Get to know us.
Andy Allis is POAL’s all-around Guy Friday, providing administrative support to the client engagement team, company president Maureen Kelly, and whoever else screams for help.
Andy is also an actor and appreciates how many details go into creating a successful performance. At POAL, he likes working behind the scenes on the details that help staff and clients create successfully. He loves that our ensemble can laugh, cry and do serious business together — often (usually?) at the same time! Over the years he has worked for and with several of POAL’s mission partners, and currently splits his time with the non-profit training and research center for performance activism, the East Side Institute.
Andy is an ordained Interfaith Minister, a certified Laughter Yoga instructor, and a member of Actors Equity Association. He shares shirts with John, his partner of 15 years, and believes that heaven is a bottomless bowl of Kraft Macaroni & Cheese.
For the last ten years, James has been helping people communicate more effectively utilizing his training and studies at the Gestalt Centre London. He trains and coaches people up to Board and Partner levels in the financial services, pharmaceutical, retail, energy and construction industries, and the public sector. In addition to being a performance coach, James is a Neuro-Linguistic Programming master practitioner and coach.
After graduating from Oxford, James was an actor for ten years, mostly with the Royal Shakespeare Company. Always fascinated by communication and psychology, he also worked with companies offering training through the use of actors in simulations and developed a passion for experiential learning: we learn above all through practice, not theory.
His biggest passions are nature — hiking, environmental campaigning, photographing — and music, from Beethoven to Radiohead. What he can’t abide — especially at World Cup time — is football.
James is surrounded by women: his partner, Flora, their twin four-year-old daughters, and their cat, all nestled in a cottage deep in the Devon countryside, South West UK.
Farah integrates her 20+ years of experience in theater, arts education and facilitation into her work as a leadership coach and speaker, with an emphasis on what she believes are the foundational pillars for effective leadership: communication and equity. An Associate Certified Coach (ACC) with the International Coach Federation, Farah is also certified in the Energy Leadership Index (ELI) assessment. Farah has facilitated and led individual and group programs in the US, India and APAC for managers, executives and C-suite leaders in Fortune 500 companies in media and entertainment, financial services and other sectors.
Originally from Bombay, India, Farah has a parallel career in the arts as an actor and producer, with a Barrymore Award Nomination for Outstanding Leading Actress (alongside theater veteran Anna Deavere Smith). Her work has been seen on stage and screen across the US and South Asia. Throughout her career, Farah has found ways to connect art with social change, while consistently facilitating dialogue towards a more inclusive artistic representation in today’s media.
Farah’s speaking engagements have included Yale University, Ford Foundation, NY Travel Festival, Travel Unity, Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Asian American Arts Alliance, Rising Circle Theater among others. She has been featured in Umbrage Edition’s award-winning book, Green Card Stories — one of 50 stories of recent immigrants from around the world. She holds an MFA in Theater from Sarah Lawrence College, and is a graduate of the Institute of Professional Excellence in Coaching (iPEC) Program.
Spencer Scott Barros is a facilitator/actor/teaching artist/producer based in New York City, and has worked globally with management teams in financial services, technologies, manufacturing, consumer products, law and institutions of higher learning.
Spencer has been a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion facilitator for leading “best practice” organizations for over 25 years. He has substantial expertise in conflict resolution, and experience in facilitating leaders’ thoughtful, challenging and respectful dialogues on the most pressing diversity issues facing global organizations today. He also presents annually at the National Meeting for the Consortium for Graduate Study in Management.
He is a founding member and Associate Artistic Director of Liberation Theatre Company, a creative home to emerging playwrights of color. He is also a founding member of the producing team Harlem 9, producers of the Obie-Award-winning 48Hours in…Harlem. A member of SAG/AFTRA and Actors Equity Association, Spencer’s acting credits have taken him from regional theatres to Broadway, working with some of the best directors in the country. He also has extensive credits in television commercials, voice-overs and print ads, as well as guest starring roles on many television shows.
Nikki is an events manager/project manager/logistics guru who began working with Performance of a Lifetime in 2019. She has directed the delivery of large-scale events and leadership development programs in 24 countries and 14 U.S. states.
Growing up in the great basketball (and bourbon) state of Kentucky, Nikki attended the University of Alabama (Roll Tide!), discovering a love of college football and earning a BS degree in business administration and an MA degree in communication (advertising and public relations). While working on her Master’s, she discovered event planning, and shortly after college moved to North Carolina and served as executive director of several local, state and regional trade associations. In this role, Nikki oversaw many functions of running the associations’ finances, membership, Board of Directors and legislative monitoring. But she found that what she enjoyed most was setting up annual conventions, meetings, golf tournaments and other special events.
Nikki then went to work at a relatively new technology startup in North Carolina, Red Hat, to start their trade show program from the ground up. As the company grew, so did Nikki’s opportunities to plan and organize interesting large-scale global events, both internally and externally. This exposure to complex, global programming and to the company’s changing corporate environment led to the next step in Nikki’s journey, as a program manager at Duke Corporate Education, where she oversaw the pre-planning/design, on-site implementation, and post-program follow-up of global corporate leadership programs.
Nikki currently lives in Raleigh, North Carolina (yet another great basketball state), with her fiancée and a spoiled beagle named Pepper. She still loves college football…and bourbon.
Kris Cheppaikode’s challenge and reward is in helping to build and deliver experiences that radically improve the way participants see and relate to their lives and those around them. He enjoys creating new participant program assets, new back office tools and new ways of seeing things. He finds it equally rewarding that POAL supports the All Stars Project, a nonprofit that teaches many of the same skills as POAL, but to economically poor young people, leading to enormously positive transformation in their lives.
Kris previously worked at Edwin Schlossberg’s ESI Design, program-managing design projects with industrial, graphic, and software designers, and architects, writers and researchers. He’s also a screenwriter, and has sold three feature film scripts and worked at NBC and Showtime developing television shows. He’s also worked in the circus, for the railroad, and at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and The New Yorker magazine
Kris has earned Bachelor of Arts degrees in interdisciplinary arts and sciences and in cartography, both from Hunter College. AT NYU, he has studied digital cinematography as well as program management.
Kris’ life outside work is as eclectic as his career. He is a mentor, loves all aspects of film, and enjoys reading, poetry, painting and the fine arts. His proficiency in lesser appreciated arts include juggling, squishing his shoulder blades out, rolling his tongue and flipping his eyelids inside out. And he can whip up a world-class quiche.
Jacqueline Chow is a professional trainer, curriculum designer, and corporate role player with experience in both the public and private sector. As a facilitator, she is able to motivate participants and deliver her message with clarity, respect and enthusiasm. Jacqueline has conducted workshops in the areas of presentation, interpersonal skills, customer service, and diversity and inclusion.
Jacqueline designs and teaches an emcee course at the Singapore Management University and conducts emcee and presentation workshops for schools and organizations. Her background as a professional actress in theatre, television, film and commercial has cultivated in her skills in characterisation and improvisation, which she brings to all of her training programs in government, banking, insurance, consultancy, logistics, healthcare and manufacturing.
Jacqueline holds a Masters of Science in Management (MSc) and a Bachelor in Business Administration (Hons) from the National University of Singapore. She’s bilingual in English and Mandarin.
And she’s very adventurous when it comes to food — her list of “tried at least once” includes crickets, scorpions, larvae, silkworms, live baby prawns (still wriggling), and bull’s testicles (which she does not recommend).
Born in the UK, Tania studied philosophy, politics and economics at Oxford University, and works as a facilitator and coach using her combined commercial and artistic expertise to enhance communication and creativity in the corporate sector. She is also a qualified mediator.
Tania began her career as a management consultant before discovering her calling as an artist. After an intense training and apprenticeship with Steven Wasson and Corinne Soum (last assistants of the founder of Corporeal Mime, Etienne Decroux), Tania moved to Tokyo with Kentaro Suyama (former assistant to Wasson and Soum) where they set up their own company, tarinainanika, with the aim of furthering the art of Corporeal Mime through creation and education. Since then they have been performing their original creations, as well as the repertoire pieces of Corporeal Mime, at festivals and venues across Japan. Thanks to the success of their latest production, Tokyo Fugue, the company did its first European tour in 2018, with support from Great Britain Sasakawa Foundation, Japan Society and EU Japan Fest. In February 2020 they carried out their second European tour with performances and workshops in France, Poland and the UK. Tania also guest-directs and acts as movement advisor to English-speaking theatre groups such as Yokohama Theatre Group and Tokyo International Players. From 2014-2019 tarinainanika was running regular Corporeal Mime classes in Tokyo and offering ad hoc workshops for businesses, universities, schools and the general public across Japan. The company relocated to Osaka in May 2019 where they teach, create and perform Corporeal Mime in an old carpet warehouse which they renovated themselves over nine months.
Alongside her work with tarinainanika, Tania runs the Japan network of RSA (Royal Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce), hosting events that promote social innovation and enterprise.
Lorraine is a visual artist whose professional journey began with a curiosity about how to creatively combine art and business. With a degree in Fine Art from the University of Michigan, she crafted an 18-year career in the field of photo syndication in both NY and LA. Licensing photography to publishing, advertising and corporate outlets was a fascinating way to learn the business side of being an artist.
Along with making art, Lorraine’s passion projects have included teaching art workshops in prisons, painting sets for plays, and developing art curricula for children. While still in college, she helped launch a grassroots art program in her hometown of Cincinnati, Ohio. 24 years later, this successful program is still going strong — employing young people to paint large-scale murals around the city, and empowering them to develop as humans and young professionals.
In New York City, Lorraine partnered with POAL’s mission partner, the All Stars Project, to produce and teach free art classes attracting a diverse group of artists and non-artists alike. The joy of creating community and transforming lives through art has inspired Lorraine’s drive to build ensembles in a variety of environments. Lorraine first fell in love with performance when she partnered with POAL for her own professional development, and she is beyond thrilled to be part of the POAL team.
Michele Crow is a passionate and experienced event planner and project management professional. With over 10 years of experience, Michele uses her skills in problem-solving, creativity, and flexibility to help clients produce corporate events and meetings. She excels at logistics and operations, and her attention to detail means that events and meetings go smoothly from concept to completion.
Clients and colleagues admire her high level of customer service and leadership in addition to her ability to maintain a calm demeanor and a smile on her face.
Michele graduated magna cum laude from The University of Georgia, Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication, with a Bachelor of Arts in advertising and minor in sociology. While at the University of Georgia, she studied abroad at Oxford University, Trinity College to further develop her learning in international mass communications.
She currently lives in Marietta, GA with her husband and two children. In her free time, she enjoys mentoring high school students by volunteering with a non-profit called Young Life.
Melissa Delaney-Del Valle first discovered the power of theater as a drama instructor at a camp for homeless youth. For 25 years, she has been using the tools of the theater to help others grow in a variety of contexts, including executive coaching, presentation and presence training, teacher education, youth development and television production.
A two-time Emmy award-winning producer, Melissa has juggled a professional career as an actress, voice-over artist, producer, facilitator and serial entrepreneur. Bilingual in English and Spanish, she coaches clients in the U.S. and Latin America. She is certified to deliver the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator Step I and Step II assessments, and is a Certified Mediator with a specialization in conflict resolution. Melissa is also certified in Ken Blanchard’s Situational Leadership II.
Melissa is currently serving her third term as a member of the New York County Committee, representing the 64th Election District. For years, she was obsessed with co-ed softball, playing every day of the week on 15 different teams in 15 different leagues. Her current obsession (after six knee surgeries) is watching Mixed Martial Arts competitions and learning everything she can about Brazilian Jiu Jitsu… while sitting down.
Yuki Ellias is an actor, director and a coach for high impact corporate communications. She has developed her own suite of training modules, and facilitated and led training programs for a broad range of clients spanning all industries.
As an actress Yuki has performed in the UK, US, Canada, Australia, Italy and India in international venues like the Royal Shakespeare Company, The Sydney Theatre Company, Theatro Romano Verona, and The London Roundhouse, among others. Her solo show, “Elephant in the Room,” has won three awards including best actor at the Mahindra Excellence in Theatre Awards 2017.
Yuki is deeply passionate about theatre and its ability to humanize, educate and inspire both the theatre-going audience and the organizations she works with.
Guy Fearon was born into a theatrical family but began his working life in software engineering: he holds an MSc in computing and coded on an IBM mainframe computer in Australia in the days before PCs took over the world. After realizing that career was never meant to be (ask him about it sometime), he bowed to the inevitable and trained as an actor. His acting debut was on the iconic soap Neighbours (don’t ask him about that). After postgraduate acting training in London, he spent over a decade working in theatre, television and radio.
Since 2004, Guy has worked in corporate training as a coach and facilitator, developing businesspeople all over the world using the expertise and skills of coaching, psychology and the performing arts. He has delivered and supported courses, master-classes and corporate events with audiences ranging from graduate management trainees to CEOs, across a wide range of sectors including financial services, telecoms, manufacturing, defence, education and government. He has lectured in leadership communication for the London Business School’s MBA course.
Guy studied interpersonal communication at the University of London, qualified as an executive coach, is NLP certified, and most recently has successfully juggled work with completing a postgraduate diploma in psychology. He is absolutely rubbish at tennis (but loves it), is fairly good at boxing (mostly hitting bags not people), loves comedy in any form, and still occasionally tries to emulate the genius of David Gilmour on his beloved PRS Custom 24 (American guitars are the best).
Christian Felix is an executive leadership and development coach with extensive experience in both corporate and academic environments. He has been consulting for a variety of organizations and corporations around the world since 2006, including financial institutions, technology companies, and law firms as well as colleges and universities at the graduate level. Christian primarily focuses on leadership development, diversity and inclusion, sales training, and effective communication. He has conducted sessions throughout North America, Latin America, Europe, and Asia.
Whether working with individuals, a team of 5 or a group of 500, Christian draws inspiration from applying the skills and tools he’s developed through the performing arts to enhance the leadership qualities of the people he is coaching. Building on existing strengths and identifying opportunities for growth provides clients a constructive space to stretch and develop.
Christian received a BA in English and Drama from Dartmouth College. He has also studied at NYU, Stanford University, University of Lyon and the University of London. Apart from corporate training, Christian continues to pursue creative endeavors as an actor, voice-over artist and podcast host. Christian is based in New York City.
Jeff Flowers has two decades of experience as a coach and facilitator for Fortune 500 executives across all industries. He joined the Performance of a Lifetime team in 2006 and has deep experience as a practitioner of our proprietary approach, The Becoming Principle. He is a dynamic workshop leader and serves as one of our top designers and facilitators. Drawing from his diverse experience as an actor, director, executive coach, mediator and experiential education facilitator, he provides clients with immersive development opportunities and practical tools for growing as more effective leaders, communicators, and builders of high performing teams. With a passionate curiosity, Jeff listens for both the universal and unique difficulties his clients face. He challenges them to see in new ways and provides a rigorous, safe environment for experimenting with unfamiliar ways of engaging.
Jeff holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Theater from the University of California at Santa Barbara. He is a certified trainer in DiSC and Social Styles personality assessment tools, a Ropes Course Certified instructor and a trained family mediator.
Sartaj Garewal is a facilitator and coach who has worked with over 130 corporate organizations over 20 years, from graduate level to C-suite, to enhance the communication and leadership abilities of senior leaders and emerging talent.
After several years working as a financial analyst he decided on a major career change, and became a professional actor and voice artist. His performing credits include the National Theatre, Royal Court, Royal Exchange, and numerous TV and feature film roles. He played a regular character on BBC Radio Drama for over six years and has narrated over 50 books for Audible. He also practiced yoga, meditation, and a traditional form of Kung Fu for many years, and worked one-to-one with stroke recovery patients in London hospitals to improve their communication abilities.
Sartaj has combined this mix of disciplines, along with his belief that the arts and business have much to learn from each other, in his work on global flagship leadership programs and speaking engagements at off-sites and conferences including CFA’s Disruption 2019 at London Excel.
Current clients include Baker Mckenzie, Capco, BNP Paribas, Afton Chemical, Net A Porter, Bain Capital, JDE Douwe Egberts, Viohalco, Sirius Minerals, and Dentons, to name a few.
He holds a BA (Hons) accounting and finance from Bristol Business School, UWE; is a qualified commercial mediator CIArb; Fellow of Royal Society of Arts FRSA; and regularly blogs and contributes to publications such as Training Journal.
The toughest challenge he has encountered is being a stay-at-home-daddy with twin toddler daughters!
Melanie Goldman is a professional conference and meeting planning consultant with a focus on corporate and educational programs. Drawing on her experience with a variety of program formats, she offers creative insight from planning through execution. She serves as a liaison between clients and suppliers to ensure seamless and successful outcomes.
Melanie started her hospitality career over 20 years ago while working with the Atlanta Convention and Visitors Bureau during the city’s hosting of the Olympic Games. While in Atlanta, she also worked as a conference planner on domestic and international conferences for large software corporations and independent user groups. She assisted with the management and delivery of conferences hosting from 200 to 5000 attendees.
After moving to North Carolina to grow her family, Melanie co-founded an event management company that designed and produced a public exposition event for the Raleigh metropolitan kids and family market segment. The expo partnered with sponsors such as Crayola and Busch Gardens to welcome 2000 attendees and showcase 60 exhibitors and 10 entertainers over two days.
Melanie uses her varied experience to support clients with conceptual planning, logistical coordination, and implementation. She has provided on-site support for programs in various parts of the world, including North America, Europe, and South America. She is a detail-oriented professional who enjoys the collaborative planning process and the energy of the on-site delivery.
Melanie graduated summa cum laude from Georgia State University with a B.S. degree in hospitality administration. Before her career in hospitality, Melanie earned a B.S.B.A. degree in decision sciences with a concentration in computer information systems from East Carolina University and worked as a computer systems engineer/manager with Electronic Data Systems (EDS) for 7 years.
Melanie currently lives in Chapel Hill, North Carolina with her husband and two children.
Adam Grupper has been a key player in developing and delivering many of POAL’s most ambitious learning and development programs. He incorporates the actor’s toolkit into all his training, and specializes in helping senior executives enhance their presence and to become better listeners, communicators and leaders.
A professional actor with nearly 30 years of experience, Adam has performed in numerous Broadway productions including Lincoln Center’s My Fair Lady, Into the Woods, Guys and Dolls, The Addams Family, Wicked (as the Wizard himself!) and the 2015 revival of Fiddler on the Roof. His TV credits include Homeland, Rise, The Blacklist, Master of None, Elementary, all the New York-based Law & Orders, Fringe, Ugly Betty and The Sopranos. His film credits include Music and Lyrics, Night at the Museum, Pippa Lee and Two Weeks’ Notice.
A graduate of Yale University with a BA in psychology, Adam was an instructor at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts theater conservatory, CAP 21 for seven years. He is a recipient of The American Society for Training and Development’s Ronda J. Ormont Award. As a performer, he has received the National Institute for Music Theater’s Mary Martin Prize, a Theatre Alliance of Greater Philadelphia’s Barrymore nomination for best actor, and numerous audiobook honors from Audiofile Magazine, Publishers Weekly, iTunes, SOVAS and the Audio Publishers Association.
Ben Johnson has over fifteen years of experience working as an educator and trainer, facilitating workshops for business leaders and professional development for schools, educational organizations and school districts. He has worked with a wide range of corporate clients engaging improvisation-based workshops and portraying characters in interactive live-action training scenarios. In all of his work, Ben brings the principles of improvisation to bear on the key challenges facing 21st-century organizations: collaboration, innovation, and adaptation.
Ben has performed as an actor, improviser and physical comedian in 90 U.S. cities and 10 foreign countries. He has performed for the American Conservatory Theater, Improv Playhouse of San Francisco and Cirque du Soleil, among others. Ben earned a master’s degree in teaching from Brown University.
Although he’s proud to have once made Robin Williams laugh, his two-year-old daughter is not as easily amused, recently telling him, “Go away daddy and don’t come back until you’re ready to be a pirate.” (Preceded by zero discussion of pirates.)
Sevanne leads POAL’s global team of designers and facilitator-coaches in co-creating our solutions with our clients. She oversees our full client portfolio, to ensure that we bring our best ideas, deliver with excellence, and continue to learn, make new discoveries, and have fun along the way. She loves that she gets to sell the work, design the work, deliver the work and train the team to do the work.
Sevanne has a keen eye and passion for growing our talented team (we like to call it our cast) of facilitator-coaches. She is the lead architect of our “cast development” programs, recruiting, training and providing ongoing coaching to our ever expanding global team.
As an actor and teacher, Sevanne has a passion for lifelong learning and a desire to explore the ways in which the stage frees people to discover new ways of understanding and navigating their world. She has partnered with her mother, the anthropologist Mary Catherine Bateson (the daughter of Margaret Mead), to create workshops within organizations that marry cultural anthropology tools with acting and improvisation techniques. She also has designed and/or facilitated several entrepreneur training programs, including the Kauffman Foundation FastTrac training, in which she helped over 2000 entrepreneurs to perform a wide range of leadership roles, and she has been an in-house coach for numerous organizations and Fortune 500 companies.
Sevanne’s TV credits include appearances on numerous daytime soaps, “Diagnosis Murder,” and several flavors of “Law and Order.” She has appeared onstage in leading roles at Manhattan Theatre Club, Yale Rep, and regional theaters around the country. She holds a BA from Brown University and an MFA from the University of California, San Diego, where she taught speech and acting. On other stages, Sevanne worked as an auto mechanic in exchange for a used car and excelled running a cash register on the all-night shift at Star Market. She is proud of her Iranian background, her marriage of twenty years, her two sons who, like her, excel at performance direction, and the fact that she has broken every one of her limbs at least once.
Maureen leads our team in delivering on our promise to clients — to awaken, inspire and get leaders ready to deliver on the human side of strategic change. She’s responsible for shaping our company vision, strategy, and ongoing contributions to and innovations with our social mission partners. She has led Performance of a Lifetime in a decade of extraordinary growth — launching our strategic change programs, expanding our team and capacity to deliver globally, and securing a spot on the Inc. 5000 Fastest Growing Companies List for three consecutive years.
In her role as Chief Possibility Officer, Maureen leads the POAL team in breaking new ground in the use of play and performance as a catalyst for human development in the workplace. She thrives on innovating with our clients, whom she loves for their bravery, business savvy, and humanism. Trained in Social Therapeutics — a psychology of “becoming” that combines play, performance, practical philosophy, and group creativity to inspire human growth and community development — Maureen is committed to bringing this revolutionary approach to transformation and human development to all, including people without means. Through pro bono and low-fee leadership programs and POAL’s ongoing financial support to community-based nonprofits, our clients are contributing to making the world a better place.
Maureen made her father very proud by beginning her career in banking, with vice president roles at both Citibank and JPMorgan Chase. She joined POAL in the early days, after experiencing the power of performance to build bridges and transform communities in her philanthropic work with The All Stars Project. Along the way she also earned her Masters in organizational psychology at Teachers College, Columbia University, and completed her postgraduate studies and clinical work in psychology at the East Side Institute for Group and Short Term Psychotherapy. A former high school athlete, Maureen loves to win. These days she feeds her competitive soul by cheering for her son on the soccer field and racing her snowboarding husband on the slopes.
David Koff has been on or around the stage for over 40 years, in one capacity or another. At The University of Pennsylvania, he was a member of the famed Mask & Wig comedy troupe for four years, eventually becoming the lead writer and director of the undergraduate’s Fall production. After graduation, he moved to Los Angeles and began pursuing professional acting and writing, co-wrote his first screenplay with author Stuart Gibbs, and sold it to Fox Family Films. He eventually appeared on a such TV shows as “The West Wing,” “The John Larroquette Show,” and “Sesame Street.”
He began his improvisation studies at The Groundlings Theater in Los Angeles, trained for over a decade with Groundlings alumni Stan Wells at his innovative “Empty Stage Theatre”, and spent his last two years in LA in the master class of Bill Steinkellner, the executive producer of “Cheers” and “Just Shoot Me.” In 2001, he became the Artistic Director of Fake Radio, LA’s Premier Old-Time-Radio Comedy Troupe.
After moving to Portland in 2014, he began teaching improv as a life skill to students at St. Andrew’s Nativity School in Northeast Portland, a Jesuit School which provides a free education to underserved youth. In 2018, he was selected deliver a TEDx styled presentation about his work at the International Applied Improvisation Network (AIN) in Paris to 200 attendees.
Tsuyoshi Kondo has extensive experience in role-playing, facilitating and designing drama-based training for multinational corporations across the globe including in Tokyo, Hong Kong, Singapore, Seoul and New York. Topics for these training initiatives have included diversity and inclusion, communication, leadership and sales skills.
Tsuyoshi is a member of Seinendan, an internationally acclaimed theater company, led by Oriza Hirata. Tsuyoshi teaches acting at the Film School of Tokyo. He was trained as an actor at the University of Iowa and the Neighborhood Playhouse in New York.
Fluent in Japanese and English, Tsuyoshi lived in New York City for 12 years, where his favorite diner was Barking Dog on the Upper East Side in Manhattan. Having now lived in Tokyo for 10 years, he has not yet found a diner he likes.
Kyoko Kusama is a bilingual (Japanese and English) executive coach, facilitator and trainer with leadership experience in global financial services and technology. She has held managerial positions in sales, customer service, product management and business administration, and led a corporate-wide culture transformation initiative for a major U.S. bank as the program director for Japan. This pivotal experience ignited her passion for helping leaders and organizations grow towards realizing their unlimited potential.
As an executive coach and facilitator/trainer, Kyoko has worked with global corporations delivering leadership development programs for salespeople, middle managers, and senior leaders. Her management experience in a large matrix organization enables her to relate directly to the issues and challenges faced by her clients, and to help expand their perspectives while guiding them through a process of self-discovery, making conscious choices and taking actions. She is also an active member of a non-profit organization providing career coaching to women to support their career development.
Kyoko is based in Tokyo, though New York is her second home – she grew up in Bayside, Queens and Yonkers, New York. And wherever she travels, she loves visiting local farmers markets and picking up exotic spices and inspirations for her “improvisational cooking.”
Sean Kwan has over 16 years of experience in role-playing, facilitating and designing drama-based experiential learning and developmental programs for global corporations across Hong Kong, Shanghai, Beijing, Guangzhou, Singapore, Japan, India, the UK, and Australia.
A popular radio DJ and broadcaster with Hong Kong’s Metro Radio in the mid-’90s, Sean was educated in Hong Kong, Australia and Ireland. He graduated from the Drama School of Hong Kong Academy of Performing Arts, and received an executive diploma in business management and was awarded a Masters in education (drama in education) from Trinity College, University of Dublin in Ireland.
Sean’s training is largely based on drama related methodologies. He is an active member of Hong Kong Drama/Theatre and Education Forum (TEFO) and The International Drama and Theatre Education Association (IDEA). He currently acts as the executive director for TEFO and Sean also presents frequently at various learning and development conferences around the world. He is actively involved in promoting drama methodology in school curriculum development, and works with education organizations to create and deliver lesson plans and teacher trainings in Hong Kong. In addition, Sean helps charitable organizations to develop and deliver training courses for young people.
Sean is fluent in Cantonese and English and is able to communicate in Mandarin.
Terry Milner is a performance coach, facilitator, writer and actor. He has provided leadership and communications training for a wide range of international clients: from financial services firms, to manufacturers, to collegiate athletic teams and nonprofit organizations. He recently designed and led a transformative series of customer service trainings for New York City Transit and the Long Island Rail Road.
Terry’s plays and screenplays have won recognition from the Sundance Screenwriters Lab, the Eugene O’Neill National Playwrights’ Conference, the Bay Area Playwrights Festival, and the Nashville Film Festival. He was a stage and film actor before attending law school at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, after which he practiced civil and criminal law for seven years before leaving the legal profession. He holds an MFA from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts, a JD from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, a BFA in theatre performance from the University of Mississippi and has trained at New York’s Atlantic Theater Company Acting School.
Now a tried and true New Yorker, Terry spent much of his childhood in Juneau, Alaska, awakened him to the unparalleled beauty of the Pacific Northwest and the critical importance of protecting the environment. Indoors, he loves cooking and makes something from scratch just about every day. From his mother, he inherited an obsession with cleanliness; what he didn’t inherit was the inclination to actually clean anything, thus dooming himself to life as a clean freak trapped in a lazy housekeeper’s body.
Jeff Mondoro came to the world of performing after years of work in the corporate world, so he feels a special sense of connection and inspiration when participants in Performance of a Lifetime’s programs step out of their comfort zones and experience the power of improvisation and performance for the first time.
Jeff began his career in finance with EY, where he was a Senior Analyst in the Valuations Group, specializing in valuing interests held by private equity firms and hedge funds. He was also the Director of Operations at United Wind LLC, an alternative energy startup in Brooklyn, where he created and ran the corporate model relied upon for raising an $8 million Series B investment.
With POAL, Jeff has worked extensively with clients in the financial services and technology fields on growing the new performances it takes to lead in a technical role.
Jeff is a Teaching Artist for CO/LAB Theater Group (theater programs for individuals with developmental disabilities) and directs a sketch comedy team called “Road Pizza” at the People’s Improv Theater in New York. He holds a BA in Finance with minors in Economics and Spanish from The College of New Jersey and has trained in sketch and improv at the People’s Improv Theater and Upright Citizens Brigade. When he manages to find some spare time, Jeff kicks a very long field goal, loves musical theater and is obsessed with Mega Man for the original Nintendo.
As a facilitator and coach for the past 10 years, Connan Morrissey takes what she has learned onstage and in the rehearsal room and translates these communication skills to business professionals at all levels. Leading and facilitating workshops focused on improvisation, negotiation, building client relationships, making difficult asks, and establishing trust, Connan’s skills garnered from 25+ years as an actress, director and playwright build her clients’ confidence and authenticity in the workplace. Connan has also worked one-on-one with C-suite clients as they craft their stories into effective, clear and powerful presentations.
Acting credits include leading roles in new and classical plays at regional theatres across the country, such as Arena Stage, Actors Theatre of Louisville, Asolo Theatre Center, Folger Theatre and Peterborough Players. Additional education and work experience includes a BS in nursing from the University of Cincinnati, and five years as a floor nurse at Christ Hospital where she received a Daisy Award for exceptional patient care.
Connan holds an MFA from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and when she isn’t passionately rooting for the Tarheels and the BoSox, she is always diligently seeking a superior bowl of mushroom ramen with extra bamboo shoots and the perfect ramen egg on top please.
David has dedicated his career as a director, actor, trainer, and coach to revealing to the “non-performers” of the world that the tools of theater are a powerful force in professional and personal development. David has been an innovator in introducing the skills of improvisation as a method for creating effective, authentic, and powerful presentation, leadership brands and business communication, and has created and delivered a wide range of experiential education programs for a global portfolio of clients.
An accomplished director, writer, and performer, David is a critical implementer of all of POAL’s work. As one of Performance of a Lifetime’s lead instructional designers, he specializes in leveraging the director’s craft in building powerful performances of personal brand in executives around the world.
David earned his Bachelors degree in Communication Arts from Cornell University, and trained as an actor at the William Esper Studio in New York City. His onstage performances range from Broadway back in the ’80s to decades of work at the Castillo Theatre in New York City as a member of its directing staff and acting ensemble, where he developed a specialty in portraying historical characters, with the admittedly creepy ability to look alarmingly like such luminaries as Richard Nixon, Ludwig Wittgenstein, Fidel Castro, Albert Einstein, and his childhood hero, Groucho Marx.
As a learning facilitator and developmental business performance coach, Timothy Nga has helped executives to effectively bring their entire selves into any corporate and social situation.
Timothy brings sensitivity, a challenging and incisive practicality, and an entertaining presence to talent development. His areas of expertise include program design and delivery, executive coaching and executive presence, communications consulting, public speaking, storytelling, emotional intelligence, and roleplay-based discovery and skills training. He leverages methods drawn from the performing arts that invoke a visceral experience to enhance learning and exploration. His work is also deeply influenced by neuroscience and psychology.
An award-winning actor, director and educator in the arts industry in Singapore, Timothy has a degree in management and marketing and certificates from the Neuroleadership Group (Results-Based Coaching) and the Facilitators Network of Singapore (Process Facilitation). He is pursuing a Certificate in Advanced Professional Practice in Gestalt Group Dynamics with Dr David Lines and Relational Change UK.
Amanda brings a lifetime of experience as an actor and director to her work as a facilitator and executive coach and roleplayer, using the tools and techniques of the theater to support the development of high-performing teams. She is passionate about helping people to access the best of themselves in any given situation — to “help you move from where you are now to where you may not yet know that you can go.”
Amanda has taught MiFs at London Business School on personal impact, voice, and accent, worked in partner development at Big Four professional services firms, and on building strategic relationships in aeronautics. Qualified by the Institute of Leadership Development, she is a respected and sought after private coach.
Amanda’s performing experience includes both new works and the classics. In theater and television she has worked with directors such as Anthony Minghella and Nicholas Hytner, and performed with Tom Courtney and Julie Walters.
Shannon Polly joined the Performance of a Lifetime team in 2006. She is a co-founder of Positive Business, an organization dedicated to increase well-being in the workplace, and has been a facilitator for the Master Resiliency Training (MRT) program for the U.S. Army, the largest consumer of positive psychology in the world. She also developed curriculum for the higher education version of the movie Happy.
Shannon is a contributing author for Positive Psychology News Daily, and a contributor to the book Positive Psychology at Work (Wiley, March 2011) and the European Handbook of Positive Psychology (2013). She is one of 300 people in the world who have received a Masters in Applied Positive Psychology (MAPP) from the University of Pennsylvania under Dr. Martin Seligman. She also holds a graduate degree from the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art in classical acting, and a BA with honors from Yale University..
Although Shannon believes her performance career peaked at age 16 when she met First Lady Barbara Bush at the White House and performed her one woman show about Eisenhower at the Library of Congress, certainly more will follow.
As a facilitator, coach, and instructional designer with Performance of a Lifetime since 2007, Brenny has been instrumental in the design and delivery of programs in the areas of networking, challenging conversations, negotiation, and management skills for clients in the fields of professional services; energy, manufacturing, and construction; banking and finance; technology; law; pharma; public relations and marketing; and health and human services. Brenny is also an executive coach.
A professional actor for over 30 years, Brenny may be best known for spending significant time handcuffed in the back of a meat wagon with all the super-villains on Gotham. She has performed onstage in New York City and regionally, with SoHo Playhouse, Capital Repertory Theatre, Florida Studio Theatre, Arkansas Rep, Adirondack Theatre Festival, Oldcastle Theatre, Majestic Theatre, Saratoga Shakespeare, WAM, among many others. You’d recognize her if you caught William Kennedy’s Prohibition Story, or in the upcoming feature, Kid Happy (2021). She is a performing member of the Mop & Bucket Improv Theatre Co. As a playwright, her work includes the NYSCA grant winner Catching Babies and holiday favorite Santa’s List.
A longtime educator, Brenny was a classroom teacher, adjunct college professor, and guest lecturer (University at Albany, Siena College, Skidmore College). She created the curriculum for New Visions Theatre Arts, an intensive program for high achieving high school seniors planning a career in theatre, and she taught this program for six years, producing five productions each year. She has been published in English Journal, The Sun, Saratoga County Living, and Journal for Living.
Brenny holds a Masters of Arts degree from University at Albany. She’s a proud member of Actors Equity Association and is represented professionally by Boals, Winnett, and Associates. For a ridiculous amount of information and pictures, you can visit www.brennyrabine.com.
Jay Rhoderick is a veteran communications coach who has honed the interpersonal and messaging skills of managers and executives at all levels of the financial, tech, branding, media and health sectors. He specializes in using creative experiential coaching techniques to provide clients with practical tools and ways to continually improve the clarity and persuasiveness of their messages. He delivers courses and workshops in presentation skills, networking skills, business writing, personal impact and conducting effective meetings as well as one-to-one personalized coaching. A signature of his work is a unique blend of intensive skill-building along with a relaxed sense of playful spontaneity.
Jay’s passion for powerful communication stems from his years as an actor and director. He received his BA from Swarthmore College and completed his acting and voice training at New York’s William Esper Studio. He has also taught performance and public speaking at Chicago’s famous Second City, Yale School of Drama and the People’s Improv Theatre, and is especially proud to have coached members of the US Olympic team in preparation for their media interviews at the Beijing Games.
Jay is a Stanley Kubrick fan, a would-be gourmet, and an already-is foodie. He has driven the country from sea to shining sea in a classic fake-wood station wagon, once accidentally camping during a thunderstorm in what he thought was a national forest but proved to be, after a terrifying night of deep grunts outside his tent, to be a cattle pasture. He likes marzipan and hyphens.
Cathy Salit is a social entrepreneur, author, performer, executive coach, and performance activist. She began her career as an upstart and risk-taker at the age of 13, when she dropped out of eighth grade and started a radical, alternative school in an abandoned storefront in NYC. This unusual endeavor put her on an unorthodox life path, which ultimately led to her building many different kinds of radical alternative learning and development environments that help people to challenge the status quo and become who they are not…yet.
One of those environments is Performance of a Lifetime (POAL), where, as co-founder and (as of January 2020) CEO emerita, Cathy led the organization to three straight years on the Inc. 5000 list of Fastest Growing Companies, and spearheaded the creation of a new approach for adult learning and development in the business world. Combining theater, improvisation, play and breakthroughs in the human development sciences, POAL broke new pedagogical ground in helping leaders and teams to work more collaboratively, creatively and effectively together. That pioneering work helped to galvanize what has become a new field, with books, articles, research, conferences and consultancies now exploring the use of the tools of theater and improv “off the stage.”
Cathy’s work and thought leadership have been featured in Daniel H. Pink’s bestselling books To Sell is Human and When, the Harvard Business Review, Inc.com, Forbes, Fast Company, Costco Connection, The Wall Street Journal, CEO World Magazine, and many mainstream and underground podcasts, radio, and videos worldwide. She’s also a frequent speaker at conferences on social change, innovation, and creativity across the globe.
Cathy is the author of Performance Breakthrough: A Radical Approach to Success at Work (Hachette 2016), in which she presents POAL’s revolutionary approach to learning, growing, and change. The book explores the Becoming Principle® methodology and features real-life case studies, as well as tips, techniques and exercises for readers to create performance breakthroughs in their everyday lives. Praise for Performance Breakthrough has come from top influencers like Susan Cain, Sheila Heen, Stephen Nachmanovitch, and Dan Pink, who writes, “This remarkable book will electrify your work and enliven your soul.”
In 2020, Cathy opened a new chapter of her (radical) life, devoting herself full-time to promoting social change by helping to grow the global performance activism movement. She’s an organizer for the Performing the World and the Applied Improvisation Network global conferences, an advisory board member of the Freestyle Love Supreme Academy; on the faculty of the East Side Institute, an international center for performance activism; providing pro-bono training and consulting to grassroots programs and organizations (such as the award winning All Stars Project), with more to come. Cathy continues to perform musical improv comedy, and after a long hiatus she’s now back singing jazz; including at the San Sebastian (Spain) Jazz Festival in 2019, and other clubs (and dives) in the NYC area. And she still likes to kickbox. A lot.
For the last 15 years, Noriko Sato has been an independent consultant for over 50 global companies working with over 5,000 managers and team members helping them develop their management skills and practices. She has worked on human resource development challenges as well as facilitating executive coaching with international banks, health care providers and social media companies in New York, Singapore and Hong Kong.
At one of the largest global banks, Noriko served for over a decade as deputy head of human resources, identifying top talent and helping them become executives, while establishing performance management and compensation processes.
Rob Schiffmann has worked as a facilitator/trainer/corporate emcee in a variety of industries, including pharma, banking and biotech, tech and retail. He has been a lead facilitator and coach for many different training companies, both nationally and internationally, and has designed and led training in topics such as presentation skills, leadership, management training, ideation, narrative, feedback skills and conflict resolution.
Rob’s background is strongly rooted in the techniques of improvisation, helping participants become more “present when they present,” and more agile in the unexpected moments. When Rob is not training, he is directing and performing with Broadway’s Next Hit Musical, a nationally touring musical improvisation show. Rob’s musical skills can also be heard in his work with his acoustic band, The Hillary Step, with whom Rob has recorded several albums of original work and toured nationally.
His remaining time is all spent with his two daughters, Abbey and Penny, both of whom are named after Beatles albums / songs. For more information, check out robschiffmann.com.
Nandita Shenoy has helped corporate executives communicate better within diverse teams using her storytelling and theater skills for the past two decades. She has worked as a role player, a coach, and a facilitator around the world for global corporations such as Goldman Sachs, PwC, Rolls Royce, and Google. After being part of a team that did worldwide training as part of a corporate settlement for gender discrimination, she likes to think that she is helping to make the world a more equitable place, one executive at a time.
She is an actor and a playwright in New York City who loves to work on new plays of her own and others. She is also a member of the Asian American Performers Action Coalition which recently received an Obie Award in recognition for its work in Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion. She holds an English degree from Yale University. Most of her colleagues enjoy working with her because of her uncanny ability to find snacks in any situation.
For over 15 years Nicola Burnett Smith has been working in the private and public sector as a facilitator, coach and roleplayer, specializing in using practical exercises to intensify learning. Nicola particularly enjoys creating bespoke solutions to help her clients prepare for the demands of interviews, auditions, presentations and difficult meetings. These range from creating workshops for law firm partners, working one on one with a senior bank executive on his presentation skills, preparing an executive for an important conversation, and helping a young student prepare for his university interviews.
Nicola has also been a lay member of various Professional Conduct Committees for the past 15 years, including ten years as a Chair of the Fitness to Practise Panel of the General Dental Council. Observing top barristers in action, questioning witnesses and leading in camera discussions on complex legal issues has given her insight into the issues around professional conduct as well as opportunity to observe the various communication styles used throughout the quasi-judicial process.
Nicola studied Theatre at Warwick University in the 1980’s before becoming a professional actor-musician. For over 20 years she performed on screen and on stages all over the UK, Europe and the Far East, and she continues to work as a voiceover artist. She performs as a mezzo soprano and plays the bass clarinet, gigging with indie-pop groups on albums and concerts. It’s actually her teenage dream come true: to be in a pop group, just like Debbie Harry… but playing an instrument that sounds like a farting tree.
For more than twenty years, Genevieve VenJohnson has applied her training and work as a professional actor to organizational interactive learning. She has helped bring greater authenticity into the workplace in her work with C-Suite executives, data entry administrators and the many management layers in between.
Genevieve facilitates experiential learning modules, adeptly coaching executives in performance management, culture change, stakeholder accountability, new client engagement, team building, and emotional intelligence. Her Fortune 100 clients span a cross section of industries: finance, insurance, hospitality, manufacturing, healthcare, and retail, as well as law and professional services firms.
A licensed massage therapist, Genevieve has practiced therapeutic bodywork since 2003 – a background that supports her as a training facilitator. The skills of deep listening and fluency in the psychology of body communication allow her to facilitate safe spaces for high stakes conversations, which lead to transformative learning experiences.
Genevieve is fluent in Spanish (she was briefly a teenage pop star in Bolivia), and passionate about dance, drum circles, stand-up comedy, metaphysics and discussions of the nature of reality. She’s the canine-mom to 15-year-old Lily, an apricot mini-poodle who frequently gets mistaken for a lamb.
Maria Vosberg is an events and project manager with more than ten years of experience in project management as a nonprofit fundraising professional. During that time she discovered a love for transforming the creative concepts for events and programs into Gantt charts.
Born and raised in Iowa, Maria began her development career at the Des Moines Social Club, an organization aimed at using the arts as a catalyst to create community engagement. When she moved to New York City in 2011, Maria worked for Citizen Schools New York, a nonprofit providing after-school programming in middle schools, where she secured and managed its institutional funding portfolio, including the organization’s $1.3m contracts with the NYC Department of Youth and Community Development.
In addition to her work with Performance of a Lifetime, Maria is the director of strategy and development at The Possibility Project, a nonprofit that empowers teenagers through the performing arts (using many of the same skills as POAL!). There, she develops the organization’s development and growth strategies and manages the implementation of its fundraising campaigns, events, and new initiatives and programs.
Maria is an enthusiastic hobbyist — especially when it comes to music and dance. Her most recent endeavor is learning to play fiddle, and if everything goes to plan, perhaps you’ll find her playing in an Irish trad session at a bar someday.