Happening at SteppingStone

About Us

We Are SteppingStone Theatre for Youth

We Believe

Young people are artists, makers, and doers.

They need to belong and to contribute to their world. 

When young people make art together, they change themselves and the world around them for the better.

We Do

SteppingStone ignites belonging, generosity, mastery, self-advocacy, and inspiration by creating art with young people to share with the world.

At SteppingStone Theatre for Youth, we take young people seriously as artists. Each 3-year-old, 12-year-old, and 18-year old has the ability to shape our world through their unique perspective. That’s why every experience at SteppingStone honors the cultural, emotional, and artistic legitimacy of Student Artists. Here, youth are learning to transform the world that they live in with help from Teaching Artists, Directors, Technicians, Office Staff, and Donors like you.

SteppingStone Theatre focuses on developing the whole child through educational theater programs and fully staged productions. Our supportive, non-competitive environment helps youth build self-esteem and confidence in a community that celebrates diversity.

SteppingStone Theatre is a 501(c)(3) organization.

Board of Directors


Dr. Paul Sackett (Chair)
University of Minnesota

Pondie Taylor (Vice Chair)
St. Paul City School

Shwetha Vijayakumar (Secretary)

Andrea Trimble Hart (Treasurer)
Trimble Hart Consulting, Inc.

Mike Erlandson (Past Chair)
Aurora Strategic Advisors


Kristin Berger Parker
Stinson, Leonard, Street

Tamra Davis Cownie
Hardenbergh Foundation

Nancy Feldman
UCare, Retired

Mark Howlett

Paul Johnson
Xcel Energy

Jared Kemper
Schwan’s Company

Paul Mattessich
Wilder Research Foundation

Susan Rostkoski (Vice Chair)

Paul Stembler

Anna Tobin
Greene Espel PLLP

Aaron Preusse (he/him)
Specialty: Stage Combat
Aaron is the Founder and Grand High PooBah of the Fake Fighting Company. He is also the Mid America Regional Rep and a Certified Teacher and Fight Director with the Society of American Fight Directors. In addition, Aaron received honors of Advanced Gold with Recommendation from the British Academy of Dramatic Combat. He has served as Fight Director for the Guthrie Theater, the Ordway Center for Performing Arts, Minnesota Opera, the Children’s Theatre Company’s Theatre Arts Training Senior and Junior Intensives, Commonweal Theatre Company, Park Square Theatre, Gremlin Theatre, Theatre in the Round, Theatre Pro Rata, Red Bird Theatre, Skylark Opera, Lyric Arts Company of Anoka, the Old Log Theatre, as well as many other theatres, schools and universities in the region. Aaron has taught for the Saint Paul Conservatory for Performing Artists, the University of Minnesota, Concordia University of St. Paul, North Hennepin Community College, the Guthrie Theatre, the Children’s Theatre Company, Lyric Arts Company of Anoka, Park Square Theatre, the Minnesota Thespian Festival, the Society of American Fight Directors along with many other institutions. He is a graduate of the Dell’Arte International School of Physical Theatre and the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art.
Abigail Chagolla (she/her)
Specialty: Devised Theatre
Abigail Chagolla is an actress, musician, teaching artist, and director. Originally from Iowa, she graduated from the University of Northern Iowa with a double degree in Theatre Performance and Communications. Abigail has recently moved here and has enjoyed her time so far, working with theatres around the area like CLIMB theatre, Teatro de pueblo, Directors Works in Phoenix Theatre, and Prime Productions. Abigail believes that theatre and play are for everyone and strives to create a space where all experiences, backgrounds, and styles are welcomed. A huge child at heart, she loves working with children to create a world where anything is possible, and if she can include her Latina roots and her love for kpop in it that would be enough.
Alli St. John (she/her)
Specialty: Directing
Alli St. John is a theatre artist originally from the Cleveland, Ohio area. She specializes in directing, devising, and teaching acting, puppetry, and playwriting. Most recently, Alli has served as a preschool drama specialist (Cleveland, OH), a teaching artist with Childsplay (Tempe, AZ), and Artistic Director for Thought Bubble Theatre Festival. She holds an MFA in Theatre for Youth and Community from Arizona State University, where she focused her research on building cultures of consent in educational theatre.
Ansa Akyea (he/him)
Specialty: Acting
Ansa is a Swiss born Ghanaian-American actor and proud graduate of the University of Iowa's distinguished Masters of Fine Arts Acting program. Ansa has worked as an actor and director at some of the best local and regional theaters throughout the Twin Cities, such as the Guthrie Theater, Mixed Blood, and Ten Thousand Things. He can also be seen and heard on film, radio, and television. Ansa is the recipient of the 2011 Minnesota Playwright Center's McKnight Award for Acting, Citypages Best Actor Award 2007, and the 2013 Minnesota Playwright Center's Many Voices Fellowship, and an Ivey Award for the Guthrie Theater's production of Clybourne Park.
Austin Stiers (he/him)
Specialty: Technical Theatre
Joining Park Square and SteppingStone Theatres as Technical Director in 2021, Austin is a theatre artist and technician originally from Cedar Falls Iowa. While his primary emphasis is scenery and properties, he can be found working in all facets of theatre design. Austin has taught shop techniques and skills with Kearney High School, Cedar Falls High School, The University of Northern Iowa, and Sturgis Youth Theatre, but perhaps his favorite project was touring with Palette of Possibility, a devised piece, geared toward youth, committed to nonverbal and sensory friendly exploration of the world around us. When not working on shows or teaching, Austin likes to build replica props from his favorite TV shows and movies. Austin graduated from the University of Northern Iowa, with a B.A. in Theatre and an emphasis in Design and Production.
Chelsea Rose (she/her)
Specialty: Dance
Meet Chelsea Rose! Chelsea grew up dancing in the Twin Cities and realized pretty early on dance was her passion. Chelsea's performance career began over in the west coast where she had the opportunity to work on numerous film, television and music video projects. Since returning to the Twin Cities she has loved stepping into the role of an instructor and choreographer. Being able to share her passion and inspire young dancers brings her so much joy! Many of Chelsea's dances have been recognized for choreography and entertainment in the competition dance scene. Chelsea has choreographed for Ashland Productions, Hill Murray, Spotlight Education, and will be working with Twin Cities Theatre Camp. She is also a working performer in the St. Paul-Minneapolis Metro area. She has done commercial work, is a company member of Collide Theatrical and has worked in theatres such as The Ordway and History Theatre!
Dominic Rodgers (he/him)
Specialty: Devised Theatre
Dominic Rodgers is an actor and teaching artist based in Saint Paul. He has been a performer with Minneapolis based Classical Actors Ensemble since 2020, appearing in a variety of roles throughout area parks, schools, and theaters. Dominic has also worked as a teaching artist with students ages 2 to 22, teaching courses at Macalester College, Children’s Theatre Company, and joining the SteppingStone team this past spring. He previously led the theater programming at the summer program Multi-Arts in his hometown of Amherst, Massachusetts. In teaching, Dominic focuses on physical expressiveness and play as a means of self expression. He holds a BA in Theater and Dance from Macalester College.
Emily Villano (she/her)
Specialty: Music + Devised Theatre
A charismatic and versatile vocalist with a passion for music, Emily brings a captivating voice, persona, and a funky style to everything she does. Along with her career as a singer, Emily has a passion for arts education and teaches with a number of organizations including Youth Performance Company, Nova Classical Academy, Lakeshore Players, and Ashland Productions. As a freelance educator, Emily is a vocal coach, music director, and stage director in addition to maintaining her private vocal studio. Emily graduated with a Bachelor of Music in Vocal Performance from McNally Smith.
Erin Granger (she/her)
Specialty: Arts Admin + Theatre Exploration
Erin Granger is an arts administrator, educator, actor, dancer, director, and producer with over a decade of professional experience in the twin cities entertainment scene. She has collaborated on projects with SteppingStone, Park Square, Theatre in the Round, Lakeshore Players, Shakespeare & Co., and various film production companies, in addition to being a member of Mosaic Productions, a small local theatre company. A native of Fargo, ND Erin served as an Education Program Assistant for Trollwood Performing Arts School while completing her degree in Theatre Performance & Directing from Minnesota State University Moorhead. As an educator, Erin enjoys leading collaborative & play-filled classes for young people in devised theatre, movement, mask work, world-building, theatre exploration, scene study, and directing. For the past six years, Erin has served as the Education Manager for SteppingStone Theatre, where she finds immense joy in developing hundreds of arts learning opportunities for young artists & theatre-makers.
Hannah Mahr (they/them)
Specialty: PreK-K + Movement
An educator, physical theatre artist, dancer, and vocalist, Hannah Mahr has taught with Young People's Theater Workshop, The Northfield Arts Guild, SteppingStone Theatre for Youth, Park Square Theatre, and Merrill Arts Center. As a teaching artist, they strive to create collaborative, brave spaces where young artists are empowered to connect with their bodies, tell their own stories, and process new concepts through movement, improvisation, and play. Hannah also serves as the Education Program Coordinator for SteppingStone and Park Square Theatres, developing and facilitating programming for all ages. They studied at Gustavus Adolphus College, graduating with a B.A. in Theatre with Honors and minors in Dance, English, and Comparative Literature.
Isabella Dunsieth (she/her)
Specialty: Devised Theatre + Comedy
Isabella is a graduate of the UMN/Guthrie BFA Actor Training Program. Her true passion is being a complete buffoon and making people laugh. Though comedy is her first love, she also has significant experience in writing, directing, dramaturgy, and teaching artistry. She hopes to develop devised work while continuing her acting/comedy & teaching journey within the Twin-Cities.
Jack Bonko (he/him)
Specialty: Devised Theatre
Jack Bonko is a graduate of Minnesota State University Moorhead where he earned degrees in Theatre (Acting) and Integrated Public Relations & Advertising. Before joining the staff of Teaching Artists at SteppingStone, Jack spent five years as a SteppingStone Classroom Assistant during the summer camp season. Since then, Jack has taught a variety of theatre classes and directed student productions all across the metro with several notable arts organizations. Jack is an active member of Twin Cities Theatre Community. Watch for him on a stage near you!
Jane Froiland (she/her)
Specialty: PreK-K + Devised Theatre
A St. Paul-based actor, director, and teaching artist, Jane has taught with Lakeshore Players, Youth Performance Company, Stages Theatre, Yellow Tree Theatre, and many more. Onstage, she has appeared with Children’s Theatre Company, Park Square Theatre, Mixed Blood, Jungle Theatre, Frank Theatre, Ten Thousand Things, Old Log , Dark and Stormy, and Gremlin, among others. Jane directs the Spring play at Woodbury High School, is the Head Coach of the White Bear Speech Team, and is a performer with Science Live Theatre at the Science Museum of Minnesota.
Jen Scott (she/her)
Specialty: Improv/Comedy + Devised Theatre
As a teaching artist, Jen Scott loves creating a safe space where students can open up as much or as little as they like, and take the risk that is the right size for them in that moment. Jen was an artist-in-residence at Pillsbury House + Theater for over 6 years, and has also taught for HUGE Theater, the Brave New Student Union, Children’s Theatre Company, Park Square Theatre, and others. She is dedicated to informal science education, and has performed for the Bakken Museum, and written and performed for the Science Museum of Minnesota. Jen performs improv regularly at HUGE Theater, and also does scripted work: recent stage credits include Uprising Theatre, Mystery Cafe’ Inc., Hennepin Theater Trust, Red Eye Theater, Four Humors Theater, and others. She’s been a featured performer at the Twin Cities Improv Festival, The Toronto Improv Festival, The Great American Comedy Festival, and is part of Show X, a weekly invite-only all-star long-form improv performance.
Kiera Stegall (she/her)
Specialty: PreK-K + Storytelling
An animated storyteller and educator, Kiera has experience working with children from birth through upper elementary school since 2005. After years of professional storytelling, Kiera joined the world of children's theater in 2017. Encouraging the creativity and imagination of children, she loves bringing characters and stories to life on stage. Using process art, devised theater concepts, and children’s literature, Kiera cultivates a creative and supportive environment where all children are welcomed as artists and actors. She is currently pursuing a doctorate in spirituality and the arts, researching how devised theatre can be used to teach upper elementary students about transformative justice.
Kristin Fox (she/her)
Specialty: Devised Theatre + Directing
Kristin Fox has been working as a teaching artist, director and actor across the Twin Cities and the Upper Midwest for over 15 years. She earned her Master of Fine Arts in Directing from Minnesota State University, Mankato where she spent time teaching theater history and acting courses. She is the current Artistic Director for the teen theatre program, SOS, at Merrill Arts Center in Woodbury, MN.
Laurie Dehmlow (she/her)
Specialty: PreK-K
A music educator, Laurie has multiple accreditations including a B.S. in Music Education and a M.M. in Vocal Performance and Pedagogy. As a performing artist she has been in several musical theatre and chamber opera productions in Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Illinois. In addition to teaching classes for Steppingstone (since 1992), Laurie teaches children's music literacy and private voice lessons at St. Joseph's School of Music, Children's Theatre Company, and local elementary schools. Additionally, Laurie direct two children's church choirs.
Megan Flød Johnson (she/her)
Specialty: Process Art + Play
Megan Flød Johnson is an interdisciplinary theatre artist and educator who seeks to disrupt dominant narratives and expectations around arts experiences for youth and families to designate space for process, experimental thinking, play and multiple points of view. She exhibits her work and consults with arts organizations that honor young people as artists and makers around the country including Children's Museum of Pittsburgh and the Kennedy Center for Performing Arts. Megan is an inaugural 2019-'20 Jerome Hill Artist Fellow in performance awarded by the Jerome Foundation. Learn more about her work at www.meganflod.org and her installation project, The NEST at www.thenestiscoming.com.
Max Clifford (he/him)
Specialty: Music
Motivated and passionate music educator Max Clifford values creating meaningful musical experiences with all students he works with. Max strives for diversity and equity in all aspects of student experiences and works to provide students a safe outlet to showcase their individual strengths and interests. A recent graduate from St. Olaf College in Northfield, MN, Max brings a wide variety of artistic and educational experiences to SteppingStone’s summer production. In addition to being an active violinist, Max has training in vocal pedagogy and youth/adolescent vocal development and has a particular interest in helping young students connect with their natural musicality through singing and movement. Max is preparing to student teach this fall, after which he will be a K-12 licensed music educator and hopes to remain in the Twin Cities teaching middle or high school.
Meghan (Mac) McLaughlin (she/they)
Specialty: Theater Technology + Design
An Artist, Designer, Drafter, Teacher and Production Manager, Mac worked as the Scene Shop Supervisor at South Dakota State University and assisted teaching in her free time. Currently they are working on their Masters in Arts and Cultural Leadership at the University of Minnesota while working as the Production Manager at Park Square Theater. As a teaching artist Mac specializes in visual arts, theater technology and scenic design. Her goals with teaching are to get students involved in backstage work of theater, teaching anyone the skills needed to work in technical theater and build the confidence of students off stage.
Mikaela Moe (she/her)
Specialty: Devised Theatre
Mikaela is a recent graduate of Bethel University's Musical Theatre/Acting and Directing B.A. Program. With minors in Leadership and Film, Mikaela finds ways to incorporate those into her teaching. Mikaela is a theatre performer and educator around the Twin Cities, and comes from a background of teaching Special Education. Mikaela has also had the opportunity to live and train in New York City, where she interned with a theatre company in Times Square, and trained at a professional acting studio. Outside of theatre, Mikaela runs a small Etsy shop called Bushel and Peck Soap, where she enjoys bringing her visual artist side to life by making creative, and gorgeous one of a kind soaps, greeting cards, and other stationery products.
Pedro Bayón (he/him)
Specialty: Devised Theatre + Acting
With over 30 years of experience, Pedro is a Theatre Artist and Teaching Artist from Puerto Rico. He has worked with local companies including The Ordway, Teatro del Pueblo, and Mixed Blood, amongst others. Motivating minds to explore their creative potential is what motivates Pedro to keep teaching and mentoring students ages 5-85.
Shae Palic (she/her)
Specialty: Acting
Shae has been a Teaching Artist with the University of Minnesota BFA Acting Program in the capacity of Assistant Director and Intimacy Workshop Facilitator since 2016. In addition to SteppingStone, Shae is also a Teaching Artist with Lyric Arts and the Saint Paul School District. She received her degree from the University of Minnesota/Guthrie Theatre BFA Actor Training Program.
Sylvia Michels (she/her)
Specialty: Devising + Musical Theatre
Sylvia graduated from Gustavus Adolphus College with a BA in Theatre and immediately went to work acting and directing across the United States. She has over 15 years of experience in the theatre/film industry and started a K-5 theatre program at a charter school in Eden Prairie, where she also serves as the Student Program Specialist. When not teaching, acting, or directing, Syliva enjoys photography, drawing, cooking, gardening and singing with the Elizabethan Syngers at the MN Renaissance Festival.
Taj Ruler (she/her)
Specialty: Improv/Comedy + Acting
Taj is an actor, improviser, voice over artist, and teacher around the Twin Cities. She has worked at Pillsbury House Theatre, Park Square Theater, Mixed Blood Theatre, The Playwrights Center, The Brave New Workshop, and more. As a teaching artist, Taj specialises in improvisation and character development. Her overall goals in the classroom are creating a strong ensemble, to be bold and take risks, respect one another, and most of all to have fun!
Terrell Woods (he/him)
Specialty: Beat Box + Devised Theatre
An established Hip Hop Artist, Terrell Woods (aka Carnage The Executioner) has spent over 20 years making music and working with youth and adults from all walks of life and various socio-economic backgrounds. He possesses a knack for establishing strong and healthy relationships. His specialties include fostering personal and artistic growth and helping all people find the voices they might not identify with just yet. Terrell stands firm in his support and practice of provoking positive self-expression, nurturing leadership skills, and speaking in favor of social justice. 10+ years of teaching beat boxing/vocal percussion and song writing has helped him build an impressive artist resume that extends all the way to Europe.

Mark Ferraro-Hauck (He/Him)
Executive Director


Ansa Akyea (He/Him)
Artistic Associate

Ellen Fenster (She/Her)
Artistic Associate

Rick Shiomi (He/Him)
Artistic Associate

William Edson (He/Him)
Executive Administrator


Meghan ‘Mac’ McLaughlin (She/They)
Production Manager

Austin Stiers (He/Him)
Technical Director


Garrett Conard (He/Him)
Assistant Technical Director

Brent Anderson
Electrician Supervisor
Alexi Carlson
Assistant Electrician Supervisor
Richard Graham
Sound Supervisor
Meghan Kent
Costume Supervisor
Erin Gustafson
Carpenter Supervisor
Jeni Raddatz Tolifson
Scenic Paint Charge
Nina Broberg
Production Intern

SteppingStone Creative Learning

Megan Flød Johnson (She/Her)
Interim Director of Education

Erin Granger (She/Her)
Youth and Family Program Manager

Amanda Hestwood (She/Her)
School and Community Program Manager

Hannah Mahr (They/Them)
Education Program Coordinator

External Relations

Emily Halstead (She/Her)
External Relations Director

Marcie Berg (She/Her)
Development Manager

Tori Dobias (She/Her)
Digital Marketing Manager

Lynne Beck
Development Consultant

Finance and Operations

Christopher Taykalo (He/Him)
Interim Finance and Operations Director

Bethany Gladhill (She/Her
Finance Consultant

Dave Peterson (He/Him)
Facility and Events Director

Ben Cook-Feltz (He/Him)
Ticket Office Manager

Jiffy Kunik (She/Her)
Performance Manager

Morgan Gray (She/Her)
Box Office and Database Coordinator

Emma Swain
Ticketing Associate

Join the team! Check out our job openings today!



Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we are available via email M-F, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the following:






Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Statement

At SteppingStone, we are committed to access and inclusion for all people. We stand firmly in opposition to racism, and our programs challenge our young artists, staff, and Board of Directors to foster inclusion and seek equity for all, including Black people, Indigenous peoples, people of color, LGBTQIA+ people, people of all economic backgrounds, people of all religions, and people with disabilities. SteppingStone collaborates with families to meet students’ needs, whether they are social, academic, developmental, or physical.

We Believe

Young people are artists, makers, and doers. They need to belong and to contribute to their world. When young people make art together, they change themselves and the world around them for the better.

We Do

SteppingStone ignites belonging, generosity, mastery, self-advocacy, and inspiration by creating art with young people to share with the world.
SteppingStone Theatre is a 501(3)(c) organization