This is us.
We are a collective of writers, photographers, designers, storytellers, project managers, and more but, above all, we are advocates for making the best post secondary possibilities available for all kids through community-engaged education.
We founded Journey12 because tightening the connection between schools and communities, and between students and families, matters to us. We do what we do because of our shared belief in the power of storytelling to do just that.
We bring our diverse professional backgrounds and unique life experiences together through the Journey12 storytelling vessel to give voice to the voiceless, to promote the good that is happening every day in our schools, and to lift-up those who are doing the heavy lifting in our community classrooms, America's professional educators.
The Creative Leaders
These are the talented design and content team leaders who create, edit, and oversee the work we build on behalf of your school community. They work with our broader team to deliver meaningful stories in gorgeous formats that will be not just 'noticed,' but will be appreciated—even loved—by your district and community audience. It is our genuine privilege to work with creatives who share our belief in the power of storytelling to connect community, and who are so capable of wielding it.
The Community Connectors
These are the people who connect the suite of J12 resources to the communities we serve. In our messaging and taxpayer engagement realm, Kerry Brooks plays a key role in unearthing the specific needs of Texas schools, while Tess Andersen brings a lifetime of experience to our auxiliary college counseling services we extend to our partner communities. In keeping with the J12 mission of serving students and their families by tightening the school-community connection, we could not have found two more qualified people to help build bridges to possibilities by listening carefully in order to understand the needs before coordinating the available resources.
Craig Williams, Founder and Chief Engagement Officer | Williams identifies, most notably, as the father of three to 23-year-old Evan, 9-year-old Tivoli, and 8-year-old Bronx. Husband to Shawna, he is a full-time self-described 'treehouse dad,' an advocate for kids, and an unrepentant storyteller. Williams came to his advocacy for rural public education, and a love for the children it serves, through an unlikely, circuitous route. Williams had an epiphany that solid, story-based communication—and the buy-in it creates—between schools and the communities they serve, was the most alterable x-factor toward driving stronger student outcomes. That epiphany, piled atop more than four decades of scaling entrepreneurial startups, serving on various non-profit, community, and school boards, and wanting the best for his own children, was the genesis of Journey12. Williams holds an MBA from Washington University in Saint Louis, though he'd be the first to tell you he prefers bootstrapping an idea out of nothing to performing regression analyses or spending his days in corporate boardrooms—something which he has staunchly avoided in his career. Today, Craig's professional focus is on helping rural public schools build more durable bridges to every taxpayer in the communities they serve, and helping the students who attend those schools find their best post-secondary outcomes.
George Prudhomme, Co-Founder and Chief Operations Officer | George is father to 16-year-old Alexander, and is a man who likes to keep the trains on their tracks. Born and raised in rural Western Washington State amidst timber stands and paper mills, George took the military route straight out of high school, before graduating with his Bachelor's degree from Southeast Missouri State University. Professionally, a 20-plus-year career in community publishing followed while, personally, father and son found themselves inextricably engaged in school-based robotics competitions, and discussions of following Alex's 'aptitudinal fissures.' Mirroring his own son's interest in learning, George pivoted his efforts to Alex's full-time advocacy and soon found himself helping other students make the most of their academic pursuits at both the middle and secondary school stages, all with the post-secondary trajectory in-mind. Today, George taps into his sense of order and advocacy as he manages the busy train-yard that is Journey12's publication, podcast, and video production and distribution schedule.
Steve Dallape, Chief Designer, Contributing Writer, and Editor | Steve has three decades of experience telling stories with words and visuals. As a high school student, his life-long love of art and design ran up against an interest in journalism piqued by seeing his work published in the student newspaper. In the end, design won out, and Steve graduated from Southern Illinois University-Carbondale with a degree in Visual Communication. However, he has endeavored to make writing an equally important part of his creative world, believing that writing informs his design, just as design informs his writing. Having spent his formative years growing up in rural southern Illinois, Steve is attuned to the unique qualities that make small towns the extraordinary places they are. Married to a teacher, and with a child in high school, Steve also has an informed perspective into the triumphs won and challenges faced each day in our public schools.
Nate Fisher, Story Constructionist | Nate Fisher is a hybrid genre artist and independent journalist from southern Illinois. He's a proud defector from the university adjunct system, where he taught composition, literature, and creative writing for over a decade, namely at University of Idaho-Moscow and Southeastern Louisiana University. During his summer breaks, he worked for regional newspapers in Perry and Franklin counties and received an Illinois Press Association's Best Investigative/Enterprise Reporting award in 2018. His creative work has been featured in TYPO magazine, Booth, and ucity review, among others. He's also written extensively on pedagogy and philosophy of teaching, most recently contributing a chapter to Designing Context-Rich Learning by Extending Reality. He received his MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Idaho-Moscow in 2016. When he's not promoting the stories of first-generation rural students like himself, he spends his time buying one too many enamel pins from Etsy and recording music in his meager home studio.
Barry Engelhardt, Senior Storyteller | Barry considers himself a professional generalist and a reformed art-miscreant. He studied Psychology and Creative Writing and once dreamed of reading and writing pretentious literature, likely in the mountains while sipping whiskey, as that’s what authors are rumored to do. Through life’s twists and turns, he’s instead spent a decade in Operations and a second decade in Human Resources. He also obtained his MBA from SIU-Carbondale and retired from the Army National Guard after twenty years of (part-time) combat operations along the way. When not writing for Journey12, he is the HR Director for Store Supply Warehouse. He sits on the school board of Sacred Heart Catholic School in Florissant, Missouri and on the Society of Human Resources-STL’s Board of Directors. He lives in St. Louis, Missouri, with his wife and two sons.
Grace Waitman, Senior Storyteller | Grace is a doctoral candidate at Indiana University-Bloomington and a lecturer in English at Washington University in St. Louis. Her academic background includes research in creativity studies, the psychology of learning and teaching, British and American literature, music education, and narrative theory, especially the impact that stories can have on people’s everyday lived realities. Her academic publications include research about the psychology of creative writing and the relationship between education and creativity; she also served on the international research team that conducted a global study of instrumental music programs. In addition, her work concentrates on how the arts can help people emerge from the depths of trauma, using narrative and other expressive and artistic tools. Grace enjoys playing violin and piano, spending time figure skating and speed skating, hanging out with her husband and their pets, reading, playing with children, engrossing herself in stories, swimming, and finally, baking (and then eating) cookies.
Evan Williams, Senior Storyteller | Evan is a Chicago-based writer, by way of suburban Saint Louis… by way of rural Southern Illinois. Raised against an idyllic small town backdrop—the kind where high school basketball is a wintertime obsession and summertime means baseball and bicycles—his childhood harvest of rural storylines was rich. Williams holds degrees in English and History with honors from the University of Chicago, where he was the recipient of the Margaret C. Annan Prize for Undergraduate Poetry. He is a published author of poetic prose and flash fiction with a particular interest in the collision of Surrealism, masculinity, and the Anthropocene. When he’s not at a keyboard, or perched in his writer’s garret with a book or notebook in-hand, he’s running alongside—or swimming in—Lake Michigan, enjoying the company of his cat, Pico, spending time with friends, or whipping-up a table-top of tasty vegetarian fare.
Peyton Brehm, Student-Alumni Storyteller | Storytelling, whether it be light-hearted campfire tales or more seriously-toned published work, has always been of great interest to me. Throughout school, I’ve been drawn to writing that highlighted the individuality of humanity. More specifically, I’ve felt that the stories detailing those so often overlooked were especially intriguing. Through my studies at the University of Illinois, and my participation in Journey12’s initiative, I hope to make an impact on the lives of those in our partner school communities. I’ve heard from others that the path to becoming a writer can take many forms, one quite different from another. In my case, as a senior in high school, being interviewed for my own school’s Journey12 project was the on-ramp and the determining factor in my decision to pursue a career in journalism. Being able to help a student define themselves and uncover future interests is what drives my work on behalf of Journey12.
Nanette Tarbouni, Post Secondary Possibilities Partner | Nanette has nearly forty years of experience in admissions and college counseling. Her work with students began at Washington University in Saint Louis where she worked for nearly 26 years and was the Director of Admissions for 13 years. During this time, Nanette read and evaluated thousands of applications from some of the strongest and most talented students in the world. Working with students is a passion and led Nanette to become the Director of College Counseling at one of the most respected independent secondary schools in the country. She remained the Director of College Counseling for thirteen years and mentored students applying and being admitted to every selective university in the United States. She loves seeing the students and their thought processes as they apply to college and she clearly understands the importance of starting early and creating a plan. Nanette has been invited to be a guest speaker at hundreds of high schools around the country and enjoys helping students and families understand the complexities of college admission.
Working with students brings Nanette such joy! In addition to admissions and college counseling, she was also an academic advisor for several years, helping students decide on the courses that would be the best fit for them and where they could achieve success. For Nanette, helping young people think about their next steps is an absolute delight.
Kerry Brooks, Community Development Partner - Texas | Teachers and those who support them are in my DNA. I’m a Midwestern boy, born and raised. My maternal Great-Great-Grandparents hailed from Chillicothe, Missouri—she was a teacher, he was the Superintendent. The Boucher School was named after them. I am their living legacy. I follow, too, in the footsteps of Mrs. Phillips, grade 5, still the reason I know my multiplication tables. Mr. Cooper, the “Happy Janitor” at Coldwater Elementary, who taught me to respect the gleam of a freshly buffed floor. Irene, the librarian, who taught me there is freedom in a book and showed me that Dewey had a decimal system. And “Ma Cruz”, the college cafeteria worker who snuck me food making sure a poor kid never went hungry.
I am Bachelor and a Master, a music teacher, conductor, and composer. In my seasons, I have been a middle school and a high school teacher, a college professor, and a University Dean. I have been a Vice President for The American Cancer Society, a writer, consultant, and a pioneering entrepreneur. In this season, it is my privilege to partner with Journey 12, in Texas, connecting students, families, and their communities. I’m here to bear witness to others stepping into themselves and who they were created to be, reaching their perfect and unique potential… just like the Bouchers before me.