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 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.
CHRISTINE BELLA, ESQ
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 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 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 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.
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.
SUSAN KELECHI WATSON
Watson currently stars as Beth on NBC’s critically acclaimed hit series “This Is Us” currently in its 2nd season. Prior to “This is Us”, Watson may be best known for her recurring roles in “Louie,” “The Blacklist,” and "NCIS." Additional TV credits include "Divorce," “Billions,” “Limitless,” “Blue Bloods,” “Happyish,” “Veep,“ “Third Watch,” and “The Following.” Her film credits include period drama “Peter and John,” “Small, Beautifully Moving Parts” and "Blackout." Susan is also a proud Epic Next mentor. She co-created and continues to lead Epic Next’s Annual New Play Festival that showcases original plays about social justice issues - written, directed and performed by Epic Next students. She received her BFA from Howard University and MFA from NYU.
Drama Club Staff
FOUNDER / EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
Josie is the founder and Executive Director of Drama Club. Previous work includes teaching for Rehabilitation Through the Arts at Sing Sing and Woodbourne Correctional Facilities, where she taught courses on acting, public speaking and comedy. Before founding Drama Club, Josie developed a drop-in acting class for GEMS, serving girls and young women who have experienced commercial sexual exploitation and domestic trafficking. Over the last ten years she has taught Acting, Improvisation, and Text Analysis at Fordham University, New York University, Montclair State University, and Larry Singer Studios. She holds an MFA from NYU’s Graduate Acting program.
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.