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Karen Dickerson, The Business of Being Born

Karen is a mother, an educator, and a storyteller. This is one of the rare times that she is performing her own writing instead of someone else’s, and she couldn’t be here without the amazing assistance of Jason and Amber.

Jeanne Arnold, My Mother Saved Mary

Jeanne works as an administrative law judge and has worked in the public sector as a lawyer for over twenty years. She writes daily and enjoys both practicing yoga and running. She lives in Brighton with her husband, Clay, their three teenagers, and two pups.

Allison Zukoski, I Didn't Listen To My Mother

Allison brings a mind for numbers and a love of business to Laughing Gull Chocolates with her computing skills and charisma. After completing her MBA at the Simon School of Business, Allison held a variety of positions before finding her home at the chocolate shop. She is driven by her desire to spend quality time with her daughter while continuing to grow professionally and make a difference in her community. Her passion for creating and achieving the vision of a charitable, yet profitable, business has made her invaluable. She is active in the local community as a board member of the New York State Restaurant Association and is a Bossy Visionary. She is also a member of the Simon Women's Alliance and The Women's Council. She lives in Rochester with her husband, daughter, and two dogs.

Richard Hughson, Memories of Mom

Richard grew up in the hills of Pennsylvania but has lived in Rochester for forty-six years. He is a retired machinist/mechanic who is filling his time with acting, directing, storytelling, clowning, physical comedy, and grandkids – but not in that order. He is a founding member of the Easily Amused comedy trio. With his naturally white beard, he portrays a seasonal character online at and in Eastview Mall. Richard and his son run Aircraft Balloon Pumps, a business dedicated to building manual balloon pumps for balloon artists. He was the technical director for Balloon Manor and Airigami Adventures, last seen in the five- story atrium of the Sibley Building.

Kristen French, Four Fouls

Kristen, an RCSD Speech-Language Pathologist, is originally from Utica and is a graduate of SUNY Geneseo. Outside of work, her passions are running, hiking, biking, traveling, community and union activism, spending time in nature, problem-solving, church, communication, and being with family and friends. Her husband Zach is a constant supporter of all of her endeavors including traveling, coordinating fundraising events, facilitating and engaging in various learning experiences, spending time with friends and family, and prioritizing self-care. She’d like to give a shout-out to her adopted Doberman, Huxley, because his presence gives her a balance of energy, comfort, and joy.

Sherita Traywick, Mama

Sherita is a mother of three “amazing” children, Ava (2), Bella (12), and Amir (16). She just celebrated twenty years of marriage to her college sweetheart, Richard Johnson. She serves as Executive Director and Senior Pastor of Young & Gifted Global Ministries, an outreach ministry helping children and families. She is also a community leader, elected member of the Greece Central School Board, educator, DEI Consultant, and motivational speaker. She was born and raised in the City of Rochester by her mother, grandmother, and stepfather. Her mother always taught her the power of prayer and perseverance. Her mother also taught her that our voices are a gift to be used to set us free. She enjoys public speaking, training, and bringing diverse voices to the table. She believes in the power of sharing our stories as a universal equalizer which gives us an opportunity to learn from each other.

Holly Garritano, My Daughter’s Mother

Believer, wife, mom, and Rochester native. She has been married to her husband Greg for fourteen years. They have been foster parents for four years but are currently taking a break from fostering. They have four boys and one girl. Holly worked at an amazing salon for ten years but left to take care of their growing family. She recently started a small business on Etsy where she shares her passion for home decor by selling unique and one of a kind home finds.

Scott Seifritz, The Birds, the Bees, and Charlie Brown

Scott Seifritz is the co-founder of Rochester Spoken Word (, for which he wears many, many hats. (He has a large, often cold head.) He's also a writer and playwright who has had works performed as part of the Rochester Fringe Festival, 2 Pages/2 Voices, The Spooky One-Act Play Festival, and the 24-Hour Plays, among others. His first full-length play, "Denny Killington, Master Detective!," was selected for the 2016 Regional Writers Showcase, and his latest play, "Treading Water," is scheduled to be produced by Green Buffalo Productions in summer 2022, provided that COVID doesn’t screw things up. Again. He has a wonderful wife, Rebecca, who encourages him to write, and two awesome cats who generally stay off his keyboard. When he’s not writing, he’s cooking, and when he’s not cooking, he’s eating what he cooked. Learn more about what he’s up to at

Melissa Pheterson, Oceans Apart

Melissa Pheterson enjoys reporting, creative writing, photography, and other means of storytelling. As a features and lifestyle contributor for the Democrat and Chronicle, she focused on health, wellness, dining, culture, and design trends. Raised in suburban Florida, she only recently learned to parallel park and to ski downhill – thankfully, not at the same time. She lives in Brighton with her husband Joshua, children Sam and Abby, and rescue dog Jonah. Melissa works in marketing communications, collects and sorts donations for Foodlink, and actively volunteers at her children’s schools, where she is a sought-after Bingo caller. She has the privilege of hosting a student-teacher from Chile this spring.

April Holmes, Learning to Dance

April Holmes is a fortunate human being. She has a job she is passionate about as a speech pathologist, three amazing kids who are now old enough and interesting enough to converse with, a quirky old house that keeps her busy and poor with repairs and updates, and an endlessly patient husband with an excellent sense of humor. In her spare time she can be found in her semi-tamed garden (weather-permitting), concentrating over the daily Wordle, or avoiding housework and other responsibilities with her nose in a book.

Amy Boyle Johnston, Nature vs Nurture

Amy Boyle Johnston, from Santa Cruz, CA, is an artist and writer based in Rochester, NY. She holds an MFA from Visual Studies Workshop and is a past artist in residence at Flower City Arts Center. She has been published in LA Weekly, the Philadelphia Inquirer and The New York Times. She is on the Board of the Rod Serling Memorial Foundation.

Diane Zielinski, My PhotoBooth Mother

Diane Zielinski is an adult child of a loving ninety-three-year-old mother who still asks her at holidays, "Are you wearing THAT to church?" After a career in media, corporate and educational communications, Diane is now a professional pet sitter, and she declutters people's homes through her Gentle Decluttering business. She presents humor-based programs on decluttering at local libraries and luncheons and was a speaker at Rochester Spoken Word with a story about dating her cleaning guy. Diane is in pre-production with her one-woman show, “Clutter Is My Significant Other,” which basically means she hasn't finished writing it yet.


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