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 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 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.
Chief Financial Officer
Laura comes to us with a diverse background ranging from small business accounting and finance to public accounting with Arthur Andersen LLP. She has worked in the fields of manufacturing, biotechnology, and energy trading and marketing. She received Bachelors of Business Administration degrees in both Accounting and Finance from Texas A&M University and holds a Certified Public Accountant license in the State of California. She is thrilled to use her skills to make a real difference in the community! Laura is married to Mark and is proud to say that she is finally a CYT mom as her teenage “soccer” boys are on crew for their third show this summer.
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VP of Education
Heather comes to us from Northern California where she was the Artistic Director of CYT Santa Cruz. Prior to moving up north in 2009, Heather received her Ph.D. in Theatre from UC San Diego. At UCSD Heather taught theatre history, theory, performance, film, and writing courses. Additionally, she has published in the theatre field and has presented at conferences both in the US and Ireland. Heather also brings a solid business background having worked as a freelance editor and as the Business Manager for the theatre journal,TheatreForum. Not only is Heather an accomplished academic, she also brings a strong background in acting, directing, dance, choreography, and dramaturgy. Heather is pleased to be back in San Diego with her husband and two young daughters, and is excited to be involved in CYT, Inc.
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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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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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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!
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.
National Improvathon Director
Riley is an elementary teacher in Kansas City. He has been involved in CYT for two decades. His prior roles include Improvathon Director, Kansas City Improv coach, and Unnamed Townsperson in Little House on the Prairie.
Rachael grew up in Virginia and found CYT in 2008. She became heavily involved with CYT Fredericksburg and fell in love with the organization. Rachael made the cross-country move to San Diego in 2015 to finish up her degree and soon started working for CYT, Inc. Since she started with CYT, Rachael has played many roles: student, stage manager, camp coordinator, HYPE advisor, administrative assistant, and teacher, among others. Rachael graduated from San Diego Christian College with an Interdisciplinary Degree in Musical Theater and Business.
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