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. 

Amanda ReCupido

Amanda ReCupido is a writer, humorist, and storyteller living in Chicago's western suburbs. Her writing has appeared on Funny or Die and Huffington Post, among others. Her debut book, Anthony Rizzo is a Good Italian Boy, is now available at MascotBooks.com.  

Marko Ivanov

Marko Ivanov is a business executive living in the western suburbs of Chicago with his wife who is a writer and their two children. With a background in Electrical Engineering and a love of math, he didn't expect to discover a passion for performance storytelling. However, he has always enjoyed listening to other people's stories and telling his own. After leaving war-torn Yugoslavia at the age of seventeen, Marko honed his narrative skills as he pursued a better life in the United States.  Today, Marko likes to tell his personal story to wider audiences be it, friends, or strangers, whenever time permits. Recently, he performed at Chicago’s Fillet of Solo Festival.

Marko is a graduate of Kellogg School of Management, Johns Hopkins University and the University of Maryland. If he could go back to school, he’d study history.

Anna Nirmala Thomas

Anna Nirmala is a Philadelphia native that’s been living in Chicago for the past 5+ years. She leads business and strategy for a startup called Hearken, and before that spent several years working as a management consultant for PricewaterhouseCoopers. Anna is an obsessive consumer of all things story related - whether that’s books, podcasts, well-made tv shows, live shows or conversations with interesting individuals, she’s always looking to learn peoples stories and what makes them tick.


Anthony DeLegge

Anthony DeLegge is an associate professor of mathematics at Benedictine University in Lisle, IL.  He lives in Winfield, IL with his wonderful wife, Sara, and their two lovable cats, Seven and Maserati.  When he's not busy saving the world one calculation at a time, he enjoys playing board and card games, listening to music made way before he was born, and making people smile and laugh. 

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!"

Lauren Jernigan

Lauren Jernigan is a long time resident of Naperville, where she lives with her husband and son.  She loves to travel, whether for fun or for the Grand Canyon Half Marathon. Any chance to explore new ideas, meet new people, and experience different cultures brings her joy. Connecting with who people are, and helping meet their needs, is at the heart of the international volunteering that takes a lot of her focus. She is a seasoned adoption advocate and an experienced nonprofit professional. Recently she stepped away from her role with Make-A-Wish Illinois and is currently doing some consulting while focusing on her family and passion for writing. 

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. 

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