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11th International Digital Storytelling Conference

11th International Digital Storytelling Conference

Radical Listening: Story Work for a Just Future

June 20, 21, 22 and 23, 2023
University of Maryland, Baltimore County | Montgomery College | Smithsonian Institution | StoryCenter

Keynote Speakers

Keynote for Tuesday, June 20th


Baltimore Stories for Change - Morning Panel

The opening plenary for the DST2023 conference will be Baltimore Stories For Change, a panel conversation between cultural organizers using stories and storytelling in important social change organizations and movements. The panel, facilitated by radio host Marc Steiner includes panelists Curtis Eaddy from the Poppleton Community and The Beautiful Side of Ugly, Denise Kumani Gantt of The Lyric, Nancy Goldring from The Road to Freedom Trail, and Yesenia Mejia from The Creative Alliance. The panel will be followed with a performance by The Poetry Party!

Marc Steiner's picture

Marc Steiner is one of the most recognized voices in Maryland and has gained national acclaim for his insightful style of interviewing. Always open to featuring voices from all sides of the issues, his motto is “The Truth lives in every corner.” He attributes his interviewing expertise to one word: Listening. He is a Peabody Award-winning journalist who has spent his life working on social justice issues. From 1993-2018 Marc's signature “Marc Steiner Show” aired on Baltimore’s public radio airwaves, both WYPR—which Marc co-founded—and Morgan State University’s WEAA. He is currently is the host of "The Marc Steiner Show" on the Real News Network.

Curtis Eaddy's picture

Curtis Eaddy is a community fellow with the Baltimore Field School. His current project, The Beautiful Side of UGLY studies the cultural climate to determine economic and social indicators that help to propel equity within Black communities. This humanities project focuses on building cultural references that depict and enhance the diverse lives of the African Diaspora through social innovation, content marketing, and cause-related events. With an artistic lens, the project aims to celebrate and uplift the people, places, and things impacted by trauma, blight, and disinvestment.

Denise Kumani Gantt's picture

Denise Kumani Gantt is currently the director of education at the Lyric Baltimore.  Her plays and performance pieces include meditations/from the ash, winner of the Artscape Best Play Contest and voted Best New Play by The Baltimore Alternative and CityPaper; Three Stories to the Ground, written with Gabriel Shanks and winner of the Theatre Project Outstanding Vision in Theatre award and anatomy/lessons selected as part of Penumbra Theater’s Cornerstone Project (MN). Her play, The Gift, a brief history of everything we have ever known, received staged readings at A Contemporary Theater (ACT-Seattle), The Drama League (New York), and Cape May Stage (NJ). Her poetry collection, conjuring the dead, was awarded the Maryland Emerging Writers Award and she is a MacDowell fellow. Gantt currently serves as the co-chair of  Maryland Citizens for the Art’s Events Committee, and is an advisory member of the GBCA’s Urban Arts Leadership program and a member of the Baltimore Arts Education Initiative. Gantt is a graduate of Goucher College and received her MFA in theater from Towson University. She is a facilitator with the StoryCentre, CA and StoryCenter.

Nancy Goldring Portrait

Nancy Goldring has deep roots in historic East Towson. Her ancestors were among those formerly enslaved at Hampton Plantation (now Hampton National Historic Site) documented as far back as 1791. Today, Nancy champions the Road to Freedom Trail, a cycling and pedestrian route that connects 13 sites of historic significance from Hampton to East Towson revealing a history otherwise hidden in plain sight. Nancy speaks from her lived experience and a commitment to unique and generative solutions to sharing a rich and complicated history in ways that protect and preserve her community’s distinctive thread in the fabric of American History.

Website for The East Towson Freedom Trail community visit: Mapping the Road to Freedom: Nature, Art and Storiesnew window 

Yesenia Mejia-Herrera's picture

I am an interdisciplinary artist, activist, mother of one boy, and an educator from Oaxaca, Mexico, based in Baltimore since 2008. My art is committed to build community and enhance the transformative beauty of Latin America culture. I am proud to be a Latina and share and honor my traditions with others and more generations. As a part of my work with the Artesanas at the Creative Alliance and as the director of the CIELO program (Creatives, Immigrants Educators, from Latin America Origins), I work with the immigrant communities to encourage, promote, and honor our Latin American cultures and traditions. I am part of the Community Fellows for the Baltimore Field School 2.0 project, and the UMBC, funded by ACLS.

My journey as an artist also encompasses Conjunto Bruja,  an  all-female Latin-Mideast folk ensemble of Baltimore on cajón, guitar, charango, Irani setar, and ranchera-inspired vocals. We are six artists from Mexico, Peru, Guatemala, Iran, Bolivia and the US.  Together, we explore folk traditions and verses from around Latin America and the Middle East. As a Bruja, I perform in the vocals, the guitar, and percussion. 

In 2018 founded Mañanitas Tacuatas, Baltimore's most dynamic vocal duo representing Mexico and Puerto Rico. With their talent and music they honor their indigenous ancestors from the small coast of the State of Oaxaca, Mexico.

Something that is really important for me is that my son knows my family roots, traditions and culture. Latin American art represents who I am. It is my connection with my identity, my ancestors and future generations and my community. 

Keynote for Wednesday, June 21st

Montgomery College

Keynotes: Pip Hardy and Tony Sumner
Title: Transforming Healthcare with Patient Voices
Tony Sumner's portrait
Pip Hardy's portrait

Pip Hardy and Tony Sumner are co-founders of the Patient Voices Programme, established in 2003 in response to the urgent need for better communication and understanding of all healthcare stakeholders’ experiences of care. Bringing the ancient tradition of storytelling to life via new technologies, the programme offers new possibilities for involving and engaging patients, carers, families, service users, clinicians, managers and leaders as a means of bringing about greater humanity and compassion in healthcare. Empowering people to share their stories in their own words provides the basis for patient and public involvement, organizational development, quality improvement and leadership programmes founded on the experiences of those involved in the system to complement the results of surveys and research formulated by the system.

Patient Voices operates as a social enterprise dedicated to the creation and distribution of these important stories. Now home to over 1,000 stories of health and illness, tragic losses and miraculous recoveries, the Programme is widely respected as being the only resource of its kind in the world, receiving over two million total hits per annum on the website and with stories being used by, among others, the UK Chief Medical and Nursing Officers, and in schools of medicine and healthcare throughout the English speaking world and beyond.

Pip and Tony are considered to be the world’s leading practitioners in digital storytelling in healthcare. The methodology developed for creating Patient Voices Reflective digital stories has been acknowledged as a valid method of gathering qualitative data by the UK National Audit Office, among others, while the three-stage ethical consent and release process they have developed is recognised as an exemplar of good practice in digital storytelling and other forms of participatory research.

Pip and Tony bring a range of knowledge and expertise from their past lives: Tony has degrees in physics and astronomy and astrophysics and many years’ experience working in the computer industry, while Pip has degrees in English Literature and Lifelong Learning and worked for many years in adult education, writing and editing books and open learning programmes. Her PhD investigates the transformative potential of digital storytelling in healthcare.

The Patient Voices Programme has won a number of awards, including the 2010 British Medical Journal award for Excellence in Healthcare Education. It sprang from, and sits within, the work of Pilgrim Projects Limited, an education consultancy specialising in the development of high quality open, distance and e-learning programmes across a range of sectors.

Keynote for Thursday, June 22nd

Smithsonian Institution

Dr. Richard Kurin portrait
Keynote: Dr. Richard Kurin
Title: Transforming the Museum Experience

Dr. Richard Kurin started his Smithsonian career working on America’s Bicentennial celebration in 1976. He is currently Distinguished Scholar and Ambassador-at-Large, focused on strategic and special initiatives, institutional representation, and philanthropic support. He previously served for more than a decade as Under Secretary overseeing all of the Smithsonian’s national museums, scientific research centers and educational programs. He has played major roles in the development and/or renovation, and transformation of most of the museums ​

For decades before that he served as Director of the Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage which produces the annual Smithsonian Folklife Festival on the National Mall and the legendary Smithsonian Folkways Recordings. He has also produced major events for the opening of national museums and memorials, for presidential inaugurals and the Olympics.

Kurin also founded the Smithsonian Cultural Rescue Initiative after Haiti’s 2010 earthquake and has worked to save cultural heritage endangered by natural disasters and human conflict. In the U.S. he leads the Smithsonian’s partnership with FEMA on the Heritage Emergency National Task Force which responds to damage to cultural resources in natural disasters. Internationally, he helped draft an international treaty to safeguard living cultural heritage now ratified by 180 countries. He has worked closely with the Departments of State, Defense, Justice and Homeland Security and with local partners in Iraq, Syria, Mali, Afghanistan and currently Ukraine to safeguard heritage, identify looted art, and monitor terrorist activity and war crimes directed against cultural targets. He has served as Smithsonian liaison to the White House Historical Association, the U.S. President’s Committee for the Arts and Humanities, the intergovernmental Cultural Heritage Coordinating Committee, and the Federal Interagency Panel for World Heritage. An anthropologist with a PhD from the University of Chicago, he has authored seven books including The Smithsonian’s History of America in 101 Objects, taught at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council Arsht-Rockefeller Resilience Center.

Keynote for Friday, June 23rd


Lisa Nelson-Haynes Portrait
Keynote: Lisa Nelson-Haynes
Title: Preserving Shared Humanity

Lisa Nelson-Haynes, Interim Chief of Programming at StoryCorps, has been facilitating digital storytelling workshops for StoryCenter for more than seven years and revels in her role of assisting storytellers acquire new, replicable skills as they create their stories using digital tools. She’s participated as a facilitator on All Together Now, a national digital storytelling initiative showcasing first person narratives of civic engagement and social change. These stories are featured on Lisa presented a digital storytelling case study at the 6th International Digital Storytelling Conference.

StoryCorps’ mission is to preserve and share humanity’s stories in order to build connections between people and create a more just and compassionate world.