Meet the Team
Creating Accessible Theater For All
Executive Director & Founder
Katie Cummings has dedicated over twenty years as a theater artist, educator and advocate for inclusion and diversity in theater. A Wisconsin native, Katie graduated from Cardinal Stritch University with a BA in Theater and Business. Her resume includes First Stage, Bunny Gumbo, UW-Milwaukee, Chamber Theater and St. Joseph High School. Katie believes that theater has the power to develop empathy, create meaningful connections and engage community.
Director of Accessibility & Inclusion
Mary Stone, M.S., ECSE is the founder and president of Stepping Stones Educational Services. She is an author, consultant, certified special education teacher, college instructor, and parent of a child with special needs. In her work through Stepping Stones Educational Services, Mary designs trainings and workshops for parents, schools, businesses and community organizations that explore topics that include social emotional learning, sensory immersive story time, inclusion, and developmental disabilities. Mary believes that inclusive communities are created together and together anything is possible!
Chloe Wong (she/her/hers) is a recent graduate of Santa Clara University (SCU) with a major in Anthropology and a minor in Environmental Studies. While she aims to be a forensic anthropologist, Chloe currently serves as the Assistant Director for Student Engagement at SCU, in addition to working at Pink Umbrella. Chloe has previously been the Youth Climate Action Team National Chief of Staff, a chess coach, viola tutor, SCU Community Facilitator, and HR Lead of Original Cream Puffs.
Shaqita Crockett (she/her/Queen) was born and raised in Milwaukee, WI. She is a proud mother of two Kings and a lover of plants. She's worked for many years in non-profit administration and builds community in every part of the city.
Adam Qutaishat is a theatre artist, teacher, and advocate based in Milwaukee. Adam holds a degree in Music Education from the University of Wisconsin - Stevens Point and taught in the public schools before pursuing a career in theatre. Adam has performed professionally across the Midwest, runs a voice and acting studio, Q Music, serves as Associate Artistic Director for Music Theatre of Madison, Artistic Associate for All In Productions, and as the founder and creator of Button Podcasts, an audio fiction podcast company. adamqutaishat.com
Ali Meisinger is happy to be working with Pink Umbrella Theater Company. Her theater experience includes acting in several school productions from middle school through high school. She is a proud First Stage Alum and loves spending time with family and friends.
Beck Menk is a Milwaukee-based theatre artist and educator with a wide variety of skills and passions in the space, including playwright, directing, and costume design. They benefited
greatly from access to quality educational theatre as a child and feel access to theatre for both educational purposes and personal joy is valuable for all who want it. Outside of Pink Umbrella they spend their free time reading, writing, gardening, playing D&D, and creating audio theatre
pieces for their podcast, Soundbite Theater.
Becky's bio here!
Beth Lewinski is a performer, director, playwright and instructor. A Milwaukee native with a degree in Film, Television and Theatre from the University of Notre Dame, she's taught improv for ComedySportz Milwaukee and First Stage Children's Theatre, among others, and worked with Radio WHT, Sketch 22, the Milwaukee Comedy Festival, Schmitz 'n' Giggles, V-Core productions, Milwaukee Metro Voices, Dinner Detective Milwaukee, All In Productions, and many more. She is a founding member of and performer with a number of local improv groups.
Brandi Reed is a proud Milwaukee native. With the help of many community arts organizations such as the African American Children’s theater and the Milwaukee Inner-city Arts Council Brandi was introduced to musical theater. Brandi was a part of Black Arts MKE’s 2018 & 2019 production of Black Nativity at the Marcus Performing Arts Center. In addition, she was also in the show, Three Sister’s Named Flo at Skylight’s Cabaret Theater. Brandi is currently a Teaching Artist at Black Arts MKE, First Stage Children’s Theatre and the Milwaukee Repertory Theater.
Brenna is delighted to be a contributing teaching artist with Pink Umbrella Theater Company! Brenna is an advocate for accessibility and inclusion, and has experience as a program director, teacher, yoga instructor, and care provider within the Disability Community. She currently serves as Program Administrator for Living Our Visions Inclusively (LOV Inc.), a Wisconsin nonprofit that supports individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities to unite and live their best lives. In all of her work, Brenna strives to cultivate clarity, compassion, and connection.
Brian's bio here!
Chris' bio here!
Debbie Das is a Speech-Language Pathology graduate student at the University of Pittsburgh. She holds a B.S. from Purdue University in Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences and minors in Theater and Critical Disability Studies. Back home, she works for an agency assisting people with all abilities in recreational activities. She served a 900-hour Americorps term with Camp Easterseals. A nature and dog lover, she is eager to bring a smile to so many faces. Debbie is thrilled to continue enriching the lives of people with all abilities through Pink!
Drea McAlister is an Artist and Poet based in Milwaukee, WI. Influenced by her experiences as a young black woman, she creates pieces that tell the story of her life and those around her. She currently attends Alverno College as a Thea Bowman Scholar pursuing a degree in Art Therapy with a Minor in Community Engagement and Activism.
Emily is a director, choreographer, and teaching artist based in Milwaukee. She holds her B.A. in Directing and minor in Dance from Illinois State University. Emily has been working in theatre education since 2020. She believes in the inclusivity of theatre and its power to start conversation and change minds. Emily is very excited to be working with the Pink Umbrella team!
Gina's bio here!
Hannah's bio here!
Hannah is a recent graduate from The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee with a BFA in Musical Theatre and minors in Music and Dance. Some of her past show credits include Annie Oakley in Annie Get Your Gun, Working the Musical, Trish in Bonnie and Clyde, dancer in Summer 2019 Dancemakers, Helen/Sara Klock in Invader I Hardly Know Her, and ensemble and Judy understudy in 9 to 5. Long term, Hannah would like to return to school to study psychology so she can begin a practice of music and theatre therapy.
Fletcher is a theatre professional that has plied his trade in Milwaukee for over thirty years. He is the Artistic Director of The Bunny Gumbo Theatre Co. which he founded in 1999. In addition to acting, he also directs, designs fights for the stage, teaches at all levels and writes plays. Some of his works include Give Until It Hurts, Losers, Blue Stella, The House of Silence, Sweet Dreams and The Four Hamlets. Fletcher is passionate about the fact that theatre, and art in general, has the power to transform.
Jess (they/them) is a Chicagoland area teaching artist. They have been a proud member of MOMENTA Dance Company for over a decade. They trained at the Academy of Movement and Music, Dancing Wheels, Axis Dance Company, and more! Jess is trained in several techniques, including Graham, Humphrey, ballet, Laban technique, and Body-Mind Centering. They choreographed their first piece with MOMENTA in 2011, and produced 3 full length concerts with Links Hall. In 2017, they started their own dance company, called EXPLORATION: An Evening of Dance, Discovery, Creativity, and Fun.
Kayla Tillisch is honored to be working with Pink Umbrella Theater Company. She has a deep passion for this line of work and has been inspired primarily from her sisters Morgan and Kasey. Her theater experience includes both acting and directing with a particular love of Shakespeare. She is a proud First Stage Alumni, yogi, artist, and coffee connoisseur.
Molly Kiefer (she/her) is a neurodivergent mover, teaching artist, and disability advocate. Her artistic work is informed by disability and investigating seemingly mundane everyday experiences. She has performed with Zeze Schorsch and Wild Space Dance Company and has choreographed for Pink Umbrella Theater Company (SHINE!). Molly is passionate about making artistic spaces more accessible for everyone who enters them and co-leads 'Sunshade: A meeting place for Disabled Artists'.
Noah's bio here!
OJ graduated from UW Parkside with her B.A. in Theater Arts and B.S. in Biological Sciences in 2018, and holds a M.A. in Teaching from Cardinal Stritch University. She has directed multiple shows in the suburbs of Milwaukee, become an adjunct teaching artist for Forté Theater Company (Franklin), and started her own company, Royally Charmed. During the day, you can find OJ at Pius XI High School teaching Forensic, Environmental, Earth, and Biological Sciences.
Paula Foley Tillen
Paula Foley Tillen has been a professional musician in the Milwaukee area for many years. She has served as music director for hundreds of productions from junior high to professional levels, and has been active at Milwaukee ComedySportz since 1985. Paula’s arrangements and compositions are found in the catalogues of several national publishing houses and has been performed around the country. Paula is certified as a yoga and meditation instructor, and as a Reiki master practitioner. She teaches yoga and meditation at the Wisconsin Athletic Club and Invivo Wellness.
Phoebe Troeller is studying Public Health at UW-Milwaukee and hopes to pursue a MPH in epidemiology. Phoebe is a board member of the Public Health Graduate Student Association at the Zilber School of Public Health, and volunteers at the City on a Hill free clinic. Phoebe began acting, dancing, and playing violin in elementary school. She is an alum of First Stage Theater Academy and has experience in multiple styles of dance, including competitive Irish dance. Phoebe enjoys playing with her dogs, cooking, and watching Disney movies.
Pia's bio here!
Rebekah Farr (she/her) has been working in Milwaukee as an actor, educator, and director since 2018. Her main values are accessibility and community. She is grateful to have worked with companies such as Skylight, First Stage, Optimist, Mad Rogues, Sunstone, and Milwaukee Chamber. Rebekah is also an Associate Artist with The Constructivists. A great big thank you to Katie Cummings for that first cup of coffee and for welcoming her under the umbrella immediately. Rebekah is so lucky to be doing exactly what she loves everyday with Pink Umbrella.
Ryan Cappleman is a performer, choreographer, musician, and teaching artist in the Milwaukee area. He pursued his love of musical theater at UW-Milwaukee, receiving a BFA in Inter-Arts Musical Theater Performance. He has performed with Skylight Music Theatre, Danceworks, First Stage, Northern Sky, Forte Theatre, Milwaukee Opera Theatre, and Optimist Theatre. His choreography has earned him three Footlights Awards and numerous Jerry Awards. He has been a teaching artist for First Stage, Danceworks, The Wisconsin Dance Council, The Minnesota Conservatory for the Arts, The Virginia State Thespian Conference, and more.
Ryan is a Wisconsin native who grew up in Milwaukee and attended a Montessori school. He has autism and is passionate about advocacy and education. Ryan believes in treating everyone with dignity and respect. He loves animals, sports, music, hanging out with friends, and writing poetry. Ryan discovered Pink Umbrella at an Autism Society presentation and joined in the summer of 2022. He thoroughly enjoys his time here and looks forward to every class.
Sam Mulvey is currently an undergraduate at UW-Milwaukee. He has greatly benefited from theater education throughout his life. Primarily First Stage and several of its programs including its improv group Organized Chaos and Young Company. He has acted in several plays and has had the pleasure of volunteering for First Stage and Pink Umbrella before.
Sarah Laszewski is a Special Education teacher, and believes that theater has the power to change lives. Sarah graduated with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Special Education and Elementary Education from UW-Madison. Sarah has worked with a wide range of students and believes in finding access points so all students can participate in all activities. Sarah was a singer at UW-Madison, and was part of the long-form improv team, Iceberg Improv. Sarah is an alumna of First Stage’s Company Class, and a former Young Performer at First Stage.
Tiff Polzin is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, with a BFA in music theatre and psychology, dance minor, certificate in childhood and adolescent studies, and an Honors degree. She loves theatre because of its ability to build empathy and meaningful community connections, and working at Pink Umbrella allows her to be a part of a fantastic community of creatives! During her free time, Tiff enjoys reading, playing piano, journaling, and spending time with her cat, Juliet.
Tyler is a graduate from UW-Parkside, earning a B.A. in Theatre Arts and B.S. in Psychology. Tyler has a passion for both acting and directing; his most recent project was directing A Number by Caryl Churchill at UW-Parkside. He is an advocate for inclusivity and believes theatre is a place of transformation for all. When he’s not in the rehearsal room, Tyler works in a short-term crisis stabilization group home. He plans to gain his professional counseling license and to incorporate drama therapy techniques into his practices.
Recent Teaching Team
Teaching Artist (2021-2022)
Abby Wesley (she/her/hers) is a graduate of The Theatre School at DePaul University. She holds a B.F.A. in Theatre Management and minors in Education and Social Justice, Business Administration, and Business Management. Abby is an arts and accessibility advocate who uses her degree to fight for arts education and accessibility programs within schools and communities. Abby has taught with First Stage, the Creative Root program at DePaul University, and Pink Umbrella Theater Company. Her practice is centered around the transformative power of art, art-making, and PLAY!
Teaching Artist (2021-2022)
Amanda Satchell is a Wisconsin native who has performed in New York City and regional theaters around the United States. Amanda holds a BFA in Musical Theatre from the University of Michigan. She has been a music teacher, music director, and private voice coach for over 15 years for schools and theaters such as the Ft. Lauderdale Children's Theater, Cardinal Gibbons High School, First Stage, and Pink Umbrella Theater Company.
Teaching Artist (2021-2022)
Bethany Bendtsen is a disabled writer and educator currently living in Chicago. Bethany graduated magna cum laude from Columbia College Chicago with her BFA in Creative Writing. She is also an alumna of First Stage Children’s Theater’s summer academy program. She has worked as a teacher, tutor, and arts educator with students elementary-age through the college level. Bethany spends her free time eating cheese fries, listening to 80s music, and obsessing about her outfit. Her favorite color is glitter.
Teaching Artist (2021-2022)
Caleigh Havansek (she/her/hers) is a Chicagoland Teaching Artist and Theatre Educator who works through the arts to provide students with connection and empowerment. Engaging students with powerful lessons to find the creativity in themselves. She also works with Edge of Orion Theater, Mudlark Theatre, and Chicago Children’s Theatre. When she's not teaching you can find her in the kitchen cooking up something delicious, rollerblading around her neighborhood, or enjoying the sunshine on the lakefront!
Teaching Artist (2021-2022)
Giana Blazquez Bultman
Giana is a director, choreographer, and teaching artist from Orlando, FL. She currently serves as the Associate Director of Education at Children's Theater of Madison. As an emerging TYA professional, Giana strives to empower young people through theatre that challenges them artistically, fosters inclusion, and cultivates ensemble. As a teaching artist she has worked for ZACH Theater, First Stage, and the Orlando Repertory Theater. Regional Directing and Choreography credits include Nate the Great (First Stage), Nobody Knows (First Stage), Lovabye Dragon (First Stage), and Welcome to Bronzeville (First Stage). Giana has also performed professionally at First Stage. Giana hopes to work toward increased inclusion in the TYA field.
Teaching Artist (2021-2022)
Jamie Pavlofsky is an actress and teaching artist in Dayton, Ohio. She began performing at the age of ten and has worked at Dayton Playhouse, INNOVAtheatre, and Playhouse South (now Springboro Community Theatre). She is on the board of directors of INNOVAtheatre and has served as a teaching artist with many area organizations. Favorite onstage credits include RAGTIME (Dayton Playhouse), THE LARAMIE PROJECT (Harmony Creek Theatre), QUILT (INNOVAtheatre), and BOEING-BOEING (Fairfield Footlighters). As an artist with a disability, Jamie is passionate about the inclusion of differently-abled performers. Jamie has worked as a teaching artist since 2017 and has held positions with the Dayton Jewish Federation, Brighter Connections Theatre, and the Victoria Theatre Association (now Dayton Live). Jamie strongly believes that theatre is a tool that can be used in the facilitation of social-emotional learning and strives to create emotionally safe spaces for her students to create and perform.
Teaching Assistant (2021-2022)
Madelyn Ballard (she/her) is from Milwaukee, currently studying Acting at Viterbo University. After growing up doing children’s theatre in Milwaukee, she is excited to be back at Pink Umbrella!
Teaching Assistant (2021-2022)
Megan is a student at Loyola University Chicago double majoring in Psychology and Spanish. As a previous performer and long-time theater-lover, Megan hopes to combine her education with her passion for the arts to work in art therapy and research in the future. After her time at Loyola, she hopes to pursue a graduate degree in social psychology. Other hobbies of Megan's include playing violin and ukulele, exploring the city of Chicago, and running along the lakeside.