I was raised in Marion, Indiana by two educators; my dad a basketball coach and eventually our high school principal, and my mom a social worker turned social studies teacher. My parents’ love of travel and wilderness have made an enduring impact on me as a teacher, activist, and writer.
After graduating from Lawrence Central HS, I went to IU, where I acted in every stage production and majored in just about everything. After trying as an actor for a minute, I decided to join the Peace Corps and live among the Wolof and Mandinka peoples of Senegal. From there I made my way to the University of Chicago Divinity School, where I studied religions and briefly considered the Unitarian ministry. The Field Museum and the Seattle Art Museum (while I got my MFA at U of Washington) were the next part of my journey.
In 2006 I published The After Death Room, a work of journalism and spiritual exploration centered around the AIDS epidemic. During the process of the book I was also lucky to work with photographer Tuong Nguyen, with whom I presented at the International AIDS Conference in Toronto in that same year. The After Death Room would go on to win a LAMBDA Award in 2007.
For my creative work and reporting, I have received fellowships at MacDowell, Yaddo, Blue Mountain Center, and Ragdale. I teach creative nonfiction, journalism, and literature at Columbia College (Chicago) and Northwestern University, where I am also is a lecturer in the MFA program in Creative Writing. I offer guidance in the practices of Hatha yoga and meditation. My next book, The Road Is Made By Walking, is in the editing stages and is to be expected sometime between now and 2018. (I hope!)