The Academy core faculty consists of twenty nationally recognized professors, academic instructors, and artists assembled from leading, universities, schools, and arts institutions from throughout the United States. A rigorous curriculum, cutting-edge methodology, and a unique philosophical perspective provide world-class instruction, community, and renewal to arts educators from across Tennessee and the nation.
Sandra Babb is an assistant professor of choral music education at Oregon State University, where she teaches choral methods, vocal pedagogy, and choral conducting. She also directs OSU Bella Voce, which was recently featured at the 2021 National American Choral Directors Association (ACDA) conference. With degrees from Florida State University, Babb is an active conductor and clinician throughout the United States and is well known for her work in developing choral tone. She has co-authored articles for the International Journal of Research in Choral Singing, The Journal of Music Teacher Education, and Choral Journal. She is a contributing author for Composing in Choirs and Teaching Music through Performance in Choir: Volume IV, available from GIA Publications, and Voices in Concert, published by the Hal Leonard Corporation. She is also a National Center for Voice and Speech certified vocologist. Babb currently serves as the Oregon ACDA chair for treble choirs and the North WestACDA chair for student activities.
Dru Davison is a music program leader for the Memphis-Shelby County Schools in Memphis, Tennessee, and an active researcher in areas of creative leadership, education policy, and program development. Davison recently served as project chair for the Tennessee State Board of Education’s Standards Revisions for Arts Education. He is active with the National Association for Music Education, with past service as chair of the council of Music Program Leaders, where he oversaw the revisions of Opportunity-to-Learn Standards for Music Instruction. Prior to his work in administration, Davison taught instrumental music in rural and urban areas, was an adjunct jazz and saxophone instructor at Arkansas State University, and was a teaching fellow at the University of North Texas, where he received a doctorate in music education. He recently developed a course in creative leadership for Lee University in Cleveland, Tennessee. He is also active as a freelance saxophonist in the Memphis area.
Caren Ginsberg is a California-based artist known for her raw, textural style. As a child, she experimented with color and mark-making. As an adult, she worked for Vogue magazine before becoming a full time artist. Ginsberg has always been intrigued with people, faces, features, and expressions—all so different and yet so extremely powerful. Using multiple layers of vibrant color, assertive mark-making, liberated brush strokes, and fluid rhythm, she paints portraits that are raw and expressive. In creating these visual narratives, she infuses an energy and vibrancy that she hopes will help people become more aware of those around them. For Ginsberg, art has morphed from being a task of technical skill to an expressive act that affords her the privilege of transferring her original ideas and senses onto the canvas. Ginsberg’s work reflects her experiences in the present with remembrances of the past.
Alice Hammel is a widely known music educator, author, and clinician whose experience in music is extraordinarily diverse. She is a member of the faculty of James Madison University and has taught instrumental and choral music for many years in public and private schools. She was the Virginia Music Educator Association Outstanding Educator in 2011, and currently serves as the president of the Virginia Music Educators. Hammel has put her varied experiences to great use while compiling a large body of scholarly work. She is a co-author for four texts: Teaching Music to Students with Special Needs: A Label-free Approach, Teaching Music to Students with Autism, Winding It Back: Teaching to Individual Differences in Music Classroom and Ensemble Settings, and Teaching Music to Students with Special Needs: A Practical Resource. Hammel is a past president of the Council for Exceptional Children’s division for visual and performing arts education.
Faith Hillis is a teaching artist, poet, and performance maker from Houston, Texas, and the capacity building manager for Arts Connect Houston. Hillis has worked with various national and global communities and organizations including: Drama for Schools, Voices Against Violence, Creative Action, the Performing Justice Project, and the United States embassy in Sarajevo. She has degrees from Sam Houston State University and the University of Texas at Austin. Her master’s thesis, Emergent Strategy in Applied Theatre with Youth: Traversing Fear and Creating Justice, examines how artist-facilitators can use performance-based work with youth to help their bodies move past fear in order to envision and perform justice. Hillis is passionate about continuously working in and with communities that actively center justice, equity, and love as an embodied practice.
Colleen Hughes is a teaching artist, movement director, and choreographer, as well as a certified intimacy director with the organization Intimacy Directors and Coordinators, where she is also on the staff. Hughes is trained in trauma-informed practices, which are central to her work. She builds her work on a foundation of trust in the humanity of artists and the importance of theatre as a means of connection, communication, and compassion. Her work has been seen in dozens of regional and off-Broadway productions along the east coast, including the Philadelphia Theatre Company, Lantern Theatre Company, Curio Theatre Company, Philadelphia Shakespeare Theatre, Simpatico Theatre Company, Drexel University, and Commonwealth Classic Theatre. Hughes holds a degree in theatre from New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts and has also trained at the Stella Adler Studio. She has taught dance and theatre to students in grades kindergarten through twelve for more than a decade.
Kendra Kahl is a performer, director, and teaching artist based in Tempe, Arizona. She currently teaches for Childsplay Theatre Company, Desert Foothills Theatre, and Arizona State University. She has previously taught, directed, and performed with the Rose Theater, Lexington Children’s Theatre, IMAGINE!, and the Virginia Samford Theatre. Kahl’s teaching artistry includes conservatory acting training, social justice building with teens, applied theatre workshops in non-theatre work and education settings, and residencies and classroom partnerships in elementary and middle schools. She is also a playwright. Her work has been performed at the Southeastern Theatre Conference, Thought Bubble Theatre Festival, the Rose Theater, and Samford University. Her newest commission, The One Between, will premiere at the 2022 Edinburgh Fringe Festival. Kahl is an active member of the American Alliance for Theatre and Education for which she chairs the New Guard Network.
Luis Lanao III is a Colombian born artist, designer, and innovator. After graduating from Full Sail University with a degree in film and movie production, he worked on feature films in Florida before accepting a job with the Florida Panthers Hockey Club, where he became technical director of the game presentation department. He also created Luna Productions, where he and his wife designed brands, websites, and marketing materials for key players in the South Florida construction industry. Lanao currently lives in Raleigh, North Carolina, where he works as design director for IBM’s global brand and leads the company’s humanitarian initiative, the Be Equal design team. At IBM he has also collaborated with other members of the design, illustration, and video teams to create cross-company language guidance for the visual styling and approach of the entire company. He prides himself on being as multifaceted as a Swiss army knife and a designer for designers.
Kennedy Center Citizen Artist Alysia Lee is the founder and artistic director of Sister Cities Girlchoir, the El Sistema-inspired, girl empowerment choral academy in Philadelphia, Camden, and Baltimore, which is currently in its tenth season. She recently ended her tenure as the arts education policymaker for the Maryland State Department of Education. This role encompassed five arts disciplines: music, dance, visual art, theatre, and media arts. This year, Lee debuts as the series editor for Hal Leonard’s Exigence for Young Voices, a new choral series uplifting Black and Latino composers for young choir ensembles. Lee is also on the faculty of Longy School of Music of Bard College and Peabody Conservatory, as well as a proud board member of Chorus America.
Jeanne Oliver grew up in rural Illinois and now resides in Castle Rock, Colorado, where she lives with her spouse, Kelly, and her three children. Inspired by personal narratives, travel, and nature, Oliver uses art to tell stories about her life now, as well as stories of growing up among gravel roads, cornfields, and an early life surrounded by open spaces. Through mark-making, layers, and mixed media, she hopes to convey that everyone has a unique story to tell. She regularly speaks and teaches in the US and occasionally in England. She embraces her many loves and interests, which has afforded her a sweet mash-up of family, art, and travel. Connecting with women and sharing how people’s lives are shaped by creativity is one of her passions. When she is not in her studio, she can often be found hiking or finding an excuse to have another cup of coffee.
Dr. Corin Overland is a nationally recognized author, conductor, and educator who specializes in twenty-first century approaches to vocal and general music education. He is an associate professor of professional practice at the University of Miami Frost School of Music and currently serves as the chief academic editor of the Music Educators Journal. Overland is a member of the professional division of the GRAMMY Recording Academy and regularly appears as a guest speaker and clinician for professional development seminars and honors choirs around the country. He has more than fifteen years of experience as a vocal and general music teacher in public and private school settings. His research on labor and economic issues related to arts education can be found in the publications Journal of Research in Historical Music Education, Bulletin of the Council for Research in Music Education, Contributions to Music Education, College Music Symposium, and the International Yearbook on Research in Arts Education.
Mila Parrish is a professor of dance at the University of North Carolina in Greensboro, where she is the director of dance education. An active scholar, Parrish’s research has established new trends in curricula design, assessment, and teacher training. Her publications appear in the Journal of Dance Education, Research in Dance Education, Arts Education Policy Review, and Journal for Learning through the Arts, among others. She is internationally recognized for her scholarship in digital dance, somatics, and interdisciplinary instruction. A leader in the dance education community, Parrish has offered more than one hundred professional development courses, seminars, and workshops worldwide. She serves as special guest faculty with the Dance Education Laboratory at the 92Y Harkness Dance Center in New York and American Dance Festival. Parrish is the recipient of the leadership award for her community initiatives and theOutstanding Dance Teacher in Higher Education Award from the National Dance Education Organization.
Lesley Patterson-Marx has exhibited her artist’s books, prints, and mixed-media works in many galleries, art centers, colleges, and universities across the United States, Great Britain, and the Netherlands. Her work has been featured in New American Paintings, Craft, and ReadyMade and can be found in the permanent collections of Bainbridge Island Museum of Art, Vanderbilt University, Mississippi University for Women, and Noelle Hotel. Patterson-Marx received degrees from Murray State University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Since 1999, she has taught classes and workshops in a variety of media for groups of all ages. She has worked as a college and high school instructor and has taught at Appalachian Center for Craft; Watkins College of Art, Design, and Film; University School of Nashville, and Tennessee State University. You can find examples of her work at LesleyPattersonMarx.com.
Kay Piña is a PhD candidate at Pennsylvania State University where she supervises student teachers pursuing certification in music education. Piña has degrees from Texas State University in San Marcos and the University of Texas at San Antonio, where she completed her Dalcroze Eurhythmics certification under David Frego and Marla Butke. She has been named Master Teacher Artist by the American Eurhythmics Society. Before moving into her current role, Piña taught general music to fifth and sixth graders, as well as sixth-grade choir, at Laura Ingalls Wilder Intermediate School in Schertz-Cibolo-Universal City Independent School District, located near San Antonio, Texas. She also taught elementary music at David Crockett Elementary, now David Crockett Academy, in the San Antonio Independent School District. Piña has completed levels one and two in Kodály music education and level one of Orff-Schulwerk certification.
Julie Lapping Rivera began her career in New York, where she worked as a teaching artist with the Studio in a School, the Museum of Modern Art, and the Lincoln Center Institute. She was awarded a fellowship in drawing from the New York Foundation for the Arts, and has received Arts in Education grants from the New York Foundation for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Massachusetts Cultural Council. Art residencies include Soaring Gardens in Wyalusing, Pennsylvania, and La Muse, in La Bastide, France. She was recently awarded a 2022 Visiting Artist Residency at Scoula Internazionale di Grafica in Venice, Italy. Rivera is on the faculty of Zea Mays Printmaking in Florence, Massachusetts, and works as a visiting artist throughout the country. Her printmaking practice often includes collaboration with artists and poets, including her current work on a portrait and poetry project honoring under-recognized women in history.
Matthew Stensrud is an award-winning elementary music and movement teacher who currently teaches music and movement to students from pre-kindergarten through fourth grade at Sidwell Friends Lower School in Washington, D.C. He grew up in Norman, Oklahoma, and received degrees from George Mason University and the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music. Stensrud is an Orff-Schulwerk approved teacher educator of movement and teaches movement for Orff certification courses in New Jersey and Oregon. He is also on The Orff Echo editorial board and was a key content contributor to the book Responsive Classroom for Music, Art, PE, and OtherSpecial Areas. He is well-known on social media as @MisterSOrff and offers newsletters, mentoring, lesson plans, and more through his website MisterSOrff.com
Marcelo Tesón is an award-winning filmmaker and teacher with more than two decades of classroom experience. He started his career as a sound editor at Sony Pictures and Universal Studios, where his professional credits included the TV shows Law & Order, Arrested Development, and Psych, as well as the Peabody Award-winning documentary Southwest of Salem: The Story of the San Antonio Four. As an instructor, Tesón teaches young people the art of filmmaking and radio with organizations such as the Traveling Film Institute and Texas Folklife, where he was the director of the award-winning Stories from Deep in the Heart, a radio program for teachers. He is founder and director of the Creative Action Youth Cinema Collective, a program that brings young people from all over Austin to make socially relevant cinema. In 2016, the collective won the South by Southwest Community Award for their work lifting up the youth voices of Central Texas. A first-generation immigrant from Argentina, Tesón is currently in post- production on his first feature film as director, Touchy-Feely, which is scheduled for release in 2023.
Daniel Bird Tobin is a director, performer, science communicator, and theatre archaeologist. He has performed solo shows across the United States and in England (An Iliad and Conqueror of the Western Marches are two favorites). Tobin has worked with fabulous artists, such as Liz Lerman, Danai Gurira, and Aaron Landsman, and assisted the amazing directors Emily Mann, John Doyle, and Sam Buntrock. A graduate of the master’s degree in performance program at Arizona State University, Tobin has trained and worked with Dance Exchange, the SITI Company, Tectonic Theatre Project, and the Globe Theatre in London. Currently, he is a theatre specialist in the English Department at Saint Anselm College and a Senior Faculty Fellow in the Center for Communicating Science at Virginia Tech. DanielBirdTobin.com.
Della Wells is a self-taught artist who began drawing and painting in earnest at the age of forty-two. Her creative process uses the art of storytelling to transform personal experiences into visual work. Her work has appeared in several publications, including Black Collection by Teri Henderson and Self Taught, Outsider, and Folk Art: A Guide to American Artists, Locations, and Resources by Betty-Carol Sellen and Cynthia J. Johanson. In 2011, an award-winning play inspired by Wells’s life, Don’t Tell Me I Can’t Fly, debuted in Milwaukee. The play was commissioned by Milwaukee First Stage Children’s Theatre and written by Y York. Since its debut, it has also been produced in Nashville, Tennessee; Charlotte, North Carolina; and Richmond, Virginia. Wells’s dolls, cards, and collages are currently sold at the Smithsonian National African Museum of History and Culture in Washington, D.C. Her work is in more than one hundred private, corporate, and museum collections, including the Hurn Museum of Contemporary Folk Art, the Museum of Wisconsin Art, and the Wright Museum of Art.
Lois Wiggins is a retired band director who taught for thirty-three years in Indiana, Kentucky, and Tennessee. She holds degrees from Austin Peay State University, the University of Georgia, and Western Kentucky University. Wiggins is past state band chair for the Kentucky Music Educators Association (KMEA) and served for ten years as band content area leader for the Fayette County Public Schools in Lexington, Kentucky. She is currently a co-conductor with the Central Kentucky Youth Repertory Orchestra. During her career, she has served as a guest conductor for numerous honor bands and has adjudicated at concert band, marching band, and solo and ensemble festivals throughout Kentucky, Ohio, and Tennessee. Wiggins is a 2016 Grammy Music Educator Award National finalist. Additional recognitions she has received are Outstanding Bandmaster by Phi Beta Mu International Bandmasters Fraternity in 2010 and KMEA Middle School Teacher of the year in 2000. In February 2022, Wiggins was inducted into the Psi Chapter of the Phi Beta Mu Band Masters Fraternity Hall of Fame.
Tricia Williams joined the staff of the California-based Mr. Holland’s Opus Foundation in 1999. In her role as program director, she supervises and implements all aspects of the program. This includes strategic planning and implementation of support services to school districts, as well as school application review, site visits, administration of instrument donations, and evaluation of schools that receive grants from the foundation. Additionally, she maintains relationships with schools and districts nationwide through music education consultation and community engagement. She has performed with the Boston Chamber Ensemble, Brookline Symphony, American Repertory Theatre, New England Brass Band, and with former Frank Zappa guitarist Mike Keneally. Through a highly selective international process, she was acknowledged by American Express as a leader in the nonprofit sector and selected for the American Express Leadership Academy, which was held in New York City in 2017.