"We dream in narrative, daydream in narrative, remember, anticipate, hope, despair, believe, doubt, plan, revise, criticize, construct, gossip, learn, hate and love by narrative. In order really to live, we make up stories about ourselves and others, about the personal as well as the social past and future." 

Barbara Hardy



The Narrative Initiative is a training and networking resource for leaders and organizations dedicated to building fairer, more inclusive societies.

Images, symbols and stories reflect deep narratives about the world around us and who we are. They inform our values and identities, and define whom we love, trust and fear. Narratives can lead a nation to war and keep communities in poverty, but they can also dismantle discrimination and energize movements for justice.

The Narrative Initiative develops the skills needed to align voices and strategies, shape media and public conversation, and broaden perspectives and possibilities.

We connect narrative experts, advocacy campaigns and social change leaders across the globe. We intervene at the intersection of social science and cognitive linguistics, civic and pop culture engagement, strategic communications, technology and art. We build the capacity to use culture, language and stories to shift policy and politics, and move hearts and minds.


Our Team



Jee Kim

Executive Director


For the past two decades, Jee has been a movement builder, resource mobilizer and dot connector for social change.

Before leading the Narrative Initiative, Jee was part of the Civic Engagement and Government team at the Ford Foundation, where his work focused on increasing the political participation of under-represented constituencies and mobilizing the grassroots base for social change. Prior to Ford, Jee launched, a national civic engagement project designed to build the political power of Asian Americans using social media and technology.

Previously, Jee served as a program director at the Surdna Foundation, where he managed grant-making portfolios in youth engagement, post-Katrina New Orleans, and nonprofit infrastructure over his eight-year tenure. He also worked in New York as a racial justice and immigrant rights organizer and as a journalist, editing the 9/11 anthology Another World Is Possible and The Future 500, an analysis of youth activism in the United States.

Jee received his Master's from Oxford University and his undergraduate degree from Columbia University.


Juhu Thukral

Program Director


Juhu Thukral is a leading advocate on the rights of women, girls, and LGBTQ people. She is also an expert and strategist on narrative, framing, and digital storytelling. Her work focuses on sexual health and rights, gender-based violence, and the intersections of economic opportunity, immigration, and criminal justice.

Juhu is a founder of numerous ventures supporting women and LGBTQ people, and has been recognized as one of 21 Leaders for the 21st Century by Women’s eNews, a Trailblazer by Re:Gender, and an Everyday Shero by NAPAWF. She was also selected to give the inaugural talk for the Anita Hill Lecture Series.

Before joining the Narrative Initiative, Juhu was the Director of Law and Advocacy at The Opportunity Agenda, and the Founder and Director of the Sex Workers Project at the Urban Justice Center. She is also a founding Steering Committee member of the NY Anti-Trafficking Network. In 2010, she co-founded the NYC Women’s Salon.

Juhu earned her J.D. from the University of San Francisco School of Law, where she was awarded the Elaine Osborne Jacobson Award for Women in Health Care Law, and her B.A. from Rice University.

Follow her @juhuthukral


Liz Hynes

Project Manager, Curriculum & Operations


Liz brings to the Narrative Initiative many years of experience in coalition building, policy advocacy and organizational change. An interdisciplinary systems thinker, she has spent over a decade in the public sector reflecting on how complex systems interact and inform each other.

Prior to joining the Narrative Initiative, Liz was a Program Associate at the California Community Foundation supporting civic engagement and immigrant integration efforts in Los Angeles. Before that she served as a legislative aide in the New York State Assembly, where she developed community coalitions and worked on affordable housing policy. In addition to her work in the public sector, Liz was the founder and co-host of the n+1 podcast, for which she regularly engaged writers, journalists and thinkers on the intersection of politics and culture.

Long committed to neighborhood organizing, Liz is currently active in the NYC participatory budgeting process and other community projects. In addition to her obsession with the virtues of civic life, Liz devotes her time to music, writing and reading. She holds a BA in urban studies and literature from The New School.








The Origin

The Narrative Initiative was established to equip leaders with the knowledge and skills necessary to harness the power of narrative for social change. A multiyear collaboration by the Atlantic Philanthropies and Ford Foundation, the project was sparked by the recognition that pervasive and systemic narratives define our personal and collective identities, inform our values, animate our popular culture and influence our politics.

Our initial charge is to develop deep narrative training for leaders and organizations committed to social change, and to connect, support and grow this emerging field.

The Report

In early February 2017, we set out on a listening tour of over 100 experts, innovators and visionaries from a range of disciplines and communities that intervene at the intersection (and sometimes at the edges) of social justice and narrative change.

We listened for commonly identified challenges, hard-earned lessons and pressing needs. We heard a recurring desire for sharper definitions of terms related to story and narrative. We heard audacious wishlists and inspiring best practices.

We hope you'll check out the report, written by Nima Shirazi, Jee Kim and Liz Hynes, and discover what we learned.


Conversations with over 100 social change and narrative experts formed the backbone of our report.



Program Advisory Committee


Victoria Collis-Buthelezi

South Africa Director, Atlantic Fellows for Racial Equity


Nick Couldry

Professor of Media, Communications and Social Theory, London School of Economics

Brett Davidson

Director, Media and Narratives, Open Society Public Health Program

Peter Koechley

Co-Founder and Curator-In-Chief, Upworthy


Alexis McGill Johnson

Executive Director, Perception Institute

Erin Potts

Founder, Jumpslide Strategies



Rashad Robinson

Executive Director, Color Of Change


Jess Search

Chief Executive, DOC SOCIETY


Advisory Board


Alfred Ironside

Vice President, Global Communications, Ford Foundation


Ben King

Chief Strategy Officer, The Atlantic Philanthropies

David Morse

Senior Visiting Fellow, Price Center for Social Innovation, University of Southern California


Hilary Pennington

Vice President, Education, Creativity, and Free Expression, Ford Foundation