Get to know us.
Yvette Alcott is an actor, facilitator, and academic. She began her professional life touring Shakespeare in repertoire, and performing in other live theatre as well as film and television. She started using her skills as a performer in the business sector over 20 years ago and is committed to applied improv and theatre-based learning as tools for achieving developmental outcomes.
Spurred by a fascination to understand why some business conversations are successful and some are not, she pursued a higher degree in psychology, completing her Ph.D. in impression formation, cultural identity, and belonging. She has since worked as an academic teaching social psychology, and has also designed and facilitated programs for the corporate sector on approaching conversations about mental health at work, building team resilience and wellbeing, and developing team collaboration and communication skills.
Yvette’s work as a facilitator and coach allows her to immerse herself in diverse industries – from aviation to engineering to government health departments, to the financial & banking sector and more. She firmly believes, regardless of the business or industry, that heightened communication skills are essential components of effective leadership and people management, and are life-changing personal attributes.
Yvette loves to dive into the Pacific Ocean and swim in the open water to clear her head of all the noise. She is also learning to speak Korean.
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.
Matthias Anderegg is a trainer and facilitator for improvisation, personal presence and impact, storytelling in organizations, and negotiation. He focuses on experiential learning programs drawing from his experience as an improv performer.
Matthias studied business administration and computer science at the University of Zurich and holds a certificate of advanced studies in mediation and conflict resolution. After his studies, he worked for ten years in the service industry (tech company, pension fund, corporate branding, and real estate). He taught at various colleges and graduate schools in Switzerland. He has facilitated and led individual and group programs in Europe, the Middle East, and Asia for managers, executives, and C-suite leaders in Fortune 500 companies in consumer goods, health care, financial services, and other sectors.
He is the co-founder of theater anundpfirsich in Zurich, the most successful improvisation company in Switzerland, where he performed, produced, and taught improvisational theatre for over a decade. Matthias has worked with renowned improvisation teachers from Munich, Berlin, Seattle, Calgary, Melbourne, and Bogota.
Matthias is a Swiss citizen, and a native German speaker. He is also fluent in English and French, with a good command of Spanish.
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.
Kahlil Bagatsing hails from the Philippines where he has worn many hats: business professional, teacher, consultant, facilitator, and – his favorite – a “genie” for the Make-A-Wish Foundation. Working in both the private and government sectors, he has conducted numerous workshops focused on organizational change and strategic planning. For example, he worked with the city government of Makati, the financial capital of the Philippines, where he was a part of a team that helped develop its overall municipal strategy.
Five years ago he had one of life’s transformative moments when he discovered improv. He was immediately hooked and has since trained in the Philippines, Singapore, and the United States. Saying “yes” has led him to many great adventures, one of which was doing volunteer work for the Global Play Brigade where he conducted online workshops to a global audience using the power of play to bring people together.
The one thing Kahlil loves most in the world is that moment when the dream and the dreamer become one. A couple of years ago one of his major dreams was fulfilled when he met the love of his life, got married, and moved to the San Francisco Bay Area. Recently he has been dedicated to working with refugees and immigrants to find their dream job in the United States. Although he has no children of his own, he loves dad jokes and horrible puns. He does not laugh, he guffaws … you have been warned!
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
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.
Purva Bedi has used her extensive theater and teaching skills to help executives lead, listen, and communicate more effectively within diverse teams for over 20 years. Since her days as a double major in economics and theater at Williams College, she’s been keenly interested in connecting the expressive realm of theater with the drive and momentum of the corporate world. She has worked as an analyst and consultant as well as a coach and facilitator for global corporations such as JPMorgan Chase, Morgan Stanley, Mercer, Goldman Sachs, and Wellington.
As a facilitator, Purva has delivered training and coached executives on leadership, negotiation, feedback, personal impact, presentation skills, interview skills, diversity, and cultural sensitivity, with particular focus on difficult conversations, feedback, and managing up.
In addition to her work as a coach and facilitator, Purva is also a professional actress and can be seen on film, television, and the stage. She has also produced her own work for film and stage and has taught aspiring actors of all ages at Anthony Meindl Acting Workshop and at The Prep. She most recently appeared in One of Us is Lying on Peacock and Netflix. Purva received a Drama Desk Award for her work in the Off-Broadway play Dance Nation. She serves on the Board of Directors at Target Margin Theatre, and is an active member at The Actors Center. Purva lives in New York City with her husband, two rambunctious children, and their two cats.
Amy Botes believes that “all the world’s a stage and all the men and women merely players,” and she uses her extensive experience of treading the boards to inform her coaching and facilitation practice. She has worked as a leadership and communication coach in many settings, both with POAL and through her own company, with clients including Twitter, Wellington Financial, NatWest, Westco Communications, Westminster City Council, Tower Hamlets Council, The Institute of Engineering and Technology (IET), Smart Energy GB, plus a multitude of SMEs and 1:1 clients.
Amy is a professional RADA-trained actress who has performed throughout the UK, mainly on the stage. This included a year-long contract at the Royal Shakespeare Company where she appeared in the Olivier award-winning production of Much Ado About Nothing, starring Tamsin Greig. The skills she has learned from world renowned actors, directors, voice coaches, and creatives are indispensable in allowing her to guide her clients to become the best possible versions of themselves.
Amy is also a voiceover artist and recently appeared in a popular exhibition at the British Library, entitled: “Elizabeth and Mary: Royal Cousins, Rival Queens,” where she voiced a fascinating set of documents written by Mary, Queen of Scots. This included a deeply visceral sonnet that Mary wrote on the eve of her execution.
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.brennycampbell.com.
Henry Caplan has eighteen years of coaching and training experience, focusing on storytelling, leadership, emotional intelligence, executive presence, motivating and inspiring others, speaker development, pitching, and communicating with impact. He has had long standing client engagements at BlackRock, PIMCO, Boston Consulting Group, McKinsey & Company, Bain & Company, JP Morgan Chase, Societe-Generale, Bank of Montreal, Credit Suisse, Accenture, Beazley, Betterment, Deutsche Bank, Hello Fresh, Dell Boomi, Snowflake, Barclays Capital, Celgene, Baker McKenzie, and KPMG, among others.
He has been a guest lecturer at the Polytechnic Institute of NYU, NYU Stern School of Business, Columbia School of Business, Columbia Law School, and the Moscow School of Management Skolkovo. He is a member of the CITI Coach’s Council for professional development and leadership and also has a TAI Coaching certification earned after a two-year training. He is very proud of his association with the non-profits Year-Up, NFTE (Network For Teaching Entrepreneurship), Woman’s Project, and Education Is Freedom.
As an actor, Henry has performed all over the world, including the New York off-Broadway productions of Duet and Tony & Tina’s Wedding; A Horse in the Moon at New York Theatre Workshop; and Instant Girl at Alice Tully Hall. He can be seen in the film August Rush, as well as the independent film LBS (Sundance Film Festival world premiere). A graduate of New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts and an alumnus of The Experimental Theatre Wing in Paris, Henry is well versed in the techniques of forum theatre and Boal improvisational forms.
Henry’s first job at ten years old was as a magician at birthday parties and he hasn’t given up on his dream of spontaneous levitation.
Indranil Chakraborty is a high-impact executive coach for senior leaders across industries. He also delivers workshops on advanced presentation and public speaking.
In 2013, Indranil also founded StoryWorks, a firm that helps leaders and organizations harness the natural power of stories to help all stakeholders better understand, remember, and retell key messages, in such areas as vision, value, strategy, and change. The insights from StoryWorks’ business storytelling workshops have been used to improve employee engagement, knowledge management, and behavior change.
Representative clients in India and elsewhere include Accenture, Philips, Unilever, Roche, Mindshare, Tata, Mahindra, Star, ICICI Lombard, American Express, Infosys, Cognizant, Airtel, Vodafone, Genpact, and Asian Paints.
Prior to starting StoryWorks, Mumbai-based Indranil worked in senior marketing, sales and management roles in Unilever, Tata’s, and Mahindra’s.
Serene Chen has over 15 years’ experience as a facilitator and role-player for a wide portfolio of clients. She works across the spectrum of communication skills training, helping people with their professional and personal development. She has delivered courses on leadership and various aspects of people development for, among others, financial institutions, pharmaceutical companies, oil majors, technology companies, law firms, hospitals and NGOs.
As a facilitator, Serene has delivered training in leadership, presentation skills, personal impact, coaching, feedback, influencing and persuading, negotiation, interview skills, ambush interviews, whistle-blowing and breaking bad news. She has also worked extensively on programs looking at diversity and intercultural communication for a variety of clients. Serene has also taught film acting at National University of Singapore and at Republic Polytechnic, and lectures in theatre history, art history, creative concepts and other modules.
Serene graduated from the National University of Singapore with a Bachelor of Arts, Honors (2nd Upper Division), majoring in English language and theatre studies. She is fluent in English and Mandarin, has worked professionally in radio and television, and is a three-time winner of the Straits Times Life Theatre Awards for Best Supporting Actress.
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 motivates participants and delivers 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 in Corporeal Mime, Tania moved to Tokyo and co-founded the company tarinainanika, with the aim of furthering the art of Corporeal Mime through creation and education. Tania also guest-directs for English-speaking theatre groups such as Yokohama Theatre Group and Tokyo International Players, and offers ad hoc workshops for businesses, universities, schools, and the general public across Japan. 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.
Melissa Delaney-Del Valle
Melissa Delaney-Del Valle first discovered the power of theater as a tool for social change when she worked as a drama instructor at a camp for homeless youth. For more than 30 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.
As an associate partner at Performance of a Lifetime, Melissa leads several of our global client accounts, ensuring our client engagement teams deliver exceptional results (and have fun in the process). As a member of the POAL leadership team, she is a key contributor to our ongoing work to innovate and advance our practice.
Melissa spent decades juggling a professional career as an actress, voice-over artist, producer, facilitator and serial entrepreneur. Bilingual in English and Spanish, she is a certified coach, 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 has served multiple terms as a member of the New York County Committee, representing the 64th Election District. A lifelong athlete, 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.
Gene Douglas is a lifelong teacher, coach, and artist who began his career as an acting professor at UC Irvine. He continued to teach acting on the university level for 10 years, and worked as an acting coach and performer, traveling the country bringing Shakespeare to life in theatres and classrooms.
Since becoming an executive coach and facilitator in 2013, Gene has helped improve the skills of clients ranging from JP Morgan Chase and Microsoft to Sony Pictures and Human Rights Watch. Although Gene’s main focus is interpersonal communications, he also has a passion for helping clients with influence and persuasion, negotiation, leadership skills, personal brand and networking, critical thinking, diversity/equity/inclusion, and understanding unconscious bias, among others.
Gene has a BFA in acting from the University of Oklahoma (where he received the Van Heflin Award for most promising graduate) and an MFA in acting from the University of California, Irvine. He loves Stevie Wonder, Stereolab, Steely Dan, and lots of other bands that don’t start with the letter S.
Sonia Elhaj is a certified coach with a master’s degree in international education and 20+ years of expertise in human development. Despite a thriving early career as an educator and academic, she never felt like she belonged anywhere as much as she did on stage. So she left the classroom to explore the connection and synergies between performance and personal development. This led her to camera and stage acting and coaching. In addition to working extensively within leading educational organizations in the United Arab Emirates, she has supported numerous local and global corporate clients including Cisco, Avaya, Wipro, Criteo, Majid Al Futtaim, Emirates Group, Americana Group, House of Fraser, and ADNOC. Sonia uses her performance and coaching tools to inspire participants to unlearn their default behaviors, free themselves from limiting beliefs, and build agility as they negotiate meaning, decisions, and relationships.
Sonia has found that embodiment, storytelling, acting, and kinesthetics bypass the limitations of the mind and re-invigorate the creativity of childlike play and bodily wisdom in ways that are quicker, more memorable, and more transformative than other conventional tools. Outside of performance and facilitation spaces, Sonia unwinds by surrendering to the yoga mat, cycling outdoors, swimming in the sea, and singing off-key while driving to work. She is fluent in French, Spanish, and Italian, but loves expressing herself in English and Arabic the most.
Yuki Ellias is an actor, director and a high impact corporate communications and performance coach. She has led training programs for: Deloitte, Microsoft, Twitter, Siemens, HSBC, Tata Consultancy Services, Goldman Sachs, Unilever, Deutsche Bank, Johnson Matthey, Smiths Group, Sony, Liberty Videocon, Pitney Bowes, Agrotech, Metso & Eaton.
In her work as a facilitator and coach with Performance of a Lifetime, Yuki brings a unique synthesis of cognitive skill-building, relational sensitivity, and kinesthetic power. Her insights as a coach inform her work as an instructional designer of day-long and multi-touch programmes.
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, The London Roundhouse etc. Her latest solo “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 humanise, educate and inspire the organisations she works with to achieve their strategic imperatives.
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 Neighbors (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, defense, 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 has extensive experience as an executive leadership and development coach and program designer, in both corporate and academic environments. He has consulted with corporations around the world since 2006, including financial institutions, technology companies, and law firms, as well as colleges and universities at the graduate level.
As an associate partner at Performance of a Lifetime, Christian leads several of our global client accounts, ensuring our client engagement teams deliver exceptional results (and have fun in the process). As a member of the POAL leadership team, he is a key contributor to our ongoing work to innovate and advance our practice.
Whether working with individuals or teams of any size, Christian draws inspiration from applying the skills and tools he’s developed through the performing arts to grow the leadership capabilities of the people he works with. Building on existing strengths and identifying opportunities for growth provides clients a creative and inspiring 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 POAL, he continues to pursue creative endeavors as an actor, voice-over artist and podcast host.
In his spare time, you can find Christian biking, cooking, or enjoying a leisurely walk through whatever nature he can find in New York City (while keeping a healthy distance from urban wildlife). He has traveled far and wide and loves to experience new cultures and learn new things, like the fact that a size L dress shirt in Singapore fits very differently than a size L in the US.
Jeff Flowers is a dynamic workshop leader and has been one of Performance of a Lifetime’s top designers and facilitators since 2006, with deep experience as a practitioner of our proprietary approach, The Becoming Principle.
Drawing from his diverse experience as an actor, director, executive coach, mediator, and experiential education designer and facilitator, he provides our clients with immersive development opportunities and practical tools for growing as more effective leaders, communicators, and builders of high-performing teams.
Jeff works with Fortune 500 executives across all industries. With a passionate curiosity, he listens for both the universal and unique difficulties his clients face. He challenges them to see with fresh perspective and provides a rigorous, safe environment for experimenting with new ways of engaging. His recent client work includes leadership development programs with American Express, PwC, Coca-Cola, Rolls Royce, 3M, Twitter and the Federal Reserve Bank.
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, and his training as a family mediator, certification as a ropes course instructor, and early experience facilitating rooms full of 100 New York City teenagers has made him one of our most fearless trainers.
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!
Jacqueline Gregg is an actor, trainer, and group facilitator based in New York. She has worked collaboratively with a diverse pool of independent consultants to deliver highly interactive training programs to promote workplace diversity and cross-cultural awareness, and build leadership skills. She has provided one-to-one coaching and facilitated groups for corporations across the globe. Some of her clients include Nike, University of Miami, Citi, Mitsubishi Tanabe, Goldman Sachs, BNP Paribas, and Novo Nordisk.
As an actor, Jacqueline has performed on stage in classical and contemporary roles, and on screen in commercials and soap operas. She has helped to shape young minds as a teaching artist around New York City, was the hostess with the mostest at children’s birthday parties, and led storytime at Barnes & Noble (and lived to tell the tale!). She is most proud of her work with Only Make Believe, a not-for-profit that brings theatre to children in hospitals and other healthcare facilities. Jacqueline has always had a love for teaching and public speaking and served as an adjunct professor at Kean College, teaching acting and speech communication. She holds a BFA in Acting from the Mason Gross School of the Arts at Rutgers University.
Jacqueline is a certified run coach and has completed a number of 5Ks, marathons and everything in between.
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.
Dan Guerra is a psychologist, educator, executive coach, playback theatre actor, author, and public speaker. He has coached hundreds of managers at top companies across the globe in leadership skills that include gaining personal awareness, influencing, and learning better self-management to be more effective leaders.
Dr. Guerra brings nearly twenty years of experience and distinguished academic accreditation to his work. He received a B.A. in psychology with an emphasis in behavioral and neuroscience research from Franklin & Marshall College, and completed his Masters and Doctorate degrees in clinical psychology from Indiana University of Pennsylvania. He has completed a certificate program with the Executive Coach Academy in New York City, is certified in the WholeBrain Creativity NBITM, the Myers-Briggs Personality Type Indicator (MBTI), the Bar-on Emotional Quotient-Inventory (EQ-i), and the Thomas-Kilmann Conflict Mode Instrument (TKI).
He is also a member of Village Playback Theatre, a form of theatre that since the 1970s has used improvisation to reenact the personal stories of those often underserved and underrepresented including the mentally ill, prison populations, and those who have experienced social injustice.
Abigail Hayes offers more than twenty years of experience in practice-based learning using methodologies and behavioral strategies gained from her extensive theatre experience.
Abigail comes from a family background of acting and teaching, and combines the two disciplines to employ theatre practices and coaching techniques in the field of adult behavioral change. Her work as a researcher and writer has allowed her to bring an added perspective to her work with clients — an ability to quickly understand the culture of an organization and the behavior of the people within it.
From personal impact and presentation, influencing and negotiating, to customer service, conflict management and strategic storytelling, she is highly skilled at delivering powerful feedback that enables people to achieve their goals. Abigail has worked with many organizations, from both the public and private sector, housing associations, government departments, airlines, banks and national retail firms. She coaches and facilitates one-to-one work, small group workshops, and audiences of over a hundred participants.
Alongside her corporate projects, Abigail still regularly works as a voice over artist, specializing in documentary narration.
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 children 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.
Gerish Khemani is an award-winning playwright and coach from Mumbai, India. He is a theatre practitioner, educator, and communication coach with over 15 years of experience in the fields of theatre, education, and facilitation. He has been working as a performance coach and role player with both domestic and international corporate professionals across industries, helping nurture empathetic leadership and develop inspiring storytellers.
As both a theatre practitioner and an executive performance coach, Gerish finds both spaces mutually enriching, often carrying practices from the rehearsal room to classrooms and boardrooms and vice versa. He runs his own theatre company called The Blind and The Elephant in Mumbai, that deploys an extensively physical approach to building ensembles and creating work based on his studies in Devising Theatre at the London International School of Performing Arts, Berlin. He currently serves as a visiting faculty member at the Drama School Mumbai, one of the premier acting and theatre-making schools in India.
Gerish identifies himself as a perennial “seeker” and considers his yoga mat and books his most essential companions on this journey of self-realization.
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.
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.
Priscilla Lai is a trainer, theatre director, and executive coach who has been on the Performance of a Lifetime team since 2019. She obtained her Master of Arts in applied theatre with Royal Central School of Speech and Drama in London. Priscilla designs and leads theater and business communication workshops for senior audiences in a wide variety of corporate settings.
Priscilla obtained her Bachelor of Business Administration from Hong Kong University of Science and Technology. Prior to her theatre and acting career, she has worked in property management with MTR Corporation Limited, handling front line staff at customer service and marketing research. Priscilla also worked in design services with Kan and Lau Design Consultants, one of the leading graphic studios in Hong Kong. As a consultant, she advised on cross-cultural communication and presentations for both local and overseas clients.
Recent programs include facilitation and roleplay for Peninsula Hotel, Bayern Health Care, Prudential Insurance, Friesland Campina, HSBC, and Rolls-Royce; leading the Shangri-la Corporate Training Program with Shangri-la Academy; leading communication workshops with The Hong Kong Jockey Club and for China Construction Bank Asia (for over 2,000 staff); a senior leadership offsite for Schneider Electric; and leading interview and presentation in business communication workshops for Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, Hang Seng Management College, and Hong Kong Design Institute.
In addition to numerous theatres in Hong Kong, Priscilla has performed across Asia and Europe. Screen credits include: Night and Fog (2008) directed by Ann Hui and various programs with Radio Television Hong Kong.
Joanna Lovering is an executive presence coach, workplace psychologist, and fashion stylist. For over 15 years she has developed talent strategies, facilitated management courses, and coached emerging leaders through c-suite executives to show up in every room with character, confidence, and style. She brings her redheaded spunk, empowering enthusiasm, and caring heart to her work. Areas of expertise include program design and facilitation, emotional intelligence-based leadership coaching, executive presence, communications consulting, and public speaking. Her work is heavily influenced by neuroscience and group dynamics research.
Joanna earned her BHA in drama direction and psychology from Carnegie Mellon University, and MA in social-organizational psychology from Columbia University. She has held leadership development roles at Tiffany & Co., JetBlue, and Daily Burn, among others. She founded her own executive presence coaching firm in 2017.
Joanna’s writing and insights on leadership, presence, and style have been featured in RealSimple, Fast Company, HerMoney, HuffPost, The Muse, Glassdoor, Fairygodboss, TheLadders, and more. She spends the majority of her discretionary funds on Broadway and off-Broadway shows, travel, and shoes. She also plays piano, sings her heart out at karaoke (her go-to song is “Eye of the Tiger”), and loves all creatures of the furry kind. Fun fact: her graduate education at Columbia University was paid for with a merit scholarship and royalties from a principal role in a series of national commercials.
Gretta McDonald is an executive assistant with more than two decades of experience enabling top performances from professionals in a variety of industries. She has played administrative and accounting roles in action sports apparel, boating, and financial services including retail mortgage lending and private equity, and has been with Performance of a Lifetime since early 2022.
As the “woman behind the curtain,” Gretta views her role as a kind of time traveler, in which she sees the future, assesses what’s required to get there, and then adeptly manages the myriad details of the present to make that future possible. Those who work with her credit her effectiveness to a preternatural talent for Google Calendar, and possibly a bit of mental telepathy.
Born and raised in California, Gretta now lives in rural Maryland with her partner Will, their three children, and two Australian Shepherds. She is active in her community and volunteers as chair for a local youth gardening program.
Casey Miller is a coach, facilitator, and trainer with over 15 years of business experience including the roles of president, VP of business development, and VP of strategy for the consultancy he co-founded. An expert in leadership development, Casey is a bold and charming truth-teller and he loves to play. His clients have ranged from large public universities to mom-and-pop hardware stores to multigenerational international shipping companies to billion-dollar private equity firms. And while his clients have been varied, he’s found that their challenges as leaders are similar — how to navigate their business landscape with authenticity, courage, connection, and play.
Casey is a CTI-trained executive coach and holds master’s degrees in public administration and theological studies from Harvard University. In addition to leadership development, Casey hosts adventure expeditions for intrepid travelers looking to explore the world. As a result, he’s been to over 80 countries. He figures he has at least another 40 years on this planet. So, this means more meditating, more patience, more play, and more love. He also wants to get better at chess.
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.
As an associate partner at Performance of a Lifetime, Terry leads several of our global client accounts, ensuring our client engagement teams deliver exceptional results (and have fun in the process). As a member of the POAL leadership team, he is a key contributor to our ongoing work to innovate and advance our practice.
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.
Victoria Mintey is a trainer and coach with Performance of a Lifetime (POAL). She has worked as a corporate trainer/roleplayer since 2011 with clients like HSBC, Petronas, Shell, BP, Barclays, Standard Chartered, GSK, HFW, Allianz, Unilever, and Twitter. Victoria has extensive experience with programs focused on executive presence, managing external stakeholders, delivering bad news, coaching conversations, managing change, leading for innovation, and sales team performance coaching. Her work with salespeople has also focused on expanding their ability to be effective storytellers, and to build strong connections with their clients.
Victoria holds a Bachelor of Science in natural sciences (psychology and anthropology) from the University of Durham, as well as a Master of Arts from the Mountview Academy of Theater Arts. Victoria also runs her own professional training company, called Presence and Impact Training, that helps professionals who want to become more natural in their public speaking.
Victoria founded Wag the Dog Theatre Company (2017) and performs with leading names in the arts community in Singapore and beyond including: Singapore Repertory Theatre, Pangdemonium, BBC World, Mediacorp Channel 5, Suria, and Channel News Asia.
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.
As an associate partner at Performance of a Lifetime, Jeff leads several of our global client accounts, ensuring our client engagement teams deliver exceptional results (and have fun in the process). As a member of the POAL leadership team, he is a key contributor to our ongoing work to innovate and advance our practice.
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.
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.
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.
Nicola Pauling is an applied improvisation trainer and facilitator with over 20 years of experience developing people and communities through play and performance. She is the founder and Artistic Director of the award-winning charitable trust Voice Arts based in Wellington, Aotearoa New Zealand. She has led more than 50 successful participatory performance projects working with children, teens, at-risk youth, former refugees and new migrants, prisoners, seniors, and elders. She has developed these projects in partnership with government agencies, local councils, health professionals, and social service providers.
Nicola is an Associate of the New York-based East Side Institute and a graduate of their International Class. She is a founding member of the international Global Play Brigade and of Reimagining Dementia: A Creative Coalition for Justice.
Nicola is an actor, improviser, and a playwright. Her solo show She Danced on a Friday drew praise for her skill as an immersive storyteller. She is the co-founder of Best on Tap, an improv troupe renowned for creating truth-based, spontaneous theatre. She has worked internationally, training teachers in The Cook Islands, tertiary students in Tokyo, and leading community projects in Uganda and Ethiopia.
When the sun goes down and her feet go up, Nicola can be found with a cat in her lap and a dog beside her. They’re preferable company to her two teens who are both moving through the grunting stage.
Mike Pickering is Performance of a Lifetime’s Vice President of Finance and Operations, having joined the organization in June of 2021. Before joining POAL, Mike served as the co-Founder and Chief Operating Officer of Ingenious Med, a healthcare technology company. Over 15 years, Mike led IM’s sales, technology, account management, and professional services organizations during the company’s rapid growth.
Mike is also a longtime community organizer — he is a co-founder and organizer of the Atlanta All Stars Project youth and community development program, a founder of Georgia Independent Voters, and was a producer with Atlanta Independent Theater. He currently serves on the Board of Directors of OpenPrimaries.org.
Mike is a novice beekeeper, an undiscovered poet, and loves the color mauve, partly because it must be a nice color (Mike is color-blind), but mostly because it’s spelled mauvelously.
Martina Potratz is an experienced coach and facilitator in the field of leadership development. She specializes in facilitating team conversations and coaching executives on presence, prioritization, and effective communication. Working with organizations in tech, media, and finance across the globe, Martina supports clients in navigating challenging conversations around key DEI issues and cultural differences in an increasingly international workforce. In her work with thousands of leaders, both high-potentials and experienced executives, she has discovered that they can achieve much more than they expect by bringing authenticity, kindness, and clarity.
Martina is also the Executive Director of Lil’ Explosions, a theatre company specializing in original immersive and interactive work. She is a published author and has received artist residencies from Jentel Artist Program, Vermont Studio Center, and The Cultural Department of the Canton Zug in Switzerland.
Martina is trilingual and holds a BFA in acting from the HKB University of Arts in Switzerland. She currently lives in NYC.
To the surprise of many, despite being Swiss, Martina is not a fan of cheese. She is raising her one-and-a-half-year-old daughter bilingually (English and German), which so far has resulted in a made-up language and a radical new communication style. Stand by for updates.
Donna Prichard is a skilled administrator and leader with 30 years of management experience in theater and the performance arts. A thorough project manager and multi-tasker, she accomplishes goals with vision, engagement, empathy, passion, and humor. She prides herself on collaborating with key stakeholders and putting puzzle pieces together to build something that advances the overarching goal. She understands the big picture and successfully works with teams and systems to put plans into motion. Untying knots to find creative and collaborative solutions comes naturally.
After graduating from the North Carolina School for the Arts with a B.F.A in design and production, Donna served in both stage management and administrative roles at The Juilliard School and the Weston Playhouse. She served for many years as Executive Director of PlayMakers Repertory Company at the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill.
In addition to her project management work with Performance of a Lifetime, Donna coordinates special events and provides financial analysis, planning and accounting services, marketing planning, management consulting and general administration services for a range of companies and organizations, and served as the business operations manager for Theatre Consultants Collaborative and Chief Executive Officer for Performance BIM (BIM Services for Live Entertainment Venues) with her husband and business partner.
Donna is the mother of three amazing daughters and lives in Chapel Hill, NC with her husband, Jason.
Melle Powers loves a good story. Whether she’s bringing a character to life as a performer, or guiding workshop participants to uncover new learnings and create new stories about themselves, stories are what drive her work. She began her consulting career in human resources at American Express, TBS, and has gone on to deliver and/or design programs for New York City law firms, international pharmaceutical companies, the NYC Department of Education, the New Jersey State Bar Foundation, parent groups (including “How to Talk to Children About Race in 2021”), and many others.
Melle is a storyteller for The Moth, where she is currently touring a true personal story about her family’s journey during the onset of COVID in 2020. Some of her other current projects include co-producing the 2nd annual “Celebration of Black Voices” community engagement festival for Barrington Stage Company, assistant directing for The Moth’s Daughters of the Movement, and developing anti-racism training for several NYC metro school districts.
Melle is a certified diversity professional through the Diversity Society of America, holds an MFA in Acting from NYU, and is a member of the Inclusion Allies Coalition. She is currently an adjunct instructor at NYU, teaching a course she created called “Resilience.”
In her spare time, Melle loves Wordle, traveling, uncovering the stories behind the stories, and singing karaoke (loudly and mostly on key).
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.
Alejandro Rodriguez is a leadership coach and communications expert who specializes in inclusive communication across diverse populations. Alejandro has led training programs on five continents, across a broad range of industries including finance, legal, real estate, media, technology, health care, and academia.
Alejandro’s approach is performance-based and practice-oriented. His intention is always to leverage communication skills to strengthen relationships and thus build healthy, inclusive, and prosperous cultures. His style is a combination of the clarity and rigor he’s sharpened in the business world, combined with the humor, empathy, and creativity he’s developed over years in the arts and non-profit sectors.
In his previous life as an actor, Alejandro created numerous roles in New York, including the part of Charlie Rosa in Ghetto Babylon (National Latino Playwrights Award), and Gabriel in the New York Times Critics’ Pick Bird in the Hand. He played the title role in The Acting Company’s national tour of Romeo and Juliet, and the part of Edgar opposite Billy Porter in King Lear.
The son of two Cuban immigrants, Alejandro earned his degree from The Juilliard School where he received the Michel St. Denis Prize for Outstanding Achievement. He was born and raised in the multicultural hub of Miami, Florida, and now considers New York City a second home. If anyone knows where to find a great croqueta in Brooklyn, please be in touch.
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.
Cheryl Samtaney is a learning and development professional and executive coach with over 15 years of experience, and core expertise in the areas of leadership and management development, executive presence, communication and presentation skills, customer centricity, sales, and storytelling programs.
Some of the industries Cheryl has worked with include finance, consulting, social media, infrastructure, logistics, energy, manufacturing, IT, FMCG, hospitality, and telecom.
Cheryl works or has worked with: Vodafone, Bank of America, Oracle, Hexaware, Microsoft, Thomson Reuters, Wipro, Ranbaxy, Infosys, Citigroup, Ernst & Young, British Council, British Gas, Deloitte, Hindustan Coca-Cola Beverages, Kraft Foods, Expedia, Groupon, HCL, the Tata Group, the Taj Group of Hotels, Mahindra & Mahindra, IDFC, HSBC, SAB Miller, Capgemini, Goldman Sachs, and many more.
Cheryl trains and collaborate with people from diverse cultures and has a unique understanding of the cultural differences associated with developing people from various backgrounds. Passionate about training, Cheryl constantly looks at ways to innovate and bring an element of fun, relevance, and creativity into her workshops.
Samantha Sanns is a highly experienced facilitator and executive coach with over a decade of experience in delivering courses specializing in behavioral change. She’s also a professional actor, stand-up comic, and writer; and merges these two worlds in her approach to coaching and facilitation. She brings a highly trained awareness of vocal and physical delivery as well as knowledge of proven methodologies to support individuals in building their confidence, unlocking limiting beliefs, and creating opportunities to play — in a humorous, supportive atmosphere.
Samantha’s decades of experience in the often brutal stand-up comedy world has given her a unique understanding of the importance of presence, authenticity, resilience, simplicity, and creative storytelling. Her past clients include PwC, Allianz, Nuclear Decommissioning Authority, Google, PMI, KPMG, Pfizer, and Volkswagen.
While she claims to be an attentive, loving parent, Samantha is known to consistently use TikTok as free childcare for her teenager. She is then often found walking around old churches considering her life choices.
Andy Sarouhan is a facilitator, coach, instructional designer, simulation writer, and client success manager. He has extensive experience in developing immersive learning experiences that enable professionals to practice complex interpersonal skills and workplace interactions — including creating environments of inclusion and belonging.
Andy found his way to coaching and facilitation through his lifelong love of improvisation. He spent 20 years building his improvisation expertise through the Un-Scripted Theater Company and BATS Improv, specializing in narrative longform improv, as well as leading corporate workshops in improv-inspired soft skills training. He also holds an MFA in creative writing from UC Riverside.
Andy practices Vipassana Meditation, and loves to listen to recordings of old Alan Watts lectures while pretending that Alan is his wise, funny, British grandfather.
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.
Charlie Schroeder has worked as a soft skills expert, coach, and role-player since 1997. Shortly after he received his B.A. in theatre from Bates College, Charlie began training financial services employees on the values of diversity and inclusion. Today, he leads training in presentation skills, business writing, leadership, personal brand, influence and impact, emotional intelligence, storytelling, improvisation, managing difficult conversations, and executive presence.
He’s trained thousands of individuals from Tokyo to Bangalore and Kuala Lumpur to New York City. From his home base of Lancaster, PA, he continues to work with global clients, including Barclays, Burberry, Citi, Deutsche Bank, DLA Piper, Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan Chase, LexisNexis, McKinsey, Microsoft, Morgan Stanley, Pfizer, State Street, and White & Case.
Charlie’s journalism has appeared in many publications including the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, and Reader’s Digest, as well as numerous National Public Radio programs. His first book, Man of War, which details the year he reenacted his way through 2,000 years of history, was published in 2012 by Hudson Street Press (an imprint of Penguin).
Charlie grew up in Lititz, PA (recently crowned “America’s Coolest Small Town”) and was raised in a log cabin built in the year 1738. His neighbors were Amish and although they “motored” around in horse and buggies, Charlie learned to drive at the age of 14. A travel buff, he’s worked in and visited 38 countries.
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.
Nicola Burnett Smith
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.
Sarah Strachan has worked as a trainer, coach, facilitator, and scriptwriter in all aspects of the corporate interactive training market for the past 25 years. From top investment banks to charities and local councils, Sarah brings a wealth of industry-wide knowledge and skills to clients and creates joyful and supportive spaces where participants can challenge themselves, explore, and be creative without fear.
After studying economics, Sarah worked as a civil servant and for Rayner Essex Chartered Accountants; she also lectured and was head of the economics department at St. Albans Independent College. Sarah then followed her dreams and trained in acting at The Bristol Old Vic Theatre School and in physical theatre at Ecole Philippe Gaulier. Sarah holds a master’s research degree from Southampton University and has just completed her doctoral research at University College London and is a published scientific author (she has named two dinosaurs!).
Sarah was a consultant and trainer for St. Albans Council’s Arts Apprentices training scheme and is an educational workshop leader for the Trestle Theatre Company teaching mask and storytelling. She also tutors for the Brilliant Club Charity which helps children who are traditionally under-represented gain a place at highly selective universities.
Sarah has enjoyed working professionally in all aspects of film, television, and theatre, including playing the leading role of Mollie in The Mousetrap in the West End (the longest running play in the world!). She was also one of the first to perform at the new Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre. Favorite TV and film work includes Sherlock, the interviewer in the series How to Get Your Dream Job, and hosting Algebra Workout. She can be seen on-screen in Kenneth Branagh’s The Magic Flute.
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.
Brigitte Viellieu-Davis is a communications coach and workshop leader with 25 years of experience working with executives, managers, and staff at all levels and industries. Past clients include Mastercard, AT&T, PwC, AstraZeneca, and the NYC Department of Education.
Brigitte blends her energetic and playful style with experiential skill building in courses and workshops on team building, networking, presentation skills, self-care in the workplace, client communications, conflict resolution, brand building, writing, and leadership strategy.
Brigitte’s passion for team building and communication strategy was honed in her years as an actor, playwright, director, producer, and college professor. Her full-length play, In a House That Jack Built, was a semifinalist for the 2018 O’Neill Conference and the 2020 New Play Series at Unicorn Theatre, and she has developed projects with Eve Ensler and Anna Deavere Smith.
She holds an MFA from Carnegie Mellon and Moscow Art Theatre, and is a member of Ensemble Studio Theatre, Actors Equity, and SAG/AFTRA. She is currently based in San Juan, Puerto Rico, where she serves as ambassador to the Dramatists Guild, and where she helps organize El Colectivo, a playwright collective.
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.
Ralf began his professional life as an electrician, delved into social work, and accidentally studied business administration. He was intrigued by social research and accumulated extensive work experience as an organizational sociologist in management and organizational science, and became managing director of a joint research and consulting group in Switzerland.
Ralf currently works as a professor of organization and applied arts at Vlerick Business School in Belgium, where he combines applied performance with organizational theory to prepare students for high-speed and high-quality decision making in times of volatility, while discovering new ways of experiencing joy, relief, resilience, and impact. He works with companies and organizations across many different sectors, including financial services, consumer goods, retail, data analytics, engineering, and consulting.
Ralf has been an international theatre performer, traveling to major festivals like the Edinburgh Fringe, the Brighton Fringe Festivals, and the Zagreb Clown Festival. He has been covered by the Financial Times and will soon give a TEDx talk on the contribution of the red-nose clown to leadership development. When time allows, he likes to give his own inner clown all the playground possible, which currently includes the streets and public places in Brussels, where he lives.
Dr. Matt Yoxall
Dr. Matt Yoxall is a theatre-maker, training consultant, and academic. He trained in theatre in London in the mid-1990s at Middlesex University (BA, MA), and went on to work as a professional storyteller, specializing in museum and art gallery education and projects for community cultural development.
Matt has lived in Southeast Asia since 2003, and has fused his theatrical and development work in providing consultancy services to international and intergovernmental organizations. His fields of focus in the humanitarian sector have included anti-human-trafficking efforts, refugee resettlement, and programs to end violence against women and girls. Using a theatre-based approach, he has facilitated training on experiential learning, approaches to outreach and information campaigns, psychosocial programming, and conflict resolution. He is an NMAS Certified Mediator (Australia). He recently had three shows touring the highlands of Chin State, Myanmar, for CHRO — the Chin Human Rights Organization — created to promote safer migration. He also sits on the CHRO board.
Matt received his doctorate in Theatre Studies (fully funded) from the National University of Singapore in 2016. He currently lives between Chiang Mai, Thailand and Canberra, Australia. More than anything, he loves to travel. He once lived in a rice field for three months while learning Balinese dance. It was a very happy and content moment in his life, often spent watching gentle plumes of smoke rise from the mouth of the volcano, situated somewhere in the very near distance…