The Porchlight Young Professionals (PYP) is an ensemble of young professionals who share a passion for advancing music theatre in Chicago as well as the innovative and transformative art happening at Porchlight.

The PYP inspires the next generation of Porchlight’s theatre patrons and serves as ambassadors through fundraising, event planning and committee involvement.

PYP Members receive exclusive behind-the-scenes access, enjoy a variety of networking opportunities  with arts enthusiasts, and receive invitations to exciting events, as well as being instrumental in the growth of Chicago’s Home for Music Theatre.

Join the Porchlight Young Professionals! If you are a Chicago area young professional, aged 21-40, looking for a unique and fun way to network with other young professionals, join our new and dynamic group!


To learn more, contact Kellie Buffington, Porchlight Young Professionals member and Development Associate at

Photo credit: Porchlight Young Professionals at “Porchlight ICONS” (2023). Photo by Anthony Robert La Penna.

Porchlight Young Professionals hosts a variety of exciting events throughout Porchlight’s performance season. Join us at Happy Hour and a Hit, Chicago Sings, Broadway in Your Backyard, the ICONS Gala and more. Experience the magic of Porchlight!

Coming up next for PYP!

The PYP Experience at Events

PYP offers exclusive ticket prices with unique benefits including after-party access, raffle opportunities and reserved seating at all of Porchlight’s signature events.


Cody Czmyr+, Chair

Cody is thrilled to have found his way back to the stage, albeit in a different capacity with PYP. He currently serves as the Director of Member Services for the International Interior Design Association based in Chicago, IL. Cody also serves as the Secretary for the Eastern Illinois University Alumni Association Board of Directors as well as volunteers with several other Chicago area organizations. He is a 2010 graduate of EIU having received a BA in Hospitality Management. Cody resides in the Lakeview neighborhood with his husband, John, and their puppy, Twiggy.


Nate Groonwald+, Vice Chair

Nate is currently a Philanthropy Officer at Lyric Opera of Chicago. He has worked in the non-profit arts space for over ten years, starting his career at Porchlight Music Theatre. Nate has worked at prominent arts organizations across the country including Milwaukee Repertory Theatre, Studio Theatre (Washington DC), and the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, where he co-created Bravo, the Milwaukee Symphony’s young professionals donor and affinity program. Nate received his Bachelor’s of Music from Roosevelt University, Chicago College of Performing Arts. A former actor and director, Nate has directed multiple acclaimed productions including Into the Woods, Mamma Mia, Mary Poppins, Bonnie and Clyde, Legally Blonde, and others at various theatre companies in Wisconsin. @natecgroon


Rosie Schultz*, Secretary

Rosie Schultz has been part of the Porchlight family since 2016 and is a founding member of the Porchlight Young Professionals. She moved to Chicago from Durango, Colorado in 2013 to attend Columbia College and immerse herself in everything the city has to offer. She loves supporting Chicago’s theatre community in her career and free time, she is currently the Director of Donor Engagement at TimeLine Theatre Company. Outside of the theatre Rosie can be found throwing dinner parties, hanging out with her cat, Lemon, or enjoying one of the city’s lovely parks! 


Lisa Villani-Gale*, Fundraising Chair

Lisa is a nonprofit professional with more than a decade of experience in fundraising and communications. She currently serves as a Major Gifts Officer at Planned Parenthood of Illinois. Lisa holds a Masters Degree in Nonprofit Administration and a Bachelor’s Degree in Music Performance from Clark University before moving to Chicago in 2013. A lifelong musical theatre enthusiast, she is thrilled to combine her passions and help to bring in new young patrons to the Porchlight community. In her free time, Lisa enjoys weightlifting, hosting poker games for her friends, and playing violin.


Lanie Bayless*, Member

Lanie is thrilled to be a part of the Porchlight Young Professions! She has loved theater from a young age; Lanie was raised in a family that saw theater almost every Sunday and listened to showtunes instead of classic rock. She turned her love into a true focus and attended the Chicago Academy for the Arts in the Musical Theater department, followed by NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts to where she continued her studies at CAP21.  Lanie moved back to Chicago to join her family’s restaurant business (Frontera Grill) in 2016, but her passion for musical theater still lives on through her work with PYP… and the occasional showtune singalong! Lanie lives in the Bucktown neighborhood with her husband, Kevin, and daughter Charlie (2), to whom she hopes to pass on her love of musicals.


Jonah Levi-Paesky+, Member

A lifelong performer and consumer of the arts, Jonah currently spends much of his time in the Civic Opera House as Lyric Opera of Chicago’s Associate for Volunteer Boards and Engagement. After receiving his Bachelors in Music and Psychology from Dickinson College, he earned his Masters of Science in Leadership for Creative Enterprises from Northwestern University in 2020. In his free time, Jonah can be found singing at the piano or snuggling with his family dogs. Jonah is thrilled to be a part of the Porchlight family!


Becca Sheehan*, Member

Becca Sheehan is a lifelong lover of the arts and is proud to be a founding member of Porchlight Young Professionals. She is excited to watch the group and our events continue to grow. Becca has been a fan and friend of Porchlight since she was an intern in the summer of 2014 and later was a part of the gala committee, joined PYP and became a subscriber. Becca works in the nonprofit sector for The Rotary Foundation and lives in the Lincoln Square community with her husband, dog and cat.


Yessenia Sosa*, Member

Yessenia has been a lover of fine arts, particularly music theater, for as long as she can remember. She graduated from The University of Texas at Austin and moved to Chicago to work as a Strategy Consultant at a major accounting firm. Porchlight and the PYP community represent Yessenia’s creative outlet to engage with a community of fellow arts lovers and continue to explore the incredible theater scene Chicago has to offer.



Emily Werner*, Member

Emily has been passionate about the performing arts since age eleven and is thrilled to be living in the vibrant theatre industry of Chicago. Born and raised in Ohio, she has a Master of Fine Arts degree in Arts Administration from the University of Connecticut and a Bachelor of Arts in Music and Theatre (dual degree) from the University of Toledo. Current and past work experience include the Auditorium Theatre, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, the Toledo Alliance for the Performing Arts, Chicago Shakespeare Theater, Lookingglass Theatre Company, and Connecticut Repertory Theatre. Emily is excited about the opportunities Porchlight Young Professionals has to offer to the community and she strives to express the positive, life-changing experiences theatre can bring to young individuals. In her spare time, Emily enjoys playing her flute, knitting, reviewing theatre scripts and performances, and planning adventures with her friends and loved ones.

Adam Zaucha+, Member

Adam has been a fan of theater for as long as he can remember.  He graduated from Northern Illinois University in 2017 with a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering.  Since graduating he has enjoyed the opportunity to see many of Porchlight’s varied offerings as well as live theater all across Chicago.  He is excited to be a part of the Porchlight Young Professional board and help secure and grow Porchlight’s future for future theatergoers.


Staff Liaisons: August Compton* (Audience Services Director), Kellie Buffington* (Development Associate) and Lynn Barlow* (Communications Associate)

Join us! The Porchlight Young Professional Board a crucial part of the Porchlight community, providing philanthropic and volunteer support, while guiding the strategic direction of the organization. Board Members inspire the next generation of theatre audiences and serve as ambassadors for fundraising, event planning and committee involvement.

PYP Board Members:

  • Maintain an active membership with up-to-date dues ($100 minimum annual contribution)
  • Participate in monthly Board meetings via Zoom, and assist in general planning and guidance of all PYP activities
  • Serve on at least one PYP committee (Events and Marketing or Membership and Fundraising) and attend regular committee meetings.
  • Support PYP and Porchlight Music Theatre (PMT) by attending performances and special events.
  • Advocate for PYP and Porchlight Music Theatre by maintaining a greater than average knowledge of PYP’s mission, Porchlight’s mission, activities and goals.
  • Attend Porchlight performances, PYP events and attend at least one PYP/PMT fundraiser.
  • Actively promote PMT performances, PYP events and other opportunities to engage with the organization to friends and colleagues amongst personal and professional networks.

Member benefits include:

  • Discounts to Porchlight performances and events
  • Invitations to exclusive donor events such as opening night receptions, cast meet & greets and holiday parties
  • Networking opportunities with other young professionals
  • Donor benefits such as PMT merchandise, recognition in show programs, etc.