Board of Directors
Nicknamed "The Story Board," our Board of Directors is made up of a diverse group of public servants, activists, entrepreneurs, scholars, artists, teachers, and founding members of The Story Theatre. The Story Board ensures that we are living up to our mission statement, actively building community, producing shows to their fullest potential, and fundraising enough money to do so! If you are interested in joining The Story Board, please reach out to Board Treasurer Paul Michael Thomson at email@example.com.
Sydney is a writer, researcher, and creative interested in the ways we can engage socially and critically with those around us. They graduated from the University of Arizona in 2016 with degrees in Africana Studies and Journalism, and have a master's in Women’s and Gender Studies from DePaul University. With a foundation in performance studies, antiracist praxis, feminist frameworks and interdisciplinary multimedia, they're passionate about how we can inspire and inform each-other through the stories we tell.
Board Vice President
Syamala is a writer and activist who focuses on empowering underrepresented groups in the policy making and governing process. She started her career in social services, serving the communities of South Shore, Englewood, Marquette Park, and Archer Heights. In 2020, she ran for election to the Illinois House of Representatives to represent the 40th district, and continues to work with a number of bipartisan and progressive organizations to reform money in politics, strengthen our democracy, and end systemic corruption. She enjoys meditation and swimming.
Brenna DiStasio is a founding member of The Story Theatre and current Governing Ensemble member. She currently serves as the Director of Operations on the Board of Directors. Outside of The Story, she works as an actor, producer, and teacher. Brenna received her BFA in Acting from the University of Arizona. In addition to her work with The Story, Brenna volunteers with Vote Save America, and Children's Cancer Network.
Paul Michael Thomson
Paul Michael Thomson is a proud founding member of The Story Theatre, dedicating his life to activism through artistry. He has worked as a teacher, tutor, actor, playwright, producer, and currently serves as Executive Director on this Board of Directors. His volunteerism includes work with Vote Save America, The University of Arizona Honors College Alumni Advisory Council, and Big Brothers Big Sisters of America. Paul Michael holds a BFA in Acting and a BA in Africana Studies from The University of Arizona, where he was named the Outstanding Senior from the College of Fine Arts and awarded the Dean's Award of Excellency.
Ian Michael Minh
Ian is an actor, writer, and fundraiser based in Chicago. He has appeared onstage at Lookingglass Theatre, Writers Theatre, Oak Park Festival Theatre, the Lyric Opera of Chicago, and Strawdog Theatre and he is a member of the Artistic Ensemble of Midsommer Flight. His writing has been featured by The Chicago Inclusion Project and Playground Chicago, and he is a consultant with the Artistic Fundraising Group helping keep Chicago arts funded. Ian does what Lavina Jadhwani tells him to, except he’s not getting an iPhone.
Isabelle Hong Martin
Isabelle is an arts administrator with a background in classical music, visual art and art history, and independent documentary. She currently serves as the Program Coordinator, Initiatives at United States Artists, and previously held positions at Kartemquin Films and the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. Isabelle received her M.A. in Art History from the University of Illinois at Chicago and B.A. in Art History & Visual Studies with a minor in Music Performance (Cello) from the University of Kentucky. You can find her research published in the International Journal of Comic Art; Trans-Scripts, the student-edited interdisciplinary humanities journal based at the University of California, Irvine; and the Pace University Press Journal of Comics and Culture. Born in South Korea, raised in Louisville, KY, and based in Chicago, Isabelle is a proud transracial adoptee. In her spare time, she enjoys watching hockey, knitting, archery, reading nonfiction, playing Spiritfarer on Nintendo Switch, and finding the city’s best spots to grab a beer or bubble tea.
Sarah is a political organizer, finance coordinator, artist, and arts supporter in Chicago, IL. She graduated with honors from the University of Arizona with her BFA in Musical Theatre. As an organizer and events manager on multiple electoral campaigns, she fought to elect and retain progressive, hardworking representatives. Sarah has been a supporter of The Story Theatre since its inception, including playing Gabrielle in 2018’s LEAVE ME ALONE! by Paul Michael Thomson. She is so excited to bring her experience, curiosity, and love to The Story’s next chapter.
Dr. Quenna Lené Barrett
is thrilled to join The Story Theatre Board! She is a theater artist + practitioner, whose work gathers folks of diverse backgrounds, centers marginalized identities, learns from Black radical wisdom, and then dreams collectively to act boldly through those learnings. Quenna is an Associate Professor of Applied Theatre at Governors State University. She has developed participatory, theater-based programs at the University of Chicago’s Arts + Public Life and Goodman Theatre, where she recently served as the Associate Director of Education and Engagement. As a director, performer, educator, facilitator, and writer, she has worked with a number of organizations including Paramount Theatre, NYU Steinhardt, Oklahoma State University, Ohio State University, Chicago Children’s Theatre, Sojourn, The Theatre School at DePaul, Free Street, Pegasus, Court, eta, Theater Unspeakable, and For Youth Inquiry performance company with the Illinois Caucus of Adolescent Health, where she is a company and board member. She is an Associate Artist with Pivot Arts, an adjunct professor at DePaul University, and a member of the new leadership circle of the Center for Performance and Civic Practice.
Jess is an artist, administrator, and educator. She holds an MFA in Theater Directing from the University of Texas at Austin and an MA in Social Sector Leadership & Nonprofit Management from the University of Chicago. Jess spent five years as Artistic Director of Chicago’s New Leaf Theatre, served as Engagement Director for the National New Play Network, was Director of Outreach for Theatre and Performance Studies at UChicago, and has been an instructor at DePaul University, Northern Illinois University, and UT. Driven by a desire to make work in the arts and culture sector humane, equitable, and sustainable, she centers vulnerability, collaboration, and compassion in all aspects of her work. She lives in Rogers Park with her brilliant husband and their perfect cats Ron Santo and the Mayor.