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Marlena had a thriving private practice as a massage therapist and nutritional counselor when she and inspirational humorist David Roche married in 1996. Connected to the world of personal storytelling through David, Marlena jumped right in. Although shy by nature, she discovered a natural gift for speaking and storytelling. And it wasn’t long before she was performing as a founding member of the Circle of Women storytelling group.

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Marlena began to tell the inspiring story about how she met David, who is facially disfigured, and moved beyond her first negative reaction. The response was so positive that she and David co-created Love at Second Sight – a program for middle and high school students. With simple honesty and warm humor, they confront head-on the issues of appearance and acceptability – concerns that deeply affect young people. Their presentation has won spontaneous standing ovations from middle and junior high school students, their teachers and parents across the United States and Canada. 

Watch a video clip of Love at Second Sight>

Every summer, Marlena and David offer a weeklong storytelling class at the Naramata Centre of the United Church of Canada in the lovely Okanagan area of British Columbia.

Now Marlena also works with David to present keynote speeches and storytelling workshops across the U.S. and Canada.

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Love at Second Sight resonates with everyone – kids and adults alike. With humor and sensitivity, David and Marlena show us all how to live our lives dealing with those things that make us each feel different or ‘less than.’ I wish I could mandate this performance for everyone. It is that inspiring and important.
LISA PAVLOVSKY, Director, Beyond Borders Diversity Program

As Marlena tells her own stories, she models an animated style that is captivating and entertaining – rich with detail and powerful metaphors.  She presents her lived experience with passion and joy, inviting the listeners to enter into universal experiences. She is kind and affirming and has a lovely way of encouraging each person in the group to open up and tell his or her own story. In this way, she honours and gives voice to the stories within each of us.
BETH BALSHAW, Workshop Participant

Marlena is herself a Master Storyteller. What makes working with her so empowering, is that she has the ability to share her passion through effective teaching methods that inspire and educate novice storytellers. Marlena will meet you at whatever point you are at in discovering your voice through storytelling, and then take you one step further.
MONIQUE NELSON, Workshop Participant

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We’ve had dozens of speakers here over the years, but none have sparked such overwhelmingly powerful responses from our students as did David and Marlena. Their message is joyous and uplifting - and our kids (and faculty) loved them.
BLAIR FISHER, Dean of Students
    The Walker Middle School, Marietta, GA











David and Marlena brought sunshine to an institution of darkness. My life and the lives of my students have forever been touched.



    SHERIDAN L. GOLD, Teacher
    Juvenile Hall, Marin County, CA