Annie Brewster, MD
Health Story Collaborative Founder and Executive Director, Co-Director of Healing Story Sessions
Annie Brewster is an Assistant Professor at Harvard Medical School and a practicing Internist at Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston. She is also a patient, diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis in 2001. (see “Our Story”)
In 2010, motivated by her belief in the power of stories to improve health, Annie started recording patient narratives. Over the years, her finished audio stories have been featured on Boston’s local NPR station, WBUR. In doing this work, Annie has seen first-hand how the process of storytelling is itself therapeutic, both for the storytellers and the listeners. Research supports this claim. Health Story Collaborative, the 501 (c)(3) organization she founded in 2013, grew out of this work. She is committed to keeping the patient voice alive and to reclaiming the power of stories in healthcare.
Her work has been published on the WBUR Commonhealth Blog, NPR.ORG, the New York Times Well Blog, and in the Boston Globe and MS Focus magazine. She has been featured in Harvard Medicine magazine, and on the cable television program About Health with Jeanne Blake. She presented at TEDx Fenway 2014.
You can contact Annie at email@example.com.
Jonathan Adler, Ph.D.
Chief Academic Officer, Co-Director of Healing Story Sessions
Jonathan Adler is a clinical psychologist and a professor at Olin College of Engineering in Needham, Massachusetts. He is also an Associate Editor of the Journal of Personality. He received his Ph.D. in Clinical and Personality Psychology from Northwestern University.
Jon’s research focuses on the relationships between identity development in adulthood and mental health. Specifically, he’s interested in the way we make sense of the challenging experiences in our lives and the way that meaning-making impacts our sense of self and our psychological well-being. In this work, Jon uses personal narratives as a vehicle for studying meaning-making and identity development, typically using a mixed-methods approach. He has special interest in the experience of illness and healing as an example of these processes.
Jon’s research has been covered by the New York Times, National Public Radio, Scientific American, Huffington Post, and Elle Magazine, among other media outlets. At the Health Story Collaborative, Jon works to ground our programs in the scientific research on narrative and mental health and works with Annie to develop and run the Healing Story Sessions program.
You can contact Jonathan at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Web and Social Media Manager
Alice Miller is a health communications and marketing professional with a special interest in health and the human body. She wants to help others better understand their own bodies, using plan language and compelling narrative. Her ability to translate scientific information to the generalized public, makes her a unique asset to any health related communications team. She hold a Master's in Health Communication from Emerson College in collaboration with Tufts University School of Medicine.
Alice currently serves as the Content Development Specialist on the communication team at Brigham and Women's Hospital Development, in support of the Life.Giving.Breakthroughs. campaign.
You can contact Alice at email@example.com.
Annie received a Master of Science in Narrative Medicine at Columbia University in 2014. She previously studied the healing power of stories as an undergraduate at NYU’s Gallatin School of Individualized Study, where she designed her own major entitled "Stories of Self: Realization, Empowerment and Wellbeing."
As a coordinator and full-spectrum doula for The Doula Project in New York City, Annie provides compassionate care for women during experiences of abortion, miscarriage, and fetal loss. She curates two oral narratives projects, On the Road to Recovered: Voices from the Eating Disorder Recovery Community, and Inside Stories: Medical Student Experiences.
Annie is a Recovery Coach with Eating Disorder Recovery Specialists, supporting individuals recovering from eating disorders. She teaches narrative medicine to OB-GYN residents at Bellevue Hospital and leads narrative practice workshops for laypeople. As a yoga teacher and co-founder of NYC-based wellness community Pause Breathe and Connect, Annie guides individuals to explore the interweaving of stories, spirituality, and somatic experience.
You can contact Annie at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Healing Story Principal
When Michael found out he had glioblastoma, brain cancer, in 2015, he stumbled into storytelling about what it was like to go through the roller coaster of cancer treatments and symptoms. This developed into a passion for the ways listening to and telling stories can support healing. When friends at CaringBridge introduced Michael to Health Story Collaborative, he enthusiastically began facilitating Healing Story Sessions with patients, providers, and families in Minnesota, where he lives. Experiencing the healing power of stories for himself and others led him to the strong desire that everyone with a serious illness and their care providers, both professional and personal, have support to tell and listen to stories in ways that are healing, connected, and empowering. Michael is currently working with Health Story Collaborative to make this a reality.
Before his brain cancer diagnosis, Michael spent 15 years doing consulting with nonprofit and government groups as they sought to improve and grow programs that built healthy and just communities. He is applying that experience in nonprofit management in support of Health Story Collaborative's mission to harness the healing power of stories.
Michael lives in Minneapolis with his two children and wife. You can see more of his health story in this video of a Healing Story Session with Michael and his oncologist.
You can contact Michael at email@example.com.
Mari Taffe is active in the Emmaus listening ministry at The Basilica of Saint Mary in Minneapolis, MN. As a trained volunteer listener and member of the Emmaus leadership team, she accompanies others during times of transition and provides compassionate listening without judging or curing. She believes people can find their own wisdom through hearing themselves tell their own story. In this role Mari has also been facilitating an initiative to offer support for individuals and families contemplating aging and living their end of life.
Mari is working with Health Story Collaborative to help guide the process of expanding Healing Story Sessions nationally, and to also help organize the next phase of healing stories in Minnesota.
Mari earned her Master of Arts in Theology at St. Catherine University in St. Paul, MN and lives in Minneapolis with her husband.
You can contact Mari at firstname.lastname@example.org