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Intro


DRAMA CLUB

We provide theater programming to incarcerated youths as a means of developing empathy, promoting academic growth and empowering the individual through self-expression. 

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Intro


DRAMA CLUB

We provide theater programming to incarcerated youths as a means of developing empathy, promoting academic growth and empowering the individual through self-expression. 

DONATE

 

“Creative work can act not only as a means of escape from pain, but also as a way of structuring chaotic emotions and thoughts, numbing pain through abstraction and the rigors of disciplined thought, and creating a distance from the source of despair.”

Touched With Fire, Kay Redfield Jamison
 
 

Drama Club Founder & Executive Director, Josie Whittlesey, on the WSJ Live program, Lunch Break.


Feedback from Drama Club participants:

 
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Who's Who


 

WHO

Our pilot program began in June 2013 at Crossroads Juvenile Facility in Brownsville, Brooklyn. We started with about twenty participants, focusing on basic theater games and acting exercises, leading up to a staged reading. We now serve two other facilities: Horizon Juvenile Facility in the South Bronx, The Robert N. Davoren Juvenile Complex on Rikers Island. Beginning April 2016, we will expand our programming to include a pilot program for young women at the Rose M. Singer Center on Rikers Island.

 

 

 

Who's Who


 

WHO

Our pilot program began in June 2013 at Crossroads Juvenile Facility in Brownsville, Brooklyn. We started with about twenty participants, focusing on basic theater games and acting exercises, leading up to a staged reading. We now serve two other facilities: Horizon Juvenile Facility in the South Bronx, The Robert N. Davoren Juvenile Complex on Rikers Island. Beginning April 2016, we will expand our programming to include a pilot program for young women at the Rose M. Singer Center on Rikers Island.

 

 

 


Board of Directors



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STEPHANIE ADJEI
DIRECTOR

Stephanie grew up in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, the daughter of African immigrants. She has been working with at-risk and juvenile justice-involved youth for more than 15 years. She spent much of her childhood involved in the arts, including theater and dance, and knows first hand the importance of introducing young people to theater arts. Stephanie witnesses how motivated and encouraged the youth in the juvenile justice system are when they display their hidden talents. She sees their self-esteem rise to the roof. It takes so much courage to stand in front of their peers at that age and in that environment.  


DAVID BLASHER
TREASURER, DIRECTOR

David is a lawyer, musician and teacher. He has a background as a corporate litigator and pro bono attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union, and he is currently an e-discovery client services project manager at Epiq Systems. He also works closely with the All Stars Project in many volunteer capacities as a teacher, actor, producer and director, helping to advance the All Stars mission of engaging poverty through developmental performance and conversation. David holds a B.A. in Theatre Studies from Yale University and a J.D. from the University of Oregon School of Law. For fun, David plays cello with the rock-pop band Sky-Pony.

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CHRISTINE BELLA, ESQ
DIRECTOR

Christine is an attorney with The Legal Aid Society’s Juvenile Rights Practice Special Litigation and Law Reform Unit where she represents young people involved in the juvenile justice and child welfare systems in federal and state individual and class civil rights litigation. Christine has worked for The Legal Aid Society in all three of its practice areas, Civil, Juvenile and Criminal. In 2004, she was awarded The Legal Aid Society’s Charles Schinitsky Award for outstanding service on behalf of children. She is also Vice Chairperson of Preparing Leaders of Tomorrow, Inc. a mentoring program for youth involved in the juvenile justice system. Christine received her Bachelor of Arts from Purdue University and her Juris Doctor, cum laude, from St. John’s University School of Law


Scott Rabe
DIRECTOR

Scott is an attorney at Seyfarth Shaw LLP, where he helps businesses negotiate the legal landscape through all types of employment matters. Before going into private practice, Scott worked at the Juvenile Rights Division of the Legal Aid Society, where he represented young people in juvenile delinquency matters. He is delighted to serve on the board of Drama Club and to support its mission of bringing a consistent theater arts and mentorship experience to young people involved in the NYC juvenile and criminal justice systems. Scott graduated with a J.D., magna cum laude, from New York University. He received his B.A. in Dramatic Art from U.C. Berkeley.
 


Maggie Siff

MAGGIE SIFF
DIRECTOR

Maggie Siff is an actress well known to audiences for her roles in Showtime‘s Billions playing ‘Wendy Rhoades’ opposite Damian Lewis and Paul Giamatti and her role as ‘Tara Knowles’ on the hit FX series Sons of Anarchy for which she received two Critics Choice Award nominations for ‘Best Supporting Actress in a Drama Series’. She also starred in the first season of Mad Men playing Don Draper's mistress, ‘Rachel Menken’ for which she received a Screen Actors Guild Award Nomination for ‘Outstanding Cast in a Television Series Drama’. Maggie graduated with an M.F.A. from NYU‘s Tisch School and a B.A. from Bryn Mawr College. As a native New Yorker, she is passionate about bringing awareness to the youth that are caught in the juvenile and criminal justice systems in NYC.


JECOINA VINSON
Chair, DIRECTOR

Jecoina currently works for the Department of Family Services in Westchester County as a caseworker for SNUG, a partner of the international Cure Violence model. Jecoina is a Bard College alumnus who has facilitated programs and workshops such as: Alternative to Violence Program, Youth Assistance Program, Theatricalizing Personal Narratives, poetry workshops and more.  He has been a student of theatre for many years and is a firm believer in its power to transform, heal and empower the individual. As well as serving as Chair, Jecoina is also a teaching artist for Drama Club.

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NAOKO MONTOYA
Secretary, DIRECTOR

Naoko is a preschool teacher at Christ Church in Manhattan and lives in the diverse area of Elmhurst, Queens with her husband and daughter. She emigrated to NYC from London, where she was an Organizational Management Trainer in a finance company. She earned a Fine Art degree in painting and sculpture. When she came to America in 2000 she discovered her passion for early childhood development and earned another degree in Early Childhood Education.


Drama Club Staff


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JOSIE WHITTLESEY
FOUNDER / EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR

Josie is the founder and Executive Director of Drama Club. Previous work includes teaching at Sing Sing Correctional Facility and Woodbourne Correctional Facility, both men’s prisons upstate New York. She taught courses on acting, public speaking and comedy to these incarcerated individuals and had the honor of performing alongside them in full productions of “A Few Good Men” and “Our Town”. Before founding Drama Club, Josie developed a year-round drop-in acting class for GEMS (Girls Educating and Mentoring Services) serving girls and young women who have experienced commercial sexual exploitation and domestic trafficking. She was also an integral part of the development and implementation of a new theatre program for youth from Hour Children and  Ravenswood Houses (NYCHA), which she co-facilitated with a formerly incarcerated person. Over the last eight years she has taught Acting, Improvisation, and Text Analysis at Fordham University, New York University, Montclair State University, Nassau Community College, Purchase College, SUNY and Larry Singer Studios. She holds an MFA from NYU’s Graduate Acting program.


KELLY BRADY
DIRECTOR OF EDUCATION

Kelly is a middle school Special Education teacher in NYC’s District 75, working with children with severe autism and developmental delays. She is the creator and director of her school’s drama program, “Theatre 296.” As well as serving as Director of Education, she is a Drama Club facilitator in the RNDC/Rikers Island program. A New York City Teaching Fellow, Kelly is currently pursuing her MsEd in Special Education at Pace University. She is the recipient of a Snapdragon Foundation grant for literacy and has participated in Lincoln Center’s Aesthetic Immersion program. Kelly holds a BFA in Acting from the University of Evansville, and an MFA from NYU’s Graduate Acting program.