October 22, 2019 News & Features » Cover Story


Rachel Pater, 36 

Founder and Executive Director of Richmond Story House

click to enlarge rachelpater2.jpg

Scott Elmquist

In another life, Rachel Pater could’ve been a journalist. She never leaves the house without her notebook, is perpetually fascinated by everyone and starts her writing workshops with the classic “tell me your story.”

But for now, she runs Richmond Story House, where the focus is on telling the stories of underserved communities through workshops. The domino effect that led Pater to Richmond began with the stories of LGBTQ kids experiencing homelessness in Denver for a master’s degree.

She’s since done a series of end-of-life storytelling with people in hospice and teaches weekly workshops at the Richmond City Justice Center and the Unit 13 Women’s Correctional Facility on Tuesday and Thursday nights.

Upcoming projects include hearing stories of people in public housing to highlight racial injustice in Richmond, venturing into elementary schools and establishing a program to train others how to ethically teach people who are incarcerated.

“I don’t position myself as a teacher with students because I just see myself facilitating and offering structure,” Pater says. “Different mediums which folks can tell their stories.”

There are also prompt-led workshops for writers of color and a monthly workshop that builds support and collaboration among Black women led by board member Kimberly Pleasants. Pater hopes people walk away from the story house knowing they’re writers because they have stories.

“I want other people to experience what it feels like to be able to hold up these little moments in your life and take ownership of that.”

Back to the 2019 Top 40 Under 40



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