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.
Andrew Crowe is a native of Charlotte, North Carolina, but spent the majority of his childhood in northern Portugal, where he began studying the violin at age 10. He earned a Bachelor of Music in violin performance from Taylor University in Indiana, after which he moved to New York City to pursue a career as a performer. For over 20 years, he made a living as an actor, singer, music director, and multi-instrumentalist. He performed on three national tours, played the title role in ‘Fiddler On The Roof’ for audiences of 11,000 people at the largest outdoor theatre in the nation - the MUNY, in Saint Louis, and acted or played music in over 75 regional theatre productions all across the country. His original compositions and arrangements for Milwaukee Chamber Theatre’s production of ‘Great Expectations’ earned him an accolade as one of “The Top 10 Theatre Designs of 2017” by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Andrew resides in North Carolina and he has been thrilled to find both meaningful work and artistic comradery through his new calling at NC Arts In Action.
Katie Heineman, MSSW, has worked in the field of development for almost 20 years, raising over $35M for the organizations she served. Starting in the field as a grant writer and government liaison for Jewish Home Lifecare (the largest aging services provider in NYS at the time) she was also a co-developer of the Geriatric Career Development Program, an internationally recognized initiative that works with underserved youth over three years to prepare them for future careers in healthcare.
After leaving New York City, she was a Vice President at the North Carolina Hospital Association and COO of the North Carolina Hospital Foundation where her role ranged from grant writing, co-administering a three year $11.3M grant from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, and implementing a national award-winning project, the Mobile Medication Program (for individuals with severe mental illness). More recently Katie was a serving as a development consultant for smaller non-profits in the Triangle. She is a graduate of Williams College and the Columbia University School of Social Work where she studied Social Enterprise Administration (administrative social work).
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: https://greatergiftsnc.com/
Psalms White is a lead teaching artist and program manager for North Carolina Arts in Action. With over 20 years of performing arts experience, Psalms has been immersed in the world of dance, gymnastics, cheerleading, and musical theater. As a student of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Psalms was a varsity cheerleader, camp counselor, and the founder of a service fraternity, before graduating in 2019 with a degree in Communications Studies.
Psalms has worked for numerous non-profits doing youth and young-adult empowerment work. From nature immersions to art programs, Psalms finds the most joy in encouraging and equipping people with creative ways to express themselves. Since working for Arts in Action, Psalms has been a dedicated and effective teacher - incorporating her current dance and facilitation training to keep students engaged and inspired.
As a working performer, Psalms is still involved in regular dance and music gigs between North and South Carolina. Her passion for her own creative expression makes her work with youth authentic and joyful. She looks forward to continuing to learn and grow with Arts in Action as a teacher, administrator, artist, mentor, and world-changer.
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 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!
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 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.
Briana Scott, Lead Teaching Artist
Briana Scott was promoted to Lead Teaching Artist after being with the program for two years as a Teaching Assistant. In the summer of 2023, Briana had the opportunity to travel to New York to complete her intensive training at the National Dance Institute. There she experienced training with teachers from all over the world. When she’s not working with the program, she is sharing her light as a freelance dancer, creative director, muse, and music artist. Being a strong advocate for self-expression, Briana hopes to continue to motivate our youth to be their best and authentic selves through the NC AIA program.
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.