Carolyn Little is the New Jersey Chapter Director of the Educational Theatre Association. She has a bachelor’s degree in English with a minor in Human Services and a concentration in Secondary Education from Montclair State University. She recently completed her master’s degree in Higher Education: Leadership for Student Success from Walden University. She currently teaches English at Toms River High School North in Toms River, NJ. She also runs the after school theatre program which includes the musical, a spring show and the International Thespian Society Troupe #7455.
All-State Show Director
Alison Sussman received her degree in Theatre Arts from Drew University. After leaving school, she worked at George Street Playhouse (GSP) as the Associate Director of Education and Outreach where, among her many other duties, she coordinated (and often taught) the theatre classes and summer camps. She has been teaching theatre and English in New Jersey public schools since she left GSP in 2001. In addition to directing plays and the drama program at her school, she has created numerous theatre workshop, festival, and performance opportunities for students. She is the founder and director of Fellowship of the Ravens (FOTR), a non-profit theatre troupe from Robbinsville, NJ, educating teenagers in theatre production and performance. In August of 2014, Mrs. Sussman commissioned and directed a new play with FOTR which was performed at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival; she has been invited to return with the company in 2017. Mrs. Sussman was Robbinsville School District Teacher of the Year in 2008 and the Mercer County Teacher of the Year in 2009.
Tab Room/Awards Coordinator
Scott F. Cooney is an acting and theatre instructor at BCIT Medford’s Academy of Performing Arts. He help found and charter ITS Troupe #7891 and is an Honorary Thespian of Troupe #4762. He has been coaching and teaching acting for over ten years and is always trying to better himself both as an instructor and an artist. He is the 2015 Foxy Award recipient for Outstanding Direction of a Play for his original immersive theatre adaptation of Shakespeare’s classic Romeo & Juliet, which also received the 2015 Foxy Award for Best Classical Play. Mr. Cooney is excited to be on the State Board and is looking forward to another successful year.
Advocacy, Outreach, & Fundraising Chairs
Zach Bates is ecstatic to be apart of the Adult State Board. Zach is a graduate of the Gloucester County Institute of Technology and Troupe 5480 where he works alongside his former director, Kristin Lynch Walsh. Zach is a one-one-one teachers assistant at the Bankbridge Development Center as well as serving as the Senior Night advisor at GCIT. Zach has also done play-by-play and color commentary work for the Gloucester County Educational Network. He is a 2013 graduate of GCIT from the school's Drama Academy. While at GCIT, Zach was a manager for the cross country team and the public address announcer for girls' basketball all through high school. He was also involved widely throughout the school as a member of the International Thespian Society, SkillsUSA, Student Government and #SeniorNight, a program that Zach and three other students developed with the help of two teachers. Zach is a national Gold medal winner in SkillsUSA for advocating for suicide and mental health awareness.
OCTVS PAA Alumus
Sarah Osman is elated to begin working with the NJ Thespian Adult State Board as the Membership Chair! She currently attends Ocean County College with the NJSTARS program as a Performing Arts major. She is a recent graduate of the OCVTS: Performing Arts Academy where she studied as an acting major and served as the president of, and is now a proud alumni of Troupe # 6185. Her ITS achievements include performing in Chapter Select and International Freestyle Theater, and ranking ‘Superior’ at states for Group Acting, Dramatic Monologue, and ranking ‘Internationally Superior’ twice for Contrasting Monologues. In 2017 she received a Montclair Theatre Night ‘Foxy’ Award for Outstanding Performance by a Lead Actress in a Comedy for her portrayal of Sabina in ‘The Skin of Our Teeth’. Now being apart of the State Board, Sarah aims to have every troupe be involved and be ‘the best troupe ever’ so the New Jersey Chapter can continue to grow and flourish! She wishes to enhance experiences and have everyone involved with the International Thespian Society feel the same way she does- proud to be a thespian!
Toms River North HS
Crystal Swancey joined the state board in 2016. She is one of the judge coordinators for our festival, organizer of the trashy costumes competition, and in charge of hospitality. For seven years, she spent time working with the amazing Toms River High School North Nautical Star Theatre Company, as the Musical’s costume mistress, and was a past co advisor for the Thespian troupe #7455. She is currently working at Toms River High School North as an English teacher, where she started in 2007.
“Being true to yourself never goes out of style.”-Legally Blonde
Tech Events Coordinator
Burlington Township HS
Christine Causer is the troupe adviser for troupe 4294 in Burlington Township. She is looking forward to working on the state board. Christine teaches technical theater and manages the Performing Arts Center. She is a graduate of troupe 4328 in Alexandria, Virginia. Christine has a Bachelor Of Fine Arts concentration in lighting design from Virginia Commonwealth University. She has toured nationally and internationally with opera and dance companies.
Northern Burlington Co. Reg. HS
Mrs. Valerie Gargus is the Festival Director for the State Thespian Board of Directors. She loves the challenge of making sure everyone has time to do all they want to do at the festival! Mrs. Gargus has recently retired from Northern Burlington County Regional High School (Troupe 4762) where she had taught theatre and directed plays and musicals since 1980. She has a BA in Drama from William Paterson University and an M.A. in Teaching Speech & Theatre from Montclair University. She received her school’s Educator of the Year Award in 2015, the NJ Governor’s Award in the Arts for Outstanding Speech & Theatre Teacher in 2008, the Best Practice award from the New Jersey State Department of Education for her Directing a Play course in 2002, and the Outstanding NJ Thespian Director in 1999.
Student Board/Alumni Coordinator
Northern Burlington Co. Reg. HS
Jason has been a member of the NJ State Thespian Board of Directors for 5 years. Being an alumus of the STO Board, he now serves at the coordinator of that board as well as the festival alumni volunteers. He is currently attending Rowan University as a Technical Theatre and Theatre Education Major. He is the NJDFL Coach and Mainstage Costumer at Northern Burlington Co. Reg. HS. Jason is the webmaster and college fair coordinator for the New Jersey Drama and Forensics League. He is an Alumus of Northern Burlington where he served as the President of Thespian Troupe 4762.
Kirstin Lynch-Walsh proudly serves as the thespian adviser for Gloucester County Institute of Technology’s troupe 5480. Along with teaching and directing at GCIT's School of Performing Arts for the past 16 years, she also founded ACTing Out, a touring company in which students write and produce shows based upon issues such as domestic violence, racism. mental health awareness etc. She holds a BA in Theatre from Rowan University and prior to her position at GCIT, worked in NYC as an actress, director and teaching artist.
Burlington Township HS
Mr. Tallen Olsen, Secretary of the NJ Thespians Adult State Board, is excited and grateful for the opportunity to serve our state thespian troupes and student actors in this capacity. Mr. Olsen is the Choral Music and Theatre Educator and Director at Burlington Township High School in Burlington, NJ. He has studied Operatic Vocal Music, Choral Music Education and also has a BFA from Elon University, Majoring in Musical Theatre Performance and a M.Ed. from Rowan University. He is currently entering his 14th year of teaching in the great state of NJ. Mr. Olsen is also a proud member of NATS, the National Association of Teachers of Singing; ACDA, the American Choral Directors Association, NAfME, National Association of Music Educators, and the NJMEA.
Social Media Coordinator
OCTVS PAA Alumnus
Board Bio Still to Come!
Ret. Lakewood HS
Angela Corenblith is the Judge Coordinator for the Festival and a Thespian since her high school days! She retired from Lakewood High School (troupe #6118) in 2012.While at Lakewood she was the drama/musical director and choreographer teaching Performing Arts and English. She is currently the Director/Owner of Lakewood School of Dance and Theatre Arts (celebrating its 60th Anniversary this year!!).
Chapter Select Props Manager
All-State Show Stage Manager
Ewing High School
Jessica Bohnenberger (Ms. B) joined the NJ Thespian Adult board this year. She has jumped right in and has been instrumental in creating the Props IE category and is stage managing the first ever NJ All-State Show, Girls Like That. She has been the co-troupe director for Troupe 4883 since its inception at Ewing High School back in 2015. This is her fifth year teaching Science and co-running the Drama program at Ewing High School. She graduated from Rider University with a BA in Special Education and Technical Theater as well as her certificate in Leadership. In addition to teaching, she acts as a props master for shows all over New Jersey.
All-State Show Choreographer
Hopewell Valley Central HS
Katie Rochon has been very fortunate to be teaching drama at Hopewell Valley Central High School (Troupe 7964) for the past four years and was at Timberlane Middle School for the three years prior. Recent shows at HVCHS include Dracula, Pippin, Noises Off, Damn Yankees, The Drowsy Chaperone, and last fall's New Jersey Thespian Chapter Select and Governor's Award winning production of Picnic, which was presented in cutting form at the 2018 International Thespian Festival. She is a graduate of Indiana University (BA Musical Theatre) and Rowan University (MST Theatre Education). Before becoming a teacher Katie spent nearly a decade working professionally as an actress and vocalist based out of NYC. Some of her favorite roles/shows include; The Producers (Ulla), Singin’ in the Rain (Lina Lamont), Ragtime (Evelyn Nesbit), The Secret Garden (Lily), and three contracts as a principal singer on-board Norwegian Cruise Line and Silversea Cruises.
Tech Events Coordinator
Robert J Klimowski is the Performing Arts Center Manager and Technical Director for the Academy of Pereforming Arts at BCIT Medford. Rob is a South Jersey native and he is a graduate from Rowan University with a BA in Technical Theatre. He has worked all over the Tri-State area for the past few years as a Free-lance Scenic Carpenter and has worked with many theatres as their Technical Director and Designer as well. He is the 2017 & 2018 Foxy Award recipient for Outstanding Lighting Design in a play. Rob has run the Tech Olympics and Advanced Tech Challenge for the past two years. He is very excited to be a new member of the NJ Thespian Society State Board and thanks them for this opportunity. "If the World is a Stage... It needs someone to run it" - Stage Technician