Date of Award
As the descendant of storytellers living in a society entrenched in white supremacy culture that has pushed storytelling and its immense value out of people’s homes, institutions, and classrooms, my family and I have failed to recognize the importance and ubiquity of storytelling within the culture of our own family. I gathered family members to connect and share through Talk Story time to explore “How do we share stories and how has storytelling shaped our family’s culture?” and “How does this legacy of storytelling continue within me, my body, and my leadership practices?” I invited family members to bring a few family photographs or objects that were meaningful to them. As a result, I have a deeper understanding of the tight-knit community my family created in Painesville, Ohio after immigrating to the U.S. from Jamaica. The incredible stories that were shared have helped me to feel more grounded and anchored into myself and my ancestral gifts. I feel stronger in my core as I learn to resource myself during times of violence with my family’s stories of ingenuity and consistent joy. Similarly, I discovered that my family would often share stories of their time in Jamaica to remember who they truly were, what they deserved, and to always accompany challenging experiences with laughter. I was able to learn about other mediums of storytelling that our family practices, such as quilting. Throughout this process, I have strengthened my foundation of lifelong leadership practices that are centered around building relationship, generosity, sharing, collaboration, and learning.
Matthew Kolan, PhD
Professional Affiliate Coach
Sharon Bridgforth, Heather Laine Talley, Ph.D.
Garza, Gabriela, "Master's Project: Descendant of Storytellers" (2022). Rubenstein School Leadership for Sustainability Project Publications. 38.