I’m a New Yorker through and through. Born in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn, raised in Queens, I’ve never lived outside NYC and wear my thick Brooklyn/Queens accent proudly. Working in Manhattan during the ’80s, I was living my dream, but left the workforce for another dream: to raise two amazing daughters alongside my husband and real-life hero, Joe. I picked up my career again in early 2000 and began working at StoryCorps in 2006 as a part-time, temporary consultant. I would have never guessed that that gig would turn into a 16-year career at StoryCorps working alongside our inspiring Founder and President Dave Isay and the talented StoryCorps staff. Working with Sandy Clark, our amazing new CEO, is a pleasure. Dave and Sandy’s commitment to this organization is heartfelt. StoryCorps and its important mission have brought me much joy, and yes, there have been many sleepless nights too, as nothing important comes easy. I’m honored to have lived StoryCorps’ evolution over these many years, and am thrilled to be a part of the organization’s exciting future.
What is your role at StoryCorps?
I am a member of StoryCorps’ executive team and serve as director of the executive office and Board liaison. My main focus is to support the Board, along with Dave and Sandy, so that they have what they need to be successful in carrying out StoryCorps’ mission.
What is a typical week like for you?
In any given week, my days are super busy. With the support of a super-efficient and kind Executive Assistant Jeanette Maldonado, I’m working closely with Dave, Sandy, and the other members of the executive team to enable a positive workflow and to ensure key information is shared across departments. I act as the gatekeeper on a daily basis creating the proper situations for access to the president and CEO internally and externally and also act as a ‘barometer’ sensing what issues and concerns need to be brought to the attention of StoryCorps leadership. I write correspondence on behalf of the president and CEO, manage internal and external relationships together with key departments, and attend meetings with—and on behalf—of the executive office.
I am also the key contact for vetting and negotiating speaking contracts and collaborating with external partners on the detailed execution of speaking engagements. I’m responsible for ensuring the president and CEO are fully prepared for all internal and external meetings as well as working with M&C [Marketing & Communications] around press interviews. Working with the CEO, I manage the various aspects related to our four Board meetings a year. I also write the minutes for the Board meetings and am the keeper of information and documents related to the Board’s committees, governance, term limits, and bylaws. There’s much more to my work day but let’s leave it at that; every day is a busy one for sure.
How have you seen StoryCorps evolve?
StoryCorps was a start-up when I joined: very hip and casual. Since then, I’ve seen it evolve into the national nonprofit it is today. It’s like watching a dream come true as we all work toward making StoryCorps a household name. I’ve also worked with so many wonderful staff who have passed through the doors at 80 Hanson. I love keeping in touch after they’ve moved on to see how their journey has unfolded. I remember when StoryCorps Board member Jason Reynolds was a facilitator with us—he was a young 20-something—and now he’s a #1 New York Times bestselling author of more than a dozen books for young people and was named as the Library of Congress‘ national ambassador for young people’s literature in 2020. Many talented people have gotten their start here and we are so grateful to have been a part of their growth.
What drew you to StoryCorps?
I started as a consultant to help get StoryCorps organized from an administrative perspective. For example, I helped Human Resources get organized and worked on early drafts of the facilitator manuals. After two months here, someone mentioned that Dave didn’t have any devoted administrative support. And before long, I found myself working full time as his executive assistant. Later, I was promoted to special assistant to the president, then director, and now director and Board liaison. My job has kept evolving and expanding ever since. It’s been sixteen years and I still love what I do every day.
What are your biggest challenges and what do you enjoy most in this job?
My biggest challenge is trying to prioritize when everything is a priority and there’s so much to do. What’s been most fulfilling is watching the staff — they are so brilliant and do their work so gracefully. They just keep moving and shaking and it’s an honor to work with everyone.
Why should everyone record a story with StoryCorps?
One of the most important things you can do is leave a legacy and history for the next generation. It may sound cliche but I mean it with all of my heart. Having someone tell their own story is unique — it’s a gift to the world.
What is your favorite StoryCorps story?
I have so many, but one is Clean Streets about two garbage men who worked as partners for years in Manhattan. Their accents and their whole exchange are just quintessential New York! Also, the 9/11 stories. They are beyond moving—especially She Was the One. Richie Pecorella lost his wife on 9/11 and until he passed away, he and Dave would have dinner together every year in Karen’s memory.