Meet the ArtsBridge team. You’ll be glad you did.

College arts expertise. Extraordinary passion.

Halley Shefler

Founder & President

After experiencing the college admission process as an artist, student, instructor, admissions director, and parent, Halley believes that talented young artists understand that they must fully commit to furthering their development – particularly given the competitive admissions environment. For this reason, Halley developed a structured program of college preparation, training, coaching, and real world engagement with a special faculty of acclaimed performing artists and instructors. The goal is to help young artists identify and successfully apply to the program that best suits the needs of each individual in order to further student development within a college setting.

ArtsBridge was founded in 2008 by Halley Shefler, who previously served as Dean of Enrollment for The Boston Conservatory, Director of Admissions for Boston University’s College of Fine Arts School of Music, and Director of Academic Affairs for the Longy School of Music.

Halley attended a pre-college program at the Juilliard School before earning her undergraduate degree at Sarah Lawrence College and a Masters degree at Boston University. She is an accomplished flutist who has performed with the Boston Symphony Orchestra at Tanglewood, the former Opera Company of Boston, and the Harvard Chamber Orchestra.

Halley is a Professional Member of IECA (Independent Educational Consultants Association).

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Shaun Ramsay

Vice President

With over 15 years of leadership experience in higher education enrollment, admissions, and student affairs at multiple music colleges, Shaun Ramsay joined ArtsBridge in 2016 as Vice President. At ArtsBridge Shaun works with students on all aspects of the college planning and admissions process including artistic assessments, artistic growth opportunities and advising, academic planning, building college lists, audition and interview preparation, application support, and guidance on preparing for both the artistic and academic requirements for college admission.

From 2009 until 2016 Shaun served as Assistant Director of the Boston University School of Music where he oversaw both admissions and student affairs. Previously he was the Assistant Director for Recruitment at the Eastman School of Music (University of Rochester) and Admissions and Student Services Coordinator at the Longy School of Music in Cambridge, Massachusetts. His years at Eastman, BU, and Longy allowed him to work with thousands of students applying to college and graduate school, and have given him a keen understanding of the arts admissions field.

Shaun has presented widely on admissions and enrollment at conferences including the National Association of College Admission Counselors, the Performing Arts Admissions Roundtable Conference, and the New York State School Music Association, as well as at numerous high schools and universities nationally and internationally. He received degrees in music performance and economics from the Eastman School of Music and the University of Massachusetts respectively, and is an alumnus of the New England Conservatory Prep division.

Shaun is a Professional Member of IECA (Independent Educational Consultants Association) and a member of NACAC (National Association for College Admission Counseling).

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Ariel Strasser

Vice President, Artistic Programs

Ari Strasser joined the ArtsBridge team in 2012. She brings expertise in working with individuals and groups of students on the artistic components of preparing for summer programs, portfolio reviews, auditions, and prescreening recordings. Ari oversees all ArtsBridge artistic training programs and most recently has launched both ArtsBridge GapYear and SpringTerm programs.

Prior to her time at ArtsBridge, Ari taught general music education in Marblehead, MA. A Minnesota native, Ari is an active performer as a pianist, singer-songwriter and actor. Ari’s first album, Crooked Line, was released in November 2013, and her second album, Motivation, was released in October 2018. See more at arielstrasser.com.

Ari completed her BFA in Musical Theater at Boston Conservatory at Berklee, and has been a member of the faculty since 2019.

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Ana Gregoire

Program Manager

Ana joined the ArtsBridge team in 2024. She supports all artistic programs at ArtsBridge. Ana experienced the college audition process as a student and worked as an aid at her drama conservatory. She is passionate about helping to ease the stress of the audition process and making it approachable for all students.

Previously, Ana worked at the Munroe Center for the Arts helping to create and produce Munroe Center Stage – a performance program for the public as well as an accessible theatre program for students. She worked as a teaching artist with Central Square Theater and as an actress with Boston Theatre Company and Boston Playwright’s Theatre.

Ana received her BA in Acting from East 15 Acting School in London.

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Grace Goble

Client Manager & Research Coordinator

Grace Goble is a longtime member of the ArtsBridge family. She attended ArtsBridge Summer three times, was on ArtsBridge Summer Staff another three times, and officially joined the ArtsBridge team as Client Manager & Research Coordinator in Summer 2022. She recently graduated from Boston University with her BFA in Theatre Arts in May 2022. While at BU, Grace focused her studies in acting, playwriting, and dramaturgy – some BU credits include horse girls (Margaret), John & Jen (Jen), and Lizzie: The Musical (Lizzie). Her senior thesis was a reading of her play, The Body Electric, which examines the Clinton-Lewinsky scandal through the lens of the myth of Medusa. See more at gracegoble.com.

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Jessica Caccamo

Visual Arts Admissions Consultant

Jessica Caccamo, originally from upstate New York, holds a BFA in Art from Alfred University and a MLA in Gastronomy from Boston University. At Alfred, she focused in ceramics making functional pottery. She began working in admissions at Alfred after graduation, and was the Art Enrollment Specialist there from 2010-2014. In 2015 she joined the staff at Boston University School of Visual Arts as the Assistant Director for Admissions. In 2021 she was named the Director of Admissions. As part of her work as Director of Admissions she oversees Boston University School of VIsual Arts’s pre-college program for high school students.

Outside of her work in higher education, she co-owns a residential interior design business with her mother. She also enjoys yoga, good food, her family and her cat, HoneyCat.

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Matt Denis

Essay & Writing Consultant

Matt Denis joined ArtsBridge in 2016. He received his BA in Creative Writing from Purdue University and an MFA in fiction from the University of Massachusetts Boston. His stories have appeared in Kenyon Review Online, Carolina Quarterly, Pithead Chapel, and more. He lives in Iowa with his wife Katie, dogs Yuni and Beau, and cat Scout.

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Susanna Moyer

Senior Fashion Design Admissions Consultant

Susanna Moyer’s experience in the fashion industry in both women’s and menswear has led her to work for a number of high profile brands including Christian Dior Paris, Liz Claiborne and Hickey Freeman. Susanna is a Part-Time Assistant Professor at Parsons School of Design teaching in the BFA, AAS and MPS programs and Adjunct Professor at The Fashion Institute of Technology. She has created sustainable and ethical modules as a Visiting Professor at The American University in Paris, and has taught or lectured for LIM, Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU), FIDM, Hult International Business School, Parsons Paris, Woxsen University, and Wenzhou University. 

Susanna has mentored students for over 25 years while teaching at the Pre College and College levels at Parsons and FIT. She also has guided, hired and connected her students to the fashion industry in the classroom and beyond. Her knowledge and focus of what is expected in preparing a portfolio for fashion design, branding projects for fashion marketing, strategic thinking to apply to the right college and program, navigating internships and transitioning  students’ desired careers has helped her students find the right path to success.

Susanna received a BFA from Parsons School of Design and MPS at The Fashion Institute of Technology in the Global Fashion Management graduate program.

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“Some students are taught by professionals, and those people are great, but they don’t necessarily know what colleges are looking for. ArtsBridge programs are led by top college faculty.”

—  Halley Shefler, ArtsBridge Founder & President

ArtsBridge Faculty

Please note: not all faculty are currently teaching at ArtsBridge programs. 

Jason Aquila, Baldwin Wallace University

Pianist and Vocal Coach Jason Aquila is the Music Director for the Voice Performance program at the Baldwin Wallace Conservatory. He recently prepared the BW production of Dido and Aeneas, which he also led from the harpsichord. Jason has served as coach and assistant music director for many recent productions at Baldwin Wallace, including La Boheme, Hansel and Gretel, La Finta Giardiniera, The Tragedy of Carmen, Dialogues of the Carmelites. Il Matrimonio Segreto, and The Rake’s Progress. He has performed with acclaimed artists including soprano Jennifer Rowley, mezzo-soprano Mary Ann Hart, flutist Donald Peck, American Horn Competition winner Andrew Pelletier, violinist Xiang Gao, and various members of the Cleveland Orchestra. Jason has served as an official collaborative pianist for the International Horn Symposium, and for the Music Teachers National Association Convention. Jason received a Bachelor of Music degree in Piano Performance from Florida Southern College, and a Master of Music degree in Accompanying and Chamber Music from the Cleveland Institute of Music. Before joining Baldwin Wallace, Jason served as the Coordinator of Accompanying at Western Illinois University for 10 years.Enter answer here

John Benitz, Chapman University

John is an actor, writer, director and producer for both stage and screen. He is currently in post-production for a feature-length film he’s directing featuring Annette Bening, Laura Dern, Common, Michael C. Hall, among others. He wrote and directed the award-winning short film, Children of the Struggle, about the fight for Black civil rights which was seen in film festivals across the country, aired on PBS and is in dozens of high school and college libraries nationwide. In 2019 he directed a film about iconic acting coach Ivana Chubbuck which is distributed through Films for the Humanities and was a consulting producer for the indie film hit, MFA seen on Netflix. He has directed theatre at such venues as the Kirk Douglas Theatre, The Kennedy Center for Performing Arts, Martha’s Vineyard Performing Arts Center and LaMama. He is a Full Professor of Theatre at Chapman University.

Heather Benton, Montclair State University

Heather Benton is an actor/ director that specializes in integrated approaches to actor training and physical theatre. She has created and/or performed original and devised work in New York City: Performateria: Immersive Theatre Festival(Blessed Unrest), undergroundzero festival (Chasing Immortality: A Performance LectureAutomotiveHalf Awake and Falling Through the Sky), East River Commedia (Serenade and Philosopher Fox, The Magnificent Cuckold), Theatre Trouve (Living with Betty).Regionally: Montana Repertory Theatre, Missoula, MT (Dark Matter: Underking 1 and the Code of Light). University/ Conservatory Theatre: The American Academy of Dramatic Arts, New York, NY (Paradise Ridge: a Lopahkin Development, House on Fireand Dark Matter) Kenyon College (Blood: of Brothers and Sisters) and Montclair State University (Sentience, Sex, Love and Information, Penance: Ghost of Don Juan). Acting Credits:National Tours: Montana Repertory Theatre (Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Trip to Bountiful). Regional Theatre: American Repertory Theatre (Highway Ulysses dir. Robert Woodruff and Children of Herakles dir. Peter Sellars), A Contemporary Theatre, North Carolina Shakespeare Festival, Sierra Repertory Theatre, Village Theatre, Luna Stage, Children’s Theatre Company etc... Benton is the Program Coordinator for the B.F.A. Acting Program in the Department of Theatre and Dance at MSU. Previously, she was a member of the core faculty and the Head of Movement at theAmerican Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York, NY. She is a member of Actor’s Equity Association and the Devising Chair for Region 2 of the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival. Benton received her MFA in Acting from American Repertory Theatre/ Moscow Art Theatre at Harvard University.

Julie Boyd, The New School, Fordham University, Queens College/CUNY

Julie Boyd is an accomplished Actor, Educator, Director and Coach based in New York City. She has decades of experience at the highest levels of University training programs and is the Director of the Fordham Summer Musical Theatre Workshop. New York acting credits include "The Man Who Came to Dinner" (Roundabout/PBS) directed by Jerry Zaks, and "Noises Off" (Broadway) directed by Michael Blakemore. Regional theatre includes productions at Long Wharf, the McCarter, the Kennedy Center, Williamstown, the Goodman, and the Guthrie. Boyd also works extensively in film and television. She received her BFA from the University of Utah and her MFA from Yale Drama School. Her in-depth knowledge of acting and training sets her apart as one of the best in the business whether she is teaching, directing or acting. Her gentle approach, coupled with her rigorous work ethic are her hallmarks of excellence.

Vicky Bussert, Baldwin Wallace University

Victoria Bussert balances the professional and academic worlds  dividing her time between an active career as an award-winning free-lance director while holding the position of Director of Music Theatre for Baldwin Wallace University. Nationally, her work has been seen at Manhattan Theatre Club, York Theatre, New World Stages, Goodspeed Opera, Playhouse Square, Portland Stage, Dallas Theatre Center, Repertory Theatre of St. Louis, Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park and the Beck Center for the Arts among others. Her international credits include Friar Tuck in Russia, The Who's Tommy in Brazil, the Danish Premiere of Avenue Q (2012 Reumert Award Nomination) and the European Premieres of LIZZIE and [title of show] for the Fredericia Teater in Denmark. Recent productions include the critically acclaimed production of Natasha, Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812 for the Idaho Shakespeare Festival/Great Lakes Theatre, the regional premiere of Ride the Cyclone for Beck Center for the Arts and Ordinary Days for Playhouse Square.

Ashton Byrum, University of Oklahoma

Professor and Director of the A. Max Weitzenhoffer School of Musical Theatre at the University of Oklahoma. Go Sooners! Following a long acting career in New York and around the world, Ashton earned his MFA in Directing with an emphasis in Musical Theatre from the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music (CCM) in 2010. He then went on to coordinate the Musical Theatre Performance program and serve as Associate Chair and Academic Director for the nation’s largest Theatre Department at Columbia College Chicago. He’s had the privilege of working with students that have gone on to Broadway, National Tours, Regional and stock theatres all over the country.  Ashton's acting credits include three seasons on Broadway in Susan Stroman’s annual A Christmas Carol starring Tim Curry, F. Murray Abraham and Jim Dale, and he was featured in the National Touring companies of The Producers (US and Tokyo), Fiddler on the Roof with Theodore Bikel, the Tommy Tune revival of Grease! with Adrian Zmed, Sutton Foster and Marissa Jaret Winokur, Will Rogers FolliesI Love New York, and My Fair Lady (Europe). Ashton has also played roles in many regional productions around the country including: Titanic (Lyric Theatre of Oklahoma), The Music Man (Little Theatre on the Square), The Spitfire Grill (Idaho Shakespeare Festival and Arkansas Rep.), Forever Plaid (Flat Rock Playhouse, NC), Joseph…Dreamcoat and Cats (Ogunquit Playhouse, ME),  West Side Story (Westchester Broadway Theatre, NY), Kingdom (World Premiere with the Denver Center Theatre Company), and he earned his Equity card in The Secret Garden at the Paper Mill Playhouse. His directing work includes Hello, Dolly!, Disney's Beauty and the Beast and How To Succeed in Business Without Really Trying at The Little Theatre on the Square, [title of show] and The Marvelous Wonderettes at Open Door Theatre in Chicago, Bye Bye Birdie and Annie Get Your Gun for the Wilmette Starlight Theatre; Anything Goes, Orpheus Descending, Urinetown and Godspell at CCM, and Rent, Victor/Victoria, Oklahoma!, Once On This Island, and Sweet Charity at Columbia College Chicago, and most recently Legally Blonde for the University of Oklahoma. Professor Byrum earned his undergraduate degree in Musical Theatre from Catawba College. Originally from Winston-Salem, NC, he and his wife, Gina, and their 10-year-old son, Dylan, moved to Norman, OK, from Oak Park, IL.

Steve Cardamone, University of Minnesota

Steve lives in Minneapolis with his brilliant wife Georgina Stoyles and amazing daughter Zoey. He has been part of the faculty for the University of Minnesota BFA Actor Training Program since 2005, teaching Play Analysis, Acting Shakespeare, Auditioning, and Period Styles, and has directed several Shakespeare productions at the university and regionally. Acting credits include roles at the Oregon, Idaho, Colorado, Texas, and Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festivals, Hope Repertory (Holland, MI), Riverside (Iowa City), and at Chicago area theaters. Originally from the Philadelphia area, Steve received his M.F.A. from the University of Delaware’s Professional Theater Training Program and was a founding member of the Shenandoah Shakespeare Express (now the American Shakespeare Center), taking part in four of their tours as both an actor and director.
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Salvatore Champagne, Oberlin Conservatory

Salvatore Champagne has appeared in opera houses and concert halls throughout the United States and Europe. His career began in 1988 when he was chosen to be the tenor soloist in a European tour of Leonard Bernstein's Songfest conducted by the composer.  Immediately thereafter he joined the ensemble of the Badisches Staatstheater in Karlsruhe, Germany, appearing in a wide range of leading lyric tenor roles.  For the next ten years he was engaged as guest artist in many of Europe’s finest opera houses, among them the Opernhaus Zürich, Opéra du Rhin, Teatro Bellini, and the Bayerische Staatsoper. In addition to his opera performances Champagne has appeared in recital and concert with such performing organizations as the London Philharmonia, Cologne Philharmonic, the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra. His singing has been recognized with numerous awards, including prizes at the Mirjam Helin International Singing Competition and the International Singing Competition s’Hertogenbosch, as well as grants from MUSICA, the Sullivan Foundation, and the National Institute for Musical Theater. In 2004, at the suggestion his teacher and mentor, Richard Miller, Champagne joined the voice faculty of his alma mater, Oberlin College Conservatory, where he now serves as Professor of Singing and Director of the Vocal Studies Division.  He is currently a much sought after teacher and gives lectures and master classes throughout the United States.  Mr. Champagne’s students have won many prestigious competitions, including the Metropolitan Opera Council auditions, and appear regularly with premiere performing organizations throughout the United States and abroad.

Alison d’Amato, Eastman School of Music

Pianist Dr. Alison d'Amato is passionately engaged as performer and teacher in the full spectrum of collaborative musical genres, particularly skilled in song and text-based genres. A valued colleague and innovative mentor, she is Artistic Co-Director of Florestan Recital Project, Assistant Professor of Vocal Coaching at Eastman School of Music, Program co-Director of Art song Lab, and Lecturer in Voice at University at Buffalo. In all these activities, Dr. d’Amato is dedicated to energizing the relationships and communication inherent in music and bringing students’ love for their music to the forefront of their projects. Alison has developed several projects that explore interdisciplinary collaborations and new approaches to the performer-audience relationship. Since 2003, Alison has been Artistic Co-Director of Florestan Recital Project (www.florestanproject.org), engages audiences and artists in a broad spectrum of art song collaborations through performances, recordings, and mentoring. From 2007-2015, she was a Founding Faculty member of Vancouver International Song Institute (VISI), a summer program for innovative performance and interdisciplinary study. In 2011, she co-created the Art Song Lab (www.artsonglab.com), a program that facilitates creative interaction between writers, composers, and performers from around the world to advance the genre of contemporary art song. Alison has been a guest artist at The AmBul Festival (Sofia, Bulgaria), SOURCE Song Festival, Boston Conservatory, Royal Conservatory of Music (Toronto), Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music, SUNY Fredonia, and Dickinson College. In addition to traditional masterclasses in collaborative repertoire, Alison has shared classes with colleagues in Humanities, musicology, poetry, composition, and performance disciplines. Recent recording projects include The Complete Songs of Virgil Thomson (New World Records) and Music for Violin and Piano by Joseph Achron with violinist Michael Ludwig (Naxos). Recent concert activities feature programs at the Schubert Club (St. Paul, MN), premieres with Boston Modern Orchestra Project (BMOP), Wordsong, and the Buffalo Chamber Players, and recitals with acclaimed soprano Tony Arnold.

Byron Easley, NYU’s New Studio on Broadway (Tisch School of the Arts)

Byron was awarded the 2011 Society of Director’s and Choreographer’s Joe A. Callaway Award and an Audelco Award for excellence in choreography for the Off-Broadway production of Langston in Harlem.  A two-time winner of Atlanta’s Suzi Bass Award in choreography for the Alliance Theatre’s productions of Sophisticated Ladies and Jelly’s Last Jam, his work as Choreographer, Assistant Choreographer and/or Assistant Director has been represented at Ensemble Theatre Company, San Jose Repertory, Cleveland Playhouse, Arizona Theatre Company, Baltimore Center Stage, The Goodman Theatre, Pasadena Playhouse, Denver Center for the Performing Arts, City Center Encores, North Shore Music Theatre, Hartford Stage, Trinity Repertory, Two River Theatre Company, Pioneer Theatre Company and the Maltz Jupiter Theatre. As a performer, Byron has been seen on the PBS Dance in America Special Fosse, and the series Broadway: The American Musical.  He has been a featured player in the Broadway companies of: Fosse, Play On, Oh Kay, and The Tap Dance Kid, in addition to numerous national tours, regional productions, TV specials, commercials, industrial shows and films.  Prior to joining the Department of Drama’s New Studio on Broadway, Byron was a full-time faculty member at Carnegie Mellon’s School of Drama - teaching dance.

Rick Edinger, Carnegie Mellon University

Rick Edinger (he/they) is a proud queer AAPI music supervisor, conductor, educator, vocal coach, pianist, and actor. They serve as the Area Chair for the Acting/ Music Theater program & Associate Professor of Music Theater at Carnegie Mellon University School of Drama. For the School of Drama, they have served as Music Director or Music Supervisor on Elegies for Angels, Punks, and Raging Queens (Gary Kline, director), …Great Comet, Cabaret, Godspell (Tomé Cousin, director), Into the Woods (Matthew Gardiner, director)and HAIR (Jason A. Sparks, director), as well as Vocal Coach/Music Advisor for A/B Machines (Phillip Gates, director).  

Recent Music Supervisor or Music Director credits include: The Untitled Unauthorized Hunter S. Thompson Musical (La Jolla Playhouse; Christopher Ashley, director), The Visitor (The Public Theater; Daniel Sullivan, director), Trading Places (Alliance Theatre & Pre-Broadway Workshop; Kenny Leon, director), Joy: A New Musical (George Street Playhouse; Casey Hushion, director), In the Mood (developmental workshop- Chris Maring Productions; Kenny Leon, director), Songs for a New World (New City Music Theatre; Miles J. Sternfeld, director), and The Amazing Mr. X (developmental workshop- Michael Cassel Group; Jenny Koons, director).

As a strong advocate for the development of new works, Edinger plays a large role in the National Alliance for Musical Theatre’s (NAMT) annual endeavors as a member of the NAMT Board of Directors. For NAMT’s annual Festival of New Musicals, they have served as consultant on MAYA (Arpita Mukherjee, director), Hart Island (Raja Feather Kelly, director), The River Is Me (Schele Williams, director) and Interstate (Jesca Prudencio, director).

In a past life, Rick made his Broadway debut (as an actor) in Stephen Sondheim’s Pacific Overtures and worked on all of Sondheim’s notable 75th birthday concerts in New York and Los Angeles.

For more information: www.rickedinger.com.  Instagram: @rickedingernyc

Helen Farmer, Molloy/CAP21 Theatre Arts Program

Helen Farmer (she/her) regional credits include: Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey, The Stratford Festival, Crossroads Theater, The Classical Theatre Lab, Shakespeare in the Rough, Theatre and Co, Dorset Theatre, and Co-Lab Arts. New York theatre includes work with Ensemble Studio Theatre, Project Y Theatre, Boundless Theatre Project. Recent projects include: the US premiere of Kotryna Gesait’s Cocoon and the audio pod cast series "The Lovely Dark". Originally Canadian, Helen was trained as an improviser at Keith Johnstone’s Loose Moose Theater, worked at Toronto’s Second City and is a veteran of several Fringe Festival shows. A Meisner trained actor Helen received an MFA in acting from Rutgers University’s MGSA.  She pursed Meisner teacher training under the tutelage of Kevin Kittle (formerly of MGSA) and spent several years working alongside him while at Rutgers. Helen is a certified Alexander technique teacher and was part of ArtsBridge’s inaugural GapYear program, where she taught Movement for the Actor. After 9 years at Rutgers teaching in both the BFA and MFA programs, Helen has recently started a new role as the Head of Acting at the Molloy University/ CAP 21 program in New York.

Melissa Foster, Northwestern University

Melissa Foster is an educator, voice specialist, theatre artist, researcher, and speaker. As a voice teacher, she specializes in musical theatre, pop styles, the history and performance of hip-hop, and opera/musical theatre crossover.

Foster is Associate Professor of Instruction in the Musical Theatre area of the Department of Theatre at Northwestern University. She is on faculty for The CCM Vocal Pedagogy Institute with a focus on “Teaching Pop Styles,” she is a rap and R&B coach for Rock the Audition, and she is a resident vocal consultant for the Lyric Opera of Chicago. She has also been guest faculty for Broadway Breakthru, IHSTA, Stagelighter, The Cherubs Program, and she serves as artist in residence for the ArtsLink Foundation.

Foster has taught countless masterclasses and workshops around the world. Highlights include a co-taught, live-streamed Masterclass with world renowned opera legend, Renee Fleming. Foster’s Presentation of “Rocking the Singing Boat: Pop, Rock, Singer Songwriter, Folk, Country and R&B Styles” has been seen in numerous venues nationwide -- most recently in San Francisco, South Bend, New York, Chicago, Palo Alto and Birmingham. Upcoming guest lectures include multiple universities including Temple, Goshen, Samford, and Oakland. This summer, Foster is presenting at the National conference for the National Association of Teachers of Singing with a 4-hour featured workshop on Hip-Hop and Accessibility.  Internationally, Foster is a Visiting Artist and Master Technician for a coalition of institutions and universities in Xi’an, China, Guangzhou, China, and Hong Kong. She is the Chair of Voice for the Musical Theatre Educators Alliance and is also on their executive committee.

Currently, Melissa is writing a book entitled “Hip-Hop: Rap and R&B~ A Performers Guide” (release date 2023) (Rowman and Littlefield Publishing). She lives in Chicago with her Husband Matt, and their 9-year-old daughter, Viva.

Quin Gordon, UNCSA School of Drama

Quin is a professional theatre director recently transplanted from the NYC. His NYC directing credits include: The Picture of Dorian Gray (Sonnet Repertory Theatre), The Dinner Party (Lincoln Center Institute), Babette’s Feast (World Premiere-Threads Theatre Co.), Hot Cripple (Seeing Place Theater), Things We Want (TheatreLab), Red Light Winter(DPVCT), Modern Love (Theatre Row), The Power of the Crystals (NYC Fringe Fest). Regionally he has directed Shostakovich's Hamlet (Aspen Music Festival, John Mauceri-conductor). Quin is a graduate of The New Actor's Workshop where he trained under Mike Nichols, Paul Sills, and George Morrison. He received his BFA in directing from UNCSA where he now serves on the faculty teaching acting and directing and serves as the Director of Recruitment. At UNCSA he recently directed Stephen Adley Guirgis' The Last Days of Judas Iscariot, Vaclav Havel's The Memorandum and CP Taylor's Good with an orchestra of 20 onstage. He has also directed workshop productions of Shakespeare's All's Well that Ends Well, Two Gentlemen of Verona and Othello.  

Michael Hanley, Boston Conservatory at Berklee

Hanley is a sought-after pedagogue, combining his experience as a classical singer and teacher into well-rounded classical and musical theater teaching styles. His students have achieved success in a variety of genres including musical theater, opera, and commercial music. From 2013 to 2015, Hanley served on the faculty of Syracuse University's Department of Drama and Setnor School of Music, where he taught voice, voice for musical theater, and musicianship courses. Hanley was most recently seen at the Aspen Music Festival in 2015, performing the role of Mercutio in Roméo et Juliette, and as a guest artist with Penn State Opera Theatre in La Bohème. Other notable credits include James Vane in The Picture of Dorian Gray (Aspen Opera Theater Center, 2014), Spinelloccio in Gianni Schicchi (Aspen Opera Theater Center, 2013), and the title role in Mozart’s Der Schauspieldirektor (Eastman Opera Theatre, 2010). Hanley is actively engaged in academic research and recently presented his work Bridging the Gap between Theatre Voice Training and the Male Singing Voice with colleague Jared Trudeau at the Fall Voice Conference in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He also studied entrepreneurship and the integration of entrepreneurship in Conservatory curricula as a Kauffman Entrepreneurial Scholar at the University of Rochester. Hanley holds a B.M. from the Eastman School of Music and an M.M. in voice pedagogy and performance from Penn State University. Hanley was a 2016 NATS Teaching Intern and maintains private voice studios in Boston and New York. Additionally, he serves on the voice faculty of the Boston Conservatory at Berklee and the Walnut Hill School for the Arts. Michael will be teaching voice in ArtsBridge 2 this summer.

Colleen Longshaw Jackson, Baldwin Wallace University

Colleen Longshaw Jackson is a Cleveland, Ohio native. She is currently the director of community partnerships and programming at Cleveland Play House. At Cleveland Play House, Jackson was part of the team to develop and implement the CARE program (Compassionate Arts Remaking Education). CARE is funded by a grant from the U.S. Department of Education. CARE uses theatre education to teach social emotional competencies and to increase English Language Arts scores in the K-12 student population.   Jackson is a Certified Trauma Professional, a certification she uses in conjunction with anti-racism and equity, diversity and inclusion facilitation and training. She works to dismantle white supremacist culture within organizations by helping organizations to identify existing ideologies and work to destroy the root of oppression and systems in place to keep them thriving.   She is an inclusion, diversity, equity and access training facilitator and trainer. She centers her EDI work around helping arts organizations and educational institutions. Her group facilitation techniques help to navigate communication around difficult topics and create a plan to keep those lines of communication open. She helps organizations with strategic planning and empowers faculty, staff and students.   Jackson became a member of the Actor's Equity Association in 2003 and continues to work as a professional actress. Her work as an actress and commitment to the craft make dismantling oppressive systems within theatre a burning priority and one which she is passionate about improving.   Credits include: "Kiss Me, Kate" (National Tour), "The Groove Factory" (New York Music Theatre Festival), "Hairspray" (Northshore Music Theatre, Porthouse Theatre), "Pipeline" (Cleveland Play House), "The Full Monty" (Northshore Music Theatre), "The Piano Lesson" (Cleveland Play House), "Starmites" (Porthouse Theatre), "Made in America" (Dobama Theatre), "A Christmas Carol" (Great Lakes Theatre), "The Color Purple" (Karamu House), "Dreamgirls" (Cain Park), "Once On This Island" (Porthouse Theatre), "Big River" (Porthouse Theatre), "Avenue X" (Cain Park), "Godspell" (Porthouse Theatre, Cain Park), "Aida" (The Beck Center), "The Buddy Holly Story" (Carousel Dinner Theater), and "Twelfth Night" (Ohio Shakespeare Festival).

Cameron Knight, Rutgers University Mason Gross School of the Arts

Previous Teaching: Associate Professor of Acting and Directing UNCSA Assistant Professor, Head of BFA Acting The Theatre School at DePaul University Assistant Professor Carnegie Mellon University Directing credits include: Richard III (Utah Shakespeare Festival), Down in the face of God (UNCSA), Fences (Resident Ensemble Players Rep) A movie star has to star in black and white, Suddenly last summer (UNCSA), Othello, Twelfth Night, Pericles (Notre Dame Shakespeare) Julius Caesar (Shakespeare Theatre Company: Academy for Classical Acting) Hamlet, Romeo and Juliet (DePaul University, fall 2016), Seven Guitars, Once on this Island (Carnegie Mellon University) Underneath the Lintel (12 Peers theatre). Theatre Credits include: Teatro Vista, Oregon Shakespeare Festival, The Kennedy Center, Resident Ensemble Players, Texas Shakespeare Festival, Alabama Shakespeare Festival, Lake Tahoe Shakespeare Festival, Richmond Shakespeare Festival, Michigan Shakespeare Festival, Milwaukee Repertory Theatre. Acting: Notable works include: Benedick in Much ado about Nothing, Othello in Othello, Dogberry in Much ado about Nothing, Booth in Top dog/underdog, Mercutio in Romeo and Juliet, John Worthing in The Importance of Being Earnest, Oberon in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Hud in Hair, Cleante in The Imaginary Invalid, Bill Walker in Major Barbara, Cory in Fences. Television: The Orville, Chicago Med, Film: Widows (directed by Steve McQueen), The world without you, Sister Carrie Voice-overs and commercial: Kellogg’s Raisin Bran, Honey Nut Cheerios, Dodge Ram, PBS, TD Bank, The Pennsylvania Lottery and Subway.

Dina Kuznetsova, Cleveland Institute of Music

Russian-American soprano Dina Kuznetsova has attracted considerable attention for her outstanding musicianship and captivating stage presence and has graced the stages of many of the world’s greatest opera houses. From the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden (Gianni Schicchi with Sir Antonio Pappano), Staatsoper unter den Linden (Donna Anna in Don Giovanni with Daniel Barenboim), Wiener Staatsoper (Juliette with Claude Schnitzler) and Bayerische Staatsoper (the title role in Rodelinda with Ivor Bolton) to the San Francisco Opera (Pamina in The Magic Flute with Donald Runnicles) and Metropolitan Opera (Samaritana in Francesca da Rimini with Marco Armiliato), Kuznetsova has earned the reputation as one of today’s most compelling sopranos. The Guardian said of her performance in Rusalka, “Dina Kuznetsova is glorious in the title role, unleashing torrents of sound and emotion in ways that are breathtaking,” and called her Butterfly “gleaming, penetrating and arresting.” Opera News wrote of her Tatiana: “Dina Kuznetsova gave a striking performance. She projected her versatile soprano with great agility and strength,” and Anne Midgette called her “a standout… with her warm, clear voice” (The Washington Post). An alumna of the Lyric Opera of Chicago’s young artist program, Kuznetsova went on to star in a number of new productions at the theater, including Cunning Little Vixen, Rigoletto and, marking her role debut as Tatyana, Eugene Onegin opposite Dmitry Hvorostovsky under the baton of Sir Andrew Davis. Since that debut, she has built a name as an outstanding interpreter of Tchaikovsky’s leading lady, attracting acclaim from her many subsequent productions. Other highlights have included Desdemona (Otello) with the Gulbenkian Orchestra under Lawrence Foster, Alice Ford (Falstaff) at Glyndebourne under Vladimir Jurowski (available on DVD) and CioCio San in Anthony Minghella’s production of Madama Butterfly at English National Opera under Gianluca Marcianò and, in original version, at Atlanta Opera and Pittsburgh Opera. Kuznetsova reprised her Rodelinda for the Bolshoi Theatre in Richard Jones’ production under Christopher Moulds, a production that won the prestigious Golden Mask award. Slavic and Russian repertoire has been central to Kuznetsova’s career. Her roles have included the title roles of Katya Kabanová (Teatro Municipal de Santiago de Chile, Staatsoper Hamburg, Opera New Zealand), Rusalka for the Glyndebourne Festival under Sir Andrew Davis (followed by performances in Teatro di San Carlo, Naples and Opera Montpellier) and Jenůfa in Jorge Lavelli’s production for Teatro Municipal de Santiago de Chile. Kuznetsova’s notable orchestral engagements include appearances with National Symphony, Boston Symphony Orchestra, Cleveland Orchestra, Russian National Orchestra, Radio France, Sydney Symphony, Gulbenkian Orchestra and Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, among others. A keen recitalist and chamber musician, Kuznetsova appeared regularly at both the New York Festival of Song and Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center. She is featured as part of the Music@Menlo series of CDs performing songs by Dvořák, Shostakovich and Rachmaninoff. She has performed at numerous chamber music festivals throughout the country, including La Jolla Music Festival, LaMusica in Sarasota and Moab Music Festival. As a recitalist, she was praised by New York Concert Review: “Six Romances, Op. 38, of Rachmaninoff were given dramatic, projective performances by world-class singer Dina Kuznetsova, with Mr. Tchaidze.” San Francisco Chronicle said of her recital: “Soprano Dina Kuznetsova, accompanied by Derek Han, was a splendid soloist, singing with fervor and beautifully judging the small hall’s acoustics—each vocal attack was scaled for maximum impact without a hint of oversinging.” Kuznetsova is a long-standing member of New York Festival of Song Artist Council. Kuznetsova joined the CIM faculty in 2018.

Kathleen McNenny, The Juilliard School

Kathleen is a native of Montana. She holds a BFA from University of Montana and a diploma from The Juilliard School of Drama. Her professional acting credits include Broadway: THE FATHER, FISH IN THE DARK, ENEMY OF THE PEOPLE, A DEATH OF A SALESMAN, CORAM BOY, THE CONSTANT WIFE, AFTER THE FALL, A FEW GOOD MEN. Off- Broadway: GATES OF GOLD, MIND GAME, THREE TRAVELERS, COMEDY OF ERRRORS, TWELFTH NIGHT, WINTERS TALE. Regional Theater: DOLL’S HOUSE PART 2, Weston Playhouse, DEATH OF A SALESMAN, Pittsburgh Public, OUTSIDE MULLINGAR, Philadelphia Theater Co., THE BIRDS, Barrington Stage, EQUUS, Guild Hall, MOON FOR THE MISBEGOTTEN, McCarter, RICHARD III, New Jersey Shakespeare Festival, BEYOND THERAPY, GOOD GERMAN, Westport playhouse (CT critics nom best Actress), OUR TOWN, SYLVIA, SIGHT UNSEEN, HUMAN EVENTS, George Street Playhouse TV: “Blindspot”,“Elementary”," Chicago Justice", "Person of Interest", "The Black Box”, "The Good Wife", "New Amsterdam", "Law and Order", “CI" and "SVU", "Third Watch”, "Pennsylvania Miners Story" MOW. FILMS: A Happy House, Morning Glory, Music and Lyrics, School of Rock, Life with Mikey, It could Happen to You. She has appeared in numerous commercials, voice overs and is a frequent book narrator. Kathleen studied mask with Pierre Lefebvre and Mina Yakim. She currently teaches Mask work at Rutgers University, and the Actors Center, and previously at UCSD, Cap21 as well as other studios. She has also taught make the transition from school to the business at Juilliard since 1995. She directed IT IS SO IF YOU THINK SO at Rutgers and DOLORE’S at the Playroom in NYC and a 6 part web series called PILLOW TALK which she also wrote and produced and was picked up by the Huffington Post. Kathleen is a founding member of the Cape Cod Theater Project. She is also a proud arts volunteer for ASTEP (artists striving to end poverty) where she most recently was in India at Shanti Bhavan teaching theater.

John Simpkins, Penn State University

John Simpkins has recently directed the World premieres of Legendale (Denmark’s Fredericia Teater) and Raging Skillet (Theaterworks Hartford – starring Dana Smith-Croll, Marilyn Sokol, George Salazar).  He directed the three-time Drama Desk nominated Off-Broadway production of Bloodsong of Love:  The Rock and Roll Spaghetti Western (by Joe Iconis) at Ars Nova.  He also directed Iconis’ The Black Suits at LA’s Center Theatre Group (Kirk Douglas Theatre – starring Annie Golden, Will Roland, Veronica Dunne).  New York credits include the Off-Broadway productions of The Bus(59E59 Theatre); ReWrite (Urban Stages); The Plant That Ate Dirty Socks (Theatreworks, USA- Lucille Lortel Theatre); Things to Ruin (which he co-conceived and directed productions of at Second Stage, Le Poisson Rouge, Zipper Factory, Joe’s Pub, Ars Nova, NYMF) and The Black Suits (SPF at the Public Theatre – starring Annie Golden, Jason Tam, and Krysta Rodriguez). Regional productions include Legendale (Human Race Theatre Company – starring Max Crumm); Quartet (starring Elizabeth Franz); The Black Suits (Barrington Stage – starring Ben Platt); Hairspray(North Carolina Theatre – starring Dale Hensley, Dirk Lumbard); Damn Yankees (Engeman Theatre – starring Andre De Sheilds, Felicia Finley); A Wonderful Life (Engeman Theatre); Annie (Sacramento Music Circus- starring Mark Zimmerman, Jim Walton, Adinah Alexander); Cabaret (Sacramento Music Circus- starring Teri Ralston, Jacquelyn Piro, Max von Essen); Evita (Lyric Theatre of Oklahoma- starring Kate Chapman, Eric Michael Gillet, Dan Cooney). John is the former Artistic Director at Sharon Playhouse – where his direction included Merrily We Roll Along (starring Jason Tam, A.J. Shively, Lauren Marcus); Big River; Falsettos (starring Kyle Barisich); Les Miserables; Judge Jackie (starring Klea Blackhurst); They’re Playing Our Song.  A strong supporter of the development of new work, he has directed workshops/ readings/ productions of Georgie:  The Life and Death of George Rose (starring Ed Dixon); True Love (Sarah Schlesinger/ David Evans); Adam Lives (Goodspeed Opera House); Hellraisers (Barrington Stage); Fantasy Football, the Musical; All the Kids Are Doing It; When the World Ends (Nick Blaemire- Ars Nova); Ripper (NAMT); Party Come Here (David Kirshenbaum/ Daniel Goldfarb); Go-Go Beach (NYMF – 37 Arts); Pool Boy(Tsakalakos/ Allard); Next Thing You Know (Berkshire Theatre Festival); Queen Esther (Merkin Hall); Half Married (Cunningham/ Antin); Plastic! (Maddock/ Iconis/ Jacobs - York Theatre), 29 (Alter/ Newman), Lyrical Langston Hughes (New Triad- Lincoln Center), Blood Drive (Rachel Sheinkin), Beasts and Saints (Mindi Dickstein) and Like You Like It (Buck/ Acquisto). Prior to joining Penn State, John was a member of the music theatre faculty at New York University - where he directed Sweet Smell of Success, Floyd Collins, A Man of No Importance, The Fix, Kiss of the Spider Woman, Violet, Urinetown, Merrily We Roll Along, Parade, Fiorello! and A New Brain.  His production of Parade was preserved and is on reserve at Lincoln Center’s Theatre on Film and Tape Archive.  He holds a Bachelor of Music from Miami University and a Master of Arts from NYU.

Catherine A. Walker, University of Michigan

Catherine A. Walker is an associate professor of music in the Department of Musical Theatre and has worked extensively as a music director, conductor, vocal coach, pianist, educator, and clinician for over 35 years. Walker serves annually as a mentor and judge for the national Michael Feinstein Great American Songbook Vocal Academy. Other music direction credits include: The 5th Avenue Theatre, Seattle; The Augusta Barn Theatre’s production of Shenandoah starring Robert Newman; Island Center Productions, St. Croix, USVI; Three-D Productions National Touring Company; Derby Dinner Playhouse, Louisville; Red Barn Playhouse, Saugatuck, Michigan; and Farmers Alley Theatre, Kalamazoo, Michigan. Walker was the featured pianist for “Wicked Divas” with the Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra and “Family Night at the Movies” with the Saginaw Symphony Orchestra. She has also served as the music director and pianist for various cabaret performances including “An Evening with Lauren Kennedy” and “An Evening with Scott Coulter.”

Catherine Weidner, Ithaca College

Catherine Weidner is a professor in the Schol of Music, Theatre & Dance at Ithaca College. She is a teacher, professional director and actor. She served as Chair from 2013-2021, and as Interim Director of Ithaca College’s London Center in 2021-2022.

Her professional directing includes multiple seasons for Theater at Monmouth in Maine, including Two Gentlemen of Verona, Othello, As You Like It, and The Merry Wives of Windsor. For the Hangar Theatre in Ithaca, NY, she served as Voice and Text Coach for Joe Calarco’s Shakespeare’s R&J, and appeared on stage in Little Women, Third and Other Desert Cities..  Other professional credits include directing a one-person Henry V for Austin Shakespeare, an adaptation of Jane Austen’s Emma for Nebraska Repertory Theatre; Taming of the Shrew, Titus Andronicus, and Merry Wives of Windsor for the Illinois Shakespeare Festival, and Or, by Liz Duffy Adams at Caffeine Theatre in Chicago. For Ithaca College, she has directed Julius Caesar, Twelfth Night, As You Like It, Company and Cabaret.  As an Equity actress she has worked at The Kennedy Center in A Streetcar Named Desire with Patricia Clarkson, Amy Ryan and Noah Emmerich, directed by Garry Hynes; at Center Stage in Baltimore in Blithe Spirit, and Mary Stuart; and at Arena Stage in Washington, DC in The Heidi Chronicles, directed by Tazewell Thompson Her film credits include The Night House  featuring Rebecca Hall, There is a Hole in the Ground by Aidan Croninand One by Le Wang. She has worked at The Guthrie Theater under Garland Wright, Theatre de la Jeune Lune under John Clark Donahue, the La Jolla Playhouse under Des McAnuff, and with Bread & Puppet with Peter Schuman.  She holds a BFA in Acting from Ithaca College and an MFA in Directing from the University of Minnesota, and trained at Complicite in London, The Second City in Chicago and The Neighborhood Playhouse in New York.  For ten years she was the Program Director of The Shakespeare Theatre Company’s Academy for Classical Acting at the George Washington University, offering a one-year MFA in Classical Acting under the leadership of Michael Kahn.  From 2007- 2013 she taught Classical Acting and Heightened Text at The Theatre School at DePaul University, where she served as Head of BFA Acting.  She is a member of Actors’ Equity Association, the Screen Actors Guild, and the Society of Stage Directors and Choreographers (SDC). Related writing projects include: an iambic pentameter adaptation of Thomas Hardy’s novel The Woodlanders, a comic operetta libretto of Richard Brinsley Sheridan’s masterpiece The Rivals, and an adaptation of George Eliot’s novel Silas Marner for families and young audiences.

Sara Whale, Baldwin Wallace University

Sara Whale attended the Juilliard School before joining Ram Island Dance and the Maine State Ballet where she performed, taught and choreographed for both Portland, Maine based companies. During her career she has performed dance works by Charles Weidman, George Balanchine, Linda MacArthur Miele, Randy James, Daniel McCusker, Jeff Duncan, Dan Wagoner, Buffy Miller and Doug Varone. She has been the recipient of grants for choreographic and educational development in dance from the Maine Community Foundation, Maine Arts Commission, The Libra Foundation and The King Foundation. Sara moved to Cleveland in 2007 after earning a BFA in Graphic Design from Pacific Northwest College of Art. As a proud member of the Cleveland dance community she has choreographed, taught and performed with Meg Louise Dance, Dancing Wheels, Marquis Dance Project, Ohio City Theatre Project, the annual Playhouse Square Dance Showcase, Great Lakes Theatre and Verb Ballets. Sara has been an Assistant Professor of Dance at Baldwin Wallace University since 2010, where she teaches all levels of ballet and modern dance technique, Improvisation and Choreography, Dance Pedagogy, and directs fyoo zh en, the annual dance concert, and the Testing Ground Series which features danceworks-in-progress and text/movement based performances.

Kevin Wilson, Boston Conservatory at Berklee

Kevin Wilson is a master voice teacher, clinician, and 21st-century vocal pedagogue. His teaching is influenced by over 18+ years of study of anatomy and physiology, historical pedagogies, voice and speech, and acting. Kevin joined the Boston Conservatory's voice faculty in 2008 and is the Director of Vocal Pedagogy and is an Associate Professor of Voice. He teaches applied voice for musical theater and vocal performance students, as well as the courses Structure and Function of the Singing Mechanism, Vocal Pedagogy, and Applied Teaching Practicum. He also serves as director of the Conservatory's annual Vocal Pedagogy Professional Workshop and as an instructor in the Musical Theater Dance Intensive and Vocal/Choral Intensives. Kevin’s students have performed in venues ranging from the Metropolitan Opera, Chicago Lyric, New York City Opera, Handel and Haydn Society, Boston Symphony Orchestra, Boston Baroque, Oregon and Carmel Bach Festivals, to off-Broadway and regional theaters and tours throughout the world. His current and previous students have appeared in Broadways; Moulin Rouge, A Bronx Tale, Cats, Beautiful, Kinky Boots, Gigi, Rocky, Mamma Mia, Once, Dr. Zhivago, Hamilton, Lion King, Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812, The Bands Visit, Cinderella, Avenue Q, Evita, School House Rock, and Pipe Dream. As well as numerous national tours including Once (1st and 2nd National Tour) Chicago, Camelot, Wicked(1st and 2nd National Tour), Hamilton, Frozen, On Your Feet,  Cinderella, Kinky Boots, Mamma Mia, Peter and the Star Catcher, A Chorus Line, Shrek, Rent, West Side Story, Evita, and many more. His students appeared in Grease: Live and in the new West Side Story movie to be released this Fall. His students have been finalists and winners in the Tafelmusik Baroque Competition, Metropolitan Opera Auditions, the NATS Boston/National Voice Competitions, and received multiple prestigious regional nominations and awards for performance. Kevin travels the world as a clinician, adjudicator, and lecturer and gives master classes and lectures on vocal health and musical theater and classical pedagogies. He often lectures on Genre Fluid Singing™ and Changing the Filter ™ discussing how to prepare students to vocally make adjustments for a variety of singing opportunities from Classical to Contemporary Musical Theater. He has presented at National Association for Teachers of Singing National Conference, and the Pan European Voice Conference, In addition to over 100 Masterclasses, he has been an artist in residence with Arizona State University, Columbia College, and Southern Arkansas University. In 2019 he received the honor of being named Master Teacher for the prestigious National Association for Teachers of Singing Intern Program. He holds a Masters in Vocal Pedagogy from the New England Conservatory and the Bachelors of Music in Voice from the University of Central Oklahoma. He continued his music studies at the University of Missouri Kansas City Conservatory, in vocal anatomy and physiology at Boston University Sargent School of Health, and studies in voice and speech with Kristin Linklater and Catherine Fitzmaurice. In addition to this teaching at Boston Conservatory, he teaches graduate Vocal Pedagogy at Boston University, voice at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (M.I.T.) and was previously on the voice faculty at the American Repertory Theater at Harvard, Marymount Manhattan College, and Brown University. He maintains private studios in Boston and New York City.


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