The Story Behind the Stories

The Moth's mission is to promote the art and craft of storytelling and to honor and celebrate the diversity and commonality of human experience.

Since its launch in 1997, The Moth has presented thousands of stories told live and without notes.

Moth shows are renowned for the great range of human experience they showcase. Each show starts with a theme, and the storytellers explore it, often in unexpected ways. Since each story is true and every voice authentic, the shows dance between documentary and theater, creating a unique, intimate, and often enlightening experience for the audience.

The Moth was founded by the novelist George Dawes Green, who wanted to recreate in New York the feeling of sultry summer evenings in his native Georgia, when moths were attracted to the light on the porch where he and his friends would gather to spin spellbinding tales. The first New York Moth event was held in George’s living room and the story events quickly spread to larger venues throughout the city.

Led by longtime Artistic Director, Catherine Burns and Executive Director, Sarah Haberman, The Moth conducts eight ongoing programs: The Moth Mainstage, which tours internationally, has featured stories by Elizabeth Gilbert, Hasan Minhaj, Kathleen Turner, Malcolm Gladwell, Darryl “DMC” McDaniels, John Turturro, Molly Ringwald, Boots Riley, Krista Tippett, Damon Young, Mike Birbiglia, Rosanne Cash, Danyel Smith and Tig Notaro, as well as an astronaut, a pickpocket, a hot­dog eating champion and hundreds more; The Moth StorySLAM program, which conducts open-mic storytelling competitions in 28 cities: 26 in the US plus Melbourne, AU and London, UK; The Moth Community Program, which offers storytelling workshops and performance opportunities to adults who are too often overlooked by the mainstream media; The Moth Education Program, which brings the thrill of personal storytelling to high schools and colleges in New York, and educators around the world; The Moth Global Community Program, which develops and elevates true, personal stories from extraordinary individuals in the global south; The Moth Podcast—the 2020 Webby People’s Voice Award Winner for Best Podcast Series—which is downloaded more than 100 million times a year; MothWorks, which uses the essential elements of Moth storytelling at work and other unexpected places; and the Peabody Award-winning The Moth Radio Hour which, produced by Jay Allison at Atlantic Public Media and presented by PRX, The Public Radio Exchange, airs weekly on over 575 public radio stations nationwide. 

To date, The Moth has published four critically acclaimed books —the international bestseller The Moth: 50 True Stories (2013), All These Wonders: True Stories about Facing the Unknown (2017) and The New York Times Best Sellers, Occasional Magic: True Stories About Defying the Impossible (2019) and How to Tell a Story: The Essential Guide to Memorable Storytelling from The Moth (Crown Archetype, April 2022). On September 6, 2022 The Moth released its first card deck, A Game of Storytelling (Clarkson-Potter).

The Moth Code of Ethics and Conduct

Past Board Presidents and Chairs,
and Executive, Artistic and Creative Directors

Kathleen Kerr, Executive Director (1996)

Judy Stone, Board President (1996 - 2001)

Joey Xanders, Artistic and Executive Director (1997 - 2001)

George Dawes Green, Board Chair (2001 - 2003)

Lea Thau, Executive and Artistic Director (2001 - 2003) Executive and Creative Director (2003 - 2010)

Alexander Roy, Board Chair (2003 - 2005)

Anne Maffei, Board Chair (2005 - 2013)

Joan Firestone, Executive Director (2010 - 2012)

Deborah Dugan, Board Co-Chair (2013 - 2019)

About the Moth


The engine and heart of The Moth

Board & Committees

The Moth's beloved steering wheel


Ways to get involved