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Laura Packer

Laura Packer knows that the best way to the truth is through a good story. Whether folktale or true, epic or flash, her spoken and written stories captivate audiences. She is committed to helping others find their voice, tell their story, and change the world. Packer is the 2018 MN Grand Slam Champion and Best in Fringe KC 2018, among others. She holds a degree in folklore and mythology and is the author of From Audience to Zeal: The ABCs of Finding, Crafting, and Telling a Great Story. Packer has coached, told, taught, ranted, raved, consulted, and considered storytelling around the world.

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Bukola Oriola

Bukola Oriola is an international public and motivational speaker, bestselling author, mentor, advocate, entrepreneur, consultant, and member of the U.S. Advisory Council on Human Trafficking – appointed by President Barack Obama in December 2015, and reappointed by President Trump in 2018. Oriola is an award-winning journalist and a survivor of labor trafficking and domestic violence.

Depicting her experiences in two memoirs, she has dedicated her life to helping others by sharing her story and offering practical solutions to service providers and community members on how to help victims of human trafficking and domestic violence. Her work has reached millions around the world. Oriola is the founder of The Enitan Story, a Minnesota based nonprofit organization with a mission to advocate for victims and empower survivors of human trafficking and domestic violence.

She is the CEO of Bukola Oriola Group, LLC, formerly known as Bukola Braiding & Beauty Supply, LLC. She is an entrepreneur who uses her skills to help others become entrepreneurs through book publishing and small business startups.

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Natalie Fowler

Once a practicing attorney, Natalie Fowler is an author, a freelance editor (for FATE Magazine), paranormal investigator (for Ghost Stories Ink) and a psychic medium. Fascinated by good ghost stories from a very young age, now she writes her own stories inspired by her work as a ghost hunter and psychic medium. An avid researcher and self-proclaimed history nerd, Fowler’s works are also influenced by the dark depths of history.

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John Abraham

John Abraham is a published author and freelance journalist located in the Twin Cities, where he lives with his wife Mary and their cats Marble and Morrison. He has published two novels, Our Senior Year and Last Man on Campus.

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Marilène Phipps

Marilène Phipps was born and grew up in Haiti. She held fellowships at the Guggenheim Foundation, Harvard’s Bunting Institute, the W.E.B. Du Bois Institute for Afro-American Research, and the Center for the Study of World Religions. The Company of Heaven: Stories from Haiti, won the 2010 Iowa Short fiction Award. Her poetry won the 1993 Grolier prize, and her collection, Crossroads and Unholy Water, won the Crab Orchard Poetry Prize. Her new book, Unseen Worlds, literary nonfiction, is published by Calumet Editions. She has contributed to American anthologies and collections such as The Best American Short Stories; Haiti Noir: The Classics; The Beacon Best; Ploughshares; River Styx; Callaloo; and Harvard Divinity Bulletin, and she edited Jack Kerouac: Collected Poems for The Library of America. Phipps is the recipient of the NAACP’s Award of Excellence for outstanding commitment in advancing the culture and causes for communities of color.

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Vincent Wyckoff

Born and raised in Minneapolis, Vincent Wyckoff dedicated a career to the U.S. Postal Service. His first book, Beware of Cat, celebrates the life stories of people on his route. For a short time he lived on the Northshore of Lake Superior, from which he developed the background for Black Otter Bay. He and his wife, Sybil, are long-time residents of south Minneapolis. They have three children and six grandchildren.

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Brandon Vreeman

Brandon Vreeman is a children’s picture book author who has a passion for helping kids become better people. He loves doing author visits and talking to kids about topics such as being different, being happy with yourself, bullying, and more. He also uses part of his talk to demonstrate to kids how a book is made. Brandon is husband to an amazing wife and father to two incredible kids.

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Brittany Chaffee

Brittany Chaffee is an avid storyteller, professional empath, and author. On the daily, she gets paid to strategize and create content for brands. Off work hours, it’s all about a well-lit place, warm bread, and good company. Her first book, Wild Morning was released in 2017. Her recent work, Borderline: A Series of Essays, is a collection of prose essays about memory, time, change, and wonder. She lives happily in Saint Paul.

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Roma Calatayud-Stocks

Award-winning novelist and composer Roma Calatayud-Stocks holds Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Music and Psychology from the University of Minnesota, and post-graduate studies in creative writing from the University of St. Thomas. She is the author of two historical novels, A Song in My Heart, and A Symphony of Rivals. The third installment of the series, An Ode to Joy, will be published in 2020. And in line with her life passion to bring forth the contributions of all cultures through the arts, her narratives, set to music, provide a window to locations across the world, politics of the era, cultural diplomacy, and history.

Calatayud-Stocks has 20 years of experience working for arts organizations, including Friends of the Minnesota Orchestra, MacPhail Center for Music, Minneapolis Institute of Art, Vocal Essence, and Walker Art Center. She has toured the United States to present her work at universities, libraries, and book fairs.

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Christine Bauer

Christine (Chris) Bauer’s first book Those Three Words: A Birth Mother’s Story of Choice, Chance, and Motherhood was published in 2018, after decades of work. Her book, which has been described as “heartwarming and heartbreaking,” “beautiful and insightful,” and “honest and raw,” chronicles her journey of experiencing an unplanned pregnancy at age 18, the agonizing decision she needed to make, and its impact on her life.

Bauer has loved reading and writing for as long as she can remember. She grew up in Mitchell, South Dakota, and attended Mankato State University in Mankato, Minnesota, where she majored in Mass Communications and hoped to one day be part of a Woodward and Bernstein-type team who saved the world through ground-breaking journalism. Soul searching and need for employment led her to a gratifying career in corporate communications, public relations, and marketing.

Her greatest achievement and most profound joy are being the mother of three kind-hearted children and two beautiful grandchildren. In addition to being a mom and grandma of humans, Bauer is also the proud mom to one very spoiled dog and an equally spoiled granddog. She admits there were moments in the motherhood journey where she preferred the canines.

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