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


Jungle Theater

US Bank

Hardenbergh Foundation

MHD Couture, LLC

Magnett, LLC


Schwan’s Company


St. Paul City School

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
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
Specialty: 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
Specialty: Acting
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.
Laurie Dehmlow
Specialty: Music
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
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
Specialty: 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
Specialty: Acting
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
Specialty: Improv
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
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.
Kivan Kirk
Specialty: Character Development
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.
Devyn McQueen
Specialty: Acting
Originally from Texas, Devyn McQueen relocated to the Twin Cities three years ago. Since then, she has taken her BFA in Theatre Design & Technology and applied it towards working with youth. Her experience in the Cities includes two years as Child Supervisor for the Guthrie’s A Christmas Carol, one year as a Teaching Artist with SteppingStone, two years as a Classroom Assistant with SteppingStone and one year as an instructor with Bricks 4 Kidz. Devyn is a charismatic and outgoing theatre professional who enjoys helping young artists grow and learn.
Shae Palic
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
Specialty: Improv and Character Development
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!
Ladan Siraji (she/her)
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
Specialty: Storytelling
An animated storyteller and educator, Kiera has more than fifteen years of experience working with children from birth through upper elementary school. After years of professional storytelling, Kiera joined the world of children's theater. 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, while serving as a Director of Children & Family Ministry in the Twin Cities.
Emily Villano
Specialty: Music
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.
Lydia Wildes
Specialty: Acting
Lydia is the theatre director and teacher at Minnehaha Academy middle school, and has also performed around the Cities - including at Steppingstone! A graduate of the University of Northwestern St. Paul, with a degree in Theatre Arts and a minor in Music, she also works as a private voice and piano instructor. She specializes in teaching Shakespeare, character development, and improv.
Terrell Woods
Specialty: Beat Box
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

Office & Finance Manager

Interim Director of Education

Education Manager

Box Office & Database Coordinator

Director of Development


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. Our programs stand firmly in opposition to racism and we challenge our young artists, staff, and Board of Directors to foster inclusion and to seek equity for all, including Black, Indigenous, people of color, LGBTQAI+, economically disadvantaged, all religions, veterans, active military, and those with accessibility needs. We work with families to meet students’ needs be it social, academic, developmental, or physical. SteppingStone respects students’ gender expression and provides access to gender-neutral facilities.

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