JAY GOLDEN, CHIEF STORYTELLER, CO-FOUNDER
Since founding Wakingstar in 2009, Jay has crafted stories, led trainings, and coached leaders for clients such as Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, the Rainforest Action Network and the Esalen Institute.
After selling his first business just out of college, Jay set out to see the world, embarking on what would become a three-year journey. Finally tired of the road, Jay landed in a Sausalito attic in 1995 where he helped found one of the web’s first global learning sites, Learn2.com – which Yahoo! called “The Most Useful Site on the Internet.” For the next 12 years, Jay explored the edges of emerging Internet media, fascinated by its ability to transform audiences: he produced early online music videos, created social action web animations that were seen by millions, developed an animated environmental web series and an ebook for the iPad.
Yet as the social media universe continued to expand, Jay began to see that little attention was going to the center of it all: the retellable stories that inform leadership and connect every organization. And that realization has led him here.
JOEL BEN IZZY, CO-FOUNDER
Though Joel ben Izzy has been telling stories all his life, his professional career began in 1983 after he graduated from Stanford with a self-designed degree in storytelling. From there, Joel set off to travel the globe, gathering and telling stories from Tel Aviv to Tokyo and Paris to Petaluma.
Joel’s own career took a sharp twist when he was diagnosed with thyroid cancer. Though usually a treatable form of the disease, in this case there was a strange complication. When he awoke from surgery he discovered he could no longer speak. At first the doctors thought the loss was temporary, but later they decided it was permanent. So it was Joel found himself living inside a story as strange as any he had ever told, filled with twists and turns including the last and strangest twist – the sudden return of his voice long after he had given up hope of being able to speak. This led to his award-winning memoir, The Beggar King and the Secret of Happiness (Algonquin Books, 2003). In 2014, Joel stepped away from day-to-day work at Wakingstar to focus on his upcoming book and movie, but remains an active adviser and strategic consultant.
JILL WESLEY, PRESENTATION TRAINER
Jill Wesley of Jill Wesley & Associates, has worked as a corporate trainer, coach, professional speaker, and educator for the past 22 years, with experience ranging from executive coaching to delivering presentations to groups of 1,000.
Specializing in high-stakes presentation skills training and coaching, Jill develops employees and teaching practical strategies to increase productivity and increase our client’s bottom line. As a corporate consultant Jill has led over 2,000 professional development programs in communication, management, diversity, and cross-cultural training to over 85,000 mid- and executive-level managers and their employees. Jill is an experienced professional speaker and has delivered more than 250 keynote presentations at conferences in the U.S. and abroad.
Her area of expertise is intercultural communication and has worked in 25 countries for extended periods of time over the past 20 years. She has received my M.A. in Speech and Interpersonal Communication from New York University and my B.A. in Social Science from University of Southern California.
AHRI GOLDEN, STRATEGIC ADVISOR
With NPR-quality productions and creative business savvy, Ahri Golden brings top-notch storytelling skills and cross-platform delivery expertise to help Wakingstar seek and develop stories at the heart of the leaders and organizations we serve.
With over 15 years of experience, Ahri Golden has created award-winning public radio documentaries and nationwide story-sharing events on the subjects of her media. She has produced on a diverse array of topics as Senior Producer of Public Radio International’s weekly show Beyond Computers (acquired by Salon.com) and as Co-Creator of the nationally-distributed public radio documentaries Shades of Gray, Birth and Born. Alongside the latter productions was The Birth Tour, a national community engagement event in over 75 cities and towns, which catalyzed stories and conversations about birth, as well as support networks for new mothers. Ahri recently released an album of original songs called Delve, which was community crowd-sourced through Kickstarter.