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A CREATIVE COMMUNITY

COMMITTED TO

OUR YOUTH AND

THE FUTURE

OF OUR

COMMUNITY

Our staff
Amy Downing

Amy Downing

Enrollment Coordinator

Amy is an actor, singer, and educator from Dallas, Texas. After receiving her BFA in Acting from Ithaca College she moved to New York where she worked as a local and touring performer before moving to Austin in 2004. In Austin she began her teaching career with many arts based non-profit organizations. She also continued to perform with a myriad of theatre companies, while also working in customer service. Her career with Creative Action began as an after school teaching artist and as an actor/educator in Interactive Performances. She has also assisted with volunteer coordination, event planning, and enrollment. As the Enrollment Coordinator she loves connecting families with Creative Action Programs! She continues to perform professionally. In 2017, the Austin Critics Table awarded her the John Bustin Award for Conspicuous Versatility.

Anabel Gómez
Anabel Gómez

Anabel Gómez

Co-Director of Color Squad/Artistic Associate

Anabel co-leads Color Squad, a collective of teen visual artists, and also serves as a support for Teaching Artists through facilitating training, 1:1 meetings, and classroom observations.

Angelica Chesney (she/her/hers)

Angelica Chesney (she/her/hers)

Program Specialist
Angelica supports our programs by leading special projects on site. These projects are especially SEL based helping our students navigate big feelings and foster community.
Angelica has the special ability to empathize and connect with her students. She conceptualizes unique project ideas and supports Teaching Artists and Site Coordinators in realizing the logistics of those projects.
Angelica’s world revolves around her family. From gaming with her husband and son to cooking with her “Tias” in San Antonio.
Carl Gonzales
Carl Gonzales

Carl Gonzales

Out of School Time Artistic Associate

Carl Gonzales is an actor, singer, and director in Austin and surrounding areas. He has appeared on The Daily Show with John Stewart, and has appeared on stage in productions such as “Into The Woods”, “Honk!” and “Doper than Dope” (Austin’s own “In Living Color”).

Carol Noriega (she/her/hers)

Carol Noriega (she/her/hers)

Office and Facilities Manager

Carol grew up in San Antonio but moved to Austin for college and has been here for 23 years. She enjoys going to see live music, checking out a movie at Alamo Drafthouse, hiking the greenbelt, going to the craft breweries in town, and eating at great local restaurants. She’s also a big Star Wars geek and enjoys sewing, drawing, painting, and needlepoint and crochet. Carol joined Creative Action as Office Manager in August of 2014. Her previous experience was in various administrative and student affairs roles at the University of Texas since 1995. Carol received her Masters in Education and BA in Sociology and Mexican American studies from the University of Texas.

Christie Jean-Jacques
Christie Jean-Jacques (she/her/hers)

Christie Jean-Jacques (she/her/hers)

Associate Director of Intergenerational Programs

Christie helps to support community engagement with a focus on volunteers, interns, and our intergenerational programs, including Continuing Creativity and Legacy Leaders. She began working for Creative Action in 2014 as an Interactive Performance Teaching Artist in the schools. After graduating from the Otterbein College Theatre Dept., she performed throughout China, Russia, the Caribbean, and across the U.S. with Disney Live, Disney Cruise Lines, Universal Studios, American Family Theatre, and The Black Stallion Literacy Foundation. Most recently she choreographed musicals for the Gilbert and Sullivan Society of Austin. In her spare time, she loves to get out in nature with her 2 children, hiking and exploring beauty in the world.

Freddy Carnes
Freddy Carnes

Freddy Carnes

Program Specialist

Freddy has worked at Creative Action since 2005!  Freddy is an actor, producer, director, writer, composer, and teacher who has won several awards and recognition for his work with children, including special recognition from Mayor Will Wynn and many B. Iden Payne award nominations. He has co-written and directed over 40 operas with elementary school children and has produced several CDs of his original songs.  Freddy was named the 2009 “After School Staff Member of the Year” by the Central Texas After School Network (CTAN) for his work teaching children Shakespeare and Greek mythology.  Freddy also has his own theater company, Freddy Carnes Productions, and has written and produced many original musicals including the Trojan War Trilogy: The Odyssey, Iphigenia and Aeneid full-length musicals (with script, music and lyrics by Freddy) for adults performed at the Dougherty Arts Center from 2010-2016.

Hanna Patterson
Hanna Patterson

Hanna Patterson

YCC Co-Director

Hanna teaches an overview of filmmaking, engaging students to think critically about the media they consume and foster a newfound passion for the arts.

Hannah Teson Headshot
Hannah Teson

Hannah Teson

Digital Marketing Manager
Ish Kundawala
Ish Kundawala

Ish Kundawala

OST Program Director

Ish supports Creative Action’s OST team at Blanton, Brentwood, Maplewood, and Winn as well as our partnership programs at Del Valle ISD, ACE, and Andy Roddick Foundation schools.

Over the past two decades, she’s worked or volunteered for some of the best arts, educational, and progressive non-profit organizations in Austin. In her free time, Ish can be found anywhere near water, live music, and puppies & her pockets are probably full of poems, photographs, rocks, wildflowers, and chocolate.

“I believe that the art & artists you need in your life depends most upon the moment you’re in.” – Ish Kundawala

Jenna Rodarte

Jenna Rodarte

Development Manager
Jenna is a native Austinite with a passion for mission-driven work within the community that raised her. She attended the University of North Texas, where she studied Public Relations and Leadership in the Community and Nonprofits and has been working in the nonprofit community since. She began her career as an AmeriCorps member for a literacy program in the DFW Metroplex, and since returning to Austin she has focused her work on supporting community engagement, relationship building, and fundraising for organizations such as United Way of Williamson County, Thinkery, and AGE of Central Texas. Jenna is excited to join the Creative Action team and help carry out its mission!
Jules Beesley
Jules Beesley (he/him/his)

Jules Beesley (he/him/his)

Associate Program Director of Spark Schools
Jules started as a film and TV editor and worked on Star Wars: The Clone Wars before moving into Critical Media Literacy education work in NYC in 2011. He completed his Masters in Childhood Ed degree there, then moved to Austin and joined Creative Action and Spark Schools in 2019.
He has directed and coordinated Spark Schools at Lee Lewis Campbell Elementary Media and Performing Arts Institute–an arts integration collaboration partnering Theatre and Digital Media Teaching Artists with classroom teachers to teach students core academic subjects through the Arts.
Karen LaShelle

Karen LaShelle

Executive and Artistic Director

Karen began working at Creative Action as a volunteer in 2003 and has helped the organization grow from serving 800 young people to its current reach. Karen was the 2015 Mission Capital Executive Director of the Year, a member of the 2010 Leadership Austin Essential Class, winner of the “Austin Under 40” Arts and Culture award in 2011, and was a 2012 and 2013 finalist for the Ernst & Young Social Entrepreneur of the Year. Karen is a member of 2015 Community Arts Education Leadership Institute through the National Guild for Community Arts Education, where she is a board member and the co-chair of the Racial Equity committee. She also serves on the National Partnership for Creative Youth Development Steering Committee, working to develop the emerging CYD field.   Karen holds a BFA from Illinois Wesleyan University and an MA in Community Based Arts from New York University.

Keri Boyd Headshot
Keri Boyd

Keri Boyd

Site Coordinator

Keri is an educator with 15+ years experience working with students of all ages, with specialization in early childhood development. Born and raised in Austin, Texas, and a graduate of the University of Texas, she has also lived in NYC and Chicago. Currently, she is the Site Coordinator for Becker Elementary. Go Bobcats. In her free time, she loves gardening with her toddler.

Laura Spraggins (she/her/hers)

Laura Spraggins (she/her/hers)

Site Coordinator

Laura Spraggins has a background in teaching art classes after school, touring immersive theater performances for youth, and facilitating arts-integrated curriculum in schools. She has a passion for storytelling in all of its forms. She believes that by sharing our stories and creating new ones together we can produce a more compassionate and just world.  She has a B.A. in theater, arts administration, and Spanish from Drury University. In addition to being an arts educator, she is a professional actor, stage manager, and props master.

Laura Taylor
Laura Taylor

Laura Taylor

Controller
Lindsay Palmer

Lindsay Palmer

Director of Public Art

Lindsay Palmer is an artist and educator working in Austin, TX. She received her BFA in sculpture from Texas Tech University, as well as receiving her MFA, also in sculpture, from The University of Colorado in Boulder.  Her work has been shown across the country and internationally, at galleries such as Box 13 Gallery in Houston, TX, The Harwood Art Center in Albuquerque, NM, The Ice Box Gallery in Skagastrond, Iceland, and the University of Texas, San Antonio. She has completed residencies in Houston, Iceland, Nebraska, and North Carolina. Since 2013, she has been the Director of Color Squad with Creative Action.

Lise Wilson

Lise Wilson

Program Manager

Lise Wilson is a Canadian transplant to Austin with a BA in First Nations Studies/Native Studies with a focus on ethnobotany and deconstructing colonialism. She also has a background in dance, singing, theatre, and multi-media arts. Lise has a passion for guiding young people to find their voices and explore their creative selves through the arts. She also loves to get her hands dirty, building things, creating gardens or gathering medicinal plants in wild places. Hiking, swimming, camping, canoeing, singing with friends or dancing in her kitchen with her kids are some of the ways that she finds peace and joy.

Lynn Hoare
Lynn Hoare

Lynn Hoare

Senior Director of School-based Programs

Lynn Hoare is the Senior Director of School-Based Programs, where she oversees Interactive Performance residencies, Professional Development, and Spark Schools, an arts-integration model in partnership with local schools. Lynn is passionate about using theatre as a tool for engagement, dialogue and community building. She was previously the Theatre For Dialogue Specialist with Voices Against Violence at UT Austin, where she taught and directed interactive performances with graduate and undergraduate students. Lynn received her MFA in Drama and Theatre for Youth from the University of Texas at Austin, and has taught for the Department of Theatre and Dance. Lynn is also the co-director and co-founder of the Performing Justice Project (PJP) which devises original theatre with young people to explore gender and racial justice. Lynn was a co-founder and co-director of Theatre Action Project (now Creative Action) where she was Executive and Artistic Director from 1997-2003. She is thrilled to be back.

Marcelo Teson
Marcelo Tesón

Marcelo Tesón

Artistic Associate, Director of Youth Cinema Collective

Marcelo Teson is an award-winning sound editor, filmmaker, and film instructor. As an instructor, he has taught film and radio to young people for over 15 years and across four states, and is entering his 8th year at Creative Action, where he founded the Creative Action Youth Cinema Collective to give teens around Austin an opportunity to tell stories that impact their community. His teaching brings the Hollywood experience to his students, combined with a focus on helping students find their inner voices while appreciating the broad spectrum of filmmaking history and tradition. As a sound editor, Marcelo is a 15-year veteran of professional post sound, with stints at Sony Pictures Studios, 424 Post, AnEFX, and Universal Studios, He is a three-time nominee for the MPSE Golden Reel Award for sound editing. His professional sound credits include television shows such as “Law & Order,” “Arrested Development,” “Life,” “Rome,” and “Psych,” as well as the feature films “Hostel,” “Grandma’s Boy,” and the Peabody Award winning documentary “Southwest of Salem: The Story of the San Antonio Four.” Marcelo is a proud alumnus of the University of Southern California School of Cinematic Arts, and has previously served as the President of the USC Alumni Association of Austin.

Headshot Of Michelle Meza
Michelle Meza (she/her/hers)

Michelle Meza (she/her/hers)

Director of Annual Giving

Michelle Meza is excited to help make a difference as a Development Coordinator at Creative Action.  Prior to her employment with the organization, she worked closely with the Membership Department at the Blanton Museum of Art and interned with the Screenplay Department at the Austin Film Festival. Michelle finds that while she is a fan of various artforms, film and theatre both have special places in her heart. She has been involved with theatre for about 12 years and had the honor to serve as publicist as well as direct a play and a children’s show for the University Theatre Guild. She is a proud graduate of UT Austin, where she received BA degrees in both History and Psychology.

Mylo Mendez Headshot
Mylo Mendez

Mylo Mendez

Staff Muralist

Mylo Mendez is an illustrator, muralist, and zine maker. Their work centers around queer POC liberation and radical education methods. Mylo holds an MFA from Parsons School of Design.

Nadia Rangel
Nadia Rangel

Nadia Rangel

Director of Program Operations

Nadia is a local Austinite who graduated with a BA in Sociology from Saint Edward’s University. She has taught in preschools for several years and has been with Creative Action since 2011. She worked as a teaching artist at various elementary schools and served as a site director for after school and summer camp before becoming the Director of Program Operations. In 2016, she won the Central Texas Afterschool Network (CTAN) award for Out-of-School Time Staff Member.

Noah Martin
Noah Martin

Noah Martin

Director of Teen Programs, Director of Changing Lives Youth Theatre Ensemble

Noah Martin is a teaching artist, director, and theatre maker based in Austin, Texas. His work with youth and adults is focused on collaborative theatre-making processes and arts experiences that build community and foster meaningful social dialogue. He is Director of Teen Programs at Creative Action and the Artistic Director of Changing Lives Youth Theatre Ensemble, a creative youth development program that brings together teens from around Austin to create and tour original shows about violence prevention and healthy relationships. He has created and directed dozens of original shows with people of all ages in Austin, Portland, Seattle, and San Francisco, including an annual bicycle pageant seen by hundreds of pedaling audience members. Noah holds a degree in theatre education from Western Washington University and a Masters degree in Drama and Theatre for Youth and Communities from the University of Texas at Austin.

Noel Gaulin Headshot
Noel “Curly Fries” Gaulin (he/him/his)

Noel “Curly Fries” Gaulin (he/him/his)

Out of School Time Program Director II

Curly Fries is an award-winning performer whose one-man show tours nationwide. He works with young people to spark their academic, social, and emotional development using professional techniques and joy in the creative process. Curly Fries is in his twelfth year guiding and engaging youth for Creative Action. He oversees the robust platform for training, coaching, and curriculum development for part-time Teaching Artists in the Out-of-School Time department; and leads the development and delivery of Creative Action’s high-quality School Year Camps and Summer Camps.

Robyn Burchfiel's Headshot
Robyn Burchfiel

Robyn Burchfiel

Chief Development Officer

Robyn is an executive-level professional with 20+ years’ experience in nonprofit leadership, relationship building, and revenue generation. She most recently served as the VP of Philanthropy & Engagement at the Long Center where she designed and implemented a comprehensive fundraising program.

In 2014, she founded Philanthropy Ventures, a results-driven consulting firm focused on helping clients identify their goals around social change, revenue, and company culture. Acting as the catalyst, Robyn brought together social causes, businesses, and philanthropists to help each maximize their desired outcomes.

Earlier in her career, Robyn spent five years in Institutional Advancement with her alma mater, Southwestern University, a private, liberal arts college located in Georgetown, Texas. During her tenure, Robyn served as the Director of Leadership Gifts and Director of Gift and Estate Planning, where she worked with the University’s President and executive leadership team to prepare and execute a $150 million fundraising campaign.

Robyn also spent 10 years with Dell, Inc. in sales roles of increasing responsibility. As a sales manager, she created and piloted a unique customer engagement model that amplified the efficiency of the inside sales organization and changed the way Dell executed business. Her achievements led to numerous awards, including “Sales Manager of the Year” and “Circle of Excellence.”

In her free time, Robyn enjoys practicing yoga, hiking Austin’s expansive trails with her husband, Steve, watching their daughter, Addie, play soccer, and chasing after their two rambunctious Wheaten Terriers, Quigley and Eisley.

Ryan Manning
Ryan Manning (he/him/his)

Ryan Manning (he/him/his)

Program Manager
As a program manager, Ryan supports campus relations and supervises the onsite leadership of Creative Action’s Out of School Time programs at multiple sites across Austin. Ryan studied theater direction at Texas State University and the Dell Arte International School of Physical Theater. He has been an active theater artist and musician in Austin for the past five years. In the past he’s worked with youngsters as a guitar teacher, through his work with the Scottish Rite Children’s Theater, and as an after school volunteer for Creative Action.
Sam Reza
Sam Reza

Sam Reza

Deputy Director

Sam is a Las Vegas native with a BA in Studio Art focusing on painting/drawing. She has been in numerous solo and group shows and has a passion for poetry, politics and punk rock. Sam has an extensive background in nonprofits—from the arts to conservation to health and human services—and loves being a part of organizations that make a difference. Sam is using her knowledge and expertise at Creative Action to develop and implement new systems, streamline technology, and create a work place culture that is diverse, dynamic and fun.

Jenna Rodarte Headshot
Samantha Apodaca

Samantha Apodaca

Grants Manager

Samantha Apodaca is the Grants Manager. She has her B.A. in Anthropology/ Journalism from New Mexico State University, focusing on cultural studies while living in both Italy and Thailand. Her professional work experience is focused on management of non-profit and philanthropic social services. She managed an agency in the border town of Puerto Palomas, Mexico, bringing programming that focused on community health and wellness; as well as a domestic violence community program and survivor shelter in Southern NM.

Her passion lies in this storytelling of nonprofits’ missions and stories through grant writing. She has written, administered, and managed many local, state, and federal grants throughout her career. She is new to Austin and is excited to embrace and serve the community.

Savannah Reagor Headshot
Savannah Reagor (she/her/hers)

Savannah Reagor (she/her/hers)

Marketing and Communications Coordinator

An artist at heart, graphic designer by trade and growing communications professional, Savannah is a Dallas-native with an MA in Advertising from UT Austin. Savannah combines her skills as a passionate creator with her desire to serve youth as Creative Action’s Marketing and Communications Coordinator.

Savannah is also a small-business owner, providing graphic design services to individuals, businesses, and organizations. In her free time, Savannah loves arts and crafts activities, and catering to her foodie lifestyle.

Sean Moran
Sean Moran (he/him/his)

Sean Moran (he/him/his)

Human Resources Manager for Part-Time Employees
Sean Moran is theatre maker, actor, teaching artist, and tinkerer based is Austin, Texas. He received a Bachelor’s Degree from the University of Texas at Austin’s Department of Theatre and Dance. He also took part in general studies at the Lorenzo di Medici Institute in Florence, Italy. Since then, he has used arts-based curricula to provide programming for students from pre-Kindergarten to the post-graduate level.
As a teaching artist, he’s worked with Voices Against Violence, the Paramount Theatre, the Austin Tinkering School, and the Gathering Ground Theatre Collective. As a theatre maker and actor, Sean is a member of the Twin Alchemy Collective and the 14/48  Steering Committee. He’s performed with many of the theatre companies in Austin’s vibrant arts community.
In my spare time, I spend time with my wife and our close friends, playing with dogs Indigo and Violet, and being in nature, especially star-gazing through my telescope. I also love travel and watching documentaries about art and history.
Stephanie Chavez Noell
Stephanie Chavez Noell

Stephanie Chavez Noell

Senior Director of Community Programs

Stephanie Chavez Noell is the Senior Director of Community Programs at Creative Action. Stephanie oversees Creative Action’s work to support the community through sustainable and accessible programs, partnerships, and intergenerational learning and connection through the arts. She also serves as a project manager and creative collaborator focussing on creating high quality and responsive community engagement opportunities for the organization and the greater Austin area.

Prior to her current position, Stephanie served as a Teaching Artist for Creative Action and as an independent artist and choreographer. Before moving back to Texas, she served as the Assistant Director of Development for the Performing Arts Center in Los Angeles where she developed project management and fundraising experience producing its record-breaking biannual gala and auction. She was a performing artist and company member of CASA 0101 (LA), The Americas Theatre Foundation (LA), Hereandnow Theatre Company (LA), and Artistic Director of Woven Feet (Austin). Her experience as an arts educator goes back to her home, the border town of Brownsville, TX where she had her first job teaching dance at the age of 15. Arts education and practice continues to fulfill and support her life-long leadership development.

Stephen Belyeu (he/him/his)

Stephen Belyeu (he/him/his)

IT/ Data Director

In addition to being the IT/ Data Director at Creative Action, Stephen Belyeu is an Austin-based filmmaker, storyteller, and podcaster. He received his Bachelors in Film & Media Studies from Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi in 2005. Stephen has taught filmmaking and storytelling in Austin through organizations such as Totally Cool Totally Art, Austin School of Film, and the Austin Film Society. His debut feature film DIG won the Narrative Feature Audience Award at the 2010 Austin Film Festival. Stephen has also served as Film Competition Programmer and Young Filmmakers Program Director for the Austin Film Festival. In 2017, Stephen launched his independently produced series, The Night Owl Podcast, which has been voted BEST PODCAST in the Austin Chronicle’s 2019 and 2021 readers’ poll.

Veronica Mognato
Veronica Mognato (she/her/hers)

Veronica Mognato (she/her/hers)

Artistic Associate and Co-Director of Color Squad
Before landing at Creative Action, Veronica lived all over the world including Australia, UK, Spain, Italy and more, working in different art spaces and cultures. Creative Action caught her heart more than any other job because of its care for the community and the use of art as tools for change. Veronica is currently in grad school studying clinical psychology—so in her spare time she is usually studying with her two cuddly cats, Lui and Valentino, on her lap! In her artistic practice she does paper embroidery and occasionally video/art installation. The meanings behind her artwork are usually about social dynamics, but occasionally they are just for pure fun!

Victor Rosales
Victor Rosales

Victor Rosales

Site Coordinator

Victor is in charge of running the Out-of-School-Time Creative Action Program at Reilly Elementary.

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