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Journalism as Storytelling: A Press Freedom Celebration, Minneapolis, MN

World Press Freedom Day 2019 Banner

World Press Freedom Day 2019: Minneapolis

Join PEN America Members during The Loft’s 2019 Wordplay Festival as they read excerpts of important journalistic and literary pieces that emphasize the importance of the free press. In celebration of World Press Freedom Day on May 3, Members across the country will be participating in the same or similar programs in their communities throughout the early part of May.

We are delighted to have this opportunity to engage our members in this celebration in Minnesota. The event will culminate in the reading of PEN America’s Press Freedom Manifesto, which we hope will serve to inspire and unite writers across all genres at Wordplay in support of journalism as a vital form of storytelling. Find us at the Target Stage

The event is open to all Wordplay attendees.

Want to spread the word? Download the PEN America Press Freedom Manifesto and visit our digital activation toolkit!


Jeff Severns Guntzel is a researcher/writer at TerraLuna. Before coming to TerraLuna in 2013, he had worked as a journalist for 15 years. He’s reported from the Middle East (Iraq, Jordan, Palestine) and from points all over the United States. He’s reported for the Marketplace, GOOD Magazine, Utne Reader, the New York Times, and others. Before turning to journalism, he did humanitarian work in pre-invasion Iraq. In 2003, he co-founded Electronic Iraq, a website focused on the Iraqi experience of war.

Allison Herrera PhotoAllison Herrera is an award winning multimedia reporter living in Minneapolis. She’s covered issues ranging from the environment to women in prison. Before joining PRI, Herrera worked in Oklahoma covering Native American communities for KOSU Radio. Her project Invisible Nations was part of AIR’s Localore project Finding America. You can read, see, hear her work on Al Jazeera, National Public Radio, Reveal and of course the PRX’s The World, every week.

A. Rafael Johnson Photo

A. Rafael Johnson holds an MFA in Creative Writing from The University of Alabama. His work has been seen in spacecraft, Callaloo, African American Review, Kweli Journal, and other places. Andy was named a Kimbilio Fellow in African American Fiction in 2014. His first novel, The Through (Jaded Ibis Press, 2017) was a finalist for the 2018 Minnesota Book Award. He has co-produced Writer’s Resist—Twin Cities and Banned Together with PEN America and The Dramatist’s Guild. He currently teaches at The Minneapolis College of Art and Design and is working on his next novel.

Lissa Jones PhotoLissa Jones is the host of Black Market Reads, a podcast of the Givens Foundation for African American Literature featuring conversations with today’s most exciting Black literary voices. In addition to hosting Black Market Reads, Lissa created and hosts ‘Urban Agenda’ on KMOJ Radio (89.9 FM), the Twin Cities oldest Black owned and operated radio station, which you can hear Thursdays from 6-7pm. Prior to Jones’ time at Black Market Reads, she was acting Director of the Minnesota African American Museum and Cultural Center.

Melissa Olson is a freelance writer and producer of local, independent public media. Her award-winning audio documentary Stolen Childhoods was produced in collaboration with KFAI Fresh Air Community Radio, and aired statewide in Minnesota on MPR, Prairie Public Radio, and tribal radio stations across the U.S. and Canada on Native Voice 1. Melissa is currently the co-managing editor for Minneculture, KFAI’s Arts and Culture program. Melissa also consults with TerraLuna Collaborative, an art-based developmental evaluation firm in Minneapolis. She attended the University of Minnesota as a graduate student, and was a proud recipient of a MacArthur Fellowship in 2003 for her work in American Studies.

Lilliam Rivera is an award-winning writer and author of the young adult novels Dealing in Dreams and The Education of Margot Sanchez, which was nominated for a 2019 Rhode Island Teen Book Award, a 2017 Best Fiction for Young Adult Fiction by the Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA), and has been featured on NPR, New York Times Book Review, New York magazine, MTV.com, and Teen Vogue, among others. She is a 2016 Pushcart Prize winner and a 2015 Clarion alumni with a Leonard Pung Memorial Scholarship. Lilliam has also been awarded fellowships from PEN America, A Room Of Her Own Foundation, and received a grant from the Elizabeth George Foundation and the Speculative Literature Foundation.

Rebecca Stump Photo

Rebecca Stump has spent the past decade as a membership professional nurturing and supporting writers across multiple disciplines. Stump is currently the director of membership at PEN America, a non-profit working at the intersection of literature and human rights fighting to protect free expression in the United States and worldwide. Most recently, she was the director of member services at the Dramatists Guild of America, the national association of playwrights, composers, lyricists, and librettists. During her tenure, she led a joint project with the Lilly Awards Foundation, “The Count,” a study of gender parity in regional theatre. In addition to her time at the Dramatists Guild, she worked within the development department at the Metropolitan Opera and served four seasons as executive director of New York Opera Exchange. Stump holds a BA in Political Science and Theatre Arts from Marymount Manhattan College and earned an Executive Certificate in Nonprofit Leadership and Management from the Austin W. Marxe School of Public and International Affairs at Baruch College through the New York Community Trust Leadership Fellows Program.