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2012 National Conference Breakout Sessions Chairs and Presenters
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Conference Session Chairs and Presenters
Thursday, August 9

Investing in Quality Session Chair:
Investing in Quality: Collaborating  with Artists and Educators to Advance Quality Theater Teaching and Learning, Dallas Theater Center

Bio: Rachel Hull is the Director of Education and Community Enrichment at Dallas Theater Center. Her responsibilities include the oversight and management of all education and community programs, including Project Discovery, teacher professional development workshops, SummerStage, the Shannon and Ted Skokos Learning Lab, and audience enrichment and humanities initiatives such as Stay Late and the Community Collaboration Initiative. Rachel received her MA in Educational Theater from NYU, BA in Theater from University of Texas at Austin.  She is committed to furthering the field as an active participant in Big Thought's Quality Arts Review Panel, a member of the Booker T. Washington Performing and Visual Arts High School Advisory Board and a member of the American Alliance for Theater and Education. Rachel previously served as the Project Discovery Manager at DTC, facilitating outreach programs for at risk high school populations in North Texas. Rachel is now in her 8th season at DTC.

Session Presenters:

Jennifer Bransom, Big Thought Inc.

Bio: Jennifer Bransom is the Director Program Accountability at Big Thought, in Dallas, Texas, a position she has held since 2001. In this role, she has overseen major research and evaluation projects and forged partnerships locally and nationally to develop educational resources for practitioners. She has co-authored several publications with Dr. Dennie Palmer Wolf about the power of community members to evaluate and improve standards of quality based on commonly valued outcomes: More Than Measuring (Big Thought), "We Are Each Other's Business": The Place of Partnership in Smart Education Systems (chapter in City Schools, Harvard Press), and 360 Degrees of Literacy (Harvard Family Research Project).


Jeanne M. Hopson, La Crosse Family Playhouse and School

Bio: of Theatre For Young People; on staff of Semi-pro Charlie's Showplace dinner theatre in DM,IA; Served as Artistic/Administrative Director for Children's Theatre of Western Springs and The Drama Workshop of DM,IA.; Founded and served as Art./Adm.Dir. Of the La Crosse Family Playhse. And School 10 years. Recognized by AATE as "The Most Outstanding New Children's Theatre in US and Canada" for "˜97/'98 season. Founded (through Alliance for the Mentally Ill) an improvisation theatre troup in DM,IA., to teach community the stigmas of mental illness.

Session Presenters:

Peter Loffredo, ACES-ECA

Bio: (ECA), a part-time magnet arts high school in New Haven, Connecticut. He is the advisor for Ever Chasing Alchemy, a traveling Improv troupe and he teaches classes in Scene Study and Theatre for Social Change. Founder and Artistic Director of Connecticut Heritage Productions, a company focused on developing new works about Connecticut and the Artistic Director of The Free at Last Players, a stigma-buster troupe whose mission is to raise awareness about the myths and stigma of mental illness. 

Xan Stuart Johnson, University of Utah; Utah State University

Bio: Xan S. Johnson has received the Distinguished Alumni Award from the University of Wisconsin- Whitewater where he received his B.A. degree. Received an M.A. in Directing from the University of Nebraska and a Ph.D. in Child Drama from Northwestern University. Dr. Johnson, since 1991, has served as Founder/Artistic Director during summers for the Zona Gale Youth Theatre in Portage, Wisconsin. Xan served as the Utah Theatre Consultant for the Utah State Office of Education over the last 15 years where one of many challenges was writing the current K-12 mandated Core Curriculum in Theatre. Founded internationally recognized youth theatre program in the U of Utah in 1983; a program invited to showcase across the USA, London, Moscow and most recently at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, August 2011.

Charla Cochran, CDF's StageDoor Youth Theatre

Bio: Charla Cochran received her B.F.A. in Theatre Education with a minor in Child Drama from the University of Utah where she was mentored by Dr. Xan S. Johnson. Charla has taught acting, improvisation, creative drama and social-issue-focused theatre workshops at theatre schools throughout the country. She has 20 years of experience teaching and directing young people and has directed many plays and musicals in Birmingham, AL, her current home. She is founder and director of CDF's StageDoor Youth Theatre Company, which mounts productions of socially relevant plays for young performers and offers year-round educational programs for youth ages 6 and up. Charla has taught as an adjunct professor at Birmingham-Southern College for 4 years and continues to act locally in theatre and film.

Robyn Flatt, Dallas Children's Theater

Bio: Robyn Flatt co-founded Dallas Children's Theatre (DCT) in 1984 with start-up funds of $500. Under her artistic leadership, the theater's creative and operational stature has grown over the past 27 years to reflect its current annual budget of more than $3 million. She holds an MA Degree from Baylor University. Her directing credits include every major title in the youth theater canon as well as acclaimed world premiere productions commissioned by DCT. She is a recipient of The 500, Inc.'s prestigious Ken Bryant Visionary Award. Ms. Flatt is an inductee into the College of Fellows of American Theatre and holds the honorary designation of American Theatre Fellow for Life.

Looking for Lilith Session Chair:
Jennifer Thalman Kepler, Looking for Lilith Theatre Company

Bio: Jennifer, Looking for Lilith's Community Outreach Director, directs LFL's Choices: An interactive Play on Cyberbullying & Suicide.  She holds an MA in Educational Theatre from New York University. Specializing in creating original plays with young people and integrating drama into curriculum, Jennifer has worked as a teaching artist with Dreamyard Drama Project (NYC), City Lights Youth Theatre (NYC),  The Leadership Program (NYC), Community Works (NYC), Young Playwrights Theatre (Washington D.C.) , Interact Story Theatre (Washington D.C,) and Looking for Lilith Theatre Company (KY & Guatemala).   Jennifer also performs, directs and devises original plays for Looking for Lilith's main stage productions.

Session Presenters:

Shannon Woolley Allison, Looking for Lilith Theatre Company

Bio: Shannon Woolley Allison, Looking for Lilith's Artistic Director, earned a BFA from SMU in acting and an MA in Educational Theatre from New York University. She has performed at the Provincetown Playhouse, with Bridgework Theatre, and Horsechart Theatre Company. Shannon is part of the original cast of "Choices: An Interactive play on Cyberbullying and Suicide". She is a proud member of Alternate ROOTs. A teaching artist with the KY Arts Council's Artist Directory, Shannon has also led workshops for The Leadership Program (NYC) The Excel Program (VT), StageOne Children's Theatre (KY) and Looking for Lilith Theatre Company (KY & Guatemala).
Kathi E.B. Ellis, Looking for Lilith Theatre Company

Bio: Kathi is a teaching artist with the KY Arts Council's Artist Directory and VSA Arts Kentucky's Artist Roster. She recently worked with students at an all-girl high school to create an original piece about women's issues, "Patterns We Create", with the award-winning Bloom Theatre Project. A professional director, she is a member of the Lincoln Center Theater's Directors' Lab and an associate member of the Stage Directors and Choreographers Society. Her work has been recognized with nominations for the South Florida Theatre Carbonell Award. Much of her directing work is focused on women's issues, African-American issues, and new play development. 

Bringing Stories to Life Session Chair:
Rachel Bernstein, Children's Theatre Company

Bio: Rachel Austin Bernstein is an actor and teaching artist in the Twin Cities. A graduate of Macalester College, Rachel has worked with the Guthrie Theater, Penumbra Theatre Company, SteppingStone Theatre for Youth, and Stages Theatre Company. She currently serves as the Early Bridges Manager for the Neighborhood Bridges program at the Children's Theatre Company.

Session Presenters:

Tessa Flynn, Children's Theatre Company

Bio: Tessa has served for the past four years as the Community Engagement Manager at the Children's Theatre Company (CTC) in Minneapolis, MN and as teaching artist for CTC's Neighborhood Bridges critical literacy program. She has taught arts literacy residencies throughout the Minneapolis/St Paul area, and performs locally with Frank Theatre. She studied Theatre Arts at Augsburg College.

A Necessary Revolution Session Chair:
Sara M. Simons, New York University

Bio: Sara M. Simons is a PhD candidate in Educational Theatre at New York University and earned her MA in Theatre Education from Emerson College.  She is a licensed K-12 theatre teacher and is working on her dissertation, which focuses on using process drama to explore race and privilege with preservice teachers.  Her previous research has explored the intersections of sex education and theatre. 

Reveal, Revise, Repeat Session Chair:
Wilhelmine Hartong, Artful Learning Communties


Theater Educator and Staff Developer

Mina Hartong has over twenty years of experience in Theater Education in a variety of settings including community centers, after school programs, public and private schools, developing nations, and international schools. After completing her Masters in Arts Education at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, Mina served as Education Director for Making Books Sing Inc., writing and publishing study guides for 25 schools and overseeing thirty teaching artists. Her most recent work includes creating and developing a school wide Theater Program for PS 295, JHS 231 and the East West School in Flushing, Queens. Her programs have been recognized as model sites for inter-visitations and as examples of high quality arts education. Mina also works with the Office of Arts and Special Projects as a Blueprint Facilitator, Course Instructor, and a Program Manager for the Shubert Theater Teaching Fellows Program. She is currently working as a coach for Artful Learning Communities, a grant in collaboration with the Central Arts Office, Arts Connection and the US DOE, focusing on developing formative assessment tools for the arts. She serves as an Adjunct Professor at City College, Brooklyn College, and New York University.  

Applying Vygotsky's Theory Session Chair:
Margaret Branscombe, University of South Florida

Bio: I have a Master of Arts in Drama in Education from the University of Central England and I am currently a doctoral student in the Literacy Studies program of the Childhood Education Department at the University of South Florida. My teaching experience of 20 years has been with PreK through 8th grade students. My teaching style is process drama oriented so that students are provided with maximum opportunities to devise their own work and I use process drama as a means of teaching a range of curriculum subjects. My current research focus is on issues of inclusion in the classroom within the context of process drama. 

STEM Session Chair:
Carolyn Chryst, SUNY-Oneonta

Bio: Carolyn Chryst is an Assistant Professor in Teacher Education for SUNY-Oneonta in upstate NY. She has an eclectic career path--Actress, Zoo Curator, Story Teller, Exhibit Designer, and College Educator.  Performance has been central to each of her careers. She has co-authored several performance pieces, as well as children's plays.  Each semester she conducts workshops for education majors that support and build the learner's curiosity and innate love of learning through performance.   She can be contacted at

Applied Theatre Techniques SwapSession Chair:
Cheryl L. Kaplan Zachariah, San Jacinto College/Freelance Theatre Artist

Bio: Cheryl L. Kaplan Zachariah is a freelance Writer, Director, Dramaturg, Actor, and Theatre Arts Integration Specialist.  She is adjunct faculty at San Jacinto College and the former Director of Theater Outreach and Education at University of Texas Medical Branch where she wrote, directed and produced applied theatre plays and educational modules in the medical humanities.  Professionally she works with a variety of professional theatres and community based organizations.  She received the EPA Clean Air Excellence Award and the AATE Linn Wright Special Recognition Award.  She has a B.A. from Indiana University and an M.F.A. in Directing from University of Iowa.

Session Presenters:

Sally Bailey, Kansas State University

Bio: Sally Bailey, MFA, MSW, RDT/BCT is professor of theatre and director of the drama therapy program at Kansas State University in the Theatre Department. Her latest book Barrier-Free Theatre was the recipient of the 2011 AATE Distinguished Book Award. She has worked as a drama therapist with people with disabilities, recovering substance abusers, and older adults.

Emily Freeman, The University of Texas at Austin

Bio: Emily Freeman is a second year MFA candidate in the Drama and Theatre for Youth and Communities program at The University of Texas at Austin. Emily graduated from Northwestern University in Evanston, IL with a BA in Theatre and Sociology, and has worked in Chicago, IL, London, UK, Washington, D.C., Sarasota, FL, Orlando, FL and most recently Austin, TX as a director, applied theatre artist, and teaching artist. She's applied drama and theatre as a tool for social change in retirement communities and nursing homes, schools, juvenile detention centers, and with young people who have autism, cerebral palsy, and down syndrome.

Bethany Lynn Corey, The University of Texas at Austin

Bio: Bethany Lynn Corey is a second year MFA candidate at the University of Texas at Austin where much of her current research surrounds Theatre for the Very Young. Bethany spends much of her time creating Theatre for the Very Young and teaching classroom residencies and professional development workshops for the Drama for Schools program. She has worked nationally and internationally as an actress, director and teaching artist. A longtime member of AATE she is a co-chair for the International Network.

Frances L. McGarry, First Online With Fran/ Free-lance arts activist/consultant

Bio: Frances McGarry, Ph.D. has been teaching theater for more than thirty years.  The Young Playwrights Festival in New York City became the subject of her doctoral dissertation in the Program of Educational Theater at New York University. She has presented Young Playwrights Inc.'s Write A Play! Curriculum at local, regional, and national conferences.  Her new website First Online With Fran  at offers discussions on how practitioners are utilizing the arts to make our world a richer, deeper better place to live. 

Advice from Nancy Swortzell Session Chair:
Katherine Krzys, Arizona State University

Bio: Katherine Krzys, archivist, has been curator of Arizona State University's Child Drama Collection, the largest repository in the world documenting the international history of theatre for youth back to the 16th century, since 1985. She has also written extensively with two book chapters and numerous articles. She was hired as the first employee of AATE in 1990 and has served on it's Board on and off since 1988. Krzys is committed to the development of new plays and frequently directs staged readings. She is a recipient of the AATE Alliance Award and the Lin Wright Special Recognition Award.

Session Presenters:

Nan Smithner, New York University

Bio: Nan Smithner is an Assistant Professor in the Program in Educational Theatre at New York University. She received her PhD from this program in 2002 and was hired immediately as a full time faculty member. She was Nancy Swortzell's TA for her Directing class, helped with choreography for some of her shows, was her production assistant for big shows in the Loewe Theatre, and was her GA on the NYU Greenwich Summer Study Abroad Program. She currently supervises the NYU undergraduate Educational Theatre Program.
Molly Gittelman Kurtz, Arizona State University

Bio: Molly Gittelman Kurtz received her MFA in Theatre for Youth from Arizona State University in 2008. Her research assistantship in her first year of graduate school was in the Child Drama Collection. Since 2009, Molly has been working part time processing the Lowell and Nancy Swortzell Theatre Arts Collection in the Child Drama Collection. She also free-lances as an actress, director, teaching artist and teacher educator for companies, such as Childsplay in Tempe, AZ and Stageworks in Mesa, AZ. She is the former Chair of the AATE New Guard Network. 

This is REAL Education Session Chair:
Laura A. McCammon, University of Arizona

Bio: Laura A. McCammon is Professor and co-ordinator of the Teacher Certification Program at the University of Arizona. 

Physical Theatre Through the Lens of Human Rights Session Chair:
Lindsay Krumbein, Oakland Tech, Gritty City Rep

Bio: I have been teaching high school English and Drama for 10 years, am the Education Director for SF Playhouse, and am in the process of opening my own non-profit youth theatre company, Gritty City Rep. 

Texting the Sun Session Chair:
Marcella Crowson, Oregon Children's Theatre

Bio: Marcella Crowson is the Artistic Director of the Educational Theatre Program at Oregon Children's Theatre.  The Educational Theatre Program is the product of six years (and counting) of collaboration with Kaiser Permanente Northwest.  Marcella is a producer, director, and designer. 

Hey, Kids, Let's Put on a Show Session Chair:
Adam Crescenzi, Public School 3 John Melser Charrette School, 490 Hudson Street, Manhattan, New York 10014 and Flushing Council on Culture and the Arts, 137-35 Northern Blvd, Flushing, New York 11354

Bio: Adam Crescenzi has been a teaching artist in New York City for the past seven years. He is an Artist-in-Residence at Public School 3, where he works in numerous elementary classrooms, notably teaching theatre arts skills to 2nd and 3rd graders, as well as writing and directing original children's theatre productions.  Past shows at PS 3 have included The Tortoise Strikes Back, It's All Greek to Me!, and A Midnight Summer's Dream… (sort of), each written with writing partner Brendan Boland.  Adam has a MA in Educational Theatre in Communities from New York University and a BA in Drama from Vassar College.

Session Presenters:

Brendan Boland,

Bio: BRENDAN BOLAND holds a BFA in Acting from Emerson College as well as an MA in Educational Theatre from New York University. As a teaching artist, Brendan works with the Epic Theater Ensemble and the Urban Arts Partnership.  During his time in Ireland, he studied community playmaking with the Upstate Theatre Company and assistant directed for the Gaiety School of Acting in Dublin.  In 2010, he performed in a Shakespearean adaptation of Top Gun at the Philadelphia Fringe Festival and was recently cast as Jaques in an outdoor theatre production of As You Like It.

Katie Kaufmann, Public School 3 John Melser Charrette

Bio: KATIE KAUFMAN graduated from Pace University with a BFA in Acting.  During a semester abroad in Toronto, she worked with Theatresports and Second City Improv. She has performed in such plays as Lost in Yonkers (Bella), Romeo and Juliet (the Nurse), and Danny and the Deep Blue Sea (Roberta).  She currently holds tenure at Public School 3 - John Melser Charrette School in Manhattan's West Village, where she teaches 2nd-3rd graders. 

The Blue Violets Project Session Chair:
Catherine Mounger, Northwestern, Purple Crayon Players

Bio: A native of Jackson, Mississippi, Catherine is a creative writing and performance studies major at Northwestern University.  This spring, she directed The Blue Violets Project, a project to devise a play about confidence and community with middle school and college women.  In 2011, she served as an intern at the AATE conference and performed in From Here to There, a slam poetry show devised for The Regina Taylor Project: The State(s) of America.  She serves as the business director of Spectrum Theatre Company that produces politically and socially conscious theatre for Northwestern and the greater Chicago area. 

Publishing in the 21st Century Session Chair:
D.W. Gregory, Playwright

Bio: D.W. Gregory began her work in youth theatre at Imagination Stage, where she wrote and premiered five plays for the theatre's Speak Out on Stage project. A resident playwright with New Jersey Rep, she is best known for RADIUM GIRLS, a popular title with high schools across the county.  Other plays include THE GOOD DAUGHTER, which received a Pulitzer nomination in 2003, and MOLUMBY'S MILLION, nominated for the Barrymore Award for Outstanding New Play by the Philadelphia Theatre Alliance.  Her work is available from and Dramatic Publishing as well as her website,

Session Presenters:

Jonathan Dorf, YouthPLAYS

Bio: Playwright and screenwriter Jonathan Dorf, whose plays have received over 500 productions worldwide, co-founded YouthPLAYS, a growing publisher of plays and musicals for young actors and audiences, at which a number of his own plays reside.  Other works are published by Playscripts, Brooklyn Publishers, Heuer, Eldridge, and Original Works, with monologues appearing in numerous collections.  He also authored playwriting textbook Young Playwrights 101 and, Google's top-ranked playwriting website.  He's been instrumental in the development of 

New Guard Debut Session Chair:
Emily Freeman, University of Texas at Austin

Bio: Emily Freeman is a second year MFA candidate in the Drama and Theatre for Youth and Communities program at The University of Texas at Austin. Emily graduated from Northwestern University in Evanston, IL with a BA in Theatre and Sociology, and has worked in Chicago, IL, London, UK, Washington, D.C., Sarasota, FL, Orlando, FL and most recently Austin, TX as a director, applied theatre artist, and teaching artist. She's applied drama and theatre as medium for social justice and for social change in retirement communities and nursing homes, schools, juvenile detention centers, homeless shelters and with young people who have autism, cerebral palsy, and down syndrome. 

Maximizing Impact Session Chair:
Evelyn Francis, The Theater Offensive

Bio: Evelyn Francis, Director of Programs at The Theater Offensive, an LGBTQ theater company based in Boston.  Evelyn holds a master's degree in theatre education from Emerson College and a BEST certificate in Youth Work. In addition to her work with TTO, she has served as an arts manager and teaching artist at organizations throughout Boston.

As the former Director of True Colors: Out Youth Theater, a program of TTO for LGBTQ youth ages 14-22, Evelyn leads long-term visioning and

planning for all programs of the organization, and continues to work as the lead teaching artist for True Colors summer programming.

Session Presenters:

Nick Bazo, The Theater Offensive

Bio: Nick Bazo, Assistant Director of Programs and

Director of True Colors at The Theater Offensive, worked with True Colors for over two years as a graduate intern and teaching artist. He previously was Manager of School Programs at the Citi Performning Arts Center in Boston, directed in the after school City Spotlights program, and provided direct theater instruction using collective creation methodologies in various Boston neighborhoods. He holds an MFA in Theater for Young Audiences from the University of Central Florida and wrote his graduate thesis on LGBT youth theater programs across the nation (including True Colors).
Zohar Fuller, The Theater Offensive

Bio: Zohar Fuller is currently the Assistant Director of True Colors at The Theater Offensive.  She is a Boston based director, playwright, actor and theater educator.  Zohar holds a B.A. from Brandeis University in Theatre for Social Change.  She has worked with the Experimental Theatre Foundation in India creating devised street theatre with children, created community-based theatre with the Cornerstone Theatre Company in L.A., and worked with the Drama-Play Connection in making performance pieces with children who have autism or Asperger's syndrome.  Zohar also was a founding member of the Brandeis Playback Theatre society for four years.
Dan Mahler, The Theater Offensive

Bio: Daniel Mahler is a second year graduate student in Theatre Education at Emerson College, in Boston, MA.  He will be receiving is Master's degree in May of 2012.  In addition to being a student, Daniel works as a teaching artist with True Colors at The Theater Offensive.  Daniel completed his undergraduate work at College of the Atlantic in Bar Harbor, Maine, where he studied the intersection of theatre, community, and education.  This is his second time attending an AATE conference. 

Queering the Curriculum Session Chair:

Gustave Weltsek, Indiana Universtiy/Ivy Tech Community College

Bio: Gustave Weltsek BA, M.A.T, Ph.D is a visiting professor, Indiana University, School of Education and the Department of Theatre and Ivy Technical College Indiana. He is the current Editor for the Youth Theatre Journal. His own publications include; "Critical Performative Spaces:  Identity, stance and discourse in process drama as critical literary interpretation" and "Using Process Drama to Deconstruct/Reconstruct Western Canonical Literature." Professional presentations include; Literacy in The Gutters: Reading, writing and meaning making between the lines of Graphic Novels. NCTE   and En-Acted Learning: Transcending Passivity Through Drama AATE. He teaches Drama/Theatre for Elementary and Secondary Educators, Critical Literacy and Pedagogy.

Session Presenters:

Jeffery Corso, Indiana University

Bio: Corso is a student and educator of Theatre and English facilitating in the secondary and post-secondary environments. While concluding his work on a Masters of Secondary Education at Indiana University, Corso's research was situated around theatre for social and behavioral transformation in youth and school intervention.  Corso's theatrical background stems from years of performing and professional stage managing; while his work as an educator spans K-12 and University classrooms.

Clarene Hamoor, Indiana University

Bio: Clarence Hammoor has directed over a dozen productions, including the recent collegiate premiere of Aaron Loeb's *Abraham Lincoln's Big, Gay Dance Party* and nearly a dozen ensemble based workshops for children.He is interested in the performative power of the ensemble and is excited by physical and post-dramatic work in the theatre as dress rehearsals for revolution. Stephen is fascinated by the complexities offered by queer theories and the enormous possibilities they offer in exploring performance, education, agitprop work, theatre and art. 

Slamming Ahead Session Chair:
Rachel Hull and Jacob Stoebel, Dallas Theatre Center (Hull), Actors Theatre of Louisville (Stoebel)

Bio: Rachel Hull is the Director of Education and Community Enrichment at Dallas Theater Center. Her responsibilities include the oversight and management of all education and community programs, including Project Discovery, teacher professional development workshops, SummerStage, the Shannon and Ted Skokos Learning Lab, and audience enrichment and humanities initiatives such as Stay Late and the Community Collaboration Initiative. Rachel received her MA in Educational Theater from NYU, BA in Theater from University of Texas at Austin.  She is committed to furthering the field as an active participant in Big Thought's Quality Arts Review Panel, a member of the Booker T. Washington Performing and Visual Arts High School Advisory Board and a member of the American Alliance for Theater and Education. Rachel previously served as the Project Discovery Manager at DTC, facilitating outreach programs for at risk high school populations in North Texas. Rachel is now in her 8th season at DTC.

Jacob Stoebel is the Associate Director of Education for Actors Theatre of Louisville.  Now in his fourth season at the theatre, Jacob works to share the resources of Actors Theatre with local communities and the nation in the form of the New Voices Young Playwrights Festival, A Living Newspaper, student matinees and more.  Jacob is also an artist in residence at St. Francis High School in Louisville, on the executive board of the Kentucky Theatre Association.  Jacob is interested in expanding creativity and artistry in communities across Kentucky and the nation.  He holds a B.A. in theatre from Pitzer College. 

powerless Session Chair:
Rives Collins, Northwestern University

Bio: Rives Collins is on the faculty of Northwestern University where he is a fellow in the Searle Center for Teaching Excellence.  He is a long time member of AATE, currently serving on the board in the role of Immediate Past President.

Session Presenters:

Kirsty Collins, Skokie School, Winnetka District 36

Bio: Kirsty Collins is a drama specialist at the Skokie School in Winnetka, Illinois, who works with fifth and sixth graders everyday.  She is a long time member of the AATE and the Illinois Theatre Association 

Teaching Through Theatre Session Chair:
Julia Magnasco, First Stage

Bio: Julia Magnasco is the Education Director at First Stage, the leader in arts-education programming in the state of Wisconsin, with in-school programs that include The Bully Ban, SCORE Literacy Residency, and Pre-SCORE Early Literacy Residency. Julia holds an M.F.A. in Theatre for Youth from Arizona State University, and a B.F.A. in Theatre Performance from the University of Miami, Florida. 

Pride Players Session Chair:
Brian Guehring, Omaha Theater Company

Bio: Brian Guehring is the Playwright in Residence and Education Director of the Omaha Theater Company, whose education department does drama education outreach for every single child in over 71 local schools each school year (reaching over 27,000 students). His scripts have been honored by AATE, New Visions/New Voices, and Nebraska Arts Council.  Brian's teen theater troupe Pride Players (which uses improvisation to explore being a gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgendered or straight allied teen) has been honored by several regional and national groups, including the National Education Association. He earned his MFA in TYA from University of Texas at Austin.

Session Presenters:

Amanda Kibler, Omaha Theater Company

Bio: Amanda Kibler is the Associate Education Director of the Omaha Theater Company.  She earned her MFA in Theater for Young Audiences from University of Central Florida during which time she worked at the Orlando Repertory Theatre and University Performing Arts Center, both in Orlando, and Visible Fictions Theatre Company in Glasgow, Scotland. At The Rose she works as a teaching artist with students from pre-school through high school, as well as a member of the resident acting company.  She has co-directed the award winning teen group Pride Players for the past three seasons. 

For Youth Inquiry Session Chair:
Jacob Watson, For Youth Inquiry

Bio: Jacob Watson is a theatre director, designer, and educator. He currently lives and works in Chicago, IL, where he is a Teaching Artist with Urban Gateways, Albany Park Theatre Project, Redmoon, and Dream Big Performing Arts Workshop. When he is not in the classroom, Jacob works as the Arts Education Consultant at Creative Directions, where he facilitates programs to integrate the arts into schools. He also serves as an Illinois State Representative for AATE and a member of For Youth Inquiry: Performing Health Collective. Jacob received his B.A. in Theatre from Northwestern University.

Session Presenters:

Nikki Zaleski, For Youth Inquiry

Bio: Nikki Zaleski is a youth organizer for the Illinois Caucus for Adolescent Health's School of Justice. Through the Caucus, she works with Sisters Empowering Sisters, a reproductive justice and leadership group for young women. She is also a member of Ag47, an arts mentorship collective that serves girls in the Logan Square neighborhood, as well as an Artistic Associate for Sojourn Theater. Nikki works in public schools as a teaching artist through Urban Gateways and Communities in Schools of Chicago.

Alyssa Ramos, For Youth Inquiry

Bio: Alyssa is a recent graduate of Northwestern University and now lives in (and loves) Lakeview. She is a director, teaching artist, producer, and theatre maker. Currently, she is producing Wakadoo Productions' In the Jungle of Cities for the Howard Brown Health Center, which opens at the Brown Elephant this November.

Alison Lehner, For Youth Inquiry

Bio: Alison Lehner is an alumna of Northwestern University with a BA in Performance Studies. She has worked with youth throughout the Chicago area as a Teaching Artist through Urban Gateways and Voice of the City. And as a Program Director for Shanti Foundation for Peace, where she created, implemented, and coordinated arts and nonviolence programs in schools and communities. Alison is also a yoga instructor and health educator, leading yoga teacher training programs through CorePower Yoga. She is a co-founder of Project US and now a performer and fundraiser for FYI. 

Teaching the Art of Life Through the Magic of Theatre Session Chair:

Jennifer Pedraza, Fort Lauderdale Children's Theatre

Bio: Jennifer earned a Master of Fine Arts in Theatre for Young Audiences from University of Central Florida, where she focused equally on teaching theatre and theatre administration. She served as a teaching artist at professional theatres around the nation including Lexington Children's Theatre, Orlando Repertory Theatre, Asolo Repertory Theatre, Round House Theatre, and Fantasy Theatre Factory. She is currently the Education Director at Fort Lauderdale Children's Theatre where she oversees the class program serving ages 4-18. Her FLCT directing credits include "Disney's Cinderella," "A Midsummer Night's Dream," and "Annie, Jr." 

Elements and Integration Session Chair:
Kathi E.B. Ellis, StageLab

Bio: Kathi E.B. Ellis is a member of the Lincoln Center Director's Labs, and an associate member of the Stage Directors and Choreographers Society.  Her directing has been recognized with nominations for the South Florida Theatre Carbonell Award. Kathi has studied with Anne Bogart and attended the LaMama Directing Symposium in Umbria, Italy. She conducts drama residencies and professional development sessions at schools and districts throughout the Commonwealth and co-ordinates the annual teacher PD Day for the Kentucky Theatre Association. Kathi is listed in Southern Artistry, SouthArts' online registry. She received her directing MFA from the University of Louisville.

Session Presenters:

Megan Burnett, StageLab

Bio: Megan Burnett co-founded Pleiades Theatre Company, Louisville's professional women's theatre company.  She has taught and acted professionally for more than 25 years in Oklahoma, Kentucky, Indiana, Texas and Florida.  Megan is an associate professor of Speech and Theatre at Alice Lloyd College and she taught drama at St. Raphael School for nine years.  She attended the English Speaking Union's Teaching Shakespeare Through Performance at Shakespeare's Globe Theatre in London.  Megan has studied with the prestigious Shakespeare & Co in Massachusetts.  Megan earned her B.S. from Texas Christian University, and her MFA from the University of Louisville.

Lee Look, StageLab

Bio: Lee Look is an actor, director, and fight choreographer with professional theatre credits at companies in Kentucky, California, Georgia, and Japan. Television credits include Sesame Street, Unsolved Mysteries, Profiler, General Hospital and Port Charles. Lee has film credits in independent movies and movies made for PBS. Lee ran the Playwrighting in the Schools Program for Actors Theatre of Louisville for five years.  He teaches workshops around the country in combat, improvisation, and acting.  In addition, he is a Firefighter/EMT and has a Masters in Education and a PhD in Counseling Psychology from the University of Louisville.

Dru Pilmer, StageLab

Bio: Dru Pilmer is one of less than 140 designated Linklater voice teachers internationally, having trained with Kristin Linklater.  Dru has worked as a professional actor throughout the country, and studied extensively with Shakespeare & Company, studying with teachers from the Royal Shakespeare Company, London Academy of Music and Dramatic Arts, Yale, and California School of the Arts. Dru also trained with Second City's Martin de Maat and Gary Izzo of Disney.  Dru teaches at IU Southeast University, Indiana.  She is also an abstract and portrait artist. Dru obtained her M.F.A. from The University of Louisville.

2012 AATE Research Awards Session Chair:
Lorenzo Garcia, University of North Texas

Bio: Lorenzo Garcia teaches and directs in the Department of Dance & Theatre at the University of North Texas.  He is currently serving as department chair. 

Studio in Classroom Session Chair:
Maia Morgan, Artist in Residence, Urban Gateways Center for Arts Education

Bio: Maia Morgan is a writer, performer and teaching artist. Her critically-acclaimed plays and monologues have been produced throughout Chicago. Maia has worked with K-12 students, teachers and incarcerated and formerly incarcerated women. She has developed theater workshops and residencies for Urban Gateways, Columbia College, Evanston's Young Artist Program, Gallery 37, Steppenwolf and Lookingglass Theaters, Still Point Theater Collective and Lyric Opera of Chicago and served as faculty at the Chicago Academy for the Arts. Currently Maia is Artist in Residence at Urban Gateways Center for Arts Education.  Maia holds a B.A. in English, cum laude, from Carleton College.

Session Presenters:

Nicole Losurdo, Senior Director of Education, Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University

Bio: Nicole Losurdo creates and implements arts programming for schools and communities as Senior Director of Education at the Auditorium Theatre.  She is camp director for Hands Together, Heart to Art, an arts-based camp for children struggling with a parent's death, and co-founder of the Chicago Arts Educator Forum, which offers professional development and networking for the arts-in-education community. Nicole has worked as an events planner, actor, stage manager, director, and teaching artist and has written plays for youth.  Nicole holds a B.A. in Comprehensive Theatre Studies from Northern Illinois University and an M.A. in Educational Theatre from New York University.

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