who has ever served on our board (and hasn’t been mentioned somewhere else)– Derrick Walton, Arielle Kouffman,  Monica-Hopkins Maxwell, Emily Wooten, Kathy Baird, JR Russ, Beth Flores, Scott Huddle, Jeffrey Brady, Kareem Mansour, Ernest Chrappah, Rachael Wilcox, Warren Gump, Katie Kelly, Catherine Crum

    To Carlyn Madden and Ayris Scales for your thorough analysis and guidance as our UPSTART consultants. Your insight and direction continues to play a critical role in Story District’s success, stability, and future.

    To Kelly Matthews for being a part of the Story District team for so many years, taking such good care of our finances, and being a positive presence in the Story District office.

    To Alexander Morozov and Kian McKellar for being our documentarians and capturing Story District’s history so beautifully for so many years; and to Andrew Hiller for the audio archives of the start-up years.

    To Dave Peterson for making me smile every time I get to see how your twisted mind will interpret our 2nd Tuesday show themes; and for being a part of Story District ‘s brand with our beloved artwork for the last 6 years.

    To Erin Myers aka DJ Lil’e for volunteering your talents for so many shows over the years; and to DJ Khelan, for stepping in three times this year. We are so lucky.

    To Sheri Macatangay for being my first employee and working together to figure it out. You are missed. 

    To our interns – Carlyn Attman, Liz Young, Katie Le Dain, Brian Huff, Rachel Lupberger, Joey Cosgrove, and Tom Florczak, Heather Rosoff, Will Sefton, and Courtney Dorsey

    To our core regular volunteers – Martin Zysmilich, Emily Tedesco , Edmund Wong, Michele Winowich, Pat Seals, Elane Vitullo, TJ Dorch, Renata Lana,  Jay Dev, Teddy Lederer, Lizzie Peabody, Derek Hills, Carrie Hall, Molly Butler, Nick Newlin, Mick McVey

    To the DC Bar Association for reaching out to nonprofits like us to match us with law firms that provide pro bono counsel.  You and our our attorneys from Winston & Strawn and Ballard Spahr played a crucial role our year and our future.  A thanks to Garfield Goodrum as well.

    To the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities and the Humanities Council of Washington, DC for supporting the arts and to the grant panelists who believe in what we are doing.

    To the Morris & Gwendolyn Cafritz Foundation who has sustained their faith in us for so many years; and to the National Endowment for the Arts for seeing the value in our work and helping us bring Out/Spoken to other cities.

    To everyone at the 9:30 Club/Lincoln Theater, Town Danceboutique, and Acre 121. We love what you bring to this city and that you have embraced us as a good business investment.

    To our re-brand team Sara Durr, Dedra Owens, Kendra Rubinfeld and Travis Hare for helping us get the word out to the Washington Post, WAMU, The Washington Informer, BYT, DCist and other outlets and local organizations.  To NeueNow for our fantastic new logo and visual identity and Soul & Ink for our great tshirt design.

    To Scott Hollingsworth for being my biggest fan.

    And last, but not least, to Rob Revere, Washington Storytellers Theatre’s first Executive Director and founder of The Speakeasy in 1997, who hired me in 1999, instilled in me a love of storytelling, and showed me how to run an organization with integrity.

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