Mission & Values

Story Starters uses children’s literature to give  families the tools and support to talk about race and racism and to engage in family-centered social justice conversations.


We will:

Be intentional

We will talk regularly and openly about race and racism with our children and with each other.

Be resilient

We will focus on the process, not perfection; Mistakes will not stop us from engaging.

Be active

We will show up, speak up, and continue learning; We know this work has no finish line.


Ellie Axe, MBA, Story Starters Director

Ellie joined Story Starters as a co-director in the summer of 2018 and became Director in March 2020. She has over 15 years of experience building system-wide change through organizing in faith-based and secular institutions. After a number of years as an organizer, Ellie became intrigued with how organizational behavior and operations are drivers for success in social change institutions.  This led her to pursue an MBA at the Simmons School of Management.  Most recently Ellie was the Director of Operations at JOIN for Justice where she guided the strategic planning process, supporting the organization to pursue its commitment to diversity equity and inclusion.  She also managed staff and programs throughout the organization. Ellie lives in Newton, MA, with her husband and their two daughters. 

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Advisory Council

Our advisory council is a group of committed volunteers with expertise in education, management, and DEI (diversity equity inclusion) work in both public and private sectors. Using their professional and life experience, the Advisory Council helps steward our organization forward. 

Joslyne Decker, MSW, Story Starters Founder

Joslyne began developing Story Starters in the spring of 2017 as an expansion of Building Diverse Bookshelves, a project she started at her daughter's school. In designing that program she was inspired to bring her vision for diverse books to a broader audience in Massachusetts. In March 2020, Joslyne transitioned from her role as Story Starters Co-Director to Board Member. Joslyne is a SEED trained facilitator and is on the DEI Task Force for USA Climbing. Joslyne lives in Olney, MD. 

Cynthia Greene, MBA, MA

Ms. Greene is passionate about helping organizations grow and thrive.  She has done this in various sectors and capacities, including growing existing operations at the social investment fund Root Capital and launching a new channel of business at Electric Insurance.  While the majority of her career has been spent in the for-profit sector, most of her time now is spent helping non-profits with strategic and growth questions.  She sits on Advisory Committees at Cradles to Crayons and Tulaa, a Kenyan company using a mobile platform to help farmers.  Equipped with experience in international banking and management consulting, she likes working with organizations that can fundamentally change our communities.

Bridget Terry Long, Ph.D.

Dr. Long is the Dean of Harvard Graduate School of Education, and the Saris Professor of Education and Economics.  Dr. Long is an economist who specializes in the study of education, in particular the transition from high school to higher education and beyond. Her work focuses on college student access and choice and the factors that influence students' postsecondary and labor market outcomes. She has served as an advisor to many organizations, including the College Board, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, American Council on Education, Massachusetts Board of Higher Education, and the I Have a Dream Foundation.

Jacquelyn P. Neel, MEd, MPA

Ms. Neel is the former Deputy Director for the City of Cambridge, Department of

Human Service Programs. Among many other accomplishments, Ms. Neel oversaw the DHSP’s Inclusion Initiative and developed policies on bullying. Currently Ms. Neel mentors young adults from Newton South High School who are the first in their families to attend college. She is also the producer of numerous productions of Eve Enslers’ Monologues aimed at bringing an end to violence against women and girls. In addition to being a member advisory for Hilary Marcus Consulting and a board member of the Anne E, Borghasani Foundation and New Beginnings Reentry Services, Inc., Ms. Neel serves as a Co-Chair of the Social Action Committee at First Church in Belmont.

Pratima Patil, A.M., Ed.M

Ms. Patil is a doctoral student in Applied Human Development at School of Education at Boston University. Her research interests involve early adversity and children’s cognitive and socioemotional development, and the resulting impact on learning and academic outcomes. In particular, much of her research has focused on children raised in contexts of global adversity. Prior to her current program, Ms. Patil worked in the field of public health, focusing on local and global health disparities. Ms. Patil has an Ed.M in International Education Policy and an A.M. in Social Science.

Jackie Robinson, MS

Mr. Robinson is currently a clinical programmer at INC Research.  He also serves on the Board of Trustees at Belmont Day School where he additionally volunteers as the Co-Chair of Braiding Different Strands, the parent diversity group at BDS. Over the years, Mr. Robinson has also worked as the financial aid associate director at Wheaton College and Harvard Divinity School and served on the Diversity Committee at MIT.

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