Board of Directors

Cindy Harper – Executive Director

Cindy HarperCindy Harper currently serves as the Executive Director of ACT.  Cindy has worked as a consultant with non-profit organizations bringing more than 25 years of experience with boards, staffs, and volunteers of arts organizations and community groups.  She has expertise in strategic planning, annual and capital fund campaigns, grants and grants administration, prospect research, and program development and evaluation. With a B.S. in Mathematics from Wake Forest University and an M.A. in Arts Administration from the University of New Orleans, Cindy has held various positions with arts organizations including the National Endowment for the Arts, the Mississippi Arts Commission and the Alabama Ballet. Active in the community, she served as president of the Birmingham Figure Skating Club for five years and chaired the 2016 US Figure Skating National Theatre On Ice Competition in Pelham, AL.  She has served on numerous other boards including the Association of Fundraising Professionals – Alabama Chapter, Magic City Actors Theatre, Space One Eleven, and the Music Opportunity Program.

Email: [email protected]

Brian Cocke – High School Festival Director

Brian Cocke HeadshotBrian Cocke has been the Secondary Festival Director since 2020.  He is in his 20th year teaching and is currently the elementary drama teacher at Trace Crossings Elementary and Gwin Elementary in Hoover City Schools.  He previously taught elementary music at Chalkville Elementary School (Jefferson County Schools) and Paine Elementary (Trussville City Schools). He received his Bachelors, Masters, and Educational Specialist Degrees in Choral/Vocal Music Education from the University of Alabama and his Doctorate in Organizational Development and Leadership from Grand Canyon University in Phoenix.

Email: [email protected]

Jeff Glass – President

Jeff GlassJeff Glass serves on the Alabama Conference of Theatre Board as the current President after previously serving as a Vice President and the Secondary Division Chair. He also serves the Alabama Educational Theatre Association Board as Secretary. Jeff currently teaches Theater I & II, Musical Theatre, and Technical Theatre at Wetumpka High School. Jeff attended Auburn University Montgomery and interned at the Alabama Shakespeare Festival. Mr. Glass graduated from AUM in 2003, Cum Laude, and is a member of the Phi Kappa Phi National Honor Society. He is the recipient of WAKA News Golden Apple teaching award, the 2018 Alabama Conference of Theatre Dorothy Schwartz Outstanding Educator Award, the Alabama Shakespeare Festival’s 2018 Alabama Educator of the Year, the 2019-2020 Alabama Thespians Teacher of the Year, and the 2020 ACT Secondary Theatre Teacher of the Year. Most recently he was named Elmore County Schools 2022-2023 Teacher of the Year. Jeff is the Director of the Wetumpka High Theatre Guild.

Email: preside[email protected]

Allison Upshaw, PhD – Professional Division Vice Chair

Dr. Allison Upshaw is a native of Forest Home, Alabama. She holds degrees in vocal performance from Oberlin Conservatory and Louisiana State University, as well as a PhD in Interdisciplinary Studies from the University of Alabama. As a member of Actor’s Equity, she’s performed in Menopause, The Musical; Jelly’s Last Jam; Jerry Springer, The Opera; and GRITS, The Musical. She’s the author of The Mama and Me Chronicles and continues to work as a classical recitalist. In addition to founding OPERAtunities and Planning Diversity, Inc., Dr. Upshaw works as the Director of Faculty Development and Assistant Professor of Music at Stillman College in Tuscaloosa, AL.

Email: [email protected]

Layne Holley – Secretary

Email: [email protected]   

Adam Miller – Treasurer/Past Community Theatre Chair

Adam M. Miller holds an M.F.A. in Theatre Management/Arts Administration from The University of Alabama, having interned at the Alabama Shakespeare Festival.  He served as the Director of Marketing & Public Relations for the LSU Department of Theatre and their affiliated Equity theatre, Swine Palace Productions, for more than three years.  Adam has served as the Managing Director of Theatre Tuscaloosa at Shelton State Community College in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, since 2010.

Email: [email protected]

Revel Gholston – Past President

Revel Parsons Gholston has been a part of Alabama’s Secondary Theatre Education crew for the past seventeen and half years. All of these years have been spent managing the Opelika Center for the Performing Arts and managing the High School theatre program at Opelika High School. Graduating from the University of Iowa with a focus on English, Theatre, and Creative Writing, Revel, is always eager to help out anyone and everyone that could use a hand. Having handled over 100 professional touring productions for the East Alabama Arts Association, all while directing nearly 50 high school productions, and teaching in the classroom part-time…Revel tries to find time to rest as well as spend as much time with his wife and two children before they forget who he is. Bringing as much culture to the state of Alabama has always been Revel’s mission, and the Alabama Conference of Theatre is more than a great platform for everyone to do just that. Revel looks forward to the bright artistic future that the state is producing.

Email: [email protected]

Kristy Meanor – SETC Representative

Kristy Meanor serves as Executive Director for the Wetumpka Depot Players, the River Region’s oldest community theatre. Kristy has directed, acted and designed for the Depot Players for the last 35 years and has been ED for ten years. Kristy leads marketing, educational outreach programs and the artistic activities at the Depot Theatre. Kristy has served in leadership roles with ACT and SETC. Her recent work onstage in Night Mother was recognized at ACTFest and SETC with an Outstanding Achievement in Acting award.  Kristy was also named Best Director at Southeastern Theatre Conference for her work with the talented ensemble of The Fantasticks and was a part of the ensemble cast of the nationally recognized production, Second Samuel. Other roles include Rosemary in Picnic, Willie Mae in The Sugar Bean Sisters, Dotty in Noises Off, Sister Amnesia in Nunsense, Felecia Dantine in I Hate Hamlet and Melissa in Love Letters. Directing credits include, Tuesdays With Morrie, Big River, The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, A Funny Thing Happened on the way to the Forum, I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change and Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. Kristy is a former recipient of ACT’s  Marian Gallaway Award. Kristy is mom to an ensemble of amazing children- Laurel, Drew and Colgan and a fur baby named Rudy.

Email: [email protected]

Ellen Peck – College/University Vice Chair

Ellen Peck, Assistant Professor of Drama, Fulbright Scholar

Ellen Peck is an Associate Professor of Drama at Jacksonville State University, where she has taught Theatre History, Musical Theatre, Dramatic Literature, and Stage Management since 2010. Originally from the Detroit area, Ellen has a BA in Theatre from Oakland University, and MA and PhD from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Ellen started her professional theatre career as a Stage Manager, with credits from Michigan Opera Theatre, Spoleto Festival, Utah Symphony and Opera, Meadow Brook Theatre, and has been the Stage Manager for the Michigan Opera Theatre/Rackham Choir/Auditorium Theatre (Chicago) production of “Too Hot to Handel: The Jazz-Gospel Messiah” since 2002. She has been a proud member of Actors Equity Association since 2000. As a musical theatre historian, Ellen has published articles in Studies in Musical Theatre (for which she is also a member of the Editorial Board), Contemporary Theatre Review, and Theatre History Studies, contributed chapters to two books on women in the arts and composers on film, and presented at theatre conferences around the world. But her proudest achievement to date is her recent book: Sweet Mystery: The Musical Works of Rida Johnson Young from Oxford University Press (2020). Ellen also has the distinct honor of being a Fulbright scholar. She spent her Fulbright year in Romania, teaching American Theatre and Musical Theatre History at Alexandru Ioan Cuza University in Iasi.

For ACT, Ellen has been the SETC Screening Auditions Coordinator since 2011, as well as a member of the College/University division. At JSU, she is a member of the Honors Program board, has served on and/or chaired various university committees, and served on the Faculty Senate.

Email: [email protected]

Matthew Stratton- College/University Vice Chair

Matthew Stratton, Technical Director in The University of Alabama’s Theatre and Dance Department, enjoys artistic adventures through engineering, designing, and teaching. Matthew’s professional experiences include Glimmerglass Opera and the McLeod Summer Playhouse, and most recently a project manager on the Sloss Furnace set for the World Games opening ceremonies in Birmingham.  He also recently designed scenery for Opera Huntsville. He is excited to share his collaborative artwork with you, the UA Theatre and Dance Department, and the people of Alabama.

Email: [email protected]

Jordan DeWitt – High School Division Chair

Chris Carter – High School Division Vice Chair

Lisa Ponder – Community Theatre Division Chair

Lisa Ponder is an actor/director based in Montevallo, Alabama.  She studied theatre at Auburn University.  Lisa has been active in the Birmingham theatre community for many years.  She has also worked in radio, television and film.  She currently serves as President of the board for South City Theatre in Pelham, Alabama.  Favorite roles include Eppie Lederer (The Lady With All The Answers), Mrs. Shields (A Christmas Story), and Cassie (The Real Queen of Hearts Ain’t Even Pretty).  Directing credits include The Last Night of Ballyhoo, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Elvis People, and The Miracle Worker. Her sentimental favorite credit is as stage manager for Romeo and Juliet because this is how she met her husband. Lisa has been recognized for her work both onstage and offstage, including Love, Loss, and What I Wore (2018, Outstanding Achievement in Acting) and The Gulf (ACTFest & SETC 2019, Outstanding Achievement in Directing and Best in Show).  A life-long learner, Lisa continues to study and develop her craft through classes and workshops.

Email: [email protected]

Kim Mason- Community Theatre Vice Chair

Email: [email protected]

Melissa Strickland – Theatre for Youth Division Vice Chair  

Melissa Strickland has a BS in Secondary Language Arts and has been a teacher
in Prattville and Montgomery for 25 years, teaching English, theatre, art, and
several other electives. She has been diligently growing the theatre class and
Creative Outlet theatre club at Prattville Junior High for the last seven years, and
her students have participated in the ACT Youth competition. She is also the
current board president of Prattville’s Way-Off Broadway Theatre. Melissa was
very active in theatre throughout high school and college, and after a hiatus
returned to community theatre in the last few years as an actor and director. She has tried to instill her love of theatre into her daughters, Syndal and Skylar, and hopes to do the same with her two grandchildren as well. Thankfully, her husband James is always supportive of any theatre endeavors Melissa takes on. She is excited to be a part of the growing ACT Youth Division!

Email: [email protected]

Ashley Bishop – Theatre for Youth Division Vice Chair 

Ashley Bishop is a performer, designer, and educator with over 40 years of experience in the theatre. A graduate of the Alabama School of Fine Arts (Theatre ‘91), She double-majored in performance and design at the University of New Orleans (95) and received her Masters of Education from DePaul University in 2011. Now teaching theatre at R.F. Bumpus Middle School, she has also taught at Center Point High School and the Jefferson County Academy of Theatre and Dance. Prior to moving into teaching, she spent 15 years in Chicago, where she was an Artistic Associate and teaching artist with American Blues Theatre, a founding member of the Route 66 Theatre Company and a teaching artist with Timeline Theatre. In 2013, Ashley and her husband, Marty Higginbotham, founded Ravenswood Theatre, best known for their annual production of “It’s a Wonderful Life, Live!”

Email: [email protected]

Gary Weatherly – Professional Division Chair

Gary Weatherly is a graduate of the University of North Carolina at Greensboro where he earned a BA degree in Drama with emphasis in Design and Technology and was awarded the Raymond Taylor Scholarship Award.  Mr. Weatherly has finished his course work for a Master’s of Science in Theatre Education from Southern Oregon University and is in the process of finishing his thesis for the degree. Mr. Weatherly is serving MBHS as a Teacher, Designer, Technical Director, and Manager of Mountain Brook High School’s Fine Arts Center. He is the Head of the Fine Arts Department and sponsor of the Stage Crew Club and co-sponsor of the Thespian Society. He serves as the Fine Arts technology representative. Before discovering the challenges of teaching in secondary school, Mr. Weatherly designed professionally over 400 productions in almost every state in the southeast for over 25 years. He has 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.

Email: [email protected]

Katie An Seigel– Professional Division Vice Chair

Email: [email protected]

Megan Garner – High School Division Past Chair

Megan Garner resides in Morris, Alabama. She has been in the teaching profession for fourteen years, graduating from the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa with a degree in Secondary Education English Language Arts, Magna Cum Laude. Currently, she is the director and producer of the Corner Theatre Academy at Corner High School in the Jefferson County School System where she also teaches a variety of English. Prior to the Academy, she taught grades seven through twelve all over Central Alabama. At Corner Theatre Academy, she produces anywhere from four to six shows a year, and her students compete every year at the district and state levels.  After experiencing the stage herself throughout childhood, high school and college, she appreciates the true talent, courage, work ethic, and perseverance that both behind the scenes and the stage demand.

Email: [email protected]

Stewart Hawley – College/University Past Chair

Professional actor, director and stuntman Stewart Hawley has joined the University of Mobile faculty as chair of the theatre department in the Alabama School of the Arts (ASOTA). The assistant professor of theatre has performed and directed with professional companies from the Rome Shakespeare Company to the Batman Stunt Show, and appeared in films and commercials. Hawley is a certified teacher of stage combat with the Society of American Fight Directors. He has published articles in scholarly journals on the role of Christianity in theatre, as well as other topics. Hawley is a Ph.D. candidate at Bowling Green State University and holds a Master of Fine Arts in theatre directing and a Bachelor of Science in psychology, both from the University of Houston. Previously, he served as an assistant professor at Reinhardt University. As a professional actor and director, Hawley has worked with the AD Players, New Stage, Harvest Theatre, Center Theatre Ensemble, Rome Shakespeare Company, Living Room Shakespeare, Batman Stunt Show, the Police Academy Stunt Show, and The Alliance Theatre, along with many others. He can also be seen in the films WHO, Reconciliation and the web series Memoirs of a Godfather.He has performed in several commercials for People’s Bank, Cartoon Network and Kroger.  His scholarly articles appeared in the publications Christianity and Theatre Journal, where he served as editor, and Quidditas, Asian Theatre Journal, Texas Theater Journaland The Fight Master. He is a member of the Association for Theatre in Higher Education, the Association of Asian Theatre Performance, Christians in Theatre Arts, Certified Teacher Society of American Fight Directors, the Southeastern Theatre Conference and Texas Educators Theatre Association.

Email: [email protected]

Mark Moore – Diversity Equity and Inclusion Chair

Email: [email protected]

Patricia Putman – Executive Director Emeritus

Patricia Putman is presently the Executive Director Emeritus for the Alabama Conference of Theatre (ACT) . Patricia served as a Governor Appointee for the Alabama State Course of Study for Theatre Arts 2017. After teaching music in the Jefferson County School System for 34 years she retired Dec. 1, 2011. Patricia served as the Music Director for Corner Theatre Academy at Corner High School from 1987-2013. She has a BS (1978) & MS (1987) in Music Education from Jacksonville State University. 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.