Story Jam Brings Stories of Change and Resilience to Public Servants

by Joiwind Ronen, Wheelhouse Group (Story Jam Host)

On May 6th, during Public Service Recognition Week, we gathered for our first-ever Story Jam to share our Stories of Change, tales of resilience and innovation inspired by the tremendous challenges we’ve all navigated this past year.

Our storytellers were six leaders from the government and private sector who enlightened, delighted and enriched us with new perspectives—and hope for the future. You can listen to the full recording here.

Public Service Recognition Week - Story Jam

Highlights included:

  • Our event kicked off with award-winning 3rd generation magician and mentalist Dennis Watkins, who told how he recaptured the wonder of magic for himself and his audiences through his virtual magic shows after COVID made the art of live performances disappear.
  • COVID’s impact on Judith Zawatsky, Assistant Commissioner for the Office of Systems Management within GSA’s Federal Acquisition Service, was profound.  Her revelations about motivation, collaboration, and output have changed her definition of what it means to lead an effective team.
  • The story from Richard Crespin, CEO of CollaborateUp and senior associate at the Center for Strategic and International Studies took us into the Southern African Bush to learn how reluctant, distrustful technology adopters warmed up to and embraced modern collaboration tools to prevent wildlife crime and protect the world’s charismatic megafauna.
  • Amy Fong, a statistician at the Department of Labor Office of Disability Employment Policy, showed us the power in vulnerability. Her story from her time at the Department of Transportation’s Federal Transit Administration, where she managed programs that support tribal transit, celebrated the benefits of perseverance and patience in pursuit of racial equality.
  • End-user experience is the main concern for Anne Shepherd, Associate Chief Information Officer for User and Network Services at the IRS. In her story, Anne introduced us to Winnie the Chatbot, AI technology created for the internal IRS technology helpdesk employees to assist in workload management. Winnie’s dramatic journey from suspect to celebrated team member will leave you inspired.
  • Larry Goldberg, Head of Accessibility at Verizon Media, told how his company not only talks the diversity, equity and inclusion talk, it walks the walk. We shared Larry’s pride as he explained how Verizon enabled 95% of their employees to work from home, including employees who needed assistive technology and other accommodations. He also gave an exciting sneak peek into the future of immersive technology for people with disabilities.

Check out the recording which includes all the stories and an honest-to-goodness live magic trick from Dennis Watkins — and experience the community created through the treasured tradition of storytelling.

Joiwind Ronen, Partner at Wheelhouse Group

Joiwind Ronen

Joiwind Ronen is a partner at Wheelhouse Group and has spent the past 20 years pursuing her passion to help mission-driven organizations better serve the needs of the American public. She uses her skills as a strategist, change agent, and facilitator to engage stakeholders and increase their impact. At Wheelhouse Group, she leads company strategy, builds partner relationships and oversees a portfolio of client engagements.