Staff

Mark Yaconelli

Mark Yaconelli is a writer, retreat leader, community builder, spiritual director, storycatcher, husband, and father. He is the founder and executive director of The Hearth. Previously, he co-founded and served as program director for the Center for Engaged Compassion where he helped develop a unique set of practices and training programs for assisting individuals, organizations, and communities in cultivating compassion.

Mark speaks to a variety of audiences each year across North America and the United Kingdom including The Greenbelt Arts Festival, The Ford Family Foundation, Compassion International, The National Youth Workers Convention, Princeton Theological Seminary, The Center for Congregations, The Global Gathering for Spirituality and Justice, and many other events and organizations.

Interviews and profiles of Mark Yaconelli’s work have appeared in the Wall Street Journal, BBC News, ABC World News Tonight, The Washington Post Online.

Mark is the author of six books including Between the Listening and the Telling: How Stories Can Save Us (Broadleaf, 2022). The Gift of Hard Things (IVP 2016), Wonder, Fear, and Longing (Zondervan 2009). Mark lives in Southern Oregon with his wife Jill. They have three adult children–Noah, Joseph, and Gracie.

Susannah Cole

Susannah Cole

Susannah is the Director of Operations at The Hearth. She is a native Ashlander who attended story gatherings in the inaugural year of The Hearth in 2010. Over the past decade she has performed music at Hearth events, produced video testimonials of Hearth Certificate participants, schlepped chairs and food at Hearth story nights, and consulted on Hearth marketing campaigns. Susannah left the valley to get her B.S in Organizational Communication at University of Portland. Before serving The Hearth she worked in film and event production, marketing/social media, and nonprofit administration.

She is passionate about bringing people together through shared experiences, and believes the essence of human connection can be traced back to the tradition of storytelling. When not running The Hearth’s operations and assisting Mark with “technology issues,” Susannah likes to spend her time outdoors. She is an avid podcast listener and enjoys using her hands in metalsmithing (a hobby taken up during Covid sequestration).

Ken Crocker

Ken Crocker

Ken is a Story Coach at The Hearth. Along with his work with the Hearth, Ken is involved in his local community through restorative justice work with boys and young men who have been convicted of crimes (ResolveCenter.org and AllianceOfGenerations.org). He has also worked with families and organizations as a mediator, organizational consultant, trainer and facilitator. Ken serves on the board of the geosinstitute.org, which helps communities nationwide build resilience in the face of climate change, and on the board of the School of Lost Borders (schooloflostborders.org), which offers wilderness based initiatory experiences for those seeking growth, insight, and restoration. He also plays and teaches pickleball and loves being in the outdoors!

Ken is a 2019 graduate of the Hearth Certificate Community Storytelling program.

Laura Hudson

Laura Hudson

Laura is a Story Coach at The Hearth. Laura Elly Hudson is a spiritual director, Presbyterian pastor, writer, the parent of two sons, and the servant-minion of two cats. She is also the founder of Resilient Spirit, where she works with creatives, leaders, and changemakers, using spiritual direction and story strategy to help her clients activate resilience and creative power, increase personal impact, and enjoy vibrant wellbeing while they play their unique part in changing the world. Weekly, you can find her leading worship and preaching online Sundays at First Presbyterian Church of La Grande, Oregon.

Laura is a 2020 graduate of the Hearth Certificate Community Storytelling program.

Tecca Thompson

Tecca Thompson

Tecca is a Story Coach at The Hearth. She is a self-care facilitator, storyteller and community builder. She describes herself as coming from a family of natural storytellers, but it wasn’t until the stillness of the pandemic and the discovery of a practice called ” somatics” that she could find her voice and ability to tell her own stories. Tecca now uses breathwork, somatics, and story to build community and create powerful spaces of rest, healing, and transformation. You can contact Tecca here.

Tecca is a 2021 graduate of the Hearth Certificate Community Storytelling program, she is a certified Narrative 4 story exchange facilitator and has received training in the Bold and Visible Somatic Storytelling method.

Danielle Mancuso

Danielle Mancuso

Danielle is a story convener and Care for the Caregiver Facilitator at The Hearth. Danielle is people-centered, equity-oriented, community architect, with a passion for making a positive difference. Danielle believes that education and a growth mindset help us to create lives with connection, meaning, and purpose. Danielle has worked in education since 2004 and after 13 years at SOU, they recently left their position as the Director of Student Activities to complete a second Master’s degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling. They are completely infatuated with creating spaces where everyone feels compelled to share their story and to listen to the stories of others. They are in love with how stories inspire connections, heal our hurt, soothe our longing, and how sharing our stories can make a vast room full of strangers feel like a familiar front porch of friends. They host a monthly community storytelling event called The Lantern at the Black Sheep in Ashland.

Danielle is a native of The Bronx and now lives in Talent with their amazing partner, Erika, and their hilarious dog, Sawyer. Danielle enjoys storytelling, art, visiting new cities, roadside attractions, podcasts, card playing, healthy banter, and talking to strangers.

Danielle is a 2019 graduate of the Certificate in Community Storytelling program.

Sylvia Poareo

Sylvia Poareo

Sylvia Poareo is a Curandera/Consejera (healer counselor) whose work is rooted in guiding and supporting each individual in their own liberation within collective healing. Informed by the Chicano experience and growing up as an orphan, her approach is informed by her journeys with Inner Bonding, Curanderismo healing arts (Mexican traditional medicine), nature connection, social work, activism and somatic experience. Sylvia has a deep understanding of generational trauma, mental illness, navigating the system (family incarceration, foster care), and how systemic and racial injustice creates environments of inequity in our communities. She earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work, a Master’s Degree in Social Welfare at UCLA, and is a certified transpersonal counselor with the Association for the Integration of the Whole Person. Sylvia co-facilitates The Hearth’s Care for the Caregiver retreats as well as serving in other Spanish language programs for The Hearth. To read more about Sylvia’s work go to Connecting Within