About

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Our Story

Stoop Stories was born in Brooklyn at the height of COVID-19. Leveraging the power of storytelling, we seek to turn empathy into action and help neighbors in need. Our platform is a safe space and a megaphone for those who are fighting not only to stay put but to thrive in NYC, especially New Yorkers hardest hit by the pandemic and systemic inequities. We believe solutions start with stories—telling them and REALLY listening to them. We see connection and collaboration as an antidote to isolation and a catalyst for change.

The stoops of New York City have always been the place to meet up, catch up, and build community. During lockdown, our stoops became our sanity and our solidarity. We gathered there to bang pots for essential workers, to socialize from a safe distance, to dine al fresco, and to work and learn remotely. Some days, our stoops were our only connection to the outside world. 

 

Since April 2020, we have produced over 100 authentic stories straight from the stoops of NYC. We spotlight the stories that matter most to the 5 Boroughs, amplifying the voices of families, essential workers, small business owners, and activists. We call out injustice, while celebrating silver linings and moments of joy.

 

Stoop Stories has been featured by The New York Times, Time Out New York, PIX11 News, and News 12. Our work has appeared in several exhibits, including #ICPConcerned: Global Images for a Global Crisis, at the International Center for Photography, Papergirl-Brooklyn, and Arts Gowanus ArtWalk on Atlantic Ave. 


Every stoop has a story — and every story deserves to be seen and heard. What’s yours?

"Each [Stoop Story] is like a digital time capsule captured on what is essentially an outdoor extension of a living room or foyer. It’s where families, at least those who have stoops, can be in the context of their homes and still be outside—a gateway to the outside world during the citywide shutdown.”
Time Out New York
 
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Marj Kleinman

Founder | Producer | Photographer

Marj Kleinman is a visual storyteller and the creator of Stoop Stories. A lifelong Brooklynite, residing in her childhood brownstone, she has years of stoop-sitting under her belt. This symbol of Brooklyn culture became both her refuge and muse, especially in times of crisis. 

In addition to photography, Marj has more than 20 years of experience as a children’s content producer and writer, creating award-winning educational media with PBS KIDS, Sesame Workshop, Scholastic, and Noggin. Her work has been featured in the New York TimesTime Out New York, PBS Parents and Scary Mommy. She was also a contributing writer/photographer for Toca Boca Magazine, exploring the power of play and creativity in childhood.

 

Marj holds an M.A. in Educational Psychology from New York University and a B.S. in Theater Management from Emerson College. She has taught theater to kids and photography to grown-ups. Marj is mom to a very feisty black cat named Blackberry.

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Lara Weinberg

Co-Producer | Editorial Director

Lara Weinberg is a pun-loving wordsmith and communications consultant with eclectic experience in entertainment, marketing, and media. Born and bred in NYC, Lara studied Literature & Rhetoric at SUNY-Binghamton and went on to associate produce “The Writing Code” — a critically acclaimed, three-part PBS series on the origin, history and art of writing. She is the former managing director of MGTN, a nonprofit leadership and career transition organization, and was the Director of Sales and Business Development for ShadowTV. 

In May 2020, despite being stoopless in the city, this ground-floor apartment dweller was enlisted to create content for and co-produce Stoop Stories. Channeling her COVID blues into heartfelt storytelling, Lara is proud to edit prose, contribute original pieces, and craft stories that honor her fellow New Yorkers. When she’s not scouting stoops, you’ll find her flexing her greenish thumb, pruning her pandemic avocado pit plant collection.

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Our Team

 
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April Somboun

April Somboun is a marketing and communication strategist. She has worked for companies such as Scholastic, a brand that influenced her childhood, the American Heart Association, and the Council for Economic Education. Throughout her career, she has created multi-million dollar partnerships that benefited children and their families with a focus on economic mobility, financial literacy, and health. She has also worked in international development creating jobs for those who made less than a $1/day.

April holds a Master’s of Public Administration from Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA) and earned her Bachelor’s at the University of Washington. April serves on the board of the Brooklyn Book Bodega and is a volunteer at the Laotian American National Alliance.

She is also a proud mom to Hitchens and Clementine.

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Kendra J. Ross

Kendra J. Ross is Founder/Director of a BedStuy based art and community platform called STooPS that hosts the BedStuy Annual Art Crawl on stoops, sidewalks, and gardens around the neighborhood. A dancer, choreographer, and community worker from Detroit, MI, Kendra now lives in Bedford-Stuyvesant, NY.

 

As a performer, Kendra has traveled the world dancing for Urban Bush Women, DJ Kid Koala, MBDance, Andrea E. Woods/Soulouworks, Monstah Black, Afaliah Tribune, Moving Spirits Dance Company, Oyu Oro, and Ase Dance Theater Collective. Kendra is currently a member of Movement of the People Dance Company.

 

Her work has been featured as an Artist in Residence at Brooklyn Studios for Dance and The Neighborhood Project by 651Arts, BAX Space Grantee, Visiting Artist at Atlantic Center for the Arts, Ailey Citigroup Theater, Dixon Place, Actors Fund Theater, Florida A&M University and Museu de Arte in Bahia, Brazil.  www.thekendrajross.com

Our Advisors

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Marj Kleinman

Founder | Producer | Photographer

Kate Warrington

Marj is a visual storyteller and the creator of Stoop Storieslifelong Brooklynite, residing in her childhood brownstone, she has witnessed the gentrification of Boerum Hill. Marj has over 20 years of experience as a children’s content producer and photographer, creating award-winning, innovative, educational media for Scholastic, PBS KIDS, Sesame Workshop, and Noggin. She holds a Master’s in Educational Psychology from NYU and studied Performing Arts at Emerson College.

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Lara Weinberg

Co-Producer | Editorial Director

Lara Weinberg is a NYC-based writer and communications consultant. In May 2020, she was thrilled to join Marj as the co-producer of Stoop Stories, channeling her COVID blues into heartfelt storytelling. Lara studied literature at SUNY-Binghamton and went on to associate produce “The Writing Code,” a critically acclaimed, three-part PBS series on the origin, history, and art of writing. It was “written in the stars” that Lara would put pen to paper (and eventually fingers to keyboard). She was the Director of Sales and Business Development for a boutique technology company and even dabbled as a ghostwriter for an internationally published astrologer. One of her most rewarding positions was Managing director of Mission: Getting to Next (MGTN), a nonprofit leadership and career transition organization, where she helped women trust and articulate their inner voices and write their next chapters.

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Yona Dervishi

Yona was born in the Bronx and lived there for the first few years of her life before moving to Stamford, CT. She recently graduated from Emerson College with a BFA in Creative Writing and Philosophy, and is currently working as an editorial intern. As a first-generation American born to Albanian parents, she is passionate about storytelling & advocacy and is always striving to write and promote media spotlighting different cultures. When not volunteering with Stoop Stories, you'll find her brainstorming project ideas, catching up on new reading material, visiting NYC, or throwing a ball around with her Golden Retriever, Andi!

Our Volunteers

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Anneliese Adams

Anneliese recently moved to Brooklyn to attend university at the institute of pratt. As someone who lived in a small town in Connecticut Anneliese has fallen in love with the fast-paced world known as New York. Anneliese is a photographer who often focuses on the narrative of one's experience in the world. Their studies in photography have often allowed her to ask deep questions about one's life. Anneliese is an energetic young photographer who looks to the medium of photography to tell people's true stories. When they are not volunteering with Stoop Stories or running to class you can find them listening to music as they watch the trees change color.

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Danielle Reid

Danielle is a native Brooklynite with a BA in media studies / communications and a Minor in history.

 

Danielle has over 3 years of experience in the non-profit arts world; both behind and in front of the scenes. Danielle has experience and interest specifically in community outreach, production, events,bdevelopment/research, operations, and social media storytelling.

 

In her free time, Danielle loves making jewelry and whipping shea butter.

 
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Betsy Book

Betsy Book is a UX professional who’s been working in the internet industry since 1997. While growing up in various places like Japan, Guam, and Florida she always knew NYC would be home. After moving to the city in 1993 and spending a few decades as a New Yorker, she knows this will be home forever. Having lived in both stooped and stoop-less buildings over the years, Betsy is incredibly thankful for the brownstone stoop that was her only outdoor space during the early part of the pandemic. 

Betsy has a B.A. in Art History from the University of Alabama, an M.A. in Art History from CUNY, and an MBA from Baruch College. After many years at various small start-ups, she spent nearly 7 years at American Express and is now working as a Principal User Experience Researcher at LinkedIn.

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Joe Harrell

Joe Harrell is Executive Producer of ALL ARTS, a new multiplatform network at The WNET Group, where he oversees digital and creates new programming for the TV channel and streaming service. Prior to ALL ARTS, he served as Executive Producer of First Person and the Senior Director of Digital Strategy for The WNET Group. His work focused on audience development, revenue models, brand management, and program development on web, mobile, social media and digital video platforms.

Prior to WNET, Harrell was the Director of Marketing and Product Management at Alliance for the Arts, where he developed and launched NYC-ARTS, and oversaw all marketing and communications efforts.  Previously, as Director, Corporate Communications at Time Warner, Joe was responsible for Time Warner Corporate’s digital communications, including its corporate website, TimeWarner.com, and online employee communications.