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.

Aurora Strategic Advisors

St. Paul City School

Schwan’s Company


Hardenbergh Foundation

MHD Couture, LLC

Magnett, LLC

US Bank



Jungle Theater


Greene Espel PLLP


The SteppingStone Theatre for Youth Board of Director typically meets eleven times per year. SteppingStone receives annual support from 100% of the Board of Directors.

*Indicates Honorary Member of the Board of Directors

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.
Pedro Bayon (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.
Jack Bonko (he/him)
Specialty: Devised Theatre
Jack is a recent graduate from Minnesota State University Moorhead where he double majored in Acting and Integrated Advertising and Public Relations. He is a local actor and teaching artist that has worked with Ashland Productions in addition to SteppingStone. He has also worked with the Guthrie Theatre as their Child Supervisor during productions.
Sandy Covington (she/her)
Specialty: Visual Art
Sandy specializes in Media Arts and Animation. Wanting to combine all her creative interests: storytelling, drawing, theater, dance, and music, she graduated with a degree in Media Arts and Animation. Sandy is a Media Artist who has been working with youth as long as she can remember. Areas of instruction include arts & crafts, film/animation, and private tutoring in traditional art. Sandy has spent many years focusing on live musical performances for Anime conventions, as well as participating in art panels. Besides art and animation, she has special interest in dance and creative writing. Sandy is very excited to be joining SteppingStone as a new Teaching Artist because she loves working with young people and inspiring them to use their creative spirit.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Gretchen Grunzke (she/her)
Specialty: Improv/Comedy + Devised Theatre
Gretchen earned her BFA in Acting from Marymount Manhattan College and has extensive experience as an actor, comedian, and teaching artist in NYC and the Twin Cities. She studied Improv and Sketch Comedy at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theater - the only accredited improv and sketch comedy school in the U.S. - and now she's hilarious. Gretchen currently performs with Stevie Ray's Comedy Cabaret and Huge Theater and teaches at the Brave New Workshop, BCT Artistry, and her private studio. She just returned from teaching drama at the International School of Como in Italy.
Kristi Johnson (she/her)
Specialty: Devised Theatre + Directing
A youth theater educator, director and teaching artist with 25 years experience, Kristi is most dedicated to helping students unlock their creativity and find their artistic voice. Kristi's teaching practice centers around working as an ensemble and pushing wild, imaginative boundaries within a safe environment. Kristi was Education Director at SteppingStone Theatre for many years, focusing on play making/ play creation, arts integration, teaching artist mentorship while incorporating social justice, storytelling and absent narratives as centering principles. As a teaching artist, Kristi has led hundreds of residencies in K-12 classrooms throughout StPaul/Minneapolis, the Greater Twin Cities, Wisconsin and Hawaii. Kristi currently works at Perpich Center for Arts Education in the Professional Development and Resource Programs, leading school districts in strategic planning for their arts education programming.
Christopher Kent (he/him)
Specialty: Devised Theatre + Directing
Christopher has taught students of varying ages since he was seventeen, and has come to understand the importance of meaningful communication and championing process over product. He holds a BA in Acting and Directing and an MA in Teaching English at the Secondary Level. In 2017, he helped co-found 21/40 Productions and recently published 2020: Separate and Equal - Poems in a Changing America. Currently he teaches English and Drama at Shakopee High School and lives with his darling wife, son, and their best friend, in the Twin Cities.
Kivan Kirk (he/him)
Specialty: Devised Theatre + Directing
Kivan Kirk is a Director and Teaching Artist from New Hope. Most recently he has worked on LEAP Online Studio: Alice in Wonderland, Little Mermaid Jr, and the Steppingstone’s virtual production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. In addition, he is a founding member of 21/40 Productions, directing Dog Sees God, As You Like It, and Dead Silence.
Hannah Mahr (they/them)
Specialty: Devised Theatre + Movement
An educator, physical theatre artist, and dancer, Hannah Mahr has taught with SteppingStone, Merrill Arts Center, Young People's Theater Workshop, and The Northfield Arts Guild. 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 and feelings through movement, improvisation, and play. When they're not teaching, Hannah enjoys devising solo projects and collaborating on ensemble-based productions. Recent performance credits include Eulogy, an autobiographical video installation exhibited at the School of Visual Arts in New York; You're Invited! with The Moving Company; and various physical theatre showcases at Accademia dell'Arte in Arezzo, Italy. Hannah studied at Gustavus Adolphus College, graduating with a B.A. in Theatre with Honors and minors in Dance, English, and Comparative Literature.
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.
Devyn McQueen (she/her)
Specialty: Devised Theatre
Originally from Texas, Devyn relocated to the Twin Cities about 5 years ago. Since then she has taken her undergraduate degree in theatre and applied it to working with youth. Her experience in the Twin Cities includes Child Supervisor for the Guthrie’s A Christmas Carol, Classroom Assistant and Teaching Artist for summer camps at SteppingStone. Devyn is a charismatic and outgoing theatre professional who looks forward to continuing to help the young artists of today grow and learn.
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.
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!
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.
Ladan Siraji (she/her)
Specialty: PreK-K + Devised Theatre
Ladan Siraji is working towards her degree in Child Psychology. She has been an active member of the theatre world both behind the scenes and on the stage since childhood. Her passion in teaching through the arts started in college working with a social justice theatre troupe. She has gotten the opportunity to write stories for The Children’s Theatre Company, focusing on the Somali experience along with opportunities to teach for Children’s Theatre Company, History Theatre, and Upstream Arts. Ladan’s passions for social justice and theatre are tied to her experiences as a Somali-American and voicing the experiences of her community.
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.
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.
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.
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.

Artistic & Executive Director

Development Manager

Interim Director of Education

Education Manager

Box Office & Database Coordinator

School and Community Program Manager

Education Program Coordinator 

Box Office & Interim Marketing and Communications Director



Join the team! Check out our job openings today!

COVID-19 Policies and Procedures



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