Executive Board

Members of the Executive Board of Region 8 have been vetted by the Regional organization and National organization in concordance with the by-laws of ACTF Management, Limited.

Region 8 Chair

Eric Bishop
MiraCosta College

Hello! My name is Eric Bishop. I live on the land of the Kumeyaay nation in what is now known as San Diego County.  My pronouns are he/him/his.  I am a father, husband, son, brother, friend, theatre artist, educator, leader, humanist, empath and citizen.  I root for the local baseball team, love music, art, documentaries, animals and my home state of California.  I am of mixed race and honor my grandmother from Mexico.  My creativity is supercharged when I witness exceptional, inspiring theatre!

My love of KCACTF began as a community college student at Fresno City College when my passion was ignited by the vast array of theatre opportunities, plays, workshops and life-long friendships cultivated.  I’m proud to say that I haven’t missed a Region 8 festival since 1990.  I loved my time as a student in KCACTF and never dreamed I would be leading this regional organization back when I was in college, but I am proud to give back after all KCACTF has given me.  Life has a funny way of coming full circle.  I strive to make KCACTF in Region 8 a positive, stimulating and life changing experience for all students from all states and all communities. I believe that there is a place for everyone in the theatre.  It is my goal to continue to push the boundaries to make our festival as inclusive, welcoming and inspiring as possible.  Onwards!

Region 8 Immediate Past Chair | Finance Director

Gil Gonzalez
Whittier College

I am proud of my Oaxacan heritage and ancestry. As an advocate for the Latinx community, I am proud to stand alongside my fellow BIPOC artists and citizens to advocate for representation, equity and diversity in all aspects of life. BA History and Dramatic Arts, University of Wisconsin-Parkside; MFA in Acting, University of Virginia.

Region 8 Chair of Design, Technology and Management

Kara Thomson
Mesa Community College

Growing up in two very different places let me see the contrasts of lives in America — the good and the ugly. Most of my time was spent in Yuma which is in Arizona, on the Mexico and California border. Because of the military bases near Yuma, my elementary school and High School had a diverse population of students. In fact, my best friends and I all had mothers who were born outside of the US.

The second place I lived was outside of Washington D.C. It was in D.C. that I explored arts and sciences at the Smithsonian, and where I was first introduced to theatre. Theatre has been a place where I can experience and learn truths about our many lives. Not just from the plays based in the past, but more importantly, from current times and differing cultures. It is through theatre we learn empathy and how to see the world through a new point of view. Being in the shared space with a theatrical production reaches farther into a person’s heart and consciousness than any film or television program can. I have worked in all three of these mediums; and I believe that film and television let us escape, while theatre haunts us with these revealed truths.

As a designer I enjoy creating environments that support these shared truths. But more than this, I enjoy mentoring young designers and helping them find their artistic voices.

Out of the theatre? It might look like I run with wolves, but they are actually huskies.

Region 8 Vice Chair of Design, Technology and Management

JR Luker
California State University, Dominguez Hills

Region 8 National Playwriting Program Co-Chair

Carol Damgen
California State University California, San Bernardino

Region 8 National Playwriting Program Co-Chair

Jenny Kokai
Weber State University

In a playwriting camp I taught, a fourth grader once wrote: “One’s a pond of time.” Identity is a construction of how we see ourselves and how others see us, and it is largely a fictional narrative we create to impose order on chaos. Having been asked to construct just such a thing, I can tell you about some of the things that make up my pond. I grew up mostly in Louisville, Kentucky, the oldest of three girls. Although I am constantly asked if my last name is Hawaiian, it is Hungarian but I know little to nothing about Hungary. I knew I wanted to make theatre from the time I was very small and entirely on my own organized an application and audition for a performing arts high school in search of both a place to make theatre and a place that had room for a nerdy, weird kid who liked to play pretend and wanted the world to be more just. After being accepted as an Acting major, we all quickly realized this was a mistake. But fortunately, they also had a voluntary playwriting and directing class led by one of the greatest teachers I have ever had and I found a voice there. Since then, I have moved from one red flyover state to another in pursuit of my education and career, ending up in Utah a place I never predicted living. I am obsessed with new works from under represented voices, wild theatricality, and coffee. I have no personal concept of gender. I am responsible for seven non-human animals and one human 13-year-old.  BA- Butler U, MA- Washington University in St. Louis, PhD- The University of Texas at Austin

Region 8 National Playwriting Program Vice Chair

Kirin McCrory
Mount San Antonio Community College

This personal identity statement is hard for me to write–I’m pretty introverted and I don’t love talking about myself. I lived on the East coast for most of my life; now I live here and I always miss fall. I grew up on college campuses; I now teach at a community college where most of my students are first generation or nontraditional college students, and I’m reminded every day of what a huge privilege it was to be exposed to academia at such a young age. I started acting in high school, started writing plays and doing fight choreography in college, and got my MFA so that I could teach at the college level. I’m most interested now, in both theatre and education, in making space for other, less represented people to tell their stories or see themselves on stage. Both theatre and education have the potential to make us better humans, though both can and have been used to do the opposite–and my goal always is to help myself and others grow, however incrementally, through these two practices. As a person outside of theatre, reading is my major hobby, and you can find me watching anime in the mornings, listening to vintage soul and jazz records, and playing with my big, dumb dog. BA in Theatre Studies and Literature – Emerson College; MFA in Playwriting – UC Riverside

Region 8 National Playwriting Program Vice Chair

Miguel Torres Cruz
California State University Fullerton


Region 8 Representation, Equity, and Diversity (RED) Chair

Gina Sandi-Diaz
California State Univesity Fresno

I was born and raised (with my two siblings) in San Jose, Costa Rica by a single mother and overachiever, super-awesome women to whom I owe much of the person I am today. I moved to the States in 2013 with my husband and our two pets, and I currently teach and reside in Fresno, CA. 

As a rebellious and extremely moody teenager, I dealt with anxiety and depression. Theatre totally changed the course of my life and probably saved me from self-destruction. I consider myself a Theatre for Social Change artist and scholar with an affinity for directing, devised theatre, applied theatre and Latinx and Latin American theatre and performance. 

I believe in the transformative power of theatre and its ability to build community and a sense of belonging for all people. As such, I emphasize diverse, culturally affirming stories and intersectionality in my work. 

I am also a yoga/meditation practitioner, a passionate traveler, and I love pets. University of Kansas, Universidad Nacional de Costa Rica

Region 8 Representation, Equity, & Diversity (RED) Vice Chair


Shaunte Caraballo
California State University Dominguez Hills

My name is Shaunté Keakalani Caraballo. I reside on the land of the Tongva nation. My pronouns are she/her/hers/ella. I am fortunate that my name is an excellent representation of who I am. I am a woman of color. I am African American. I am Latinx. I am a proud Boricua! I am the daughter of two veterans. I am a hula dancer/choreographer who is active in the Asian/Pacific Islander community and have been for 14 years. I have been an ally for the LGBTQ+ community long before I knew it was a thing. I am a Christian who believes that the greatest expression of Christ’s love is to love all just as they are and I do not believe it is my job to make everyone believe as I do. I love all faiths and believe I can learn from all. I have produced culturally-specific work for many years. I love to choreograph and devise new works that include multiple areas of performance that normally would not be combined. I enjoy developing work for only those communities I am a part of, but also for other minorities and underrepresented groups. It is a true passion of mine to have BIPOC artists tell their stories. And I would like to see more of that in theatre. BA-CA Baptist University, MFA-CSU Long Beach

Region 8 Representation, Equity, and Diversity Coordinator (RED) Vice Chair


Governing Board

Members of the Governing Board have been vetted by the Region 8 Executive Board and share in leadership of Festival Program areas, arranging and scheduling production responses (Circuit Coordinators), and providing artistic and professional advice to to organization.

Festival Coordinators

KCACTF/LORT ASPIRE Leadership Coordinator

Maria Amon
California State University San Marcos

I was raised in National City, Ca, a low-income city 10 miles from the border. This city had a large part in shaping my identity. As a Latina, I am committed to creating opportunities for growth and success within my community. PhD, UC Irvine and UCSD; JD California Western School of Law; BA, University of San Diego

Member-at-Large with focus on Arts Leadership/ASPIRE

Roman Sanchez

Member-At-Large with a Focus on Playwriting

Kiki Rivera


Francesca (Cessa) Betancourt


Fredreka Irvine

Member-at-Large with focus on Representation, Equity and Diversity

Rodney Lloyd Scott


InterAct Interviews and Auditions Coordinator

Matthew Schleicher
Rio Hondo College

InterAct Interviews and Auditions Coordinator

Ryan Scrimger

InterAct Interviews and Auditions Coordinator

Jeffery Ingman
MiraCosta College

Irene Ryan Coordinator

Vanessa Mizzone Pellegrini
East Los Angeles College

Irene Ryan Coordinator

Shaheen Vaaz
Pierce College

Musical Theatre Initiative Coordinator

Andrew Barratt Lewis
Weber State University

Invitational Scenes Coordinator

Amanda Zarr
Chapman University

I have always never fit in. In high school I played volleyball, did yearbook, and also did acting. None of these groups talked to each other at lunch, so I never knew where to sit. I have carried this feeling with me for most of my life. The first time in my life where I felt a feeling of, “these are my people” is when I walked into my first KCACTF festival. Everyone was like me!  They did a lot, in a lot of different areas.  I joined the board to work to give that feeling to other students. I volunteer and give what limited time I have because I want theater/acting/tech/writing/designing etc. to be a force to unite. I see in all my classrooms students capable of great things and feel like to come to festival each year and learn so much for students across our region. BFA, Chapman University in Orange, California, MFA, University of Washington Seattle, Washington.

Respondents Workshop

Judith Royer
Loyola Marymount University

Respondents Workshop

Adam Houghton
Brigham Young University

Adam Houghton joined the BFA Acting faculty at BYU in the fall of 2017. Before that he taught acting classes and directed plays for 13 years at the College of Saint Benedict and Saint John’s University in Minnesota. Adam graduated from BYU in 1996 with a bachelor’s degree in Theatre and Film with an Acting Emphasis. He received his MFA in directing from the Carnegie Mellon School of Drama. In addition to his MFA, Adam has pursued diverse acting training that includes traditional approaches as well as Biomechanics, the Noh Training Project, and Alba Emoting. He has a keen interest in mask making and performance and sees the mask’s primary function in communication as revealing more than it conceals.

BYU has had a profound impact on Adam’s life. Adam’s father grew up in a small mining town and his BYU education changed the direction of his life, lifting him out of poverty. He instilled this value of education in Adam from a young age. And it was at BYU where Adam developed as an artist, scholar, and disciple of Christ, integrating a love of learning, art, and the gospel.​ For Adam, the greatest theatre is that which reveals truth and strengthens the bonds between God​ and his children.

After serving a mission in Germany, Adam met his wife, Lori, on a blind date while they were students at BYU and their family has three girls who will surpass Adam and Lori in every way.

BA, Brigham Young University, 1996; MFA, Carnegie Mellon University School of Drama, 2003

Respondents Workshop

Lori Siekmann
Concordia University, Irvine

My mom’s parents moved from Puerto Rico to the mainland in the 30s, and my mom was born in TX. The whole reason my grandfather moved to St. Louis was to become a pastor and start a Spanish language ministry in the Lutheran church. My dad, an immigrant from Denmark, also became a pastor. With this upbringing, my Christian faith is a big part of who I am. I also deal with the mental health issue of anxiety disorder. I see it as incredibly important to break the stigma of mentioning it, and try to remind all those with mental health issues that you are not alone. My identity as a theatre artist also defines me. I gravitate towards contemporary realism, farce, Theatre for Young Audiences, and musical theatre. More recently, I have found the joy of playwriting. The biggest thing I want to accomplish with my art is to encourage people to have empathy with & for one another, to foster compassion, to listen to one another, and to seek to understand & love all people.

MFA in Playwriting from Spalding University, MA in Theatre from the University of Illinois, Chicago

Directing Program Coordinator

Jeremy Lewis
Concordia University, Irvine

Devised Performance Coordinator

bree valle
Cuesta College 

A personal identity is the concept you develop about yourself that evolves over the course of your life. This may include aspects of your life that you have no control over, such as where you grew up, your gender identity, sexuality and race or ethnicity, as well choices you have made in life, your beliefs and values, styles and personal tastes. You may demonstrate many portions of your personal identity outwardly and you may also keep some elements of your personal identity to yourself, even when these parts of yourself are very important. We are not asking for you to reveal anything about yourself that you wish to remain private, however we celebrate transparency and even vulnerability.  

BA Urban Planning Lakehead University, Canada; BEd  Lakehead University, Canada; MFA Performance/Directing – Arizona State University 

Stage Management Coordinator

Amber Bielinski

University of Utah

Theatre Criticism Program Coordinator


Workshop Coordinator

Amanda Crabb
Utah Valley University

Dramaturgy Coordinator

Shelley Graham
Brigham Young University

Dramaturgy Coordinator

Janine Knighton
Utah Valley University









Circuit Coordinators

Greater Inland Empire

Lisa Lyons
California State University, San Bernardino

LA Metro

Christine Cummings
Mt. San Antonio College

Greater Los Angeles

Sarah Ripper
California State University, Fullerton

I am an empath and an animal lover. I grew up in Houston, Texas, and studied Musical Theatre. While in undergrad, I attended KCACTF every year and was even honored to perform at the Kennedy Center in DC in our production of “The Laramie Project”. It was a magical experience attending those festivals and being surrounded by fellow theatre-artists!  I even had the opportunity to stage-manage a new play! After earning my Bachelor’s degree, I moved to NYC and lived there for 10 years while pursuing my career as a performer, director, and choreographer. I always knew I wanted to be an educator, but was uncertain about which grade/age group I would love working with most. While in NY, I taught all ages and realized that college was my niche. I then got my Master’s in Educational Theatre for Colleges and Communities at NYU, which then led me to move to California to get another Master’s degree, this time at CSU Fullerton for Directing. I recently got married during a pandemic, and own two cats. I am a believer in teaching lessons in being a compassionate, empathetic, and inclusive human. You never know someone else’s story. 

Sam Houston State University, NYU, at CSU Fullerton

San Diego

Gerilyn Brault
MiraCosta College

Pronouns: She/Her/Hers. I saw my first musical when I was three years old, and I’ve been hooked on theatre ever since. I work as an actor, director, and teacher in the San Diego area, getting to now work in places I’ve grown up watching theatre performed at. As a plus size actress, an out-and-proud bisexual, a person with disabilities from chronic illness, and an advocate for racial justice, I am passionate about making theatre and theatre training accessible to all. I want our beautifully diverse world of all races, genders, orientations, abilities, and sizes, to be represented on and off our stages. I specialize in musicals and Shakespeare, with added interests in stage makeup, text analysis, and vocal/dialect work. Theatre has a magical way of providing society both escape and education, and I personally gravitate to art that can entertain and challenge audiences. I am also an artist who benefited from KCACTF Responses and Festivals when I was a community college student. I look forward to being a part of Theatre’s evolution during this time of reflection and action in, and out, of our art form. Theatre has historically had surges of creativity after times of crisis: I can’t wait to see where we all go from here. 

CSU Chico: BA in Musical Theatre, Purdue University: MFA in Acting

Rocky Mountains and Southern Nevada

Graham Whipple
Utah Valley University

Pacific Islands

Jessica Jacob
University of Hawaii-Manoa

(Prefer: Jess to Jessica. She/Her/Hers) I am a devoted yet somewhat unexceptional performer, an intense and driven director and stage combat choreographer, and a brutally pragmatic theatre administrator and educator with bouts of devil-may-care whimsy. A gen-x-er born in Georgia, raised in Vermont, that  lived 20 years in Alaska and now resides in Hawai’i with 30 years of arts admin experience to date, I am a continual work in progress with a foundational desire to champion the arts, creativity, innovation, performer safety, and representation.

MFA University of Hawai’i at Manoa (Asian Theatre)


David Seitz
Glendale Community College, AZ

KCACTF National Organization

KCACTF National Leadership

Chair-Michelle Bombe

Co Vice Chair-Brad Dell

Co Vice Chair-Gil Gonzalez

Immediate Past National Chair- David Lee-Painter

KCACTF Representation, Equity and Diversity (RED)

Chair-Gil Gonzalez

Vice Chair-

KCACTF Regional Chairs

Vana Trudeau and Tom Rothacker, Bill Gillett, Herschel Kruger, Lisa Abbott, Jim Wood, Mike Burnett, Nick Taylor, Eric Bishop

KCACTF Design, Technology, and Management Chairs

Chair, Design, Technology and Management-Jesse Dreikosen

Vice Chair, Chair,Design, Technology and Management-

Design, Technology and Management Member-at-Large-

Regional Chairs: Erika Guay and Emmett Buhmann, Nancy Pipkin Hutchinson, Christopher Plummer and Misti Bradford, Tony Galaska, Kelly Marie Schaefer, Elizabeth “Biz” Nelson and Eric Marsh, Raquel Davis, Kara Thomson

KCACTF National Playwriting Program

Chair, National Playwriting Program-Jim Holmes

Vice Chair, National Playwriting Program-Ben Gonzales

NPP Member at Large-Julie Mollenkamp

Regional Chairs: James Ryan Caldwell, Bob Bartlett, Thom Miller, Becky Becker, Sean Byrd, Jackie Rosenfeld, Jenny Kokai and Carol Damgen

The Kennedy Center

President- Deborah F. Rutter

Senior Vice President, Education-Mario R. Rossero

Director, Education Programs and Productions-David Kilpatrick

Director, Education Activation and Engagement-Vanessa Thomas

Manager, KCACTF and Theater Education-Kelsey Mesa

Program Assistant, Theater Education-Jackeline Mass

Artistic Director, KCACTF-Gregg Henry