Ioana Literat (2008 TMS Fellow and 2009/2010 Local Coordinator)
Ioana Literat is a PhD Candidate and Provost Fellow at the USC Annenberg School for Communication. Her research – under the supervision of Dr. Henry Jenkins – explores the educational, cultural and transnational aspects of digital participation, with a current focus on collective creativity and crowdsourced art. The recipient of the Phi Kappa Phi Award for excellence in research, Ioana has published widely in peer-reviewed journals, including in Communication Theory, Journalism and Mass Communication Quarterly, International Journal of Communication, Journal of Media Literacy Education, and Learning, Media & Technology.
Dave Kutz (2009 TMS Fellow)
Dave Kutz is originally from Massachusetts, and graduated from the University of New Hampshire with a BA in English in 2008. He loves to play the drums and piano, read the National Geographic, and watch basketball. The Modern Story fellowship was an amazing experience really opened his eyes. After completing the fellowship, he knew he wanted to continue giving back and offering service in some way. Dave worked as an Americorps VISTA volunteer at an elder services agency in Boston and did grant writing for an anti-poverty agency in the city. Dave currently resides in New Hampshire, working as a Career Counselor for adults with disabilities at a social services agency. He is working towards a Masters degree in Social Work and will perhaps go on to work with immigrant/refugee populations in the States...We’ll see!
Mona Yeh (2009 TMS Fellow)
Mona Yeh was a fellow with The Modern Story from 2008-2009. Mona can't imagine pursuing her career in youth media and civic engagement without the rich experiences and perspective she found with The Modern Story, as well as the warm, friendly personalities of all of the youth she worked with. To this day, she still corresponds with many of the youth from APRS and Vijaynagar Colony, thanks to the wonders of the internet. She was most recently the Program Director of Gandhi Brigade Youth Media, based out of the DC Metro Area, a nonprofit that engages teens to use media as tools for social justice. In her earlier days, she lived in Chicago, where she taught video production at a high school with Free Spirit Media, and Co-Director of the Peace and Leadership Council program at Mikva Challenge. This program taught young people about the policy-making process on the local level. Mona received her undergraduate degree from Northwestern University in Radio/Television/Film. Mona has spoken at presented at various festivals such as the AFI Silver Docs and the Media Rise Festival. She is now answering her wanderlust call, which she credits The Modern Story for, by taking some time to travel in SE Asia, before hitting the road with SoMove, a grassroots collective aimed at collecting and archiving stories of radical social movements across North America.
Danny Thiemann (2009 TMS Fellow)
Danny Thiemann is a migrant farmworker advocate in the Pacific Northwest. He is a 2008 recipient of Cairo, Egypt’s Madalyn Lamont Award for Literature from the American University in Cairo. In 2009, he served as an Arabic-English documentary film interpreter and interviewer for SeeChangeNow.org in Nablus, Palestine. From 2009-2010 he worked as a Modern Story Fellow and in 2011, he worked as a Milt Stewart Global Law Fellow in New Delhi, India, and as a Arthur C. Helton Grantee in Costa Rica where he helped develop a conflict resolution program for the Inter-American Development Bank. Most recently, he served as a 2012 Global Law Fellow with the AFL-CIO Solidarity Center in Mexico and, in 2014, was awarded New York City’s Table 4 Foundation Writer’s Grant. He is a contributor to Guernica, Insight on Conflict, Paper Tape Magazine, and the Matador Travel Network.
Vidya Putcha (2009 TMS Fellow)
As a TMS fellow, Vidya had the wonderful opportunity to learn about Indian education firsthand while teaching and interacting with students in various schools in Andhra Pradesh. This experience had a major influence on her subsequent studies and work. Vidya is currently a consultant at the World Bank where she works on policy research on education systems in low and middle income countries. Being in a classroom with students and having the opportunity to engage with full-time teachers and administrators as a TMS fellow was an invaluable experience for her.
Kara Newhouse (2010 TMS Fellow)
Kara Newhouse is a journalist, artist and educator with a B.A. in cultural anthropology from American University. After the TMS fellowship and launching the Communities Rising Partnership, she returned to Pennsylvania, where she's been working for local newspapers. She currently combines her dual passions for media and education by reporting on preK-12 education in Lancaster, PA. She is co-founder of Put People First! PA, an organization fighting for human rights in her home state. She also dreamed up and launched Faces of Mental Health Recovery, a participatory public art celebrating people in recovery from mental illness.
Ilana Millner (2010 TMS Fellow)
Ilana Millner is a multimedia storyteller from Washington Crossing, Pennsylvania. She is an alumna of the University of Pennsylvania, and holds a B.A. in English with a concentration in Creative Writing and a minor in Fine Arts. Ilana joined TMS soon after graduating from Penn. Following her time as a TMS Fellow, Ilana spent a year in Switzerland, working as a writer and editor for Urban-Think Tank and the Chair of Architecture and Urban Design at ETH Zürich. There, her research and editorial work focused on design and infrastructure in informal settlements around the world. Ilana is currently based in Mumbai as an American India Foundation William J. Clinton Fellow for Service in India where she works with Apnalaya—a holistic, rights-based community development organization located in Shivaji Nagar, Govandi. Back in India, she once again finds herself happily generating new opportunities to teach digital storytelling, and to continue crafting her own modern story one classroom at a time.
Samantha Love (2011 TMS Fellow)
A native of Washington DC, Samantha grew up surrounded by the diversity of the Nation's Capital. She studied English and Spanish at the University of Michigan, and decided to go into teaching through the Teach for America program at the end of her senior year. Since 2008 she has been teaching high school English in the New York metro-area. In 2010 she received her Masters of Education from the City University of New York and in 2011 she accepted The Modern Story teaching fellowship. Traveling to India to teach the program's innovative social justice and digital storytelling curriculum transformed her pedagogy and proved to be a life-changing experience. She returned to the states in 2012 and has been back in the classroom teaching English at Newark Collegiate Academy, a KIPP high school in Newark, NJ. Sam now incorporates digital storytelling into her 11th grade English classroom, encouraging students to express themselves through diverse mediums such as photography, video and blogging. She recently achieved one of her greatest goals as an educator when she helped organize and chaperone a trip with the International Leadership Program for 15 NYC and Newark public high school students to travel to India for a three week service learning trip.
Stella Tan (2011 TMS Fellow)
A native Californian, Stella Tan served as a TMS fellow in 2011, after graduating from Columbia University with a B.A. in English. During the fellowship, she worked with her students to create mini-documentaries addressing issues of women’s rights, pedestrian rights, and linguistic diversity in their communities. She also caught the travel bug while in India, and spent several months after the fellowship moving around Southeast Asia and Europe and WWOOF-ing at a vegetable farm in France. She recently completed her M.A. in English at University College London, and now resides in Brooklyn.
Kelly Adams (2012 TMS Fellow)
Hailing from Pennsylvania, Kelly comes from a background in Anthropology and Environmental Science and was drawn to teach digital storytelling through a passion for social justice, education, and cross-cultural dialogue. After completing her fellowship with The Modern Story in 2012, she was inspired to continue along the path of facilitating youth media production. Through watching the young women in Hyderabad’s government schools engage with critical social thinking and issues of identity through digital self-representation, her belief in the importance of storytelling was affirmed. She started an interdisciplinary Masters at New York University in Fall, 2013 where she is focusing on Culture and Media, namely indigenous and community media production. She is beginning an ethnographic project exploring the youth mediascape of New York City that she hopes will deepen her knowledge of the pedagogic potential of creative multimedia expression and compliment her work interning with the StoryCorpsU youth development curriculum. The Modern Story Fellowship was not only one of the most rewarding periods of her life, but continues to hold influence in her anticipated career trajectory!
Emily Kwong (2012 TMS Fellow)
Emily Kwong is a radio and multimedia producer based in New York City. After graduating from Columbia University, Emily was a Fellow with The Modern Story alongside her wonderful co-fellows, Dana Anderson and Kelly Adams. Their trio taught a group of 115 brilliant students in the creation of video projects in Hyderabad. Inspired by the semester, Emily attended the Salt Institute for Documentary Studies to acquire more storytelling skills and become a radio teacher. She is now a production assistant for Radio Rookies, WNYC's youth radio program, and 2013 recipient of the "Best New Artist" award at the Third Coast International Audio Festival. Raised by a Chinese father and English mother, she is passionate about social justice, education, and storytelling and hopes to dedicate her professional life to dignifying the human voice. You can follow her on Twitter at @emilykwong1234 or view her work here.
Dana Anderson (2012 TMS Fellow)
When not in India, Dana Anderson is happiest hiking in the mountains of Colorado, where she was born. Dana’s other favorite place is Sydney, Australia, where she graduated from high school and learned to surf. Dana spent her freshman and sophomore years at Lehigh University in Pennsylvania. The highlight of her time there involved working at the United Nations as a representative for a small Indian NGO called Jigyansu Tribal Research Center.Dana studied journalism and international media at the University of Colorado in Boulder. Her passion for writing and all-consuming fascination with India drove her to focus her studies on these two interests. While at CU, Dana was awarded a grant to research the methods and effects of community radio as a means of empowerment. The grant funded a trip to Andhra Pradesh in the summer of 2011 to observe a station managed by local farmwomen. Dana especially appreciated the educational role of the station, which is helping to change the lives of the children she befriended at a nearby school. Her article about the station was published in Eye See Media magazine.Upon graduation in 2012, she became a fellow with The Modern Story. She considers the Fellowship to be a pivotal experience in her life! Dana returned to India in the summer of 2013 to work with the India Literacy Project and Mahita NGO, an educational center that offers training and tutoring for young students who were previously forced to drop out of school. Currently, Dana also works for a company called In The Telling, which partners with universities to create transmedia course experiences. She hopes to pursue the passions she developed during her time as a Fellow by obtaining a graduate degree in child rights.
Nelle Dunlap (2013 TMS Fellow)
Nicole Wisler (2013 TMS Fellow)
Nicole Wisler is a 22 year old who never grew out of reading books at the dinner table or striking up conversations with perfect strangers. She recently graduated from American University in Washington, D.C. where she earned a B.A. in International Relations as well as one in Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies. Experiences apart from her time spent in class, such as directing a production of the Vagina Monologues, organizing and leading two service-learning trips (one to India!), and participating in a range of standard Washingtonian political protests and rallies have helped Nicole learn many things: the value of community, empathy, and a reliable watch, how to trust in her own ideas and voice, and the importance of truly seeking out and listening to the voices of others. The last of these lessons helped Nicole to realize she wanted to pursue documentary film. She began by interning at the D.C. based production company, Spark Media, which specializes in producing social issue documentaries last summer. In the fall she took part in the Community Voice Project; a collaboration between American University and the Anacostia Community Museum in which she helped train a local performing artist and youth mentor to produce a digital story about his life and work. These experiences led her reject the idea that any individual or group is inherently “voiceless” and instead to commit to using participatory storytelling to amplify those voices that have been silenced, ignored, or co-opted.
Shivani Aysola (2013 TMS Fellow)
Shivani is a true Californian, with a deep belief in the restorative powers of both the beach and the mountains. The daughter of Hyderabadi teachers, she was raised in the epicenter of entertainment and Mexican food that is Los Angeles. After graduating from high school she moved to Italy, where she learned that a cup of pistachio gelato can be just as soul-stirring as Michelangelo's 'Moses'. After returning stateside, Shivani graduated from the University of California, Santa Cruz in the spring of 2013 with a degree in Politics & Italian Literature. During her time in Santa Cruz she was alternately a research assistant for the chair of the Politics Department, and captain of the undefeated intramural dodgeball team. Both endeavors were fantastic forms of cardiovascular fitness. Shivani has been classically trained in the South Indian art of Bharatanatyam for over 16 years, and has been a company dancer with The Rangoli Foundation for Art & Visual Culture since the age of ten. She has also worked for The United Nations High Commission for Refugees, as a founding member of their first office on the West Coast. In addition, she has been a volunteer Adult Literacy Tutor for the Los Angeles Public Libraries and a pizza delivery driver. In her spare time Shivani enjoys surfing, learning new languages (Hindi and Portuguese are on the dock for this year!), and yelling at the television during sports games.
Rachel Jones (2014 TMS Fellow)
Rachel is a 21-year-old with a healthy dose of wanderlust and a distaste for sitting still too long. Four states lie between her birthplace in West Virginia and her family’s current residence in California in her geographic history. But ten formative years and a family-sized container of Old Bay Seasoning her pantry mark her as a Maryland girl. She'll be graduating from Northwestern University in June after finishing up her Radio/Television/Film major and African American Studies minor. In her time at NU, she has worked on over 25 student film sets in positions ranging from director of photography to the girl who wraps people in coats between takes on a cold day. Between serving as the multimedia editor of a student-run fashion magazine, managing the video team for a student-run philanthropy, and developing a repertoire of stale jokes as a campus tour guide, Rachel also reserves time for discovering new music, playing the ukulele, and searching for the perfect doughnut. After traveling to Ethiopia for a film program the summer after her sophomore year, her passion for discovering ways to marry multimedia production and social change was catalyzed, alongside her love of international living. The following summer, she held a video internship with a nonprofit that contributed to her interest in organizations that see the communities they serve as partners in their efforts for change rather than just recipients.
Nandini Chandrasekaran (2014 TMS Fellow)
Nandini was born in India and grew up in Bahrain. She has lived in the U.S. since 2003, when she had the opportunity to move to New York and pursue a B.A. in History at Columbia University. Over the past ten years, she has worked on diverse projects related to education, immigrant rights, financial justice, and public health. What binds these experiences – and motivated her to earn a Master of Social Work degree in 2013 – is a commitment to the collaborative work of building an equitable, humane world. Following her interest in education, Nandini has facilitated a mentoring program and anti-prejudice curriculum with students in New York; taught English to students aged 6-18 in Slovakia and Hungary; and organized with undocumented immigrant students for college access in Philadelphia. The creativity, resilience, and fire of young people constantly inspire her. Pursuing a love for visual arts and media production, Nandini has taken classes in digital photography and video, applying these skills in both personal and professional projects. She is interested in the dynamics of power and resistance, particularly how these are mediated by communities’ ownership of and access to resources and technology. Her experience has taught her that that storytelling can be transformative on both individual and social levels.
Dara Denney (2014 TMS Fellow)
Even though Dara Denney was born in rural Ohio, she considers herself to be a New Yorker-at-large. She graduated from The City College of New York in 2013 where she pursued a B.A in Creative Writing and could never decide which language to study (she’s taken classes in Chinese, Japanese, German, French, and Latin). Her fascination of different cultures and love for hearing stories about far-off-lands propelled her to volunteer as an English tutor and conversation partner. She loved being able to connect with her fellow New Yorkers in several ways, so she also worked on projects helping prepare immigrants for the United States Citizenship Exam and she was a part of Planned Parenthood of NYC’s Advocacy Group, where she helped organize sex education workshops. Dara believes in the power of knowledge and in the importance of becoming a global citizen. After completing university she spent six months living in Ghana where she ran peer-mentoring-tutoring programs in rural schools outside of Kumasi. This experience showed her that implementing and encouraging creativity and personal development skills was just as important in the classroom as the standardized subjects. Her personal goal is to see that more students gain access to this kind of learning, and that they never stifle their curiosity or stop asking questions.
Karis Hustad (2014 TMS Fellow)
Karis Hustad is a lifelong journalist and storytelling enthusiast whose passion for documenting this beautiful world has taken her from downtown Chicago to the Sahara Desert, and now to Hyderabad, India for The Modern Story fellowship. Karis’s storytelling journey began at age 7 when she created her first newspaper for the other three 7-year-olds on her block (aptly named “Girlz Press”) while growing up in St. Paul, Minnesota. Though she initially dreamed of becoming a fashion magazine editor, attending a Jesuit university (Loyola University Chicago) and learning about Chicago’s socioeconomic issues turned her attention to social justice, and instilled a passion for telling stories that could enact change (or at least make people think of the world in a new way). With this in mind, she sunk her teeth any and all media, from starting a blog for college students in the city to working at a community-oriented public radio station, and volunteered at a local elementary school. Her senior year she studied journalism in Morocco – her first time leaving the United States. This experience showed her the importance of empowering local storytellers, that no language or cultural barrier is insurmountable, and that intercultural exchange is the greatest way to learn (also that couscous Fridays should be an internationally recognized holiday). After graduating Loyola, Karis worked for The Christian Science Monitor in Boston, Massachusetts. Her work in media taught her the awe-inspiring power of journalism, the importance of amplifying under-reported stories, and the need for empowering the next generation of storytellers. Outside of journalism, Karis is an avid reader, writer, photographer, thinker, biker, coffee drinker and Midwest defender.