Faculty & Staff

ChiArts Administrative Staff

Executive & Artistic Director
José Ochoa

José Ochoa is the founding Executive Director of The Chicago High School for the Arts. Prior to moving to Chicago he was the Superintendent of Cultural Arts in Nashville, Tennessee, where he supervised the dance, music, theatre, and visual arts departments, two museums and the special events department. Besides his work in arts administration and in education, Ochoa has had a diverse career in the performing arts. As a musician, he has performed solo flute recitals including the Festival Internacional de Arte e Cultura de Suchitoto in Central America. In dance, he danced with several regional ballet companies and he was the choreographer for the official state play of Texas for three seasons. He has directed/choreographed for theatres throughout the Southeast and in Central America.  Ochoa is a graduate of the North Carolina School for the Arts in music performance and has a master’s degree in Interdisciplinary Studies-Dance, Music, Theatre, from West Texas A&M University. He served as an honorary trustee for the University of North Carolina School of the Arts, and he is a board of trustee for the National Guild of Community Schools for the Arts, Arts Alliance Illinois, and Roosevelt University’s Chicago College of Performing Arts. In 2013, Ochoa was named to the 2013 class of Crain’s 40 Under 40 – a list of Chicagoans who have reached professional success and made significant civic contributions before turning 40.

Principal
Michael Wang

Originally from Wilmette, IL, Michael Wang has seen first-hand the disparities prevalent in Illinois public schools. After receiving his Bachelor of Arts in Biology from Northeastern Illinois University, Mr. Wang pursued a career in urban education through a Masters of Education in Educational Leadership from DePaul University. Mr. Wang has been with ChiArts since 2010, serving in numerous roles including Biology Teacher, Freshman Academy Coordinator, Assistant Principal for Operations and Management, and now, Principal. In his current leadership role, Mr. Wang is focused on fostering an inclusive school culture within ChiArts’ highly diverse student body. With approximately 50% low-income students, he has restructured the school’s support services in order to ensure ChiArts scholar-artists comprehensive counseling in academics, emotional support, and in post-secondary opportunities. He works to provide equal access to resources in the arts and academics in order to engender diversity in arts community of Chicago.

Assistant Principal
Abbey Cullen

Abbey Cullen came to ChiArts in 2012 in the schools’ fourth year. Ms. Cullen joined the ChiArts community as a World History teacher where she she fell in love with the mission of the school; diversifying the arts in Chicago while broadening the horizons of scholar-artists. In 2016, Ms. Cullen transferred to the ChiArts administration team as the Dean of Operations, where she played an active role in ensuring that the day-to-day needs of the ChiArts community were met. Now as the Assistant Principal, Ms. Cullen is thrilled to expand her work at ChiArts into curriculum development and working to advance the school’s vision.

Prior to starting at ChiArts in 2012, Ms. Cullen was the World History teacher at Gordon Tech HS (now DePaul College Prep) while continuing post grad research at Loyola University. She later earned her Secondary Education Teaching License, and a Masters of Education, with a Principal License from DePaul University. 

An athlete in multiple sports, Ms. Cullen has competed in marathons, including two Boston Marathons; CrossFit competitions, triathlons and two half IronMans. She has a dream of becoming an Olympic biathlete. Ms. Cullen is a proud stepmom to Harrison and lives with her husband Brett in the Logan Square neighborhood. 

Dean of Culture & Climate
Joseph Pancer

As Dean of Culture and Climate at The Chicago High School for the Arts, my primary responsibility is to support all students and their families by ensuring that all students have access to behavioral supports. I help students and families improve student behavior in order to ensure success in the classroom. My role includes the implementation of consequences for student behavior when warranted but also has the balance of coordinating student activities such as homecoming, spirit weeks, spring dance, senior luncheon, and prom. I work in collaboration with the ChiArts faculty and oversee the development and growth of a positive school culture.

Director of Development & Marketing
Contessa Gibson

Contessa joins ChiArts with over ten years of combined fundraising and sales experience, working for organizations such as the American Heart Association, Skills for Chicagoland’s Future and SmithBucklin. Contessa has fundraised on behalf of youth, underserved populations, communities of color, research and advocacy program. Contessa holds both a Bachelor of Arts in Music from the University of Rochester, and an Integrated Marketing Communications certificate from the University of Chicago. Contessa is a trained classical clarinetist, and has personally benefitted from a tuition-free music education from the Merit School of Music (formerly the Merit Music Program). She personally understands how transformative an arts education can be for promising young people. Contessa currently resides in Beverly.

Director of Finance
Karin Nangreave

Karin Nangreave, CPA, joined the ChiArts team in spring of 2015. She has ten years experience in nonprofit finance, with a Master’s in Accounting from University of Illinois-Chicago. Most recently, she was the Fiscal Director for Alternative Schools Network, a government funded agency that provides opportunities for re-enrolled high school students to obtain a GED or High School Diploma. She also has experience working in public accounting at Warady & Davis, LLP, where she was a nonprofit audit and tax team member. Karin also holds a Bachelor’s of Music in Double Bass Performance from Northwestern University. She lives in Rogers Park.

ChiArts Department Heads

Creative Writing
Tina Boyer Brown

Tina Boyer Brown, Creative Writing Department Head and Arts Instructional Coach, was also a founding English teacher at The Chicago High School for the Arts. She co-wrote an article about arts education for The Journal of Education. Ms. Boyer Brown will be a lead teacher at the first Poetry Institute for Educators to be sponsored by the Poetry Foundation this summer. She earned a Master of Fine Arts degree in Creative Writing while teaching high school full-time. She graduated from Northwestern University with a Bachelor’s in Communication Studies with a focus on Rhetoric and completed her teacher education coursework at Goshen College in Goshen, Indiana. She has been teaching in high schools throughout Chicago for more than ten years.

Dance
Greer A. Reed

Ms. Reed joins ChiArts from her hometown of Pittsburgh, PA where she was instructing grades 6-12th at the Pittsburgh Creative & Performing Arts (CAPA) High School. Ms. Reed brings decades of experience with professional dance companies, as well as a successful track record in implementing culturally responsive education programming. Ms. Reed is regarded as a trailblazer in her professional career as a dancer, company founder, and well-renowned youth mentor. She has been recognized with awards such as the Urban Heroes Award for her contributions to the Pittsburgh community, the History Makers Award for her dedication to young people, and the Pittsburgh Creativity Project Award for creating the Reed Dance Intensive.

As a young professional dancer, Ms. Reed trained with the Pittsburgh Black Theater Dance Ensemble, attended the University of the Arts in Philadelphia, and worked in New York City with the Dance Theater of Harlem. Ms. Reed became a company member of the universally renowned Ailey II, as well as the Dayton Contemporary Dance Company in Ohio, where she rose to principal status. After retiring as a professional dancer in 2001, Ms. Reed continues to receive recognition as an arts leader, for her commitment to education and mentorship of young dancers. Prior to serving as a faculty member at CAPA, Ms. Reed was the Artistic & Education Director for Dance Alloy Theater (now Kelly Strayhorn Theater), which was one of Pittsburgh’s premier modern dance companies. Additionally, she founded and led the August Wilson Center Dance Ensemble, the center’s resident dance company, after receiving an August Wilson Center Fellowship. The ensemble was named one of the “Top 25 to Watch” by Dance Magazine and eventually transitioned into Reed Dance.

Music
Betsy Ko

Betsy Ko is a founding faculty member of ChiArts, Chicago’s first public arts high school. Ms. Ko has served as Music Department Head since the school opened its doors in the fall of 2009. She also serves as the ChiArts Band Director and has overseen growth in that program from 9 students in 2009 to a current enrollment of 46.  In March 2018, the ChiArts Wind Ensemble under Ms. Ko’s direction was honored to receive the honor of “Best in Day” designation at the Illinois High School Association’s Organizational Contest. Ms. Ko is also a long time flute faculty member at Merit School of Music where she teaches individuals and groups of all levels. She has coached the Purple Hippopotami Flute Quartet for many years and saw that group earn 3rd place in the prestigious M-Prize Chamber Music competition (Junior Winds division) in May 2018.  A native of New York, Ms. Ko has been an active performer in the Chicago area since arriving here in 1991. She currently performs with the Northshore Concert Band. Ms. Ko received her M.M. in flute performance from DePaul University where she studied with Mary Stolper. Her undergraduate degree was in pure mathematics from Brown University.  She additionally holds Illinois Type 10 certification in music.

Theatre
Annie Calhoun

Annie Calhoun believes in the power of equity in arts education. The passion behind this belief led her to become a founding ChiArts teacher in 2009 and then took her all the way to South Los Angeles where she co-founded Kipp Scholar Academy and created their theatre program. She holds a teaching degree from Taylor University in Theatre and English and is IL certified for grades 6-12. Ms. Calhoun also received her MFA in Acting from DePaul’s Theatre School. She returns to Chicago after five years of teaching, directing and performing in Los Angeles. In LA, Ms. Calhoun taught and directed at the Professional (Adlerimprov), Collegiate (USC), and High School (LA County HS for the Arts) levels; she also founded an inner city theatre program in South LA (Kipp Scholar). She is a novelist and playwright whose pieces have been performed on stages all over Los Angeles and an actor whose work ranges from theater and film, to improv and stand up comedy.

A Chicago native, she is rooted in the values of play, ensemble, high standards and creative new work. While in Chicago she completed iO’s training and then performed there regularly, as well as The Annoyance. One of her favorite experiences was being included as the first improvised play Steppenwolf allowed in their Garage space with a group she founded called ALMOST ATLANTA. The breadth and depth of her expertise in education and theatre offer a vast array of skills from classroom management and facilitating diversity, equity & inclusion to building ensemble among students and staff, and measuring student growth outcomes. She’s thrilled to be back.

Visual Arts
Whitney Bradshaw

Whitney Bradshaw is an artist, curator, teacher and social worker. She trained as an artist at Columbia College Chicago where she received an MFA in photography in 2001. While in school, Ms. Bradshaw taught at Columbia College and the School of the Art Institute in addition to working at the Museum of Contemporary Photography as the assistant registrar and curatorial assistant. She received three Weisman Scholarships and in 2001 was named one of the top 10 MFA Candidates and awarded the College Art Association Regional M.F.A Exhibition at Gallery 400 in the University of Illinois at Chicago. In 2003, she had a solo exhibition at the International Museum of Surgical Science. Her photographs can be found in the permanent collection of the Museum of Contemporary Photography as well as numerous private collections, and have been published in the New York Times and the Chicago Tribune. Ms. Bradshaw was formerly the assistant curator of the renowned LaSalle Bank Photography Collection and the curator of photography for the Bank of America Collection. As a curator, she developed more than 40 exhibitions, which have been loaned to museums and cultural centers throughout the United States, Europe and Asia. In addition, she has published a number of books and essays on the collection’s holdings and currently serves on the editorial board of the Columbia College Press. Prior to her graduate studies, Ms. Bradshaw attained a BA in Sociology with a minor in Women’s Studies from Eastern Illinois University. She has also worked, in various capacities, as a social worker across the city of Chicago. Her artwork can be viewed at www.whitneybradshaw.com.

ChiArts Support Staff

Production Manager & Technical Director
Mark J Bracken Jr.
Clinical Counselor
Michael Bruner

Since 2000 Michael Bruner, LCPC has served teens, adults, children, and families as a therapist, counselor, teacher, advisor, and advocate.  Michael earned his master’s degree in Human Services and Counseling from DePaul University and has worked as a counselor for both public and independent schools and community mental health agencies, including Barr-Harris Children’s Grief Center and The Latin School of Chicago. Michael specializes in working with teens and young adults and in creating a safe space for them to manage the natural challenges of adolescence as they move towards independence. He facilitates a process by which clients are able to build their resiliency skills, enabling them, long-term, to survive the inevitable challenges life will continue to throw at them.

Academic Counselor
Kaitlyn Curta Tobin

Kaitlyn Curta Tobin, LPC, NCC, is the Academic Counselor at ChiArts. She works with students, parents, and teachers to help support student academic growth, including the development of executive functioning and self-advocacy skills. She also serves as the service learning coach and oversees the freshman-sophomore advisory curriculum. Kaitlyn has experience working in high schools in rural, urban, and suburban settings, and has previously written school grants relating to college and career readiness. She received her B.A. from Bradley University and M.A. from Saint Xavier University. Outside of school, Kaitlyn likes to travel, ride her bike, and has a love/hate relationship with running.

Human Resources Manager
Dwayne Jervier

Mr. Jervier leads and oversees the formal human resource functions, and assists with all employee relations to support a safe and effective workplace. He brings over 20 years of Human Resources experience, with direct experience working within non-profit organizations.

As a life-long Chicagoan, Mr. Jervier holds a degree in Human Resources Management from DePaul University, and brings work experiences from Maryville AcademyCarole Robertson Center for Learning and more recently, at Heartland Alliance.

As Mr. Jervier joined our support staff in July of 2018, he looks forward to his first academic year and being a part of the ChiArts community.

Post-Secondary Counselor
Dr. Heather McCowen

Heather McCowen, Ph.D. is Post Secondary Counselor at ChiArts. Prior to this position, Dr. McCowen was the Asst Dean for Enrollment and Student Services for the Chicago College of Performing Arts at Roosevelt University and served as Assoc. Dean for Admissions at the Longy School of Music in Cambridge, MA. Dr. McCowen holds a Bachelor of Music in Bassoon Performance (with a concentration in Music Business) from Northwestern University, the Master of Music in Bassoon Performance from Southern Methodist University and the Doctor of Philosophy in Higher Education (with a minor in Marketing) from the University of North Texas’s College of Education. An Alum of the Civic Orchestra of Chicago, she has performed with the Dallas, Fort Worth, Shreveport, Indian Hill Symphonies (among others) including a recent solo performance with the Symphony of Oak Park and River Forest, where she is currently the principal bassoonist. Dr. McCowen lives in the South Loop with her husband Paul and son Theo. Her stepson Alex graduated recently from Suffolk University in Boston, MA.

Admissions Manager
Laura Marsh

Ms. Marsh is a recent graduate of the Second City Conservatory and Musical Improv Conservatory. As a professional performer, she has toured the country, worked abroad and performed with Disney Cruise Lines. She holds a BA in Theatre and English from Cumberland University in Tennessee.

External Partnerships and Programs Manager
Alia Walston

Born and raised in Chicago, Alia Walston’s career in the arts began during her studies in Art History at Oberlin College.  From 2009-2015, she held several positions at the Museum of Contemporary Arts, most recently as the Curatorial Administrative Coordinator working on a number of exhibitions and programs that include most recently Anne Collier, David Bowie Is, and Think First, Shoot Later: Photography from the MCA Collection. In this capacity, she was responsible for building external relationships with lenders, galleries, and other premier art institutions. As an advocate for both the arts and youth development, she sits on the board for VGA Gallery and volunteers with the Posse Foundation. In her spare time, Alia also manages promotion and booking for two bands.

Staff Accountant
Kim Flowers
Payroll & Benefits Coordinator
Dinasha Walker

Dinasha has worked for ChiArts since December 2015 as the Payroll and Benefits Coordinator. In 2015, she graduated from Northern Illinois University with a bachelor’s degree in Family and Individual Development and a minor in Psychology. Previously, she served in the military for six years with one deployment to Iraq/Kuwait in 2011-12 in support of Operation New Dawn. In addition to working at ChiArts, Dinasha is currently pursuing a graduate degree in social work.

Manager, Annual Fund & Special Events
Marlena Dzis

After completing her master’s in music degree from Northwestern University in 2010, Ms. Dzis began teaching in the ChiArts music conservatory until 2015. During that time, she taught music history, music theory, keyboard skills, choir, and private voice. During the last year, Ms. Dzis began working as first a development intern and then marketing associate for the Chicago Sinfonietta and public relations and marketing associate for The Lira Ensemble. Asides from holding an M.M. from Northwestern, Ms. Dzis holds a bachelor in music degree from Loyola University New Orleans, from which she graduated magna cum laude with a degree in music education, focusing on secondary choral conducting and classical voice and minoring in jazz studies. During her time as a teaching artist, Ms. Dzis also taught at New Trier High School, the Chicago Center School of Music, The Waldorf School, and Columbia University’s Upward Bound program. Also an active performer, Marley has sung with the New Orleans Opera Chorus, The Lira Ensemble, American Chamber Opera (which included her solo operatic debut as Queen of the Night in Mozart’s Magic Flute), Chicago Choral Artists, Le Cantanti di Chicago, Paderewski Orchestra (which included her solo debut with symphony orchestra), and has made solo appearances at the American Institute for Musical Studies in Graz, Austria as well as the Polish Consulate and Polish Museum in Chicago. Ms. Dzis won her university’s concerto/aria competition vocal division and placed second in the Marcella Sembrich/Kochanska voice competition in 2014, after which she has been actively collaborating with composer and pianist Jaroslaw Golembiowski.

Marketing Associate
Natasha Mraz
Development Associate
Jo Marie Sison

Jo Marie Sison joins the ChiArts Development team in 2018 after working as development support for three years at Chicago Sinfonietta, a Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion-based orchestra.

Besides fundraising and specifically grant writing in support of a more diverse and inclusive American arts community, Jo is also a professional freelance violinist of over 10 years. She has worked and toured in full-time and part-time capacities as an orchestral violinist in Italy, Switzerland, Austria, Portugal, and the United States, working under conductors such as Claudio Abbado, Trevor Pinnock, and Diego Matheuz. Jo currently plays with a number of Chicagoland orchestras, and has recently started experimenting with electronic looping and improvisation while touring the Midwest with a Celtic folk-rock group.

Executive Assistant
Nichole Wallace

Born and raised just south of the city, Nichole’s love for art began fresh out of high school when she attended her first art history class at Joliet Junior College. She went on to receive her B.A in Art History from Saint Xavier University and an M.A in Museum and Exhibition Studies from The University of Illinois at Chicago. During her time as a graduate student, Nichole held the Community Engagement Associate position Gallery 400 and became involved in a number of arts-based internships throughout the city including a position at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago. Nichole is thrilled to be a part of the ChiArts community and to intertwine her passion for public programming and arts administration with her role as Executive Assistant.

Office Manager
Drew Baxter

Drew Baxter is incredibly delighted to be joining the ChiArts team this school year! Prior to moving to Chicago, Drew received his Bachelor of Music in Trombone Performance from Lawrence University. During his studies, he volunteered with both the Fox Valley Boys and Girls Club and the Building for Kids children’s museum to share his musical experiences with children in the Appleton,WI community. As a performer, he most recently appeared with the Oshkosh Symphony Orchestra and the Lake Shore Symphony Orchestra on bass trombone. One of his greatest hobbies is the study and performance of Balinese gamelan. In this practice, he has been fortunate enough to have studied under the instruction of such masters as I Dewa Ketut Alit Adnyana and I Dewa Putu Berata. He looks forward to meeting many new faces as the Office Manager!

Attendance Manager
Antoinette Collier
Recruitment Coordinator
Bianca Corral
Rental & Production Coordinator
Sarah Goodman

Sarah Goodman is a multipotentialite with a BA in Communication, Media, & Theatre from Northeastern Illinois University. A Chicago native for 20 years, Sarah enjoys taking advantage of the rich culture and live music scene in the city. You can find her where art and music meet technology. Musical theatre geek, lover of brass instruments, audiophile, studio & live sound engineer, producer, musician, and vocalist.

Administrative Assistant
Megan Burback
Megan Burback supports the academic administrative team. She moved to Chicago four years ago from Manitowoc, Wisconsin to attend Columbia College Chicago where she graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in music with a concentration in vocal performance and a minor in music business. Prior to coming to ChiArts she worked at Sherwood Community Music School and is actively working on receiving her music together certificate. Outside of ChiArts Megan is in multiple bands and performs around Chicago as a vocalist. Dance music and art has been a huge part of her life and she is thrilled to become parts of the ChiArts team. 
Megan assists in day-to-day operations and leading special projects to enable the principal and assistant principal to dedicate more of their time to instructional leadership.  
Library & Media Assistant
Jalyn Greene
Operations Assistant
Nick Fron

ChiArts Academic Faculty

Integrated Arts

English

Meg Arbeiter
Survey of Literature

A teacher who has achieved National Board Certification, Meg Arbeiter received a grant from Facing History and Ourselves to travel to South Africa in order to build relationships with educators, community leaders, and students to enrich a human rights unit on the legacy of apartheid. She collaborated with What Kids Can Do to develop and publish curriculum and student work (“Mentors That Matter”, 2007; “Fires in the Mind,” 2010). Ms. Arbeiter has always been passionate about the value of arts education and wrote “Seeking Inner Truth,” an article that was published in AIMprint (2008). She received a Master’s of Education from DePaul University, a Master’s of Industrial Relations from Loyola University Chicago, and a Bachelor of Arts in English and Philosophy from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She has served as Department Chair of English and Instructional Leader for Chicago Public Schools.

Dan Duffy

Dan Duffy was born and raised in the small town of Morrison, Illinois. Upon graduating high school, he traveled and worked in several U.S. National Parks before settling on the coast of northern California for six years, where he received his bachelor’s degree in English from Humboldt State University. After graduating from Humboldt State, Dan moved to Chicago, where he has now lived for over ten years. Mr. Duffy is an avid reader, he writes whenever he can, and he enjoys traveling, playing music, and going to shows whenever possible. He has an MFA in Creative Writing from Columbia College and a Master of Education from DePaul University, and he is proud to be a member of the ChiArts faculty.

Lara LeVoy
World Literature

Lara LeVoy, an Oklahoma City-born and Houstonian-raised Texan, knows that she was meant to be a Chicagoan through and through. Lara received her Bachelor’s in English Literature from Boston University and a Maters in Curriculum and Instruction from University of Illinois at Chicago. She was a founding teacher at Perspectives Charter School where she taught English and Social Justice for nine years.

She loves taking her two hounds to Lake Michigan in the early morning hours to admire the cityscape and wiggle her toes in the lake; she also relishes the adventures she can have on two wheels in this biking-friendly city. Lara is married to a Harold Washington College Philosophy and Logic Professor, and she is the mom of two. As a high school student, Lara struggled. She points to her commitment to Chorale as the only meaningful thing that kept her in school. Though she doesn’t have a terrific voice, Lara is an Alto and can carry a tune. ChiArts is the perfect match for Lara, as she feels honored every day to work with the perseverant, talented, and tolerant ChiArts students.

Filip Lewandowski
Honors British Literature + Freshman CP Survey of Literature

Filip Lewandowski was born in Krakow, Poland and immigrated to the U.S. to join his family when he was eight years old. He quickly fell in love with martial arts and became an avid legomaniac. After graduating from Whitney Young High School, Filip took his talents to southern Indiana (Greencastle, to be exact) where he double majored in English Literature and Communication at DePauw University. His previous teaching experience includes serving as an ESL instructor at a nonprofit and teaching English abroad in South Korea. He recently completed his M.Ed. in Secondary Education at Loyola Chicago. When he is not at school, Filip enjoys watching movies (occasionally really bad ones), reading, riding his motorcycle, experiencing other cultures, and cooking. Some of his goals include going back to school for an ESL endorsement, backpacking around South America, and watching Breaking Bad (no spoilers please). This is Filip’s first full year at ChiArts, but he is familiar with the school, the vision and the students after spending a majority of the previous year student teaching, as well as serving as a long term substitute. Filip is extremely excited to join the dedicated staff at ChiArts and to work with our fabulous students!

Omar Tabbara

Dr. Tabbara is in his fourth year at ChiArts and his third as English department lead teacher.  A Chicago native, he has been teaching high school English in the area since 2007.  Dr. Tabbara earned his BA in the Teaching of Secondary English from the University of Illinois at Chicago, and his MA and PhD in educational leadership from Concordia University, Chicago.  He is a member of the Building Leadership Team, and is the proud sponsor of the Do Nothing Club.  When not at school, Dr. Tabbara enjoys strolling around the neighborhoods of Chicago with his wife and son, running marathons at a snail’s pace, and cooking.

Andrew Van Herik

Andrew Van Herik was born in suburban Minnesota and enjoyed the hills there until he moved to the flatlands of suburban Illinois. His love of writing and reading about important ideas drove him to study English Literature and Philosophy at Lake Forest College. Realizing that he had developed a love of teaching and learning from students, he earned his teaching license and Masters degree at Northwestern University. He student taught in CPS and was fortunate to become a full time English teacher in the far north of Antioch, Illinois. After four years of teaching and of yearning to return to the city, he moved to Lincoln Park in summer 2017 and happily joined the ChiArts English Department. Andrew loves dissecting and questioning all forms of art, including literature, film, music, and video games. He has a passion for poetry and storytelling, as well. He is proud to be a part of the creative and caring team at ChiArts!

Math

Shifra Adler
Integrated Math II + Pre-Calculus

Shifra Adler is a mathematics teacher with a humanities approach. She earned her BA in Philosophy at Cambridge University with a focus on Classical Greek thought. After a few years away from school to work and play Klezmer music around Chicago, she returned for a MS in Math Education at Northwestern University and did research into the use of primary sources the math classroom. As a teacher, she works to bring an analytic and historical flavor to her students’ math experience.

Seamus Foley

Born in Chicago but raised in the northwest suburbs, Mr. Foley attended the University of Illinois where he completed his Bachelor of Arts in Economics. He held a few different sales jobs and finance operations roles before deciding that corporate for-profit industry was not for him. Upon realization that his true passion was working with kids and sharing knowledge, he went back to school to become a certified high school math teacher. In just his second year teaching, Mr. Foley is happy to have found a life-long career path, and in ChiArts, a school that so closely aligns with his values and passions. In addition to teaching, Mr. Foley is also an avid Chicago Bulls fan (and season ticket holder) and enjoys discovering and listening to many genres of music.

Kristen Hefferan
Algebra I

Kristen Hefferan graduated from the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana with a Bachelors in Science in Psychology. Afterwards she spent one year at Northern Illinois University in a Developmental Psychology graduate program researching adolescent development. She decided to set out on a new path and found math education as her new passion. As a result, she pursued and completed a Masters in Math Education at DePaul University with certification in Secondary Education. It is her eighth year of teaching, and she is excited to be part of the ChiArts faculty.

Karoly Keefe

Karoly Keefe is a passionate math teacher who strives to eliminate mathematics education as a barrier for any student he comes across. Mr. Keefe studied at  DePaul University with a Secondary Education Mathematics degree. During that time, Mr. Keefe discovered his love for finding the mystical and intriguing qualities of mathematics and hopes to influence his students to do the same! If you get the time, ask him about his tattoos…as they can be a lesson in and of themselves! Karoly feels honored to be at ChiArts and is excited to engage with such a beautiful and authentic community–students and staff!

Monica Saucedo

Monica Saucedo was born in Chicago and received her BA in Secondary Education Mathematics from Northeastern Illinois University. She recently received her Master’s Degree from Concordia University Chicago. She loves helping students realize their own potential and develop a deeper appreciation for math. Outside of teaching, Monica loves Spanish dance and is a company member and instructor with the Ensemble Espanol Spanish Dance Theater.

Gabriel Warner
Algebra II

Gabe Warner grew up out in the country near the small town of Alton, MO, close to Arkansas border. An avid Arkansas Razorback basketball fan during the Nolan Richardson era, he attended the University of Arkansas-Fayetteville and earned his BA in Mathematics while also serving as a student manager for the basketball team. After graduation, he worked in coaching, retail, and construction before beginning his teaching career in Kansas City, Kansas while earning his Master of Arts in Teaching from Pittsburg State University.

Gabe has always enjoyed the problem solving aspect of math. He loves sharing his enjoyment of math with the ChiArts students and is thrilled by the “ah ha” moments when the light bulb goes on for students. Whenever the occasion calls for it, you can depend on him to wear an appropriately punned math t-shirt. He and his wife love to travel, and try to experience as many cultures as possible.

Science

Paul Dorney
Chemistry

Mr. Paul Dorney graduated from Indiana University in 1992 with a BS in Science Education and a minor in Meteorology. He received his first masters degree from Nova Southeastern in 2005, and a second masters degree in Astronomy from Ball State University. Mr. Dorney currently works with NASA in its Astrobiology program and has been taking courses both in Hawaii and at Penn State. He is an avid soccer player since a young age when he played for FC Stuttgart and currently plays in CLASA. He also enjoys playing the piano and doing anything creative! This is Mr. Dorney’s 23rd year teaching, and his fourth year at ChiArts.

John Jarosz

Mr. John Jarosz graduated from Creighton University with a double major in Biology and Environmental Science as well as a co-major in secondary education. After graduating, he taught Biology and Earth and Space Science in Omaha, Nebraska. During his two years at Omaha Bryan, he was involved in coaching, sponsoring clubs, and receiving the Outstanding Educator Award. He enjoys biking, playing lacrosse and going on adventures throughout the city.

Social Studies

Roman Marchenko
US Government and Politics

After immigrating to the United States from the Soviet Union as a child, Mr. Marchenko was raised in the northern suburbs of Chicago and attended Northwestern University, where he majored in political science and religion. He received a Master’s Degree in teaching from DePaul University and taught in elementary and junior high schools in Japan as well as a high school in the northern suburbs for eight years before coming to teach US Government and Politics at ChiArts. In his spare time, he enjoys writing, playing table tennis, and hanging out with his little four-year-old son.

Joseph Wagner
Human Geography

The love of learning and a passion for culture and history has driven Mr. Wagner since his childhood. Mr. Wagner and his wife are traveling addicts, who take every opportunity they can to go out and explore the world. He also served for several years overseas as a religious volunteer in Israel. These various passions are channeled into his government and economics classes. He takes great joy in watching his students learn and become empowered to use their knowledge to benefit themselves and society. Mr. Wagner earned both a Bachelor of Arts in History and a Master of Arts in Education from Maryville University.

World Languages

Marcella Bonnan
Spanish II

Marcella Bonnan received her Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in English Literature and also studied French and Comparative Literature as an undergraduate student. After graduating, Mrs. Bonnan taught English at three schools in Carcassonne, France for a year; it was her experience there that inspired her to teach languages. Upon her return from France, she began her graduate studies in Second Language Acquisition and Education with a focus on Spanish and French at Northern Arizona University. Prior to beginning her Master’s degree, she completed two Spanish immersion programs in Cuernavaca, Mexico and Flagstaff, Arizona, which both provided her with the opportunity to experience many places in Mexico through travel and study abroad. While completing her graduate degree, Mrs. Bonnan taught Navajo high school students Spanish and obtained grant funding to take a group of those students on a cultural exchange trip to explore many of the states of Mexico and their indigenous cultures. Mrs. Bonnan started her career teaching French and Spanish at a bilingual high school in Tucson, Arizona and then moved home and taught at Steinmetz Academic Centre in Chicago before coming to teach at ChiArts. While at ChiArts, she has taught French I for a year, followed by four years teaching Spanish II, and began to teach AP Spanish Literature & Culture last year.

Chris Cashman
Spanish + Spanish for Native Speakers + Choral Experience

This is Chris Cashman’s fifth year at ChiArts. He received his B.A. in TESOL at Moody Bible Institute in Chicago, and spent a summer teaching English in Mexico while living with a pastoral family there. After teaching ESL at Harold Washington College for a year and a half, he decided to pursue a long-time goal of being a Spanish teacher and studied Spanish Linguistics at UIC (M.A. degree) and taught Spanish there. He completed education coursework at Northeastern and taught for two years at Oak Park & River Forest High School.

Mr.Cashman has been immersed in the Hispanic community in Chicago by being involved in a Spanish-speaking church. He serves as a youth ministry leader and a few years ago started a band in the church which he directs. He has served as the accompanist for Senior Chorale, and this year will be teaching Chorale Experience. Mr.Cashman has a wife and two children and lives in Humboldt Park.

Kathryn Fahey
Spanish I + AP Spanish Language

Kathryn Fahey graduated with a B.A. in Teaching of Spanish from the University of Illinois at Chicago. Her love of travel was sparked during her junior year when she studied in Madrid, Spain. After graduation she worked as a Peace Corps volunteer from 2005-2007 teaching English, Spanish, math and HIV/AIDS prevention in a rural town in western Honduras. Since then she has traveled to several countries in Latin America and Europe. Outside the classroom she enjoys traveling, running, yoga and reading. She will be entering her eighth year of teaching and is looking forward to her third year at ChiArts.

Leonard Hinds
French II + IV

At City High School in Grand Rapids, Michigan, Leonard Hinds found inspiration in reading the poetry of Baudelaire and Rimbaud in translation. At the University of Michigan, he decided to learn French intensively. He then went to France and worked on an organic farm. While earning his BA in Comparative Literature and Medieval and Renaissance Studies, he studied at the Université d’Aix-en-Provence for a year. After having done research in the National Library of France in Paris and having attended seminars at the Collège de France and the Université de Paris VII – Jussieu for a year, he received his Ph.D. in French Language and Literature from Emory University. He then taught French Language, Literature, and Culture at Emory, Indiana University, and Dominican University. He also taught French and Latin at the College of DuPage. He earned his M.Ed. in Instructional Leadership at UIC and was certified to teach French and Latin. He is very enthusiastic to coordinate the French and Italian Clubs, to organize fundraising for the trip to Spain and France in 2015, and to share his love for French and French-speaking cultures with students in French II and French IV at ChiArts.

Allison Kim
Spanish III & IV

Born in Glen Ellyn, IL, Allison Kim received her BA from Miami University (in Ohio) as a double major in Spanish and Strategic Communication. After studying abroad twice in Spain, she began to consider a career in education in order to share her love of languages, culture, and travel. She decided to pursue a Master’s in Teaching at Dominican University, and spent five years teaching at Harper High School in Chicago. She also served as a mentor teacher and the World Language Department Chair. Ms. Kim joined the ChiArts staff in 2013 and is excited to enter her fourth year here! Outside of teaching, she enjoys traveling, yoga, and (most of all) hanging out with her dog.

Myanna Klein
French I

Computer Science

Tsegaye Kleszczewski

Born in Ocho Rios, Jamaica, Ms. Kleszczewski received her Bachelor of Education degree in Computer Science and Accounting from the University of Technology in Kingston, Jamaica. Since migrating to Chicago in 2009, she earned her Illinois Professional Educator License with endorsements in high school Computer Science, Programming, Business, Marketing, and Computing, as well as middle school mathematics. In her spare time Ms. Kleszczewski enjoys spending time with family and friends, sleeping, taking photos, and volunteering. Ms. Kleszczewski is currently in her 13th year as a Computer Science Educator and her 6th year at ChiArts. You can contact Ms. Kleszczewski at tkleszczewski@chiarts.org.

Physical Education, Health & Driver's Ed

Oscar Muñoz
Physical Education I + II

Mr. Muñoz is a fifth year teacher who earned his BSEd in Physical Education from Northern Illinois University. He is certified in grades K-12. He likes to stay active in his free time doing anything that is challenging. He will compete in his second Ironman triathlon this school year. He prioritizes health and fitness and tries to lead his students by example. He founded the fitness club at ChiArts and is always aiming to provide many opportunities for students to be fit. Mr. Muñoz also has a Spanish bilingual endorsement and is an ACE certified personal trainer.

James Salazar
Health + Physical Education I

James Salazar is a third year teacher out of Villa Park, IL. He graduated in December 2009 from Northern Illinois University with a BSEd in Physical Education, certified grades K-12, with a minor in secondary Health Education. After student teaching at York High School in Elmhurst, IL,  Mr. Salazar stayed on the staff to fulfill a full-time substitute position for the Spring semester. He will be teaching Health Education this year as well as assisting with the physical education classes.

Drew Steger
Physical Education II + Driver's Education

Mr. Steger graduated from Illinois State University with a Bachelors of Science Degree in Physical Education. He received his Driver Education and Safety endorsement from Northern Illinois University. This will be his fifth year of teaching. Mr. Steger previously taught two years at Downers Grove South High School and one year at York High School.

Specialized Services

Dr. Sunni Ali
Teacher

Dr. Ali has been teaching at the secondary, high school level for 15 years. He earned his Doctorate in Educational Administration from Roosevelt University, holds a type 75 Principal’s Certificate, Type 9 Social Science Certificate, and LBS1 Special Education Certificate Endorsement. Dr. Ali has taught a variety of college prep, honors and AP History classes. He is also an adjunct History Professor at Northeastern Illinois University.

Cary James
Teacher
Christine Wietasch
Teacher

Graduating with a Bachelors of Science in Criminal Justice from Old Dominion University, Ms. Wietasch immersed herself with the Cook County Public Defender, doing mitigation work. She attended Loyola University during this time to get her MSW as well. Soon she realized that she wanted to work with children in the educational setting and attended St. Xavier University. She earned her M. Ed. in Special Education and began her teaching career in the therapeutic setting, working with juvenile offenders. She loves art and thrives on creativity, and has found a home at ChiArts. In her spare time, Ms. Wietash likes to spend time with her fifteen year old daughter, devours books, and roots for Manchester United. When she’s not being a homebody, you’ll find her hopping on a plane in search of adventure!

ChiArts Arts Faculty

Creative Writing

Tina Boyer Brown
Creative Writing Department Head

Boyer Brown is the Creative Writing Department Head and a founding English teacher at The Chicago High School for the Arts. She is an alumna of the Summer Poetry Institute for Educators sponsored by Boston University and is a lead teacher for the Summer Poetry Institute for Educators in Chicago sponsored by the Poetry Foundation. Her work appears in The Journal of Education and RHINO Poetry and is forthcoming in POETRY Magazine.

Kenyatta Rogers
Elements of Poetry

Kenyatta Rogers earned his MFA in Creative Writing Poetry from Columbia College Chicago. He is a Cave Canem fellow and was twice nominated for both Pushcart and Best of the Net prizes, his work has been previously published in or is forthcoming from Jubilat, Vinyl, Bat City Review, RHINO Poetry, The Volta among others. In addition to teaching at ChiArts, he is an Associate Editor with RHINO Poetry. 

Virginia Bell

Bell is the author of the poetry collection From the Belly (Sibling Rivalry Press 2012).  She has been a Pushcart Prize nominee for poetry and a finalist for both the Lamar York Prize in Creative Nonfiction, sponsored by The Chattahoochee Review, and the Center for Women Writers’ Creative Nonfiction Contest. Her work is forthcoming in Hypertext and has appeared in Fifth Wednesday Journal, Cider Press Review, Gargoyle, Spoon River Poetry Review, Cloudbank, CALYX, Poet Lore, Pebble Lake ReviewWicked Alice, and other journals, as well as in the anthologies The Burden of Light: Poems on Illness and Loss, Brute Neighbors: Urban Nature Poetry, Prose and Photography, and A Writers’ Congress: Chicago Poets on Barack Obama’s Inauguration.  Bell is a Senior Editor with RHINO Poetry, and an adjunct professor of English at Loyola University Chicago and DePaul University’s School of Continuing and Professional Education. She has a Ph.D. in Comparative Literature and was the recipient of a Ragdale Foundation residency in 2015.

Tara Betts

Tara Betts is the author of Break the Habit and Arc & Hue. She’s a co-editor of The Beiging of America: Personal Narratives about Being Mixed Race in the 21st Century and editor of the critical edition of Philippa Duke Schuyler’s memoir Adventures in Black and White. Her work has appeared in Poetry magazineEssence, NylonLitHub, and numerous anthologies. Betts holds a Ph.D. in English from Binghamton University and an MFA from New England College. Currently, she teaches MFA students at Chicago State University, young poets at The Chicago High School for the Arts (ChiArts), and participants in the Prison + Neighborhood Arts Program at Stateville Prison.

Sophie Lucido Johnson

Sophie Lucido Johnson has had her nonfiction and humor writing published in The New Yorker, The Guardian, Vice, Jezebel, Guernica, Catapult, and in plenty of other places. She is the editor-in-chief of the literary humor journal Neutrons / Protons, and recently completed her tenure as the managing editor if F Newsmagazine at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. She has a decade of teaching experience — mostly in New Orleans, Louisiana, where she designed the arts-integrated social emotional curriculum With Feeling. She received multiple first place awards for news and editorial writing from the Illinois College Press Association, a first place award for alternative story design in the MSUND Design Contest, and was a winner of Hippocampus Magazine’s Creative Nonfiction contest. Lucido Johnson is an adjunct professor at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, where she received her MFA in Writing. Her first illustrated nonfiction book, Many Love, is forthcoming from Touchstone (Simon & Schuster).

Susanna Lang

Susanna Lang is a long-time educator in Chicago, she has taught in public schools across the city and in several of the area universities. Her newest collection of poems, Travel Notes from the River Styx, was released in summer 2017 from Terrapin Books. Her last collection was Tracing the Lines (Brick Road Poetry Press, 2013). A two-time Hambidge fellow, her poems have appeared in such publications as Little Star, Prairie Schooner, december, American Life in Poetry and Verse Daily. Her translations of poetry by Yves Bonnefoy include Words in Stone and The Origin of Language.

Cecilia Pinto
Elements of Creative Nonfiction

Cecilia Pinto has been a teaching artist in the City of Chicago for close to twenty years. She was an instructor as well as the former director of the Hands on Stanzas program for The Poetry Center of Chicago. She taught in Northwestern’s Center for Talent Development summer program for gifted students. She was also coordinator for the Chicago Humanities Festival’s Parks@Play program. She is adjunct faculty in the certificate-in-writing program at the Graham School for General Studies at the University of Chicago. Her writing has appeared in Esquire, Fence, Diagram, TriQuarterly and elsewhere. She was voted ‘One of 25 Writers to Watch for 2015’ by the Guild Literary Complex. She received her undergraduate degree from Knox College and an M.F.A. from The School of the Art Institute.

Jeremy T. Wilson
Responding to Art

Jeremy T. Wilson grew up in Georgia but has called Chicago home since 2001. He has served as a tutor and writing teacher for several Chicago organizations, including 826CHI, After School Matters, Loyola University, and Northwestern University’s School of Continuing Studies. Wilson’s fiction has appeared in The Carolina Quarterly, Curbside Splendor, Printers Row Journal, and Third Coast among other publications. He is the winner of the 2012 Nelson Algren Award for short fiction. He holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Northwestern. www.jeremytwilson.com

Rachel Wilson

Rachel M. Wilson studied theater at Northwestern, and earned her MFA in Writing for Children & Young Adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts. She is the author of Don’t Touch from HarperTeen, praised by The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books as “A vulnerable, moving, and often witty story about the terrible price of self-protection.” Wilson’s novelette, “The Game of Boys and Monsters” was published by HarperTeen Impulse, and she has penned nonfiction works for younger readers with Rourke Educational Media. Wilson has served as a teaching artist all over Chicago with After School Matters, Pegasus Players, The Actors Training Center, CAST, and Dream Big, among others. She served as an adjunct instructor and writing specialist at Harper College and co-directed the Literacy Department at STAR Education in LA. As a longtime company member with Barrel of Monkeys, Wilson leads creative writing workshops and adapts the writing of Chicago students for the stage, performing in schools and in the long-running show, That’s Weird, Grandma. www.rachelmwilsonbooks.com

Dance

Greer A. Reed
Dance Department Head

Ms. Reed joins ChiArts from her hometown of Pittsburgh, PA where she was instructing grades 6-12th at the Pittsburgh Creative & Performing Arts (CAPA) High School. Ms. Reed brings decades of experience with professional dance companies, as well as a successful track record in implementing culturally responsive education programming. Ms. Reed is regarded as a trailblazer in her professional career as a dancer, company founder, and well-renowned youth mentor. She has been recognized with awards such as the Urban Heroes Award for her contributions to the Pittsburgh community, the History Makers Award for her dedication to young people, and the Pittsburgh Creativity Project Award for creating the Reed Dance Intensive.

As a young professional dancer, Ms. Reed trained with the Pittsburgh Black Theater Dance Ensemble, attended the University of the Arts in Philadelphia, and worked in New York City with the Dance Theater of Harlem. Ms. Reed became a company member of the universally renowned Ailey II, as well as the Dayton Contemporary Dance Company in Ohio, where she rose to principal status. After retiring as a professional dancer in 2001, Ms. Reed continues to receive recognition as an arts leader, for her commitment to education and mentorship of young dancers. Prior to serving as a faculty member at CAPA, Ms. Reed was the Artistic & Education Director for Dance Alloy Theater (now Kelly Strayhorn Theater), which was one of Pittsburgh’s premier modern dance companies. Additionally, she founded and led the August Wilson Center Dance Ensemble, the center’s resident dance company, after receiving an August Wilson Center Fellowship. The ensemble was named one of the “Top 25 to Watch” by Dance Magazine and eventually transitioned into Reed Dance.

April C. Lewis
Department Admin. Assistant + Dance Injury & Prevention

Originally from the south side of Chicago, IL, Ms. Lewis’ dance education has carried her across the country. Joel Hall Dance Center Chicago, Ballethnic Atlanta, Dance Theatre of Harlem and The Ailey School New York, and many other dance institutions have contributed towards shaping her dance education, skills, and style. After earning a Bachelor of Science in Dance from Wayne State University (Detroit, Michigan), she returned to Chicago where she made guests appearances with several local dance companies. Ms. Lewis also performed and taught with Joel Hall Dancers: Dance is a Language, an outreach company serving communities throughout the greater Chicagoland area. Ms. Lewis has since earned a Bachelor of Science in Kinesiology from University of Illinois at Chicago. She is also a Stott Pilates trained instructor at the intermediate level on all apparatus. Ms. Lewis has shared her knowledge of dance and movement sciences with students throughout the city and its surrounding areas for over 10 years.

Maan Almodovar

Maan Almodovar received her dance training from Sherry Moray, Homer Bryant, Alonzo King, Wes Chapman, and Roger Van Fleteran. In 2000 and 2001, Maan placed 1st in the Junior Classical division at Youth America Grand Prix. From 2002-2004, she danced with the Alabama Ballet where she performed Arabian in George Balanchine’s Nutcracker and various roles in Cinderella, Romeo and Juliet, and Swan Lake. Maan was a scholarship student at Lou Conte Dance Studio in Chicago and at Alonzo Kings Ballet in San Francisco. In 2006-2007, Maan performed with the Lyric Opera of Chicago, working with choreographer, Daniel Pelzig in Die Fledermaus. Maan is a Stott-trained Pilates instructor, a licensed Zumba instructor, and is on faculty at the Chicago Multicultural Dance Center.

Barry Bennett
Dance Accompanist

Barry Bennett is a drummer, bandleader, and a JEFF nominated maker of theatrical music and sound. By day Barry is a modern dance accompanist. He is an Associate Artist with 16th Street Theater, Chicago Dramatists, Chicago Moving Company, and Winifred Haun and Dancers. Other folks he has composed and designed for include: Cindy Brandle Dance, Steppenwolf, Victory Gardens, National Pastime, Asimina Chremos, The Goodman, Emerald City, Breakbone, and Writer’s Theatre. He has no interest in adulthood. He has released two solo albums under his own name, and five albums as part of the group Led MiLkBabY. Barry is the Artistic Director of The Impending Behavior Orchestra, and works with regional bands Black Dot & Grape Juice Plus, as well as Strangers & Saints and Planet Clarie. Listen/Learn/Connect: http://barrybennettsounds.com.

Zineb Chraibi
Graham Technique

A former dancer, Zineb Chraibi has performed with the Joseph Holmes Chicago Dance Theatre, Deeply Rooted Productions, Winifred Haun and Dancers as well as with various independent choreographers. She holds a BA in Dance from Point Park College in Pittsburgh, Pa. Ms. Chraibi grew up in Casablanca, Morocco where she first started training. She later returned to her native city of Paris to study ballet, modern, and jazz. She has also trained at Les ballets Jazz De Montreal, Ruth Page Dance Center and Lou Conte Dance Studios. She is currently on the faculty at the Dance Center of Columbia College, the Joffrey Ballet and guest teaches in the U.S. and abroad. She has also served on the faculty of the Conservatory of Dance at Barat College, The Chicago Academy for The Arts, The Joel Hall Dance Center, and taught at the Lou Conte dance Studio. In addition to teaching dance, Zineb is a certified Yoga and Pilates instructor who teaches in the U.S and abroad.

Colin DeJong
Music for Dancers + Dance Accompanist

Colin DeJong is a company class pianist at Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, and accompanies classes at the Lou Conte Dance Studio, the Joffrey Academy of Dance, the Hyde Park School of Dance, and the Interlochen Arts Camp. He has sung with Music of the Baroque and taught music theory at the Merit School of Music. Mr. DeJong earned his MM in Music Theory and BM in Music Composition at Indiana University’s Jacobs School of Music, where he was Associate Instructor in music theory and an accompanist for the university’s pre-college ballet program.

Brandon DiCriscio
Contemporary/Modern C, Musical Theatre Dance Fundamentals + Dance I & III
Mr. DiCriscio, of Wilmington, DE, received his initial training from Anne Marie and Sonny Leo. He then went on to pursue a B.A. in Dance at Point Park University. While in school, he apprenticed with River North Dance Chicago and then became a company member in 2007, dancing with the company for four seasons. Brandon has worked with choreographers including Robert Battle, Sidra Bell, Frank Chaves, Ron De Jesus, Shannon Gillen, Gustavo Ramierz Zanzano, Lauri Stallings, Doug Varone, Edgar Zendejas, and Sherry Zunker. While at Springboard Danse Montreal, he worked with BJM Danse Montreal under the direction of Louis Robitaille. Brandon also has apprenticed with Luna Negra Dance Theater. His true passion is for dance-making. In 2011, he won the Dance Chance Redux competition sponsored by DanceWorks Chicago and the Ruth Page Center for the Arts. In 2012, he created two new works on the Big Muddy Dance Company of St. Louis. Additional Chicago Concert dance commissions include Nomi Dance Company, DanceWorks Chicago, Inside Chicago Dance, and LEVELdance. Brandon is currently Associate Artistic Director of LEVELdance. He enjoys training aspiring dance professionals at ChiArts, as well as Joffrey Academy, and the North Shore School of Dance. He also is the resident choreographer for ChiArts’ Musical Theatre Main Stage productions.
Maliwan Diemer
Ballet Technique F, Cardio Conditioning for Dancers + Professional Development II

Maliwan Diemer began her dance training in Columbus, Ohio at the age of three. She continued her studies with RAD certified teacher, Ng Siew Fong, while her family lived abroad. Ballet became her passion and by the age of thirteen she had been invited to study and perform with Indiana University’s Ballet Theater, where she trained with Violette Verdy, Jean-Pierre Bonnefoux, Patricia McBride, Jacques and Virginia Cesbron, Leslie Peck and Doricha Sales, along with notable guest choreographers and directors. A long time instructor for Indiana University’s Pre-College Ballet Program, Ms. Diemer also spent a year as Associate Instructor for the African American Dance Company under the direction of Iris Rosa. She is now on faculty at the Lou Conte Dance Studio, serves as faculty member and Performance Project Director for Chicago Ballet Arts, teaches for Hubbard Street’s Youth Dance Program, and is a guest teacher for Empower Dance Company. Ms. Diemer has also worked with the University of Chicago’s UBallet and has taught company class for DanceWorks Chicago and Deeply Rooted Dance Theater. She has won Professional Rising Star and Open ballroom events in Latin, Standard and Smooth and is a United States 10-Dance Finalist and National Rising Star Smooth Finalist. Ms. Diemer holds a M.A. in Arts Administration and a B.S.O.F. in Ballet and Political Science, magna cum laude, both from Indiana University. She has been a part of the dance faculty at ChiArts since 2011.

Robert Garrett
Dance Accompanist
Robin Gayle

Robin Gayle is a professional dancer, an established ballet teacher, and a certified Pilates instructor. She performed for nine seasons as a Soloist with the Columbia City Ballet, apprenticed with the Colorado Ballet, and is a frequent guest artist around the country. Robin trained privately under Sherry Moray and Alla Osipenko and attended the Académie de Danse Classique Princesse Grace in Monte Carlo, the Ruth Page School of Dance, and the Chicago Academy for the Arts. Her summer intensives include the schools of American Ballet Theatre, San Francisco Ballet, and Joffrey Ballet. Robin was a top finalist at the Youth America Grand Prix competition and chosen to perform at YAGP Galas in 2000 and 2001. Robin’s reviews include Dance Magazine’s late Ann Barzel, who praised Robin as a “uniquely talented dancer,” and the Chicago Sun-Times’ Hedy Weiss, who characterized Robin’s dancing as “brilliant.”

Julia Hinojosa
Spanish Dance

Of Mexican-Puerto Rican descent, Julia Hinojosa is a native of Chicago and a Company Dancer/Rehearsal Assistant at Ensemble Español Spanish Dance Theater. She began her Spanish dance studies with Dame Libby Komaiko in the fall of 2000 and has since studied with renowned teachers and choreographers including Irma Suarez Ruiz, Jorge Pérez, Ana González, Juan Mata, Ron de Jesus, Edo, Timo Lozano, Celia Fonta, Manolete, Vida Peral, Inmaculada Ortega, Miguel Cañas, Omayra Amaya, Carmela Greco, Raquel Gomez, Paloma Gomez and Christian Lozano. She has also studied Ballet and Modern dance with Ana Czajun, Rachel Burton, Jim Morrow, Ana Levin, and Dr. Venetia Stifler of the Northeastern Illinois University’s dance program, to which she received a Dance Talent scholarship. In May 2011, Julia graduated from Colombia College, Chicago with a Master’s Degree in Arts Management. In addition to her work as a dancer, Julia is currently working with the Ensemble Español as their Arts Education Program Coordinator and Associate Artistic Director of the Ensemble Español Youth Company. She teaches in several schools and studios throughout the Chicago land area and is an instructor with the NEIU Preparatory Dance program and on the faculty of the Ensemble Español’s community dance program and in-school residency program.

Mike Przygoda
Music for Dancers + Dance Accompanist

Mike Przygoda is a composer and multi-instrumentalist from Chicago who has been at ChiArts since the very beginning. He has written music for film, dance, live theatre, orchestras, jazz and rock bands, commercials, and sometimes just for himself. He also produces records for local bands, has been the touring music director at Second City, and has a Joseph Jefferson Award for Artistic Specialization In Percussion.

Ted Seymour
Pointe II + Ballet Technique B

Ted Seymour was born in Dallas, Texas where he trained at the Dallas Metropolitan Ballet. He moved to Chicago to study with Dan Duell and Patricia Blair as a member of the Ballet Chicago Studio Company. Ted later attended The School of American Ballet where he choreographed two ballets for the school and was invited by Peter Martins to create a new ballet for the New York Choreographic Institute. After leaving SAB, he joined Cedar Lake Contemporary dance Company. Ted joined Suzanne Farrell Ballet in 2007 where he has danced featured roles in Balanchine’s Episodes, La Valse, and the Act II pas de deux from A Midsummer Night’s Dream among others.

Anna Shuba
Accompanist
Megan Wright

Megan is a Chicago native who holds a B.A. in psychology from DePaul University. She has danced professionally with the Los Angeles Ballet and the Saint Louis Ballet. In addition, she has performed with the San Diego Ballet and completed professional workshops with the San Francisco Conservatory of Dance and Alonzo King’s Lines Ballet. Megan trained at Ballet Chicago and the Chicago Multi-Cultural Dance Center. She spent her summers studying at the School of American Ballet, the San Francisco Ballet School, and American Ballet Theater. Megan is currently on faculty at Ballet Chicago and performs regularly at the iO Theater.

Teanna Zarro
Ballet Technique C

Teanna Zarro was born and raised in Los Angeles, California, and received her early ballet training with Meredith Baylis. She continued her training with The Pennsylvania Ballet School, as well as studying on a full scholarship with The Joffrey Ballet School. At the age of seventeen Ms. Zarro moved to New York to join The Joffrey Ballet II, and also performed as an apprentice with The Joffrey Ballet of Chicago. In 1999, Ms. Zarro was invited to join The Joffrey Ballet of Chicago, under the direction of Gerald Arpino. With The Joffrey, Ms. Zarro performed ballets by renowned choreographers such as Gerald Arpino, George Balanchine, Leonard Massine, Agnes de Mille, Vaslav Nijinsky, Frederick Ashton and Martha Graham. Currently, Teanna is enjoying a career as freelance artist and ballet teacher. She has performed featured roles with Ballet New York, The Los Angeles Ballet, Civic Ballet of Chicago, The San Diego Opera, The Dallas Opera and The Lyric Opera of Chicago. Principal roles include: Aurora in The Sleeping Beauty, the Sugarplum Fairy in The Nutcracker, Medora in Le Corsaire, Swanilda in Coppelia and Juliet in Romeo and Juliet.

Music

Betsy Ko
Music Department Head

Betsy Ko is a founding faculty member of ChiArts, Chicago’s first public arts high school.  Ms. Ko has served as Music Department Head since the school opened its doors in the fall of 2009. She also serves as the ChiArts Band Director and has overseen growth in that program from 9 students in 2009 to a current enrollment of 46.  In March 2018, the ChiArts Wind Ensemble under Ms. Ko’s direction was honored to receive the honor of “Best in Day” designation at the Illinois High School Association’s Organizational Contest.   Ms. Ko is also a long time flute faculty member at Merit School of Music where she teaches individuals and groups of all levels. She has coached the Purple Hippopotami Flute Quartet for many years and saw that group earn 3rd place in the prestigious M-Prize Chamber Music competition (Junior Winds division) in May 2018.  A native of New York, Ms. Ko has been an active performer in the Chicago area since arriving here in 1991. She currently performs with the Northshore Concert Band. Ms. Ko received her M.M. in flute performance from DePaul University where she studied with Mary Stolper. Her undergraduate degree was in pure mathematics from Brown University. She additionally holds Illinois Type 10 certification in music.

Alicia Poot Kelly
Department Admin. Assistant + Flute Technique + Music Theory Fundamentals

Alicia Poot Kelly (“Poot” rhymes with “boat”) is an orchestral and chamber flutist in and around Chicago. Since 2009 she is a core member of “Palomar,” the performing arm of Chicago composer resource Access Contemporary Music (ACM). Other performance credits include work with the Chicago Composers’ Orchestra, the Kalamazoo, Battle Creek, Southwest Michigan, and Northwest Indiana Symphonies, Whiting Park Festival Orchestra, Pine Mountain Music Festival, Lira Ensemble, New Millennium Orchestra, Highland Park Strings, The Irish Tenors, Bach and Beyond, Anaphora, International Chamber Artists, and Crossing Borders Music Collective. Mrs. Poot Kelly has also been a faculty member at Merit School of Music, and has worked with student composers through the Young Composers Program at Cleveland Institute of Music and ACM’s High School Composers Workshop. She has been a winner or finalist in several competitions hosted by organizations such as The National Flute Association, Tuesday Musical Society, Madison Are Flute Association, and has performed in festivals in Canada and Italy: Orford Arts Centre, Symphony Orchestra Academy of the Pacific, Rome Festival, and the Julius Baker Masterclasses. She has studied at DePaul University, The University of Akron (MM), Western Michigan University (BM), and The Catholic University of America. Mrs. Poot Kelly is married to ChiArts percussion faculty member Jeff Kelly.

Anthony Bruno
Jazz Coordinator + Jazz Combo A + Jazz Combo & Repertoire A + JCR B + Professional Development for Instrumentalists + Sax Tech

Anthony Bruno is a freelance saxophone, clarinet, and flute player who plays throughout the country. He earned a B.M. in Music Education from DePaul University in Chicago and played in the DePaul University Jazz Ensemble under the direction of Dr. Bob Lark. While at DePaul he was immersed in Chicago’s vast scene of working musicians and began playing at the top jazz clubs in Chicago: the Green Mill, the Jazz Showcase, and Andy’s Jazz Club. He has played with famous names such as R. Kelly, The Temptations, The Four Tops, Mary Wilson of the Supremes, Wynton Marsalis, Gerald Clayton, Doc Severinsen, the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, Bobby Watson, Sean Jones, and Phil Woods. He has also performed in two Universal Pictures Movies, Public Enemies with Johny Depp and Diana Krall, and The Express, where you can hear him soloing during the dance scene at Syracuse University. Anthony has played at Riot Fest, North Coast Music Festival, Umbrella Music Festival, Jazz Education Network Conference, Festival Cubano, and the Fox Jazz Festival. He is also heavily involved in studio and session work and has his own home studio where he records and produces his own music. You can listen to his music at his Music Page. As Jazz Coordinator of ChiArts, Anthony works with the Thelonious Monk Institute, The Ravinia Jazz Scholars, and the Louis Armstrong Legacy Performance Celebration. Anthony is a member of JEN, the Jazz Education Network. Anthony is a Selmer Endorsing Artist.

 

Chris Cashman
Spanish + Spanish for Native Speakers + Choral Experience

This is Chris Cashman’s fifth year at ChiArts. He received his B.A. in TESOL at Moody Bible Institute in Chicago, and spent a summer teaching English in Mexico while living with a pastoral family there. After teaching ESL at Harold Washington College for a year and a half, he decided to pursue a long-time goal of being a Spanish teacher and studied Spanish Linguistics at UIC (M.A. degree) and taught Spanish there. He completed education coursework at Northeastern and taught for two years at Oak Park & River Forest High School.

Mr.Cashman has been immersed in the Hispanic community in Chicago by being involved in a Spanish-speaking church. He serves as a youth ministry leader and a few years ago started a band in the church which he directs. He has served as the accompanist for Senior Chorale, and this year will be teaching Chorale Experience. Mr.Cashman has a wife and two children and lives in Humboldt Park.

Natalie Chami

Natalie Chami is a composer, performer, and music educator. She holds a Bachelor’s in Music with an emphasis in Music Education from Northwestern University and concentrations in classical voice, opera performance, and choral conducting. She has acted as director of volunteer music outreach groups including the Music Learning Community (MLC) and UpBeat!, which organized free music lessons in the Evanston and Chicago area. In addition to her degree, Ms. Chami is also Illinois Teacher Certified for grades K-12 (Music). She is a member of the National Association of Teachers of Singing (NATS), and was a finalist for the National Artist Teacher Fellowship in 2014.

Ms. Chami is an active member of Chicago’s experimental music scene. She records and performs solo music under the name TALsounds, in the trio Good Willsmith, and as half of the duo l’éternèbre. Each of these projects presents a variation or complication of an overarching performative process: her vocal loops and analog synth tones drift and accumulate across long sessions of improvised music – generating an atmosphere of her own, or colluding with the processed electronics and textural sound collages of her collaborators. After a series of tape releases on labels like Hausu Mountain, Tabs Out, and Moog’s own physical imprint, Chami released her first TALsounds LP, Love Sick, with New York’s Ba Da Bing Records. In addition to her regular local performances, Ms. Chami has performed across the US on four national tours with Good Willsmith and two solo tours to date. Good Willsmith was chosen with the trio as an artist in residence at Chicago’s High Concept Laboratories for the Fall/Winter 2012-13 season. The band’s LPs The Honeymoon Workbook and Things Our Bodies Used To Have, released on Mexico-city based label Umor Rex, earned positive reviews from publications including Pitchfork, FACT, and Vice/THUMP, while TALsounds’s 2015 LP Love Sick saw praise from NPR, FACT, Bandcamp, and BBC6 Radio.

Bill Chin
Senior Choir

Mr. Chin is Assistant Director the Chicago Symphony Chorus and is the founder and artistic director of The Oriana Singers, a six-voice a cappella group that has presented concerts nationally and internationally since 1979. He is Music Director of the Pro Musica Youth Chorus, with whom he has recorded two CDs for GIA Publications. In addition, Mr. Chin directs the Symphony Chorus for the Symphony of Oak Park and River Forest, is founder and director of the community chorus City Voices, and is the conductor of the Anshe Emet Synagogue Choir in Chicago. He is an active professional singer and performs with numerous Chicago-area choral ensembles. Mr. Chin has served on the adjunct faculty for both DePaul and Roosevelt Universities.

Julian Chin
Vocal Technique & Repertoire IV + Music Theory Fundamentals + Keyboard Skills

Julian Chin joined the ChiArts faculty in 2012. He has served as an instructor and accompanist for many organizations in the Chicago area, including After School Matters, Merit School of Music, and the Pro Musica Youth Chorus. He has worked as a a music director and pit musician for Light Opera Works, Porchlight Theater, and the Journeyman, among others, and is proud to have been the music director for all of ChiArts’ main stage musical productions. In addition to his work in theater and education, Julian can be seen performing around the city with bands in a wide variety of genres, from jazz to rock to hip hop and everything in between. In 2011, he toured the US and Europe with the avant-garde rock group Capillary Action, including performances at Willisau Jazz Festival and the Rumor Festival in Utrecht. Currently, he can be seen performing with rock/soul singer Elle Casazza, and as a guest artist with a wide variety of local acts. Julian is a native Chicagoan, and graduated in 2008 from Oberlin Conservatory with a B.M. in Piano Performance, with a focus in Jazz Studies.

Tom Clippert
Guitar Tech III & IV + Guitar Ensemble I & II + Chamber Music

Thomas Clippert savors the wide variety of music available for the guitar, from the early Renaissance to the present day. He frequently performs as both soloist and chamber musician throughout the Chicago area. He has appeared with a variety of ensembles including L’Opera Piccola, Heartland Voices, CUBE, Northwest Chicago String Quartet, Northwest Chicago Symphony Orchestra, and the University of Chicago New Music Ensemble. In 2010, Tom became a founding member the Avanti Guitar Trio with friends and colleagues Julie Goldberg and Jeffrey Gabriel Silva. Tom is a graduate of the Yale School of Music where he studied with Benjamin Verdery and was awarded the Eliot Fisk Guitar Prize. Additional studies include Phillip de Fremery at the Mount Holyoke Guitar Master Class and Patrick Roux at the Domaine Forget Music and Dance Academy in Quebec. In addition to being a founding faculty member at ChiArts, Tom teaches at Oakton Community College, The Sherwood Community Music School at Columbia College, and the Wisconsin Conservatory of Music. Tom has been a featured artist at the Interlochen Fingerstyle Guitar Workshop.

Jason Ellis
Acoustic Bass Technique

Jason Ellis performs with Fulcrum Point New Music Project, Million Dollar Quartet, and a wide variety of classical and popular ensembles. His teaching experience includes the Jacobs School at Indiana University as well as Interlochen Center for the Arts. Jason has performed with the Memphis Symphony, the World Youth Symphony, and jazz luminaries such as Bobby Watson, James Williams, and Fareed Haque. His primary teachers are Lawrence Hurst, Bruce Bransby, John Clayton, and Rufus Reid. Jason endorses Lakland basses and Genz Benz amplifiers.

Dr. John Elmquist
Bass for the Guitarist + Chorale Accompaniment + Composition

John Elmquist received his DMA in composition from the University of Memphis, and his MM in piano performance from Virginia Commonwealth University. He serves on the faculties the Chicago High School of the Arts, the Merit School of Music and the People’s Music School. He is also the Music Director at Ebenezer Lutheran Church in Chicago and works in and around Chicago as a bass player. In 1999, Mr. Elmquist formed HardArt group as a vehicle for performing his music. This ad hoc ensemble, ranging in size from 3-20 players, has produced 14 recordings and currently performs at various venues in Chicago. The group has performed at the Museum of Contemporary Art, the Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium Park, the Green Mill and Northeastern Illinois University. In January 2011, Mr. Elmquist won first prize in the Rapido! composition competition held by the Atlanta Chamber players, receiving a commission to be performed in the 2011-12 seasons of the Atlanta Chamber Players, Boston Musica Viva and Chicago’s Fifth House Ensemble. Also in 2011 he will hold a fellowship at Georgia’s Hambidge Creative Residency Program. hardartgroop.comhttp://hardartgroop.com/

Terrance Gray

Terrance Malone Gray’s career as a violinist and conductor has garnered him national and international recognition. Born in Wisconsin, he began studying the violin with Elizabeth Grabow Mueller at the age of eight. Mr. Gray went on to study with Marc Zinger and Victor Aitay at DePaul University and later studied with Ruben Gonzalez. He served as concertmaster of the DePaul University Orchestra and as concertmaster of the Civic Orchestra of Chicago. Mr. Gray later became a founding member of the internationally acclaimed Chicago Sinfonietta as well as embarking on the study of conducting.

In his post college years Mr. Gray became Music Director of the South Side Family Chamber Orchestra, and principal conductor of CYSO’s Concert Orchestra, which led to engagements at the Grant Park Music Festival in Chicago as well as the Rocky Ridge Music Festival in Colorado. In 1999 Mr. Gray became the principal conductor of the Illinois Chamber Symphony, and during 2002 season was Music Director/Conductor and Professor of Violin at Kalamazoo College in Michigan.

In 2010 Mr. Gray had his premiere performance conducting Chicago Sinfonietta at Orchestra Hall and spent the year as cover conductor for the Joffrey Ballet under Scott Speck. Later that same year Mr. Gray was awarded a Conductor of the Year award from the Illinois Council of Orchestras.

As a chamber musician, he has performed as a member of the American Arts Trio, the Tower Ensemble and the EDU String Quartet. He also has performed with such jazz greats as Edward Wilkerson, Mwata Bowden, Ari Brown and Orbert Davis. Mr. Gray has performed at the Musikverein and Kozerthaus in Vienna, the Gewandhaus in Leipzig, the Tonnehalle in Geneva and the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. His touring has also taken him to Switzerland, Germany, Spain, China and Japan.

Mr. Gray is currently a member of Chicago Sinfonietta and concertmaster of the New Black Repertory Ensemble; Associate Conductor of CYSO, and Music Director of the South Side Family Chamber Orchestra.

Jeannette Hoyt

Jeannette Hoyt has over two decades of large and small ensemble teaching experience and music lesson teaching expertise. Previously General Manager and Intermediate Orchestra Director of Hyde Park Youth Symphony and String Ensemble Director at Guerin Prep High School, River Grove, Illinois, Jeannette serves as an adjudicator for Illinois High School Music Association District Contest, Illinois Music Educators Association Contest, and the Granquist Music Competition. As guest clinician, Jeannette has worked with the Schaumburg Youth Symphony and Chicago’s All-Star Orchestra. One of Jeannette’s favorite arts education experiences was her junior year at Interlochen Arts Academy, a fine arts high school. Prior to teaching at ChiArts, Jeannette taught piano lab to 11th and 12th graders through the Noble Network School system.

Jeff Kelly
Snare Technique

Jeff Kelly has played and studied drum set and percussion for more than two decades. He was fortunate to have received a large part of his training from the late Alan Dawson, who mentored such drum set luminaries as Tony Williams and Vinnie Colaiuta. He studied Music at Boston University, and went on to earn his Masters Degree in Jazz from The Berklee College of Music & Boston Conservatory. There he continued his drum set work under the fine tutelage of Ron Savage, and Jon Hazilla, who was a student of Max Roach’s. He studied Brazilian and Afro-Cuban music with Ed Uribe, Sa Davis, and Bobby Sanabria (Dizzy Gillespe) and West African drumming with Joe Galeota (maker of JAG drums). He traveled to Ghana for additional study with Emanuel, Rueben, and Victor Agbeli, sons of Master Drummer Godwin Agbeli. Jeff is an experienced, enthusiastic, and dedicated Drum Teacher and an active performer in genres including jazz, funk, folk, rock, r&b, pop, and “other.” In addition to his work as a Professional Musician, he is a Producer, a Recording Engineer with major label credits, a Songwriter whose works have gotten international airplay, and a Composer for clients such as Twentieth Century Fox Searchlight, MTV, Frito Lay, and Pepsi. Having worked on production teams with Grammy nominees and Oscar winners, he brings to his classroom an understanding of the type of professionalism it takes to succeed in the music industry. Jeff is a big fan of science, history, football, and loves to fish, having recently caught a ferociously bellicose 45-inch Northern Pike.

Adam LaSalle

Adam LaSalle is an actor, pianist, music director, and teacher. He has worked with Memphis’ Playhouse on the Square Musical Theatre Education Program, the Chicago Children’s Choir, SummerSing’s International Choral Festival in Cork City, Ireland, and an number of revues and cabarets at the Promontory and as a regular at Davenport’s Piano Bar and Cabaret in Wicker Park. Prior to ChiArts, he was the founding Choral teacher and Art Department Chair at Butler College Prep. He has also music directed a number of musicals throughout the city and is humbled to have been a part of the Chicago premiere of Forbidden Broadway’s Spamilton. 

Erica Lessie
Cello Technique, Chamber Music & Keyboard Skills II

Erica Lessie received her BM in cello performance from Indiana University, where she studied with Fritz Magg. At Florida State University she earned an MM in cello performance and completed coursework for a DMA. Currently, she is teaching at DePaul University Community Music Division, Sherwood Community Music School at Columbia College, Chicago High School for the Arts and Whitney Young Magnet High School. Ms. Lessie is a freelance cellist in the Chicago area. She is a founding member of the cross-style string quartet Red Riding Hood and co-founder of Cherchez la Femme, an ensemble dedicated to performing works by women. She is also an auxiliary member of the rock band Tributosaurus.

Caryn Ott

Caryn Ott Hillman started dancing at the age of three.  Her love for performing brought her to Chicago to attend Roosevelt University for a Bachelors of Music in Vocal Performance.  After years of performing in musicals in Equity and Non-Equity houses, Caryn found her love of teaching, directing and choreographing.  Currently, she is not only working here at ChiArts, but at Lycee Francais, Chicago Opera Theater, Music Theater Works, Merit School of Music, Actors Gymnasium and The New Music School, as well. Her method of teaching is: Build Trust in the Classroom so each performer feels confident enough to Be Daring!

Dr. Greta Pope
Professional Development for Vocalists

Greta Pope is an award winning, internationally acclaimed entertainer. She has delighted audiences throughout Europe, the Far East, South America and the Caribbean, as well as the United States and Canada. Ms. Pope has been touted one of the great voices of our time, as she performs with ease all styles from Jazz to Opera, and from Rhythm and Blues to Broadway. Greta’s performance credentials include singing in several languages. She has shared the stage with such well-known performers as Wynonna Judd, Dick Van Dyke, Stanley Clarke, Ramsey Lewis, Rich Little, Penn & Teller and many others. Greta’s voice is featured on commercials and voice-overs, including those for McDonald’s, Whirlpool, Allstate, Lexus, Este Lauder and others. Greta Pope is the daughter-in-law of legendary Duke Ellington vocalist Kay Davis. Through this relationship, Greta has developed a one-woman show entitled Duke Ellington…The Man…The Music…The Legend! This historic show features the music of the legendary American Composer. In this engaging performance, Greta shares funny and heartwarming anecdotes from Kay’s years with “The Duke.” Greta Pope holds a Bachelor of Music Degree, a Master of Music Degree and has studied at Indiana University with the brilliant Metropolitan Opera soprano Eileen Farrell. Greta Pope is a Ph.D. in Business Administration and is the author of self-help book Music, Money & You; Managing the Business, now available at leading booksellers nationwide. Music, Money & You has been chosen as the selected text for several school programs. Dr. Pope is a consultant to the Archdiocese of Chicago Catholic Schools where she has served as musical director and vocal coach. Dr. Pope is The Music Business Expert. She is a Motivational Speaker and travels the country with her Music, Money & You Motivational Tour, presenting Master Classes to groups on the topics of “Breaking into the Music Industry” and “It’s Your Life; Being All You Can Be!” Dr. Pope has been a featured speaker at the Annual Self Employment in the Arts Conference (SEA) and the Annual Collegiate Entrepreneurs’ Organization Conference (CEO). Greta Pope is a current/past member of several not-for-profit Boards around the Chicago area, including the Ronald McDonald House, WorldChicago, Illinois Children’s Home and Aid Society, Chicago Cabaret Professionals, Morgan Park Academy and Advocate Trinity Hospital. Greta Pope is also a member of Jack and Jill of America, The Girl Friends, Inc. and The Links, Incorporated, for which she serves as the Windy City Links Arts Chairman. Dr. Pope is involved with performing arts organizations and serves on the Board of Directors for the Screen Actors Guild/American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA) Chicago local, where she is the Chairman of the Singers Committee. Greta is also a member of the Manhattan Association of Cabaret Artists, Cabaret West and the Chicago Cabaret Professionals. Greta Pope is married to Chicago businessman Edward L. Wimp. They have one son, Edward W. Wimp.

Devvora Papatheodorou Schreier
Piano Ensemble I + Piano Repertoire + Piano Technique I & III + Piano Accompaniment

Devvora Papatheodorou Schreier has an M.M. in Piano Performance from DePaul University, a B.M. in Piano Performance from Nikos Skalkotas Conservatory and a Degree in Harmony from Model Conservatory. During her Master’s degree, she studied piano with Mary Sauer of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. In addition, she studied piano technique and chamber music with Deborah Sobol of the Chicago Chamber Musicians for five years after the completion of her Master’s. She has had master classes with Mary Stolper, Yehuda Hanani, Jerry Grossman, William Cernota, and Christopher Costanza, among others. Ms. Papatheodorou has extensive experience in teaching piano, piano ensemble and theory. She has had training and certification in YAMAHA’s Clavinova lab and trained piano faculty in group class repertoire, class management and methodologies. Ms. Papatheodorou has coached one‐piano four‐hand and two‐piano ensembles, as well as mixed chamber groups for several years and currently teaches at Dominican University, where she also serves as Director of the Music Discipline. She has had several years of solo, chamber music and one-piano found-hands performing experience, as well as accompanying other instrumentalists and vocalists.

Kelsey Tortorice

Kelsey Tortorice is a music educator and vocalist. She earned her Bachelor of Music Education in 2011 at VanderCook College of Music and has been teaching music in Chicago ever since. She’s taught choir, private voice, guitar, theory, piano, and directed musicals in both neighborhood and charter schools. Kelsey’s students have earned “excellent” and “superior” ratings at competitions both in Chicago and out of state. Her students have also been recognized in various media stories including mentions in a WBEZ story on how music changes the teenage brain and a feature on WGN when Kelsey was awarded “Teacher of the Month,” in January 2017. Kelsey has been honored by her Alma Mater as the recipient of the 2015 “Roseanne Rosenthal Excellence in Teaching Award.”

In addition to the work that she does with students, Kelsey sings as a member of the Wicker Park Choral Singers and in the local band Budway Ferris and the Mutual Magic. Aside from teaching and performing music, she spends most of her time working with Inner Sense Healing Arts Collective, a community space for yoga, wellness, and the arts that she is a proud co-founder of. Kelsey looks forward to continuing to share her passion for music with young people and supporting the invaluable mission of creating equitable educational experiences for students in this city.

Dr. Brooks Truly
Percussion Ensemble + Mallet Technique I + Music Theory I

Dr. Brooks Truly is an endorsed performing artist with Remo Drumheads, Sabian Cymbals, Vic Firth Sticks and Mallets, and is a member of the Vic Firth Education Team in the Collegiate Educators Program. He holds a Doctor of Musical Arts degree from the Frost School of Music at the University of Miami, a Master of Music degree from the Chicago College of Performing Arts at Roosevelt University, and a Bachelor of Music degree from the University of South Alabama, all in the field of Percussion Performance. Currently, he teaches Percussion and AP Music Theory at ChiArts, Applied Percussion and Ear Training/Sight Singing at Morton College, Music Theory at The Merit School of Music, and private lessons on both percussion and piano. Additionally, he performs with the world fusion group Callaloo, The Chicago Dance Institute, and is a freelance musician with various other groups in the Chicago area. Dr. Truly has taught percussion at several universities, secondary and primary schools, and has performed with dozens of orchestras and chamber groups as a section/principal percussionist, and as a featured soloist, as well as hundreds of drum set and theater performances throughout the Gulf Coast, South Florida, and Midwest areas. During this time, he has shared the stage with such artists as Lil Greenwood, Bobby Shew, Louis Bellson, Sherwood Mobley, Tony Bennett, Natalie Cole, Jim Walker, Yo-Yo Ma, Michel Camilo, Samuel Ramey, Andrea Bocelli, Marcello Giordani, Ramsey Lewis, Paul Potts, Faith Hill, and Elvis Costello, to name a few, and has worked with such conductors/ composers as Scott Speck, John Strickler, Aaron Jay Kernis, David LaMarche, Aaron Kula, Ramón Tebar, Steven Mercurio, Alexander Platt, James Judd, Helmuth Rilling, Sir Andrew Davis, Michael Tilson Thomas, Daniel Barenboim, Russell Peck, Placido Domingo, and Phillip Glass, among others, and was a percussionist in the world premiere of Mason Bates’ Music for Percussion and Orchestra. Recently he was invited to present his doctoral essay, The Afro-Cuban Abakuá as a performance/demonstration at the Percussive Arts Society International Convention (PASIC). For a full bio and more information, please visit www.brookstruly.com.

Theatre

Annie Calhoun
Theatre Department Head

Annie Calhoun believes in the power of equity in arts education. The passion behind this belief led her to become a founding ChiArts teacher in 2009 and then took her all the way to South Los Angeles where she co-founded Kipp Scholar Academy and created their theatre program. She holds a teaching degree from Taylor University in Theatre and English and is IL certified for grades 6-12. Ms. Calhoun also received her MFA in Acting from DePaul’s Theatre School. She returns to Chicago after five years of teaching, directing and performing in Los Angeles. In LA, Ms. Calhoun taught and directed at the Professional (Adlerimprov), Collegiate (USC), and High School (LA County HS for the Arts) levels; she also founded an inner city theatre program in South LA (Kipp Scholar). She is a novelist and playwright whose pieces have been performed on stages all over Los Angeles and an actor whose work ranges from theater and film, to improv and stand up comedy.

A Chicago native, she is rooted in the values of play, ensemble, high standards and creative new work. While in Chicago she completed iO’s training and then performed there regularly, as well as The Annoyance. One of her favorite experiences was being included as the first improvised play Steppenwolf allowed in their Garage space with a group she founded called ALMOST ATLANTA. The breadth and depth of her expertise in education and theatre offer a vast array of skills from classroom management and facilitating diversity, equity & inclusion to building ensemble among students and staff, and measuring student growth outcomes. She’s thrilled to be back.

Scott Westerman
Department Admin. Assistant, Acting, Voice & Speech + Senior Project

Scott Westerman is a Chicago-based actor, director, and teacher. As an actor, he has worked with numerous theatre companies in the Chicago area, including Chicago Shakespeare, Northlight, Apple Tree, Chicago Dramatists, Strawdog, Lifeline, Stage Left, A Crew of Patches, Mary Arrchie, Festival Theatre of Oak Park, Pegasis Players, Incognito, Borealis, Reverie Theatre Company, and The Artistic Home, with whom he is an ensemble member and managing director. Nationally, he has worked with the Shakespeare Theatre Company and Ford’s Theatre in Washington, D.C.; with Everyman Theatre in Baltimore; with the Warehouse Theatre in Greenville, South Carolina; and with the Barter Theatre in Abingdon, Virginia. Scott has done several commercials, has appeared in the television show Prison Break on FOX, as well as a pilot for HBO’s The Washingtonienne, and was seen on the big screen getting beat up by Gerard Butler in the film Machine Gun Preacher. Scott’s directing career has run the gamut from professional productions to students’ devised works. Up next, he is directing a new play called Interrogation for The Artsitic Home. Scott received his MFA from The Shakespeare Theatre Company’s Academy for Classical Acting at the George Washington University.

David Blixt
Stage Combat
Julian Chin
Vocal Technique & Repertoire IV + Music Theory Fundamentals + Keyboard Skills

Julian Chin joined the ChiArts faculty in 2012. He has served as an instructor and accompanist for many organizations in the Chicago area, including After School Matters, Merit School of Music, and the Pro Musica Youth Chorus. He has worked as a a music director and pit musician for Light Opera Works, Porchlight Theater, and the Journeyman, among others, and is proud to have been the music director for all of ChiArts’ main stage musical productions. In addition to his work in theater and education, Julian can be seen performing around the city with bands in a wide variety of genres, from jazz to rock to hip hop and everything in between. In 2011, he toured the US and Europe with the avant-garde rock group Capillary Action, including performances at Willisau Jazz Festival and the Rumor Festival in Utrecht. Currently, he can be seen performing with rock/soul singer Elle Casazza, and as a guest artist with a wide variety of local acts. Julian is a native Chicagoan, and graduated in 2008 from Oberlin Conservatory with a B.M. in Piano Performance, with a focus in Jazz Studies.

Cheryl Coons

Cheryl Coons is a Resident Playwright at Chicago Dramatists, and has designed and taught professional musical theatre writing courses there since 2009. She also teaches at Porchlight Music Theatre and Columbia College, and is a mentor for the Northwestern University musical theatre writers, and an animateur with the Chicago Voices Project of Lyric Opera of Chicago. She wrote book and lyrics for the award-winning musicals River’s End (ASCAP Foundation Harold Arlen Musical Theatre Award, Bay Area Theatre Critics Circle Award, Theatre for the American Musical Award), At Wit’s End (Carbonell Award), and lyrics for Sylvia’s Real Good Advice (Joseph Jefferson Award), Female Problems  (After Dark Award), and Phantom of the Country Opera, published by Music Theatre International. She spends many of her evenings with the kids at the Cook County Juvenile Detention Center, where she is a program manager and teaching artist for Storycatchers Theatre.

Brandon DiCriscio
Contemporary/Modern C, Musical Theatre Dance Fundamentals + Dance I & III
Mr. DiCriscio, of Wilmington, DE, received his initial training from Anne Marie and Sonny Leo. He then went on to pursue a B.A. in Dance at Point Park University. While in school, he apprenticed with River North Dance Chicago and then became a company member in 2007, dancing with the company for four seasons. Brandon has worked with choreographers including Robert Battle, Sidra Bell, Frank Chaves, Ron De Jesus, Shannon Gillen, Gustavo Ramierz Zanzano, Lauri Stallings, Doug Varone, Edgar Zendejas, and Sherry Zunker. While at Springboard Danse Montreal, he worked with BJM Danse Montreal under the direction of Louis Robitaille. Brandon also has apprenticed with Luna Negra Dance Theater. His true passion is for dance-making. In 2011, he won the Dance Chance Redux competition sponsored by DanceWorks Chicago and the Ruth Page Center for the Arts. In 2012, he created two new works on the Big Muddy Dance Company of St. Louis. Additional Chicago Concert dance commissions include Nomi Dance Company, DanceWorks Chicago, Inside Chicago Dance, and LEVELdance. Brandon is currently Associate Artistic Director of LEVELdance. He enjoys training aspiring dance professionals at ChiArts, as well as Joffrey Academy, and the North Shore School of Dance. He also is the resident choreographer for ChiArts’ Musical Theatre Main Stage productions.
Evelyn Gaynor

Evelyn Gaynor teaches Voice and Speech 1A and 1B for freshmen and sophomore actors, Voice and Speech II for junior actors, and Acting for junior and senior vocalists. She is an actress and teaching artist who began her work in NYC, teaching arts residencies in the public school system for nearly 5 years with a program called Periwinkle Theater for Youth. In NYC she also worked with Broadway Classroom, Inside Broadway, and The Story Pirates. In Chicago, she is a company member with Barrel of Monkeys, teaches and directs with Chicago Youth Shakespeare, and teaches with The Viola Project. Theatrically, she has worked with Jackalope Theatre Company, Victory Gardens Theater, Theatre at the Center, Syracuse Stage, The Hangar Theatre, Alhambra Theatre and Dining, Cape Cod Repertory Theater, and Indiana Festival Theatre, among others. She has also appeared on Chicago P.D. She has her BFA in Acting from Syracuse University and her MFA in Acting from Indiana University, where she taught undergraduate courses in Voice and Speech and served as the vocal coach for University Players.

Josie McCanse
Theatre History & Literature

Josie is a local teacher and improviser. After receiving her B.A. in Theatre from the University of Iowa, she moved to Chicago to pursue her love of acting. She is a graduate of IO and the Second City Conservatory program and an original member of the improv group HHDM, which can be seen performing in venues around Chicago. In 2007 she went back to school at Loyola University where she earned her Master’s of Education in Secondary Education with endorsements in English and Theatre. Ms. McCanse has taught English in public and private schools and is thrilled to be combining her love of theatre and literature at ChiArts.

Rebecca Prescott

Chicago-based actress Rebecca Prescott was born and raised a rancher’s daughter in South Central Idaho. At a very young age she discovered she was a much better actress than a cowgirl, and saved up all her steer money to put herself through undergrad at Boise State University. At BSU she was torn between the acting and singing degrees, so she decided to just do both. Upon completion of her two degrees, she followed her brother out to Chicago, where he was dancing with the Joffrey Ballet. Shortly upon her Chicago arrival, she was accepted to the Chicago Conservatory of the Performing Arts at Roosevelt University where she earned a Master of Music in Vocal Performance and studied with International Opera Bass-Baritone star, Richard Stilwell. While at Roosevelt she met her husband, composer and saxophone player Amos Gillespie. Rebecca is a company member of Eclipse Theatre and VOX3, and an Artistic Associate with Chicago Opera Vanguard. Her regional credits include Idaho Shakespeare Festival, Idaho Theatre for Youth, Sierra Repertory Theatre, Chicago Children’s Theatre, Eclipse Theatre, Northlight Theatre, Drury Lane, Goodman Theatre, Chicago Shakespeare Theatre, and Utah Shakespeare Festival. For two holiday seasons she performed as Grandma Who in the National Broadway Tour of the musical How the Grinch Stole Christmas. Rebecca was in the cast of the I Love Lucy Show, a Broadway in Chicago production, where she performed Ethel, Dinah Beach, Gertie, and Fern, and understudied the role of Lucy. Winter of 2014 Rebecca will be performing Trixie Who/understudy Mama Who in How the Grinch Stole Christmas, to be performed at the Chicago Theatre in Chicago and Madison Square Garden in New York City. Rebecca is a member of National Association of Teachers of Singing and Actors Equity Association.

Kathy Scambiatterra
Acting + Directing

Kathy Scambiatterra is Artistic Director and co-founder of The Artistic Home. Chicago acting credits include: Beaten, The American Plan, Sweet Bird of Youth, The Skin of Our Teeth, Look Homeward Angel, Juno and the Paycock, Natural Affection, Orpheus Descending (The Artistic Home); The Glass Menagerie, Nelson Algren Live, The Diary of Anne Frank (Steppenwolf); Broadway Bound (Drury Lane Oakbrook); A Flea in her Ear (Chicago Shakespeare); Romeo and Juliet (Goodman Theatre), among others. Regional credits: The Quick Change Room (Pacific Resident Theatre). TV/Film credits: Chicago PD, The Appointment, Draggage, Sin Collector, Into the Wake. She has received 4 leading role Jeff nominations for work in Sweet Bird of Youth, Natural Affection, Abundance, The School for Wives. As a director, she has helmed acclaimed, Jeff nominated and After Dark Award winning productions for The Artistic Home including: Waiting for Lefty, In the Boom Boom Room, Angel City, After the Fall, Street Scene, Peer Gynt, The Madwoman of Chaillot, The Petrified Forest, Modigliani, Days to Come, The Touch of the Poet, The Night of the Iguana. Other directing credits: The Copperhead (City Lit) Angel City, Welcome to the Moon and Other Plays (LA Dramalogue Award), A Christmas Carol (Pacific Resident Theater (LA). Ms. Scambiatterra is the director of the actor training program at The Artistic Home Studio. In addition, she has taught at The Steppenwolf School, Columbia College, Center Theater’s The Training Center, Chicago, IL; Carolyn Berry Studio, The Pacific Resident Theatre LA, CA; Director’s Symposium, US Army, Heidelberg, Germany; Screen Training Ireland, Dublin, Ireland; and currently at The Chicago High School for the Arts.

Rachel Slavick
Acting I for Musical Theatre Majors + Professional Development for Acting Majors + Senior Project for Musical Theatre Majors

Rachel Slavick is a founding teacher in the theatre program at Chiarts. She is in her 19th year of teaching acting at The Theatre School of DePaul University. She has most recently been in The Time of Your Life at the Artistic Home and in Crumble: Lay Me Down Justin Timberlake at Jackalope Theatre where she is also a board member. She has an MFA in Acting from The Theatre School of DePaul University.

Jason Sperling
Acting

Jason Sperling works as an actor, singer, teacher, and director around Chicago. He is an original company member of Barrel of Monkeys, a children’s writing and theater program, and has worked with them for over eighteen years. Mr. Sperling created and taught the drama program at St. Juliana School, and directed there there for seven years; he has taught and directed with the CAST program in Oak Park for seven years; he was a poet/educator with the Chicago Park District/Chicago Humanities Festival’s Words@Play program; he has also taught or music directed for Beverly Arts Center, Raven Theatre, and Prolougue Theatre. Additionally, Mr. Sperling has taught, directed, and music directed with Elmhurst Chilcren’s Theatre, and directed the student-authored sketch comedy show at Chicago Improv Festival’s Summer Theatre Camp in 2009. He has worked as a performer at theatres including Marriott, Drury Lane, Apple Tree, Northlight, Theatre at the Center, Noble Fool, and Ravinia, and can often be seen in BOM’s hit show That’s Weird, Grandma, now in its fourteenth year at the Neo-Futurist Theatre.

Lindsey Thornton

Lindsey Barlag Thornton is a Chicago-based theatre director and performance artist whose recent work has been seen at Archer Ballroom, Copernicus Center, Defibrillator Gallery, Links Hall, Hyde Park Art Center, Mana Contemporary, Sullivan Galleries, Tritriangle Gallery, and Whitebox Studio Gallery. She has performed original work in abandoned storefronts in Chicago and the Divaldo Disk Theatre in Prague. She has taught for American Theatre Company, Auditorium Theatre, The School of The Art Institute, Steppenwolf Theatre, and Writers’ Theatre. She is currently a Teaching Artist for The Museum of Contemporary Art, directs the Education Program for The Gift Theatre, and is a member of Genesis Ensemble. Lindsey received her MFA in Performance from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

Jessica Dean Turner

Jessica Dean Turner is a teaching artist, writer, and actor from Chicago’s west side. She recieved her BFA in Acting from the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign, and her MA in Education Theatre in Colleges and Communities from NYU. She is a member of SAG-AFTRA and has performed with the House Theatre of Chicago, About Face Theatre, Congo Square Theatre, Arkansas Shakespeare Theatre, and the Great River Shakespeare Festival. She loves the color purple (color, book, and film).

Visual Arts

Whitney Bradshaw
Visual Arts Department Head + AP Photography Instructor

Whitney Bradshaw is an artist, curator, teacher and social worker. She trained as an artist at Columbia College Chicago where she received an MFA in photography in 2001. While in school, Ms. Bradshaw taught at Columbia College and the School of the Art Institute in addition to working at the Museum of Contemporary Photography as the assistant registrar and curatorial assistant. She received 3 Weisman Scholarships and in 2001 was named one of the top 10 MFA Candidates and awarded the College Art Association Regional M.F.A Exhibition at Gallery 400 in the University of Illinois at Chicago. In 2003, she had a solo exhibition at the International Museum of Surgical Science. Her photographs can be found in the permanent collection of the Museum of Contemporary Photography as well as numerous private collections, and have been published in the New York Times and the Chicago Tribune. Ms. Bradshaw was formerly the assistant curator of the renowned LaSalle Bank Photography Collection and the curator of photography for the Bank of America Collection. As a curator, she developed more than 40 exhibitions, which have been loaned to museums and cultural centers throughout the United States, Europe and Asia. In addition, she has published a number of books and essays on the collection’s holdings and currently serves on the editorial board of the Columbia College Press. Prior to her graduate studies, Ms. Bradshaw attained a BA in Sociology with a minor in Women’s Studies from Eastern Illinois University. She has also worked, in various capacities, as a social worker across the city of Chicago. Her artwork can be viewed at www.whitneybradshaw.com.

Kayce Bayer
Drawing by Design + Senior Seminar: Professional Development

Originally from North Florida, Kayce received her BA in Studio Art and a Minor in Music from Florida State University. She went on to earn her MFA from the Memphis College of Art in Tennessee before moving to Chicago in 2005. An interdisciplinary artist working in drawing, objects, video, and performance, she exhibits nationwide and performs locally. Her biggest project to date combined many of her creative interests to revisit the vaudevillian form. The Great Fire: A Traveling Truck Show toured Chicago neighborhoods in October 2012 with a moving truck as a pop-up stage, engaging audiences with a bit of Chicago history, storytelling, music, and other wackiness. Kayce has over 10 years experience as an arts and design educator working with students of all ages. She is the other half of musical project Jacques Hammer & Wanda Drug and curatorial/production experiment Good Stuff House.  www.kaycebayer.com

Rebecca Beachy
Contemporary Practice + 3D Material Studies

Born in Denver, Colorado, Rebecca Beachy is a recipient of both an MFA in Studio Arts and an MA in Art History from the University of Illinois at Chicago. She has taught at the University of Illinois, Chicago, and tutored students in art history, English and the humanities through Supplemental Instruction, Educational Endeavors and the LINK scholarship program. She is a member of the small staff of 8550OHIO (formerly Harold Arts), and is actively collaborating towards the development of a new Chicago residency for German artists through Chicago Sister Cities & Hamburg’s Department of Culture. She recently exhibited work in Hamburg’s Altona as a December/January resident of the FRISE Künstlerhaus. In Chicago, her ephemeral sculptures, interventions and installations have been exhibited at Iceberg Projects, 6018NORTH, the Southside Hub of Production, and Gallery 400, among other spaces. Her written work has been published with literary journal Puerto del Sol and will be included in the Center for Humans & Nature’s upcoming City Creatures. As a volunteer specimen preparator and educator, Beachy also demonstrates taxidermy to the public at the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum for the Chicago Academy of Sciences, Department of Collections.
www.rebeccabeachy.com

Cheri Charlton
Cheri Lee Charlton is an artist who lives and works in Chicago, IL. She earned a BFA from the University of Bowling Green State University in Ohio in 2004 in painting and drawing. In 2001, she spent a year in Florence, Italy studying fine art and art history at the Studio Art Center International (SACI) an experience that inspired her to become a professional artist. In 2004, She attended the painting department of Ohio University. She graduated from Ohio University with a MFA in painting in 2007 and relocated to Chicago where she continued to develop her career as an art educator and working artist. She has exhibited artwork in New York, Cleveland, Connecticut, Chicago, West Virginia, and Florida.  She has over 11 years experience teaching fine art, illustration, and art history. Currently her professional work has been focused on illustration and public art. She has worked on illustration projects ranging from large-scale murals, package design, business identity and logos, posters and album art. She also currently holds positions in the fine art and illustration departments at the Illinois Institute of Art and Columbia College. www.cherileecharlton.com
Jeanne Donegan

Jeanne Donegan is an image based artist and educator living in Chicago. She received her BFA from the University of Connecticut, her home state, and her MFA in photography from Columbia College Chicago. In 2016/2017 she held an artist residency at Lillstreet Art Center, where she is now the Director of the Photography Department and runs a photographic artist lecture series titled, Discourse. Her work has been exhibited at venues such as Hyde Park Art Center and Woman Made Gallery in Chicago, IL; The Pitch Project in Milwaukee, WI; The Madison Public Library in Madison, WI; and Honolulu Art Museum School in Honolulu, HI. She has been interviewed by various online and print publications such as Sixty Inches From Center, Wave-pool, Fotographia, Facets Features, and Art Ascent: Art & Literature Journal. Her experimental film works have screened in the Chicago Underground Film Festival at Logan Theater and Chicagoland Shorts Vol. 3, which premiered at the Museum of Contemporary Art in 2017.

Megan Greene
AP Drawing + Painting

A native of Buffalo, NY, Megan Greene graduated with honors from the University of Notre Dame in 1998, receiving the Emil Jacques Gold Medal of Fine Art and the Mabel Mountain Award for Achievement in Painting. She earned an MFA degree from Rutgers University in 2002 and was awarded the Dean Bettenbender Memorial Performance Award. Prior to moving to Chicago, she lived in Brooklyn, Los Angeles and Auckland, New Zealand on a Rotary Ambassadorial Scholarship. Ms. Greene is represented by Regards in Chicago and Kinz Tillou Fine Art in New York. Her work is held in the permanent collections of the Albright Knox Art Gallery and the Burchfield Penney Art Center as well as numerous private collections. She is also the mother of twin toddler girls.

Daniel Hojnacki
Daniel Hojnacki received his BA in photography from Columbia College Chicago. Hojnacki’s use of photography is driven by material experimentation embodying the investigation into the elusive act of memory. His main source is the archived image and the domestic forgotten landscape. His practice is persistent on creating works that speak to the inherent role photography plays in how our memories are collected and remembered Hojnacki has been an educator for youth in the Chicago area at After School Matters and Marwen Foundation, and Changing Worlds in Pilsen. Hojnacki’s work has been shown nationally and internationally including the Museum of Contemporary Photography (Chicago, IL), Milwaukee Institute of Art & Design (Milwaukee, WI), Tormenta Gallery (La Plata, Argentina), ‘Untitled’ Art Space (Vancouver, BC), Johalla Projects (Chicago, IL), The Franklin (Chicago, IL) and Chicago Art Department (Chicago, IL). His work has been reviewed and published by Hyperallergic, New City Art, LVL 3 Artist of the week, and Specimen La Revue (Lyon, France). He has been awarded the Community Assistance Arts Program Grant, the Albert P Weisman Award, including residencies at Residencia Corazón in La Plata, Argentina and the HATCH Projects with the Chicago Artists Coalition. www.danielhojnacki.com
Megan Kalmes

Megan Kalmes is an artist and educator living and working in Chicago. Megan works traditionally with oil on canvas. Her paintings are figurative and often depict a feminine protagonist entranced within her own psyche – a sort of psychological landscape. Megan loves art history and embraces the fundamentals of painting and drawing. She believes that figuration can be more than a reflection of the self or of society; transcending beyond mere representation to a place of greater sensitivity and call upon the nature of being. The act of self-reviewing is present in Megan’s personal work and in her teaching. Her painting practice informs her communication with students providing enrichment and development from a place of emotional investment. Megan has taught with the Early College Program at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and at Clarke University in Dubuque, Iowa. Megan also has experience with after-school programming working with vulnerable and at-risk youth groups. She received a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree and Minor in Art History from Clarke University. Megan also holds Post-Baccalaureate Certificate in Studio and an MFA in Painting from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

Chris Lin
Intro to Visual Communications + Sequential Arts

Chris Lin is an interdisciplinary artist based in Chicago, working in media including films, books, puppetry, music, and installation. Born and raised in Taipei, Taiwan, he moved to British Columbia, Canada and received his BFA with honor from University of Victoria in 2005. After relocating to Chicago, Mr. Lin pursued an MFA in Fiber and Material Studies from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago and graduated in 2008. His exhibition history includes Contemporary Art Workshop, Eel Space, and OP Shop in Chicago, Verge Art Fair in New York, Deluge Contemporary Art and 50/50 Arts Collective in Victoria, BC, and Atlantic Centre for the Arts in New Smyrna Beach, FL. His visual art and short stories has been published in Fiction At Work and Balliwik. Mr. Lin is the co-founder and collaborative director at Good Stuff House, a performance and publishing art collaborative, and the founding member and ukulele player of the folk-thrash-hop duo Hannis Pannis. www.cardboardish.com

Kera MacKenzie

Kera MacKenzie is an interdisciplinary artist who works with moving images, photography, sets, installations, performance and live broadcasts. She has screened and exhibited her work at spaces including the International Film Festival Rotterdam, Edinburgh Artists’ Moving Image Festival, MassArt Film Society (Boston), Aurora Picture Show (Houston), High Desert Test Sites (New Mexico), The Luminary (St Louis) and the Museum of Contemporary Art, the Museum of Contemporary Photography, Chicago Underground Film Festival, and Links Hall (all Chicago). She received her MFA in Moving Image from the University of Illinois at Chicago in 2013. Additionally, Kera is a Founding Co-Director of ACRE TV, an artist-made livestreaming tele-vision network (ACRETV.org), an educator, and a recent recipient of a UIC/UofC/SAIC Consortium Fellowship for the trans-disciplinary program Field Trip / Field Notes / Field Guide. keramackenzie.com 

Devin Mawdsley
Drawing I + II

A son of several places, Devin Mawdsley is proud to call Chicago home. He is a painter and a drawer who received his B.A. at the College of William and Mary in Chinese and an M.F.A in Studio Painting from Indiana University. He has experience in the visual arts, including drawing and digital photography, as well as language instruction, both Chinese and English. His recent exhibition history includes the Momenta Art Gallery in New York, Buy Art Not People in Chicago, as well as the Department of State, Art in Embassies program (Suva). You can find his work at www.devinmawdsley.com/.

David Nasca
David Nasca is a visual artist working primarily in sculpture. He studied at Deep Springs College and received a BA with Honors in Studio Art from the University of Chicago in 2012. He has exhibited in the US and abroad at the Centro Cultural del México Contemporáneo (Mexico City), The International Museum of Surgical Science (Chicago), and Sullivan Galleries (Chicago), among others. He has also co-run two DIY spaces, 1618 West 17th (focusing on queer performance art) and Showboat (focusing on projected video work). www.davidnasca.com
Alison Rigell
Alison Rigell is an artist, educator, and permanent student of all creative realms including, but not limited to: visual and performing arts, as well as the art of leadership.  While she practices across many disciplines of art such as drawing, painting, performance, and sculpture, she also enjoys exploring all the ways in which creativity is present and can be used on a moment by moment basis of everyday life. Beyond her personal practice, Alison is a devout believer in the power of art beyond traditional expression and practice: regarding it highly as an ever expanding opportunity to address and resolve complex issues our world continues to face. She received the majority of her formal education at University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana, earning a BFA in Art Education and then completing her second BFA in New Media at Queensland College of Art in Brisbane, Australia.  She has since continued her education in and outside the classroom, teaching art to students from a range of diverse backgrounds and ages, through both traditional public teaching positions as well as community based arts initiatives.  Alison is privileged to continue her growth as an artist and educator at ChiArts, and is honored to become a contributing member of such an important and gifted community. 
Travis Rothe
Typography + AP Visual Communications
Travis Rothe is a visual designer, creative director, and human-centered design researcher. He studied Graphic Design and French at Northern Kentucky University, earned a BFA in Visual Communications from The Illinois Institute of Art–Chicago in 2008, and received an MDM (Master of Design Methods) from the Institute of Design at Illinois Institute of Technology in 2017. He has worked as a creative director and visual designer in various industries and with a variety of clients including: performing arts organizations, museums and foundations, publishing, media, political campaigns, and higher education. He has received numerous awards for design excellence in magazine design, branding, and marketing communications, including an AZBEE award for best magazine redesign. Travis encourages visual communication students to consider design not only as a means for communicating the now, but also as a tool for introducing the new.