Hope Academy’s Teaching Artists

Kerra Alexander

Pittsburgh Ballet theatre dance teacher

Kerra Alexander is a teacher, a dancer, a choreographer, and a mom. Her dance training is extensive: she started at the age of 3 with Anderson Young Ballet Theatre. She has trained with many renowned instructors over the years, as a student of Kennet Oberly, Trinette Singleton, Nina Bravo, and Laura Alonzo, among others. She graduated in 2007 from Point Park University with a BA in dance, ballet and modern concentration and since has been performing in the Pittsburgh area. She started with The Pillow Project, then became a founding company member with Staycee Pearl Dance Project, while performing commercial work for Madhouse and DRM. Recently she has danced for Jamie Erin Murphy, Brady Sanders and Shana Simmons Dance.

Kerra is passionate about passing her love of dance on to her many students. She believes that dance is a vibrant art form that can express all aspects of the human spirit, and become a voice for positive change and growth. She currently teaches at Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre, where she is the Community Education Coordinator and Instructor. She also teaches at Pennsylvania Academy of Dance, has taught master classes and summer intensives, choreographed for musicals, and judged dance competitions. Her students have gone on to be in dance companies, on Broadway, and in tv shows, music videos, commercials, and award shows. Her most precious work is being a mother to her wonderful son, Keagan!

Kathleen Andrews

Suzuki Violin, Violin

Violinist Kathleen Andrews holds degrees in violin performance from Eastern Michigan University and The Hartt School.  Her primary teachers have included Daniel Foster, Yehonatan Berick and Anton Miller.  While attending the Hartt School, Ms. Andrews participated in the long-term Suzuki teacher-training program with renowned pedagogue Teri Einfeldt. Since moving to Pittsburgh in 2012, Ms. Andrews has performed with many local orchestras and chamber ensembles, including the Chamber Orchestra of Pittsburgh, Alia Musica, Ovre Arts, the West End Trio and others.  She is concertmaster of the Pittsburgh Philharmonic and a member of the first violin section of the Butler County Symphony.  Ms. Andrews live in Pittsburgh with her husband, composer and bassist Ryan McMasters.

Katherine Bell


Praised by the Broad Street Review in Philadelphia for her “lovely lyric voice,” soprano Katherine Bell has performed across the Eastern US and abroad. Recent engagements include performances as Despina in Mozart’s Così fan tutte with the Charleston Symphony Orchestra, Adina in Donizetti’s L’elisir d’amore with Opera Libera in Philadelphia, the title role, Maren, in the world premiere production of Maren of Vardø: and Satan’s Bride by Jeff Myers. Ms. Bell was recently awarded second place in the NATS Competition, MD/DC region. Among her concert performances, Katherine has toured Italy as the soprano soloist in Vivaldi’s Gloria with New Jersey’s Jubilate Deo Chorale and Orchestra. A US performance took place at the Kimmel Center in Philadelphia. Along with operatic roles, Ms. Bell has cantored at many churches, performed religious services, sang jazz standard concerts with big bands, and performed cabaret and musical theater.

In addition to performing, Ms. Bell loves inspiring the same creativity and passion for music in her private students! Her students study and perform all genres and styles of music. Many of her students have auditioned for and been accepted into voice programs at the collegiate level, and have competed and won in competitions. Voice and music lessons with Ms. Bell will focus on developing sound foundational technique so that the singer can perform all styles of music without fear of ever damaging their voices. Ms. Bell has worked with students of all ages and experience levels teaching both voice and piano; helping all of her students find their unique creative voices making music that is all their own!

Ms. Bell earned her Bachelor of Music degree in Vocal Performance from Temple University and her Master of Music degree from Peabody Conservatory in Vocal Performance with a concentration in Voice Pedagogy.

Liza Barley

Suzuki Violin, Violin

Liza Barley’s work is driven by her belief that the arts are a powerful medium through which to connect people from all walks of life, empower communities, and charge individuals to think creatively. Liza works as a freelance musician and multimedia artist, creative workshop leader, and teaching artist, and is the founder and executive director of Umoja Arts Project, a U.S.-based non-profit that works in the community arts sector both in the U.S. and in Tanzania, East Africa. She lives in Pittsburgh, PA with her partner, Gil Teixeira, and enjoys running, hiking, biking, gardening, generally being outdoors, cooking, and a good cup of coffee.

Benjamin Barson

Saxophone, Clarinet, Jazz Piano – HAT Co Band Co-Director

Benjamin Barson is a composer, baritone saxophonist, educator, and community-farming activist. He had been the Baritone Saxophonist for and protégé of Guggenheim-award-winning Fred Ho from 2009 until Ho’s passing in 2014. Since then, Barson has shared the stage with the legendary Motown group the Temptations, Grammy-winning Latin jazz pianist Arturo O’Farrill, and a diverse cross-section of innovative voices in New York City and Pittsburgh’s jazz scenes.  As an educator, Ben has been teaching saxophone and jazz piano in the Pittsburgh area for two years, and he and his students are regular features on the Saturday Light Brigade Radio station, based in the Children’s museum. His students have also performed at the Children’s Festival in Downtown Pittsburgh, the Kelly Strayhorn Theater, and many other major venues. Ben believes music performance and improvisation are tools not just for a music career but for building strong, independent minds capable of handling today’s challenges and the rhythms.

Diana Rose Becker


Diana has recently moved to Pittsburgh after spending several years as an actress based in New York City. A classically trained singer with degrees in Vocal Performance and Music Education from the Eastman School of Music, Diana has performed a wide range of Musical Theater and Operetta works throughout the US and in Europe. Favorite roles include Eliza Doolittle (My Fair Lady), Maria (West Side Story), Mary Hatch (A Wonderful Life) and Marianne Beaunoir (The New Moon).

Diana is currently a Graduate Student at the University of Pittsburgh. She is a pursuing a degree in Speech-Language Pathology, where she has a special interest in studying voice disorders. Diana focuses her teaching on helping singers of all ages find a safe, healthy, and joyful way to use their own unique and authentic voice.

Laura Reynolds Carmichael


Laura Reynolds Carmichael holds a Bachelor of Music degree from Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan; an Artist Diploma from Conservatorio Antonio Scontrino in Trapani, Italy; and a Master of Music degree from the University of South Florida in Tampa. During her many years as a freelance pianist, Laura has worked with the Lyric Opera of Chicago, College Light Opera Company, the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre, and various choirs, vocalists, churches, instrumentalists, and musical theatre productions. As a solo and collaborative pianist she has toured throughout the United States, Italy, Spain, Ireland, Peru, and Canada. Ms. Reynolds Carmichael has been working as an educator of piano for over 20 years.

Emma Cox

Guitar, Bass, Ukulele – HAT Co Band Co-Director

Emma Cox discovered her love of music at a young age. After trying her hand at ukelele and violin, she settled on guitar as her main songwriting instrument of choice. She studied Guitar Performance at the Pittsburgh Creative and Performing Arts  (CAPA) High School before heading to The Pennsylvania State University in State College, PA to study Integrative Arts. She has taught at various music summer camps and songwriting classes for kids, including programs at the JCC in San Francisco, California and The Ellis School for Girls in Pittsburgh. For three years she worked as the Music Director for WYEP’s Holiday Hootenanny show which raises money to support youth education in the arts. This is Emma’s fourth year as a teaching artist at Hope Academy and she holds her own studio for private instruction as well. When she isn’t teaching kids how to rock out on guitar, she plays with her band The Color Fleet 

Gabe D’Abruzzo


Gabriel D’Abruzzo began lessons at age 6 and has remained in Pittsburgh most of his life. He holds a Bachelor of Arts from Duquesne University and a Master of Arts degree from SUNY New Paltz. Mr. D’Abruzzo’s teachers include Margret Gilbert, Charlotte Day, and Vladimir Feltsman. Mr. D’Abruzzo is associate musician at ELPC, accompanist for the Bach Choir of Pittsburgh, Staff Accompanist at Duquesne University’s Mary Pappert School of Music, and adjunct professor at St. Vincent College in Latrobe. Mr. D’Abruzzo is also a very busy and in demand free lance artist. He currently resides in Forest Hills with his wife Rachel and their two dogs Isabella and Sebastian.

Ana María Diaz


Ana María Díaz started working with young musicians in her native Venezuela, as a member of the famous Youth Orchestra Program known as El Sistema. Ms. Díaz began her musical studies at Conservatorio de Música Vicente Emilio Sojo, of which she is a founding member. She continued her music education at Conservatorio Superior de Música Simón Bolívar and Instituto Universitario de Estudios Musicales, under the guidance of Miguel Rojas and William Molina. She went on to complete an Artist Diploma from Duquesne University, where she majored in cello performance with Misha Quint. An enthusiastic music teacher, Ms. Díaz has taught cello, kinder music, theory & solfège and has served as a cello coach for many youth orchestras both in Venezuela and the US. An avid orchestral performer, Ms. Díaz has worked with several symphonic orchestras in the Pittsburgh area, including the Altoona Symphony Orchestra, Johnstown Symphony Orchestra, Westmoreland Symphony and Washington County Symphony, among others. Currently, Ms. Díaz is the Program Manager for Three Rivers Young Peoples Orchestras, she is a member of the Butler County Symphony Orchestra and teaches cello at the Elizabeth Seton Center and Hope Academy of Music and the Arts.

Delana Flowers

Teaching Assistant, HAT Co & Pittsburgh Ballet theatre dance classes

Delana has graced stages all over Pittsburgh, in her hometown of Lancaster, and most recently in Jamaica. She has been seen in local musicals such as DREAMGIRLS, Ain’t Misbehavin, DINAH!, JH: Mechanics of a Legend, Queens of the Blues, Black Nativity, The Whiz, Mahalia Jackson: Standing on Holy Ground, and Little Shop of Horrors. Delana has been a featured artist on several recordings and with bands such as the The Ruckus Brothers, Bachelor Boys Band, The Teresa Hawthorne Band, The Terance Vaughn Band, Top Flight and Tastee Flavor to name a few. Since her move to Pittsburgh, she has been part of top notch choirs, worship teams and small ensembles all over the city. Acting and singing are not her only gifts. She is also a prolific writer with an English degree, a spoken word artist, worship leader, song writer, and model. This vocalist and thespian, among so many other things, shows no sign of slowing down.

Annette Bransby Frontz

music discovery teacher

Annette Bransby Frontz is Pennsylvania Certified Music Educator and has been teaching children from birth through high school for over twenty years. She has performed locally here in Pittsburgh with several companies both onstage and behind the scenes doing lighting and educational outreach. Annette believes that quality music education engages a child’s body, mind, and spirit, and that this three-fold approach leads to a life-long love and appreciation of music.

Beth Goldstein-McKee

Suzuki Cello, Cello & Music Discovery Co-Teacher

Beth Goldstein-McKee brings her extensive performing and teaching experience to her work with students and teachers at institutes and workshops across the United States and in her studio. A registered Suzuki Association of the Americas Cello Teacher Trainer, she has taught at International Conferences in Japan and Peru, and served on the Board of Directors of the SAA and as Cello Coordinator for the 2016 SAA Conference. Recently moved to Western PA, Beth looks forward to starting a new generation of cello students.  Beth maintained a cello studio in Ashland, OR and performed with the Rogue Valley Symphony. Previous to moving to OR, Beth was on the faculty of Holy Names College’s Suzuki Program and East Bay Center for the Performing Arts, maintained a private studio in Berkeley, California and was Director of EBCPA’s Outreach Program for the Berkeley/Albany Schools. A native of NYC and graduate of Brandeis University, she trained as a Suzuki Teacher at the School for Strings.

Lauren McKee

Tap instructor and PBT assistant, Pittsburgh ballet theatre dance classes

Lauren McKee is a dance educator and performing artist formerly from Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania. A graduate of Slippery Rock University, McKee received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Dance while completing minors in Art and Adapted Physical Activity in 2014. She strives to create an inclusive environment for both dancers and non dancers of all ages and ability levels. She has had the privilege of performing works with the DANA Movement Ensemble, Geekzdance, Attack Theatre, Shana Simmons Dance, and Staycee Pearl Dance Project.

Meredith Hoppe

HAT Co Theater Ensemble Director, Acting

Meredith Hoppe is a theatre artist and educator specializing in drama, puppetry, and community art. In addition to teaching at Hope Academy, Meredith is also the Communications and Outreach Coordinator for APOST (Allegheny Partners for Out-of-School Time). An active member of the arts community in Pittsburgh since 2010, Meredith has served as the Ensemble Director for HAT Co (Hope Academy Teen Theatre Company) since her arrival in Pittsburgh six years ago. She also served as Program Director at MGR Youth Empowerment, managing, teaching, and administering after school arts programs to over 1600 youth yearly across the greater Pittsburgh area.  Meredith’s theatrical work with Co(lab)trix, the teaching artist performance collective she founded in 2011, has been showcased at the Union Project and at the Penn Avenue Unblurred Gallery Crawl.

Before landing in Pittsburgh, Meredith served a variety of arts organizations in Orlando, Florida teaching theatre and digital media, stage managing, administering programs, painting scenery, as well as building and performing puppets. Her work has been presented at Florida Theatre Conference, The American Alliance for Theatre and Education, and PSI: Performance Studies International. Meredith received her MFA in Theatre for Young Audiences from the University of Central Florida in 2010. Her current research interests lie in exploring avant-garde, non-linear, and devised theatre with and for young artists.

Lee W. Kikuchi

Piano, Cello, Violin, Voice

Lee W. Kikuchi graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree from Oberlin College and Conservatory of Music in 1991 (Majors in Music Composition and Computer Science). His studies included theory and composition, private piano instruction with Julian Martin and Mary Dannenberg, private voice instruction with Theresa Williams and Richard Miller, conducting with Daniel Moe and several courses in musicology beyond the minimum for the major. Prior to attending Oberlin, Mr. Kikuchi studied piano with Hannah Li and Mineko Avery; cello with Robert Sametini and Allen Sher; and violin with Frances Ortenberg.

Tonya Lynn

Acting, Musical Theater Workshop and Shakespeare Coach

Tonya Lynn has been a Teaching Artist with Hope Academy since 2009, specializing in acting and Shakespeare. In addition to teaching for Hope Academy, Tonya also teaches for City Theatre, the Pittsburgh Public Theatre, Gateway to the Arts, and the Community College of Allegheny County (CCAC). She received her Master’s degree in Theater from the University of Pittsburgh, has trained with the United Stuntmen’s Association, and is an Advanced Actor-Combatant with the Society of American Fight Directors.

Tonya works professionally throughout the Pittsburgh area as an actor, director, and fight choreographer. Her regional credits include Prime Stage Theater, Pittsburgh Shakespeare in the Parks, The New Renaissance Theatre Company, Poor Yorick’s Players, and Pittsburgh Playwrights’ Theater Company, among others. She is resident fight director for Pittsburgh Shakespeare in the Parks and a co-founder of Brawling Bard Theater, a company which focuses on reimagining classical theatrical works while providing opportunities for young actors to learn and perform stage combat.

Ryan McMasters

Double Bass, Electric Bass, Beginning Guitar

Ryan McMasters is a Pittsburgh based music maker and PhD student at the University of Pittsburgh. As a composer, areas of interest include the study of distortion, setting the poetry of H.D., the use of new technologies in performance and education, and collaborations with the hard sciences, including a 3 month residency with a quantum information system lab. His bass playing credits include such varied groups as Alia Musica, Squonk Opera, and the house band for Red Caiman Media studios. He teaches an equally diverse set of styles from traditional classical methods to the Carol Kaye method for electric bass. His new music band, WOLFTRAP, provides a space to focus on the development of oral traditions for new music making. Ryan holds a Master of Music from The Hartt School in double bass performance and a Bachelor of Music from Duquesne University. His music can be heard on bandcamp.

Patricia Pavlack

Suzuki Piano

Patricia Pavlack graduated with a dual degree in Music and Music Education. She continued her training in Dalcroze Eurhythmics at Carnegie Mellon University where she was introduced to the Suzuki Method. She went on to receive training in the Suzuki method, primarily with the Japanese instructor Haruka Kataoka (founder of the Suzuki Piano School), and completed all Suzuki book levels. Mrs. Pavlack is now a certified teacher trainer through the Suzuki Association of the Americas. She also teaches in her private studio in Green Tree and is a Suzuki guest clinician, training teachers and students across the United States. She is married with two grown children and three precious grandchildren.

Cynthia Pennington

Accompanist, Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre Dance Classes

Cynthia Lynn (Cyd) Pennington has maintained both music and dance as continuing, lifelong pursuits. She has accompanied Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre Dance classes at Hope Academy for over 12 years. Cyd began singing as soon as she could talk, and started dance training at age 5, with piano lessons and eventually her primary area of expertise, Percussion, not far behind. Through music and dance educational and performance experiences, and as a lifelong avid audience member, she has developed and cultivated an eclectic taste and extensive knowledge of the performing arts. In Pittsburgh, Northern Ohio, Minnesota, and her native Wisconsin, Cyd has performed in symphony and opera orchestras, jazz big bands and combos, theatre pit bands, symphonic bands, a concert chorale, an oratorio chorus, a polka/oldies band, and a British-style brass band, as percussion accompanist for modern dance classes and children’s dance/movement classes, and has danced in collegiate opera corps de ballet and modern dance ensembles. She has studied ballet, tap, modern, and jazz, and has taught and assisted children’s creative movement classes.

Cyd is currently a member of the Pittsburgh Savoyards and Undercroft Opera Orchestras, and a former member of several community orchestras and concert bands in the Greater Pittsburgh area. She holds a B.A. in Music Therapy, with a Minor in Psychology and an emphasis in Dance. Cyd continues to perform music, study dance, and attend the many cultural events in music, dance, and theatre that Pittsburgh has to offer. On the flip side, she can often be found watching football and hockey games on TV, or comic book superheroes at the movies, or better yet, curled up with a real paper book.

Julian Powell


After graduating from Pittsburgh’s Creative and Performing Arts High School (CAPA), Julian Powell went on to study at Berklee College of Music in Boston. He toured nationally with the band, Felix Brown, and internationally with the band, Soul Play. He returned from Nagoya, Japan to continue teaching in Pittsburgh and touring with many bands, including Starship Mantis and Afro Yaqui Music Collective. Julian is excited to teach Hope Academy students how to become passionate about playing the drums and being musicians.

Gizelxanath Rodriguez

VoicE, HAT CO Acoustic ensemble Vocal Instructor

Gizelxanath’s vocal studio focuses on establishing a comfortable connection with students by constructing a solid vocal technique and stage presence. She was born in Mexicali, Baja California, Mexico and has extended her traditional operatic repertoire and range by focusing on multicultural genres such as: Musical Comedy, French Cabaret, Boleros, Bossa-Nova, Jazz, sacred music, Afro-Peruvian, Argentinean Tango, as well as traditional and indigenous music from Mexico.

Her artistic qualifications include operatic studies and Masterclasses in highly prestigious universities such as: The Mozarteum Hochschule für Musik (Salzburg, Austria), The Ark Institute for the Performing Arts (San Diego, California), The Conservatory of Music (Tijuana, México) and The University of Baja California. She has been the recipient of many noteworthy awards including: The University of Fresno Zarzuela Scholarship, The Metropolitan Opera Encouragement Auditions Award 2003, The “H.O.L.A. Award (Hispanic Organization of Latin Actors) 2013, and the Latin A.C.E. Award (Association of Latin Entertainment Critics) 2014.

Helga Scheibert


Helga Scheibert began her musical training at the High School of Arts  in Marosvasarhely, Transylvania at age 7. Immediately she traveled to Kolozsvar to continue her studies at Gheorghe Dima Academy where she received full scholarship and earned her Bachelor of Music Degree in Piano Performance. Ms. Scheibert recently got her Artist Diploma and Masters from Duquesne University, Pittsburgh where she got full assistantship and she studied with great pianist David Allen Wehr.  She is the winner of numerous piano auditions and competitions, and was awarded full scholarship to Gheorge Dima Music Academy and Duquesne University.  Ms. Scheibert has experience performing with orchestras both as a soloist and collaborator. She has performed several solo and chamber recitals in the U.S. and in Europe and had performances broadcast on Romanian National Radio.  Currently she is studying towards a DMA in Piano Performance at West Virginia University with Peter Amstutz.

Karen Sloneker

Trumpet, French Horn, Trombone, Tuba

Karen Sloneker, brass instructor, spent 28 years as the adjunct instructor in brass at Rogers CAPA Middle School (now part of Pittsburgh CAPA 6-12), where she taught trumpet, French horn, trombone, and tuba, along with coaching chamber music groups and teaching a variety of music classes. An adjunct professor of trumpet at Indiana University of Pennsylvania and formerly adjunct professor at Seton Hill University, she plays second trumpet with the Pittsburgh Opera and Ballet orchestras. Ms. Sloneker has performed with the Pittsburgh Symphony, Mendelssohn Choir, Bach Choir, and was principal trumpet with the Westmoreland symphony for many years. In addition to her work as a performer and trumpet instructor, Ms. Sloneker owns and directs Music Together with First Notes, a well-respected small business offering family early childhood music classes using the Music Together Curriculum at a variety of locations in the Pittsburgh area. Her work with young children and their families has informed her trumpet teaching with a greater understanding of the process of musical development in children and its implementation in instrumental instruction. She lives happily in the Friendship neighborhood with her husband Steve, daughter Marnie, and two dogs. Her son Ean, formerly a member of Hope Academy’s EL CEO, is a sophmore at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Gil Teixeira

Classical Guitar, Suzuki Guitar

Gil Teixeira is a prolific artist and educator that sees Sound as the unifying core of his many practices. A native of Portugal, Gil grew up studying classical guitar with some of the great masters of the instrument. He holds a Bachelor degree in Guitar Performance.  Alongside his classical studies, Gil started the post-rock band La La La Ressonance, a group that pushed the artistic boundaries of what a band is and does, mostly due to their bold cross-artistic experiments.  In 2012, Gil moved to London to pursue a Masters in Music at the Guildhall School of Music & Drama, where he developed a keen interest in the exploration of technology in collaborative music making contexts and started working on CEEMI. His artistic practice also shifted from playing music into a more experimental and abstract exploration of Sound more in tune with Soundart and Multimedia Installation.  Gil has taught guitar, led workshops, and performed all over Europe and the U.S. He moved to Pittsburgh in January of 2015.

Brittany Trotter


A native from Laurel, Mississippi, Flutist Brittany (Britt) Trotter is a vibrant performer and educator based in Morgantown, WV. Britt has recieved a Bachelor of Music in Performance and a Bachelor of Music Education degree from the University of Southern Mississippi, a Master of Music degree in Performance from the University of Wyoming, and is currently in her second-year at West Virginia University pursing a Doctorate of Musical Arts and Certificate of University Teaching. Her majors teachers include Dr. Danilo Mezzadri, Dr. Nicole Riner, and Nina Assimakopoulos.

As a teacher, Britt enjoys fostering a love of music and strong musical skills in her students. She loves to keep lessons fresh and entertaining; and creates a nurturing environment where she tailors each lesson to fit the individual need of the student. In her spare time, Britt enjoys trail running, hiking, and listening to live jazz music.

Valerie Williams

singing, Musical Theatre workshop

Originally from the South Hills (Peters Township), Val has worked as a teaching artist across the US with TheatreworksUSA, No 11 Productions, Inside Broadway, & more. She is currently on faculty with The Henry Mancini Academy (Lincoln Park Performing Arts Center) and Choreographing Shadyside Academy’s Winter Musical: Anything Goes (2018). Select Performance Credits include:
Off Broadway: Chiquita Hart, Something for The Boys (Musicals Tonight), Finian’s Rainbow (soloist-in concert)/ Irish Repertory Theater at The Al Hirschfeld Theater. Regional Theater/Tours: Jesus Christ Superstar (Mary Magdalene), Smokey Joe’s Café (Pattie), A Christmas Carol (Mrs. Cratchit). Vocal Performance Highlights: 4 time soloist with the Cincinnati Pops Orchestra, lead vocalist for Norwegian Cruise Line’s Pride of America and EPIC ships, Pittsburgh Pops Orchestra, Broadway at the West End Overlook (PMT).
Val has also worked on voice over projects in the US, Australia, and Korea.

Anqwenique Wingfield

Visiting Artist

Anqwenique Wingfield is an extremely versatile vocalist and teaching artist specializing in opera, classical music, jazz and soul. Anqwenique has performed lead operatic roles such as Magda Sorel of Carl Menotti’s The Consul, Hanna Glawari of Franz Lehar’s The Merry Widow and Zerlina of Mozart’s Don Giovanni. She holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Voice Performance from Indiana University of Pennsylvania. Anqwenique is also the founder and director of Pittsburgh based artist collective Groove Aesthetic and co-founder of the Nouveau Noir Vocal Ensemble. This year she was named as one of Whirl Magazine’s 13 Under 30 and in 2013 one of the New Pittsburgh Courier’s Fab 40 under 40.  As a teaching artist, Anqwenique has shared her talents and experience with many young singers and musicians in the Pittsburgh area. She currently works as a teaching artist for Hope Academy for Music and the Arts, Gateway to the Arts, and Opera Theater Pittsburgh.

Sharla Yates

ballet coordinator, pittsburgh ballet theatre classes

Sharla Yates lives in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Her poetry chapbook, What I Would Say if We Were To Drown Tonight, is a 2015 Villa Paper Nautilus finalist & published by Stranded Oak Press, 2017. You can find her poems at The Boiler, Lynx Eye, The Hartskill Review, among others. Her nonfiction story, “Address,” was a finalist for the 2015 Columbia Journal Writing contest and the 2016 Penelope Niven Award in Creative Nonfiction. She’s the Director of Education for Creative Nonfiction Foundation & teaches for Southern New Hampshire University’s Master of Arts in Creative Writing.