Arthur Miller Foundation Fellows Program

In 2015, the Arthur Miller Foundation Fellows Program was launched in partnership with the New York City Department of Education Office of Arts and Special Projects (NYC DOE OASP) with the goal of expanding access and equity to quality theater education for students by supporting public school theater teachers.

The Arthur Miller Foundation collaborated with Peter Avery, NYC DOE Director of Theater, to develop the program which is tailored to first, second and third year theater teachers, named Arthur Miller Fellows.  Fellows are provided with three years of dedicated support, including experienced mentors, cultural partner residencies, classroom resources, theater field trips for students and professional development opportunities.

In 5 years, the program has expanded from 15 to 60 Fellows at 60 public schools, impacting over 30,000 elementary, middle and high school students in all 5 boroughs of New York City.  It is one of the few existing programs with a focus on integrating theater arts education into the academic day.


1. Mentorship

Each fellow is matched with a professional veteran theater educator who serves as their dedicated mentor while they participate in the program.

2. Cultural Partner Residencies

Fellows select a multi-week residency on a specific topic of theater, bringing a teaching artist from a celebrated New York City cultural institution into their classroom to work with their students for 8-10 weeks.

(Please note our esteemed Cultural Partners below.)

3. Resources & Theater Tickets

Fellows receive toolkits of resources for their classrooms (rehearsal cubes, tablets, theater libraries, pipe & drape sets, etc.) and funds for students to attend live professional theater, including Broadway and Off-Broadway productions.

4. Professional Development

Fellows are required to participate in professional development workshops on various topics of theater and attend inter-visitations to observe veteran theater educators in action.

Arthur Miller Fellows are included in a learning community of peers, with whom they network and collaborate. They enjoy special events with the Arthur Miller Theater Education Program community throughout the year to broaden their repertoire of knowledge in the field and celebrate their noble work as theater educator artists.

Fellows teach units on storytelling, devising, production, playwriting, design, vocal technique and more.  They are guided in their teaching by the Blueprint for Teaching and Learning in Theater: PreK-12 developed by the New York City Department of Education.

Our Cultural Partners

Arthur Miller Foundation Fellows Program participants are selected through an application process open to educators entering their first and second years as full-time certified NYC DOE theater teachers.

The application period is closed for the 2020-2021 school year.

If you are a new, certified NYC DOE theater teacher with interest in applying for the 2021-2022 school year, please contact:

The Arthur Miller Foundation extends our gratitude to the New York City Department of Education for our rich partnership.  Special thanks to:

Peter Avery – Director of Theater, Office of Arts & Special Projects

Maria Palma – Executive Director, I.A., Office of Arts & Special Projects

Meisha Porter – New York City Public Schools Chancellor

The Arthur Miller Foundation fondly remembers Paul King, former Executive Director of the NYC DOE Office of Arts and Special Projects. Paul was a warrior for arts education and a true champion of the Arthur Miller Theater Education Programs. We will be forever grateful for the indelible impact he made.  AMF will continue our work with Paul’s passion and commitment to equity and access for quality arts education clear in mind.

Feedback From Our Arthur Miller Fellows

Our Mentors

Cynthia Blackwell

Cynthia Blackwell has over 25 years of experience as a theater educator. She earned an MFA at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts where she studied at Circle In the Square Studio. She experienced the joys of the ‘starving actor lifestyle’ a bit on both coasts until she found her true calling while attending an Aesthetic Education Inquiry Retreat at The Lincoln Center Institute. Cynthia earned an MS in elementary education at Hunter/CUNY and became a licensed theatre teacher. She feels fortunate to have been charged with creating theatre programs from the ground up at two DOE schools, spending 13 years at PS 29 in Cobble Hill and then another 13 years at PS 58 in Carroll Gardens. She has directed over a thousand 5th graders in two dozen musicals and mounted half that many lower grade Shakespeare Festivals. While working with the DOE she co-wrote and facilitated various grants through the Center for Arts Education, worked as the Project Arts coordinator, was a participating teacher in the Artful Learning Communities program, and a Theater Blueprint Facilitator. She is absolutely thrilled to be joining AMF as a mentor!

Sindy Castro

Sindy Isabel Castro is an actress, educator, and theatre artist. She recently graduated with her MA in Applied Theatre from CUNY’s Schools of Professional Studies. She is also a teaching artist with the People's Theatre Project, Lincoln Center Theater, and Arts Connection. Sindy is bilingual in English and Spanish. She strives to use theatre as a tool for creating multilingual and multicultural spaces where students are empowered to embrace their home languages and cultures in the classroom. Sindy was an invited member of Young IDEA at the IDEA Congress in Paris in 2013, a member of the TAD (Teaching Artist Development) Studio Cohort at Columbia College in 2014, part of the Intermediate Teaching Artist Lab at Lincoln Center Education in 2016, and a U.S. Delegate at the International Teaching Artist Conference (ITAC) in 2018.

Elizabeth Dunn-Ruiz

holds an MFA in Creative Writing from The New School, an MS in Urban and Multicultural Education from the College of Mount St. Vincent, and a BA in English Literature from Hunter College. Elizabeth completed two years of studio training at the Experimental Theatre Wing of NYU's Tisch School of the Arts. She taught at South Bronx HS and co-founded Bronx Theatre HS. She has written curriculum for the NYC DOE and National Institute of Mental Health. Presently, she teaches at Bronx Community College, and is a Master Teaching Artist at Roundabout.

Robert Ellman

taught theater for 37 years at James Madison High School in Brooklyn (7 years) and Edward R. Murrow High School in Brooklyn (30 years). He directed over 70 productions and ran the technical theater program for several years at both schools. Since retiring, Bob has worked for the Department of Education working on such programs as Arts Achieve, Middle School Arts Matter, the Shubert Theater Arts Partnership, Theater Blueprint Facilitation, and Broadway Jr., among others. In addition to his work with the Department of Education, he is one of the coordinators of the Tony Award winning Theater Development Fund Open Doors Program and is a Supervisor of Student Teachers for City College of New York/CUNY.

Melissa Friedman

(Co-Founder & Co-Artistic Director, EPIC THEATRE ENSEMBLE) has acted in numerous Off Broadway productions including the recent world premiere of THE WINNING SIDE. Other Off-Broadway credits include HANNAH AND MARTIN with David Strathairn, A HARD HEART with Kathleen Chalfant and EINSTEIN’S GIFT with Aasif Mandvi. Melissa also acted in all of Epic's 'NEA Shakespeare for a New Generation' productions including Lady Macbeth in MACBETH with Ty Jones. Melissa is a lead teaching artist in Epic’s partner schools and outreach programs—co-writing Epic’s Citizen Artist Curriculum Guide and directing 20 after-school Shakespeare Remix productions. On behalf of Epic, she received the 2009 National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Award from First Lady Michelle Obama at the White House. For the past five years, she has been a city-wide Professional Development facilitator with the NYC Department of Education’s Theatre Program. Melissa received her BA from Oberlin College and MFA from the Old Globe /University of San Diego.

Jenn Katona

Jenn has been lucky to work in Arts Education for over 20 years in almost every capacity, as a classroom teacher, teaching artist, school administrator, arts administrator, graduate professor, consultant and performer. She has seen the work from every angle. It is this unique perspective that allows Jenn to be flexible in her thinking when it comes to how best to serve educators, schools and cultural organizations and foundations. Currently serving as Visual and Performing Arts Sr. Manager for the Norwalk Public Schools, Jenn oversees over eighty K-12 arts education staff across twenty schools servicing 12,000 students. Norwalk is a Title 1 district, and her work includes curriculum writing, establishing and sustaining quality arts programming, and helping the district move to a stronger arts integration model. Jenn is the former director and founder of the Graduate Program in Educational Theatre at the City College of New York (CCNY), overseeing the certification of pre- and in-service theatre teachers and the training of non-certified theatre educators. Through her work at CCNY, Jenn created and oversees the middle school afterschool drama program at PS 161 the neighboring K-8 school in Harlem and is the proud Founder and President of 3 Looms Creative Education Consulting. She is the 2015 recipient of the Lin Wright Special Recognition Award given by the American Alliance for Theatre and Educators (AATE) for Outstanding Achievement in Theatre Education. She is also the 2014 recipient of the President’s Award for Outstanding Faculty Service at CCNY. She served for three years on the NYC Arts Advisory Council, designed to advise the Chancellor on arts education policy related issues and currently serves on the Blue-Ribbon Commission on the Arts for the New York State Department of Education. Jenn has served as the Arts Education consultant for Westport Country Playhouse in Connecticut and has served as a curriculum consultant for Disney Theatrical Education, Broadway’s Come From Away. She has facilitated workshops on curriculum mapping for the New York City Department of Education Office of Arts and Special Projects as well as facilitated webinars on the same topics for teachers nationwide through AATE, where she also serves on the Board of Directors as Board Chair and previously as Director of Regional Programming, overseeing Theatre In Our Schools initiatives. She has also served on the college advisory for the Educational Theatre Association (EDTA). Jenn taught middle school theatre in Brooklyn and worked as Teaching Artist for numerous cultural organizations throughout the tri-state area, most notably New Victory Theatre, Arts Connection, NorthShore Music Theatre and Starlight Youth Productions. Jenn holds a Ph.D. in Urban Education: Arts Policy and her current research explores Factors Which Influence the Decision of a School Leader to Maintain or Eliminate Arts Programming in their School and building sustainable arts programming in urban schools. Jenn has spoken and presented on this topic at many conferences across the country.

Sobha Kavanakudiyil

is Faculty in the Graduate Program in Educational Theatre at The City College of New York as well as an Arts Education Consultant having worked with organizations including The New Victory Theatre, Urban Arts Partnership, Apollo Theatre, and Center for Arts Education. She is currently on the Board of Directors for the New York City Arts in Education Roundtable, National Programming Director for the American Alliance for Theatre and Education and President of the Board of Spellbound Theatre.

Anne Pasquale

is a member of the Actors Studio, trained at London Academy of the Dramatic Arts and New York University. She is an actress and playwright committed to performing, creating and discovering theatrical works of universal merit for students ages K-12. This is her second year as a proud member of the Arthur Miller Program Roster. You can find out more about her work at

Omar Perez

Omar Perez is a freelance actor, director and educator. He began his acting career with the internationally recognized Pregones Theatre (partial list): The Red Rose starring Grammy winner Danny Rivera (winner of the 2006 HOLA award for Best Musical), The Beep (winner of the 2007 HOLA award for Best Ensemble) and Dancing In My Cockroach Killers (Off-Broadway). Other stage credits include Passion Nation, DC7 The Roberto Clemente Story (Off Broadway), The Wizard of Oz, and Man of La Mancha. He is a 2017 ACE award nominee for his work as Sancho Panza in Miguel Will. His one-man show Rhapsodia, has been presented at several NYC festivals. Recent T.V. credits include Power, Ray Donovan (Starz network) Russian Dolls (Netflix) and Search Party (TBS). Omar's focus as a director is in the development of new works. Recent directing projects include Embracing Bethlehem/ Abrazos a Belén, The Names, In 5 Beats; a collaboration between LaMama and Pregones Theatre that showcased beatboxers and actors lead by Omar and renown Beatrhymer Kid Lucky. Manchild Machismo, (Off Broadway, Winner of 2016 Hola Audience Favorite for Best Direction) 3 Is Enough, an international collaborative project between theaters representing The Bronx, Belgium, South Africa, and Peru, Name and Blame Inc. by Ricardo Perez-Gonzalez, and Breath to Breath, by Michael Wells-Oakes. As a Teaching artist, Omar has worked with ArtsConnection, Lincoln Center Education, People’s Theatre Project, Creative Arts Team, The Center for Arts Education, and as an individual artist for NYCDOE. Populations taught include grades 2-12, College and University workshops, Incarcerated youth at Rikers Island, residents in domestic shelters and Lifelong learners. He has also served as a joker in Forum theatre based on Theatre of the Oppressed work of Augusto Boal. He is currently an Arthur Miller Foundation Mentor for first and second year NYCDOE theatre teachers and a Shubert Foundation adjudicator for their Annual High School festival.

Leah Reddy

is an actor, teaching artist, multimedia producer, and writer. She developed Shakespeare in the Special Education Classroom, a curriculum that connects performing Shakespeare with career readiness skills, in conjunction with Manhattan Shakespeare Project and the Manhattan School for Career Development, a public high school. She is a Master Teaching Artist with Roundabout Theatre Company. Her photography work has appeared in The New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, and Time Out New York Kids. She writes for Roundabout Theatre Company’s UpStage Playgoer's Guide, and the history blog The Archivist's Mailbag.

Ron Sopyla

Ronald Sopyla has over 35 years of experience in his work as a performer, teaching artist and theater teacher. He has a degree in BA Theater Arts, a Master’s in Education and trained at the American Conservatory Theater. He has acted in regional and off-Broadway theater and in National Tours. As a storyteller and puppeteer, he has worked extensively in schools and libraries, museums and festivals throughout the NYC and NJ area. He recently retired after 14 years as a theater teacher with the NYC DOE. Prior to that he spent many years working as a freelance teaching artist in NYC schools. While working with the DOE he was a participating teacher in the Artful Learning Communities program and as a mentor teacher in the Arts Mondays program. His work for the Artful Learning Communities can be viewed on the Arts Assessment for Learning website.

Helen Wheelock

Director of the CUNY Creative Arts Team’s Early Learning Program) has over twenty years of experience doing interactive, issue-based drama work with the early childhood population and offering professional development to their teachers. In 2015, she was invited to contribute an addendum to New York City’s Blueprint for the Arts on Drama in the early childhood classroom. As an adjunct faculty member at the CUNY School of Professional Studies, she has taught several graduate courses: Teaching Through Drama: Storytelling & Puppetry in the Early Years; Role-Play in the Classroom: The Uses of Role-Play as a Teaching Tool; Drama with Special Populations; and, for the MA in Applied Theatre, an Apprenticeship in Early Childhood Drama.

Karl O'Brian Williams

Karl O’Brian Williams holds an MA in Educational Theatre: NYU, a Dip Ed, & BA in English: University of the West Indies, and a Certificate in Acting Shakespeare: Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London. His passion for theatre and education has propelled his work with students of all ages and abilities since 1996. As a teaching artist he’s worked with Rehabilitation Through the Arts, the New Jersey Performing Arts Center, The Park Avenue Armory, and Wingspan Arts. He is also an award-winning actor, director and playwright whose work has been produced regionally, Off-Off Broadway, in the Caribbean, and the UK. In 2013 his play “Not About Eve” received three AUDELCO nominations for Excellence in Black Theatre including Best Playwright. As playwright in residence for Theatre Askew’s Youth Performance Experience, excerpts of his play “What’s In A Name” have been published in Out & Allied Volume 2: An Anthology of Performance Pieces by LGBTQ Youth & Allies. Williams was co-writer for the film “Winston,” which received selections at the Hip Hop Film Festival, Bronzelens, Queen City Film Festival, the Pan African Film Festival, and the African-American film Festival. He is the audiobook narrator for Maisy Card’s “These Ghosts Are Family” one of Paste Magazine’s Top 10 Audio Books for March 2020, and Libro FMs Book of the Month for May 2020. He has produced work for the Jamaica Performing Arts Center and the Skirball Performing Arts Center, where he directed NYU’s Martin Luther King Week signature event for nine years. His recent projects include: RESET Theatre Coalition’s Online Series centering BIPOC playwrights, and the Black Lives Matter Movement, and developing plays about LGBTQ+ lives in Jamaica. He is currently the artistic director for Braata Productions, and Deputy Chair of the Speech Communications, and Theatre Arts Department at BMCC/CUNY.

Shawn Williams

Shawn Williams is a working actor and director based in NYC.  His appreciation for versatility is what encourages him to play a variety of roles, ranging from Paul in Six Degrees of Separation, to Aaron in Titus Andronicus.  Williams is a seven-time champion of the Manhattan Monologue Slam Competition, which he credits for giving him a platform to develop and showcase material appearing in his solo show, Shape Shifter.  While the stage continues to fuel his passion for acting, Williams also has a host of film credits.  Not far behind his devotion to acting, would be his enthusiasm as an educator.  Mr. Williams has been teaching and instructing privately for over 15 years. For the past five years, he has had the privilege of teaching Shakespeare for the world- renowned Stella Adler Conservatory, where he recently directed a production of Tarell Alvin McCraney’s, Choir Boy.  His arts education experience extends through his work with Bank Street College of Education, ArtsConnection, as well as being a proud member of Family Life Theatre (FLT).

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