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School of Music, Theatre, and Dance

Alumni News


Graduates of K-State’s Masters in Drama Therapy


  • Fatmah Al-Qadfan,MA,RDT, Class of 2016, is earning her Ph.D. in counseling psychology at Auburn University. Since graduating she has worked as a drama therapist at Fawzia Sultan Healthcare Network in Kuwait and is a mentor with the Proteges Organization. She serves on the Drama Therapy Fund Board.
  • Jamie Ansley McCoppin, MA, RDT, Class of 2013, has created her own business, Spark of Play, to bring her private practice to life. In past employment, she worked as educator at the V. Club, a women’s wellness center in NYC, as a drama therapist in the ALIVE program atthe Post Traumatic Stress Center in New Haven, CT, and as a Child Life Specialist at Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin. Her first job was as a Life Specialist at Laurel Oaks RetirementCommunity where she co-managed the Memory Care Unit.  She also worked
  • Anna Beck, MA, RDT, Class of 2008, works at Lava Heights Academy of the Arts, a residential treatment center for adolescents that integrates therapy, expressive arts therapy, education, and artistic training. She is also a Zumba Teacher.
  • Ashley Blair, MA, RDT, Class of 2019, is the drama teacher at Rawson Saunders School, an all-curriculum school for students grades 1-12 with dyslexia in Austin, Texas. In recognition of her work as Chair of the NADTA Student Committee, she received the 2019 NADTA Student Service Award.
  • Martha Crouse Burgess, MA, RDT, Class of 2006, has taught the 6th Grade Exploratory Arts Teacher at the Kunsmiller Creative Arts Academy, Denver, CO. Currently, she is teaching 4th and 5th grade Literacy at Edwards Elementary in Edwards, CO.
  • Ellen Burke, MA, RDT, Class of 2016, has been promoted as the IEP Coordinator for Oakmont Primary, a part of the Frost School. She taught first through third grade at the Frost School, a school for children with emotional disorders run by Shepherd Pratt Institute in Rockville, MD for three years.
  • Britt Burr, MA, RDT, Class of 2013, is Academic Counselor for students with disabilities at McDaniel College and the Creative Director for Barrier-Free Theatre of Maryland. She has been a director for ArtStream’s Inclusive Theatre Companies. Her first job after graduating was as Assistant Director of Autism Services for the ARC of Carroll County, MD.
  • LaVonne Canfield, MA, RDT, Class of 2015, was an Activity Therapist at the Topeka Juvenile Correctional Facility upon graduating. Currently, she is an adjunct theatre instructor at Kansas State University.
  • Caitlin Cairns, MA, RDT, Class of 2010, is currently the Vice President of Residential Living for Villagio Senior Living in Oklahoma City, OK. Previously she was the Life Enrichment Coordinator at Bradford Village Retirement Community also in Oklahoma City.
  • Hee-sun Cheon, Ph.D., RDT, Class of 2001, is Associate Professor and Director of Internships in the Marriage and Family Therapy program at Seattle Pacific University.
  • Christina Cherry, MA, RDT, Class of 2008, is working for Synergy Services as a Domestic Violence Victim Advocate, using drama therapy in her weekly groups. After she graduated from K-State she served as the Activity Therapist for the Topeka Women’s Prison, then as Activity Director at John Knox Village in Kansas City, and as a Therapist for Midwest Foster Care in Kansas City, MO. She is currently a member of the NADTA Registry Committee and co-chair for the 2018 NADTA National Conference.
  •  Pilar D’Asto, MA, RDT, Class of 2009, worked as a drama therapist and case manager for the Elizabeth Layton Mental Health Center in Ottawa, KS after she graduated from K-State. Currently, she is living in Lawrence, KS and says she is “down the rabbit hole of motherhood.”
  •  Michelle Davenport Yadon, MA, CTRS, RDT/BCT, Class of 2010, was the recipient of the 2019 NADTA Performance Award in recognition of the exemplary use of live or recorded performance to facilitate individual or collective awareness and transformation.
  • She currently works as the Inclusion Supervisor for Carmel Clay Parks and Recreation in Hamilton County, Indiana. She supervises the Adaptive Program, which provides classes for children and adults of disabilities. She is in charge of accessibility, accommodations, and does one-on-one and group therapy. She also runs an accessible, integrated Playback Theatre Company.
  • Her first job was at Stone Belt Arc, Inc., which provides services for adults with developmental disabilities as their Lifelong Learning Curriculum Developer and Trainer. In addition to implementing group and individual drama therapy sessions along with curriculum development, each year she helped clients write monologues about their lives for a production she directed called I AM YOU, produced at a local theatre in Bloomington, Indiana. She also created an integrated Playback Theatre troupe with clients and staff.
  • Linda Dunne, Ph.D., RDT/BCT, Class of 2003, lives in The Netherlands where she is in private practice as a drama therapist. She has trained as a relationship & family therapist and uses drama therapy in combination with systemic therapy which she says, “is a match made in heaven.” She treats three specific populations: couples for relationship therapy many of whom are mixed cultures, multi-stressed families, and individuals seeking treatment for a variety of reasons. She often works with a colleague in giving trainings in communication with an emphasis on the non-verbal as it relates to emotions and empathy. These training sessions are for professionals in the mental care and health care industry working with challenging client populations. The trainings help them become aware of what they are "saying" with their bodies and this awareness in turn helps them de-escalate potential conflict/aggression incidents. 
  • Alissa Duncan, MA, RDT, Class of 2004, is the Mental Health Liaison for St. George’s Unified School District, in St. Georges, Kansas. For over 15 years she taught Communication, Women’s Studies, and Theatre at Barton Community College at Fort Riley, KS. From 2016-2019 she was the Central Region Chair for the North American Drama Therapy Association and currently she is NADTA’s Secretary.
  • Sarah Edwards, MA, RDT, Class of 2017, is the Therapeutic Arts Specialist for Friends Community Life in Nashville, TN. Since graduating she has also worked for the Dixie Carter Performing Arts Center, Metro Parks disABILITY Program, and the Centennial Performing Arts Center.
  • Hannah Erdman, MA, Class of 2019, worked as an Activities and Discharge Coordinator at the Hutchinson Regional Medical Center in Hutchinson, KS.
  • Sarah Tomek Fenster, MA, Class of 2013, has worked as a Self-Empowerment Theatre Teacher at the Young Actors Theatre in Indianapolis, IN. Previously, she was Director of Programs at Unified Theatre, an organization that mentors middle and high school theatre groups in creating original inclusive theatre.
  • Lisa Fiori, MA, P-RDT, Class of 2020, is a resident drama therapist at Chicago Behavior Hospital in Des Plaines, IL.
  • Meredith Gagich Edwards, MA, RDT, Class of 2013, worked for a year as a one-on-one Behavior Analysis specialist for a child on the autism spectrum after graduating from K-State. She also worked as a Program Specialist for the ARC in Pittsburgh, PA and as a PRN specialist for the Wesley Spectrum for youth with ASD. She returned to Manhattan, KS as a Unit Director for the Boys and Girls Club of Manhattan, KS and then worked as an early childhood educator at Creche Child Care Center. She has recently moved to Santa Fe, NM.
  • Shannon Garretson Abrams, MA, RDT, Class of 2006, has a private practice as a drama therapy life coach on Long Island, NY. Previously she served as the Education Director of the Salina Community Theatre in Salina, Kansas, with the charge of reaching out to underserved populations of all ages and abilities in the Salina Community. She was the recipient of the 2001 NADTA Student Service Award.
  • Hailey Gillespie, MA, Class of 2008, is the Education Director of the Lawrence Community Theatre.
  • Riley A. Gray, MA, Class of 2018, is the Managing Director for the North Texas Performing Arts Starcatchers Theatre Troupe, a program for children and adults with disabilities in Dallas, Texas (although, as they say, “there are no disabilities when making art”). Her first job after graduating from K-State was as an Activity Therapist for St. John’s Hospital in Leavenworth, KS. 
  • Anna Hasler, MA, P-RDT, Class of 2020, is a Family Intervention Specialist providing in-home drama therapy and other evidence-based services to at-risk youth and their families at Youth Village in Chattanooga, TN.
  • Jamie Johnson, MA, Class of 2011, is working full time for the Lovejoy Institute, an international institute that creates original musicals with adolescents at risk. She has also been the Drama Teacher at Lawrence High School.
  • Kareen King, MA, RDT, Class of 2006, started in a full-time job as an Activity 
  • Director at Brookside Retirement Community. In 2008 she launched her own business, The Golden Experience. She applies principles of Drama Therapy in her work as an adjunct instructor at Allen County Community College, teaching Public Speaking and Theatre Appreciation. She also works as a Creative Engagement Consultant at two different long-term care communities and as a Keynote Speaker doing educational concerts and workshops for conferences in the field of long-term care (Health Care associations, Direct Care Workers, Culture Change/Person-Centered Care, Activity Professionals, etc.) and for in-services for direct care workers.
  • Kareen says, “My training in drama therapy has helped me truly find ways to creatively engage, empower, and build community in my students and clients. Emilou, a puppet custom-built to resemble a resident I served, accompanies me to the care communities and conferences I serve. She has been an agent of healing and comfort to many.” Kareen published Engage! 28 Creative Enrichment Experiences for Older Adults in 2014 through ArtAge Publications.
  • Katherine Lawrence, MA, RDT, Class of 2012, is the Activity Therapist for the Topeka Women’s Correctional Facility.
  • Tracena Marie, MA, RDT, Class of 2013, is the Inclusion Director of the Barrier-Free Theatre program at the Muncie Civic Theatre, Muncie, IN. She is also an adjunct theatre instructor at Ball State University, and is in private practice in Muncie.
  • Lisa Moreno, MA, LPC,RDT, Class of 2006, is a counselor at the Children’s Bereavement Center, Rio Grande Valley, Texas.
  • Jessica Northam, MA, RDT, Class of 2015, is working as a therapist in Idaho. Previously she worked for IsraAID, an Israeli Humanitarian Aid NGO, to train all Psychosocial Support Specialists workingin Latin America and as a Psychosocial Support Specialist in Puerto Rico where she used drama therapy to help communities traumatized by Hurricane Maria. For several years she was a Drama Therapist for the Post-Traumatic Stress Center in the ALIVE program in New Haven, CT. She has done research on drama therapy with displaced women and women in prison in Barranquilla, Columbia. Her first job was as a Clinician & Case Manager at the Eating Disorder Center of Albuquerque.
  • Leah Okrazewski, MA, RDT, Class of 2011, is working as a freelance Drama Therapist in Christiansburg, VA for a variety of organizations, including Mental Health America, Planned Parenthood South Atlantic, and a peer education program called Teen Connections.
  • Stacey Park, MA, MSW, RDT, Class of 2002,spent a number of years working at Hands of Hope Hospice and Heartland Health as an Arts Coordinator, a position she created and helped to get funded. At Hands of Hope, she took arts opportunities to patients and their families in their rooms with the Healing HeARTS Cart. She also took creative storytelling to residents with dementia at care facilities and created "Caregiver Gift Boxes" for family caregivers with decorated cards, lotions, chap sticks, message stones, teas, and candies. She created "Art a la Cart," an art lending program in which patients in one area of the hospital chose their own artwork for their rooms. Lastly, she worked on bringing arts exhibits and arts activities to the Cancer Center. She was recipient of the 2001 NADTA Student Service Award. Recently, she has moved to Minneapolis, MN.
  • Tamra Patterson-Calamese, MA, RDT, Class of 2014, is Curriculum Coordinator for PARK (Positive Atmosphere Reaches Kids), a program for at-risk youth in Little Rock, Arkansas. After graduating from K-State she worked for a year as the Drama Teacher at Freedom Preparatory and Charter School for the Middle and High School in Memphis, Tennessee with lower achieving, inner city teens.
  • Monica Phinney, MA, RDT, Class of 2013, was the Peer-to-Peer Educator for SafeHaven in Kansas City after graduating. At SafeHaven she toured an original play about dating violence with teens to schools. Currently, she works as PRN therapist at Two Rivers, a mental health program in Kansas City and supervises drama therapy interns. She was co-chair of the 2018 NADTA Conference in KC.
  • Sarah Price Bennett, MA, RDT, LPC, RPT, NCC, ESMHL, Class of 2007,is currently in private practice and work part-time as an Equine Specialist in Mental Health and Learning at StableStrides in Elbert, CO. Previously, she was a School-Based Clinician III for Aspenpointe Counseling and Health Services, Colorado Springs, CO, which uses “The Incredible Years” curriculum and an early childhood program called Dinosaur School.  She provided case management and therapeutic services for individuals and families in community-based and school environments.
  • Renee Saltzman, MA, RDT, LPC, Class of 2009, was an Addictions Counselor for University of Wisconsin Behavioral Health in Madison, WI for a number years. Currently she is in private practice as Saltzman Counseling Service.
  • Barrett Scroggs, Ph.D., Class of 2015, is an Assistant Professor in Human Development at Penn State, Monte Alto, PA. He is the 2015 recipient of the NADTA Student Service Award. His Master’s thesis won the Drama Therapy Fund’s Graduate Research Award.
  • Ross Stone, MA, RDT, Class of 2013, is working as Drama Therapist at University of Kansas: Marillack Campus for children and adolescence in Kansas City.
  • Timothy Tarkelly, MA, Class of 2016, is teaching high school English at Chanute High School in Chanute, KS. Previously he was an Adult Basic Education Instructor at Neosho County Community College and worked at Community Services Coordinator at Options: Domestic and Sexual Violence Services as a Family Advocate. Before that he worked as a Behavioral Health Counselor at KVC Wheatland Hospital in Hays, Kansas.
  • Jessica Martell Terluin, MA, Class of 2015, is working as a special education teacher in Baton Rouge, LA.
  • Amy Tichy, MA, RDT, Class of 2014, is Transitional Youth Services Program Administrator at Fraser, Ltd. in Morehead, MN. Previously, she was a Mental Health Rehabilitation Worker at Gull Harbor, MN. She was one of the 2012 recipients of the NADTA Student Service Award for creating the NADTA Student newsletter.
  • Jayne Thompson, M.Div., MA, RDT, Class of 2002, is the Lutheran Campus Pastor at Thiel College in Greenville, PA and uses drama therapy and the creative arts in her ministry.
  • Malerie Tabern Torres, MA, MEd, LPC, RDT, Class of 2011, is an Outpatient Therapist at Nationwide Children’s Hospital’s Big Lots Behavioral Health in Columbus, Ohio. She has also worked as a Resources Coordinator for the Intensive Behavioral Intervention Autism program at Nationwide Children's Hospital with children ages 3 to 18, who have been diagnosed with autism.
  • Emily Trube, MA, Class of 2019, was hired as an activity therapist by the Topeka Women’s Prison before graduating from K-State! She is also working as a drama therapist for Pathways in Topeka, KS. She is earning her degree in Addictions Counseling at Washburn State University.
  • Nadya Trytan, MA, RDT/BCT, Class of 2002, is in Private Practice at the Center for Creativity & Health in St Paul, MN. She primarily provides group therapy and is available for individual therapy as well and works as a Program Therapist for United Hospital (St Paul) on the adult & adolescent psychiatric units (Inpatient & Outpatient).  She is the PastPresident of the North American Drama Therapy Association and also served as President-Elect and Communications Chair.
  • Brant Wadsworth, Ph.D., RDT, Class of 2008, is the Executive Director of Canyon Creek Women’s Crisis Center in Washington, UT. Previously, he was the Program Director at Lava Heights Academy of the Arts in St. George, Utah, a residential treatment center for adolescents that integrates therapy, expressive arts therapy, education, and artistic training until 2016.  Brant is a Level 5 Alba Emoting trainer. He won the NADTA Research Award in 2017.
  • Peyton Welch, MA, RDT, Class of 2017, is working as a freelance drama therapist in Houston, TX. Previously he worked as drama therapist for Easterseals of Arkansas Wellness and Training Program, Pinnacle Pointe Behavioral Healthcare System, and Independent Case Management in Little Rock, AR.
  • Laura Williamson, MA, Class of 2015, is Executive Director of the Muncie Community Theatre and does drama therapy outreach in the Muncie community. She is currently running a $2.5 million fund-raising campaign to renovate the theatre and working on her internship hours.     


RDTs who completed their Alternative Training through Kansas State University:

  • Melissa Briggs, Ph.D, LCPC, RPT-S, RDT, was an Assistant Professor in the Counseling Department at Emporia State for 3 years before joining the faculty of K-State as an Assistant Professor in the Drama Therapy Program Fall 2018. She is also the Executive Director of Pathways Family Services and is in private practice.
  • Zeina Daccache, MA, RDT/BCT, is the Executive Director and Founder of the Catharsis: Lebanese Center for Drama Therapy NGO in Beirut Lebanon where she works with men and women in prison, recovering substance abusers, refugees, and many other populations.  She is a recipient of the 2012 NADTA Performance Award.
  • Louisa Foster, Ph.D., RDT/BCT, works in private practice in Omaha, Nebraska and recently opened the Center for Mindful Living. She is the director of the Mid-West Drama Therapy Training Institute.
  • Priscilla Haynes, Ph.D., RDT worked for many years as Associate Psychologist and Drama Therapist at North Texas State Hospital in Vernon, TX. Currently she is a Health Specialist at the Texas Juvenile Justice Department.
  • Karen Johnson Knappenberger, LSCSW, RDT/BCT, works as Caregiver Support Coordinator for Eastern Kansas Veteran’s Affairs Medical Center. Previously she served as Clinician for Diamond Healthcare Corporation andthe Midland Care Connection PACE Program.  She has served as the Treasurer of the North American Drama Therapy Association for two terms and has been a member of the NADTA Registry Committee. She currently serves on the board of The Drama Therapy Fund.
  • Rima Neme, MA, works as PSS andMental Health Consultant at Search for Common Ground in Lebanon.
  • Akeyo Onoe, MA, RDT/BCT, is teaching drama therapy at Tokyo University in Tokyo, Japan and Ritsumeikan University, Kyoto, Japan. She also works at a midway house with recovering drug addicts.
  • Lisa Peacock, ABD, RDT is the Founder and Director of the Vet Art Project.  She has worked in with homeless vets for the Family & Community Services Veterans Programming in Akron, OH. Currently she is working on her Ph.D. in the U.K.
  • Tim Reagan, Ph.D., RDT, APTT is the resident drama therapist at Dominion Hospital, Arlington, VA. For 20 years he was director of the drama programat Sidwell Friends Middle School in Washington, DC.  He has served on the board of directors of the North American Drama Therapy Association and as a judge for the Helen Hayes Awards in Washington, DC.  He is currently on the Board for the Center for Playback Theatre. Tim is the recipient of a Fulbright Memorial Fund Award, Goldberg Award for Teaching Excellence, and several venture grants for curriculum development. 
  • Patti Woolsey, MA, RDT is the Founder and past Executive Director/Artistic Director for ArtStream in the metropolitan Washington, DC area. ArtStream is a not-for-profit arts organization with the mission of bringing the arts to underserved populations.  They sponsor 6 inclusive theatre companies in the metropolitan area. She is currently working as a drama therapy consultant in the DC area.