Elena Botkin-Levy

GEMS Oral Histories & Audio Storytelling
Phone: 341-226-6859
I way prefer asking you questions then talking about myself. But I do know that sharing stories and experiences can be a powerful exchange. I've been a listener all my life. 25 years ago, I started using radio as a tool to listen, hosting a radio show on my local community station. I learned that holding space, asking questions and documenting is powerful. Remembering where we come from can offer a path forward and give deeper meaning to our lives. Leveraging and amplifying stories outside of dominant narratives can be tools for change-making. I am drawn to storytelling and oral histories because they are an opportunity to map our own narratives and at the intersection of history, journalism and community building.Gems is an ode to my family (the JEMS) who nurture me with deep love and who tell fabulous stories.I live with my wife in California (the best person I know) who is a constant inspiration and support.


My background is in oral history collection, audio storytelling, youth media education and journalism. I founded GEMS Oral Histories & Audio Storytelling to support individuals and communities with documenting and preserving the stories that matter (gemsoralhistories.com). Most recently, I released Mapping Queer Oakland, an oral history project highlighting 10 LGBTQ+ individuals over the age of 60 in Oakland. With funding from the City of Oakland, I spent months interviewing and producing an interactive website (eastbaylgbtqstories.com/mapping). As the lead teaching artist with Chapter 510, I facilitated the production of a cultural documentation project of the historic landmark, Swan's Market, that resulted in an audio walking tour and podcast. Additionally, I bring a strong background in program management with institutions like Women's Audio Mission, YR Media (formerly Youth Radio), outLoud Radio, and ZUMIX Radio. In these roles I have led outreach activities, coordinated large projects and managed teams.


interviewing, recording, documenting, oral history, DIY oral histories, audio storytelling, journalism, field recording, education, project management, editing


Regions Available for Work

Other Regions: Bay Area|| CaliforniaVirtuallyNew York and New England occasionally

Purpose of Contact

  • I am available to answer questions, or provide mentorship to other oral historians
  • I am available for hire - as an oral historian, consultant, presenter, educator, or related services
  • I am available to collaborate - on research, community projects, artistic endeavors, or other joint undertakings with peers
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