Hariprasad Kowtha (Theatre Instructor) has dedicated his life to performance as a vector of identity and resistance. He sang bhajans with the South Asian community in Phoenix, Arizona, practiced Carnatic vocals and performed Bharathanatyam. Hariprasad currently teaches yoga, meditation and movement at the Ahimsa House and at a Project Home facility in North Philadelphia with Sheltered Yoga. He also designs curriculum for Philadelphia Theater of the Oppressed and co-facilitated T.O. Philly’s “Unpacking Race” workshop. Hariprasad is part of the Philadelphia South Asian Collective and is editing a literary and arts zine of South Asian authors and artists. He recently co-organized the Mustard Seed Film Festival, the first and only South Asian film festival in Philadelphia.
Natasha Cohen-Carroll (Film Instructor) graduated from Haverford College with a double major in English and Fine Arts with a concentration in photography. She was awarded the Center for Peace & Global Citizenship Grant and taught photography and theatre to children in Ahmedabad, India. Natasha is bilingual in English and French and advanced in Spanish. She has been an artist/counselor with the West Park Cultural Center’s Camp Ginkgo for the past two summers and has led stop-motion and poetry workshops throughout the year. She recently co-organized the Mustard Seed Film Festival with Hariprasad and is working on documentary film projects about community and culture.
Maurice Henderson (Youth Program Manager) is a critically acclaimed Off-Broadway Actor/Director/Playwright. He is also an award winning and bestselling writer of books, stagecraft, filmworks, spoken word recordings and nationally syndicated journalism. He has been featured on major television networks such as ABC, NBC and CBS and interviewed for many publications, including the Los Angeles Times, Washington Post, New York Times, Boston Globe, Orlando Sentinel, Courier Post, Philadelphia Inquirer, City Paper and Metro Newspapers, etc. He has taught at Colleges and Universities in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware and served as an Instructor at Freedom Theatre, Walnut Street Theatre and Venture Theater.
Betty P. Lindley (Founder/Executive Director) is a visual artist and former teacher who moved to Philadelphia in 1974 and started her arts management career in 1978. From 1981 to 1999 she produced over 60 plays working as Managing Director of the Germantown Theatre Guild, Founder and Executive Director of Kopia Theatre at Cornucopia on Parkside Avenue, and co-founder of Venture Theatre where she was executive director for thirteen years. At Venture Theatre she worked with teachers and administrators at 15 different Philadelphia public schools to implement Theatre for Learning, a program that used theatre to teach across the curriculum. Her other positions have included 12 plus years as Development Officer at Art Sanctuary, Founding President of the Business Association of West Parkside, Member of the Mayor’s Small Business Advisory Council (Goode administration), and four years on the Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance Board of Directors. She also served on the Program and Board Placement Committees of PVLA (Philadelphia Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts). Betty returned to West Parkside in 2000 where she lives with her husband. She served for three years on the Board of the Friends of the Shofuso Japanese House and Garden and is a member of the Parkside Historic District Coalition and the Mann Center Virtuoso Committee.
Ronald Cook (Associate Artist) attended the University of Connecticut and Lincoln University. He is a spoken word artist, designer, video editor and short film maker. Ron has experience in nonprofit program management primarily working with underserved and “at-risk” youth and families. Over the last three years he has worked with West Park Cultural Center in various capacities including camp manager, spoken word artist and as youth program manager.
Christen Sanderson (Ceramics Instructor) is a new Philadelphia resident coming from Syracuse, New York where she grew up and received her BFA in Ceramics and Art Education from Syracuse University. She earned Shaped Clay Society scholarships and awards from Clayscapes Pottery during her time in Syracuse. Christen has studied under established and emerging ceramic figure sculpting artists at Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts in Gatlinburg, Tennessee. Her work as a teaching artist includes Main Line Art Center, The Barnes Foundation, and The Center for Creative Works in addition to teaching positions at elementary and high schools in New Your State. She is currently attending Moore College of Art and Design pursuing a Master of Arts in Art Education with a focus on Special Populations.
Jake Kelberman (Music Instructor) is a graduate of the Jazz Studies program at Temple University’s Boyer College of Music, where he studied under musicians including Terell Stafford, Dick Oatts, Greg Kettinger, Bruce Barth, John Swana, and Ben Schacter. He has performed throughout the United States and Europe at venues such as Dizzy’s Club Coca Cola at Lincoln Center in New York, The Kimmel Center in Philadelphia, and the Bimhuis in Amsterdam, Netherlands. Jake won second prize at the Wilson Center Guitar Competition in Milwaukee in 2016, and was a finalist in the “Keep and Eye” Jazz Competition in Amsterdam, NL in both 2013 and 2014. He has performed with artists Jim Snidero, Walt Weiskopf, Deana Martin, Mike Boone, Justin Faulkner, Byron Landham, Arturo Stable, Joanna Pascale, and Gordon Webster.
Niesha Kennedy (PR Manager) is a handmade artist and accomplished public relations professional born and raised in Philadelphia. She is known and respected in the arts community and started her public relations career as Director of PR for Sharp With Art Group. She is also a blogger and events manager for Handmade Philly. Niesha is passionate about community service and volunteers for Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation’s Lemon Society, Philadelphia Community Corps, and Mastery Charter School among others.