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Teaching Artists

Julie Ganey Julie Ganey - Education Director
Julie comes to the Education Director position after teaching in Lifeline’s residency program for 6 years. She served as Director of Education at 2nd Story from 2009–2015, and Outreach Director at Next Theatre from 2007–2011, and she continues to work with students of all ages through the Goodman Theatre. Julie has spent two decades as an artistic associate at Wavelength, an award-winning comedy ensemble that provides professional development for educators nationwide. She has created and led workshops for teachers all over the country on communication skills, using improvisation in the classroom, and professional learning communities. Julie’s bullying prevention program, Stand Up on the Schoolyard, has been presented to students and educators within the Chicago Public School system and across the country. In addition, she has performed in numerous Chicago theatre productions, including her original solo shows, The Half-Life of Magic and Love Thy Neighbor... till it hurts.
Brianna Buckley Brianna Buckley
Brianna is originally from the state of Michigan, where she obtained her B.F.A. in Theatre from Michigan State (2014). She called Chicago home three years ago and identifies as an actor, director, and teaching artist. She has worked with Lifeline Theatre as an Education and Administrative intern and is very excited to now be one of their teaching artists. She is currently working on Violet: The Musical with Griffin Theatre.
Nate Buursma Nate Buursma
Nate Buursma is so honored to be teaching with Lifeline Theatre! As a teaching artist, he is proud to work with such wonderful companies as Lifeline, Dream Big Performing Arts Workshop, Chicago Children’s Theatre/Red Kite Project, City of Evanston, and Barrel of Monkeys. As an actor, he has performed with Chicago theatres such as Quest Theatre Ensemble (where he is a proud company member), Eclectic Full Contact Theatre, and Metropolis. Nate has also worked on several KidsSeries shows at Lifeline, including Mr. Popper’s Penguins and Thumbelina.
Diego Colón Diego Colón
Diego has been an actor in the Chicago theatre scene for almost 10 years. Since receiving his BFA in acting from The Chicago College of Performing Arts at Roosevelt University, he has performed in productions at Lifeline Theatre (MainStage, KidSeries and the Lifeline Storytelling Project), Steppenwolf Theatre, and Chicago Children's Theatre. Alongside a career onstage, Diego has worked as a teaching artist at Northlight Theatre, Play On LTD, and is now enjoying bringing his personal skill set to the Lifeline Teaching Artist Team.
Amanda Delheimer Dimond Amanda Delheimer Dimond
Amanda has been a Lifeline Ensemble member since 2013, and is thrilled to also work with Lifeline as a teaching artist. Her Lifeline credits include directing The 13 Clocks (2011), The Three Musketeers (2013), Lions in Illyria (2015), and adapting and directing Thumbelina (2016). Amanda also serves as the Artistic Director of 2nd Story (, a position she has held since 2007. As a director, choreographer, and teaching artist, she has had the pleasure of working with Steppenwolf, Goodman Theatre, Court Theatre, Next Theatre Company, Redmoon, Collaboraction, Strawdog Theatre, Teatro Vista, and Adventure Stage Chicago, among others. She was an inaugural recipient of the Leadership U: One-on-One Fellowship program, funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and administered by the Theatre Communications Group, which placed her in residence at Lookingglass Theatre Company, working with their Artistic and Executive Leadership on visioning and long-term planning. She was also invited to participate in the inaugural cohort of artEquity's Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Facilitator Training in the fall of 2015, hosted by the Oregon Shakespeare Festival.
Elizabeth Dowling Elizabeth Dowling
Elizabeth is an actor and teaching artist in Chicago. As a teaching artist she has been proud to work with such great companies as Lifeline Theatre, Free Street Theatre, Dream Big Performing Arts Workshop, Pegasus Players, Lakeside Shakespeare Theatre, Gorilla Tango, and LaSalle Language Academy. As an actor she has performed with Chicago theatres such as Lakeside Shakespeare, Drury Lane Water Tower, Metropolis, and Porchlight Theatre. She has also appeared in several KidsSeries shows at Lifeline, among them Dooby Dooby Moo, Half Magic, and Giggle Giggle Quack.
Jalyn Greene Jalyn Greene
Jalyn is a teaching artist, actor, and museum educator. After obtaining her BFA in Theatre from Michigan State in 2014, she worked with Lifeline as an Education and Administrative intern and it is an honor to return as a teaching artist. Jalyn has had the pleasure of working with American Theatre Company and Pegasus Theatre, as well as the Chicago Public School System and the Museum of Science and industry. Jalyn has performed with Pulse Theatre Company and was most recently seen in the Athena Festival with Idle Muse Theatre Company.
Allison Grischow Allison Grischow
Allison is a Chicago-based actor, improviser, musician, and teaching artist. She received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Theatre and Music from Valparaiso University, and she continued her training with the Moscow Art Theatre School, studying acting, movement, and Russian History. In addition to teaching musical improvisation, Allison has taught and led students to create fully devised musicals at Valparaiso University. She also teaches with Emerald City Theatre, Chicago Children’s Theatre, and House Call Music, where she teaches piano and voice lessons privately.
Aayisha Humphrey Aayisha Humphrey
Aayisha Humphrey is a passionate and dedicated artist who majored in Acting and minored in American Sign Language. She completed her studies and earned her Bachelors of Arts at Columbia College Chicago. In 2013, she began tightening up her training wheels as a teacher and artist (gaining a lucky chance to perform on stage) at Piven Theatre Workshop, where she has an establishing connection to their program due to her studying acting there for 11 years. She enjoys painting landscapes, reading, writing and is always seeking opportunities to share her artistry with the community & the whole wide world.
Elise Kauzlaric Elise Kauzlaric
Elise is a director, teaching artist, actor, and dialect coach. She has been a member of the artistic ensemble of Lifeline Theatre since 2005 and part of Lifeline’s education outreach since 2014. She is a member of the adjunct faculties of The Chicago College of Performing Arts at Roosevelt University and The Theatre School at DePaul University as well as an annual participant in EdTA’s International Thespian Festival, where she leads workshops and directs for the Playworks young playwrights program. Elise holds a BFA from Webster Conservatory of Theatre Arts and an MA from The Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, London.
Brandi Lee Brandi Lee
Brandi is a theater graduate of Columbia College Chicago with a concentration in acting. Brandi is a teaching artists all over the city and has worked with numerous organizations including FYI (For Youth Inquiry), Story Catchers, and Lifeline Theatre. She is currently the Education Associate/Internship Coordinator at the Goodman Theatre.
Rebecca McNamara Rebecca McNamara
Rebecca is excited to be working with the ensemble of teachers at a company as engaged as Lifeline Theatre. She is a teaching artist in Chicago working from pre-K through adults in a variety of populations, including co-coaching the developmentally disabled improv ensemble PEEP based in Evanston and working in Cook County Jail with the Piven Prison Project. Her work has been seen in venues like Second City (Chicago), the Lincoln Center (New York), and the Kennedy Center (Washington D.C.). She has workshop-trained as a teaching artist in the Capacities, Aesthetic Education, and leadership in Teaching Artistry at Lincoln Center Education in New York City.
Mechelle Moe Mechelle Moe
Mechelle is co-artistic director of The Yard, a company member with TimeLine Theatre, and a founding member of The Hypocrites. She works as an actor, director, teaching artist and serves as Director of Education at Raven Theatre. Mechelle is a Non-Equity Jeff Award recipient for Actress in Principal Role-Play for her performance in Machinal with The Hypocrites and received a nomination for Actress in Principal Role-Play for Stage Door with Griffin Theatre. As a lead teaching artist, Moe has worked for many organizations including Lookingglass, Court, Lifeline, TimeLine and Raven Theatre. She has directed and devised numerous works at Senn Arts and with The Yard including Milk like Sugar, The 4th Grader's Present an Unnamed Love Suicide, Our America: Ghetto Life 101: Remorse (which she also adapted), and Metamorphoses, which were selected for the 2014 and 2015 Illinois High School Theatre Festivals. As well as the docu-drama Broken Text, an original work by Mechelle based on her interviews with men recently released from incarceration and living in a transitional facility. Mechelle graduated with honors from the University of Illinois Chicago with both a bachelors in Theater as well as Anthropology.
Jenifer Tyler Jenifer Tyler
Jenifer has been a proud teaching artist with Lifeline’s Artists-in- Residence Program for over 10 years. She is a graduate of The Theatre School of DePaul University and has been a working actress in Chicago for over 20 years. Jenifer joined Lifeline’s artistic ensemble in 2000 and has appeared in numerous productions over the years. In 2001, she received an After Dark Award and a Non-Equity Joseph Jefferson Award for her portrayal of Jane in Jane Eyre, and a nomination for her 2007 performance as Harriet Vane in Gaudy Night. Jenifer also directed The Velveteen Rabbit for Lifeline’s Kidseries. In addition to working with various other companies, Jenifer is a member emeritus of the writing/performance group, The Sweat Girls.
Joanne Underwood Joanne Underwood
Joanne is delighted to collaborate with Lifeline Theatre as a teaching artist, leading residencies in local schools. She is also a senior teacher and artistic associate at the Piven Theatre Workshop where she has taught a wide range of classes to both children and adults over the past ten years. She appeared as Cordelia in King Lear and Florina in Mad Forest (2003 After Dark Award: Best Ensemble) and numerous other productions at the Piven Theatre, greasy joan and company, and Raven Theatre. In addition, Joanne is a psychotherapist in private practice in Evanston and is affiliated with the C.G. Jung Center’s June Singer Clinic for Depth Psychology.
John Wilson John Wilson
John hustles as an educator, actor, scenic designer and painter in Chicago. He has worked with Lifeline Theatre for over a decade and also teaches with Changing Worlds. He won the 2015 Non-Equity Jeff Award for Best Scenic Design for Byhalia, Mississippi (New Colony and Definition). Some acting credits include: American Dead (Northwestern); The Nutcracker, Miami Tour (House); El Grito del Bronx (Collaboraction/Teatro Vista/Goodman); Our Bad Magnet (Mary Arrchie); and To Kill a Mockingbird, Understudy (Steppenwolf). He is a company member with Collaboraction and an artistic associate with WildClaw and The Yard.

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