Staff Bios

The Children's Theatre of Cincinnati Staff

Kim Kern (Managing Director & CEO)

Kim Kern Kim is a native Cincinnatian and graduate of the Cincinnati Country Day School (’87).  Kim left Cincinnati to attend Vanderbilt University (’91) where she received a Bachelor of Science in Educational Studies and Human Development, and then quickly returned to Cincinnati which she and her family continue to call home. Kim assumed the role of Managing Director of the Children’s Theatre in September of 2013, and then the combined role of Managing Director & CEO in 2015.  Kim’s expertise spans non-profit management, fund raising, strategic planning, market media development, public relations, special events, grant acquisition and major gift acquisition. Prior to joining The Children’s Theatre Kim worked as the President of the Ohio Valley Chapter of the National MS Society, as the Director of Major Gifts for the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center and prior to that as the Director of Market Development for Local 12 WKRC-TV and Clear Channel Broadcasting. She served as the Executive Director of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation and spent time operating her own consulting company, advising both for-profit and not-for-profit organizations in the areas of special events, board building, marketing, corporate sponsorship, public relations, fundraising and promotions. Kim was raised in the nonprofit world as her mother served as the Executive Director for a local nonprofit for 24 years. Kim resides in Loveland with her husband, Don Kern. They have eight wonderful children:  Merrell, Kealy, Bryson, Brooke, Paige, Olivia, Jordan and Ashley and two grandsons, Brayden and Cody.

Roderick Justice (Producing Artistic Director)

Roderick Justice

Roderick has been a part of the TCT family since 2006. He is an award-winning choreographer, actor, director, costume designer, playwright, adjudicator, and mentor to hundreds of young performers. Originally hailing from the mountains of rural Eastern Kentucky, he obtained his Bachelor of Fine Arts in Musical Theatre from Northern Kentucky University. Roderick has trained and worked in cities all over the United States, Canada, and Europe, but now proudly calls Cincinnati his home. 

The Children's Theatre of Cincinnati welcomed Roderick in 2008 as the company’s first full-time Associate Artistic Director, where he directed, choreographed, and designed for the MainStage Season. Later, he became the Program Director of The STAR Program, the highly-acclaimed musical theatre training program for young performers ages 9 to 18. Over the years, he has spearheaded many new TCT artistic and educational programs such as the Resident Artist Company, the stARTs Program (now STAR Red Bank) and the STAR Cabaret Program (now STAR All-Stars). Many of his STAR alums have gone on to great success on Broadway, TV and film.

Roderick’s decade-long tenure has been driven by his passion for live theatre-for-youth, the impact the arts have on early childhood development, and harnessing the power of storytelling to change the world for the next generation. Since becoming the Producing Artistic Director in 2015, he has commissioned and produced over a dozen new musicals, plays, and world-premiere adaptations.

He often works as a free-lance guest artist, director, and choreographer for other arts organizations, including as his alma mater, Northern Kentucky University’s School of the Arts (SOTA), The School for the Creative and Performing Arts (SCPA), the award-winning Commonwealth Theatre Company, the Carnegie, and The Lincoln Amphitheater in Lincoln City, Indiana.  

Some of his favorite credits include: Disney’s Mary Poppins Jr.; Disney’s The Little Mermaid Jr.; Disney’s TarzanLegally Blonde (LCT Award); Church GirlsI Love A Piano (Acclaim Award); Seussical, the Musical (LCT Award); Urinetown (Acclaim Award); Jesus Christ Superstar (CEA Nomination); Spamalot (LCT Nomination) ; Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat (SCPA); BurgerTown (Chicago Production); Man of La Mancha (Romania Production); The Elephant Man; and The Top Job (Off–Broadway).

Benjamin Adams (Scenic Carpenter)

Benjamin Adams

​Benjamin Adams was born in Massachusetts, but grew up in Cincinnati, Ohio. He attended Northern Kentucky University, where he received a B.F.A in Technical Theatre. While in college, he worked in the scene shop building sets for the main stage shows.  Previously, Ben worked as a fabricator for 3DX scenic studios. In addition to technical work, he also studies stage combat and fight directing with Carnivale Sword Play. In his spare time, Ben enjoys woodworking and riding his motorcycle.

Natalie Bird (Resident Teaching Artist)

Natalie Bird

Natalie is so excited to be teaching at TCT! She recently returned to her hometown of Cincinnati after spending nine years in NYC. She has a B.F.A. in Musical Theatre from Wright State University. New York City theatre credits include The Cherry Orchard, The Top Job, and Edward II. Regionally, she has performed with many theatre companies, including Commonwealth Theatre Company, Athens West, and here at TCT in Disney's High School Musical ON STAGE!  You can catch her on film in The Bourne Legacy, TV and web in Unforgettable and Dominatrix Breakroom (for which she also wrote) and commercials for Time Warner Cable, Sleep Inn Hotels and You’ll also probably hear her on the radio for various commercials. She has taught at several high schools in the area, as well as mommy and me classes with Little Maestros in NYC.

Madeleine Burgoon (Production Assistant)

Madeleine Burgoon

​Maddie Burgoon is part of TCT's Resident Artist Company. She is currently teaching Tap, Hip Hop, Jazz and Musical Theater dance at several Tri-State dances studios, including Revere Dance Studio and the Studio for Dance, where she has choreographed National Champion routines.  Maddie herself has also won numerous National Championships in Musical Theatre and Tap.  Maddie is the choreographer for the Junior Musical Theatre Department at the School for Creative and Performing Arts and several schools and community theaters, including Acting Up’s Beauty and the Beast, in which she earned a 2015 ACT Orchid Award for her choreography.  She was a member of the award winning all female a capella group, the Baby Grands and Chorale, performing for audiences around the US and China.  In addition to her performances with NKU in South Pacific (Nurse Cora McRae), The Wedding Singer (Imelda Marcos) and Les Miserable (Young Eponine/Ensemble), Maddie was also the Associate Choreographer for Spamalot.  She was part of the Fringe Festival’s Best of FringeNext’s ensemble cast of The Bible, the Book of Genesis. Maddie has been performing with The Children’s Theatre of Cincinnati for 10 seasons and her favorite roles have included Santa’s Toy Factory (Carol the Elf), The Day Before Christmas (Lucy/Rudolph), Pinkalicious (Allison),Disney's My Son Pinocchio JR. (Viola) and Seussical JR. (Bird Girl).

Spencer Burke (Technical Director)

Spencer Burke

Spencer is pleased to be returning back to Ohio for his debut season with The Children's Theatre of Cincinnati.  He originally hails from Akron, Ohio but has called several states home while pursuing his career in technical directing.  He received his B.F.A. in Theatre Design from Mason Gross School of the Arts, Rutgers University.  He has had the privilege of working with incredible designers and technicians at notable theaters including Shakespeare Theatre DC and Orlando Shakespeare.  After teaching at Wofford College and Western Carolina University, he is excited to be working with the talented professionals here Cincinnati!

Eric Byrd (Associate Artistic Director/Company Manager)

Eric Byrd

ERIC BYRD (Associate Artistic Director/Company Manager). Eric is a Cincinnati native who moved home from New York City in 2016 to serve as Associate Artistic Director for The Children’s Theatre of Cincinnati. TCT Credits include playing Bert in Mary Poppins JR., Assistant Director of Alice in Wonderland, and Choreographer of Elf The Musical JR., Peter Pan JR. and Madagascar. He also directed and choreographed The Ugly Duckling and Celebrate the Season for TCT on Tour.  He has performed across the country and around the world in numerous productions and revues.  While in New York, he worked at the Broadway casting office of Stewart/Whitley.  Casting credits include the Broadway productions of On The Town, ChicagoNatasha, Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812, as well as the national tours of Bullets Over Broadway, Once, Shrek, Into the Woods and Elf, Bay Street Theatre, AIDA Cruise Lines and West Side Story at Carnegie Hall.  He was responsible for expanding the talent search on London's West End for Royal Caribbean Cruise Line's productions of We Will Rock You, Cats, Saturday Night Fever, Mamma Mia! and Grease. Additional casting credits include work at the Roundabout Theatre Company/Jim Carnahan Casting, assisting on the Broadway productions of Once, Matilda, and Anything Goes.  Eric served as a choreographer and assistant director at Interlochen Summer Arts Camp for two summers, and has served on panels and taught master classes for Broadway Artists Alliance, Actors Connection, Students Live, and The Growing Studio in New York City and at CCM, NKU and CCM Prep in Cincinnati.  He holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Musical Theatre and a Minor in Management from Wright State University.

Hannah Dringenburg (Costume Shop Manager/Cutter/Draper)

Hannah  Dringenburg

​Hannah Dringenburg is thrilled to be a part of the team at The Children's Theatre of Cincinnati. Hannah has previously served as Costume Manager at Nashville Repertory Theatre, Cutter/Draper at the Arts Center of Coastal Carolina, and her work has been seen on stage at Playhouse on the Square, Monomoy Theatre, and Commonwealth Theatre Company, among others. She received her B.F.A. in Costume Design & Technology from Northern Kentucky University, and her M.F.A. in Costume Technology from Ohio University. Hannah is proud to be a born and raised Kentuckian.

Julia Fowler (Marketing Coordinator)

Julia Fowler

Originally from the Chicago area, Julia is a theatre tech nerd turned marketing specialist. She graduated with a Bachelor's degree in Visual Communication from Ohio University in Athens, Ohio, where she worked as a master electrician and spotlight operator for the Templeton Blackburn Memorial Auditorium. Since leaving OU, Julia has been a contributor on marketing teams for a variety of industries including tourism, industrial chemicals, package design and food science. Most recently, Julia completed her Master's degree in Marketing with a certificate in Market Research at the University of Cincinnati. When Julia is not working on creative storytelling and digital marketing strategy for TCT, you can find her running or training for the next local marathon, reading, or hanging out with her husband at home in Mt. Washington. Be sure to connect with Julia through any of TCT’s social media channels!

Alex Frank (Scenic Painter)

Alex Frank

​Alex Frank is an accomplished Cincinnati-based oil painter and muralist. Beginning his studies at the Maryland Institute of Art in Baltimore in 2004, he is a 2009 graduate of the Art Academy of Cincinnati. Alex has been involved in the arts in the downtown area for over a decade, with a focus in Over-the-Rhine. As a self-employed muralist, Alex has instilled his aesthetic in numerous opening businesses, helping to build unique experiences for those visiting the city of Cincinnati and local patrons alike.  As a studio artist, Alex has been exhibited in many galleries across the country. Working primarily with oil paints, mostly in a Rubenesque figurative realism; he has pursued modernizing classical ideas through subtle metaphor and allegory, as he has attempted to bridge the gap of new age themes with old world tradition. Alex is thrilled to bring his talents and unique artistic sense to The Children's Theatre of Cincinnati as a Scenic Painter.

Alix Frisch (Costume Assistant)

Alix Frisch

​Alix grew up in New Jersey and moved to Cincinnati with her husband to form The Frisch Marionette Company.  She learned to sew by creating all the costumes for their marionette shows.  She has been with The Children's Theatre of Cincinnati since 2015.

Scott Hunt (Resident Teaching Artist)

Scott is excited to join the roster of Teaching Artists with TCT Academy. As an actor, he has appeared on Broadway and in the National Touring Productions of Les Miserables and Rent, in addition to a robust career in regional theatre spanning over two decades. As a Teaching Artist, he has instructed students of all ages, from Kindergarten to the University level. A native Ohioan, and Resident Artist with The Human Race Theatre Company (Dayton, OH), he has dedicated the next phase of his career in the theatre to the virtue of “Paying Forward” what he’s learned to the next generation of theatre artists. 

A. James Jones (TTI Registrar)

A. James Jones

​James is a Cincinnati native with a B.F.A. in Musical Theatre from Northern Kentucky University School of the Arts (SOTA). Some favorite credits include: Prince Thomas in Snow White and the Dancing Dwarfs, Aaron Grigsby in A. Lincoln a Pioneer Tale, Prince Kai in The Snow Queen, Thomas Aykle in Heart Attack with a Knife, Lancelot in Spamalot, Lonny in Rock of Ages, The Cheshire Cat in Alice in Wonderland and Buddy in Elf the Musical JR. James is very excited and proud to work with The Children’s Theatre of Cincinnati.

Tina Marshall (Sales Director)

Tina Marshall

Tina joined TCT as Sales Director in the fall of 2012. A career working for a non-profit serving children has been a long-time goal realized. A lifetime resident of Cincinnati, she is a graduate of the University of Cincinnati, Business College.  She has 3 children who attend Cincinnati Public Schools.  Having been to many TCT shows on school field trips, Tina came to us already very familiar with all we have to offer.  She brings years of experience in customer service as well as business and brand development and logistics from her corporate life working on world brands such as GAP, Old Navy, Banana Republic, GapKids and more.  Tina has managed on all levels of retail, as well as in corporate settings.  She also brings experience as a Technology Specialist working with website content management systems, email marketing, social networking and search engine optimization.  Tina’s favorite part of her job at TCT is watching all the children who otherwise would never see live theatre sit in amazement at what they see.

Deondra Kamau Means (Artistic Coordinator of Education and Outreach)

Deondra Kamau Means

Deondra Kamau Means has been with TCT since 1994 in various capacities. Most recently as Artistic Coordinator of Education and Outreach, he lends his talents to creating and presenting curriculum-based workshops and residencies in schools and also creates and adapts scripts for TCT on Tour productions, which he directs from time to time as well. TCT MainStage acting credits include Alice in Wonderland (Caterpillar), Elf The Musical JR. (Manager at Macy’s), The Wizard of Oz (Lion) Tarzan The Stage Musical (Kerchak), Disney's The Little Mermaid JR. (Sebastian), Disney’s The Jungle Book KIDS, Holiday Follies and Holiday Follies 2 (Jimmy), Charlotte’s Web (Templeton), Disney’s Mulan, JR. (Mushu), Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (Mr. Salt), Robin Hood (Alan-A-Dale), Seussical, JR. (Mr. Mayor), The Rockin’ Adventures of Peter Rabbit (Benjamin Bunny), Noah’s Ark (Ham), Little Red Riding Hood (The Big Bad Wolf), The Piano Lesson (Lymon), The Crucible (Cheever), Snow White (The Apprentice).

Samantha Misali (Box Office and House Manager)

Samantha Misali

Samantha is thrilled to join the TCT family.  She has spent most of her life taking part in theater both on and off the stage. From high school and beyond, to years training at CCM, Samantha is no stranger to the stage. She studied communications and PR at the University of Cincinnati, as well as business and marketing during her time abroad at Edge Hill University in England. Adventure and travelling are what fuel her fire to become successful and inspire others. Due to her exuberant personality, Samantha is ready to rejoin the theater community and is dedicated to help produce magical experiences for children and adults alike, that is live theatre. As an avid Disney fanatic, she is constantly seeking magic that life gives her, working with The Children’s theatre is a step closer to that magic. 

Jennifer M. Picone (Production Stage Manager)

Jennifer M. Picone

Jenn has been with The Children’s Theatre of Cincinnati since 2003. She graduated from Miami University with a B.F.A. in Theatre Production and Design. When she’s not in production with The Children’s Theatre, Jenn can be found managing the stage for the Cincinnati Opera where recent credits include the U.S. Premiere of Another Brick in the Wall: The Opera. Her previous stage management includes work at Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park, Miami University Opera, Dayton Opera, and the Village Playhouse in Oxford, Ohio. Jenn is grateful for the un-ending support from her husband and parents, who also work in the performing arts and can often be found backstage working with her at TCT!

Tera Pierce (Development Manager)

Tera Pierce

​Tera joined the Development team at The Children’s Theatre of Cincinnati in 2019.  Tera hails from Butler, KY, where she grew up with a love for the stage. She attended the University of Louisville while majoring in Music (Voice) and traveling the world with renowned chamber choir, the Cardinal Singers.  After graduating with a Bachelor of Arts, Tera followed her dreams to Washington, D.C. where she worked behind the scenes at Washington National Opera and The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.  She is thrilled to be back in the Cincinnati area, serving an organization dedicated to nurturing young minds through live theater. When she’s not helping others discover the magic of philanthropic giving, Tera can be found singing every part of the Hamilton soundtrack or cuddling with her cat, Penny.  

Krista Katona Pille (Creative and Marketing Director)

Krista Katona Pille Krista has worked for The Children's Theatre of Cincinnati (TCT) since 2001. She’s a strong marketing professional with a demonstrated history of working in the entertainment industry.  Before The Children’s Theatre, she worked for the Cincinnati Division of Time Warner Cable as the Manager of Public Relations. Prior to that, Krista worked for the local CBS affiliate, WKRC-TV, as the Public Service/Creative Projects Coordinator. While there, she garnered three Regional Emmy Awards for producing, and her work was selected as a finalist in the 1999 National Emmy Awards.  As an Account Executive with The Owens Group, Krista developed promotional campaigns, publicity and special events throughout Cincinnati, Columbus, Dayton, Indianapolis and Louisville for Hollywood motion picture studios.  She has additional event planning experience from her time with Gardner Publications where she assisted in the coordination of meetings, conferences and trade shows.  Krista graduated from the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Electronic Media and a Writing Certificate in Journalism. She's worked at Paramount Pictures in Los Angeles, and in New York, on the set of the daytime drama, As the World Turns. Krista’s husband, Rodger, has performed in many Children’s Theatre productions. Her son, Charlie, is a TCT fan and future performer.

Jennifer M. Rhodus (Scenic Charge Artist)

Jennifer M. Rhodus

Jennifer has been with The Children’s Theatre of Cincinnati since 2012 and started Set Designing for the company in 2016. She is a graduate of the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music (CCM) where she earned her B.F.A. in Theatre Design & Production. For seven seasons, she worked for the Cincinnati Opera as their Scenic Charge Artist and has been a Set Designer for their Outbound Touring Program. As a freelance Assistant Designer, she has worked with David A. Centers on numerous shows at Dayton’s Human Race Theatre and the Cincinnati Opera; and interned twice with NYC-Designer David Gallo at Playhouse in the Park.

Jeff Shearer (Resident Costume Design Builder & Manager)

Jeff Shearer

Jeff became TCT's Resident Costume Designer in 2016. He has designed for Northern Kentucky University, Theatre By the Sea in Rhode Island, Shawnee Playhouse in the Poconos and served as Assistant Costume Designer for San Diego Repertory Theatre. Favorite projects include Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, Mame, Gypsy, and Little Shop of Horrors. In addition, Jeff has designed for theme parks including Paramount Parks, Dorney Park and Cedar Point. 

Laura Stenger (Associate Stage Manager)

Laura Stenger

Laura is no stranger to the Cincinnati area. She grew up outside of the city farming cattle, alfalfa, and horses in rural Indiana. In addition to her agricultural upbringing, she pursued theatrical and fine arts. She is a graduate of the University of Cincinnati’s College-Conservatory of Music (CCM) where she studied theatre design and production with a focus in stage management. Before joining The Children’s Theatre in 2016, Laura previously worked at Cirque du Soleil, the New York Musical Festival and La Jolla Playhouse; as well as locally in Cincinnati at Ensemble Theatre and Cincinnati Opera. When she’s not helping to create art, you can find her indulging in $5 Movie Tuesdays, riding horses, or pursuing some new adventure!

Chad Stewart (Finance Director)

Chad Stewart

​Chad Stewart comes to The Children’s Theatre of Cincinnati with several years of nonprofit arts finance and accounting experience. Having worked for such institutions as the Cincinnati Art Museum, the Contemporary Arts Center, and the Arizona Theatre Company, Chad enjoys interacting with creative and dynamic individuals.  In addition to numbers, Chad also has an affinity for words. Chad received his Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Kentucky and is currently a graduate student in English/Creative Writing at Northern Kentucky University.  In addition to being a voracious reader of English (and French) literature, Chad’s interests include travel, art, and spending most weekends puttering around in his garden with his wife Laura and son, Reggie. Last, but certainly not least, Chad is a cat person.

Anne McCarthy Venters (Development Director)

Anne McCarthy Venters

​Anne joined the TCT team in 2019 as they celebrated The Children’s Theatre’s 100th birthday and the Power of a Child!  Most recently, she spent 14 years helping to fund the mission of Cincinnati Hills Christian Academy, including serving as Director of Development since 2008.  Anne and her husband Eric moved to Cincinnati from Chicago in 1995.  She served as Conference Manager, Product Marketing Manager and Consultant working for Comdisco Disaster Recovery Services in the New Jersey, London and Chicago office locations.  Prior to joining Comdisco, Anne worked in New York City as Operations Manager for Manufacturer’s Hanover Trust.  Anne graduated from Saint Mary’s College of Notre Dame, IN with a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature.  Her passion for the theater was discovered as a child enjoying the Straw Hat Theater of Ashtabula, OH, and over the years while experiencing incredible Broadway and Off-Broadway productions in New York, Chicago and London.  Anne loves building relationships matching passionate interests with funding needs that transform young lives.  Her most rewarding relational experience has been witnessing her two daughters Kaitlyn and Morganne grow up and discover their passions, interests and purpose.  She appreciates the opportunity to be a part of the team that impacts, ignites and inspires children through the arts as they discover their place in the world.  

Violet Rae Webster (Sales Manager)

Violet Rae Webster

Violet Rae joined the staff of The Children’s Theatre of Cincinnati in July 2016.  She is a proud Northern Kentuckian who studied Theatre Arts in college receiving a Bachelor of Arts Degree for an Area of Communications with Theatre Emphasis from Morehead State University.  In college, she performed with a touring children’s theatre ensemble plus had many dramatic, comedic and musical theatre roles on stage.  Following school her career took a different path of 30+ years in sales and marketing management for travel and tourism attractions, festivals and a convention and visitors bureau.  She feels her education, professional experience and training make her uniquely qualified to sell TCT On Tour productions and TCT On Tour WorkShops.  In her spare time, she is a singer-songwriter performing folk, Americana, traditional and period music with the women’s folk trio, Raison D’Etre.  Violet’s mantra is to “be present, live in the moment and find joy” in all she does.

Mary Wright (Development and Volunteer Manager)

Mary Wright Mary is an Army Brat who was born in Nuremburg, Germany and is one of five daughters.  She resides in Mason, Ohio.  Mary came to The Children's Theatre of Cincinnati from the Ohio Valley Chapter of the National MS Society  where she was in charge of Development events such as the Women on the Move Luncheon and Dinner of Champions, as well as donor relations, IT and office management.  Mary also worked at Hospice of Cincinnati as the Volunteer Coordinator for seven years and has worked in residential and commercial building in Greater Cincinnati.  Mary was on the Board of Trustees for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, Volunteer Coordinator for the Duramed Futures Tour of the LPGA, Standard Bearer Chair for the Kroger Classic of the Champions Tour of the PGA, where she was the National Volunteer of the Year.

Alicia Wylie (Master Carpenter/Shop Foreman)

Alicia Wylie

Alicia has been a carpenter for the Children's Theatre of Cincinnati since 2014.  She is a graduate from the University of New Orleans with a B.F.A..  She has worked at Studio 3 Inc. in New Orleans completing several projects for parades, artists and corporations.  She currently lives and works in Cincinnati with her partner, Jennifer.  In her spare time she enjoys cooking, playing guitar, and riding her motorcycle.  

Pamela M. Young (Operations Manager)

Pamela M. Young Pam started working for The Children’s Theatre of Cincinnati in 2007 as a part-time bookkeeper. She soon became full-time, adding MainStage School Coordinator and Office Manager to her resume. She lives in Madisonville and is proud to have five grown children who are pursuing their dreams all over the world, as well as two darling grandchildren. Spare time is spent with family and friends or volunteering at church or in the community. Pam says one of the best things about TCT is sitting in a theater full of school-aged children and watching the amazement on their faces.