Keynotes and
General Sessions



Opening Keynote - Thursday, July 30, 7:30 pm

Many Pathways...One Journey

We all began our journeys from different points, but somehow, through the choices we made, we all ended up here. Our journeys are as different as our fingerprints, and each step shaped us. This summer, all of our pathways will cross for a brief moment. Let's make the most of it!

Donna Washington has been a professional storyteller for the last twenty-seven years. She is a multiple-award winning artist with nine spoken word CDs. She is also the author of four picture books. She presents a wide variety of tales from many different cultures. For the last fifteen years, she has been a passionate advocate for teaching literacy through the use of storytelling. She lives in Durham, NC with her husband/manager Dave, their two teenagers, and two cats: Love Bug and Flash.



Friday Keynote - Friday, July 31, 9:00-10:30am

What Adventures in Neural Science Reveal that Benefit Every Teller


Kendall HavelStorytellers know story in glorious and nuanced detail. But we lack the ability to peer inside the audience’s head to see what happens to our stories in that twisted maze of sparking neurons. Neural scientists seem to be intimately familiar with every circuit in the brain. But know precious little about story. When the Department of Defense combined a storyteller with a roomful of neural scientists, the research provided both moments of grandest farce comedy (worthy of Dr. Strangelove) and the laboratory experimental evidence to support a set of the most profound and valuable statements any teller could hope to hear.

In this session I will share a few of the comedies and, more importantly, the incredibly powerful statements and claims we can now make with full science backing about the power, the allure—the necessity—of story as a central element in virtually every facet of our lives. We now possess documented proof to back claims about the value of storytelling that are more far reaching than any of us in the storytelling community have dared to dream about.

The only West Point graduate to turn professional storyteller, Kendall Haven also earned a graduate degree in Oceanography before beginning his 32-year storytelling career.


An internationally recognized Subject Matter Expert on the cognitive and neuro-science of story, Haven is credited with developing the Neural Story Net, the Makes Sense Mandate, the first model of the informational demands of the brain’s story-based circuitry, and the first detailed neuro-model of how stories exert influence.


Kendall serves as a story consultant to departments in various governmental science agencies (Navy, DoD, EPA, NASA, NOAA, and NPS) as well as for numerous corporations, nonprofits, and educational organizations and was selected as a featured presenter at the 2013 and 2014 Aspen Ideas Fest. Haven has published 34 books of and on stories and storytelling and has won 20 major awards for his writing and performance storytelling.