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Marlon Torres, Executive Director

Marlon Torres is the Executive Director of North Carolina Arts in Action, an organization that helps children reach their full potential using performing arts as the catalyst to build focus, discipline, self-esteem, teamwork and leadership. Marlon began his career as a principal dancer in Mini Pops – a highly-rated Venezuelan televised dance ensemble featuring child performers, which enchanted millions of loyal viewers in Venezuela and the Caribbean. As former principal dancer of the international modern dance company, Galumpha, Marlon created and performed award-winning choreography showcased around the world. He has performed dancing roles on stages throughout the Americas, Europe and Asia, including the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC, the Kravis Center in West Palm Beach, FL, California's Napa Valley Opera House, Finland's Jyväskylä Festival, the ARTE Television network in Germany, and the Singapore Arts Festival. Marlon’s work as a Planner, Trainer, and Developer of Project Management Concepts through Body Movement received the 2014 Platinum Award from the NC Project Management Institute. In June 2016, the Certified Association Executive (CAE) Commission of the American Society of Association Executives (ASAE) conferred on Marlon the CAE designation, the highest professional credential in the association industry. To be designated as a CAE, an applicant must have a minimum of three years of experience with nonprofit organization management, complete a minimum of 100 hours of specialized professional development, pass a stringent examination in association management, and pledge to uphold a code of ethics. Marlon is a certified project management professional (PMP), has an MBA in marketing from the University of Leicester in the UK, and holds a B.A. in theatre and dance from Binghamton University. He joined the Downton Durham Rotary Innovation Fellowship class of 2017.

NC Aarts in Action Staff 2015 - 2016 Season
Doug Largent, Music Director and Program Manager

Doug Largent is a Carrboro, NC-based music director, double bassist, jazz organist and pianist. After earning his degree at UNC-Chapel Hill, Doug worked in New York City as a freelance musician at jazz clubs such as The Blue Note, Smalls, and the Jazz Standard. As a studio musician, he contributed to hundreds of projects, including Emmy-winning children's programs Wonder Pets, Sesame Street, and Third and Bird. After moving back to NC in 2010, Doug has played in productions at NC Theater, Burning Coal Theater, and Raleigh Little Theater. He has served on the faculty of The UNC Jazz Workshop. His jazz group The Doug Largent Trio has released five albums. Doug plays organ and bass at Cornerstone Presbyterian Church. He accompanies ballet classes at Duke University. Doug has been performing in NC Arts in Action productions since 2013, came on as a full-time accompanist in 2015, and became music director in 2016.

Disha Dewan, Development Director

Disha Dewan is the Development Director for NC Arts in Action. She graduated from the University of Minnesota’s Carlson School of Management with a degree in Marketing. Disha worked as an accountant and manager before moving to New York to pursue a training program in classical acting from the American Academy of Dramatic Arts. After spending two years in New York auditioning for Indie films and off-Broadway productions, Disha went back to school and received a Masters Degree in Education from Marymount University and worked as an educator since 2012.

MaryBeth Carpenter, Senior Grants Consultant

A veteran fundraiser with over 30 years of experience at higher education and social service agencies in four states, MaryBeth has raised $44 million for her nonprofits. She began Greater Gifts Consulting in 2010 and has assisted numerous Triangle-based nonprofits with strategic planning and fundraising.

MaryBeth is the winner of the 2018 Outstanding Fundraising Professional award from AFP Triangle. She is a Certified Fundraising Executive and also a Certified Gift Planning Associate. MaryBeth is Past President of the Triangle Chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals, and served on its board for six years. MaryBeth also serves on other Triangle non-profit boards and teaches the CFRE review course and gives trainings on fundraising across North Carolina. She is also an award winning writer, a historian and a photographer.

Visit Greater Gifts Consulting:

Kim Demery, Project Manager

Kim Demery is a multi-talented music educator, author and speaker who received her music education degree from Northwestern University. She joined AIA as Project Manager for L.E.A.P. Team (Learning, Excellence and Perseverance) in the Fall of 2016. She has a solid teaching foundation in public and non-profit arts education and is a thought leader with multi-layered experience in Program Development, and Operations Management. As a featured presenter and speaker for the North Carolina Symphony education program,  Ms. Demery's work with her students has been featured at the North Carolina Music Educators' Conference and on UNC-TV's Carolina Now.  With over ten years of professional corporate experience, she managed training and development in Broadcast Operations at HBO Communications in New York. As Director of Programming for arts education programs, she is planning to use her varied experiences to encourage students to become life-long lovers of the arts who seek to become leaders in their schools and communities.

Suzi Landis, Artistic Director

Suzi Landis is a North Carolina native with more than 20 years experience teaching ages three to senior citizens inballet,tap and jazz. She is a certified Grade II Cecchetti teacher and currently teaches ballet at City Ballet in Raleigh, N.C. She has been a contributing writer to Dance Teacher Magazine and Dance Spirit Magazine. Suzi has a degree in Communications and a minor in Dance from Appalachian State University. She was a dancer and choreographer with the Appalachian Dance Ensemble, performing original ballet and modern dance pieces. She is a former board member of the North Carolina Dance Alliance and continues to enjoy master classes in all forms of dance to keep her mind and body at its fullest potential!

Tiana Sutton, Associate Artistic Director

Creative professional dedicated to the arts, I have been dancing since age seven and am committed to helping others develop their artistic passion, including my own. Director of Tiana Sutton Presents, a production company that executes shows incorporating my passion, skills, and talents and those of artists in the Raleigh-Durham area.

Rachel Lee, Lead Teaching Artist

Rachel began her dance training at Raleigh School of Ballet and was a member of its pre-professional ballet company, Raleigh Dance Theatre. She holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Dance Performance and Choreography from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. Rachel also received training at the North Carolina School of the Arts summer program and was awarded scholarships for the summer programs at the American Dance Festival in Durham and New York City and the Florida Dance Festival. She has performed in the North Carolina Dance Festival and with North Carolina Theatre in their production of "South Pacific". She was a professional dancer in New York City for many years and performed in modern dance companies and musical theatre projects. Favorite credits include "The Mikado" with the New York City Opera at Lincoln Center and the National and International tours of the Tony-nominated Broadway show "Swing!". Rachel has competed as a professional ballroom dancer in American Rhythm and American Smooth Ballroom. She is a licensed Zumba instructor and certified Pilates instructor. Most recently, Rachel spent the last ten years teaching dance to children ages 2-18 in Greenville, North Carolina. Rachel lives in Cary with her husband, Dan and their three children.

Christa Dreese, Lead Teaching Artist

Christa is from New Jersey and studied at the Rock School of the Pennsylvania Ballet, and Ballet South Jersey. She earned a BFA in Dance from the University of the Arts in Philadelphia PA and went on to study and perform in NYC. Christa spent nearly a decade travelling across the US, Europe, Asia, and Australia performing in, and directing shows for Sesame Street Live. Since moving to Raleigh, Christa has worked in early childhood education, museum programming, and has taught and choreographed for studios across the Triangle.

Susan Kohl Smith, Lead Teaching Artist

“Miss Sue” grew up in South Jersey across the bridge from Philly. She danced with Philadelphia Ballet and Philadanco and South Jersey Ballet Co. Also spent summers dancing with the Rockettes Summer Outreach programs. Sue received a degree in Speech, Theater & Dance from Glassboro State College (now Rowan University). After dancing on stage and touring with companies, Sue went back to school for her Early Education Certification, fulfilling her love of teaching! Since moving to North Carolina she has developed dance education programs for schools, libraries, museums, children's theater and dance studios. Working for NC Arts in Action is a dream job as it combines my nerdy need to teach and my love to dance!

Chris Thompson, Teaching Artist

Chris Thompson is a dancer, choreographer, musician and educator with more than 30 years experience in Charlotte and the Triangle areas. Chris is a North Carolina native and graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He has studied at the UNC-School of Arts and with Chuck Davis and the African American Dance Ensemble.

Diane Petteway, Musician

Diane Petteway has been a musician, educator and musical director in the Triangle for over 40 years.  She is passionate about using the arts as a vehicle for community building, authentic engagement and personal reflection. 

Julie Bradley, Musician

During her 35 years in Raleigh, Julie has performed with and/or musically directed for many Triangle theatre, opera, dance, and education programs, including: DPAC, City of Raleigh, NC Arts in Action, William Peace University, Theatre Raleigh, Cardinal Gibbons, NC Theatre, NC Symphony, NC Opera, and Carolina Ballet.  

Ms. Bradley received her Master’s in Music Education from UNCG. Her teaching style is performance-based and process-oriented. She believes musical theatre can serve many important developmental, social, and artistic needs for young people who

are looking for their place in the world.


James Davy, Musician

James Davy is a singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist from Raleigh, NC. He currently lives in Chapel Hill, NC with his partner, 3 cats and an old guitar named Jewel. He is currently writing and performing songs in prep for his solo debut America the Broken – slated for release in the Fall of 2023. 

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