Next up: Creator, Courtney McSwain


When it comes to artists and creatives we tend to think of the more tangible arts such as music, painting, dance... But few arts are as truly captivating as the art of storytelling, and when it comes to that art, few artists are as studied and innovative as Courtney McSwain.

Courtney M. McSwain is a writer and feature storytelling consultant. Driven by the belief that the best of us is possible, Courtney seeks to help artists and changemakers stay on the path of their creative calling so that their best can positively impact the world. As a consultant, she helps nonprofits, social-impact businesses, creative entrepreneurs and independent artists incorporate feature storytelling into their work in order to engage audiences, build community and inspire action.

Courtney has crafted this journey of storytelling into an experience called "Courtney's Idea Factory". This workshop session takes participants (usually social impact organizations & startups) through a unique ideation process that not only helps them craft a story, but also other important brand building pieces important for non-profits and for-profit companies alike. Key questions she walks participants through such as "Who is your customer..? Who are your stakeholders..? What do you want them to know..? Who is the 'hero' in your story..? What is the world you are striving to create..?" are all questions more at home in a startup incubator more so than in a creative writing workshop; And this is the brilliance of the session.

Speaking on what drives her, Courtney says "I have this weird love of brainstorming--I just think it's fun! 'Courtney's Idea Factory' is a way for me to brainstorm with people and help them hone in on their story so they can communicate the impact of their work. It's fun for me, and hopefully people walk away with a helpful storytelling road map for their organization or enterprise."

Courtney's independent writing career builds upon a decade of work in the nonprofit sector, where she has used the written word to tell the story of social change for public policy, philanthropic and general audiences. Courtney has honed her nonprofit writing skills as a grant writer, research analyst and consultant, having crafted six-figure grant proposals, nationally disseminated policy reports and public relations materials that garnered local and national media coverage. Her passion for writing extends to her volunteer efforts, and she is an active reading and writing tutor with the Wright to Read program in Alexandria, Va. Courtney received her bachelor’s degree in sociology from North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University in Greensboro, N.C., and her master’s degree in public policy from American University in Washington, D.C.

For more on her work motivating and encouraging artists and changemakers, visit her blog on