When he was nearing the end of a career in Business Management and Information Technology, Bill Wight enrolled in ETSU’s storytelling program to “brush up on his stories.” Much to his surprise, he discovered he had a creative side. Now retired, Bill tells stories to his five grandchildren, and he’s launching a second career with audiences at festivals and business workshops. He’s also lectured in college business classes about stories for business. As Bill says: “I went to school to work on my stories, but then they started working on me!”
When she moved to Northeast Tennessee in 1991, MaryGrace claimed she “moved back home”. Her mother’s people lived in Tennessee from 1795 until the early 20th century. MaryGrace grew up in southern West Virginia where stories and old time music could still be heard around kitchen tables and on front porches. While in college MaryGrace performed at folk festivals, summer camps, youth groups, and churches. These experiences prepared her for her toughest audience: her three sons.
MaryGrace has worked as a mental health therapist, using the healing aspects of storytelling, with individuals, groups, families, and couples and in workshops. For seven years MaryGrace worked as a historical interpreter at Rocky Mount Museum in Piney Flats, TN indulging her love of storytelling and ballad singing.
In 2005 MaryGrace completed her Master’s Degree in Storytelling at East Tennessee State University and began a new career as a professional storyteller.
With her love of history, it’s no surprise that Mary Grace loves to tell historical stories. She also tells folk tales, sacred stories, fables, humorous stories, personal stories, traditional Appalachian stories, and ghost stories.
Mary Grace is a performing member of the Jonesborough Storyteller’s Guild and Beaver Creek Storytellers in Bristol TN/VA, and is a member of NSN (National Storytelling Network) and Volunteer State Tellers.
Libby Tipton is a professional sign language interpreter from Flag Pond, TN. Having deaf parents, she was always a natural communicating other people’s stories through her hands. However, she now tells her own stories about life in a colorful deaf Appalachian family.
Dubbed the “Mountain Terp Teller”, Libby utilizes a combination of sign, gesture, and voice to tell stories about her culture, her subculture and her roots. She also enjoys telling folktales, fairytales, stories of healing, historical stories, and singing the old ballads.
In addition, Libby has provided sign language interpreting for deaf audiences at a number of storytelling venues and is a member of the Jonesborough Storytellers Guild.
Libby is currently the Interpreter Coordinator at East Tennessee State University where she works with students who are deaf and hard of hearing.
Types of Stories: Jack Tales, Historical, Tall Tales, Appalachian, Family, Scary, Children’s, Original/Creative, Humorous, Personal, Inspirational/ Religious
All audiences and settings
Special Talents: American Sign Language
Delanna Reed is a storyteller, teacher, mentor, and scholar. She began her teaching career and discovered storytelling in 1985 as a MA student at the University of North Texas. In 1999, after teaching communication and performance for 13 years, she brought her performance experience to the Master’s Program in Storytelling at East Tennessee State University. While teaching full time, Delanna completed her PhD in Cultural Studies in Education from the University of Tennessee in 2012.
Experienced in coaching students in dramatic performance, Delanna’s expertise is in guiding fledgling storytellers in character development and delivery skills. Her favorite courses to teach at ETSU encompass the basics of oral performance, including vocal delivery skills. Whenever possible, she offers electives in oral history collecting and performance. Delanna has told stories for children and adults in schools, conferences, festivals and at historic sites. She enjoys telling folktales, fairy tales and ghost stories from Appalachia, Texas and around the world. She particularly enjoys humorous stories and stories of strong women. Her favorite stories touch upon the sacred, explore relationships, and expand our understanding of humanity. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
In 2016 when Betty Ann Polaha signed up to audit a story telling class, she never dreamed that three years later she would have earned a storytelling certificate and would be named Outstanding Storyteller Performer at East Tennessee State University.
Betty Ann was always a storyteller coming from a large family with lots of women who sat around the kitchen table telling stories. Betty Ann always thought they were just gossiping but upon moving to Tennessee she discovered that her relations were actually storytelling and that it was a genuine art and a career choice she wanted to pursue.
In 2017 Betty Ann became a member of the Jonesborough Storyteller’s Guild where she performs all kinds of stories that are impactful, poignant and purposeful. Her personal and original stories have unexpected comedy and her original ghost stories will have you on the edge of your seat.
Betty Ann was chosen to tell stories at the 2017 ETSU Donor Dinner where she told railroad stories to over 150 people. She also performed a one women show about the immigrants who came to work at the steel mills at the National Museum of Industrial History in Bethlehem Pa. Betty Ann tells wherever she gets the chance whether it’s a story slam, school, nursing home, civic group or most recently at the bedside of hospital patients.
Molly Catron started her career at Eastman Chemical Company (Eastman Kodak) in the early eighties as an analytical chemist. After a few years, she was appointed manager over a large analytical laboratory and was told to “empower” them. This experience resulted in a career change where she continued to work on cultural change on the division level, the corporate level and ultimately on the global level of the company as an organizational change agent.
She worked to develop leaders and teams to enable them to succeed in the Information Age and her approach was strongly influenced by the work of organizational development expert’s at MIT, where she attended workshops and conferences. But beyond what she has read or studied, she is influenced by what she found to be effective in a “real life” sitting and now pulls from her twenty years of experience inside a large organization.
While working with groups, Molly recognized the effectiveness of stories when teaching complex organizational concepts and more importantly when trying to build relationships between people. She believes most of the problems in organizations are a result of not connecting as human beings. Stories provide a powerful way to connect and establish relationships. Her interest in and use of story in organizational change led to her representing Eastman in “think tanks” at the International Storytelling Center where she worked with practitioners from other organizations (IBM, Disney, Harvard University, Capitol One, World Bank, etc.) to study the use of story in business.
In August, 2001, Molly retired from Eastman Chemical to pursue her interest in storytelling. She has a Masters in Storytelling from East Tennessee State University. This multidisciplinary study crossed over the departments of Education, Business, Psychology, and Performance Arts providing a broader understanding of how and why story works and knowledge of how other disciplines use story.
Presently, she divides her time between consulting, research, and stage performance. Her client list include IBM, St. Jude Medical Research, Capsugel, Toray Plastics, Nuclear Fuel Services, Fruit of the Loom, BIC, United Way of America, LGE, First Quality, United States Geological Society, Pickens Country School System, Lord Fairfax Community College System and others.
She serves on the Board of the National Storytelling Network as the Southeast Regional Director and is a member of the Brimstone Grant Committee for applied storytelling. She is a performing member of the Jonesborough Storyteller’s Guild and has performed across the states and in Europe and Asia.
Areas of storytelling application:
• Understanding Beliefs, Values and Assumptions
• Team Development
• Root Cause Discovery
• Teaching Complex Principles
• Shared Visioning
• Leadership Communication
• Discovery Learning
• Leadership Development
• Learning Histories
• Cultural Awareness / Voice Theatre
• Stimulating Dialogue
Her workshops are upbeat and filled with “real life” application stories from her experience inside the organization where she was responsible for getting results and stimulating lasting change.