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Our Team

Nina Meehan

CEO and Founder

Nina Meehan (she/her) is an award-winning director, playwright and producer, and a dedicated arts educator, with expertise in youth development and nonprofit management. Her work focuses on nurturing innovation in children and connecting people in our increasingly digital world.

Nina’s award-winning theatrical work for young people as CEO of Bay Area Children’s Theatre has reached more than 1 million  kids and adults and has toured nationally and internationally. Some of her most recent credits include: the adaptation of Chelsea Clinton’s book, She Persisted, Grace Lin’s Where the Mountain Meets the Moon, and the New York Times bestselling Goodnight Goodnight Construction Site series. 

She has received the Alumna of the Year Award from Head-Royce School in (2020), the Diablo Valley Innovation Award (2020), the Theatre Bay Area Award Best Director and Best New Musical (Goodnight, Goodnight Construction Site, 2018), was an invited speaker at Visioni in Bologna, Italy, and an invited speak at a conference hosted by the National Endowment for the Arts, serves as Board President for TYA/USA and was named as one of Red Tricycle’s Moms Who Rock.

Nina holds a BS in theatre from Northwestern University and a Master’s of Nonprofit Administration from the University of San Francisco. She is also a certified yoga instructor.

Her work has been spotlighted in the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, American Theatre Magazine, San Francisco Chronicle, Barron’s, Red Tricycle, ABC News, NBC News, and CBS News. 

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Khalia Davis

Artistic Director

Khalia Davis (she/her) is a multidisciplinary artist recently named Artistic Director of Bay Area Children’s Theatre where she led the premiere of A Kids Play About Racism, based on a kids book about racism by Jelani Memory, creating a new hybrid between live theatrical storytelling and film. This work brought together over 40 theater producing partners and was viewed on Broadway on Demand nearly 80,000 times. Past BACT directing credits: award-nominated world premiere, She Persisted the Musical, based on the popular children’s book by Chelsea Clinton, Frog and Toad, Judy Moody and Stink and the Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad Treasure Hunt. NYC directing credits: Atlantic for Kids, NYCCT, Disney Theatrical Group. Produced a children’s web series chronicling the experiences of a little Black puppet girl named Nia living through the COVID-19 pandemic with Kids at Heart Productions. Before assuming her new role as Artistic Director, Ms. Davis served as the Director of Inclusion and Education with Brooklyn Children’s Theatre restructuring their children’s musical theater programming through an anti-racism lens. Awards: 2019 Emerging Leader Fellowship-TYA/USA, 2019 NYCCT Leader Fellowship, 2021 Corey Medallion Award-Children’s Theatre Foundation of America. BA in Theater Arts-University of Southern California.

khaliadavis.com

Austin Zumbro

Information Services Director/Artistic Associate

Austin Zumbro (he/him) joined Bay Area Children’s Theatre in 2009 as a box office representative and is thrilled to continue on as Information Services Director and Artistic Associate. He has written and composed over 15 musicals, including Llama, Llama Live!; Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site the Musical (TBA Award Winner); Fly Guy, the Musical; The Day the Crayons Quit, the Musical; and The Rainbow Fish Musical, which won the AATE Distinguished Play Award in 2020.

Christina Larson

Managing Director

Christina Larson (she/her) has spent her career behind the scenes in theater. While working as an AEA Stage Manager some of her favorite shows were Macbeth (Cal Shakes), Tribes (Berkeley Repertory Theatre), and Vietgone (American Conservatory Theatre). Finding a passion for bringing arts to young minds, she has found immense joy in watching the faces of children watch a show, while working to make that magic happen. In her spare time Christina likes to read, draw tiny animals, and play with her one year old daughter.

Elisha Beston

Business Manager

Elisha (she/her) joined the BACT family in 2018 after graduating from Rockford University with a BFA in Musical Theatre. You may recognize her from past BACT shows such as Wonderland: Alice’s Rock and Roll Adventure, Gold: The Midas Musical, Llama Llama Live!, and Construction Site on Christmas Night. She has previously worked as a teaching artist and stage manager, and spent the last year developing music curriculum while working as a preschool teacher. She currently resides in sunny Singapore where she enjoys drinking boba, making TikTok videos and spending time with her family.

elishaxbeston.com

Gabrielle Chapple

Director of Development and Communications

Growing up, Gabrielle Chapple (she/her) spent every summer with her family in San Francisco. With her parents and grandparents both being Bay Area natives, she developed a deep appreciation for the vibrant Bay Area arts scene. This is her third season as Director of Development for Bay Area Children’s Theatre, prior to joining the team she served as Director of Development for Magic Theatre in San Francisco. In addition to her love of theatre, Gabrielle is also a member of the ArtPoint Advisory Council. Staying engaged with the ever-changing Bay Area art scene is one of her passions. Before making her way to the Bay Area, Gabrielle was the Director of Special Events + Major Gifts for The Phoenix Theatre Company, a Lort-D identifying theatre company in the Southwest with a nearly $8 million operating budget. Gabrielle holds a Bachelor of Arts in Theatre from Arizona State University. In addition to her background in fundraising, Gabrielle has been a teaching artist for over ten years working to help youth explore their imagination, build the creative storytelling process and translate performance skills into professional workplace readiness. Teaching credits include Mesa Arts Center, Childsplay, Free Arts of Arizona and Junior Achievement. Gabrielle’s involvement with Theatre for Youth dates back to 2007 and through the years she has cherished working with students as they discover the transformative power of theatre.

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Jocelyn Chavez

Audience Development Manager

Jocelyn Chavez (she/her) joined BACT in late 2019. Originally from Long Beach, CA, Jocelyn spent two years in Oregon pursuing her coursework in Anthropology before moving to the Bay Area. As an advocate of nature, Jocelyn can often be found visiting National and State Parks, fostering kittens, and advocating for the Bay Area Tule Elk. Professionally, Jocelyn began her Development career working as the Development Associate for Variety- the Children’s Charity of Northern California before joining BACT. As BACT’s current Audience Development Manager, she is excited to connect with all the families that make BACT’s work possible.

Yvette "Eve" McDonald

Audience Experience Manager

Yvette “Eve” McDonald (she/her) has spent her entire career taking care of people. Born and raised in the bay with a background in museums and teaching, Eve has always loved watching children learn and grow through creative expression. Her childhood love of theatre came back to her in unexpected ways when she was asked to work in Audience Services at another theatre during the pandemic. This brought her back to a community she always considered home. With all of her family members also working in the industry, it seemed like a perfect fit when BACT was looking for an Audience Experience Manager. With her passion for communication and her desire to help connect her community to the arts, Eve is here to bring her knowledge of customer service, creativity and positive spirit to our theatre.

Danielle "D" Smith

Marketing & Communications Manager

Danielle “D” Smith (she, her) is an artist activist and dance educator from Cleveland, Ohio. Since moving to the Bay in 2014 and receiving her Bachelors of Arts in Performing Arts & Social Justice, she has always been interested in how performance and equity work intersect. Professionally Danielle has traveled nationally teaching dance and music to youth, as well as choreographing and performing as a hip hop artist. Danielle’s passion for community engagement and communications through movement led her down a path towards marketing and communications for Bay Area nonprofits. Currently (when she isn’t dancing) Danielle works as the Marketing & Communications manager for BACT.

Amber Dyson

Academy Director of Curriculum

​​Amber Dyson (she/her) is a teaching artist, singer, puppeteer, and improviser with 16 years experience in educational theatre. She looks forward to directing BACT’s next Advanced Performers production, which will compete at Junior Theatre Festival West in February. A frequent contributor to Un-Scripted Theatre Company’s annual improvised holiday musical, Let it Snow!, Amber was also a writer and performer in the 2019 Fringe Festival production of Fingertips, which was honored as “Best of the Fringe.” A 2017 recipient of the Freddie G. Fellowship for Excellence in Musical Theatre Education, Amber doesn’t believe for one second that you can’t sing.

Cicily Gruber

Academy Operations Manager

Cicily Gruber (she/her) graduated with a BA in Theatre from Wesleyan University in 2015. She has worked in the Bay Area for 5 years as a stage manager and technician with companies such as Berkeley Repertory Theater, Flyaway Productions, and Opera Parallele.

Zachary Isen

Teaching Artist | Academy

Zachary Isen (he/him) is a Bay Area native and holds a BFA in drama from New York University Tisch School of the Arts. He has also studied at The Lee Strasberg Theatre & Film Institute, The Performing Arts Project, and the International Theatre Institute in Amsterdam. Zachary has worked as a teacher, choreographer, and director at Oakland School for the Arts, Bay Area Children’s Theatre, The Urban School of San Francisco, Spindrift School of Performing Arts, The Mountain Play, The Performing Arts Academy of Marin, and Marin Musical Theatre Company. He has performed with companies such as San Francisco Playhouse, Ray of Light Theatre, The Mountain Play, Hillbarn Theatre, Marin Musical Theatre Company, and Sierra Repertory Theatre. Zachary has a passion for using the Performing Arts as a tool to foster passion, creativity, respect, cultural appreciation and self expression.

 
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Amber Hughes

Director of Education Outreach

Amber Dickerson (she/her) is an educator and performer currently residing in the Bay Area. She holds her B.F.A in Theatre Performance and Education from Columbus State University and her B.S. in Developmental Psychology from CUNY Graduate School, where she focused on creative arts therapeutic approaches for children and adolescents. Amber spent ten years working professionally in NYC where she performed Off-Broadway and created arts programming for NYC public schools and local theatres. Amber also served as Education Director for an Off-Broadway Theatre for Young Audiences company, where she developed curriculum and managed their educational and outreach programming. Since moving to the Bay Area, Amber has been fortunate to work with Bay Area Children’s Theatre, both as a performer and as a key member of the education team. She has developed curriculum for the organization’s Academy Program, created material that links the BACT season of shows to the core curriculum in local schools, and has helped streamline the Story Explorer’s program (an Arts In Schools program working with children on the Autism Spectrum). Amber is passionate about creating arts programming that is accessible to all students and communities here in the Bay Area.

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Leah Sanginiti

Director of Community Outreach

Leah Sanginiti (she/her) is an actor and theatre educator originally from Oakland, California. She graduated summa cum laude with a BFA in Theatre Performance from Southern Oregon University and has toured throughout North America as a performer, director, and teaching artist with theatre companies including Bay Area Children’s Theatre, Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Davis Shakespeare Festival, and Missoula Children’s Theatre. Separate from performance, Leah has worked extensively with atypical learners and under-resourced students in school districts throughout the West Coast. Her passions for community-centered arts education and socio-emotional curriculum development draw inspiration from STEM, linguistics, international theatre traditions, and antiracist pedagogy. When she isn’t on stage or in the classroom, Leah makes music with friends, advocates for human rights, and hikes around the world.
leahsanginiti.com

Amanda Le Nguyen

Teaching Artist | Education Outreach

Amanda Le Nguyen (she/her) is filled with joy to be working as a teaching artist for BACT! She has been teaching children ages 3-15 years old specializing in Musical Theatre and choreography for a decade in the Bay Area. Her directorial and choreographer credits include Annie Jr., Madagascar Jr., and Little Mermaid Jr. just to name a few. Her energy and enthusiasm for Musical Theatre fill every minute of her class time. All she asks are smiles and good vibes in all her classes.

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Frances Hughes

Director of Production

Frances Hughes (she/her) spent several years as an Off-Broadway stage manager in New York City after graduating with a BA in Theatre from SUNY Buffalo. She has traveled to nearly all 50 states as a national tour manager for various theatre companies including Bay Area Children’s Theatre. When Frances isn’t multitasking, you can find her riding a bike, hanging out with her cats, and working on her mad crêpe skills.

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Megan Hillard

Technical Director

Megan Hillard (she/they) grew up in a small town in Northern California. She went to Sonoma State University to study Fine Art with an emphasis in Sculpture, before moving to the bay in 2010. She’s since rekindled her old high school love of Theatre, making props and building sets for companies like Shotgun Players, Cal Shakes, We Players, The Peripatetic Players, and Golden Thread Productions. Megan began working with BACT in 2017 as a carpenter and is now thrilled to be the new Technical Director at Bay Area Children’s Theatre. When she’s not in the theater you can find her making online puppet shows with her friends, building wooden teardrop trailers, competing in a league event at the bowling alley, or going to the park with her partner and two little dogs.

Austine De Los Santos

Associate Technical Director/Artistic Associate

Austine De Los Santos (they, them), otherwise known as Aus, is an imaginator and teaching artist at the Bay Area Children’s Theatre. They are a non-binary actor whose pronouns are they/them. Their passions include (but are not limited to) design, videography, performing, and education. Some of their favorite activities are naps and taking care of plants.

Joan Howard

Associate Technical Director

Joan Howard (she, they) Joan is a clown, physical theatre maker, and builder dedicated to inciting delight and activating meaningful human connection through play. She is co-creator of the ensemble theater company Idiot String, and co-director of ClownCorps, a social clowning organization serving local and international communities through laughter relief.  Joan clowns regularly with Samuel Peaches Peripatetic Players (Idiot String’s itinerant theater troupe), in hospitals with the Medical Clown Project, and online and in the streets with ClownCorps.
As a builder, Joan blends traditional woodworking skills with DIY aesthetics, and is inspired by trickster social movements like Fluxus and the simple mechanics and imaginative wonder of itinerant medieval theater. She creates interactive performance objects and mobile environments that partner with their performers and transform everyday public space into participatory worlds where anything might happen. 
Joan has designed and built sets and properties for such local companies as Bay Area Children’s Theatre, Rapid Descent, Word for Word Youth Arts, and Custom Made Theater. She has served as Technical Director for ACT Conservatory, Master Carpenter for Theatre Rhino, Ray of Light Theatre and 42nd Street Moon, and on the building crew for SF Shakespeare Festival, New Conservatory Theatre Center, and many others.Joan is happy to be returning to the BACT as part of the awesome shop team!

David Juarez

Associate Technical Director

David Juarez (he/him) grew up in Hayward, CA and graduated with a BA in Theatre Arts from California State University East Bay in the Summer of 2021 with a concentration in Theater Technology & Design. At CSUEB, he spent most of his time in the theatre as a stagehand and a carpenter but also did Lighting Design for Wandering in the Wilderness and Set Design for Blood at the Root, for which he received the Don Childs Cross-Discipline Collaboration Award at KCACTF. When David is not in the Theatre, he likes to watch movies, read Marvel comics, play soccer, and find new hobbies.

Carissa Atallah

Writers Room

Carissa Atallah (she/her) is a playwright from sunny Southern California. She was named winner of the 45th Annual Samuel French Off Off Broadway Short Play Festival for her script “Voir Dire” which also achieved finalist status in the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival. The play is published and available for licensing through Concord Theatricals as a part of the Off Off Broadway Festival Plays, 45th Series. Carissa’s script “Brown Face” was a Bay Area Playwrights Festival semifinalist in 2020 and featured in Playwright Arenas’ Ghost Light Series in 2021. Carissa was also selected in 2019 to participate in The Rogue Lab New Play Incubator with Rogue Artists Ensemble, a hyper-theater group based in Los Angeles. In 2021, she was a semi-finalist in The Future of Playwriting Prize presented by Ucross + The Blank Theatre. In 2017, Carissa was awarded a Chancellor’s Distinguished Fellowship to study playwriting with the University of California Riverside’s Creative Writing for the Performing Arts MFA program. Currently, Carissa is excited to join the writers’ room for the Bay Area Children’s Theatre, the foremost theatre company for young audiences in California, and Pixel Playhouse, a multimedia theatre troupe bringing musicals to its over 216.8K TikTok followers. When not writing plays, Carissa also enjoys writing young adult fiction.

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Samantha Blain

Writers Room

Samantha Blain (she/her) is a Cuban multi-disciplinary artist. She has performed Off-Broadway, regionally, on National Tours, in numerous Broadway workshops, and TV/film. A few performance highlights include Ars Nova, New York City Center, York Theater Company, Drama League, BAM, New Victory Theater, NYC Children’s Theater, American Dance Machine, La Mama ETC., and Shakespeare Theater of New Jersey. Sam is Co-Artistic Director of Hit The Lights! Theater Co. based in NYC which was the 2018 and 2019 Company in Residence at Ars Nova and was recently nominated for an Off-Broadway Alliance Award. She’s a writer, composer, singer, musician, and puppeteer. Samantha is an alum from Emerson College BFA Musical Theater and Atlantic Acting School (special merit award recipient). She is also a teaching artist and director in NYC.

@sam.blain.dean
www.hitthelights.org

Samantha Miller

Writers Room

Samantha Miller (she/her) is a youth entertainment writer and performer based in Los Angeles, CA. If you know any children attending public school in Southern California, they may recognize her as “Jordan” from the play they saw in 4th grade from Kaiser Permanente Educational Theatre. Known for writing fun, modern, and often digital worlds, her newest play DragonSoul Offline was recently selected for the ReImagine: New Plays in TYA development program sponsored by The Children’s Theatre Foundation of America and The Kennedy Center. Samantha is so proud to be partnering with a talented group of creators to support BACT and the community it serves so thoroughly. She hopes to uplift all audience members by storytelling with a lens of joyful inclusivity!

Ali Xavier Travis

Writers Room

Ali Xavier Travis (he/him) is a musician, cartoonist and performer from the Bay Area currently based in Des Moines, Iowa. He was (and still is) that kid who hums and taps out rhythms in class, doodles on important papers, and creates worlds from blank sheets of paper.

His mission is to add love to the world through creativity, and he’s happy to have remained true to the kindergarten version of himself for so many years.