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My professional background is in theater and progressive education. As an 18-year teacher of performance to adults and young people, I believe the tools artists & entertainers use to become free, dynamic, inspired communicators and collaborators should belong to everyone. Six years ago, I began tailoring this work to empower people inside organizations. 

I teach for institutions like The Second CityThe Innovation Institute, The Innovation Academy at Notre Dame, and The Leadership Studio at The University of Chicago's Booth School, while bringing these tools to private companies, public and non-profit orgs. (A client list is below.)  

I grew up in the desert, where I learned things about listening. I live in Chicago now, where I teach things about it. I am most interested in helping people restore a deeper joy in themselves, and strengthen connections with each other, so that better ways can be found, and outdated systems can be improved. 


The Applied Improvisation tools I use are best known through American comedy. Shows like Saturday Night Live, Whose Line is it Anyway, The Office, The Daily Show and many others were built using improvisation tools that were created by a social scientist nearly 100 years ago. These tools were made to unite and heal a fractured citizenry at the end of the Great Depression, so that people could rebuild the City of Chicago. After many years of performing and teaching improvisation to performers and other professionals, in 2016 I began adapting these tools to serve individuals who already work together.


I'm a professional storyteller, and I produce a large, beloved Storytelling show called Here, Chicago. I've curated and hosted nearly 100 sold-out live shows, featuring nearly 1,000 Chicagoans who share true stories from their lives. I co-founded the Live Storytelling programs at The Second City and Chicago Dramatists, and because I see that this training helps people to unite across social dividing lines, and to speak joyfully from the heart, I bring the tools of Live Storytelling to my work with individual clients and organizations. 


My interest in sharing these tools with people in business has led me to work frequently with innovation leaders. In these partnerships, I provide experiences that help teams build the collaborative skills needed for effective innovation. These skills include dropping orthodoxies and assumptions, listing with curiosity and empathy, generating fresh, inspired ideas, being nimble and agile, the ability for teams to build cooperatively upon each other's ideas, and the capacity to tell a great story about them. These skills help people who want to replace outdated processes with those that are more relevant, sustainable, and life-nourishing for every stakeholder.

I teach for:

Clients include:

"I had a brand new team of people with widely ranging backgrounds who'd be collaborating intensely for 3 months. I brought Janna in the first week to help the group bond and build off each other’s ideas. In a fearless and nurturing way, Janna lead the team through a series of exercises that created an incredibly supportive environment that allowed each person to share their creativity and be vulnerable. She had a profound effect on each person individually and on the group dynamic - setting the tone for how we’d work. She was the first of 25 guests we had with us over the course of 3 months, and when I asked the team who stood out and really made an impact, it was Janna’s workshop they said would stay with them the most."

- Maria Scileppi, Founding Director of 72U at 72andSunny 



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I look forward to speaking with you!


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