top of page

Co-Artistic Directors & Board of Directors

Our leadership team brings over 20 years each of experience with extensive and diverse backgrounds in arts education, social justice, equity, inclusion and arts advocacy. Our facilitation and teaching models use arts-based tools and strategies that have helped to build successful collaborations, productions, teams, and coursework.

Jessica Lanius

Theatre LILA

Jessica has worked as an actor, both on stage, television and in commercials in New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago and Madison. While in New York, she co-founded Theatre LILA and in 2014 Jessica transplanted Theatre LILA to Madison.


Jessica focuses on producing stories for LILA that are multi-disciplinary inventions that inspire, surprise or engage audiences in unconventional ways. Theatre LILA builds new works in collaboration with musicians, writers, designers, poets, artists and performers of all kinds, and seeks to answer the question "What story does our community need to experience right now?"


She currently teaches in the UW Dept of Theatre and Drama. Her directing and movement work can be seen at  American Players Theatre, Children’s Theatre of Madison, Forward Theater Company, UW Theatre & Drama Department, Four Seasons Theatre, and Whoopensocker!

Monica Cliff

Inventiva Works LLC

Monica is the founder of Inventiva Works, a company focused on providing art and theater classes for kids, youth, and adults in Spanish. Monica has over 20 years of professional experience in the arts. She has designed sets, costumes, puppets, and props in Madison, WI for local theater companies such as Madison Opera, Children’s Theater of Madison, Theatre LILA, Wisconsin Film Festival, among others. She created Teatro ñ in Madison at the beginning of 2021.


Monica has a bachelor’s degree in Scenography from the National Institute of Fine Arts in Mexico, and a master's degree in Social Innovation and Sustainability Leadership from Edgewood College.

AJ Juarez

Barrio Dance LLC

Ariel Juarez (AJ), is a native of Argentina and has been dancing for 16 years. He began his training in latin ballroom, but quickly discovered a love for lyrical jazz, musical theatre, hip hop, and modern contemporary styles. AJ studied dance at the Julio Bocca School of Musical Theatre and immediately began performing in productions of “Applause” and “Aladdin” in Argentina’s Broadway. He was member of Chet Walker’s Fosse company, a featured dancer on Royal Caribbean Cruises and Celebrity Cruises, and has danced and choreographed for Argentina’s “Dancing with the Stars,” “Singing for a Dream,” and “Dreaming to Dance.”  


AJ is a lecturer for UW Madison and founder of Barrio Dance in downtown Madison, where he has built an artistic home for numerous dance artists and emerging professional dancers.

Karisa Johnson (she/her)

Slate BLUE Studios

Karisa has been a feminist social impact professional for over 20 years, working in nonprofit management and politics in Wisconsin and Washington, DC.


She served on the City of Middleton’s Arts Committee for 8 years, an experience that fueled her interest in the local business partnerships that ignite a downtown’s creative economy.

Karisa is founding 

Slate BLUE Studios to amplify the work of local artists, with an intentional focus on affordable workspace and sustainable creative practices, including artist co-working, opportunities for teaching artists, exhibition space rental, and retail events.

She looks forward to watching artists create amazing works and glorious messes, providing a safe place for teens to engage in artistic expression, boosting public art in Verona, and offering uncommon visual arts classes and community events.

shelley reynolds.jpeg


  • LinkedIn


EXP Realty

Art House




  • LinkedIn

Associate Director, DoIT

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Scott Cramer.jpeg

Scott Cramer

  • LinkedIn

Chief Operating Officer

KL Engineering

Michelle Mettner.jpeg


  • LinkedIn

Chief Government & Legal Officer

Children's Wisconsin


Stephan Hiroshi Gilchrist

  • LinkedIn


Institute for Collective Wellbeing

bottom of page