I live in San Francisco with my husband and two kids, Hazel and Levon. After being a lifelong East Coaster via New Hampshire, Massachusetts, and Brooklyn, I’m slowly becoming a West Coast convert. My winter tolerance has gone, though I’ve yet to fully accept foggy summers.
What is your role and how long have you been in this position?
I’m Co-Executive Producer, Animations, and December will mark my tenth anniversary at StoryCorps.
What does your job entail?
In general, the Animation department creates dynamic visual treatments of our audio stories, through animations and audio cards, of our weekly “Morning Edition” broadcasts and other initiatives like One Small Step. I oversee production and development of current and upcoming projects to ensure we’re meeting timelines and deliverables, while meeting a high standard that reflects the values and mission of StoryCorps.
We produce animations under a Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) grant that has been in place since 2010. The animations are shared digitally on our platforms, through partnerships like the one we have with the PBS documentary series “POV” and we work with station relations consultant Marigold Media to share the animations on PBS via national and local broadcasts. A key part of my job is supporting M&C and our external partners in making sure the animations are shared far and wide.
During animation production, Animation Producer Savannah Winchester and I work with our studio Ace & Son Moving Picture Company to guide them editorially. In addition to providing feedback on the visual storytelling of a piece, we’re also paying close attention to how our participants are represented in the art and what documentary details (e.g., setting, important objects) we can weave into the piece to make them specific and true to the storytellers. Our participants are generous in allowing us to highlight them and we want to do right by them.
What are the rewards of your job?
I was pregnant with my first child when [StoryCorps Senior Producer] Von Diaz produced the Albert Sykes story, and it felt like kismet. As Albert talked about his son, it was as if he was whispering in my ear about what it means to be a parent and it connected my personal and professional life in a way that I haven’t experienced before.
What are the challenges of your job?
Selecting a story to animate can be a moment of anxiety. You wonder, ‘Is this the right one? Is this going to work visually?’ My favorite example of this is Star Bound, which is an animation about a six-year-old boy who is obsessed with outer space and loves to talk about it with his uncle who is a NASA engineer. We loved the interview but initially weren’t sure whether there was enough to play with visually. Then, our animators sent us the first pass of the animatic and it was designed like a picture book—inspired by vintage Time Life illustrations of space—and we immediately fell in love and knew it would be special. Sometimes there’s a gap between what’s in the audio and how you can translate it into visuals and you need to trust it and take a leap of faith.
Why should everyone record a story with StoryCorps?
Maybe it’s just life with young kids, but I don’t think I’m alone in feeling that we have less and less quiet time to commune with people who matter to us. A StoryCorps interview gives you the appointment on your calendar to sit and connect with someone who matters to you. In the end there’s little else that’s as enriching for you, and for the person you care about, than to make that time.
What is your favorite StoryCorps story?
The Saint of Dry Creek was one of the first stories I produced for animation. I had just changed roles from focusing on post-production and distribution, to being able to see a story all the way through. There was no better person — or story — to work on in those early days than Patrick Haggerty’s. To me, Patrick embodies StoryCorps: loving, generous, and full of big-hearted humor. He passed away last year, which left a hole in my heart, but his message remains.