About Branches

Christian Youth Theater (CYT) operates across the nation through our licensed branches. Each CYT Branch delivers the CYT mission to their individual communities. Each branch is made up of a dedicated board of directors and leadership team, who work in partnership with our team at CYT HQ to promote the CYT values and objectives in their programs.

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Mailing Address:
1545 Pioneer Way
El Cajon, CA 92020

Phone: (619) 588-0206
This contact form connects you with CYT HQ Staff. Find your local leadership through the Branches Page!

Contact Us

Current Staff Members:

Janie Cox

Janie has been involved with CYT since birth! Performing since the age of 4 she has been involved with over 150 different productions, performing, directing, choreographing, or costuming. Janie studied musical theater at Boston Conservatory and has also done film with ABC, MTV, LXD and Invisible Children. Her true passion is for live theater and the “next” generation training in the ARTS! Janie’s daily goal in life is to love God and love people. Sing. Act. Dance. Live. Create. Play. Laugh. Love.

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Paul Russell

Paul has extensive background in the entertainment field for over 30 years. After receiving a Master's degree in Drama and Communication Arts at San Diego State University, he taught at both the high school and college level for 10 years. His writing credentials consist of seven full length children's musicals including Aladdin, Beauty and the Beast, Tall Tales, and Little Mermaid. Dr. Russell has also written three instructional books on Readers' Theater. Paul recently won the Bravo award for The Spirit of Showbiz. He earned his Doctorate in Education specializing in Children’s Theater in 1998 from California Coast University.

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Sheryl Russell

Sheryl is the co-founder of Christian Community Theater and Christian Youth Theater is a former high school teacher. She has been recognized for her business accomplishments through the Channel 10 Leadership Award and by the Women Together organization recognizing women in the arts. Sheryl was honored as Mother of the Year by March of Dimes. She has been married to her husband, Paul, for 42 years and has four grown children and eight grandchildren.

Renee Kauffman

VP of Creative
Renee began her CYT journey by attending Summer Camp in 1995, where she met the world’s greatest friends and became a “lifer”. She has gone from CYT student, to teacher, camp counselor, Choreographer, Director, and now full time staff member. Some of her favorite past roles have included Ronette in Little Shop of Horrors, Frenchy in Grease, Urleen in Footloose, and Jo March in Little Women, all with CYT San Diego/CCT. Some shows she’s directed/choreographed include Traditions of Christmas, Godspell, and Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dream Coat at the top of Mt. Helix in the summer of 2010. Renee also finds time here and there to perform with Lambs Players Theater in their rockin 80s musical review MixTape. But her all time favorite role is being wife to Curtis Kauffman, and mother to Sailor & River.

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Travis Russell

VP of Design
Travis entered the art world 20 years ago as a stage lighting designer. Over the past 17 years Travis has designed over 100 productions in locations such as San Diego, Los Angeles, New York and Puerto Rico. He has directed over 10 fully-staged musical productions including, Jesus Christ Superstar, Joseph & the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Footloose, Oklahoma!, Godspell, Aladdin and Beauty & the Beast. In 2003 he won a San Diego Billie Award for ‘Outstanding Direction’. Travis decided to pursue his dream of painting in October of 1998. Since then, he has painted over 60 paintings and sold over 20 of them at self-promoted art shows. Work experience includes Invisible Children (Technical Director), Old Globe Theatre (Lighting Designer), and Apple (Mac Specialist).

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Kara List

National Branch Director
Kara couldn't be more excited to be joining the HQ team and continuing her CYT journey as the National Branch Director. Kara found CYT as a teacher in 2009 and fell in love with the organization. In 2015, Kara became the Artistic Director of CYT Fredericksburg and had the blessing of serving and learning alongside some of the most fun and inspirational people. Kara hails from Pennsylvania where she earned her Bachelor's degree in Music Education and Vocal Performance from Grove City College, a private Christian Liberal Arts College. Since then, she has continued to pursue her passions as a dance teacher and choreographer, voice and piano teacher, director, company dancer in a local dance company, "Company 360", faithful Jeopardy fan, and most importantly a wife and mother! She counts CYT and this new role as such a gift from the Lord and prays that He will use her and this organization to serve many and make His name known!

Karen Smith

National Branch Administrator
Karen is elated to be joining the HQ Staff as the National Branch Administrator. Karen started at a young age dancing in North Carolina and continued through college, dancing with Meredith Dance Theatre at Meredith College in Raleigh NC. She had the opportunity to tour the state with the NC Dance Festival and performed at numerous American College Dance Festivals. In 2001, she received her Business degree from NC State University with a concentration in Marketing and Finance and a desire to pursue Arts Administration. Karen began her involvement with CYT when her daughter took her first Wiggles class in 2012. In 2016, Karen began working for CYT Fredericksburg as an Office Manager and was later hired as the Managing Director there until her family relocated to Jacksonville, FL. Karen is very thankful she gets to combine her love of the performing arts and her administrative skills to use to help and serve branches at CYT HQ!

Paul Stine

Marketing & Graphic Design Associate
Paul Stine is thrilled to be joining the CYT HQ staff! He is also a choreographer, director, performer, and dance instructor born and raised in San Diego. Paul has worked artistically for many community and youth theater companies, high schools, dance companies, and has also created entertainment productions at LEGOLAND California Resort. He has performed professionally at venues such as World of Dance LA, The Welk Resort Theater, LA’s Choreographers Carnival Ball, and Hip Hop International in Las Vegas, and as a dancer at the Disneyland Resort. His goal is to inspire and touch people through the use of theatrical media across the nation.

Lydia Kinne

National HYPE Director
Lydia Kinne is a 5th grade teacher by day and National HYPE Director by night. She earned her Bachelor’s in Elementary Education with an emphasis in Reading and a minor in Theater in 2014 from Eastern Washington University. She was involved with CYT-Spokane for eleven years, starting as a student, and continuing on as a teacher, camp director, and HYPE adviser. She has been developing the national HYPE program for the last several years, and loves getting to know student leaders around the country – especially at the National Expo every year! She resides in Spokane, WA, and enjoys reading good books, writing on her blog, laughing joyously, drinking chai, and seeing where God will take her next. She is passionate about student leadership, and loves helping to grow the impact of CYT and HYPE throughout the nation.