ANN IMIG is the founder of the live-reading series and video sharing company LISTEN TO YOUR MOTHER and editor of the acclaimed anthology LISTEN TO YOUR MOTHER: What She Said Then, What We’re Saying Now (Putnam Books, 2015). A Stay-At-Home Humorist, Ann’s writing has been featured on sites like CollegeHumor, McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, The Huffington Post and The Washington Post. National TV appearances include ABCnews.com, NBC Nightly News and the webseries Battleground and The Louise Log. Ann’s blog (annsrants.com) has been named a Babble Top 100 Mom Blog, A BlogHer Voice of the Year, and a SheKnows Top 5 Funniest Mom Blog. Ann lives with her husband and children in Madison, Wisconsin.
KIM JORGENSEN GANE is a writer and communications, media, and wellness consultant living and working on Michigan’s sunset coast with her husband, youngest son, a standard poodle and a gecko. She’s been every-mom, raising two generations of kids over twenty-eight years. Kim writes on a variety of topics including parenting through midlife crisis, infertility, health and wellness, personal empowerment, politics, and about anything else that interests her, including flash fiction and her books in progress. Kim co-facilitates #Write2TheEnd Writers Workshop™ and lives to promote the work of talented local writers and artists. She can’t wait to do so as Co-Director/Producer of Southwest Michigan’s second production of Listen to Your Mother. Her website is GANEPossible.com. Follow @KimGANEPossible on Twitter.
BETH HAIRE-LEWIS, a tireless community advocate, wife, and mom to one woman-child, is passionate about two things: her family and everything she does. Though she spent several years in Long Beach, California, raising her daughter and co-managing a jazz club, Beth was born and grew up in Benton Harbor, Michigan. She resides happily there with her husband. Her many talents, besides putting everyone she meets at ease, are teaching water aerobics, singing, assistant choir directing, and Community Theater, including a role in Ragtime, as well as a recurring appearance in the Vagina Monologues. She emcees on occasion for The Livery’s Open Stage night, and is known to croon a silken tune there and in church. For ten years, she has emceed and co-chaired the annual Gene Harris: Coming Home, Coming Together concert. Beth is employed as an Early Intervention Specialist at CARES (Community AIDS and Resource Education Services), where she enjoys her outreach duties, helping people infected and affected by the HIV virus. As our Associate Producer, Beth looks forward to helping our local Listen to Your Mother production feature our wonderful community and her passion for bringing it together.
Our 2015 Cast/Production Team Alumni:
MEAGAN FRANCIS was co-director for our inaugural 2015 season. Her firstborn is graduating in 2016 and, though we will miss her terribly, he deserves to be center stage this year. A St. Joseph resident and mother of five, Meagan Francis has worked as a writer and blogger for over a decade. She’s the author of four books – most recently The Happiest Mom: 10 Secrets To Enjoying Motherhood – and has contributed to dozens of publications and websites, including Parents, Good Housekeeping, Midwest Living, NYTimes.com and The Huffington Post, as well as her blog The Happiest Home. While she’s not meeting deadlines and signing reading logs, Meagan performs in local productions with the Twin City Players. As the Co-Director of the very first Southwest Michigan production of Listen To Your Mother, Meagan is thrilled to be involved in a project that allows her to combine three of her favorite things: writing, the stage, and motherhood.
JESSICA ASHLEY is a writer, editor and content strategist who brings voice to brands and websites. She’s the author of Single Mom Nation. and the award-winning single-mom-in-the-city blog, Sassafrass.. Her writing online has tallied more than 30 million page views and 40,000 comments.
Jessica is one-half of the Write at Home Moms podcast and recently launched Single Mom Nation Radio. A former founding senior editor at Yahoo! Shine, Jessica has also contributed to Huffington Post, Huffington Post Live, Disney’s Babble.com, Nick Jr., Mom.me, The Bump, MSN’s TakePart.com and many other stops on the internet. She’s also appeared live on Martha Stewart Radio, WGN-TV, NBC5 in Chicago, FM100 in NYC and local morning shows across the country.
Jessica wears inappropriately high heels to the playground and is mother of a Tae Kwon Do-ing, voracious reading, stand-up comic ten-year old, and a drooly-kissing, delicious-thighed baby girl. She lives in Chicago with her children and chef boyfriend. Follow @SingleMomNation on Twitter.
MARTHA THIENEMAN is the Associate Executive Director at the Readiness Center. She loves the “never the same day twice” nature of working at a small non-profit. When she is not working, Martha loves to sing, write, and above all spend time with her family. Martha is not a mom. She is not a wife. She is not a licensed psychologist. And yet, she is a sister-wife, counselor, and friend. As an Aunt to eleven amazing nieces and nephews and sister to three wonderful moms/wives/independent women she has vast experience in diaper changing, tantrum ignoring, make-believing, and phone counseling. Martha would like to thank her mother for creating a magical childhood full of stories to share and her dad for teaching her how to tell them. Follow @MThienem on Twitter.
TRACY BECKER considers herself the hybrid mommy, able to enjoy the challenges and pleasures of both working mom and stay-at-home mom. For nine months of the year, she’s an English teacher to 130-ish high school students. And for the other (most glorious) three months of the year, she plays stay-at-home mom to her son (3), daughter (1), and baby, who will arrive in June. In the midst of her busy life, Tracy likes to reenergize by drinking Starbucks non-fat, 2-pump vanilla lattes, binging on Netflix TV, and sleeping (because she loves sleeping almost as much as she loves her husband and children). Most of her writing appears in the margins of student papers and rubrics, but when she makes time, she enjoys working on personal writing projects, including her “mommy blog,” On Momming Well. Follow @BeckerTracy on Twitter.
TAWANA TAYLOR is the mother of three children; an 18 year old daughter, a 15 year old son and a 6 year old son. She and her children have benefited from the programs at Readiness Center, Inc. Tawana lives in Benton Harbor with her family. She is the author of two published books of Christian poetry, they are Standing Through the Tears, and Shattered, But Not Easily Broken (TATEPublishing.com, 2012 & 2014). Her writing is a reflection of what faith in God can do in our lives. She enjoys spending time with her family, attending church and writing. She is a recent graduate with a BA from Ashford University, and is currently working on her Masters in Human Services. She has a passion for helping others and giving inspiration and encouragement to those around her whenever possible. She has worked in healthcare for the past sixteen years, which has informed her dream of one day starting a women’s community center in the area, and furthering her ministry of reaching out to those who are hurting.
DR. JOHN BERECZ is a clinical psychologist who has spent countless hours listening to stories of distress and disappointment. He balances this with active sports such as racquetball, water and snow skiing, biking and golf. Since he is “Dad” to three grown sons, and “Papa” to eleven grandchildren, his wife hasn’t cleared him for skydiving or flying an ultralight quite yet. In addition to listening to stories, John enjoys telling stories and acting. He has played Tevye in Fiddler on the roof, FDR in Annie, and most recently, Gustav in The Christmas Schooner. John’s parents emigrated from Hungary at the turn of the twentieth century and although they lived in America for the next sixty years, home life included much from the “Old Country.” Hungarian was spoken at home and meals were rich with the flavors of European cuisine. John’s story recounts his Mother’s inspiring blend of Old World charm and New World resilience. John is married to Deborah Bennett Berecz, a family law attorney who practices in St. Joseph and Grand Rapids.
CHRISTINE SHERENE is the Parent Coordinator for the Readiness Center Preschool. She is the wife of Mr. Charles E. Sherene Sr., Chief of Police of the village of Eau Claire, Michigan. Christine is the mother of three boys and a girl. She is a licensed missionary at Greater Community Christian Fellowship C.O.G.I.C. and the host of the gospel music radio broadcast “Morning Manna” on Power 105.3 FM. Christine enjoys singing and teaching people how to sew and make crafts. When you hear her story, you’ll know pretty quickly that she also enjoys making people laugh.
EVANGELIST PAMELA BUFORD On special assignment for Jesus Christ. A native of Chicago, Illinois, Pamela Buford has been a licensed Evangelist of the Church of God in Christ for over ten years. God has favored her with a powerful demonstration and deliverance ministry. She is very passionate about evangelizing the gospel of Jesus Christ in a very distinct way. Pamela, also known as, WHATWHAT is an Anointed Spoken Word Artist that writes and performs poetry. She is currently an Employee of EDUStaff as a Substitute Teacher, has a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Community Services from Siena Heights University and is currently pursuing Life Coach Certification.
JENA RAZOR is from Benton Harbor, and currently resides with her wonderful, supportive husband in Grand Rapids, Michigan. When she isn’t teaching high school English, Jena enjoys an epic romance, solidifying her belief that anything is possible. Reading is her distraction from the world, and so is the heaven of a good 2-3 hour nap. When she isn’t avoiding humanity, she enjoys honest, genuine people, like her mommy, with whom she is quite close. She finds deep, thought-provoking conversation and laughing with anyone that can “keep it real” with what some would call her crazy, loud, fun, fierce, independent womanhood, the best tonic of all. Family and close friends, including her “Grams,” have been her rock during some difficult transitions of the last few years. And GOD. GOD has shown up and shown out in her life. She’s recently realized that she just needed to ACT like HE is good, and HE is. Jena is eternally grateful for all that HE has done and she is excited for what is to come, including Listen to Your Mother. Follow Jena on Twitter @mzrazorsharp
PEN CAMPBELL is a writer and a teacher of writing and journalism at St. Joseph High School. In past lives, she has also been a baker, a movie theater manager, a candy girl, a clothing store clerk, a restaurant cashier, and a professional Girl Scout. She’s been paid to dig holes in sand and to look up library books. She’s done payroll, home-based daycare, and freelance rototilling. Parents of three grown children, she and her husband Ron enjoy spoiling their three grandchildren. Codirector of the Third Coast Writing Project at Western Michigan University, a site of the National Writing Project, Pen also writes an Opinion Maker column for the Herald-Palladium. In her spare time she enjoys cooking and reading and looks forward to educating young bass about the dangers of fly fishermen from her kayak in her upcoming retirement.
JENNY MINER has been a resident of Southwest Michigan since 2004. As a mother of two very smart teenage girls, Jenny keeps her brain active by coming up with new and inventive ways to trick them into cleaning their rooms, coming home on time and putting away their dishes. As Jenny states she has always felt a kinship with other women, having a houseful of teenaged girls on the weekends is just plain fun! But one should never under estimate how much they can eat!
Jenny is a non-profit professional with over 25 years of experience. She is the current executive director at Water Street Glassworks, a school dedicated to the arts of glass and metals. She is also a certified grant writer and loves to find support for inventive community projects benefitting all. In her spare time, Jenny likes to write about life, has been in a couple of performances with Twin Cities Players (where she has made some great friends!) and spends time “just hanging out” with family and friends.
AMI HENDRICKSON writes children’s books, novels for adults, screenplays, poetry, songs, manuals, and to–do lists that grow faster than Jack’s beanstalk. She also writes books for famous horse people. On occasion, she has been so immersed in polishing plot points that she walked out of a store, leaving her purchases behind.
She fuels her muse with coffee and Earl Grey tea. While she has a longstanding love affair with chocolate, her obsession with cinnamon red hots borders on the pathological.
Her most recent book is DEAR ALDERONE, a middle-grade novel in which a journal kept by a 14-year old girl in 1985 helps her modern-day daughter weather a personal crisis, releases from Anaiah Press this summer. CAROL OF THE HORSE, an illustrated children’s picture book about a warhorse who finds peace in a Bethlehem stable on the night of the first Christmas, is also slated for a 2015 release.
In addition to writing, some of Ami’s favorite pastimes involve riding her Percheron, playing with her dogs, teaching writers workshops, smooching her husband or snuggling her daughter during a movie. And eating the aforementioned red hots. [Please note: In the event that science succeeds in creating a working holodeck, Ami will no longer be available to speak or teach, as she will be… otherwise engaged. You have been warned.]
Ami and her family live with their “vast menagerie” on a 100+ year–old farm in southwest Michigan. A confirmed Twitter addict, she tweets @MuseInks. www.AmiHendrickson.com
MRS MABEL L JOHNSON was born in Arkansas in 1920, a depression baby during the ‘roaring 20’s’, born the great-granddaughter of a Mississippi slave whose child was fathered by her master. The ninth of ten children her original birth certificate read ‘Mary Jane” but she will tell you she was always just ‘Mabel’ Emmogene Lee until 1942 when she married the love of her life becoming the bride of Pastor Thomas Paul Johnson to whom she was married for 60 years. She was the consummate ‘First Lady’ for five congregations in Arkansas and Indiana.
She was the only of her siblings to finish college receiving her bachelors in Education and securing hours toward a masters from the University of Wisconsin, Madison and University of Indiana, Calumet. She retired as an elementary teacher after 45 years in the classroom in Arkansas and Indiana.
She loves people in general and children especially and has been blessed to meet so many more through her love of travel which has included 45 of the United States, a tour of the Holy Land including stops in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, and also travel to the East and West Caribbean islands, Hawaii , Mexico and Central America.
She loves and is loved by her daughter, son-in-law, grand-daughter and grand-son-in-law, nieces, nephews, cousins and their families, life long friends and more play children than she can count.
She will tell you that the highest among her many accomplishments is “She has been blessed to have touched hundreds of lives and be touched by each of them. She has loved and been loved.”
At 95, if you ask her how she’s doing she will quickly tell you, “Flipping and flopping and can’t fly; hipping and hopping but not stopping.”
JAMIE HUBER has spent the last few years exploring and living courageously. After teaching thirteen years in a general education classroom, she decided to pursue her original dream of teaching art. Now, instead of thirty, she has over six hundred students! Originally, Jamie graduated from Central Michigan University with a triple minor in art, language arts, and biology. Her love for literacy led her to Grand Valley State University where she received her master’s degree as a reading specialist.
She is easily recognized by loved ones for her appreciation of Converse sneakers, fondness for patchouli oil, her sassy bald husband, and all products made of chocolate. Jamie is the 2014 recipient of the “Best Mommy in the World” award presented to her on Mother’s Day by her kindergarten and first grade sons. Ms. Huber’s passions reside in spending ordinary moments with her family, creating art with her students, writing as an outlet to understanding, running half marathons, and living a life of curiosity and strength.
Her love of reading and writing led her to pursue sharing her story in the “Listen to Your Mother” show. Jamie is a believer in hope and love as a conduit to living a fulfilling life. Ms. Huber stumbles (daily…hourly), and she believes this is a monumental way of learning. She aspires to live a perfectly imperfect and happy life.