Some Notable Theatre & Dance Alumni

Dance Alumni

Rush Benson
Rush Benson '13
Rush Benson is an actor, dancer, teacher, musician, and choreographer originally from Minneapolis, Minnesota. In 2013, Benson graduated from Gustavus Adolphus and received degrees in Theater and Dance. Benson currently performs and tours regionally with the Flying Foot Forum, a percussion based theater and dance company, and works as a musical theater choreographer and dance teacher at multiple high schools and middle schools in Minnesota. Benson recently appeared in "The Music Man" at the Guthrie, "The Wedding Singer" at the Old Log Theater, and "A Chorus Line" at the Ordway. Benson has performed in choreographic works by Jamal Sims (Choreographer of the “Step Up” film series), Phillip Flickinger, Heather Klopchin, Stephan Koplowitz, and Stuart Pimsler Dance & Theater. He has also performed locally with the Minnesota Dance Theater, James Sewell Ballet, Keane Sense of Rhythm Tap Company, and Youth Performance Company. Benson is currently teaching at Washburn High School in Minneapolis. He enjoys a solid jam session, ciphers, colored pencils, animals, communing with nature, and the feeling you get from a deep intellectual discussion.
Brian EvansBrian Evans '07 Brian J. Evans is a Professional Performing Human. For the past eight years, Evans has had the privilege and pleasure of engaging in a vast array of fields. Teaching in public and private institutions, working with healthcare providers in the US and abroad, performing as a singer, actor, dancer in churches, theaters, basements, outdoor stages, any space provided that encourages the arts to thrive. An artist striving for social justice, Evans places high value in process and product, having had most of his training out in the 'Arts field' of the Twin Cities, working with over 50 artistic directors on more then 200 projects from solo endeavors to collaborating as a self-employed professional performer & teaching artist. Primarily as a principle dancer and musical director for Stuart Pimsler Dance & Theater, Evans has continued to investigate the idea that connections exist between us all and it's the responsibility of the Arts to rediscover those connections, and highlight them to allow us to feel holistically human. Evans was the recipient of the prestigious McKnight Fellowship for a solo artist in 2015. 
Philip Flickinger
Philip Flickinger '01
Philip Flickinger earned a Sociology/Anthropology and Dance degree from Gustavus Adolphus College in 2001. He continued his studies at the University of Colorado, Boulder, with an MFA in Dance. While living in Colorado, he danced with Frequent Flyers Productions, Third Law Dance/Theater, and the Hannah Kahn Dance Company. In 2006, Flickinger joined Diavolo Dance Theater in Los Angeles, CA, and performed throughout the world with them for six years including originated roles in “Foreign Bodies” and “Fearful Symmetries”, each of which premiered at the Hollywood Bowl and the Los Angeles Philharmonic. He also co-directed and choreographed “Watashi Niwa Jishinga Aru”, performed and written by Leslie Lishi. Flickinger currently teaches at California State University, Sacramento, and co-directs D.I.G. (Dancers Investigation Group) with Lorelei Bayne.
Renee Guittar
Renee Guittar '12
Renee Guittar is a professional dancer, choreographer, and dance educator based in Minneapolis and originally from Lincoln, Nebraska. Renee received a B.A. in Dance with Honors from Gustavus Adolphus College in 2012. Renee has performed with Collide Theatrical Dance Company since 2013 and has worked for professional theaters such as The Guthrie (The Music Man), The Ordway (A Chorus Line), and The Old Log Theater (The Wedding Singer). Renee has worked as a producer, choreographer, and performer with nationally touring illusionist Jared Sherlock. Renee has presented choreography with Young Artists Initiative, the Zenon Dance Zone, Gustavus Adolphus College, North St. Paul High School, Highland Park Senior High School, Ramsey Middle School and at venues such as Patrick's Cabaret, Chanhassen Dinner Theatres, Theatre in the Round, and The Ritz Theater. Renee produced the MN Fringe Festival Productions “CLOCKED” and “CIRCULATE” as well as an interactive dinner theater, "COOKED" which were co-directed by Renee, Benjamin Kolis '12 and Sarah Jabar '10. Renee teaches at numerous dance schools including Zenon Dance School and the Phipps Center for the Arts.
Kelsey Charlotte Hanstad
Kelsey Charlotte Hanstad '14
Kelsey Charlotte Hanstad is a dancer/choreographer based in Minneapolis. She received her BA in Dance from Gustavus Adolphus College.Throughout her time at Gustavus her choreography has been performed at ACDFA in 2012 as well as performing in the 2014 ACDFA Gala Performance. Kelsey attended Accademia dell' arte, a performing arts conservatory in Arezzo, Italia. Who she now works as a recruiter for the undergraduate dance program. She has worked with artists across Europe and the States including Stephan Koplowitz, Mark Allen , Girorgio Rossi, Rita Petrone , Ashai Lombardo Arop, Philip Flickinger and Heather Klophchin. She has worked with D.I.G / Dancers Investigation Group in Sacramento, California.  Current work includes teaching at Zenon youth program, Northland School of Dance and setting work at Lyric Arts. Kelsey currently dances with Christopher Watson Dance Company, a multigenerational modern dance company celebrating its 25th year of dance. Recently having the opportunity to perform in St. Louis for a collaborative show. SEVEN, which she co-founded in 2014, premiered at the Minnesota Fringe Festival and will be collaborating on projects throughout the summer (keep your eyes peeled). And most recently, this is Kelsey's first season as a company member of STRONGmovement, directed by Darrius Strong. STRONG physically and musically embodies identity. The StarTribune referred to the work as "investigating intimacy, competition and the struggle of human connection."  There are a variety of freelance projects and opportunities constantly in the works and every single one has felt like a dream job so far. Or at the very least, a very interesting life experience that chalks up to the hodge-podge list that is an artist's resume.
Jordan Klitzke
Jordan Klitzke ‘10
 
Jordan is a professional dancer and choreographer currently based in Guayaquil, Ecuador. During his time in Minneapolis he danced with Christopher Watson Dance Company, ARENA Dances, Jeffery Peterson Dance, and Eclectic Edge Ensemble, among others. He completed a 15-month residency at the Escuela Profesional de Danza de Mazatlán in March 2014 and started his own company, La Gringa Danza, in December 2013 with a focus on creating collaborations between Latin America and the United States. Recent professional work includes co-creating two original Minnesota Fringe Festival shows, Entre Nosotros (Between Us) and Judge Me. Hate Me. Love Me., and the original work, La Parodia de La Culpa, with the Ballet Contemporáneo de Cámara de Ecuador, which premiered at the National Theater in Quito, Ecuador. Jordan will be working with the Ballet Contemporáneo de Cámara de Ecuador for the next three months, then he will be going to Arizona State University for his MFA in the fall of 2016. He returned to Gustavus to teach a J-term course in January 2016, during which he created the piece I Practice Not Feeling a Thing with fifteen dancers.
Betsy Maloney
Betsy Maloney '97
Betsy Maloney, PhD, teaches in the Arts in Education program at the University of Minnesota. She is co-coordinator of the program area and teaches both undergraduate and graduate level courses leading to K-12 teaching licenses in dance, theatre, and visual art. In addition to her teaching, Maloney is a research associate for the Innovating Culturally Relevant Pedagogy project under the guidance of Dr. Big Ngo. Their work examines culturally relevant pedagogy practices in community-based arts organizations serving immigrant and minoritized youth. Maloney also works for the Perpich Center for Arts Education as the outreach coordinator. In her role as coordinator, she supports the work of regional centers who deliver professional development opportunities to arts educators across the state.

McKayla Murphy
McKayla Murphy '16

McKayla Murphy graduated from Gustavus Adolphus College in 2016 with a B.A. in Communication Studies and a minor in Dance. McKayla was very active in the Theatre and Dance Department throughout her time at Gustavus, taking advantage of many of the wonderful opportunities offered, including J-Term intensives, ACDA Conferences, and as many choreography and performance opportunities as she could fit in her schedule. The Theatre and Dance Department’s focus on creative ways of addressing issues through social justice theatre combined with the Communication Studies department’s focus on critical analysis of media representation, social norms and dominant ideologies, pushed her to explore career options outside of what she originally envisioned as possible. After her graduation, McKayla accepted two jobs that allow her to work in the areas that she is passionate about. McKayla currently serves as the Racial Justice Coordinator with the YWCA Mankato, where she supports the mission of empowering women and eliminating racism through innovative programming and events, that she helps to develop and plan. McKayla also organizes and teaches for a Community Education dance program where she gets to work with diverse dancers of all ages and levels of experience. She aims to introduce her students to new ways of thinking about dance and choreography by offering classes in new styles of dance and of course, keeping them up to date on their dance history by sharing a “Dancer of the Week.” McKayla also takes class as much as possible and loves performing and showing new choreography when she can! 
Britta Peterson
Britta Peterson '08
Britta Joy Peterson is a Minnesota native, where she grew up in the thriving Minneapolis arts community. As a dance maker, teaching artist and scholar, Peterson works primarily in postmodern contemporary and jazz forms with special interests in creative practices and somakinesis. Peterson’s choreographic and performance work has been seen in Arizona, California, Colorado, Iowa, Minnesota, New York, Washington, Wisconsin, Wyoming and New Zealand. She holds her BA in Dance and Communication Studies from Gustavus Adolphus College and her MFA in Dance from Arizona State University. Peterson recently directed the Dance Program at Western Wyoming Community College and is currently the Director of Dance at American University in Washington, D.C. Learn more about her at bjpdance.com 

Theatre Acting/Directing Alumni

Kay Aston
Kay Aston '06

Kay Aston is working as an actress in Los Angeles.  After Gustavus, Kay attended Cal State Fullerton where she received her MFA in acting.  Some of her favorite roles there include Helena in A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM and Lydia in BIG LOVE.  Upon moving to LA, she helped to found the Coeurage Theatre Company.  She produced, directed, and acted in multiple productions, including the original production HEAD OVER HEELS by Eric Czuleger.  She has had great success in commercials, working for Volkswagen, Nike, Overstock, Dannon, and the international company Iberogast (she did the commercial in Russian!).  Recently appearing as a guest star in the show MY CRAZY EX, Kay has starred in a just-completed pilot, WEEDLAND, which is currently in post-production.  In addition, she has leading roles in many indie and short films.  In her spare time, Kay mentors students at her favorite acting studio, Speiser/Sturges Acting Studio, where she finds great satisfaction imparting the craft she has worked many years to master.

 Christian DeMarais
Christian DeMarais '11

Christian DeMarais graduated from Gustavus in 2011 with a Major in Theatre Honors and Business Management.  Immediately following graduation, Christian worked at the Guthrie and consequently decided to pursue his MFA in Acting from the prestigious NYU Graduate Acting at Tisch’s School of the Arts.  During his 3 years of study he worked with legendary teacher-director Mark Wing-Davey along with other masters of their craft including David Hyde Pierce, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Tim Blake Nelson and Bob Balaban.

Since graduating from NYU in 2015, Christian has made his network television debut on CBS’ Elementary and appeared as Officer Jacob in a New York Times’ critically acclaimed FringeNYC show about the shooting of Trayvon Martin entitled The Broken Record.  Christian has also been doing numerous workshops of new plays with Obie and Drama Desk Award nominated directors and playwrights.  In addition, Christian appeared in the New York Times’ Critic’s Pick Off-Broadway production of The School for Scandal.  Christian starred along side such theatre legends as five-time Tony nominee Dana Ivey, Mark Linn-Baker, Frances Barber, Henry Stram and Tony nominee Derek Smith, among many others.  Recently, Christian performed Off-Broadway at the Public Theater in Hamlet where he played 4 roles: Laertes, Guildenstern, Barnardo and Lucianus.

Nick Dillenburg
Nick Dillenburg '05

Nick Dillenburg made his Broadway debut in The Real Thing, starring Ewan Macgregor and Maggie Gyllenhaal. Off-Broadway he has appeared in several productions including Hater, Into the Hazard: Henry V, and Teenage Dick at the Public Theater. He is also a long-running company member of the immersive theatre production of Sleep No More, which takes place throughout six floors of the McKittrick Hotel, combining elements of Shakespeare's Macbeth and several Hitchcock films.

He has worked regionally at The Shakespeare Theatre (DC), Chicago Shakespeare Theater, Utah Shakespeare Festival, Pioneer Theatre Company, Commonwealth Shakespeare Festival, The Guthrie Theater, Portland Stage Company, Berkshire Theater Festival, and appeared as Ferdinand in The Tempest in Bermuda's Festival of the Arts.

He has appeared on television on Law and Order, Person of Interest, Elementary, and Blue Bloods. Most recently you can find him playing CO Ryder Blake on Netflix's Orange is the New Black. He's currently shooting season five of Orange in New York, slated for release in June 2017.

He also holds an MFA in Acting from the University of Connecticut.

Comfort Dolo
Comfort Dolo '14

Comfort Dolo graduated from Gustavus in 2014 with double majors in Honors Theatre and Communication studies. While a student, she was co-president of the Diversity Leadership Council, the Culture and Diversity Executive for the Campus Activities Board, and participated in Habitat for Humanity, Big Partner Little Partner, I AM WE ARE and the Theatre & Dance Department (obviously). She was a recipient of the Magnuson Student Leadership and Service award (twice); the Diversity Honors Award for Outstanding Event of the Year; the Elco Corporation Award; and the Lee & Laurie Walker Scholarship. She was also elected into the Guild of St. Lucia.

Comfort has been performing in and around Minneapolis since graduating. Most recent being: To Kill a Mockingbird at the eminent Guthrie; TOUCH, a remake of the 1984 Emmy Award winning film project; Girls in White Dresses as Grand Duchess Tatiana Romanov, written by the Playwrights’ Center’s Many Voices Fellow, Cristina Castro; and various commercials ranging from the Minnesota State Lottery to hand modeling for Key Bank.

Benjamin Kolis
Benjamin Kolis '12

Benjamin Kolis is an actor, devisor, and writer based in Minneapolis, MN.

Benjamin has produced and co-directed several shows for the MN Fringe Festival, including CLOCKED (2013, winner of Audience Pick Award), Circulate (2014), and The School of Rhythm (2015). In 2014, he produced and co-directed Cooked, an ensemble theatre / cooking show performed in a theatre he and his roommates had built in their basement. 

Benjamin has devised and performed with several physical theatre / ensemble theatre groups in the Twin Cities, including Savage Umbrella, Slam Productions, Laughing Nomad Productions, and Live Action Set. 

Benjamin tours with GTC: Dramatic Dialogues, a social justice theatre group that performs at colleges and universities all over the country, talking about issues of substance abuse, sexual communication, and diversity. With his help, GTC is introducing scenes dealing with Trans issues into its programming. 

Benjamin has performed with many greater Twin Cities area theatre organizations, such as Artistry, 20% Theatre Company, Old Gem Theatre, Green T Productions, Mounds View Community Theatre, Lyric Arts, Shadow HorseTheatre, Danger Boat Productions, Theatre in the Round Players, and the National Theatre for Children. 

Benjamin has co-authored three books, Brainball: Science Edition (Rowman & Littlefield 2014), Brainball: Theatre Edition (Rowman & Littlefield 2016) and Thinking Diagrams: Processing and Connecting Experiences, Facts, and Ideas (Rowman & Littlefield 2016). He has worked and taught at the Eau Claire Children’s Theatre, and Young Dance. He teaches creative movement, physical theatre, and composition at Out On A Limb Dance Studio and School. 


Theatre Tech/Design Alumni

Kit Baumer
Kit Baumer '15

Kit Baumer received her B.A. in Theatre with Honors from Gustavus in 2015. She has since completed a year of graduate studies in lighting design at California State University, Long Beach, and is now working through her second year of three. At Cal State Long Beach, Kit has had the opportunity to design for a production of Carol Churchill’s Far Away, and Nancy Bell’s Mutual Consent. Kit is currently working on a new devised piece titled Elements. For the past two summers Kit has also assisted her graduate mentor, David Jaques, at Central City Opera in Central City, Colorado. While in Central City Kit had the opportunity to design the lighting for Central City Opera’s production of Mozart’s The Impresario. Kit has been glad to be home in sunny California while she completes her graduate work, but misses all of her friends back in Minnesota.

Erin Belpedio 
Erin Belpedio '11

Erin Belpedio is a Freelance Lighting Designer & Electrician in the Twin Cities and surrounding areas, as well as the Assistant Lighting Designer at Artistry in Bloomington, MN. As an over-hire Electrician, she works with numerous companies including, The Guthrie; Children's Theatre Company; MN Orchestra; The Jungle Theatre; The Cowles Center for the Arts;The Lab Theatre; Old Log Theatre; Penumbra Theatre, and Continental Ballet Company. She is also active on the IATSE union over hire stage crew list. Erin been been able to keep super busy with electrics work and design work over the past 3 years she has been back from school, and work opportunities keep expanding & becoming busier each season!

Upcoming Designs & Projects Include:

  • Lighting Design: Trial Reenactments - Landmark Center, St. Paul, MN; A Christmas Carol - Phipps Center for the Arts, Hudson, WI.
  • Assistant Lighting Design: The Baker's Wife - Artistry, Bloomington, MN.
  • Stage Management: The Nutcracker - Continental Ballet Company at Bloomington Center for the Arts, Bloomington, MN.
  • Light Board Op: Home Street Home - Guthrie Studio, Mpls, MN

Bethany Davidson
Bethany Davidson '15

Bethany Davidson graduated from Gustavus in 2015. She majored in Theatre Honors with a concentration in Costume, Wig, & Makeup Design and Technology and a second major in Psychological Science. During her time at Gustavus, she worked as a Student Supervisor in the Costume Shop and served as Co-President of the USITT GAC Student Chapter and President of the Peterson ILS House. She also spent two summers working in the Wig & Makeup Department at the Utah Festival Opera and Musical Theatre. She is now a member of the University of Minnesota Law School class of 2018. While in law school, she has managed to stay involved in theatre; this past year, she was in the chorus of “Minnesota Jones and Law School of Doom,” this year’s production by the Theatre of the Relatively Talentless (or TORT – which is a civil law claim, law puns!), and next year she will serve as the Co-Head Costumer.  She also focuses on her legal studies, and this summer she will be serving as a Rural Summer Legal Corps Fellow with Iowa Legal Aid in Dubuque, Iowa. Her background in theatre has been a huge help to her in starting her legal career (she brings it up in just about every job interview she’s had!).

Lydia Francis
Lydia Francis '11
Lydia Francis began her scenic design journey after taking Experiments in Design with Micah Maatman in her sophomore year at Gustavus. As her interest continued to grow she was given several opportunities to assist and design for the Gustavus Theater Department including; assisting Micah Maatman in his design for The Impressario From Smyrna, then she moved on to scenic design for Far AwayPains of Youth, and Hamlet. She graduated with a theater honors degree from Gustavus in 2011. That summer she began an internship with the Guthrie Theater that resulted in her first professional job as a scenic artist. In the fall of 2013 she returned to school at the University of Maryland to receive her Masters of Fine Arts in scenic design. While at the University of Maryland she had the pleasure of designing the sets for Moliere Impromptu, My Tempest, Collidescope, The Lost World, and Intimate Apparel. She has also had the amazing opportunity to assist her mentor Dan Conway on such productions as The Aliens at Studio Theater, Becky Shaw at Roundhouse, and The Tempset at A.R.T to name a few. She was also Dan Conway’s associate scenic designer for the Helen Hayes award winning production of Tiny Tim’s Christmas Carol at Adventure Theater that spring she was brought back to Adventure where she designed the set for The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. After graduation Lydia returned to Minneapolis where she has been a freelance set designer and scenic artist. She had the honor of returning to Gustavus to design for Love's Labour's Lost last January. For more information about Lydia check out her website at http://lydiafrancisdesign.format.com/ 
Kiki Klun
Kiki Klun (Mead) '11

Kiki Klun has been freelancing in the Twin Cities metro area as a lighting designer and electrician. Most recently, she designed lights for Blithe Spirit at Artistry and was the master electrician for Million Dollar Quartet and Jungle Book for Old Log Theatre. Kiki has also returned to Gustavus as the Assistant Technical Director. She enjoys teaching carpentry to the students in the scene shop and always looks forward to strike!

Anna Michel
Anna Michel '14
Anna Michel graduated from Gustavus in 2014 and is now a Theatre teacher at Southwest High School in Minneapolis. As the Technical Director, she also designs sound, lights, set and props for various SW productions throughout the year. In addition, Anna is working on her Master of Arts in Teaching at Hamline University. 

Michael Rueckert
Michael Rueckert '08
Upon graduating from Gustavus in 2008, Michael went to Luther Seminary where he graduated in 2012 with a Masters of Divinity.  Since November 2012, he has been working as the solo pastor of Bethlehem Lutheran Church of Ulen, MN. What Michael learned from his theatre degree has been very useful as a pastor.  It has helped to build confidence and comfort in preaching and leading worship.  His technical theatre experience has especially helped to teach him how to manage multiple details that happen behind the scenes to make projects, events, and ministries possible.  Some more specific ways that he has used his theatre experience in pastoral ministry is in working with sound equipment, incorporating monologues during Lenten services, and using dramas during Good Friday services.  Michael has even been known to use short monologues as part of his sermons.  These are just a few ways that his theatre degree has prepared Michael for pastoral ministry.
Jessica Van Kempen
Jessica Van Kempen '14

Jessica Van Kempen graduated from Gustavus Adolphus College in 2014, then went to graduate school at the University of California Irvine where she is studying Costume Design. She is expected to graduate in 2017. During the summer of 2016, she designed costumes for an off-Broadway show called Good by C.P. Taylor, working with the PTP/NYC  (Potomac Theatre Project in New York City) company at The Atlantic stage 2. 

Social Justice Theatre (I Am We Are) Alumni

Chris Bacon '07Chris Bacon '07

Chris Bacon ('07) was an IAWA member from 2004-2007. After graduating from Gustavus with majors in Theatre and Religion, Chris worked in Youth Development for the Peace Corps in Morocco, taught English in South Korea, and was a Teach for America Corps Member in Boston, Massachusetts. He's currently working on a PhD in Education at Boston College, where he specializes in ESL, literacy, and critical pedagogy.
Elizabeth Coco
Elizabeth Coco '12

Elizabeth Coco is the Interim VISTA Manager at the Jay & Rose Phillips Family Foundation. In this role, she manages the Phillips Sectoral Employment Initiative VISTA Program, which seeks to ensure that everyone has the opportunity to compete for jobs, especially those in growing and well-paid industries like healthcare, construction and transportation.

Previously, Coco worked at the Minnesota Council of Nonprofits as VISTA Project Coordinator. During her two year tenure at MCN, both as a VISTA member and later as fulltime staff, Coco founded and coordinated MCN's VISTA Program, which seeks to build the capacity of community based nonprofit organizations, specifically led by and serving communities of color in the Twin Cities.

Before her role at MCN, Coco completed a year with AmeriCorps serving as a Minnesota Reading Corps Literacy tutor at Bethune Community School in Minneapolis. She is an alumnus of Gustavus Adolphus College with degrees in religion and gender, women and sexuality studies and has a deep passion and dedication for social justice and equity.

When not working, Coco volunteers her time with the Headwaters Foundation for Justice which supports organizations doing systems change work for a more equitable Minnesota.

At Gustavus, she was Co-President of the Womyn's Awareness Center, Co-Chair of Building Bridges, member of I Am We Are to name a few.

Sedrick Hawkins
Sedrick Hawkins '96
Sedrick Hawkins, born and raised in the heart of New Orleans, was blessed to have the opportunity to attend Gusatvus Adolphus College.  He graduated from Gustavus in 1996 with a degree in Communications/ Theatre Education. He holds a Master’s degree in Educational Leadership and is now working on a Doctorate in Executive Leadership.  He was one of the original members of “I AM We Are”.  Post Katrina he became more involved in his community by rededicating his life to education and music. 
 
Sedrick Hawkins is currently Dean of Students at Riverdale High School in Jefferson, Louisiana where he works with a diverse population of students, teachers and administration to assure a bright future for all children in the community.  Sedrick serves as Minister of Music at three churches in the New Orleans area playing the organ and alto saxophone.  He is married to Delinda Marie ‘94 and together they have three children.  
Evan HilsabeckEvan Hilsabeck '09
Evan Hilsabeck (’09) has created programming to allow young people to explore social justice through performance in Iowa, Minnesota, Connecticut and India. Currently the Managing Director of the Coralville Center for the Performing Arts in Iowa, Evan has fostered youth theatre and community-based theatre throughout his career. As Managing Artistic Director of Spencer Community Theatre, Evan oversaw the creation of an endowment supporting the children’s theatre in his hometown. As Artistic Director of The Thambo Project, he presented workshop, classes and productions rooted in Theatre of the Oppressed techniques, and developed an international network of social justice theatre practitioners. Evan sits on the Advisory board of the Iowa Arts Council by appointment of Gov. Terry Branstad.
Lillie Hollingsworth
Lillie Hollingsworth '08
Lillie Hollingsworth is currently a 2nd grade Spanish and English Lead teacher at KIPP Austin Comunidad in Austin, TX. She is a Literacy Course leader for KIPP Austin Public Schools, specializing in incorporating drama based instruction into classrooms. Previously, she worked in the non-profit field teaching creative arts such as filmmaking, theatre and puppetry to underserved youth. She lives with her husband Will, dog Macintosh, cat Werhner and 5 chickens. 
Rhea Muchalla LeGrande
Rhea Muchalla LeGrande '09
Rhea LeGrande is an Instructional Coach at East High School in Kansas City, Missouri where she works with administration, teachers and students to ensure quality education for every student in her building. She is a Teach for America Alum, holds Master's Degrees in Philosophy and Education and is currently a Leading Educators National Fellow. Rhea graduated Magna Cum Laude with Majors in Philosophy and GWS with a Minor in Political Science. While at Gustavus Rhea was actively involved in I AM WE ARE, Zeta Chi Phi Multicultural Sorority Inc., and major events put on by the Diversity Center. Rhea continues her pursuit for social justice by working towards ensuring quality education for every child, everywhere. She currently resides on the Kansas side of the border with her furry sidekick, Riot, her incredible daughter, Supriya, and her better half, Stefano. 
Karla Leitzman '13
Karla Leitzman '13
Karla Leitzman '13 has had a busy and full two years since graduating from Gustavus. She currently works for the Girl Scouts as a Philanthropy Associate in Individual and Planned Giving. She also enjoys doing as much political and policy work as possible is currently the campaign manager for a MN State House in Woodbury, MN. Previous post graduate experiences include working on Senator Al Franken's re election campaign in 2014, working on several small municipal and county campaigns as well as focusing on the need for Comprehensive Immigration Reform with the non profit, Organizing for Action. Karla looks back on her time at Gustavus and in I Am We Are with fond memories and loves using the skills she gained both in her work and in her every day life. She tries to always remember her favorite quote from Augusto Boal, "It is forbidden to walk on the grass. It is not forbidden to fly over the grass." 
Neo Moroka
Neo Moroka '05
Neo Moroka is a Gustavus graduate (05) with a degree in Communication studies and a Theatre Minor. He fell in love with "I Am We Are" the first year he was at Gustavus and has been involved in Social Justice since. He is a founding member of the Thambo project and has worked with a number of organisations that promote the "Spirit of Ubuntu" around the world. He is currently based in Durban, South Africa working on a poverty alleviation programme in the Ethekwini Municipality called the EPWP (Extended Public Works Programme).
Megan Myhre
Megan Myhre '11
Megan Myhre graduated from Gustavus in 2011 with a degree in Religious Studies, and minored in theatre, music and ONE CREDIT SHY of a minor in Gender, Women, and Sexuality Studies. While at Gustavus, she was heavily involved in the Theatre and Dance Department and Music Department. Megan loved her time in I Am We Are from 2008-2011, and in fact wrote her senior thesis comparing Theatre of the Oppressed and Liberation Theology. After graduation, Megan had the privilege of working for her alma mater in the Alumni and Parent Engagement office and spearheading the new offices at the American Swedish Institute. Currently, she live in Minneapolis and works for Dale Carnegie Training in the North Central States. Dale Carnegie Training is represented in all 50 of the United States and more than 80 nations worldwide, offering a wide variety of leadership training to empower people to apply techniques and move beyond their comfort zone in order to make positive changes within their work and life.
Heather Nielsen
Heather Nielsen '99
Heather Nielsen graduated from GAC in 1999 with a BA in Environmental Studies.  Being a part of many campus organizations including Gustie Greens, The Juggling Socialists, The Womyn's Center, and of course I Am We Are gave her a strong foundation and passion for creative problem solving as a way to make change in the world.  She has one foot in the world of conservation education and one in educational theater and currently stands on both in a third grade classroom in Manhattan.  Heather loves the outdoors and and has worked as an environmental educator and conservation crew leader in Minnesota and Vermont, moving from a wilderness crew leader to Education Manager at Vermont  Youth Conservation Corps.  After several years working in alternative education and theatre education and falling in love with large-scale puppetry, she moved to New York City to get her Masters in Applied Theatre from CUNY-SPS (2012).  She has worked as a teaching artist and arts administrator at such places as Urban Stages, The Creative Arts Team-Youth Theatre, Project SAFE, Story Pirates, and New Victory Theatre. She also co-created the Newtown Creek Puppet Parade and Pageant in Greenpoint, Brooklyn working with 50 K-5 youth to explore the polluted waterway's past, present, and hoped-for future using puppetry, theater, and movement in 2012 and 2013. She has spent the last three years as an Associate Teacher at Trinity school in Manhattan, using elements of theater to explore literature, social studies and build community.  She is currently working towards her theater teaching certification at City College in New York.
Bethany Ringdahl
Bethany Ringdahl '11
Bethany Ringdal graduated from Gustavus in 2011 with a major in religion, a minor in english, and plenty of time in the theater world under her belt performing in mainstage shows and leading workshops with I Am We Are. Since graduating, Bethany has grown vegetables, milked cows and baked sourdough bread as a fledgling farmer; trained and supervised canoe guides, managed communications, and designed innovative environmental and religious programing as a wilderness camp director at Camp Amnicon; and reveled in theology, struggled with ancient Greek, grown as a leader in her time as a student at Luther Seminary in St. Paul.  Bethany is a candidate for ordained ministry with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and (God-willing,) will be a pastor by the time she's 30. In the meantime she continues to engage of problems of injustice, working to help herself and others find healing from the spiritual illnesses of racism, over-consumption, and apathy. She blogs at www.saying-grace.com 
Jessica Risco
Jessica Risco '02
Jessica Risco, MPH is a San Francisco-based actress and educator who as facilitated Theatre of the Oppressed workshops with communities across the U.S. and Africa. She has trained with both Augusto Boal in Los Angeles and Augusto’s son, Julian, in Minneapolis and Berkeley. Since receiving a B.A. in Theatre from Gustavus Adolphus College, she has had the opportunity to work as an actress in New York City, Dublin, Honolulu, Minneapolis, and Tucson. Jessica made her San Francisco debut in 2011 in Savage in Limbo at the Actor's Theatre and since has been seen in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (Mae), The Iceman Cometh (Cora), A Delicate Balance (Julia) and, most recently, The Birthday Party (Lulu) which is currently nominated for Best Ensemble for the Theatre Bay Association Awards. Favorite credits include Angles in America (Harper Pitt), Fool for Love (May),Heartbreak House (Ellie Dunn), and Balm in Gilead (Bonnie).
Michael J. Sielaff
Michael J. Sielaff '08
Michael J. Sielaff was born and raised in Fridley, Minnesota (Ward 3, Precinct 2). He graduated with[out] honors from Gustavus where he majored in Religious Studies, minored in Theatre, was on Proclaim leadership, had a fledging KGSM radio show, was a proud member of I Am We Are for four years, and had a life-changing experience studying abroad in India with the Social Justice, Peace, & Development program. After working for CLIMB Theatre for a year, Michael relocated to Los Angeles to pursue TV/film acting in 2009 where he has had landed roles in a few TV shows (Workaholics, Maron, Chuck), commercials (DiGiorno's, Safe Auto, McDonald's), and films (Disaster LA, Reality, noobz- wait, you've never heard of them? Crap! I did audition in front of the Coen brothers once...more impressive? I didn't get the role, though, so I suppose not...I just want to impress you!). He currently performs with Story Pirates, founded/teaches with the improv school Rogue Improv, and co-produces Laughtivism shows with the soon-to-be non-profit he helped create called 'Deceased Apathy Society.'
Matt Swenson
Matt Swenson '06
Matt Swenson -- a 2006 Gustavus graduate and I Am We Are alumnus -- serves as press secretary and senior communications advisor for Governor Mark Dayton and Lt. Governor Tina Smith. Swenson is the chief spokesperson for the Governor and Lt. Governor. He also advises the Governor, Lt. Governor, and Cabinet on communications strategy and media relations, and oversees the communications operations of all 24 agencies of state government.
 
Prior to joining the Governor's Office, Swenson served as Director of Communications for the Minnesota Department of Commerce, as press secretary for Margaret Anderson Kelliher's gubernatorial campaign, and as a communications strategist and media relations professional for the Minnesota Legislature. He has also served as an adjunct professor at Concordia University in Saint Paul, and as a Commissioner on the West Mississippi Watershed Commission.
 
Matt attended Gustavus Adolphus College with assistance from the Evelyn Anderson Theatre Scholarship, acting in three main-stage productions and working in the Theatre Scene Shop during his time at Gustavus. Swenson double-majored in communication studies and political science, and minored in art studio. In 2009, he earned his Masters Degree in Public Policy at the Hubert H. Humphrey School of Public Affairs, with coursework at the University of Minnesota's School of Journalism and Mass Communication.
Julia Tindell '13Julie Tindell '13 Julia Tindell is the Media/Events Specialist & Volunteer Coordinator for Breaking Free, where she manages volunteer applications to connect individuals’ passions and skills with the needs of the organization, plans and executes events, and manages communications needs. Julia graduated summa cum laude from Gustavus Adolphus College in 2013 with a B.A. in English. While at Gustavus, she sharpened her skills as a writer and leader as a participant in I Am We Are. During her senior year, Julia studied abroad at the University of Oxford’s Worcester College and was inducted into the Phi Beta Kappa Society. Since graduating, she served as a coach for I Am We Are’s E Pluribus show 2013-2014. She joined Breaking Free in October 2014, where she is now using her skills to demand an end to sex trafficking and violence against women. 

Click here to see some additional alumni who are established in their field.