Blog → March 9, 2023

Stories are Changemakers: An Instagram Live with Sarah Kippen Wood


Sarah Kippen Wood, Former Executive Director of Their Story is Our Story (TSOS), shares how stories connect and lead to change in an interview with Darien Laird, our Director of External Media. Sarah gives us an inside look at how TSOS functions and shares how telling her story helped her fight a stage four cancer diagnosis. Watch the story.


How have you seen stories make an impact on your community and then have you had any personal experiences with stories, maybe with you or your family?


TSOS taught me a lot about how to share my own story. I had to step away from my work with TSOS when I was diagnosed with stage four cancer…I had to find someone willing to give their liver to me, which meant I had to quickly become a teller of my own story… It was pretty uncomfortable at times. I never really wanted to be a cancer poster child, and I especially didn’t want to exploit my kids in the process. But I had to share my story to get attention on the issue in order to find a good match.

What began as me reluctantly sharing my personal story for primarily selfish motives, hopingnto find my own donor match, wound up having a bigger impact on my community. What I didn’t realize, was that sharing my story inspired someone else to take action in their own life.

Now, their story is linked to my story. This linking of stories is what TSOS is all about.


You were sharing stories during your chemotherapy treatments… Is there any particular story that really impacted you?


Noor’s story impacted, has impacted, and continues to impact my life. And where do I go from here? I can turn to my neighborhood with a newcomer family and welcome them in ways that they need to be welcomed. Because I heard Noor’s story and because it increased my understanding and empathy. And because when I welcome someone else, maybe instead of welcoming them with these twinges of pride or unknowingly patronizing condescension, I can see in someone else’s face myself. And I think that that is the way we can welcome people in a way that helps them feel like they truly belong somewhere, helps us all feel like we belong to the same community.

Other Posts

My First Asylum Case: An Attorney's Perspective on Asylum in the United States

I took my first asylum case in 2016, when our national dialog on immigration took a decidedly negative turn. As a corporate attorney, I had no experience in immigration law, but my license allowed me to represent individuals fleeing severe persecution and I signed with a local non-profit to offer my help. My first asylum client was a young mother and her two small daughters. I could see myself in Saba.

April 14, 2024

Their Story is Our Story Applauds the Signing of Virginia House Bill 995 and Continues Efforts to Open Doors for Foreign-trained Medical Professionals in Other States

Their Story is Our Story (TSOS), a non-profit organization that collects and shares the experiences of refugees to deepen understanding and influence action, applauds the signing of Virginia House Bill 995 into law by Governor Glenn Youngkin, after its unanimous passage through the Virginia House of Delegates and Senate. It will create a pathway for foreign-trained doctors who have immigrated to the state, including those whose careers were interrupted by forcible displacement, to fill workforce gaps in medically underserved communities.

April 11, 2024

Idaho One Refugee Conference

Last fall I was able to attend the 1Refugee Conference in Idaho. The event was well organized and everyone who approached our table was interested in what we did and wanted to know how to get involved. There were at least 100 students majoring in a variety of things who attended the event and we had 20 students give us their contact information. Most were interested in our internship programs.

March 15, 2024
Add Impact to Your Inbox
Sign up for our emails to get inspiring stories and updates delivered straight to you.
© 2024 Their Story is Our Story Privacy Policy
Their Story is Our Story is a 501(c)3 Non-Profit Organization under the United States Internal Revenue Code. All donations are tax-deductible. Our tax identification number is 812983626.