Board of Directors

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Patricia Putman – Executive Director

Patricia was the Music Director for Corner Theatre Academy at Corner High School from 1987-2013 . She taught music in the Jefferson County School System for 34 years. She has a BS (1978) & MS (1987) in Music Education from Jacksonville State University. She served as the District 2 Secondary Chair from 2007-2013. Patricia was the 2011 ACT Secondary Teacher of the Year. She is a huge supporter of the blending of all the arts and Arts Education on all age levels. In addition to her duties as the ACT Executive Director she also serves as Administrative Coordinator for the Walker County Arts Alliance.


Randal Blades, Jacksonville State University Drama Department Head.

Randall Blades – President

Randy Blades is an Associate Professor and the Head of the Drama Department at Jacksonville State University.  He currently teaches costume technology courses, puppetry and Introduction to Theatre.  Prior to joining JSU, he was on the faculty of the University of Central Florida.  Some of Randy’s costume designs at JSU include Blithe Spirit, Antigone, The Syringa Tree, Much Ado About Nothing, Tartuffe and Broadway Bound.  Randy has also designed scenery at JSU for The Last Night of Ballyhoo, A Tennessee Walk and Vanishing Point.  Professionally, he has also designed costumes for Kennesaw State University, Stage Door Players (Atlanta), Theatre UCF, Auburn University-Montgomery, Stage Door Players in Dunwoody, GA and the Maples Repertory theatre in Macon, MO. As a professional costumer Randy has worked for the Atlanta Opera, the Alliance Theatre, the Utah Shakespeare Festival, the Illinois Shakespeare Festival, Orlando Shakespeare Theater, Georgia Shakespeare Festival and the movies “Drumline” and “Dumb and Dumberer.”


Lonny Harrison – Vice President

Mr. Harrison is the Director of Theatre at Saint James School in Montgomery, AL. This is his 18th year at Saint James. He attended the University of South Alabama for undergraduate school where he received a BFA in theatre. Mr. Harrison went on to the University of Florida and the University of Alabama where he earned his MFA in theatre with a concentration in scenic design. He has served on the ACT board in many capacities including serving as treasurer and most recently chair of the secondary division.  He is the current Director of the Theatre for the Alabama Institute for Education in the Arts (AIEA) and has been on many boards and committees for theatre organizations across the state. Mr. Harrison enjoys what he does and gets a big kick out of watching his students grow and flourish as young men and women while receiving acclaim and artistic fulfillment in their post secondary careers.

T. Gary Weatherly – Immediate Past President

Gary Weatherly is currently a Teacher, Designer, Technical Director, and Manager of Mountain Brook High School’s Fine Arts Center. Before discovering the challenges of teaching in secondary school, Gary designed professionally over 300 productions in almost every state in the southeast for over 25 years. He worked as the resident designer for Birmingham Children’s Theatre, The State of Alabama Ballet and the Miss Alabama Pageant and worked for most of the Birmingham community and university theatres as a guest designer. He has a B.A. degree from University of North Carolina at Greensboro with emphasis in design and technology. Gary is finishing up his thesis to earn a M.S. in Theatre Education from Southern Oregon University. Since beginning his teaching career, Gary has been very involved with ACT, judging at Walter J. Trumbauer Festival and many of his students have won multiple awards in acting and technical events at the district and state competition. Gary also chairs the Polly Holliday Scholarship Award for the Southeastern Theatre Conference and serves on the Board of Directors for the DPTheatre Series in Birmingham.

Michele Eller – Secretary

Michele Eller is currently an adjunct instructor at ITT Technical Institute and instructional assistant for the Elmore County Board o Education. Michelle has taught 11th grade English, Theater, and Reading at Elmore County High School. She is a member of the Elmore County Reading Council and serves as Secretary on the Alabama Conference of Theater Executive Board. Michele has embraced the arts since childhood, and this love of the arts has carried over into her teaching career. Since arriving at Elmore County High School in 2003, Michele has piloted the first ECHS Dance Team as well as the first Thespian Troupe. Students involved in these programs have competed and won numerous awards as well as college scholarships. Not only does Michele promote the arts at the high school, but she has also taught after-school acting classes at Eclectic Middle School as well.

Amy Hockinson – Treasurer

Amy has been the Treasurer of the Alabama Conference of Theatre since 2007 and has enjoyed working with the Walter F. Trumbauer State High School Theatre Festival. She has a B.A. in Musical Theatre from Samford University and a M.A. of Ed. in English/Language Arts Education from U.A.B. She has taught theatre to children of all ages, from toddlers to college students. In addition to teaching, Amy has worked as a professional actress with Birmingham Children’s Theatre and has participated in a number of productions with local theatre companies around Birmingham.

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Christopher Peck – College and University Division Chair

Christopher Peck is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Theatre and Dance at the University of South Alabama.  He holds an MFA in Directing from Baylor University and a BFA in Theatre from Abilene Christian University.  He teaches and oversees the Introduction to Drama courses as well as directing in the department’s main stage rotation.  Additionally he serves as a Region IV KCACTF respondent.  Before coming to USA, Christopher served as assistant director for the Berkshire Theatre Festival’s production of A Thousand Clowns, taught and directed at Baylor University, and served as a freelance director at Lipscomb University in Nashville, Tennessee.  As a scholar, Christopher has published multiple performance reviews with the Texas Theatre Journal and has presented his scholarship at the Southeastern Theatre Conference, SETC Theatre Symposium, and the Mid America Theatre Conference.  Christopher is a founding member and co-producer of the Makalani Theatre Ensemble, and recently directed MTE’s inaugural production: Brilliant Traces. 

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Valerie Accetta- College/University Division Vice-Chair

Valerie is our Head of Musical Theatre, teaching classes in Musical Theatre Performance. She is a member of Actor’s Equity Association, an Associate Member of Stage Directors and Choreographers, and a Certified Master Teacher Candidate in the Estill Voice Training System. As an Equity actress, Valerie played Margy Frake in the First National Tour of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s State Fair, starring John Davidson. During her time in New York City, she performed in numerous other musicals including the title role in Cinderella, Maria in The Sound of Music, and Lady Larkin in Once Upon a Mattress.

She first began her studies in musical theatre at the University of Miami and received a BA in Musical Theatre Pedagogy from Otterbein University and an MFA in Theatre Pedagogy from Virginia Commonwealth University. She was the Head of Drama at Campion School, a British international school in Athens, Greece, directing seven productions including Godspell, which toured to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in the summer of 2010. Her other directing or assistant directing/choreography credits include Gypsy, You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown, Avenue Q, The Producers at Virginia Repertory Theatre and Annie at the Pioneer Theatre. Most recently, Valerie worked with Kathleen Turner at Arena Stage in Washington DC on a workshop of Mother Courage. Her paper, “Muddy Waters: Navigating Musical Theatre Historiography” will be published this year in the journal Studies in Musical Theatre.


Jamie Stevenson – Secondary Division Chair

Jamie Stephenson has been teaching theatre at Pelham High School for 12 years. She has a Bachelor of Science in Theatre Education from East Carolina University and a Master of Art in Directing from the Chicago Conservatory of Performing Arts. She was the District 6 Chair for 2 years and is now the host school for the District 6 Trumbauer Festival. She was the scholarship coordinator for the Alabama Educational Theatre Association for 4 years and was a board member for 9 years. She has been a scholarship adjudicator at the International Thespian Festival as well as the assistant to the scholarship coordinator for two years. She was on the development committee for the Praxis II content knowledge test with the Educational Testing Service. She is now the Vice Chair of the Secondary Division of the Alabama Conference of Theatre. She also has 3 incredible daughters and a wonderful husband that enable her to be involved in so many wonderful organizations.


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Michael Clint Merritt- Secondary Division Chair

Mr. Merritt is a graduate of UAB where he received a B.A. in Theatre.  He then completed his M.F.A. in Theatre at Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton, FL.  Mr. Merritt has been teaching for nine years.  He has served as an adjunct Professor of Theatre at UAHuntsville and at Calhoun Community College teaching Theatre Appreciation, Acting, & Advanced Acting.  He taught Theatre, Technical Theatre & Speech at Hazel Green High School for 7 years before joining forces with Mrs. Patel at James Clemens High School this year in the role of Technical Theatre Instructor.  Mr. Merritt was Teacher of the Year at HGHS during the 2012/2013 school year.  Mr. Merritt has written and received grants from ING, the Alabama State Council of the Arts, the Alabama Dept. of Education, the Alabama License Tag Committee & he also collaborated with local legislators to secure thousands of dollars’ worth of funds for his theatre programs.  Mr. Merritt was a 2013 Fund For Teachers Fellow & studied improvisation & comedy sketch writing at Second City in Chicago and then attended the International Thespian Festival in Lincoln, Nebraska.  Mr. Merritt is currently serving as the Alabama Thespians State Treasurer and is also the Alabama Conference of Theatre’s Vice Chair for the Secondary Division.  Mr. Merritt has been married to his wonderful wife Jessica for nine years and they have two children, Noah & McKayla.

 Mary Anne Garrett – Community Division Chair

Mary Anne Garrett is a community theatre veteran and enjoys working behind the
scenes (director, stage manager and producer) as much as she does performing.
Mary Anne is a longtime board member at Terrific New Theatre (Birmingham) and a
founding company member at Theatre Downtown (Birmingham).  Mary Anne is
active in the independent film community, primarily as an actor and producer.
She also serves as the Volunteer Coordinator for the Sidewalk Film Festival.
Mary Anne is a graduate of Jacksonville State University and resides in
Jefferson County with her husband, Kevin.


Sue Ellen

Sue Ellen Gerrells- Community Division Vice-Chair

Sue Ellen is the Artistic Director of South City Theatre in Pelham. She is the Vice President of Public Relations for the American Association of Community Theatre (AACT). Sue Ellen served as Executive Director of ACT from 2008-2013. She was an instructor at the University of Maryland University College in College Park, Maryland. Sue Ellen has a BA & MA from the University of South Alabama.


Michael P. Howley – Professional Division Chair

Michael is a freelance stage director. He is retired from the faculty of Alabama State University and a member of the American Theatre Critics Association.

He was a visiting scholar at the University of Cambridge. He also held positions at Long Island University C.W. Post Campus and St. John’s University.



Kelleybrooke Brown- Theatre for Youth Division Chair

Kelleybrooke is the drama teacher at Marshall Christian School and is the Director of the Spotlight Kids for the Whole Backstage Theatre in Guntersville. She is also director of communications at the Guntersville First Baptist Church.

She studied communications at Troy University and Northeast Alabama Community College.

Neil David Seibel – SETC Representative

Neil David Seibel teaches the performance curriculum at Auburn University Montgomery. A proud member of Actors Equity, he spent six seasons with Theatre Aspen, appeared Off-Broadway in Jonathon Larson’s JP Morgan Saves the Nation, originated the role of Lewis for the TV musical Passages: Lewis and Clark, and enjoyed regional contracts with the Denver Center, Arvada Center, Colorado Shakespeare Festival, The Alley Theatre, Actors Theatre of Louisville, Theatre Under The Stars and most recently the Montgomery Ballet. He has directed and choreographed for numerous theatre companies across the US and served three years as the associate artistic director of ALAT-etc (A Laboratory for Actor Training – experimental theatre company). As a playwright, he has developed several solo and ensemble works that have been performed throughout the United States and Europe.