Jemma Brown outside the Minnesota History Center

When Jemma Brown ’12 graduated from Macalester, she and her friend Lara Avery ’10 were such big fans of the popular storytelling program The Moth that they started their own version in the Twin Cities—in Brown’s living room, to be exact. A year later, their storytelling events had outgrown the living room, and they were playing to an audience of 130 at the Loft Literary Center in Minneapolis.

Fast forward another year, and Brown is working at the source of her inspiration: she’s the associate producer for video and social media at The Moth headquarters in Manhattan.

For Brown it’s only the latest in a series of storytelling positions: a communications internship at StoryCorps, an internship at Public Radio International, and freelance work for KFAI radio in Minneapolis. Her passion for storytelling, Brown says, grew out of her education in Macalester’s History Department: “During my senior year I got really excited about oral history as a contemporary application of history.”

She started noticing that each career step was pointing her toward a path in production, but the self-described multimedia producer also wanted to maintain her broad skill set. When Brown found The Moth job description, which blended video, photo, and social media experience, she jumped on it. Right away, she confirmed that the workload was as varied as the posting had promised. One recent workday found her choosing photos for a calendar, posting to Facebook, editing a video about a storytelling outreach program, and sending video footage to participants in the nearly 365 events The Moth hosts around the country each year.

Though she’s more than a thousand miles away from St. Paul, the native New Yorker remains part of a Minnesota network. In the New York media scene, she has friends from Minnesota who look out for one another. “This whole thing has been a wild ride,” Brown says. “I remember listening to The Moth five years ago and my friends were saying we should do this kind of event in our basement—and now I’m working for this organization I adore. I feel so lucky.”

August 6 2014

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