2017 ConferenceKeynotes


Conference Theme

All Our Voices: Stories of Immigration & Migration

America is a country built on immigration and migration, both forced and voluntary. People relocate involuntarily via human hand or natural disaster; they move purposefully to find jobs, escape conflict, to be near family, and to improve their quality of life. In the U.S. and internationally, challenges continue to occur when immigration or migration stories collide with the stories of those previously established in a community.

Whether we are first, second, or tenth generation, how can we include everyone’s stories? What difficult stories need to be told? What stories can we share to maintain our individual traditions? What new stories can we formulate to further hope, peace, and a place for all? Through both personal and traditional stories, let’s listen to and learn from “All Our Voices” at the 2017 National Storytelling Conference.


Opening Keynote

Thursday, June 29th – 7:30-9:30 pm

Naomi Shihab Nye


Naomi Shihab Nye is a compelling, award-winning Palestinian-American poet, writer, anthologist, and educator with over 30 volumes of poetry to her credit. She describes herself as a “wandering poet,” having traveled the world for 40 years leading writing workshops, inspiring students of all ages, and attesting to our shared humanity. Nye’s work has been presented on NPR’s A Prairie Home Companion and The Writer’s Almanac and has been featured in two PBS poetry specials.

Among her multiple awards, her children’s novel, The Turtle of Oman (HarperCollins, 2015), was selected as a Notable Children’s Book by the American Library Association (ALA) and awarded the Middle East Book Award for Youth Literature. Most recently, the ALA chose Nye to present the 2018 May Hill Arbuthnot Honor Lecture, a significant achievement in the field of children’s literature.


Learn more about Naomi: http://barclayagency.com/site/speaker/naomi-shihab-nye



Closing Keynote

Sunday, July 2 – 10:45 am-12:15 pm

Dr. Rex Ellis
Sponsored by Mid-Continent Public Library


Dr. Rex Ellis will challenge us to use what we’ve learned over the weekend in his closing keynote speech. Currently, Ellis is the Associate Director of Curatorial Affairs at the Smithsonian Institute’s National African American Museum of Culture and History (NMAACH), telling the American story through the lens of the African-American experience. Previously, he was Vice President of the Historic Area for the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation. He is an NSN ORACLE Circle of Excellence storyteller and author of Beneath the Blazing Sun: Stories from the African American Journey and With a Banjo on My Knee. We thank our partners at Mid-Continent Public Library for sponsoring Dr. Ellis’ conference participation and look forward to his passionate wisdom.


Learn more about Rex’s work at the museum: https://nmaahc.si.edu/