Stories Without Borders Team
Jessica Schneider, Founder, Executive Director, Executive Producer
Jessica Schneider (Chance) is an award-winning filmmaker and communications specialist. She founded Stories Without Borders in 2013 to tell underreported stories and empower new storytellers. In her role as Executive Director for the organization, she produces and directs films, teaches non-traditional storytellers how to develop and produce their own stories, and manages development and day-to day operations in coordination with staff.
Schneider is the Director and co-Executive Producer of the multiple award-winning feature-length documentary, Living with the Dead (2013), produced in Manila, Philippines; The Mouths that Eat from Tea (2015) produced in Meru, Kenya, and Beyond the Wall (2017), a rapid response documentary produced in in January 2017 (A second installment of the film is currently in production). She has also directed and produced more than a hundred short form documentaries for clients including Cartier, The Colorado Health Foundation, The Colorado Trust, Silk, the American Heart Association, the United States Tennis Association and many more in her former role as co-Founder and Producer at Chance Multimedia, a media production company located in Denver, Colorado.
Before moving to Colorado, Schneider served as the Communications Director for the Public Children Services Association of Ohio, and played a supportive role in the development of the Ohio Youth Advisory Board. The OHIO YAB is directed by youth who grew up in the foster care system to inform policymakers and child protection agencies about their experiences in order to improve outcomes for children growing up in foster care. Schneider holds a Journalism degree from Ohio University’s Scripps’s School of Journalism and is a graduate of the Ohio University Executive Leadership Institute.
Melanie Karnopp, Ethics Consultant Intern
Melanie Karnopp is currently a student at the Iliff School of Theology in Denver, CO. She will complete her Master's of Arts in Social Justice and Ethics in August 2018. She will continue in the joint DU/Iliff PhD program in Religious Studies with an emphasis in Ethics. Her undergraduate studies were at the University of Northern Colorado where she received two Bachelor's in K-12 Instrumental Music Education and Music Performance in Percussion. She teaches Drumline and Percussion at Smoky Hill High School in Aurora, CO. She has been a musical and comedic performer in Denver for 10+ years.
Melanie is passionate about Social Justice. She believes that storytelling is vital to changing the arbitrary, Euro-centric, hetero-patriarchical, oppressive and imperialistic social order. She is idealistic in her faith in the possibility of change. Melanie has hope that moral agency fused with neuroplasticity and quantum mechanics will empower all people to radically love others and themselves. Her passion project involves healing the homeless communities, especially veterans, and all those that suffer from PTSD and moral injury. You could say she's a dreamer, but she is not the only one.
Kristan Wedul, Accounting Intern
Kristen Wedul is a junior at University of Colorado Denver. Currently, pursuing degrees in accounting, finance, and international business. Her primary focus is in accounting for small businesses and nonprofits and hopes to continue to expand her knowledge to an international level. Over the years she has volunteered and worked for nonprofits and small businesses and understands how difficult and tedious the task of handling and accounting for money can be and looks for new a creative ways to make it a less stressful task.
She has always had a strong passion for traveling and was lucky to have spent most of her early twenties exploring new cultures and meeting many wonderful individuals. She believes everyone has a story to tell and wonderful gift we have is the ability to listen and grow in our awareness and compassion for others.
Amelia Fox, Fundraising Intern
Amelia is a junior at the University of Denver and is pursuing a major in International Development and Public Health and a minor in Psychology. She has spent her life moving around the country with her family, but likes to call Vermont her true home. Amelia is passionate about social justice and believes strongly in Stories Without Borders’ mission and the need to amplify the silenced voices of our world.
In her free time, Amelia enjoys playing music and exploring the outdoors. She loves to attend improv shows and is involved in a club on campus dedicated to saving the bees. One of her hidden talents is that she is double jointed in her shoulders and can jump rope with her arms! Amelia is excited to collaborate with others and bring her enthusiasm, energy, and creativity to Stories Without Borders’ initiatives.
Alex Groce, Strategic Messaging Intern
Alex Groce is a junior at the University of Denver. She is working towards a degree in Media Studies and Creative Writing and a minor in French. Alex has always had a passion for learning about others experiences through the art of storytelling, and has always enjoyed telling her own stories through various pieces of fiction, poetry, and short films. She is very excited to have the opportunity to be working with Stories without Borders, in order to pursue her love of learning from, as well as helping to tell underreported stories.
Julie M. Deulen, Assistant Director Intern
Julie M. Deulen has had a passion for stories since she was in elementary school and won the Young Authors Award for a short story she wrote about a poor family who adopts a stray cat. Years ago, she earned a B.A. in English and Secondary Education. She also holds a teaching license from the state of Colorado and has served as a high school English teacher in nearby school districts, Denver and Jefferson County. Julie is amazed at the power of story to influence our minds and shape our world. She is excited to learn about donor and grant processes and thrilled to lend her researching and writing skills to the team at SWB as Assistant Director Intern.
Mark is a third generation Denver native. He lived in New York City for seven years where he trained as an actor at Marymount Manhattan College. He works in Denver theatre as an actor and now as a director. He has worked with a variety of communities including young children, teens, people with disabilities and Alzheimer’s patients to express their experiences through the arts. He defines his sense of humor and understanding of life through the television show The Golden Girls which he still watches daily. He loves stories for their ability to ask us to embrace contradictions rather than reconcile them.
Sudhir is a Denver business owner and philanthropist. He earned his degree in finance from University of Colorado Boulder – Leeds School of Business. His professional experience includes oversight of large for profit and nonprofit organizations.
Amanda has found her true passion in the non-profit world since moving to Colorado in 2011. After graduating from The Ohio State University, she spent 15 years in a corporate Human Resources role, but always found joy in connecting those corporations to volunteer opportunities. Amanda now dedicates most of her time to various organizations in and around Northern Colorado, including Alternatives to Violence, Pastels on 5th, Flood Relief & Rebuild, Artworks Loveland, and I Love Loveland. And of course, the most important volunteer effort of all - raising 2 teenagers.
Crystal Ward Allen, MSW, LSW
Crystal is a strategic consultant, working with the child welfare communities primarily in Colorado and Ohio to strengthen families and reduce the need for foster care. Prior to her work as a strategic consultant, she spent 24 years working with the child welfare system in Ohio - 13 of those as the director of a non-profit supporting the 88 county public child welfare agencies. Crystal also spent early years as a juvenile probation counselor in Appalachia, VA; adolescent group care in Pittsburgh, PA; and child welfare in suburban Minnesota. She is a Va. Tech Hokie as well as an OSU Buckeye, loves to ride her bike, hike and enjoy music - but most importantly she has two amazing adult children. Crystal is passionate about ensuring every child and youth has someone that is unconditionally crazy about them - thus, strengthening families is a must.
Dr. M.D. Kinoti, Advisory Chair: The Mouths That Eat From Tea Documentary Project
Kinoti has over 20 years of professional experience in community development, working with World Vision International in rural and urban community development in East Africa, youth and community development in Los Angeles, and in water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) in Africa, Asia, and Latin America through Lifewater International.
Kinoti’s career in active international community development and teaching have led to his involvement in numerous consulting roles with national and international non-governmental organizations (INGOs)—especially in designing strategic poverty-reduction programs. Some of the organizations, which he has worked with, include those involved in holistic community development, economic and community development (including setting up microfinance and social entrepreneurship programs), water development, preventative community health and youth development.
Kinoti is a current board chair of the Farm Concern International (www.farmconcern.org), a board member of the Colorado Nonprofit Association (www.coloradononprofits.org), and an advisory member of the Global Youth Peace Corps (www.globalpeaceyouth.org).
Past Board members:
Suandria Hall, Founding Board Member
Sundria is as curious today as she was at age 12. Asking questions (often too many), learning how things works (including taking them apart and reassembling), and then taking what she discovers into her life as lessons learned to be applied. She’s spent 18 years in the healthcare arena from public health, finance, IT training and research. But behind the desk has never been enough. She’s also spent time working and volunteering with business and organizations that help and give voice to those often unheard.
She’s volunteered with Girls Inc. facilitating programs in public schools teaching girls about decision making, communication, building self-esteem and confidence and coping with life changes in their school and home life. She’s also worked with My Sister’s House, as a mentor to at-risk youth and Sisters Loving Sisters working with college aged women. In 2012 she developed a program for teen girls called Choice Power, a six-week program for teen girls. Based primarily on topics she wished were openly discussed as a teen herself as well as wonderings gathered from the girls she’s worked with, Choice Power discusses the value of making quality choices, planning for life and learning the power of owning your Yes and No.
These giving opportunities fueled her to return to school to pursue a psychology degree and plans to counsel and coach. Additionally she’s trained with the Glasser Institute receiving certification in Choice Theory/Reality Therapy and with the Rocky Mountain Brainspotting Institute gaining certification in Brainspotting Therapy. With a purpose to share and assist others as much as she can, she believes in support, education, personal responsibility, quality choices, counseling, and anything that will promote strength, understanding and the resiliency of the human spirit.
Grant Southwick, Founding Board Member
After graduating from Boston University, Grant worked at ESPN as an assistant Producer where he created packages for ESPN’s top programs such as sportscenter, baseball tonight, NFL Live and other shows. The experience was thrilling, however Grant was disheartened by the lack of the creativity in the business as well as the poor beauracratiuc structure. He sought opportunities elsewhere and eventually found a job as a consultant. During this time Grant kept active in film and video. He produced multiple-hour long documentaries for the upstart jookt.com. His favorite was a piece chronicling the old rivalry between two high schools in the poverty-stricken regions of East Los Angeles.
Mike Shum, Founding Board Member
Mike is an Emmy-finalist and award-winning filmmaker who works extensively in Sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East. He is producing two feature-length films, one about the photojournalist Chris Hondros and another about warlords in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
He is based in Denver, Colorado and travels frequently for shorter term projects. Mike is also one half of Fox Tale Films, a production company he began in 2013 with the writer and filmmaker Greg Campbell.
Lisa Harris, Founding Board Member
Lisa is the Founder and President of Projection Digital. For over 17 years, Lisa Harris has created innovative online communications for nonprofits, foundations and smart businesses. In late 2013, she founded Projection Digital to help organizations implement engaging, dynamic online presences that are sustainable and authentic. Her goal is to be a trusted advisor navigating the ever-changing landscape of digital communications.
Lisa has deep roots working in the nonprofit and foundation communities in Colorado, North Carolina and Maryland. She began her career as a women’s rights advocate and in this role, she launched one of the country’s first women’s online advocacy portals. Lisa previously worked in communications at Rose Community Foundation and for five years, she directed the Colorado Health Foundation’s web and social media efforts. Her professional background also includes serving as an interactive senior project manager at NetCorps in Durham, NC and as a development officer at the Maryland Historical Society.
Lisa’s web and social media projects have received numerous awards including a Ragan Digital PR and Social Media Award for her work at the Colorado Health Foundation. Lisa currently serves on the boards of the Colorado Healthcare Communicators and Stories without Borders. She holds a bachelor’s degree from Virginia Tech and a master’s degree from the University of Denver.
Lorez Meinhold, President 2017
Lorez brings over fifteen years of health care policy experience as a director of multi-lateral initiatives involving the public, private and civic sectors, working at the local, state, and national levels. Lorez has worked in many capacities implementing and integrating health programs, connecting early childhood and health communities, delivery and payment system reforms, and efforts that required statewide stakeholder engagement. Prior to joining The Keystone Center, Lorez served as the Deputy Executive Director and Director of Community Partnerships for the Department of Health Care Policy and Financing. She also served as a Senior Policy Advisor for Governor Hickenlooper and Senior Health Advisor for Governor Ritter. Prior to her work at the state, she served as a Senior Policy/ Program Officer at the Colorado Health Foundation as well as serving as the founding Executive Director of the Colorado Consumer Health Initiative.
Michael Hicks, Treasurer 2017
Michael is currently employed at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, where he has served in the role of a Patent Examiner for over 10 years, with over half of that time in the capacity of a Primary Patent Examiner. Prior to his work for the USPTO, Michael studied Computer Engineer at The Pennsylvania State University, from which he received a Bachelor of Science degree in 2005. He brings strong financial knowledge to the Board as well as a wealth of experience, from his time at the USPTO, in merging disparate viewpoints into a unified vision. Michael contributes the perspective of an audience to the collective viewpoint of the Board, in contrast to a producer, editor or storyteller.
Samantha Lien, Chairperson 2017
Samantha holds over 10 years of experience in marketing and management for a variety of industries, and currently runs her own firm, Roger Charlie. She specializes in offering creative professionals publicity and management with a personal approach through communications – particularly to musicians, small businesses and authors.
She holds a Masters of Business and Entertainment Management from the University of Colorado – Denver, where she participated in “London Calling,” a program designed to study international business in the entertainment industry, and a bachelor’s degree in Journalism from Northern Arizona University.
Her biggest dedications lie with travel and music, mostly due to their ability to connect and impact people so strongly. These passions are apparent not just in her professional career but in her personal endeavors as well. In 2013, she and her husband established “Songs for Jake,” a music-collaboration channel designed with the simple mission of getting great songs to one really big music lover.