Staff & Board

Meet The Team

J.R. Jamison

Co-Founder & President

J.R. Jamison is the co-founder and president of The Facing Project, host of The Facing Project Radio Show on NPR, and author of the memoir Hillbilly Queer (2021). His work has been featured in The Guardian, The Huffington Post, Pangyrus, Writer’s Digest, and in various print literary journals. For speaking engagement inquiries, J.R. is represented by Authors Unbound.

Fun fact!
“I’m a long-distance runner and have competed in (and completed) 10 half-marathons. I also LOVE black licorice.”

Kelsey Timmerman


Co-Founder of The Facing Project and New York Times bestselling author of the Where Am I (Wearing, Eating, Giving)? series

His writing has appeared in publications such as the Christian Science Monitor, Condé Nast Portfolio, TIME magazine, and has aired on NPR. WEARING and EATING have been adopted as a common reader by over 150 high schools, colleges, and universities.

Fun Fact! Sometimes when I’m stressed or bored, I imagine the room or the world filling with water and swimming through rooms, up stairs, and over buildings.

Braxton Williams

Projects Manager

Braxton Williams is the projects manager for The Facing Project where he oversees editing and book production for Facing Project communities, and he curates the organization’s newsletter and featured stories. He is a graduate of Ball State University with a Bachelor of Science in Sociology and Women’s and Gender Studies. Braxton is the author of The Infinite Horizons (2020), and he hosts Brax Will Let You Know on YouTube.


Fun fact!

“I’m an EMT.”

The Facing Project Board of Directors

A.K. Barnes


Assistant General Counsel, NAACP (based in Washington, D.C.)

Why do I care about The Facing Project? The Facing Project is important to me because it creates an opportunity for communities to address difficult issues through storytelling. I believe in The Facing Project because it relies on making human connections and building empathy to create positive change in the world. The Facing Project is especially important to me as I was the Co-Manager of Facing Sexual Violence in Rockbridge County, Virginia as an undergraduate student.

Fun Fact! I love exploring new places! I traveled to South Africa as part of a Prisoners’ Rights course in law school and hope to return to South Africa within a few years. Also, I traveled to Italy for my honeymoon and it is a dream to someday move there.

Lauren Instenes

Vice Chair & Secretary

Social Media Manager and Podcast Editor, Antioch University (based in Milwaukee, WI)

Why do I care about The Facing Project? I got involved managing a Facing Project my senior year of undergrad because I was passionate about aiding the local LGBT+ community in their fight for rights within the workplace and housing. I realized that this kind of project was the perfect combination for all of my interests: a little history, a little art, a little activism, and a lot of listening to and connecting with the people in my community. This project is the main reason I decided to pursue oral history as a profession, as I am still very passionate about the difference storytelling can make in a community.

Fun Fact! I have a pretty eccentric style and only shop for clothes at thrift stores, or in my grandma’s closet!

Tina Rabel


Credit Risk Professional (based in Muncie, IN)

Why do I care about The Facing Project? I like the idea of creating content that results in a ripple effect of people’s action improving the world.

Fun Fact! I have a strong desire to do things I have never done, and go places I have never been; and I prefer being active outdoors. I would really thrive in 8 to 10 hours of recess daily.

Dr. Kathy Denker

Professor of Communication Studies, Ball State University (based in Muncie, IN)

Why do I care about The Facing Project? Stories are important in shaping our understanding of others’ experiences and building a sense empathy among individuals. Stories allow us to share our humanity and invite others into our experiences.

Fun Fact! I have a blazer problem (or rather I have an adult dress uniform which typically consists of a gray/ black tee and a blazer). I also stress bake a lot.

Dr. Peggy Fisher

Honoratus Associate Teaching Professor of Communication Studies, Ball State University (based in Muncie, IN)

Why do I care about The Facing Project? I was first involved with The Facing Project years ago when my story was told in Facing Cancer. I believe in the value of Facing Project narratives.

Fun Fact! I have two wonderful grandbabies and one more on the way.

Jane Friedman

Writer and reporter on the publishing industry (based in Cincinnati, OH)

Why do I care about The Facing Project? I believe in the power of stories to bridge differences and bring greater understanding between individuals and among communities. I also care about the careers and publishing goals of the organization’s founders.

Fun Fact! I worked for two summers at Cedar Point Amusement Park in Ohio, where I lived right on park grounds.

Angela Jackson-Brown

Writer and graduate-level faculty member in the School of Writing, Spalding University (based in Louisville, KY)

Why do I care about The Facing Project? I learned about The Facing Project when I wrote for Facing Racism in Muncie, Indiana. It was an inspiring opportunity for me to learn about racism from the point of view of a Muslim family living in Muncie.

Fun Fact! I have watched THE SOUND OF MUSIC every Thanksgiving since I was a little girl and my daddy first watched it with me.

Dr. Lori Kniffin

Past Chair (2020-2021)

Assistant Director of Leadership Studies, Fort Hays State University (based in Hays, KS)

Why do I care about The Facing Project? I love that the projects amplify community assets and shed light on a diversity of experiences facing the same issue. As a previous project coordinator, I understand how challenging and rewarding the process can be, and I want to help others have their own meaningful experience.

Fun Fact! In 2021, I took several trips to Colorado. I hiked, camped, rode a horse, and learned to ski. Although I’m making the most of living near the Rockies, I miss the ocean.

Shantanu Suman

Assistant Professor of Graphic Design and Faculty Mentor to Studio 165+, Ball State University (based in Muncie, IN)

Why do I care about The Facing Project? I think The Facing Project connects a diverse group of people and provides a platform for them to share their stories. Learning about other’s stories helps people in ways that they might not have realized until now.

Fun Fact! I made a documentary film about the history and evolution of truck art in India called Horn Please.