Staff & Leadership
Michael Weber+ | Artistic Director
Michael previously served as artistic director for the inaugural season of Drury Lane Theatre Water Tower Place (now The Broadway Playhouse) and at Theatre at the Center (1998-2004). His productions of Sunset Boulevard, Sweeney Todd, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, Pal Joey, Assassins and Side Show at Porchlight Music Theatre, Grand Hotel at Drury Lane Theatre Water Tower Place and She Loves Me at Theatre at the Center were each nominated for the Joseph Jefferson Award for Best Production-Musical. Directing credits include Living the History-125 Years of The Auditorium Theatre starring Patti LuPone and John Mahoney, Fifth of July and Talley’s Folly at the Oak Park Festival Theatre, The Petrified Forest at Theatre at the Center, Beauty and the Beast at Marriott Theatre, Over the River and Through the Woods at The Mercury Theater, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum at Pheasant Run Theatre, and Cirque du Symphony at Sears Center Arena. The recipient of two Joseph Jefferson Awards, he wrote and directed nine Joseph Jefferson Awards ceremonies (2009-2018). Weber’s regional acting credits include Annie Get Your Gun and Gypsy (both starring Patti LuPone) at Ravinia, Disney’s My Son Pinocchio at First Stage Milwaukee, Around the World in 80 Days at Cleveland Playhouse, The Winter’s Tale and Henry V at Chicago Shakespeare Theatre, It Had To Be You (starring Cindy Williams and Eddie Mekka) at Little Theatre on the Square, Angel Street at First Folio Shakespeare, and The Gifts of the Magi at Indiana Repertory. Weber is proud to serve as a pledge host on WTTW, Channel 11, and is author of the play, WAR of the WELLeS.
Jeannie Lukow* | Executive Director
Jeannie took the helm as Porchlight’s first Executive Director in September 2014. She is a founding member of Porchlight’s board of directors, and served as president for six of her many years on the board. An integral member of the company since its inception, Jeannie held the positions of marketing director, grant writer and managing director in the early all-volunteer-staff years. She has helped lead Porchlight from this unique perspective of both the staff and board sides, continuing to drive organizational growth, brand expansion and fiscal sustainability. Prior to joining the staff at Porchlight, Jeannie co-founded Bespoke Cuisine, one of Chicago’s leading boutique catering and cooking party venues, which she co-owned for 12 years before selling in 2014. Prior to Bespoke, Jeannie built a 15-year career in marketing communications, much of it spent in association management. Her most recent position in that field was as Managing Director of Marketing Communications for the National Association of Realtors, with over 1 million members. Jeannie holds a Certified Nonprofit Accounting Professional designation through FMA. She is a native Michigander and graduate of Michigan State University, and an extensive world traveler, avid foodie and dog lover.
Artistic & Operations
Majel Cuza* | Production Manager
Majel Cuza (she/her) joins Porchlight on this production as the Interim Production Manager. A Chicago Native, she has production managed at Victory Gardens, Broadway in Chicago, Theater Wit, About Face, Steep, American Theater Company, and Griffin. In recent years she has led production departments at Great Lakes Theater in Cleveland, Idaho Shakespeare Festival in Boise, Lake Tahoe Shakespeare festival in Incline Village, and the Dallas Theater Center in Dallas. She is thrilled to be back in Chicago and working with Porchlight!
Frankie Leo Bennett+ | Producing Artistic Associate
Frankie Leo Bennett has been a Chicago-based music theatre creator since 2015, after graduating from Northwestern University with a B.S. in Theatre (Music Theatre Certificate). Regional acting credits: Porchlight Music Theatre, Theo Ubique Cabaret Theatre, Kokandy Productions, Hell in a Handbag Productions. He has also served as teaching artist for The School at Porchlight. Bennett actively works in new music theatre development with Chicago Dramatists and Underscore Theatre and composed his first original work “Resident Services: A Crossed-Up Animal Musical.” Frankie has worked in administration with Broadway in Chicago for five years and served as Workshop Coordinator, building original curriculum for music theatre courses. He serves as chair of Porchlight’s EDI Advisory Committee, furthering the advancement of underrepresented voices within the theatre community.
August Compton* | Audiences Services Director
August moved to Chicago from Atlanta, Georgia three years ago. While in Atlanta, she completed a Playwriting Apprenticeship with Horizon Theatre Company, joined their Front of House team, and immersed herself in a community full of up-and-coming theatre artists. She holds a BFA in Dramatic Writing with a Minor in Creative Writing from the Savannah College of Art and Design, where she graduated in 2015. While she’s always been a storyteller, it wasn’t until her first year of college that she really dove into the world of theatre, though she’s never looked back since. August is a cat lover, avid reader, frequent movie-goer, and thrilled to be part of the Porchlight team as it continues to grow in new and exciting ways. August oversees the audience experience, including subscriber relations and managing the Front of House (box office, house management, concessions) team.
Box Office Manager
Evin Marie Rayford* | Development Director
Evin Marie has 15 years of experience in the nonprofit sector, working predominantly with organizations that use creativity to inspire social change. Evin Marie has a passion for performing arts, having written, directed and self-produced theater productions highlighting EDI issues surrounding the celebration of diversity in the African American community, HIV/AIDS stigma, transgendered discrimination and the voices of underrepresented populations. She spent extensive time facilitating performing arts-centered workshops that helped students and adults alike find their voice and advocate for their communities. Her fundraising experience has afforded her the opportunity to connect business leaders to causes that make an irreplaceable impact on the community through grants and events. She’s excited to be championing support for Porchlight’s amazing programming.
Rebeccah Singer* | Education Director
Rebeccah came to Porchlight from Emerald City Theatre where she worked in youth arts education for nearly six years, two of them as the company’s Education Manager. She has also been a teaching artist for Lookingglass Theater, The Playground Theater and the iO Theater. Rebeccah holds a BFA from Syracuse University where she graduated Magna Cum Laude, and has been been through the Second City Conservatory and the iO Theater Improv program. She is thrilled to be at Porchlight, continuing to expand our education and community engagement programming for musical lovers of all ages.
Finance & Administration
Dan Thomas+ | Finance & Administration Director
Dan has a varied 10+ year career in arts education, finance and small business management. He holds bachelor’s degrees in both Music/Jazz Studies and American Studies & Religion, and holds an MBA from Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management with majors in entrepreneurship and marketing. After school, Dan started at Chicago’s Merit School of Music as a Program Associate, working his way up to Director of the school’s Alice P. Pfaelzer Conservatory. Following work with Chicago Public Schools and Settlement Music School (Philadelphia), Dan turned his expertise to small business with roles at both Presence Inc and Field retailers in Chicago.
Kellie Buffington* | Development & Administration Associate
Originally from the Boston area, where she fell in love with theatre at a young age, Kellie is thrilled to be immersed in Chicago’s amazing theatre community. She received a BA in Live and Performing Arts Management from Columbia College Chicago, which led her to hold various internships and audience services roles at organizations like Victory Gardens Theater, The Royal George Theater and The Joffrey Ballet. Most recently, Kellie worked in donor relations and event planning at Gads Hill Center, an organization that provides community resources to Chicago families, where she planned major fundraising events and developed donor engagement programs. Now, Kellie comes to Porchlight in an operations role, splitting her time between development, finance and office management duties. In her free time, she loves reading mystery novels, going for walks around the city and watching movies.
Mike Porto+ | Marketing & Communications Director
Mike has made a 25+ year career in various performing arts marketing positions. He hails from the New York metro area but has held comparable marketing and communications positions throughout the country. Most recently he was vice president, marketing & communications for Kentucky Performing Arts in Louisville, KY where in addition to serving two theaters in this role, he had the opportunity to be a key member of the team that created a brand new 2000 capacity stand-up music venue with two VIP lounges, three bars and an outdoor green space with its own stage and projection screen for streaming indoor events outdoors. He previously served as chief marketing officer for Shakespeare Theatre Company in Washington, D.C., leading all marketing, interactive, PR, audience engagement, branding, Audiences Services and box office operations. Prior to that, he owned a theatrical consulting firm, leading marketing efforts for Arizona Theatre Company and NYC-based dance companies. He served as executive vice president of Type A Marketing, representing several Broadway and touring productions. He was previously director of marketing & communications for ASU Gammage, one of North America’s leading presenting organizations of touring Broadway and international arts productions. Prior to joining ASU, he was the president of M.A.P. Marketing Group, a Denver-based marketing communications firm specializing in performing arts, festivals and events. His work was recognized with 24 Pinnacle Awards from the International Festival and Events Association for excellence in marketing and media. He was active at The Broadway League and served on several committees and has been a panelist at League Conferences.
James Juliano+ | SHOUT! Marketing & Media Relations
Serving as Porchlight’s marketing and media relations director for the past 10 years, James Juliano+ guides Porchlight’s corporate branding and programmatic marketing. James and business partner Jill Evans La Penna launched SHOUT! in 2018 and the firm provides individualized client campaigns, working in a variety of industries including theatre and dining. With nearly 40 years of collective experience in the entertainment and leisure industries, James and Jill partner with local, national and international clients to identify the specific needs of each organization to make every project a success.
Lobo Tate^/* | Marketing Associate
Lobo Tate (they/them/she/her) is a mixed-race Filipina-American artist and marketing specialist with an affinity for connecting with others through diverse methods of storytelling. Born and raised in the city of Chicago, Lobo attended the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, inspired and closely bonded with the city’s creative soul. Lobo graduated with their BFA in Studio Art with a focus on visual storytelling and continued to navigate the workforce, seeking unique opportunities to connect with audiences through branding design, video production, writing, photography and more. She is proud to work closely with Porchlight to help foster a sense of belonging in the theatre for our audiences and new audiences to come.
Beyond their work at Porchlight, Lobo loves to read and watch LGBTQIA+ stories. They also love to write about how we connect to others through media, art and entertainment and how stories act as a mirror for us to reflect the world and the complex identity systems around us.
Oni Wright* | Design Associate
Born and raised in St. Louis, Oni (she/her/hers) has been obsessed with musical theatre since she first saw the movie adaptation of RENT. She recently graduated and received her BA in Graphic Design at Iowa State University in 2021 and also has a focus in Videography. Along with many volunteering roles, she completed a fellowship at the local Ames marketing agency, Model Farm, where she received two American Advertising Awards for her videography work. Oni is thrilled to be a part of the Porchlight team working as the Design Associate. In her free time, she loves listening to music, going on walks and binge watching TV!
Pronoun Key: + (he/him/his); * (she/her/hers); ^ (they, them, theirs)
Michelle Freeman Cucchiaro / Chicago, IL
For as long as she can remember, Michelle has had a passion for musicals. At a young age, listening to — and singing along with (albeit not well!) — Broadway cast albums. And in Chicago, the very best place for musicals is Porchlight. In addition to music theatre, film plays a major role in Michelle’s life. She serves on the Gene Siskel Film Center’s advisory board, and has been a member of the Chicago International Film Festival/Cinema Chicago for many years. During the late 1970s, when Chicago/Off Loop theatre was in its infancy, Michelle (along with her husband Steven) served on the audience development board at Victory Gardens Theatre, and later on the board of directors at VG. A lifelong Chicagoan, she takes great pride in the current theatre scene, subscribing to and supporting many of the local theatres. She is a member at the Arts Club of Chicago, sits on the board of the Sarah Siddons Society and is proud to be an advocate for Porchlight Music Theatre.
Brenda Didier / Libertyville, IL
Director-Choreographer / Owner, Lincolnshire Academy of Dance
Brenda is a freelance choreographer/director based in Chicago and owns and directs the Lincolnshire Academy of Dance, which she founded nearly 20 years ago. She received the Equity Jeff Award for Best Director of a Revue for Porchlight’s Ain’t Misbehavin’ (2014), and she has received Non-Equity Jeff Awards for both direction and choreography, After Dark Awards for choreography, the National Youth Theatre Award for choreography and the 2010 Broadway World Chicago fan favorite award for choreography/non-equity. Brenda has collaborated with Porchlight on more than a dozen productions including, most recently, Sophisticated Ladies, A Chorus Line, Billy Elliot The Musical, In The Heights,Dreamgirls, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, How To Succeed in Business Without Really Trying and the smash-hit Ain’t Misbehavin’. She has served as a guest instructor/choreographer for Northwestern University, Columbia College, the University of Illinois-Champaign/Urbana, the University of Wisconsin-Parkside and Carthage College. She has choreographed musicals, industrials, special events as well as productions for Second City’s mainstage and five installments of Cirque Shanghai at Navy Pier’s Skyline Stage. These productions toured and played in Las Vegas, Atlantic City and Cirque Shanghai Extreme Off-Broadway.
Jeremy D. Eden / Chicago, IL
Co-Founder & Co-CEO / Harvest Earnings
As Co-Founder and Co-CEO of Harvest Earnings, Jeremy provides large companies with the unique and powerful Idea Harvest™ process for earnings growth, engaging employees closest to the work to find smarter ways to grow revenues, reduce costs and improve customer service. For the past 35 years, Jeremy has been advising Fortune 1000 CEOs and his clients have generated collectively, and reported publicly, billions in new earnings. Jeremy earned a BA from Yale College and an MBA from Yale School of Management prior to becoming a consultant at McKinsey & Co., Inc. He also led work on environmental, mental health care and social service issues in several state-level positions. Jeremy is on the board of the Justice Stevens Public Interest Summer Fellowship for Yale Law School and for Chicago-Kent College of Law. Jeremy’s wife, Nancy, who clerked for Justice Stevens, created the Fellowship at these two law schools to honor Justice Stevens by funding law students to pursue public interest legal work during the summer. Jeremy and Nancy are ardent lifelong fans of theatre, and in particular, musicals. Jeremy’s passion for music theatre was ignited when, at age five, he saw Robert Preston and Barbara Cook in the original Broadway production of The Music Man. He is excited to be part of Porchlight’s community, which is committed to sharing music theatre across Chicagoland.
Rhona Frazin / Chicago, IL
Rhona recently retired after a non-profit leadership career spanning more than five decades. Boxes of well-worn 33 1/3 rpm Broadway original cast recordings from the 60s, and 70s attest to her long love for musical theatre and the great American song book. Her earliest work experience focused on public relations and marketing for Goodman Theatre and Goodman School of Drama, Wisdom Bridge Theater, Krannert Center for the Performing Arts in Urbana and Drury Lane Theater McCormick Place. Executive Leadership roles followed with The Nature Conservancy and The John Marshall Law School. For 18 years she led all institutional advancement efforts, including two highly successful capital campaigns, for Metropolitan Family Services (formerly United Charities of Chicago), the region’s oldest largest non-sectarian human service organization. In 1994, she was named President and CEO of the Chicago Public Library Foundation. Throughout her career, she actively gave back to the non-profit sector as a speaker for the Association of Fundraising Professionals, Publicity Club of Chicago, Family Service America, Women in Philanthropy and the Urban and American Library Associations. She has served on a number of non-profit boards, including Girls in the Game, Wisdom Bridge Theater, Acorn Center for the Performing Arts in Three Oaks Michigan, and as a member of the Joseph Jefferson Committee. A BMI lyricist, she and her husband, retired Judge Julian Frazin, have written scores of parodies and song lyrics together, including “The Voice Above the Crowd” a tribute to the great radio voices of baseball, which was performed at the 1993 Major League All-Star Game by STYX lead singer Dennis DeYoung.
William Gilmer / Chicago, IL
Edward Hines Jr. Hospital & Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine
Bill is a Clinical Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, and the Director of Psychiatric Research and Academic Development at Edward Hines Jr VA. Bill also serves on the Scientific Advisory Board of the National Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance (DBSA), an advocacy and educational organization with a national network of peer support groups and online services for people living with mood disorders and their families. A lifelong enthusiast of theatre, he was drawn to Porchlight’s commitment to expressing meaningful, dramatic themes through music theatre. As an admirer of the works of Stephen Sondheim and Lin-Manuel Miranda, Bill subscribes to the words of Sondheim’s Franklin Shephard, “Musicals are popular. They’re a great way to state important ideas. Ideas that could make a difference.” Bill is delighted to be a supporter and board member of Porchlight Music Theatre, a company whose artistry embodies those words.
Joshua R. Goderis, CCP, PHR / Chicago, IL
Vice President, HR Global Services & Solutions and HRIS / UL Solutions
Josh has more than 29 years of professional experience in progressively larger and more complex HR roles, including working in benefits, generalist and staffing roles, as director of global compensation, director of global workforce planning, director of global talent management, VP of HR for the Commercial & Industrial and Retail & Industry business units. He is currently VP or HR Global Services & Solutions and HRIS at UL Solutions. Josh has lived and worked overseas in Denmark running HR Operations for Europe and Latin America, has completed UL’s premier Leadership Programs — Global Leader Program (partnering with Northwestern University) and the Executive Leadership Program (partnering with Yale University), and attended the Leadership Development Program with the Center for Creative Leadership, the HRMAC Future CHRO Leader’s Program and the Cornell CHRO Program. He received his M.S.H.R. in 2003 from Loyola University Chicago and is an Executive Committee member of UNEF (United Neighborhood Equity Fund), as well as co-owner of Chicago’s premier customer floral design company, Bukiety Floral. Outside interests include foreign languages and cultures (Spanish major/French minor in undergraduate studies), traveling, movies, theatre, floral design, and great food and wine.
Joseph Higgins / Chicago, IL
Director, External Affairs / Comcast
Joe has been at Comcast for 10 years, and is responsible for advancing the community investment strategy, strengthening diversity commitments, and leveraging broadband opportunity programs for the region. He is responsible for the Internet Essentials program, Leaders & Achievers Scholarship program, Comcast Cares Day, the United Way Campaign, the Comcast Digital Connectors Program and the Comcast Foundation. He received his Bachelor of Arts Degree in Communication and Journalism from Western Illinois University. Joe has been involved with the United Way of Metro Chicago, serving on the executive board of the North-Northwest Suburban Region and on the Campaign Cabinet, as well as on the Community Review Panel for the 21st Century Solutions Grants for NBC Universal.
Mark Hudson / Chicago, IL
Senior Category Manager, Marketing and Media Procurement / Walgreens Boots Alliance
Mark Hudson is currently leads Marketing Procurement focusing on media and agency relationships at Walgreens Boots Alliance. Previously holding roles in marketing, procurement, agency account and creative services and a member of the ANA (Association of National Advertisers). His love for music began as the son of a minister and having an older sister with a strong influence by taking him to shows and playing musical albums at home. He and his partner, Russell Johnson, are avid theatregoers. A native Chicagoan, Mark also serves on the Goodman Theatre Premier Society Council and supports other Chicago theatre companies and organizations including the Pullman Educational Foundation. His passion and background come together by becoming an active supporter of the Porchlight Music Theatre with its roots in the community and providing an intimate theatre experience. Mark is excited to serve on the board and looks forward to Porchlight’s amazing future.
Kenny Ingram / New York, NY
Director-Choreographer / Actor / Creator
Hailing from San Jose, CA, Kenny’s dance career took him to Chicago where he was part of musical theatre for 25 years. On Chicago stages, Kenny has performed at Marriott, Candlelight Playhouse, Drury Lane, Goodman and Steppenwolf. As a choreographer he has worked with Marriott, Goodman, Steppenwolf, Chicago Shakes and Court. Kenny was a part of Goodman’s Summer Program where he choreographed for The Robert Taylor Homes and taught dance at the Music Theatre Workshop. He also taught in Chicago schools on the south side and Cabrini Green. In New York Kenny has performed in Disney’s The Lion King on Broadway for 10 years and has choreographed Off-Broadway’s Emojiland (New York Times Critic’s Pick), Till ,The Musical and Turtle on a Fence Post. Regionally, he has worked at Paper Mill Playhouse, The Fulton Theatre, Maine State Music Theatre, Theatre by the Sea, New Bedford Festival Theatre and Zeiders American Dream Theatre. Kenny is the recipient of Jeff Awards for his portrayal of Mr. Magix at Candlelight, Best Choreography for 42nd Street at Marriott Theatre and, most recently, Best Direction for Blues in The Night at Porchlight. He has also received Black Theatre Alliance Awards for Dreamgirls and Blues in the Night.
Jim Jensen (Treasurer) / Chicago, IL
Jim has been working professionally in the industry as a producer and general manager for over 30 years. He has been responsible for the production and management of more than 100 productions and concert attractions. A graduate of Northwestern University, he was Co-Producer and General Manager of the Drury Lane Theater Water Tower Place for five years, General Manager of the Royal George Theater Center for 15 years and the first General Manager of Chicago’s Shakespeare Repertory (now Chicago Shakespeare Theatre), as well as having managed numerous national tours. Jim was a founding member of the League of Chicago Theatres and its past Vice President. He has been an adjunct faculty member at the Theater School at DePaul University, and continues to have a hand in Broadway productions.
Jonathan Klein (Secretary) / Chicago, IL
Professor & Executive Department Head / UIC Department of Pediatrics
Jon is a pediatrician specializing in adolescent medicine and in health services research. He is a graduate of New Jersey Medical School and Harvard School of Public Health. After residency and fellowship in Boston and North Carolina, Jon served on the faculty of the University of Rochester in New York for many years before moving to Chicago to work for the American Academy of Pediatrics as Associate Executive Director in 2009. In 2017, he moved to the University of Illinois at Chicago School of Medicine as Professor of Pediatrics and Executive Vice Head of the Department, where he helps develop people and programs serving the south and west side of Chicago. Jon spent most of his adolescence as a theatre techie, first with the New Players Company in Ridgewood, New Jersey, and then at Brandeis University, as a stage manager and lighting designer, before drifting into health policy and medicine. He and his wife, Susan Cohn, have two adult children, and are active members of Chicago’s lindy hop/swing dance community. They both love music theatre, and are delighted to have the chance to support Porchlight’s mission.
Charles Laff / Chicago, IL
Partner / Michael Best & Friedrich LLP
Chuck Laff is an attorney specializing in intellectual property and served many years as an Adjunct Professor of Intellectual Property Law at Loyola University of Chicago Law School. Chuck earned a Bachelor of Science Degree from Purdue University and a J.D. from Harvard Law School. During his career, he has had the opportunity to work with the owners of valuable intellectual property, including merchandising rights and copyrights for popular film characters and musical works. Chuck also serves on the Board of Managers of a fast-growing highly-innovative material science company. Growing up in Chicago, Chuck had the opportunity to watch live entertainment in intimate theaters and night clubs and learned to appreciate the wonderful experience of watching live performances up close. As lovers of theatre Chuck and his wife, Diane, regularly attend and are particularly fond of musicals. Chuck and Diane are firm believers that theatre is an essential part of our culture, serving as a wonderful vehicle for educating audiences and encouraging people to open their minds and hearts. With his background and beliefs, it was natural for Chuck to join the Porchlight family and participate in the exciting growth of Porchlight and music theatre in Chicago.
Michael Lowenthal / Chicago, IL
Mike is a retired accountant, receiving his bachelor’s from the University of Illinois and his MBA from the University of Chicago. Starting out as a public accountant, he was the Assistant Corporate Controller at Abbott Labs and the Executive VP of Allied Tube & Conduit. He has served on numerous advisory boards and board of directors, including for The Court Theatre for 35 years. He is a Chicago native and an alumni of Hyde Park High School.
Cesar Rolon, Jr. / Chicago, IL
Owner / Imagen Marketing Consultants
Cesar is the founder and owner of Imagen Marketing Consultants, a full-service integrated multicultural marketing agency that specializes in experiential and digital marketing. He brings more than 15 years of experience in producing result-driven solutions ranging from large scale mobile tours to retail events and digital/mobile promotions. Leading Imagen, he founded and produces some of the largest cultural festivals in Chicago, including the Chicago Latina Expo, Latino Gourmet Food Wine & Spirits Fest and World Fashion Festival, and is founder/co-producer of Latino Fashion Week, the only Latino Fashion Week in the United States. Imagen also has footprints in Texas, Florida, Atlanta, Las Vegas, New York and Puerto Rico.
Tamara Sims / Chicago, IL
Owner / Elegant Event Lighting
Tamara is beyond elated to be part of the Porchlight family. An avid Sondheim lover, Tamara’s first Porchlight production was Merrily We Roll Along and she has been a devoted fan ever since. Tamara and her husband own the award-winning companies Elegant Event Lighting and Something 2 Dance 2 DJ Entertainment in Schaumburg. Tamara will always greet you with a warm smile and she can also let you know where to find the best desserts! Her passion for theatre is only exceeded by the passion she has for her business and life partner, Jay. Tamara is a graduate of Loyola University.
Brian Troy (Chair) / Chicago, IL
Owner / Leopard Adventures: Custom African Safaris
Brian was born in Dublin, Ireland, and comes from a family which was always involved in theatre. His parents first took him to the theatre at about 6 years old. The show was a musical and it inspired a love of theatre in general, and musicals in particular that continues to this day. Brian’s family left Ireland when he was 15 years old and he lived in both the UK and Canada before finally settling in the US. He was involved in theatre throughout high school and college including two years as the artistic director of his college theatre company. As a result, Brian’s love of theatre and travel were solidly entrenched. During a 32-year career in the airline industry Brian lived in several cities in the US including New York and Chicago. His airline connections allowed him to experience theatre and culture around the world. After an early retirement, Brian opened his own travel company specializing in travel to the African continent. He believes that the twin forces of theatre and travel are some of the best ways to bring people together, experience new worlds and broaden minds.
Gretchen Upholt (Vice Chair) / Chicago, IL
Managing Director /FMA BDO
Gretchen is a Managing Director with BDO FMA, a consulting firm focused on building nonprofit organizations’ capacity in finance and operations. In that role Gretchen is responsible for the business development and growth strategy of FMA’s Midwest region, while also playing an active role as trainer, coach, and consultant to nonprofit clients across the country. Prior to FMA, Gretchen spent 5 years in international development, first as a Community Development Consultant for the Peace Corps in Ukraine, then as head of the Volunteer Department at the Thabyay Education Network in Thailand. Gretchen’s diverse experience includes working in corporate citizenship, housing and homelessness and the arts. She holds an MPA from NYU’s Wagner School of Public Service and her BA and MA in Arts and Cultural Management from American University in Washington, DC. Gretchen is also a board member for the National Peace Corps Association and maintains her love of the arts not only as board member with Porchlight but also as a singer with Allegrezza Singers, a Chicago-based SATB choir.
Amy Jaine Wielunski / Chicago, IL
VP, Membership / WBEZ
Amy Wielunski is a seasoned non-profit professional with 20 years’ experience of cross-functional work across organizations with local, state-wide and national scale. She has a proven track record as an innovative, collaborative, and influential leader with deep knowledge of business operations, people & culture, and revenue generation. Specialized skills include talent development, communication, operationalizing strategy and budget oversight. She is passionate about civic engagement, media literacy, the arts and education. And is committed to creating a stronger democracy through non-profit work that inspires individuals and impacts communities.
Jeannie Lukow / Chicago, IL
Michael Weber / Chicago, IL
Mary Kay Conley / Orland Park, IL
Rhoda Reeling / Chicago, IL
Wm. Eric Bramlett / Naperville, IL
Former Porchlight Artistic Director
John Bucchino / New York, NY
Award-Winning Broadway & Film Composer/Lyricist
E. Faye Butler / Chicago, IL
Cheri Coons / Chicago, IL
Kevin Depinet / Chicago, IL
Award-Winning Scenic Designer
William Finn / New York, NY
Tony Award-Winning Composer/Lyricist
Joel Grey / New York, NY
Academy, Tony and Grammy Award-winning Actor, Director & Photographer
Larry Grossman / West Hollywood, CA
Peabody and Multi-Emmy Award-Winning Composer
Linda Kline / New York, NY
Tony Award-Nominated Author
Jesse Klug / Chicago, IL
Award-Winning Lighting Designer
Sean Allan Krill / New York, NY
Chicago Theatre & Tony Award-Nominated Broadway Actor
Donna McKechnie / New York, NY
Tony Award-Winning Actor/Choreographer
Dominic Missimi / Northfield, IL
Award-Winning Artistic Director, Director & Teacher
Jill Moore / Phoenix, AZ
Porchlight Founding Artistic Director
Lonny Price / New York, NY
Emmy Award-Winning Actor, Director & Author
Multi Award-Winning Actress
Chita Rivera / New York, NY
Kennedy Center Honoree and Multi-Tony Award-Winning Performer
Bill Russell / New York, NY
Tony Award-Nominated Author & Lyricist
Chuck Smith / Chicago, IL
Resident Director, The Goodman Theatre
Walter Stearns / Chicago, IL
Former Porchlight Artistic Director
Bob Walton / New York, NY
Author, Composer/Lyricist & Broadway Actor
Jim Walton / New York, NY
Author, Composer/Lyricist & Broadway Actor
Maury Yeston / New York, NY
Tony Award-Winning Composer/Lyricist