Our Host

Matt Jones has been telling stories his whole life. One of four boys in a family of talkers, storytelling was a competition and an outlet. As high school history teacher and football coach, he used this ability to bring the events of the past and the present to life for his students and players. Today as a father of four himself, an active Scout leader, PTA president, coach and friend he's still using that power to communicate with wit, humor and an ability tap into those human emotions that connect us all, to keep those around him active and engaged. 

A resident of Naperville for over ten years Matt has never forgotten his Virginia roots, his family, and the places he came from. 

Lihy Epstein

Lihy is the co-producer of Risqué Business - a performance event showcasing queer women, gender nonconforming and non-binary folks. Business by day, community by night - when she isn't focused on keeping the family business going, you can find her slamming, storytelling or dragging across Chicago. 

Randy Ford

Randy Ford is a communications consultant living in Chicago. After working as a reporter, political staffer, and public affairs specialist, he founded First Story Strategies (www.firststorystrategies.com). There he helps nonprofits and small businesses use storytelling to show the personal impact of their work. 

Mansi Hans

Mansi Hans is a mom, Artist and founder of A Colorful Affair - a local creative DIY studio in downtown Naperville. She has a big passion for making an impact in people's lives in the sense that it makes them fundamentally happy. New to the world of words, Mansi is finding joy in sharing her failures, successes and everything in between through storytelling. On days that she is not in the studio, she can be spotted walking the downtown block with her favorite baby veer, an adorable 200 lb St. Bernard. www.colorfulaffair.com

Holly Lutz

Holly Lutz is an evolutionary biologist and avid explorer at the Field Museum of Natural History. Her work has taken her all over the world, from the Andean cloud forests to the mountains and caves of Uganda. She is particularly fond of bats, birds, and the stories their microbes can tell us about their evolutionary past. www.hollylutz.com


Mike Rossi

Mike is passionate about his work teaching in the English Dept. at Neuqua Valley HS. He sponsors the school’s Writer’s Week as well as several student-based live lit events for his students. The Monologue Show, in particular, gives students a chance to write and share their own thoughts and voices on a stage, in front of an audience. A committed runner, he is also the assistant boys cross country coach. Nothing, however, inspires his own writing more than being a husband and father. 

Dave Santori

Dave Santori studied improv and storytelling at the Second City Training Center - Chicago.  

His stories include "The Day I Blew Up the Senior Partner's Summer Home"  "Chased by Chicago Bear Hall of Famer Doug Atkins" "You Did What? - What Were You Thinking?" and tonight - "Going to Confession" 


Shawn Shiflett

Shawn Shiflett grew up in Chicago and is the author of short stories and two novels: Hey, Liberal! (Chicago Review Press), a semi-autobiographical story about a white boy going to a predominately black high school in Chicago just after the Martin Luther King Jr. riots, and Hidden Place (Akashic Books), which was included in Library Journal's "Summer Highs, Fall Firsts," a 2004 list of "most successful debuts." He is an Associate Professor in the English and Creative Writing department at Columbia College Chicago. www.shawnshiflett.com

Nicole Zaccaria

Nicole is a Naperville resident who works as a special educator in District 204  and is active in her church's special needs ministry.  She is a single mom,  raising two (wonderful!) kids, so she doesn't have much free time.When she does, however, she is an avid reader and enjoys piling her kids into the car for impromptu road trips.  She has recently been exposed to Storytelling Events, which are quickly becoming one of her favorite experiences.  When asked why she is drawn to them, Nicole states, "I think loneliness and isolation can be epidemic in our society.   We lack connection to one another.  That's why there's such a phenomenon with the TV show, "This is Us".   Its writers aim to connect with each of its viewers at some point in the storyline.   Storytelling events allow for us to connect with one another in real life rather than with a character behind a screen.  I love it!"

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