Faculty & Staff
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Home / Why Usdan? / Faculty & Staff

Our Faculty & Staff

 

Aaron Korn

Faculty, Instrumental Ensemble

Camp Faculty & Staff

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Alice Clancy

Operations Manager

Year-Round Faculty & Staff

Alina Kiryayeva

Faculty, Instrumental Ensemble

Camp Faculty & Staff

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Amalia Drewes

Faculty, Art Adventure

Camp Faculty & Staff

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Amanda Marino

Faculty, Sculpture

Camp Faculty & Staff

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Amanda Signorelli

Faculty, Nature, Ecology & Design

Camp Faculty & Staff

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Anna Penny

Faculty, Painting & Drawing/Comic Art

Camp Faculty & Staff

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Annie Ewaskio

Faculty, Painting & Drawing

Camp Faculty & Staff

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Benjamin Rabinowitz

Faculty, Vocal Ensemble (Junior)

Camp Faculty & Staff

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Brian Karen

Faculty, Chess

Camp Faculty & Staff

Chess

Carl Ferrara

Faculty, Musical Theater Skills: Acting Monologues & Dialogues

Camp Faculty & Staff

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Carolyn Popadin

Faculty, Theater

Camp Faculty & Staff

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Chelsea Parise

Faculty, Organic Gardening & Sustainability

Camp Faculty & Staff

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Chris Brown

Technical Supervisor

Chris Vivas

Faculty, Sculpture

Camp Faculty & Staff

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Christopher Drobny

Faculty, Musical Theater Performance

Camp Faculty & Staff

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Cindy Rosin

Faculty, Nature & Sustainability

Camp Faculty & Staff

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Courtney Kassinger

Transportation Manager

Year-Round Faculty & Staff

Dan Sussman

Faculty, Musical Theater Skills: Comic Acting & Storytelling

Camp Faculty & Staff

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Dana Neger-Lagos

Faculty, Metalsmithing

Camp Faculty & Staff

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David Schecher

Dean of Students

Year-Round Faculty & Staff

Diana Crum

Interim Director of Education

Year-Round Faculty & Staff

Elizabeth Jeffery

Faculty, Musical Theater Adventure: Games & Scenes + Songs & Improv

Camp Faculty & Staff

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Frank Buffolino

Faculty, Musical Theater Performance

Camp Faculty & Staff

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Grainne Josaphat

Aquatics Director

Camp Faculty & Staff

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Hawley Hussey

Curriculum Specialist

Year-Round Faculty & Staff

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Jacqueline Selesky

Faculty, Dance

Camp Faculty & Staff

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James Crichton

Faculty, Musical Theater Performance and Musical Theater Skills: Songs from Contemporary Theater

Camp Faculty & Staff

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Javan Howard

Coordinator, Creative Writing/Chess & Faculty, Creative Writing

Year-Round Faculty & Staff, Camp Faculty & Staff

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Jeffery Hoffman

Faculty, Usdan Troupe

Camp Faculty & Staff

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Jessica Blair Lukasik

Faculty, Broadway Jazz

Camp Faculty & Staff

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Jillian Greenberg

Director of Education

Year-Round Faculty & Staff

Jim Incorvaia

Department Chair, Theater

Year-Round Faculty & Staff, Camp Faculty & Staff

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Jodie Embleton

Art, Department Chair

Year-Round Faculty & Staff, Camp Faculty & Staff

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Joe Levy, CVE

Chief Operating Officer

Year-Round Faculty & Staff

Joel Salman

Faculty, Chess

Camp Faculty & Staff

Chess

John T Harris

Faculty, Art Adventure

Camp Faculty & Staff

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Jordan Hue

Faculty, Musical Theater Performance

Camp Faculty & Staff

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Jordan Williams

Faculty, Comic Art & Design

Camp Faculty & Staff

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Julia Forrest

Faculty, Senior Photography

Camp Faculty & Staff

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Julio Garcia

Senior Groundskeeper

Year-Round Faculty & Staff

Kageki Nagao

Faculty, Instrumental Ensemble

Camp Faculty & Staff

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Katie Hardin

Faculty, Dance

Camp Faculty & Staff

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Kelly Schulte-Smith

Faculty, Metalsmithing

Camp Faculty & Staff

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Kerry Barnhart

Senior Director of Student Affairs

Year-Round Faculty & Staff

Keyonnia Hallums

Faculty, Sewing & Fashion Design

Camp Faculty & Staff

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Krista Biedenbach

Faculty, Painting & Drawing

Camp Faculty & Staff

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Kristen Bartley

Faculty, Sculpture

Camp Faculty & Staff

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Kyra Leeds

Parent Support Senior Associate

Year-Round Faculty & Staff

Lafiya Watson Ramirez

Marketing and Communications, Consultant

Year-Round Faculty & Staff

Lauren Brandt Schloss

Executive Director

Year-Round Faculty & Staff

Lauren Kinane

Enrollment Coordinator

Year-Round Faculty & Staff

Marion Spencer

Faculty, Dance

Camp Faculty & Staff

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Mark Bligh

Department Chair, Music

Year-Round Faculty & Staff

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Matthew Mantione

Parent Support Staff

Camp Faculty & Staff

Maureen Duke

Faculty, Dance

Camp Faculty & Staff

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Megan Powers

Discovery, Department Chair

Year-Round Faculty & Staff, Camp Faculty & Staff

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Michelle LaPorte

Faculty, Instrumental Ensemble

Camp Faculty & Staff

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Motaz Elzalata

Assistant Controller

Year-Round Faculty & Staff

Nari Kim

Faculty, Painting and Drawing

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Noah Ruff

Faculty, Comic Art

Camp Faculty & Staff

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Olivia Wise

Manager of Marketing & Communications

Year-Round Faculty & Staff

Robert Gallagher

Faculty, Musical Theater Performance

Camp Faculty & Staff

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Sam Dillon

Faculty, Jazz Ensemble

Camp Faculty & Staff

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Skye Montante

Faculty, Dance

Camp Faculty & Staff

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Sonya Korder

Faculty, Sewing & Fashion Design

Camp Faculty & Staff

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Spencer Glass

Faculty, Musical Theater Performance

Camp Faculty & Staff

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Stella Shepherd

Donor Relations Coordinator

Year-Round Faculty & Staff

Stephen Hodges

Facilities Manager

Year-Round Faculty & Staff

Sue Lehr

Cello Instructor

Camp Faculty & Staff

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Warren Bloom

Faculty, Musical Theater Performance

Camp Faculty & Staff

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Zach Rifkind

Parent Support Staff

Camp Faculty & Staff

Stella Shepherd

Year-Round Faculty & Staff

Donor Relations Coordinator

Administration

Headshot Stella Shepherd

Stella Shepherd is originally from London, United Kingdom. She moved to New York to study Musical Theater and graduated from The New School with a BFA in Musical Theater and Liberal Arts. Prior to working at Usdan, Stella worked at a few non-profit Off-Broadway Theater Companies in their Fundraising departments. At Usdan she is the Donor Relations Coordinator and loves visiting the studios in the summer whenever possible. 

Lauren Kinane

Year-Round Faculty & Staff

Enrollment Coordinator

Administration

Headshot Lauren Kinane

Lauren Kinane is a clarinetist, educator, and currently serves as the Enrollment Coordinator at Usdan. Prior to becoming the Enrollment Coordinator, Lauren worked with the Leadership Institute and Supervision team, and she spent four summers as a camper at Usdan. Her summers at Usdan inspired her to pursue her passion for clarinet further. Throughout the year Lauren can be heard performing with the Stony Brook Symphony Orchestra, and she can be found teaching masterclasses and coaching clarinet sections at schools throughout Long Island. She can also be heard on the Massachusetts Chamber Players' album Frank Martin: Music for Winds. Lauren is currently pursuing her Doctor of Musical Arts degree at Stony Brook University. She also received her Master of Music from the University of Massachusetts - Amherst and her Bachelor of Music from SUNY Fredonia. 

Joe Levy, CVE

Year-Round Faculty & Staff

Chief Operating Officer

Administration

Headshot of Joe Levy sitting in Usdan Amphitheater.

Joe Levy joined Usdan’s team in 2021 bringing with him 30 years experience managing, building, and renovating cultural arts organizations, overseeing multi-million dollar operating budgets, extensive physical plant operations, multi-phased construction projects, and safety and security.

Joe’s professional experience includes leading operations and facilities at The National September 11 Memorial & Museum, Harlem’s World Famous Apollo Theater, Kaufman Center, Jack Morton Worldwide, The Public Theatre/New York Shakespeare Festival, and the Walnut Street Theatre in Philadelphia. Levy was also owner and operator of Radiant Construction; a contracting, construction management, and capital project consultancy committed to green-building practices.

Levy is the current chair of the Venue Safety and Security Committee for IAVM, which serves over 7,000 members worldwide. He received the Chair’s Citation at the 2017 annual IAVM conference and his Certified Venue Executive designation in 2018.

Alice Clancy

Year-Round Faculty & Staff

Operations Manager

Administration

Headshot of Alice Clancy.

Alice first joined Usdan in 2019 as the Festival and Gala Stage Manager. As a child, Alice was a serious saxophone player, and jumped from the pit to the wings in the early years of high school. She continued her study of theater at SUNY Fredonia, graduating with a degree in scenic design. Her nearly 30-year career as a stage and production manager has taken her to Santa Fe, Utah, a million hole-in-the wall theaters in Manhattan, NYU/Tisch School of the Arts, The Public Theater/New York Shakespeare Festival, and Harlem's World Famous Apollo Theater. She is thrilled to return to her roots of music, playing with tools, and running around in the woods in her first official role in an Operations Department. Alice is the proud mother of three budding artists and engineers, lucky wife of a second career Social Studies teacher, and dedicated student (and soon to be teacher!) of yoga.

Stephen Hodges

Year-Round Faculty & Staff

Facilities Manager

Administration

Stephen joined the year-round Usdan staff in April of 2021. He has 30 years experience in construction and maintenance; from the Rebirth of lower Harlem, as a project manager, to a classically trained "chippie" (carpenter) in London England. Stephen is the father of two young men, the eldest of which is a Usdan alum.

Chris Brown

Technical Supervisor

Administration

Kyra Leeds

Year-Round Faculty & Staff

Parent Support Senior Associate

Administration

Headshot Kyra Leeds

 

 

Matthew Mantione

Camp Faculty & Staff

Parent Support Staff

Administration

Smiling man with glasses in a suit.

A New York native, Matthew has been involved with Usdan for the majority of his life. Starting in 2004 as a camper, Matthew attended Usdan as a student for 11 years studying music and the trombone. Concluding his tenure as a “Usdanite”, Matthew sought to pursue music performance professionally and now holds a B.M. from Purchase College Conservatory and an M.M. from The Mannes School of Music. Currently, Matthew is pursuing an advanced degree from Hunter College studying Music Education. When Usdan is not in session, Matthew balances a full-time schedule of school, performing, music administration and teaching. During his free time, Matthew enjoys the sport of Archery in which he holds a coaching certification. When he is not in the office, Matthew is frequently seen on Usdan’s Archery range. Matthew will also tell you how the New York Mets are doing this season as he is an avid baseball fan!

Zach Rifkind

Camp Faculty & Staff

Parent Support Staff

Administration

Headshot of Zach.

After attending Usdan as a student, Zach joined the staff in 2017 and has served in Administration and the Music Department. Zach is a multi-instrumentalist, primarily focusing on Saxophone and Clarinet. Zach's favorite styles to perform include Jazz, Rock, and Classical and he regularly performs with Jazz Ensembles and Pit Orchestras. During the school year, Zach is the director of bands at Lynbrook North Middle School in the Lynbrook School District. Zach holds a Bachelor of Science in Music Education and a Master of Arts in Education with Honors from the Hostra University Honors College. Zach is an avid distance runner. 

Lauren Brandt Schloss

Year-Round Faculty & Staff

Executive Director

Administration

Headshot Lauren Brandt Schloss

Lauren Brandt Schloss joined Usdan in 2015. With her appointment, she became Usdan’s third leader in a half century and the first woman to hold the position. Bringing 20+ years experience in arts education, at the Queens Museum, MoMA, and the Peggy Guggenheim Collection, Lauren is committed to ensuring that Usdan is at the forefront of educational and artistic practices. Ms. Schloss earned a B.A. in art history from Princeton University and an M.A. in arts administration from Columbia University.

Lafiya Watson Ramirez

Year-Round Faculty & Staff

Marketing and Communications, Consultant

Administration

Headshot of a smiling Lafiya Watson.

Lafiya Watson Ramirez is a multidisciplinary artist, web and mixed reality developer, and graphic designer. She began working for Usdan in 2011. Formerly Usdan's Marketing and Communications Coordinator she now brings her talents to Usdan as a consultant. Her work has been used for Vandoren, BET, NPR.org, and countless other publications, websites, and album covers. She has recently begun to pivot to creating Augmented Reality experiences. At the beginning of 2020, she was accepted for the MIT Reality Hackathon and spend a week working with a team to build an AR experience using Nreal glasses. In October 2020, she was chosen for a Snapchat residency and created an AR game based on the game Simon Says. Lafiya continues to work in the realm of Immersive Design focusing on using AR for storytelling in her own work and beyond. 

 

 

Kerry Barnhart

Year-Round Faculty & Staff

Senior Director of Student Affairs

Administration

Headshot Kerry Barnhart

Kerry Barnhart is a proud alum of Usdan. Here is where she discovered her passion for music and theater as a child, going on to study vocal performance at The George Washington University. After several summers spent in the Usdan administrative office during college, she became part of the year round staff in 2005 as Registrar. Following her work as Registrar, Kerry oversaw student admissions as Director of Admissions, and has now added student affairs and operations as Senior Director of Student Affairs. She is happy to share the magic of Usdan with her son who attends as a student.  

Courtney Kassinger

Year-Round Faculty & Staff

Transportation Manager

Administration

Headshot of Courtney Kassinger

Courtney Kassinger has spent her summers at Usdan since 2002 when she first attended as a student. She has served as Discovery counselor, transportation staff, and is now Transportation Manager. Courtney is a teacher (and proud alum!) at Harborfields Central School District, teaching band, chorus, and music, as well as director of the annual Variety Show. She is a member of SCMEA and NAfME.

Julio Garcia

Year-Round Faculty & Staff

Senior Groundskeeper

Administration

 

Jillian Greenberg

Year-Round Faculty & Staff

Director of Education

Administration

Jillian Greenberg

Jillian Greenberg is an artist and educator, and Usdan’s Director of Education. Prior to joining Usdan, Jillian managed Studio In A School’s Artist Residency Program. She has taught visual art in schools, organizations, and museums across New York City. Jillian holds a Master’s in Art Education from Teachers College at Columbia University and an M.F.A. from the Chelsea College of Art and Design in London.

David Schecher

Year-Round Faculty & Staff

Dean of Students

Administration

David Schecher

Dave Schecher has been a member of Usdan's staff for over thirty years. He is a trombonist, private music instructor, and retired public school teacher. Mr. Schecher is also the Director of The Long Island Brass Guild.

Olivia Wise

Year-Round Faculty & Staff

Manager of Marketing & Communications

Administration

Headshot Olivia Wise

Olivia joined Usdan’s full time staff in 2017. Formerly Usdan's Admissions Counselor and then Enrollment Coordinator, she now brings her knowledge of Usdan's program and enrollment process to her role of Manager of Marketing & Communications. Raised by a professional muralist and actor, Olivia was exposed to the life-changing power of art making and creativity at a young age. While her expertise lies in administration, Olivia’s personal art making practice includes mixed media collage and cooking. Olivia holds a B.A. in Urban Studies from The New School and has worked for arts and culture organizations in the New York City region since 2011.

Motaz Elzalata

Year-Round Faculty & Staff

Assistant Controller

Administration

Headshot Motaz Elzalata

Motaz Elzalata joined Usdan in 2017 and has more than 10 years of experience in Accounting and Finance. He began his career as an Internal Revenue Service Agent in in Alexandria, Egypt. After immigrating to the United States in 2013, he became a tax preparer with the Food Bank of New York and then worked as a Staff Accountant at a payroll consulting company in Midtown Manhattan. Motaz earned a bachelor’s degree in Accounting & Finance from Alexandria University, Egypt where he graduated Summa Cum Laude. He is currently pursuing his CPA license. Motaz resides in Brooklyn with his loving wife, where they are devoted parents to their 3-year-old daughter Nadia and newborn son Zain. 

Diana Crum

Year-Round Faculty & Staff

Interim Director of Education

Administration

Headshot Diana Crum

Diana Crum works at the intersection of dance and education. She currently serves as Program Director for Movement Research’s Dance Makers in the Schools and teaches dance in NYC and NJ public schools with ArtsConnection, Brooklyn Arts Council and New Jersey Performing Arts Center. Her choreography has been presented in New York, Atlanta, Mexico, and across Europe. Recent honors and awards include Brooklyn Studios for Dance Artist in Residence position (2018), Su-CASA artist residency (2017), and Foundation for Contemporary Art Emergency Grant (2015). Diana started at Usdan in 2018, where she enjoys dancing in the woods with young people.

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Hawley Hussey

Year-Round Faculty & Staff

Curriculum Specialist

Art

Headshot Hawley Hussey

Hawley Hussey is an artist who is working between the visual, the written word, and the performing arts. Throughout her career she has engaged in diverse mediums including painting, printmaking, small press publications, artists books, sculpture and installation. Hawley got her BFA from The University of Massachusetts in Amherst and her MFA from Vermont College of Fine Art where she has presented as Workshop Faculty for the Masters Program in Art and Design Education. Hawley served as Education Coordinator and Director of Contemporary Art Education at BRIC Arts Media and as an Art Education Mentor for the New York State Council on the Arts. Hawley is proudly a co-founder of the arts integrated high school, Bronx Envision Academy and she is also a founding member of the Park Avenue Armory Artists Corps where she remains active as a Teaching Artist. Hawley is a contemporary art education activist engaging recent immigrants and special needs students in immersive art laboratories that she builds and calls the HH:ArtLab. 

Hawley has been working as Usdan's Curriculum Specialist since the beginning 2020 and played an integral role in the development of Usdan Online. 

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John T Harris

Camp Faculty & Staff

Faculty, Art Adventure

Art

JT Harris Headshot

J.T. Harris started his Usdan Career in 2018 as an assistant ceramic teacher. In 2019 he was promoted to a lead teacher position as the Discover Program’s art teacher. He is now returning for his third summer at Usdan as the Art Adventure teacher. Outside of Usdan, J.T. is a NYS Certified Teacher in art, general education, and special education. He is currently working as an elementary art teacher in the Central Islip School District on Long Island, where he has been for the last three years. J.T. is also a frequently commissioned illustrator based on the South Shore of Long Island.

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Jordan Williams

Camp Faculty & Staff

Faculty, Comic Art & Design

Art

Jordan Williams Headshot

Jordan has been a member of Usdan’s seasonal staff since 2014 – and this year is the Lead Instructor for Comic Art & Design. From an early age, his love of performing and digital arts fueled his creative passions. With an initial focus on music, Jordan’s talent as a trumpet player qualified for three consecutive scholarships, while he also worked as a Counselor-in-training. After starting college, Jordan’s digital creativity ignited and his personal art making practice redirected toward art, interactive programming and design. He has used his newfound talents and skills to serve twice as Usdan’s Assistant Instructor – for Drawing & Painting, for Video Game Design, then elevated to Lead Instructor for Video Game Design. In May, Jordan earned a B.S. in Digital Media and Animation from the State University of New York at Alfred State College. He is a nature lover, avid traveler, and enjoys playing the piano and ukulele.

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Julia Forrest

Camp Faculty & Staff

Faculty, Senior Photography

Art

Julia Forrest Headshot

Julia Forrest has been working as a lead photography instructor since 2014 at USDAN. Julia is a fine art photographer who prints her own work in a compact traveling darkroom that she brings on various artist residencies. Working in film, she uses mirrors and forced perspective to create illusions in front of the camera. When not teaching at USDAN, Julia teaches classes at the Brooklyn Museum, and receives grants to travel to different locations to make new art. She graduated from the Hartford Art School in 2009 and has worked on using her artistic practice to connect with students in inspiring them to become artists themselves. Julia has received brief fame and recognition for being on Jimmy Kimmel for 3 seconds during a street segment. She still get recognizes for it to this day.

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Kelly Schulte-Smith

Camp Faculty & Staff

Faculty, Metalsmithing

Art

Kelly Schulte-Smith Headshot

Kelly Schulte-Smith has been with USDAN since 2017 as a lead teacher in the Art Department. She is fluent in metal work, stained glass art, warm glass, mosaic art and cement sculpture. She believes the best moment in teaching is when you have lit the fire of imagination and you can see how the student utilizes the materials to create their own work of art. She has taught at the LI School for the Gifted doing STEM push-in programs and taught art classes at local libraries.  She also is an instructor at Plainview Old Bethpage and Syosset High School teaching Adult ED Programs in Stained Glass, Mosaic Art, and Wire Weaving Techniques. She has participated in Fine Art Craft Fairs on Long Island such as Gallery North OAS, East End Holiday Shop, Sag Harbor, Art in the Park and more.  She is a member of the LI Craft Guild and SAMA (Society of American Mosaic Artist. She is a graduate of Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) NY.

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Keyonnia Hallums

Camp Faculty & Staff

Faculty, Sewing & Fashion Design

Art

Keyonnia Hallums Headshot

Keyonnia Hallums is not only the founder of ETIER, a sustainable apparel production facility, but also teaches job, life and entrepreneurial skills. As a self-taught member of the fashion industry, she excels at shifting individuals from consumers to creators. She began wanting to expand her horizons, becoming a certified DOE Vendor and MWBE certified business in order to teach Sustainable Fashion/Entrepreneurship workshops to educational facilities like GED Programs, High Schools, Juvenile Centers and more. She has collaborated with other businesses to create PPE Products, Apparel Designs, and other Sustainable products. She welcomed a new journey at Usdan in 2021, where she became the Fashion Director for the camp’s Fashion Department! Fun Fact: her goal is to make sure her business remains a community collaborative, working closely with community-based organizations to encourage individuals about entrepreneurship!

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Krista Biedenbach

Camp Faculty & Staff

Faculty, Painting & Drawing

Art

This will be Krista's fifth year with Usdan, first serving as an assistant in the Art department in 2012, then returning as a lead teacher in 2016. Krista's current work involves large scale, mixed media paintings of abstracted, figurative imagery. In addition to spending summers at USDAN and creating work in her studio, Krista is currently a high school art teacher. Krista holds a MA in Art and Art Education from Teachers College, Columbia University and BA Degrees in Art History and Studio Art from Stony Brook University. She looks forward to the upcoming fall when she will continue her studies within the Doctoral program, Art and Art Education, back at Teachers College. Besides everything art, Krista enjoys relaxing with her two small dogs, Patrick and Lily.

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Amalia Drewes

Camp Faculty & Staff

Faculty, Art Adventure

Art

Headshot of Amalia.

Amalia Drewes is a Mixed Media Artist, a lover of nature, and a spiritual explorer. Amalia graduated from Parsons School of Design, The New School in 2015 with a BFA in Illustration. Over the last few years Amalia has continued to add new creations to her portfolio, operating as a freelancer and graphic designer and one of her biggest joys was becoming a teacher of Reggio and nature-based learning at Spark Elementary. Amalia started online teaching Mixed Media Exploration at Usdan in 2020 and also had the pleasure of attending camp as a young girl, starting when she was in 3rd grade. Her summers at Usdan were some of the best memories of her life. She is very excited to be on the campgrounds this year and can't wait to see what magic awaits us!

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Kristen Bartley

Camp Faculty & Staff

Faculty, Sculpture

Art

Kristen Headshot

Kristen is an interdisciplinary artist, writer, curator and educator originally from Texas, currently residing in Brooklyn, NY. She studied photography at the International Center for Photography as a full scholarship recipient. Her work has been exhibited nationally and featured in numerous journals and magazines. She also runs a NYC-based critique collective and has developed several creativity generating workshops for both teens and adults. Kristen joined Usdan as a lead art teacher in 2019. She looks forward to the summer at Usdan where she learns as much from the students as they do from her.

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Amanda Marino

Camp Faculty & Staff

Faculty, Sculpture

Art

Headshot of Amanda

Amanda has been with Usdan in some capacity since 1993. Amanda started as a camper, became a counselor, and graduated on to teaching. During the year, Amanda works as a high school art teacher - teaching the art of drawing, painting, and sculpture.  She received her undergraduate degree in Art Education from Buffalo State College and her masters degree in Oil Painting from Long Island University.  In her own work, Amanda works mostly in oil paint and colored pencil focusing mostly on portraiture. She is very excited to be back at Usdan teaching Sculpture for another exciting summer.

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Anna Penny

Camp Faculty & Staff

Faculty, Painting & Drawing/Comic Art

Art

Headshot Anna

Anna started at Usdan as a Photography teaching assistant and 2021 will mark her first season as a lead teacher in the Art Department. She considers herself an "art nerd" and loves creating things using many different mediums including painting, printmaking, bookmaking, and more. Anna is currently an art teacher at Bay Shore Middle School and has four cats at home. She cannot wait to meet her students this summer. 

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Annie Ewaskio

Camp Faculty & Staff

Faculty, Painting & Drawing

Art

Headshot Annie

Annie has an MFA from Hunter College, and lives and works in Brooklyn, NY. She has participated in solo and group shows at spaces including Elijah Wheat Showroom, NADA FAIR, Orgy Park, Underdonk, GP Presents, AIR Gallery, and Temporary Agency (New York), Zolla/Lieberman (Chicago), Boehm Gallery (San Diego), Current Space, Metro Gallery (Baltimore), The Institute Library (New Haven), Miami University (Oxford), Texas Christian University (Fort Worth), Moncton University (Canada), and Salamanca Arts Centre (Australia). Her oil paintings investigate strange happenings in a supernatural Arctic land of past, present and future, so she has done research in Alaska and Svalbard, Norway. She started teaching at Usdan in 2018, and helped create Usdan’s online programming during the pandemic. She is excited to get back to the woods of Usdan!

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Nari Kim

Faculty, Painting and Drawing

Art

Nari Kim Headshot

Nari Kim is an energetic, creative and experienced teaching artist, based in New York. In 2021, she joins Usdan for the first time, as she is also contemporary artist, whose work explores intersectional feminism, subaltern identity and virtual space’s effects on things. She has presented her works in diverse venues including Bronx Museum, New York; ProjectArt, New York; Space 776, New York; Koban Project Space Baltimore; Delaware Center for the Contemporary Arts, Wilmington; Common Center, Seoul; and many others. As an art instructor, she has taught classes for teens, tweens, and families at Queens, Brooklyn, and New York Public Library branches, since 2017. She has done so through her involvement with ProjectArt, a teaching artist residency program that provides free art classes to under-served youth. She received her Master degree of Fine Art at Hunter College, New York in 2015 and a Bachelor degree of Fine Art at Hingik University, Seoul in 2009.

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Noah Ruff

Camp Faculty & Staff

Faculty, Comic Art

Art

Noah Headshot

Noah has worked at Usdan since the summer of 2015. During the rest of the year, Noah is a character and prop designer working in animation and games. He has studied classical drawing in France and at the London Fine Art Studios, and studied design with the Brainstorm School in California. He lives in Astoria and loves running!

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Sonya Korder

Camp Faculty & Staff

Faculty, Sewing & Fashion Design

Art

Sonya Korder Headshot

Sonya Korder has been a member of the Usdan community since 2004, where she spent three summers as a student before returning as an assistant teacher in 2010. In 2014, she founded Usdan’s Sewing & Fashion Design program, and has been teaching ever since. Sonya enjoys taking a sustainable and interdisciplinary approach to design. When she is not in the classroom, Sonya works as a freelance designer with a focus on footwear and product design, and runs an Etsy shop creating custom accessories. Sonya graduated Summa Cum Laude with a BFA from the Fashion Institute of Technology. Born and raised in New York, Sonya is a lifelong vegetarian, and loves spending time with her rescue dog, Bella.

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Chris Vivas

Camp Faculty & Staff

Faculty, Sculpture

Art

Chris Vivas Headshot

Chris Vivas joined Usdan’s Art Department in 2010.  Lead Art Teacher, he brings his interest in art, culture, travel, literature, and ceramics to his teaching philosophies.  His artwork, influenced by existential writers such as Nietzsche, Sartre, and Camus, explores the duality of strength and fragility found within human existence.  Exploring how strength synthesizes to weakness and vice versa has led him to working in ceramic during his initial studies at Stony Brook University followed by receiving his MFA from SUNY New Paltz.  Art residencies have also been an important aspect of his artistic development and growth as an educator.  Residencies include; Shigaraki Ceramic Culture Park in Shigaraki, Japan, Museum of Arts and Design (MAD) in New York, NY, AIR Vallauris in Vallauris, France, Babayan Culture House, Ibrahimpaşa, Cappadocia, Turkey.  He currently teaches at Suffolk County Community College and St. Joseph’s College along with various workshops and lectures throughout Long Island.

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Dana Neger-Lagos

Camp Faculty & Staff

Faculty, Metalsmithing

Art

Dana Neger-Lagos headshot

Dana Neger-Lagos has been a working artist since 1989. Upon graduating from Parsons in 1989 from the School of Design in New York City, she started her own Design Company. For 30 years she has been an Educator, Metalsmith, Jeweler, and Manufacturer. She has designed and manufactured for Donna Karan, Ralph Lauren, Calvin Klein, Wathne Limited and many more throughout her career. Throughout the past 10 years, she has found a home teaching at the Art League of Long Island beginning in 2011 and Usdan Camp for the Arts since 2013. Metal and Silversmithing, 3-D sculpture and Mix Media Arts are the classes offered at the Art League. She has now broadened her spectrum to include large steel sculptures, plasma cutting and Mig and tig welding. My favorite things are cats, chocolate and using torches to create art.

 

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Jodie Embleton

Year-Round Faculty & Staff, Camp Faculty & Staff

Art, Department Chair

Art

Headshot Jodie Embleton.

Jodie joined us at Usdan in 2008. Her role has evolved from assistant, to teacher, to art chair representing her dedication to Arts Education and her love Usdan.  She holds a BFA in Painting and Drawing from SUNY Purchase College and a MSed in Art Education from CUNY Queens College.  Jodie’s personal work consists of paintings depicting abstract architectural designs with sculptural elements. On the off-season, Jodie is a visual arts teacher in a public school on Long Island. Her favorite experiences at Usdan include working with teachers and children as they reconnect with nature and funnel their creative energy into building a better community. A fun fact about Jodie is that used to foster hurt wild animals. 

Chess

Joel Salman

Camp Faculty & Staff

Faculty, Chess

Chess

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Joel is a Professional Chess Master from Oceanside, New York.   A FIDE Master and USCF National Master, Joel has been teaching Chess full-time since 1994, joining the faculty of Usdan in 2003, where he co-chairs the Chess Department. Joel also has a wealth of experience as a tournament director and organizer, including State, National and International competitions for all levels of players from young children to International Grandmasters. Joel has a BA in Mathematics from The Johns Hopkins University (1987).

Fun Fact:   In addition to Long Island, Joel has played/taught Chess on the islands of Bermuda, Curacao and Hawaii.

Chess

Brian Karen

Camp Faculty & Staff

Faculty, Chess

Chess

Headshot Brian

Brian is ranked within the top 3% of tournament chess players by the United States Chess Federation (USCF) and Federation Internationale Des Échecs (FIDE). Brian has been awarded the Candidate Master Title. Brian has directed the Usdan Chess program since 1997. Brian founded and conducts chess programs across Long Island as a full time chess teacher, tournament director and organizer. Brian founded and administrates chess groups on social media encompassing over 100,000 members and was hired by IBM to give web commentary during the famous Deeper Blue – Kasparov match.  

Brian was elected by chess instructors from across the United States to the USCF Scholastic Council. This is a five-person body that manages National Scholastic events and regulations involving thousands of children across the United States. 

Brian Received a Masters in Social Work from Fordham University and a Bachelor of Arts degree from Syracuse University.

 

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Javan Howard

Year-Round Faculty & Staff, Camp Faculty & Staff

Coordinator, Creative Writing/Chess & Faculty, Creative Writing

Creative Writing

Headshot Javan Howard.

Javan joined Usdan’s full time staff in 2017. Year round hip hop and poetry are his modes of survival and inspiration. A Bronx born creative that hails from the same high school as James Baldwin, he spreads love one word at a time. He truly believes that the lived experience is the ultimate teaching tool and uses poetry as a social forum to foster discourse about love, culture, and identity. He also suffers from severe milk chocolate withdrawals and has been diagnosed with a case of the New York Knicks.

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Jessica Blair Lukasik

Camp Faculty & Staff

Faculty, Broadway Jazz

Dance

Jessica Blair Lukasik Headshot

Jessica Blair is a performer and dance teacher based in New York City. This will be her 4th summer at Usdan teaching Broadway Jazz. Originally from Chicago, she received her B.F.A. in musical theatre from the University of Michigan. She has performed in musicals across the country and was last seen in Dirty Rotten Scoundrels at Pioneer Theatre Company in SLC, Utah. Jessica has served as choreographer for Young People’s Theatre in Ann Arbor, MI and Plymouth State University’s Educational Theatre Collaborative. She currently teaches at Shuffles NYC in Manhattan.

 

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Katie Hardin

Camp Faculty & Staff

Faculty, Dance

Dance

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Katie is so excited to join the Usdan family for the first time in 2021! She will be teaching tap and ballet, but also loves all forms of dance. Currently, Katie teaches tap and musical theater in the NYC area and is the assistant director of Rumbamena, a Latin Dance Company. Katie began teaching 7 years ago and has learned from/taught alongside Justin Boccitto, Shelby Kaufman, and Ray Hesselink while studying at Broadway Dance Center in both their dance training program as well as their choreography program. Outside of Usdan, she will be going to the beach, teaching classes all throughout the New York City area, and hopefully attending some outdoor performances this summer. A fun fact about Katie is that she has been tap dancing since she was 4 years old!

 

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Marion Spencer

Camp Faculty & Staff

Faculty, Dance

Dance

Marion Spencer Headshot

I am a dancer, choreographer and educator currently living on the land of the Munsee Lenape and Canarsie peoples, known today as Brooklyn. I graduated with honors from Vassar College in 2009, where I studied Geography-Anthropology and was a member of the Vassar Repertory Dance Theatre for four years. I dance, I sing, I make things, I teach. My choreographic work is a collaging of movement, sound and light- sourcing intuition, imagination and our very real world. My dances call for transformation and an undoing of ourselves, inviting us to feel, ask questions, and radically consider what else both imaginatively and constructively. I teach adults and young dancers in the New York area. I have recently been on faculty at Freeskewl, Dancewave, Gibney and Greenwich Country Day Middle and High School. Originally from Riverside, Connecticut, a white Latina with a mother from Caracas and a father born and raised in Ancón (formerly in the US-occupied Panama Canal Zone), I was partly raised in Oaxaca, Mexico, where my parents (both Mesoamerican Archaeologists) do their excavations. I began at Usdan in 2019.

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Maureen Duke

Camp Faculty & Staff

Faculty, Dance

Dance

Maureen Duke Headshot

Maureen Duke is new to USDAN! She holds a BFA in Dance Performance and a Minor in Musical Theatre From the University of Missouri-Kansas City Conservatory. Both musicals and ballet are her passion, and she looks forward to joining the National Tour of An American in Paris in January 2022. Aside from performing, she enjoys teaching dance and fitness to children and adults with special needs, as well as maintaing her city garden. 

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Skye Montante

Camp Faculty & Staff

Faculty, Dance

Dance

Skye Montante Headshot

This will be Skye’s first year teaching at Usdan. Skye Montante began studying ballet at Petaluma School of Ballet at the age of 8. In later years as she was introduced to other forms of dance; she found her true calling with Hip-Hop and Contemporary styles. She continued her dance through college and graduated from San Francisco State University with a BA in Dance. While in school in San Francisco, she taught youth and adult classes at ODC School of Dance, City Dance Studios and after school programs and summer camps. Since moving to New York she has taught both youth and adult classes in multiple studios including Brooklyn Arts Exchange, SassClass and Peridance. She continues to work as a freelance choreographer and looks forward to growing with the dance community in New York City.

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Jacqueline Selesky

Camp Faculty & Staff

Faculty, Dance

Dance

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A proud native of Long Island, New York, Jacqueline was introduced to dance at the tender age of seven. She became well versed in all styles including but not limited to ballet, modern, jazz, latin, tap, and hip hop. She graduated from Montclair State University with a Bachelor of Arts in Dance Education. Jacqueline appeared on Spike Lee’s She’s Gotta Have It NetLlix series, The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon, Good Morning America, and Live with Kelly and Ryan. Some of her credits include performing with Cardi B, Demi Lovato, Rita Ora, and G-Eazy. She has been able to share her expertise at dance competitions as an adjudicator. She was in the Orange Public School District in New Jersey as a K-12 Dance Teacher. Jacqueline began teaching at Usdan in 2017, and as a lover of nature is thrilled to spend yet another year dancing the summer away.

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Megan Powers

Year-Round Faculty & Staff, Camp Faculty & Staff

Discovery, Department Chair

Discovery

Headshot Megan Powers

Megan began her journey with Usdan as a camper in 1996, alongside her grandmother and grandfather who taught Jr. Chorus and Band, and her mother who was the first director and began the Discovery department. She practiced music, dance, and photography during her 11 years as a camper and found joy in these art forms well into her undergraduate years at CUNY Hunter College while pursuing a degree in English Language Arts. Megan transitioned into the Assistant Director position and ultimately the Department Chair position for Discovery in 2016 after graduating from Long Island University with her Masters Degree in Early Childhood and Childhood Education. Megan is currently a Pre-K teacher at Old Dominion University’s Children’s Learning and Research Center, guiding and creating with her students as well as mentoring future childhood educators through the university’s teacher training program. 

 

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Kageki Nagao

Camp Faculty & Staff

Faculty, Instrumental Ensemble

Music

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Dr. Kageki Nagao has been working at Usdan as a double bass lead teacher and a chamber music coach since 2008.  He has been a director of junior orchestras since 2014.  During the school year, Kageki directs the string department of Long Island Lutheran Middle & High School.  Graduated from Juilliard School and Stony Brook University, Kageki is active as a soloist, orchestra and chamber musician.  Kageki was chosen by Leonard Bernstein to serve as principal bass for the Schleswig- Holstein Festival Orchestra.  Recently, Kageki appeared as a member of the Strauss Symphony of America, which played in venues such as the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts in Philadelphia and David Geffen Hall in Lincoln Center, NYC.  As a conductor, Kageki led the SCMEA Division III East Festival Orchestra in March 2018.  Kageki lives with his wife Jeanine and 7 critters.  He is also a fanatic Loch Ness Monster hunter.

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Aaron Korn

Camp Faculty & Staff

Faculty, Instrumental Ensemble

Music

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Aaron Korn has been teaching at Usdan since 2009. Aaron is an active New York freelancer, playing on Broadway shows and as a member of the Radio City Music Hall Orchestra. Aaron has previously held positions with the Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra, in Israel, as well as the Allentown and Princeton Symphony Orchestras. Aaron has performed with artists of all different genres including Carrie Underwood, Kanye West, MGMT, Frank Sinatra Junior, and many others. He can be heard on many movie soundtracks including the recent releases of “The Joker” and “Gemini Man”. Mr. Korn is on faculty at The Juilliard School Music Advancement Program. Aaron received his BM from the Manhattan School of Music and his MM from the Yale  School of Music. Aaron was a student at Usdan many years ago!

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Alina Kiryayeva

Camp Faculty & Staff

Faculty, Instrumental Ensemble

Music

Headshot of Alina.

Alina is excited to join Usdan's Music Department as a faculty member for the first time this summer. Alina is a professional concert pianist and chamber musician best known for her innovative approach to presentation of classical music and superb command of her instrument. Alina has performed in over a dozen countries with venues and collaborations including the Kharkov State Philharmonic and State Opera Theatre Orchestras, The Imperial Valley Symphony Orchestra, the New York Symphonic Ensemble Orchestra, Carnegie Hall, the Morse Recital Hall, the Concerto Takes Manhattan Series at Yamaha Hall, the Smithsonian Museum and Library of Congress. 

Alina has released two albums including “Sonatas” and “Moving Pictures”. She is one of few classical pianists that completed both Bachelor and Master degrees at The Juilliard School of Music on full scholarship; and was also awarded the Fannie Gottlieb-Harkavi Scholarship and Susan Rose Piano Scholarship. Her awards include top prizes in Senigallia International Competition, the Grace Welsh International Competition and the California Young Artist International Competition. Kiryayeva has been honored by Ukrainian President Leonid Kravchuk, with the State Award for Achievements in Arts. 

In addition to her performing and teaching career, in 2020 she a Doctoral degree from The City University of New York upon completion of research on the relationship between classical and popular music. 

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Michelle LaPorte

Camp Faculty & Staff

Faculty, Instrumental Ensemble

Music

Michelle LaPorte Headshot

Michelle LaPorte happily joined Usdan as the Flute Lead Teacher in 2019 – her love of nature, animals, and the arts, makes Usdan her perfect artistic  home! She enjoys a global career as a performer, educator, and chamber music  advocate. Michelle is a Miyazawa Flutes Performing Artist, Centaur Records  Artist, and flutist of the international award-winning flute and guitar ensemble,  Serenade Duo. She is passionate about sharing the beauty and diversity of flute  and guitar music by composers from around the world.  

In addition to maintaining an active private teaching studio, she is also an  Assistant Adjunct Music Professor at Suffolk County Community College.  Michelle earned a Master of Arts Degree in Music from Long Island University  and a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Music Performance from the State  University of New York at Stony Brook. 

www.serenadeduo.com

 

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Benjamin Rabinowitz

Camp Faculty & Staff

Faculty, Vocal Ensemble (Junior)

Music

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Benjamin began working at Usdan in 2010 and has covered many different positions at the camp, most recently and returning as the Junior Vocal Ensemble Director. Benjamin holds a bachelor’s degree in Music Education from SUNY Fredonia, and a master’s degree in Music Education from Kent State University. Benjamin studied voice and is a passionate performer. When not working at Usdan, Benjamin teaches 6 through 8th grade chorus in Webster, New York. Benjamin is excited to get back on the Usdan grounds and make some wonderful music once again. One fun fact about him is that he is a die hard Mets fan and will love anyone instantly who shares the same fandom.

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Sam Dillon

Camp Faculty & Staff

Faculty, Jazz Ensemble

Music

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Sam joined the USDAN faculty as Jazz Conductor in 2018.  Previously Sam was a camper at USDAN in the late nineties while he was in high school.  Sam’s soloist and sideman work includes over 20 studio recordings, performances on a global level and international critical acclaim garnering him recognition as one of the defining voices on the tenor saxophone today.  In 2016, Sam received his Artist Diploma from the prestigious Juilliard School as the saxophonist in the A.D. Jazz Program.  Now Sam enjoys bringing his experiences back to students at USDAN while creating a fun environment to learn and explore Jazz.

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Sue Lehr

Camp Faculty & Staff

Cello Instructor

Music

Sue Lehr joined Usdan as the cello instructor in 2000. Cello ensemble is her passion and she loves working with her Usdan students. Sue retired as the orchestra teacher at the Waldorf School of Garden City in 2009. She continues to freelance, teach in her private studio and perform and teach in school residencies with the Classical Strings Ensemble and Orchestra Long Island during the school year. Sue has a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in performance from the New England Conservatory. She is an enthusiastic participant in the Covid Cello Project. Check it out on YouTube for some wonderful cello ensemble performances!

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Mark Bligh

Year-Round Faculty & Staff

Department Chair, Music

Music

Headshot Mark Bligh

Mark Bligh is the director of the Denton Ave Elementary Band (Herricks UFSD, New Hyde Park, NY) where he teaches winds, brass and percussion for grades 3-5.  The Denton Ave Band regularly attends NYSSMA Majors and consistently earns Gold and Gold with Distinction honors.  

Mark Bligh is a graduate of the Esther Boyer College of Music at Temple University where he received a Bachelor of Music in Music Education with Honors. He received a Master of Arts from Stony Brook University.  Mr. Bligh was published in Scholastic for his contributions in an article entitled, “10 Best Musical Apps for Kids”. Mark has been honored to conduct the Winds, Brass and Percussion sectional for the NYSSMA All-State Symphonic Orchestra.  Mark was privileged to conduct the 2018 SCMEA Division 1 Central All-County Band and the 2019 WCSMA All-County Elementary Band.  Mr. Bligh has performed with the Long Island Wind Ensemble, Atlantic Wind Symphony, Northwinds Symphonic Band as well as various chamber ensembles.  Mark is the current Music Department Chair at Usdan Summer Camp for the Arts where he has worked since 2005.

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Amanda Signorelli

Camp Faculty & Staff

Faculty, Nature, Ecology & Design

Nature & Sustainability

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Amanda began teaching at Usdan for the 2018 summer season. Her personal artmaking includes incorporating mixed media and natural objects for collage, photography and altered image making, ceramics, illustration and painting. Art and nature are her true passions and she is so excited to be returning to Usdan this summer! During the rest of the year, Amanda loves teaching elementary art for a local Long Island school and teaches students from kindergarten through fifth grade. She graduated with her master's degree in art education from Adelphi University and has been teaching art since 2009. Amanda loves mint chocolate chip ice cream, her family, and her silly dog Goji! Her son is super excited to be joining the Usdan family this year as a first-time camper.

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Chelsea Parise

Camp Faculty & Staff

Faculty, Organic Gardening & Sustainability

Nature & Sustainability

Headshot chelsea

Chelsea is very excited to make 2021 her first year in the garden with Usdan! She loves all things at the intersection of plants and people, especially farming, public park horticulture, and botanic natural history. Previously, Chelsea worked in horticulture at the High Line and Riverside Park Conservancy, and with scientific plant collections at Boston’s Arnold Arboretum and Harvard University Herbaria. Chelsea’s favorite form of art practice is drawing plant doodles, which utilizes active close looking to counteract “plant green blindness.” When not gardening, she is pursuing a master’s degree in geography investigating how urban forests reflect their neighborhoods, creating site-specific “novel ecosystems.” Fun facts about Chelsea: her work with botany collections includes a 100-year-old tortilla, mushrooms that turn caterpillars into zombies, and Henry David Thoreau’s plants from Walden Pond!

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Cindy Rosin

Camp Faculty & Staff

Faculty, Nature & Sustainability

Nature & Sustainability

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Cindy is new to Usdan’s teaching staff in 2021, and is excited to join the Nature department. Cindy is an artist and environmental activist based in Rockaway, Queens, where she lives on a houseboat made from converted shipping containers. She has a BFA and a Certificate in Art Therapy from School of Visual Arts. A painter and printmaker, Cindy is four years into a daily drawing practice that has made her a firm believer in the power of making art every day. When she’s not teaching, Cindy spends portions of her year volunteering in the field for environmental organizations – from monitoring buffalo migrations to working on ocean-going conservation ships, Cindy believes that life is best lived outdoors.

 

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Grainne Josaphat

Camp Faculty & Staff

Aquatics Director

Recreational Arts

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Gráinne A.K.A “G” joined Usdan as a staff member in 2014, first as Swim Coordinator and has now been Usdan's Aquatics Director since 2016.  Raised in Ireland, and an avid lover of fitness and the outdoors, she brings her passion to the pool. G shares her enthusiasm for life and learning as a former youth leader and now full time in the Long Island school district. She is also an accomplished athlete, wellness educator and certified life coach. G holds a Physics and Theology degree along with multiple certifications with the American Red Cross.

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Jeffery Hoffman

Camp Faculty & Staff

Faculty, Usdan Troupe

Theater

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Jeffrey Hoffman has been a member of the theater faculty at USDAN since the summer of 2011. A composer and conductor based in New York City, he works year-round as the organist and director of music at Christ Church, the Episcopal parish of Pelham, New York, where he leads a children’s choir, an adult volunteer parish choir and the parish’s professional choral artists; he also administers Concerts at Christ Church, a mostly classical concert series, as artistic director. Positions he previously held include founding artistic director of the acclaimed Music at Saint Alban’s concert series on Staten Island and organist for the Rossmoor Jewish Congregation in New Jersey. He is an alumnus of Manhattan School of Music and the BMI Lehman Engel theater workshop. In addition to his full time career as a liturgical musician and choral conductor, he has served as musical director for several musical theater productions in New York City and with Barrington Stage Company’s youth theater program, and for several high schools around suburban New York and New Jersey.

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Jordan Hue

Camp Faculty & Staff

Faculty, Musical Theater Performance

Theater

Jordan joined Usdan’s teaching staff in 2017 as a lead teacher in the theatre department. During the school year, Jordan is an English and Theatre teacher at Long Beach High School in Long Beach, NY. He holds a BA in Drama and English and an M.S. in Secondary Education from Hofstra University. He is also a graduate of Adelphi’s Educational Theatre program. He has worked in regional, community, and educational theatre in NYC and Long Island since 2001. 

 

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Robert Gallagher

Camp Faculty & Staff

Faculty, Musical Theater Performance

Theater

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Rob Gallagher has been a lead teacher in the Theater Department since 2016.  He is a professional actor, singer, and voice teacher.  He has performed a variety of leading roles on and off Broadway, and with many regional and summer stock theaters across the country, including Long Island’s premier professional theater company, The John W. Engeman Theater at Northport.  During the year he is one the voice faculty at LIU Post, training the acting and musical theater majors proper vocal technique.  He holds a BS degree in Vocal Performance and Theater from Indiana University.  Fun Fact:  He played the lead role of Inspector Javert in Les Miserables for a year on Broadway!

 

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Carl Ferrara

Camp Faculty & Staff

Faculty, Musical Theater Skills: Acting Monologues & Dialogues

Theater

Headshot Carl J. Ferrara

Carl taught at Usdan from 2003 to 2004, and returned to the Theater Department in 2019. A songwriter and composer, he has written two musicals, several songs and choral works. He has been Music Director for theatrical productions and cabarets across Long Island and NYC; including CAP, Broadhollow, Kids 4 Kids and South Shore Theatre Experience.

Carl has been a music educator for close to 30 years. He is an alumnus of the Crane School of Music and SUNY Stony Brook, with degrees in Music Education. He is a member of NYSSMA, SCMEA, and NAfME. Currently, he is teaching in the Amityville School District

Carl has been conductor of the Silver Chords, a community chorus in Smithtown since 2014. This year, they will celebrate their 40th anniversary season. He is also the Music Director for Setauket United Methodist Church, served as Associate Music Director for L.I. Voices, and has sung with the Brookhaven Choral Festival.

Carl loves to grill outdoors during the summer, and is looking forward to relaxing outside in nature.

 

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Carolyn Popadin

Camp Faculty & Staff

Faculty, Theater

Theater

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Carolyn began in Usdan’s Theater Department in the summer of 1997. She had a few gap years when her children were young and returned in 2013. During the year she is a New York-based teaching artist, director and performer. She brings her love of theater to students throughout Long Island and Brooklyn directing school musicals and incorporating theater arts into class curriculums.

Carolyn began her theater education at Brooklyn College and then studied arts administration at NYU. This eventually led her to acceptance in the professional acting program with the British American Drama Academy in Oxford, UK. She has toured the US with the National Theatre for the Performing Arts and has appeared in numerous east coast, regional, and Off-Off Broadway productions. Carolyn is the proud mom of two teenage girls who loved taking classes in Usdan’s Dance Department. 

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Christopher Drobny

Camp Faculty & Staff

Faculty, Musical Theater Performance

Theater

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Having made his Usdan debut in 2013, this will be Chris’ 9th year as a musical director in the theater department. He loves collaborating with young singers, helping them develop a healthy vocal technique, and introducing them to a wide variety of theater music. Chris lives in Manhattan where he works as a vocal coach, pianist and conductor. His professional credits as a musical director include the Public Theater, Classic Stage Company, and Williamstown Theater Festival. Chris taught for many years at New York University and has served as a guest lecturer at Syracuse University and the North Carolina School of the Arts. He received an M.A. in American Studies from the CUNY Graduate Center, his curriculum and thesis focusing on music and theater history. Fun fact: Chris began his professional career as a movie reviewer for a weekly newspaper called The Daily Planet.

 

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Spencer Glass

Camp Faculty & Staff

Faculty, Musical Theater Performance

Theater

Spencer Glass Headshot

Spencer Glass began his Usdan journey as a camper in 2002 where he was Harold Hill in THE MUSIC MAN. 2021 will be his first summer coming to camp as a teacher! Spencer is thrilled to be directing a musical in the theatre department this summer at his favorite place in the entire world.  When he's not at Usdan, Spencer is a full time Middle School Theatre Teacher, as well as a news correspondent for BroadwayWorld.com where he has his own series, TEN MINUTE TIDBITS, where he interviews Broadway stars. Spencer also has his own coaching business for actors.  He has a BFA in Musical Theatre from THE BOSTON CONSERVATORY, and is currently pursuing an M.A. in Theatre Education at Adelphi University. Fun fact- Spencer puts hot sauce on basically everything

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Warren Bloom

Camp Faculty & Staff

Faculty, Musical Theater Performance

Theater

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WARREN BLOOM (Theater) has been a musical director, sound designer and pit musician at Usdan for 18 (non-consecutive) summers since 1998.  After directing various professional a-cappella groups including Hyannis Sound (Cape Cod) and Minimum Wage (off-Broadway), and spending a year as a composer in the BMI Musical Theater Workshop, he began teaching music in the NYC DOE in 2002, and is currently at P.S. 8 in Brooklyn.  He is also a voiceover artist, music copyist, live sound engineer, pinball wizard and self-taught LEGO organizer.  He regrets not being a camper at Usdan, despite growing up nearby in East Meadow and Woodbury.  He currently lives in the dead-center of Brooklyn with his wife, his two kids and a sibling pair of cats. He holds a B.A. from Brandeis Univ. in music, a M.M. from the Univ. of Miami Frost School of Music in media writing & production, and a M.A. from CUNY Hunter College in music ed.

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Dan Sussman

Camp Faculty & Staff

Faculty, Musical Theater Skills: Comic Acting & Storytelling

Theater

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Dan has been at Usdan since the summer of 2003. During this time he dedicated his time to the Theater department building sets and props, running lighting and sound, working stage crew, and teaching students. Dan has been working as an Actor, Director, and Performer for the past 35 years. His philosophy in performing is based on a combination of Stanislavski and Meisner methods of approaching characters and performance. Dan holds A.A. in Acting from NCC and a B.F.A in Acting, Directing, and Technical theater from Binghamton University. During the school year Dan works as a teacher in the Sachem Central School District. His 3 biggest comic influences are Buster Keaton, Gene Wilder, and Andy Kaufman.

 

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Elizabeth Jeffery

Camp Faculty & Staff

Faculty, Musical Theater Adventure: Games & Scenes + Songs & Improv

Theater

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Liz started at USDAN in the summer of 2014. A professional children’s theater actor at Long Island Children’s Museum during the year, she also performs in community theaters and live radio all over Long Island. With a Bachelors in Fine Arts from Five Towns College she teaches voice and piano to local students as well as voice coaching signed artists at Columbia Records. Liz was never shy about telling people her parents imported her from Chile. This past Christmas, she was contacted by biological siblings telling her that she is, in fact, one of ten. Oddly enough they all work in the arts!  

 

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Frank Buffolino

Camp Faculty & Staff

Faculty, Musical Theater Performance

Theater

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This is Frank’s first summer at Usdan and he is ecstatic to be a part of the staff! Frank is currently a senior at Hofstra University pursuing a Bachelor of Science degree in Music Education, where he studies piano and oboe as well. Frank enjoys playing a variety musical styles and genres including classical, jazz, pop, and theater. While not at Usdan, Frank currently spends the rest of his year as a student at Hofstra, teaching private lessons, and playing in pit orchestras across Long Island. Aside from music, Frank enjoys supporting the Knicks and loves watching and playing soccer as well. Frank is very excited to work with this summer’s campers and experience the joy of theater together!

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James Crichton

Camp Faculty & Staff

Faculty, Musical Theater Performance and Musical Theater Skills: Songs from Contemporary Theater

Theater

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James joined Usdan’s theater staff in 2017, but in total this will be his 16th collective summer. As an actor James has appeared off-Broadway in Unknown Soldier at Playwrights Horizons & Jasper in Deadland with the Prospect Theater Company. He played Prentiss on the National Tour of Peter and the Starcatcher, and has appeared regionally in Botticelli in the Fire (Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company), The Taming of the Shrew (Shakespeare Theatre Company), The Last Ship (Pioneer Theatre Company), and Sweeney Todd (The Rev Theater Company). He is the host and creator of the podcast, Actors: On Process, and is on the faculty of LIU Post’s Musical Theater program. He received his BFA in Theater Arts – Performance from Hofstra University. Fun Fact: his favorite musicals are The Band’s Visit and Fiddler on the Roof!

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Jim Incorvaia

Year-Round Faculty & Staff, Camp Faculty & Staff

Department Chair, Theater

Theater

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Jim began teaching at Usdan in the summer of 1991 and after thirty summers in the woods, he is still as excited as when he first started. Jim is an actor, director and producer who has overseen more than three hundred shows in Usdan’s three theaters. He began his professional work in the arts at the age of five as a commercial model. He was bitten by the acting bug for good in high school. Jim obtained his B. A. and his M.S. in Education at Hofstra Univeristy and studied for his M.F.A. at Columbia. He is the founder of the OnStage Strategies Group, a theater consulting firm assisting educational and local theater programs as they work to grow and re-imagine themselves in the post-pandemic world. Jim believes that art has the power to break down the barriers that divide us.