Keynotes and
General Sessions



Thursday, July 21, 7:30-9:30 pm

The Spotlight is on Storytelling:  The Spotlight is on YOU!

Start your conference experience on a high note as we welcome each other, create stories together and set our community expectations for the weekend.


Friday, July 22, 9:00-10:30 am

Storytelling in the 21st Century: Why the World Needs What You Already Know
Rives Collins

In a futuristic world of self-driving automobiles, big data, and faceless, high-tech communication, will there be any place at all for something as old-fashioned as storytelling? This talk will share perspectives from such diverse disciplines as cognitive neuroscience, business, psychology, and medicine, as it asserts that storytelling is a life skill, needed perhaps now more than ever.  Storytelling may be ancient, of course, but it is hardly old-fashioned.  This spotlight on storytelling offers a multi-perspective look at its significance in the 21st century, and invites to ask questions about the ever-evolving nature of storytelling as we look to its future.

Rives CollinsRives Collins is an award-winning professor for Northwestern University’s theatre department and teaches storytelling for the Kellogg Graduate School of Management, empowering business leaders to harness the power of stories.  He is an Associate Artist with Adventure Stage Chicago and has been invited to direct in the New Visions/New Voices program at the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C. A lover of stories since he could talk, he is featured regularly at festivals, schools, libraries, businesses, and museums, proclaiming, “Storytelling is at the heart of everything I do.”  Rives co-authored “The Power of Story: Teaching Through Storytelling” with Pamela Cooper, and his audio recordings have received the iParenting Media Award and the Spoken Word Award from the NAPPA.   As a past president of the American Alliance for Theatre and Education, he works with an international community of artists, educators, and scholars to champion the cause of drama and theatre (including storytelling) in the lives of young people.  Other interests include folk guitar, cycling, hiking, and making new friends in faraway places.  In addition, he is currently a little crazy for geocaching (his caching name is R.C.Tells), which explains why he can often be found traipsing through the forest preserves these days.


Saturday, July 23, 10:45 am-12:15 pm

NSN Membership Meeting
Your NSN Board of Directors

Does NSN matter? You are NSN! Learn what the future holds and why your participation in NSN makes a difference to how bright the spotlight on storytelling shines.


Sunday, July 24, 10:45 am-12:15 pm

The Quest:  Creating and Telling Stories of CommUNITY-BUILDING
Onawumi Jean Moss

Let’s cast the 'spotlight,' through story and song, on strides made by our national community of storytellers to draw diverse communities together.  Onawumi invites those seeking to carry on this legacy to further consider the challenging task of 'dressing' inbred-truths in the garments of story.

Onawumi Jean MossOnawumi Jean Moss of Amherst, Massachusetts is known as the “soulful storyteller” blending story and a cappella singing. She received the Zora Neale Hurston Storytelling Award from National Association of Black Storytellers in 2005 and the NSN ORACLE Lifetime Achievement Award in 2015. While serving as Associate Dean of Students at Amherst College (1985-2006), she founded and produced the Keepers of the Word multicultural storytelling festival (1993-2006) hosting almost sixty celebrated tellers of African, Asian, European, Hispanic, Latin and Native American heritage. With Patricia C. McKissack she co-authored the children's book, Precious and the Boo Hag (Atheneum, 2005) which received three starred reviews, was the winner of the ALA/ALSC Notable Children's Book award and the Irma S. and James H. Black Honor for Excellence in Children's Literature Award in 2006.