Tekki Lomnicki is the founder and Artistic Director of Tellin’ Tales Theatre,
a 25-year old company dedicated to shattering the barriers between the disabled and non-disabled worlds through the power of personal story. Tekki’s two full-length plays When Heck Was a Puppy: The Living Testimonies of Folk Artist Edna Mae Brice and Blurred Vision were critically acclaimed by The Chicago Reader and The Chicago Sun Times. She has written and performed over 26 solo performance pieces, and starred in the award-winning film, The Miracle by Jeffrey Jon Smith. She taught youth at Chicago’s Gallery 37 and After School Matters, and adults at the Victory Gardens Training Center, and ADA 25 Advancing Leadership. She is a recipient of an Illinois Arts Council Artists Fellowship in New Performance Forms, the 2008 3Arts Award in Theater, the 2010 Grigsby Award for Excellence in Solo Performance, the 2014 Dan Van Hecke Award for outstanding leadership and service to the disability community and was named a 2016 Duke of Distinction at York Community High School in Elmhurst. Tekki is on the Inclusion & Diversity Council at True Value Company and does disability awareness presentations for corporations. She is currently working on a new full-length musical spotlighting the disability experience.
Jesse Swanson (Managing Director) is a producer, arts administrator and life-long storyteller. He has led organizations large and small and presented original work across the country and around the world. Originally from the east coast, Jesse began his storytelling career as a comedian and theater artist in Philadelphia, where he produced and directed original sketch, stand-up and several world premier comedic plays and musicals. His independently produced work won acclaim at The Philadelphia and DC Fringe Festivals as well as the CrisisArt Festival in Italy. After deciding to take comedy a little more seriously, he came to Chicago in 2012 and went to work for The Second City where he oversaw talent development and production of new work, partnering with companies like The Kennedy Center, LucasFilm and Disney. As an artist with a disability Jesse led the charge in Accessibility at Second City forming it’s first Access committee and producing it’s first access focused programming.
Stephen Donart (Program Director) has earned multiple Master’s degrees – in Theater, Rehabilitation Counseling and Curriculum Instruction and Design making him unique in various fields. Stephen served as the Artistic Director for Fourth Wall Productions, Program Director for Thresholds Young Adult program and is currently the Transition Counselor with NSSED. He received a Best Practice Award for the Starfish Theater Project from the NSSED Association of Parents and Staff and the Diane Farrell Award for Exemplary Staff at Thresholds. His teaching experience includes the Chicago Park District, Kennedy King College and Wilbur Wright College. Stephen started volunteering with Tellin’ Tales in 1999, building set pieces for Six Stories Up on the Rooftop. In 2006 he did his debut performance and served as a mentor in Six Stories Up in the Ozone and has done eight subsequent Six Stories Up productions. As Program Director Stephen is excited about increasing Tellin’ Tales outreach with the addition of the Teen Tales Workshop and Ambassadors Program!
Judy Bergh (Grant Manager) previously served as the Managing Director of Tellin’ Tales but now focuses in the area of grant management as she slowly glides into full retirement. During her tenure with Special Olympics, and other nationally recognized nonprofits, Judy’s forte was securing private and corporate contributions while steadily increasing revenue, corporate engagement and resource support. She has experience in diverse corporate fundraising, the design and creation of signature events and strategic marketing. Judy received her BA from Miami of Ohio with a focus on Speech, Theatre and Education. She managed a community theatre, created the Palatine Arts Council, performed in community theatre and produced numerous productions.