Storytellers Steven Petrow

Steven Petrow, also known as Mr. Manners, is a respected journalist and the go-to source for questions about modern manners. He is often cited in the New York Times, People, and Time, as well as on NPR. His usually gentle, often humorous, but always insightful advice has made him a nationally recognized expert. The author of five etiquette books, Petrow writes the “Civilities” column for the Washington Post; “Manners Hero” for Parade; and “Medical Manners” for Everyday Health. Previously, he penned the New York Times’s “Civil Behavior” column. He is also the former president of the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association.

Storytellers: Corey Johnson

Corey Johnson was elected a New York City Councilmember in November 2013; he represents the communities of Manhattan’s West Side. Raised in a union household where his mother, a homeless services provider, and his father, a Teamster, instilled in him the values of community service and political engagement, Corey first came to national attention in 2000, on the front page of the New York Times, as a trailblazer for LGBT youth. As the captain of his high school football team, when he took the courageous step of coming out publicly, he kept not only his position of leadership but also the support of his school and teammates. In 2005 Corey joined Community Board 4, eventually rising to chair the board. He negotiated for thousands of new units of permanent affordable family housing, educational scholarships for underserved children, and pressured New York State to protect our watershed from hydrofracking. He has advocated for protection of parkland and public recreational facilities, reducing class sizes in public school, and restoring the mayor’s proposed cuts to senior centers and meal programs. He was also influential in the approval of two new public schools to be built on New York City’s West Side.

Storytellers: Jane Isay

Jane Isay is the author of Walking on Eggshells: Navigating the Delicate Relationship Between Grown Children and Parents, Mom Still Likes You Best: The Unfinished Business Between Siblings, and Secrets and Lies: Surviving the Truths That Change Our Lives. She has lectured on these subjects across the country and appeared on network TV and NPR. She is also the author/editor of You Are My Witness: The Living Words of Rabbi Marshall T. Meyers.Before becoming a writer, Isay was an editor for more than 40 years, publishing a broad range of nonfiction, with a special focus on psychology, at Yale University Press, Basic Books, Addison-Wesley, Grosset Books, and ultimately as editor in chief of Harcourt. Over the years, she worked on books by such esteemed authors as Robert J. Lifton, Howard Gardner, Alice Miller, and Mary Pipher. For over a decade, Isay chaired the Association of American Publishers’ Freedom to Read Committee. She has served on boards of directors of a number of nonprofit publishers and chaired the board of The New Press while sharing her expertise at publishing courses and panels in New York and around the country. She lives in Manhattan.

Storytellers: Michael Jewell

Michael Jewell is the president of TX-CURE (Texas Citizens United for Rehabilitation of Errants), a support group for inmates and their families founded in 1972. Jewell, who made parole from the TDCJ-ID on June 11, 2010, after serving 40 consecutive years on a life sentence, is eminently qualified to speak on the pros and cons (no pun intended) of the Texas prison system. A fourth-grade dropout from Anderson, Indiana, Jewell went to juvenile reform school five times and later, as an adult, was incarcerated three times, the final time for armed robbery and murder. He was on death row for three years before his sentence was commuted to life imprisonment per the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Furman v. Georgia (1973). In prison, Jewell became an avid reader and developed a love of literature. Reading the great thinkers, from Plato to the cartoon sage Pogo, he became a “writ-writer,”an activist for prison reform. He now lobbies actively for prisoners’ rights.