“My musicianship has advanced tremendously since the very first day. I’ve learned some very advanced jazz theory which has opened up a whole world of compositional and soloing ideas. I'm playing with more sensitivity than ever, I'm learning to work with a group, and I'm performing a jazz marimba for the first time ever.”
- Jeff Balter
Lisa Foss — Program Coordinator
Lisa is the current Program Coordinator for the Center for Creative Youth at Wesleyan University. She served as the Education Director of Hartford Children’s Theatre for many years, designing programs, as well as teaching, and directing shows for both the Education Department and the Main Stage. Subsequently, she worked for Hartford Stage as the Children’s Theatre Implementation Manager. Lisa has also designed and taught programs for Three Rivers Community College, The Garde Arts Center, UCONN Community School of the Arts, Spirit of Broadway Theatre and others. She continues to perform, as well as teach private voice and acting throughout CT. She earned her BFA from Carnegie Mellon University in Musical Theatre (summa cum laude). Lisa has been a proud member of the Actor’s Equity Association since 1995.
Kim Stroud — General Director
Kim began working at the Greater Hartford Academy of the Arts in 1993 and has served as dance department chair, assistant director and director of the arts. Ms. Stroud’s former positions include: Administrator for the Dance Programs for City Youth through the School of the Hartford Ballet, General Director and Dance Chair for the Center for Creative Youth at Wesleyan University and Head of the Diversity Committee for the International NETWORK of Performing and Visual Arts Schools. Ms. Stroud has been on faculty at the Martha Graham School of Contemporary Dance, the Alvin Ailey American Dance Center in New York City, SUNY Purchase, University of Hartford and The Hartford Conservatory. She was a Principal Soloist with the Martha Graham Dance Company for eleven years, touring the world. She has also danced and toured with the Metropolitan Opera Ballet, Your Arms Too Short to Box with God, performed in the Universal Studio film production of The Wiz, and as a guest artist with Katherine Dunham and the Gemini Dance Company. Ms. Stroud has been a master teacher for such institutions as the University of California at Santa Barbara, University of Southern California at Los Angeles, University of Connecticut, Eastern Connecticut State University, Randolf-Macon Women’s College in Virginia, and the Duke Ellington School of the Arts in Washington D.C. Ms. Stroud received Teacher Recognition from The National Foundation for Advancement in the Arts in 2000 and from the Connecticut Dance Alliance in 2007. The National Dance Education Organization named Ms. Stroud "Outstanding Dance Educator of the Year" in 2005 and in 2009 she received the Teacher of the Year award from the International Arts Schools Network. Ms. Stroud was selected to be a member of the International Dance Council of the United Nations in 2008.
Noah Baerman — Music Program Chairperson
Pianist/composer Noah Baerman studied at Rutgers University in the 1990s under Kenny Barron. Since then he has produced nine CDs as a bandleader featuring all-star sidemen such as Ron Carter, Ben Riley, Steve Wilson, Robin Eubanks and Barron himself. These albums have included the Martin Luther King tribute “Soul Force,” the suite “Know Thyself” (created with a "New Works" grant from Chamber Music America/Doris Duke Foundation) and “Patch Kit,” which raised awareness and funds for Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome (an incurable connective tissue disorder with which he was born) and led to Marian McPartland’s invitation to be a guest on Piano Jazz. His most recent release is the widely acclaimed “Ripples,” which features both the Jazz Samaritan Alliance and Baerman’s jazz chamber octet. An active educator, he has penned nine instructional books published by the Alfred Publishing Company. He lives in Connecticut and teaches at institutions including Wesleyan University, where he directs the Jazz Ensemble. He also serves as Artistic Director of the non-profit Resonant Motion, Inc., an organization committed to the intersection of music and positive change.
Jeanne Giroir — Dance Program ChairpersonOriginally from Texas, Jeanne Giroir studied at the School of American Ballet in NY on a Ford Foundation scholarship. She danced with the Harkness Ballet, also in NYC, for two years before moving to Hartford. A principal dancer for the Hartford Ballet for 15 years, she danced such roles as the Sugar Plum Fairy/Clara in “The Nutcracker”, Juliet in “Romeo and Juliet”, and the Maiden in “Carmina Burana”, along with works by George Balanchine, Anthony Tudor, Michael Uthoff, Peter Martins, and Doris Humphrey. After retiring from the stage, she was ballet mistress for the Hartford Ballet. During her years there, she taught company class, rehearsed the company, and taught master classes in colleges and universities across the country. She presently teaches at the Greater Hartford Academy of the Arts, The Hartt School, and at several other private dance studios in the area.
Carolyn Kirsch — Musical Theater Program Chairperson
Carolyn appeared in 15 Broadway productions over a 21 year period of performing in New York City. During that time she worked extensively for the Director/Choreographers Michael Bennett and Bob Fosse. For Mr. Fosse she appeared in both the First National and Broadway companies of “How to Succeed in Business without Really Trying”, “Sweet Charity”, and she toured with the first National Company of “Chicago”, in which she played Velma Kelly. She was one of the first teachers of Fosse Technique in the country to be sanctioned by The Verdon-Fosse Estate. The Estate, led by Nicole Fosse, daughter of Gwen Verdon and Bob Fosse, has a stated mission to ensure that the Verdon-Fosse style is passed on to younger generations in an authentic manner. For Mr. Bennett, Carolyn appeared in the Broadway productions of “A Chorus Line” (The Original Company—Theatre World Award), as well as “CoCo” (with Katharine Hepburn), “Company”, and “Promises, Promises”. A student of Uta Hagen and Austin Pendleton, both of HB Studio, New York, Carolyn received the New Hampshire Theatre Award for Best Actress in 2008 for her work as Amanda Wingfield in “The Glass Menagerie”. In Connecticut she has appeared in leading roles in the following productions: “Driving Miss Daisy”, “On Golden Pond”, “Grey Gardens”, and “Dancing at Lughnasa”. Her original play “The Waltz”, based on the life and artistic times of Camille Claudel, the French sculptress, was selected as a semi-finalist at The Eugene O’Neill National Playwrights Conference 2012. An active member of the New York based “Dancers over 40” Carolyn is passing on the legacy to a new generation of talent. She presently is the Musical Theatre Department Chair of The Center for Creative Youth at Wesleyan, and was on the faculty of The Greater Hartford Academy of the Arts for many years. She proudly serves on The Board of Directors of The Connecticut Dance Alliance.
Diana Moller-Marino — Theater Program Chairperson
Diana is Associate Professor at the Hartt School of Music, Dance and Theatre at the University of Hartford. Specializing in movement-based actor training techniques, Diana has taught master classes and residencies nationally and internationally for students, teachers and professional actors and dancers. Diana has been a Guest Teaching Artist at many institutions including: Wesleyan University, The University of Utah, Trinity College, Santa Barbara City College, Red Lotus Movement Center (Salt Lake City) and at the cultural centers on the islands of Santiago and San Vicente in Cape Verde, Africa. Diana was a core faculty member at The Greater Hartford Academy of the Arts from 1993-2001. Diana holds a Bachelor’s Degree with honors in Theatre from Wesleyan University and a Master’s Degree in Directing from Emerson College.
Pit Pinegar — Creative Writing Program Chairperson
Pit Pinegar is a poet, fiction writer, essayist, playwright, and photographer. She has three books of poetry: Nine Years Between Two Poems, The Possibilities of Empty Space, and, The Physics of Transmigration (nominated for a 2006 Pulitzer Prize). For many years, she was a teaching artist at the Greater Hartford Academy of the Arts; she has directed the Sunken Garden Poetry Festival’s Urban Outreach Program for 18 years. Pinegar has been a teaching director at the International Women’s Writing Guild conference at Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, NY and visiting writer in the University of New Orleans MFA program in Madrid, Spain. She has been writer- (or creator-) in-residence in a wide range of schools and universities. She received a fellowship in fiction from the Connecticut Commission on the Arts and the Governor’s Distinguished Advocate of the Arts Award. As a 2006 SURDNA Foundation Teaching Fellow, Pit spent six weeks in residence at Footpaths to Creativity on the Island of Flores in the Azores. She was a Fellow at the Helene V. Wurlitzer Foundation, in Taos, NM, in 2009. Two of her book-length short fiction manuscripts were finalists in the Iron Horse Literary Review’s Single Author Competition in the spring of 2012. Her most recent collection of stories, MESS: Stories of Women with Messy Lives (Selwa Press, 2011) is currently available as an ebook. She is a contributor to the following recent anthologies: Gathered Light: The Poetry of Joni Mitchell's Songs (Three O'Clock Press, 2013, Sunken Garden Poetry: 1992-2011(Wesleyan University Press, 2012, and Visions, Voices, and Verses: Anthology for the New Britain Museum of American Art (Exiles Press, 2012)
Michael Obre, Ph.D — Visual Arts Department Chairperson
Mike completed his undergraduate studies in illustration at the School of Visual Arts in NYC and began work first for the Hearst Corporation as a bullpen artist before moving to King Features Syndicate in the mid-1990s. While completing his graduate studies in painting and education, Mike free lanced for countless magazines and companies including Warner Bros., Attic Books, Image, and Topps. During his doctoral studies, Mike segued to photography as his preferred medium. He has exhibited both paintings and photographs at The Ridgefield Guild of Artists Gallery, ArtSPACE in New Haven, The Richter, and annually for City-Wide Open Studios. His photographic work from Cataluña was recently exhibited at the E21st street gallery of SVA in NYC; the show was curated by renowned photographer Janusz Kawa. Mike is a lifelong teacher of both traditional studio art and photography; he is the chair of the annual Celebration of Danbury Arts Festival, life drawing instructor for AP Studio Art portfolio development at Western CT State University, photography teacher at ESCAPE to the ARTS, and is the Fine Arts Department Head for Danbury Public Schools.