Sobha Kavanakudiyil is a Co-Chair for The New York City Arts in Education Roundtable and she is the Director of The Graduate Program in Educational Theatre at The City College of New York. She also works as an Arts Education Consultant and is part of the inaugural class of the American’s for the Arts Speaker’s Bureau and a Mentor for the Arthur Miller Foundation and Department of Education mentoring program. She is the recipient of the Fulbright Specialist Fellowship and has traveled to Seoul, Korea and Puebla, Mexico to share her love of theatre with teachers and artists abroad. Sobha is committed to quality arts education! You can follow her on Twitter @MsSobhaK.
Board of Directors and Staff
David King is an actor, director, poet, educator and curator. He is an arts and social justice advocate committed to collaboration, community empowerment, cultural equity and anti-racist principles. He is a New York City native who sits on the Board of Directors for the NYC Arts in Education Roundtable. He serves as Program Director of School Partnerships at Community-Word Project and is Co-Founder of The Seven Collective. He is a 2019 Innovative Cultural Advocacy Fellow with The Caribbean Cultural Center African Diaspora Institute (CCCADI) and member of Artists Co-creating Real Equity (ACRE). He is a proud member of Actors’ Equity Association who has received critical acclaim for Off Broadway and FringeNYC roles from The New York Times and Time Out New York. His chapbook, Because the View, is a collection of original poems, musings and photos inspired by growing up and aware in NYC. His writing was featured in the poetry anthology The Barbershop Chronicles (Penmanship Books). He graduated from Brooklyn Technical High School and earned a B.A. in Theatre from The City College of New York (CUNY). He appreciates those who contribute to the process.
Kati Koerner has been the Hiltz Director of Education at Lincoln Center Theater since 2002. She is also a member of the drama faculty at The Juilliard School. Ms. Koerner’ s experience as an arts educator includes having been a high school drama teacher at Boston’s Commonwealth School, and a teaching artist for theaters and community-based organizations in the U.S. and in Germany. Ms. Koerner was Co-Chair of the New York City Arts in Education Roundtable from 2011-2017. She currently co-chairs the Roundtable’s annual Face to Face conference and chairs its Development Committee.
Traci Lester is Executive Director of National Dance Institute (NDI) an arts education organization founded by New York City Ballet principal dancer Jacques d’Amboise in the belief that the arts have a unique power to engage all children and motivate them toward excellence. Prior to NDI, Ms. Lester served as the Chief Executive Officer of LSA Family Health Service (LSA), an East Harlem-based human services agency. Before joining LSA, she was the Executive Director of Reach Out and Read of Greater New York, an early literacy, school readiness program, where she served for over a decade making waves in the field of early childhood development.
Most recently, Ms. Lester was recognized by the Manhattan Borough President as a Cultural Leader in New York City (2018). She is the recipient of the American Association of University Women’s Selected Professions Fellowship (1998), the National Association of Health Service Executive’s Community Service Award (2004), and was named to TheGrio’s 100 List as an African-American history maker and industry leader in the field of education (2012). She is also a member of the Greater New York Association of Fundraising Professionals and the American Society for Public Administrators Pi Alpha Alpha Honor Society.
She earned a Bachelor’s Degree from Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service, a Master of Business Administration from Rutgers University, a Master of Public Administration from California State University and holds a Certificate in Nonprofit Management from Columbia University’s Institute for Nonprofit Management. (Photo credit: Eduardo Patino.nyc)
Toya Lillard is Executive Director of viBe Theater Experience. A native Houstonian, Toya graduated from Houston’s High School for Performing and Visual Arts. She has directed plays, developed curricula, led advocacy efforts and implemented innovative teaching artist training programs both in and out of our city’s schools. Prior to joining viBe, Toya served as Director of School Programs for The New York Philharmonic’s Education Department, where she helped to develop its nationally recognized School Partnership Program. In addition to leading viBe Theater Experience, Toya is also part-time faculty at The New School, where she teaches Global Dramatic Literature, Devised Theatre, and Portfolio 1. Toya is also an adjunct professor at CUNY CityTech, where she teaches Black Theater. Toya holds a B.A. from Vassar College, and an M.A. from New York University’s Gallatin School of Individualized Study. Toya serves on the Board of the New York City Arts in Education Roundtable, and is an Affiliate Representative on the Board of the Downtown Brooklyn Arts Alliance.
Lisa Mitchell is the Director of Education and Audience Engagement at Disney Theatrical Group, where she engages students, teachers, and audiences through Broadway performance and student-driven productions. Current and past field positions include: the Audience Engagement Committee (the Broadway League), the Roger Rees Awards advisory board, the New York City Arts in Education Roundtable board, and the American Alliance for Theatre and Education board. Lisa holds doctoral degree in entrepreneurial leadership in education from Johns Hopkins University. Her research focuses on developing enduring theater programs in under-resourced schools.
Ayo Oti is an At-large NYCAiER board member who works as a research and creative operations manager for Gartner’s Marketing and Communications practice. Her experience spans from working in startup environments to establish key processes around data management and human resource operations, to working within more established programs to bring entrepreneurial insights to the management of existing projects. She has worked in a variety of sectors and across different functional areas.
In 2016, Ayo was part of the launch team for the CUNY Cultural Corps initiative that provided paid internship experiences for CUNY students and alumni at various cultural institutions, thanks to the Department of Cultural Affairs and The Rockefeller Foundation. While not currently working in the cultural sector, Ayo is a patron of museums and performing arts organizations.
Gary Padmore joined the New York Philharmonic, bringing with him decades of experience in education and community work. Prior to the Philharmonic, he was the Director of Education & Community at Orchestra of St. Luke’s where he created a concert series celebrating works by composers of color, doubled enrollment in its youth orchestra program, and increased school and community partnerships. Gary also led education programs at Midori & Friends and Brooklyn Philharmonic, served as an adjunct lecturer at Queens College, and was a teaching artist at several local organizations. As a steward of symphonic music and arts education, Gary sits on the boards of the NYC Arts in Education Roundtable and The Dream Unfinished: an activist orchestra. A trumpet player and native New Yorker, Gary has degrees from Queens College and Mannes School of Music. He was named one of Musical America’s Top 30 Professionals of the Year in 2019.
Dr. Bryan Powell an Assistant Professor of Music Education and Music Technology at Montclair State University. Prior to joining MSU, Bryan served as the Director of Higher Education for Little Kids Rock, and the Interim Director of Amp Up NYC, a partnership between Berklee College of Music and Little Kids Rock. Bryan is a musician and music educator with public school music teaching experience in the New York City Department of Education. Dr. Powell has published multiple articles in peer-reviewed journals and has taught courses at NYU, Ithaca College, Boston University, Indiana University of Pennsylvania, Slippery Rock University, Lebanon Valley College, and Bergen Community College. Bryan is the founding editor of Journal of Popular Music Education and is the Executive Director of the Association for Popular Music Education. Dr. Powell currently serves as the Chair of the NAfME Popular Music Education SRIG and is an International Affiliate for Musical Futures.
David Shookhoff, Roundtable Chair Emeritus and Education Director at Manhattan Theatre Club since 1989, is a founding member of the Roundtable, served as its Treasurer and Steering Committee member for its first six years, and was elected its Chair when the organization incorporated in 1998, stepping down in June, 2011. He has served as co-Chair of the Face to Face Conference since its inception. Throughout its 20-year history, David has worked to help the Roundtable grow to its present size and stature, a role he hopes to continue to play. David also serves on the Board of the Center for Arts Education, the NYCDOE Advisory Council on the Arts, and has chaired the AIE panel at NYSCA.