Artistic Council

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Jacob Padrón

Jacob G. Padrón is the Artistic Director of Long Wharf Theatre in New Haven, Connecticut. He is also the Founder and Artistic Director of The Sol Project, a national theater initiative that works in partnership with leading theater companies to amplify the voices of Latinx playwrights in New York City and beyond. Padrón has held senior-level artistic positions at theater companies across the country. He was the Senior Line Producer at The Public Theater where he worked on new plays, new musicals, Shakespeare in the Park, and Public Works. He was formerly the Producer at Steppenwolf Theatre Company in Chicago where he supported the artistic programming in the Garage – Steppenwolf’s dedicated space for new work, new artists, and new audiences. From 2008 to 2011, he was an Associate Producer at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival where he was instrumental in producing all shows in the 11-play repertory. Under the guidance of his late mentor Diane Rodriguez, he served as the producer of Suzan-Lori Parks’ 365 Days/365 Plays for Center Theatre Group, a collaboration that included over 50 theater companies to launch Festival 365 in Los Angeles. He is a co-founder of the Artist Anti-Racism Coalition, a grassroots movement committed to dismantling structural racism within the Off-Broadway community. Jacob is a graduate of Loyola Marymount University (BA) and Yale School of Drama (MFA). His first artistic home was El Teatro Campesino located in San Juan Bautista, CA.
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Ioana Alfonso

Associate Director to Tony Award winner Kenny Leon on American Son (Broadway), Hairspray Live! (NBC,DGA Nomination), The Wiz Live! (NBC,DGA Nomination) and Smart People (Off Broadway); Associate Choreographer to Tony winner Wayne Cilento on Holler If Ya Hear Me (Broadway) and multiple Emmy winner Travis Wall on Bare (Off Broadway); Assistant to Emmy winning choreographer Mia Michaels on projects including Madonna: Drowned World Tour, Celine Dion’s ‘New Day’, original works on concert dance companies and national commercials. Performing credits: Wicked (Original Broadway Cast), 9 to 5 (Original Broadway Cast), Come Fly Away (Nat’l and Int’l tours), etc. Numerous television and film credits including “Orange is the New Black”, “Broad City”, “Nurse Jackie”, “Law and Order:SVU”, “In the Heights”, “The Binge(opposite Vince Vaughn), etc. www.ioanaalfonso.com
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Shadi Ghaheri

Shadi Ghaheri is a theatre and film director and choreographer from Tehran, Iran, based in New York. She has directed Mother Courage (Hunter College), Tosca Tehran (Rough Draft), Fen (Columbia University), Untitled (Rattlestick Theatre), Lucretia (HERE), Last Days of Judas Iscariot (Williams College), Shahr-e-Farang (Spectrum NYC), Death of Yazdgerd, Titus Andronicus (Yale School of Drama). Other Credits: The Slow Sound of Snow (Yale Cabaret). She co-curated a four-play season, directing Trojan Women and Lear (Yale Summer Cabaret). She co-founded and co-curated the Emruz Festival (Spring 2019–present) and co-founded Peydah Theatre Company. Shadi was a 2016 Paul and Daisy Soros Fellow, the 2018 directing fellow at Rattlestick Playwright Theatre, and the winner of Robert L.B. Tobin Director-Designer Showcase 2019. Shadighaheri.com
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Yuko Kudo

Yuko Kudo is native Japanese and immigrated to the United States in June 2003, landing in Los Angles, California, and settling there for 10 years until moving to New York City in 2013. Yuko is a multi-dimensional artist and creator. She uses art and storytelling to create community, while reminding people they are not alone. Yuko is the Founder and Artistic Director of the "I AM" Series Global (2017–2019), which showcased artists' talent within themes focusing on claiming one's various, complex identities and belonging. Through her work as a photographer, she has appeared in Forbes and TIME Magazine, among other media outlets. Yuko Kudo was a finalist for the Roger Sturtevant Musical Theatre Award for the Actor's Equity Association. Her latest work includes a self-produced musical SOLO show entitled, "I Came Here To Be Love", focused on belonging. She also facilitates the creation of collaborative educational spaces that focus on the intersection of art and activism.

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Donja R. Love

Donja R. Love (he/him/his) is Black, Queer, HIV-Positive, and thriving. A Philly native, his work examines the forced absurdity of life for those who identify as Black, Queer, and HIV-positive – a diverse intersection filled with eloquent stories that challenge the white supremacist, heteronormative structures that exist in American culture. He's the recipient of the Antonyo's inaugural Langston Hughes Award, the Helen Merrill Award, the Laurents/Hatcher Award and the Princess Grace Playwriting Award. Other honors include The Lark’s Van Lier New Voices Fellowship, The Playwrights Realm’s Writing Fellowship, and the Philadelphia Adult Grand Slam Poetry Champion. He's the co-founder of The Each-Other Project, an organization that helps build community and provide visibility, through art and advocacy, for LGBTQ+ People of Color. He’s also the creator of Write It Out – a playwrights’ program for writers living with HIV. Plays include soft (MCC), one in two (The New Group), Fireflies (Atlantic Theater Company), Sugar in Our Wounds (Manhattan Theatre Club, Lucille Lortel and Outer Critics Circle Nominations), and The Trade. He sits on the board at The Lark and is an Artistic Councilmember at People’s Theatre Project. 

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Brenson Thomas

Brenson Thomas is a theatre-maker, actor, and writer. Born and raised in the great state of (Stacey Abrams') Georgia, Brenson obtained a BA in Theatre from Georgia College and State University, and worked with Actor's Express Theatre Company in Atlanta before settling in Philadelphia in 2011. He worked alongside Donna Faye Burchfield as the Assistant to the Director of Dance at the University of the Arts prior to obtaining his MFA in Theatre at Sarah Lawrence College. Brenson cultivated his passion for devised theatre and collaboration at SLC, and seeks to create work that encourages imaginative thinking and revels in the ratchet and joy of Black queerness. As a performer, he has collaborated with Tony Award Winner Stew, Raja Feather Kelly, Lightning Rod Special in The Appointment (FringeArts/Next Door at NYTW; Barrymore Nominee for Outstanding Ensemble in a Musical), 1812 Productions for This is the Week That Is: 2020, the Wilma Theater, 11th Hour Theatre Company, Walnut Street Theatre, and Arden Theatre Company. His plays include how i got over, or...red Kool-Aid stains on bubblegum lips, What We Lost & Never Knew, and an upcoming commission for Cardinal Stage Company in Bloomington, IN. Brenson also writes for Emmy Award winner Lena Waithe’s Twenties on BET. When he’s not hunched over his laptop crying about blank Google docs, Brenson enjoys long walks around his beloved Philly, doing bad accents, smashing patriarchal white supremacist structures, and Beyoncé.

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Candace Thompson-Zachery

Candace Thompson-Zachery is a dancer, choreographer, and Manager of Justice, Equity, and Inclusion Initiatives at DanceNYC. Born in Trinidad and Tobago, now local to Brooklyn, NY, operates between the spheres of dance, cultural production and fitness and wellness, with a focus on the Contemporary Caribbean. She has had an established career as a performer, choreographer, fitness professional, cultural producer, teaching artist, community facilitator and Caribbean dance specialist. In addition to her work in these areas, she leads ContempoCaribe, an ongoing choreography and performance project and is the founder of Dance Caribbean COLLECTIVE, an organisational platform for Caribbean dance in the diaspora that spearheads the New Traditions Festival in Brooklyn, NY. She graduated from Adelphi University's BFA program for Dance, and has presented, performed and taught at major venues including: Queen's Hall (T&T), John F. Kennedy Center, New York Live Arts, Brooklyn Museum, and The Ohio State University. She was an inaugural member of the Dancing While Black Fellowship Cohort 2015/2016, was an awardee of Adelphi University's 2017 - 10 Under 10 program, and a Dixon Place Artist-in-Residence for fall 2017. As a cultural producer and strategist, Candace has worked with the Dance and Performance Institute of Trinidad and Tobago, WIADCA (NY), Sydnie L. Mosley Dances, Renegade Performance Group, and curator Claire Tancons, for the 2019 Sharjah Biennial. Ms. Thompson-Zachery holds an M.A. in Performance Curation from the ICCP program at Wesleyan University and a certificate from the Executive Program in Arts & Culture Strategy at UPenn. with National Arts Strategies. Of tantamount importance to her is the vital role dance plays in our communities and she is eager to see dance artists of various styles, practices and traditions thrive in New York City.

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Stephanie Ybarra

Stephanie Ybarra is the Artistic Director of Baltimore Center Stage. Prior, Stephanie served The Public Theater as the Director of Special Artistic Projects, where she led the Mobile Unit and Public Forum programs. Her career started in her home state of Texas, working with Dallas Theater Center and Dallas Children’s Theater. She then fled to cooler climates, spending time at Yale Repertory Theater, Two River Theater Company, and Citizen Schools, a national after school program based in Boston. Stephanie serves as a faculty member at The Juilliard School, and repeatedly finds herself guest lecturing for artists and producing students at NYU, Yale School of Drama, and more. During her time in New York, she co-founded the Artists’ Anti-Racism Coalition, a grassroots organizing effort to dismantle systems of oppression in the Off-Broadway community. Stephanie’s awards include the Josephine Abady Award for producing from New York’s League of Professional Theatre Women, the Congressional Award for Achievement in Excellence from Zara Aina, an international nonprofit dedicated to community-engaged art-making, and for her sustained work around diversity and inclusion, she received the prestigious Nation Builder Award from the National Black Caucus of State Legislators in 2018. In 2019, she was named to the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts YBCA 100 list in recognition of her leadership in using her platform to enact social change. Stephanie serves on the boards of The Make Believe Association and Citizen University. She holds an MFA from Yale School of Drama.

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