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. 

Bonniejean Alford

Bonniejean Alford is The Identity Guru. She manages Alford Enterprises, a specialty communication firm, where she plans and executes projects for clients around the globe, especially creativity coaching for project development. Her mission involves assisting clients with communicating their identity and branding through various mediums by making a BOLD statement. A published author and poet, Bonniejean has completed her memoir and her first novel is near complete. Bonniejean teaches Sociology with a focus on identity at College of DuPage. As an active member of Toastmasters, she competes (and wins) speaking competitions in multiple varieties. She holds two Master of Arts degrees (Sociology and Communication) and speaks to audiences on a vast array of topics, each connected back to identity in some meaningful way. 

 

Follow her on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram

www.twitter.com/bonniejean401

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Amanda Caverzasi

Amanda is passionate about writing and telling stories about motherhood. She also writes for children. She is the 2016 winner of the SCBWI’s Wild Wild Midwest Contest for narrative non-fiction and her first children’s book is forthcoming from Tiger Stripe Publishing. Although originally from New York, she has lived nearly 10 years in the Chicago area and figures that make her a quarter mid-Westerner. Her work has appeared in Bad Idea magazine, Yoga Chicago, and Literary Mama. She's married to a quick-witted, story-teller from Yugoslavia. They have two children.  https://acaverzasi.com

Angela Gearhart

Angela’s outgoing personality and love of life are entirely evident when you meet her. Her smile is contagious. Although no stranger to the stage, this is her first time storytelling. She has never been one to shy away from a camera or microphone. Angela is from Illinois and spent 8 years near here living in Aurora. She was a realtor at Realty Executives for 14 years and most of them right here in Wheaton. After marrying her husband, they moved to Northwest Indiana. Even after making fun of 219’ers all her life, she loves it there. She is raising her husband, 11-year-old daughter, Katelyn, and dog Sohpia. She currently works as the service manager at a family-owned furniture store of 90 years called DeYoung Interiors. Angela has been known to throw some pretty epic parties that no one wants to leave. It is sometimes hard to tell who is having more fun while with her. You or her?

Joe Jekot

Joe has been performing and teaching high school and courses in Parent Effectiveness Training for the past 28 years. He has performed for schools, the Boy Scouts of America, retirement communities and family gatherings. Joe has also played the role of "Igor" at Six Flags Great America Frightfest and starred as "Salty the ghost Sailor" at Navy Pier's Haunted Pier.

Joe is getting his book published! It's called The Lost Art of Family Storytelling: A Guide for Parents, Grandparents and Family Historians. It is being published by Joshua Tree Publishers Joe has just completed an audio version of his show Family Legends...Family Lies... He would like to share the first story from that cd. It is called Joe Bond.

Erica Katz

Born and raised a Hoosier from Cedar Lake, she lived a simple life, spending summers as a lifeguard while making the perfect Dairy Queen cone.  She put down her pom-poms and joined the military for love of country and pursuit of her dream of being a nurse. While on her educational journey and claiming the title of United States Marine she moved to Hawaii and worked in meteorology and then with Fourth Force Recon.  Learning how to Tahitian dance, body surf the North Shore and appreciate the beauty that nature has to offer lead her to follow her heart.  Education brought her to Staten Island, New York. The east coast offered diversity, culture and the degree that would allow her to do that which she wanted to do her whole life, help heal others. The city inspired her and while working in the emergency room she met her true love Mitchell. Being an RN wasn't enough, so she continued her studies, minoring in psychology and majoring in being a Master's prepared Nurse Practitioner.  Working to help children with cancer was her calling.  Marriage brought joy and our beloved Jillian and Max.  Caring for children with cancer was a calling but the time had come to go back home.  Four years in Naperville yields a reconnection with family, a whole new connection with a community and amazing friends.  Working in the emergency room, raising my not so boring family while partnering with my best friend who makes me crazy is the life for me.

Tony Ozzauto

Tony Ozzauto grew up in the south suburbs of Chicago and attended Columbia College to study Television Production and Theatre. Whilst there his instincts told him to leave school and move to California. In the first month of moving, he took a job with a production company which led him to travel through Europe for several months filming and a further six years of work, before deciding to switch to live television. Tony then became News Director of a financial television station, producing two local talk shows. 

After moving back to Chicago, Tony continued to thrive, winning several International Television Awards for producing corporate television programs. 

At the age of 58, Tony decided to make a career change and enroll in cosmetology school. After graduating he teamed up with a company to travel the country performing on stage at trade shows and teaching seminars. Tony currently teaches cosmetology in a western suburb. 

At the age of 63, Tony again made some radical changes in his life. These changes opened up his world which allowed him to see things differently. These changes have opened his mind and talents to write and tell stories about his experiences.

Mike Rossi

Mike Rossi is a long-time Naperville native. He is a teacher of teens, a father of humans, and a hero to dogs. 

Jason Stipp

Jason Stipp is the currently in his seventh year as principal of Waubonsie Valley High School. Before that, he has served as an administrator and teacher in Wheaton and Morris Illinois. He has been recognized by his colleagues being named the 2018 Principal of the Year for DuPage County, as well as the Chairmen Award from AGAPE. He currently serves on the Kids Matter Board and is a member of Good Shepherd Church of Naperville.

He is a father of three children, and husband to Kendall Stipp. It is the distinction of father and husband that he is most proud of. Finding the time to prioritize family and celebrating their time together is what brings him the greatest joy. They have and continue to be Naperville residents for the past 15 years.

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