My passion for theater started in high school, where my theater teacher provided me a multitude of opportunities that inspired me to pursue a lighting design degree, and ultimately, a career in live entertainment. Today, after nearly 29 years of creating magical experiences for Disney Parks, I clearly recognize the importance of theater education at the middle and secondary levels. That’s why I have represented Disney as a board member of the Education Theatre Association (EdTA) for nine years, helping to lead and evolve the organization, enabling us to launch several theater programs for students.
Among them is a program that established theater programs in high schools in China, which enabled a couple hundred students to be immersed in an amazing theater experience at our International Thespian Festival in Nebraska. Another is the JumpStart program, which equips non-theater teachers at underserved schools with the skills and resources to produce their first musicals. I am thrilled to chair the newly announced Educational Theatre Foundation, the fundraising arm of the EdTA, which will support an expansion of the JumpStart program to St. Louis and San Diego, in partnership with STAGES St. Louis and the La Jolla Playhouse, as well as need-based grants to schools and individuals.
I believe every child in America deserves access to theater in their schools. Theater truly helps students develop key skills that are valuable in any profession—collaboration, empathy, communication and many more. To learn more, visit https://educationaltheatrefoundation.org, and find out more about theater education and the International Thespian Society at https://schooltheatre.org.
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