When a young newlywed is diagnosed with an auto-immune disease and her journey to motherhood is put on hold, she decides to look at the challenge as an opportunity to learn all about pregnancy and postpartum, and launches a new podcast in the process.
I’ve always known that I wanted to become a mom. (Jessica, 4:45)
Jessica Lorion is the host and producer of Mamas in Training, a podcast that supports pregnant women and aspiring moms on their journey. With a background as a professional actor and voiceover artist in New York City, her mission on the show is to spread the importance of studying motherhood. She intends to use her voice and desire to connect with women everywhere, to share the lessons she has learned and provide community to those in need.
After casting aside the limits imposed by her Scottish immigrant parents and practicing law for decades, a woman embraces the joy she feels while working in the garden and decides to go back to school for a Masters in Applied Theology at age 62.
This was a knowing. (Marjorie, 19:47)
Marjorie Speirs is a writer, gardener, wife, mother, grandmother, recovering attorney, and spiritual seeker. She earned a Masters in Applied Theology at age 62 and loves to explore opportunities for spiritual awakening in the midst of our daily lives. She has a small spiritual counseling practice and was a hospice volunteer until COVID made this work impossible. She is especially interested in interfaith conversations and exploration of the ways in which various faith paths intersect. She lives with her husband in the Pacific Northwest region of the U.S.
A war correspondent overwhelmed with the pain and suffering surrounding her on assignment in the Middle East takes action by founding INARA – an NGO providing medical care to child victims of war.
What we have forgotten is that we are all human. (Arwa, 38:13)
Arwa Damon is a CNN Senior International Correspondent based in Istanbul, Turkey. She has over a decade of experience in war zones across the Middle East and North Africa, and has often focused her work on humanitarian stories. Arwa has received extensive recognition for her work including TV and News Emmys, Peabodys, the Investigative Reporters and Editors award, and most recently was the recipient of the International Women’s Media Foundation “Courage in Journalism” award. The concept behind INARA, the NGO she co-founded in 2015, is a by-product of her first-hand experience on the ground.
A boy in rural Indiana discovers the joy of singing in a barbershop quartet, and is launched into a life of music.
Most of my job as a music educator is to try to get students to overcome their fear. (Kelly, 41:14)
Kelly Shepard is a native of Richmond, Indiana. A music teacher and choir conductor for the past 30 years, he conducted the Los Angeles chapter of HaZamir, the International Jewish Teen Choir, for 10 years before moving to Brisbane, Australia in 2017. Currently, Kelly is a music teacher, coach and director of the Australian National Champion Chorus, Sound Connection. He is also an award-winning barbershop quartet singer, and performs with the current Australian National Champion Quartet, The Collective.
After her animated short for Cartoon Network receive overwhelming acclaim and over 5.5 million views on YouTube, a writer and storyteller is asked to bring her talents to the new animation division at Netflix.
Be true to yourself in your art. (Elizabeth, 6:00)
Elizabeth Ito is a 15-year veteran of the animation industry, and the creator of the award-winning short, Welcome to My Life. Other credits include Adventure Time and such movies as Hotel Transylvania, Astroboy and The Spongebob Movie. Her most recent creation is City of Ghosts, at Netflix Animation.
As a young man, author Noah Charney dreamed of living in Europe. Anywhere in Europe. In fact, he tried out life in some six different countries before landing in Slovenia, the country that would steal his heart.
“There’s a way to actually make the sensation of time feel like it slows down, and is richer and broader.” (Noah, 23:05)
Dr Noah Charney is an internationally best-selling, Pulitzer-nominated author. He spent the early months of lockdown finally tackling an unusual project: a parenting book. He borrows techniques used in teaching at university level, and even some employed by Nobel Prize winners, to help inspire a lifetime love of learning in his daughters (now 6 and 8). His normal work is as a professor of art history specializing in art crime, and he has also become a specialist on his adopted homeland of Slovenia, where he has been an American expat for a decade.
Raised in the Belgian Congo, a young American signs up for the Peace Corps and is assigned to a feedlot project in Lesotho. She plans to employ her animal husbandry skills, but finds she is called by her faith to care for vulnerable children.
I valued the depth with which they taught us about culture and about language. (Nancy, 48:33)
Nancy Miller Dimmock is a second-generation missionary. She was born and raised in the Belgian Congo (now DRC) and served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Lesotho. She and her husband Frank served for 30 years with the Presbyterian Church in Lesotho, Malawi and Zambia. Their areas of interest and expertise were in health care and the care of vulnerable children. They have eight children of their own, six of whom are adopted.
Fresh out of college, a young writer accepts a job with an NGO, which takes her to Africa on several trips. The connections she makes there – with primates, with nature, with local communities – will give her a new perspective that lends her writing a sense of joy and delight.
The approach of outsiders coming in and telling people how to manage their land and their lives is wrong. (Rebecca Villarreal, 3:54)
Rebecca Villarreal is the author of The Amazing Adventures of Selma Calderón, A Globetrotting Magical Mystery of Courage, Food & Friendship. By day, she’s a community organizer who helps people of all ages to create innovative projects aimed at people 50 and over along with their families. Prior to that, she traveled to Africa gathering wildlife conservation stories in collaboration with local communities and later worked with education and corporate clients in public relations.
Amboseli – Nora, Soila and Katito: Nature: Women of the Amboseli Trust
Tindi [Selma] Amadi (who inspired the main character in Rebecca’s novel):
When Laura Kitchin decided to move to Barcelona, she knew she would be teaching English there. What she didn’t know was that she would be enjoying three-hour dinners, traveling to several countries each year, and getting an up-close look at the independence movement in Catalonia.
“I really consider Barcelona my home.” (Laura, 32:21)
Laura Kitchin moved from the United States to Spain in 2006 where she has been working as an English teacher ever since. Laura worked for more than a decade in the field of mental health and has an M.A. in Special Education. She currently resides in the center of Barcelona in a rooftop apartment where she lovingly tends to her large collection of plants. Laura loves to travel, is a passionate reader, and is always exploring the city looking for her new favorite dining spot.
As a young girl growing up in LA, Jacqui took it for granted that she was Hispanic. Then came a questioning, a trying on of other labels like Chicana and Latina, and ultimately the feeling that identity is fluid in essence.
Jacqui Amezcua is an alum of Dickinson College, located in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, where she graduated Cum Laude and received her B.A. with Honors in Latin American, Latinx & Caribbean Studies. Her research has focused on political movements in Latin America and her published work is titled “Politics of Memory and the Escrache in Post Dictatorship Argentina.”
Jacqui’s most passion-driven work has been with The Trout Gallery, where she worked as a Foreign Language Coordinator to develop immersive curricula for Spanish and Portuguese language learners. She later went on to curate her own exhibit titled, “Agency, Tolerance and Imagination: Art and Civic Engagement,” where she honed her passion for making art accessible and using it as a tool for social change. Ultimately, she hopes to work towards revolutionizing the museum space into one rooted in equity and community empowerment.
Today, Jacqui works as Trainer at The Posse Foundation, a non- profit organization that provides 4-year full-tuition scholarships to leaders within the Los Angeles community.
“We gotta question why we use these labels.” (Jacqui, 29:48)
As a young single mother, Nicole Powers slid down a slippery slope from alcohol and pot to an addiction to pain pills after they were prescribed for shoulder problems. It wasn’t long before she was introduced to heroin. After stealing from her employer to support her drug habit, she turned herself in on forgery charges and served 20 months of a four year sentence. She has now been clean and sober for eight years.
“Reach out to somebody that you know loves you.” (Nicole, 31:29)
Nicole Powers has a wonderful fiancé and four beautiful daughters. Add in her six grandsons, and it’s clear her life is vibrant and full of love. She grew up in Richmond, Indiana, graduated from Richmond High School in 1989, and has a Bachelors degree in Mass Communications from the University of Evansville. She has been an Administrative Assistant at Central Indiana Transport Express in Richmond, Indiana for the past two years. She feels super blessed to be alive and contributing!
A solid foundation is laid over four years at Juilliard, and incredible experience is gained over 25 years working on the stage and screen. Now, an actor uses her hard-won perspective and wisdom to coach her clients.
My dear friend Lauren and I could talk for hours, and sometimes we do! So glad we could capture one of our conversations and share it with you. We reminisce about our first tour together as young actors, then focus on Lauren’s work – first as a Juilliard-trained performer, and then in her current role as voice and speech coach to actors and non-actor professionals.
Check out this wonderful article Lauren wrote on “Speaking Well and the Line between Practice and Performance.”
“The body is a system.” (Lauren, 18:57)
To contact Lauren about private coaching, visit her website laurenlovett.com
Somatic Experiencing Institute: traumahealing.org
You can also find her on Instagram: @yourdesertwitch
Lauren Lovett is a graduate of the Juilliard School Drama Division in New York City, and is now based in Los Angeles. She has had specific vocal training with Patsy Rodenburg and Saul Kotzubei. In addition, she studied Education at Monmouth University and Depth Psychology at Pacifica Graduate Institute, and Somatic Experiencing with Peter Levine. For 25 years, Lauren worked as a professional actor in theatres across the country, including the Mark Taper Forum and The Geffen Playhouse in LA. She has also appeared on TV in ER, Guiding Light, Days of our Lives, and The Whole Truth. She was the voice of the “Childhood is Calling” campaign for Rice Krispies for many years. She has been coaching actors and non-actor professionals for 20 years in voice, speech, dialect and public speaking confidence. Companies include Dreamworks Animation, B/S/H, Morgan Stanley and several others. She is a member of SAG-AFTRA, Actors Equity and VASTA.