Pell Center

The Pell Center for International Relations and Public Policy at Salve Regina is a multidisciplinary research center focused at the intersection of politics, policies and ideas.

Pell Center Creates Story Board to Build a Community of Storytellers and Scholars

Initiative reaches across Rhode Island and features participants from every college and university in the state

NEWPORT, R.I. — In an expansion aimed at enhancing the study, celebration and practice of public storytelling, the Pell Center at Salve Regina University today named two dozen people to a newly created, at-large “Story Board” that will advise the Pell Center’s leadership on the development of its Story in the Public Square (SIPS) initiative.

“We’ve brought together a tremendous group who add a broad range of creative and cultural interests and expertise to our overall effort,” said Pell Center Executive Director, Dr. Jim Ludes.  “We expect their involvement in this effort to enrich and enliven the discussion of storytelling in public affairs.”

SIPS co-director G. Wayne Miller continued, “As we continue to build Story in the Public Square, board members will be an integral part of the process.  Their collective experience will be an enormous asset to the public dialogue. We are thrilled to be able to draw on their wealth of knowledge and wisdom.”

Story Board members will advise the program’s directors, judge contests, and mentor students. Members will be encouraged to contribute their own writings, still and moving images, and other expressions to and other SIPS forums. They will offer ideas on improving and expanding Story in the Public Square.

The Story Board includes members from a broad sweep of storytelling media: filmmaking, animation, television, still photography, radio, education, history and journalism. Every Rhode Island college has representation on the Story Board.

The founding members of the Story Board are:

  • Dorothy Abram, writer and associate professor of Social Sciences at Johnson & Wales University;
  • Susan Areson, Providence Journal deputy executive editor;
  • David Boeri, senior reporter, WBUR 90.9, Boston’s NPR news station;
  • Jennifer Cook, associate professor of English and Secondary Education, Rhode Island College, and director of the Rhode Island Writing Project;
  • Pamela Reinsel Cotter, The Providence Journal’s assistant managing editor for Breaking News/Geo and social media editor;
  • Christopher B. Daly, associate professor of journalism, Boston University;
  • Xue Di, poet and fellow in Brown University’s Freedom to Write program;
  • Steven F. Forleo, English professor, Community College of Rhode Island, and faculty adviser for CCRI student paper The Unfiltered Lens;
  • John Freidah, photojournalist, documentary filmmaker, and multimedia producer at MIT’s Department of Mechanical Engineering;
  • Gitahi Gititi, writer and professor of English, Film and Media Studies, and African and African American Studies, University of Rhode Island;
  • Gary Hart, Huffington Post blogger, author, and former U.S. senator;
  • Paulla Dove Jennings, storyteller, historian, educator, Narragansett Tribe elder and, since 1989, curator of the Tomaquag Indian Memorial Museum in Exeter, R.I.;
  • Steve Klamkin, radio news journalist, 630 AM & 99.7 FM WPRO;
  • Kathryn Larsen, program director, Rhode Island PBS;
  • John Lavall, documentary filmmaker;
  • Judy Barrett Litoff, author and professor of history at Bryant University;
  • Mia Lupo, student, Salve Regina University;
  • George T. Marshall, founder and executive director of R.I. International Film Festival, and Adjunct professor of communications and film, Roger Williams University;
  • Lorelei Pepi, animation artist and part time faculty, Rhode Island School of Design;
  • Sussy Santana, poet and performance artist;
  • Lorén Spears, storyteller, educator and executive director of the Tomaquag Indian Memorial Museum;
  • Jim Taricani, investigative television reporter, WJAR-TV, NBC 10;
  • Alisha Pina Thounsavath, staff writer and columnist, Providence Journal;
  • Padma Venkatraman, author and instructor at the Graduate School of Oceanography, University of Rhode Island;
  • Karen Thompson Walker, novelist; and
  • Agnieszka Woznicka, animation artist and associate professor, Rhode Island School of Design.

Members endorse the core concept of Story in the Public Square, namely: To study, celebrate and cultivate the use of storytelling in public affairs. Established in 2012, Story in the Public Square staged its first Story Day in April 2013, when it welcomed former Senator Gary Hart as keynote speaker and presented the first Pell Center Prize for Story in the Public Square to two-time Pulizer Prize winner Dana Priest, of The Washington Post. The Pell Center will host the second Story Day this spring at Salve Regina University.

SIPS defines “story” as the use of word, image and/or sound, in any medium (print, web, film, video, novel, art, etc.), to narrate an experience, typically with an emphasis on emotion, character and insight. Public storytelling is story made widely available, with the potential to influence individual opinion and community, national and international policy, either swiftly or over time. Story stands in contrast to exposition, the straightforward (and often important) conveying of information, such as the standard “hard news” piece that is a journalistic mainstay.

Story in the Public Square’s objectives are incorporated under this motto: Experience. Share. Act. The program is a joint initiative of the Pell Center and The Providence Journal, with major grant support from the Rhode Island Council on the Humanities.

Members of the programs Board of Governors serve as ex-officio members of the Story Board.

Visit the SIPS site at, follow the program on Twitter @pubstory, and visit on Facebook

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