Founder and Program Director, Noreen Yarwood is a native of the Hudson Valley and has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Theatre Performance from SUNY New Paltz. In 2007, Noreen received her masters degree in Theatre Education from Emerson College. After earning her graduate degree, Noreen began actively seeking opportunities to work with urban youth from underserved communities in Boston, MA. Additionally, she worked two summers as a teaching artist for Citi Performing Arts Center, a major theatre company in Boston. Funded by foundation grants, this program provided free theatre enrichment programming for middle school students throughout Boston. Noreen first taught as part of a year-long internship at the Boston Arts Academy (Boston’s public high school for the fine and performing arts). Noreen also worked for three years at Phoenix Charter Academy in Chelsea, MA serving students who were previously high school drop-outs, court-involved, teen parents, or not achieving in traditional public schools. For the past several years Noreen has taught at both an independent charter school and private alternative schools in Brooklyn, NY.
Board of Directors
Ilana Arbeit is a Sales Executive at Fiduciary Intermediary LTD (FILCO) where she develops comprehensive benefit plans for both small and large group clients. Ilana’s ability to help her clients identify challenges and create solutions makes her an integral part of her clients’ strategic planning process. Ilana has worked in various facets of employee benefits throughout her career. In 2001 she began at a mid-size brokerage where she assembled and led a sales and marketing team composed of industry all-stars. In 2005 Ilana made a move to Fiduciary Intermediary LTD, a General Agency in NY and NJ. As the GA Sales Executive and NY Sales Manager, Ilana was tasked with assisting brokers and their clients construct, maintain and service all aspects of their employee benefit programs. Ilana currently serves as President Elect on the board of the New York State Association of Health Underwriters and previously served on the New York Metro chapter’s board. She has been the recipient of several awards including the prestigious NY Metro AHU’s Outstanding Service Award. Ilana is a graduate of Queens College with a Bachelor of Arts degree. She majored in Media Studies and completed a minor in the Business and Liberal Arts Honor’s program. When she is not in the office, you’ll most likely hear Ilana belting out show tunes on the Upper West Side of Manhattan or chasing her super obedient dog, Maggie, through Central Park.
Stephen Balantzian, a native of the Hudson Valley, has acted locally, regionally, and nationally in the theatre and on television from Broadway’s Cyrano de Bergerac to NBC’s Law & Order. A board member of SUNY New Paltz’s McKenna Productions and actor with Mohonk Mountain Stage Company, Stephen is rooted in local theatre. MFA: Rutgers University, BA: SUNY New Paltz.
Megan Mehr is an education consultant focused primarily on supporting teachers and school leaders in high schools that serve English Language Learners. Prior to consulting, Megan served as a teacher and school leader in New York City and Boston in innovative middle and high schools focused on closing the achievement gap and institutionalizing and sharing best practices that other schools and communities can replicate in order to better serve their own students. Megan has a B.A. in Psychology from Boston College, an M.S. in Education from the New School University, an Administration and Supervision degree from Hunter College, and an M.A. in American Studies from Columbia University.
Laura Robbins is currently working in fundraising and development in the non-profit sector as the Chief Development Officer at Jewish Family & Children Service in St. Louis. Her primary goals for organizations is to help them reach their fundraising targets through major gifts, special events and planed giving. She is currently perusing her MBA in the executive program at Washington University as well. Prior to her current position she was the Development Director at Temple Israel and before that the Special Events Manager at the Shakespeare Theatre Company D.C.Her undergrad is a BFA theatre directing from Boston University. Development became a career for Laura after her training as a theatre director kept leading her toward raising money to do another show. Currently when not at work you can find her with her husband Frank and 3 boys, 2 cats and 8 chickens practicing suburban farming.