2016 Conference

Big thanks to the OHSU Provost’s Office and OHSU WRITEs for helping to put on the
1st Annual Northwest Narrative Medicine Conference
September 16-18, 2016


Last year we hosted the first ever Narrative Medicine conference on the west coast. Attendees heard from local and national authors, journalists, and performers. Participants were invited to join intimate workshop groups where they learned concrete skills to develop narrative competence—the ability to absorb, interpret and be moved to action by the stories of illness. We held off-site events at the Portland Art Museum and at OMSI, where we hosted Story Beat LIVE—a night of storytelling from our flash writing contest winners and spontaneous audience participation.

Featured Keynote Speaker

Anna Kuperberg PhotographyDr. Louise Aronson is a geriatrician, writer and professor of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) where she has served as Chief of Geriatrics Education and director of UCSF Medical Humanities, the Northern California Geriatrics Education Center, and the School of Medicine scholarly concentrations program. A graduate of Harvard Medical School and the Warren Wilson Program for Writers, she has received the Gold Professorship in Humanism in Medicine, the California Homecare Physician of the Year award, the AOA Edward D. Harris Professionalism Award, and the American Geriatrics Society Clinician-Teacher of the Year award, as well as numerous awards for her teaching, educational research and writing. She is the author of the PEN America debut fiction award finalist, A History of the louise-aronson-book-coverPresent Illness, and her essays and stories appears regularly in newspapers, literary and medical journals including the New York Times, Washington Post, New England Journal of Medicine, Health Affairs, Narrative Magazine, Bellevue Literary Review and Lancet. She speaks and teaches regularly about her two greatest passions: aging and writing to improve health and health care.

Learn more about Dr. Aronson’s book A History of the Present Illness.

“Dr. Aronson writes lovely, nuanced stories. . . [and] joins the ranks of those immortalizing the small, realistic retails of modern medical care.” –The New York Times

Additional Featured Speakers and Guests

OluyinkaOluyinka A. Akinjiola creates a unique blend between dances of Africa, the African Diaspora and Modern dance. She finds a dialogue between the Bartinieff fundamentals, Afro-Cuban folklore, release technique, Afro-Brazilian folklore, Evans/Laban movement, samba, Garth Fagan technique and West African dance.

She has performed and toured with Mounafanyi, Pan-African ensemble (Rochester, New York), Axé Didé, Afro-Cuban-Afro-Brazilian dance company (Portland, Ore.), Sambamore world drum and dance ensemble (Arcata, Calif.) and Guinea Gbe all-female African drum and dance ensemble (Arcata, Calif.). Oluyinka has performed works by Zelma Badu-Young, Yesutor Kotoka, Clyde Morgan, Karl Rogers, Maija Garcia and Susana Arenas.

Currently Oluyinka is the Artistic Director and choreographer for Rejoice: Diaspora Dance Theater in Portland, Ore., teaching for the Multnomah County SUN program at Peninsula School, a teaching artist with the Right Brain Initiative, Young Audiences and will be a visiting assistant professor of dance at SUNY the College at Brockport.

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Family legend has it you could hear Avery Hill singing before she even came out. Since then, she has taken a winding road toward her present work in music, all the while developing her singular style of storytelling and songwriting by integrating stroies into her observations of life. In 2015, Avery released her first full-length recording, titled Dreams & Ghosts: A Family Album, which features songs inspired by her family’s history. The album has been turned into a one-woman show which Avery workshopped at the 2015 Fertile Ground Festival in Portland, Ore.

Tod Kelly is a professional writer and journalist. He is also the executive producer and host of the storytelling show 7 Deadly Sins at Portland’s historic Mission Theatre. His work has appeared in NPR, Newsweek, Public Radio International, RISK!, Enough Magazine, and the Moth. He is currently a regular contributor for both Marie Claire Magazine and The Daily Beast, as well as Editor Emeritus for the online magazine Ordinary Times.


Beth Nakamura is an two-time Emmy nominated visual journalist based in Portland, Ore. Her work has been recognized by National Headliner Awards, Pictures of the Year International, Society of Professional Journalists, National Press Photographers Association, National Black Journalists Association and many others. She lives in Portland, Ore.

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Natalie Serber is the author of a memoir, Community Chest, and the story collection, Shout Her Lovely Name, a New York Times Notable Book of 2012, a summer reading selection from O, The Oprah Magazine, and an Oregonian Top 10 Book of the Pacific Northwest. Her fiction has appeared in The Bellingham Review, Gulf Coast, Inkwell and Hunger Mountain. Essays and reviews have appeared in The New York Times, O, The Oprah Magazine, The Huffington Post, The San Francisco Chronicle, The Oregonian, The Rumpus, Salon and Fourth Genre. Natalie has been the recipient of the John Steinbeck Award, Tobias Wolff Award and H.E. Francis Award. One of her stories was short listed in Best American Short Stories. She teaches fiction and the personal essay at Marylhurst University, the Attic Institute and at various conferences including Squaw Valley Community of Writers. Natalie received her MFA from Warren Wilson College. She lives in Portland, Ore.

RudySAfter graduating from Humboldt State University with multiple music degrees, Rudy Slizewski embraced many opportunities in the Music Industry. Along with performing, teaching, producing and managing, Rudy composes for film and won “Best Original Score” at the X-Dance Film Festival in 2008 for his contribution to the film Dream Result. He is also a lifelong student of music and his research has taken him to Trinidad and Tobago, Nigeria, Cuba, Alaska and Brazil on two different occasions. He is currently earning a Master of Science in Music at Portland State University, teaching, and touring nationally with TapWater as well as the Scott Pemberton Band.

Click here to see the full conference program.