Jan was born in Kansas City, Missouri, and grew up in Prairie Village. She has a bachelors degree in elementary education and a master’s degree in library science. Jan spent 26 years as a librarian in the Shawnee Mission School District. During that time she frequently introduced books she hoped would help her students think about and discuss topics such as banned books, immigration, and civil rights. Jan retired in 2017 with a desire to do something to make the world a better place. She has always felt reading was a way to build empathy and connect on a deeper level with people who have diﬀerent life experiences. The power of stories can change who we are and how we see the world.
Jan has two grown children and two grandchildren. She is also owned by two cats who listen tirelessly to her dreams of social justice and racial equality.
Ellie Seemann, a former teacher/librarian, is passionate about what can happen when kids connect with stories. She has taught at preschool, elementary, and college levels in various parts of the Greater Kansas City area, and enjoyed serving as a librarian in elementary school for many years. Getting to know students from diverse backgrounds fueled her desire to work for social justice.
Starting with Stories brings together many threads from her life—her upbringing in white privilege, grounding in the teachings of Jesus, graduate studies in both library science and educational psychology (with an emphasis in child development), love for engaging children through books, along with her growing awareness of the injustices in our social system and the need to take action to bring about change.
She and her husband have a family that came together through birth, blending, and adoption, and includes a racial mix. They have 7 grown children and 10 grandchildren (from toddlers to preteens), who are the lights of their lives, their hope for the future, and the reason they do the work.
Sneha Nair (Snay-ha Na-yer)
Communications Director (Volunteer)
Sneha is a digital marketing and creative content specialist. She holds an MA in English Literature and has over eight years of experience as a Content Strategist. She is passionate about helping non-profit organizations with their online presence and engagement.
As the Communications Director for Starting With Stories, Sneha is responsible for developing communication strategies that help expand the organization’s reach to promote diversity, equity, and inclusion. When not working, she delves into the world of books, pop culture, media, language, food, and cats.