Potomac Arts Academy Staff
Director (click here for bio)
Elizabeth (Libby) Curtis has served as Director of George Mason University’s Potomac Arts Academy since 2008. During this time Libby has been instrumental in building Potomac’s enrollment from approximately 350 to over 3800 annual participants and increasing the annual budget from $300,000 to $1.6 million. Under her leadership, programs have expanded to include over 40 summer programs for community enrichment and teacher training, private music instruction, year round classes, and vital in-service programs in area public schools and community centers. These programs - in the areas of music, theater, visual arts, computer game design, film and video studies and dance - have strengthened important links between Mason’s College of Visual and Performing Arts and the surrounding community through arts enrichment and advocacy.
Previous to this appointment, Libby - a lyric soprano - was on faculty at Radford University and Virginia Tech where she maintained an active performing schedule and developed thriving voice studios. She also served as Assistant Director of the Radford University Opera Ensemble and helped establish a successful touring program for the Ensemble into area public schools. Her other responsibilities included serving as Music Director for Radford University’s Main Stage productions of “The Boyfriend”, “Best Little Whorehouse in Texas”, and “Some Enchanted Evening”.
As an active soprano soloist, her performance schedule included Festival Miami, Interlochen Center for the Arts, Blacksburg Master Chorale, New Mexico Music Festival at Taos, and Northwestern University where she premiered “Symphony from Ivy Green”. This Symphony was written for her by her husband composer/conductor Mark Camphouse. She also premiered numerous works at College Music Society Conferences and served as adjudicator for Virginia State Honors Choir, Virginia All-State Choir, and District and Regional Choir Festivals.
Recording credits include “Little Girl Blue”, a collection of Rodgers and Hart songs and “Symphony from Ivy Green” with the University of Miami Wind Symphony. Libby and Mark have twin daughters, Briton and Beth, who are currently employed in the Northern Virginia area.
Associate Director/ Acting For Young People Theater Director (click here for bio)
Mary is the Associate Director of Potomac Arts Academy, and Founder/Artistic Director of Acting for Young People & Adults, Inc. (AFYP). AFYP was founded in 1997, and provides professional-level acting training for students of all ages. The program has grown to include summer acting camps, year-round classes, after school programs and touring productions, and became the theater division of Potomac in 2012.
A graduate of University of Maryland, College Park with a Bachelor’s Degree in Theater and Speech Communications, Mary has been working professionally as an actor in the Metropolitan Washington area, Los Angeles, and New York since 1985. She has worked at Washington area theaters including Theater of the First Amendment, Arena Stage, Studio Theatre, and Source Theatre. Television, radio and film credits include ABC’s All My Children, Barry Levinson’s Avalon, Diesel Films’ Dracula’s Mother, the MGM/Lionsgate thriller Hit and Run, and several spots for NPR’s Morning Edition.
Mary is a proud member of George Mason University’s faculty in the School of Theater, and was named a 2013 “Teacher of Distinction”. She is a member of The Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, Actor’s Equity Association, and the Educational Theatre Association.
Assistant Director/ Mason Game & Technology Academy Director (click here for bio)
Vera Lichtenberg, Assistant Director at Potomac, is the co-founder and Director of the Mason Game & Technology Academy (MGTA). She works closely with Mason Game Design Program faculty to develop courses and curriculum for K-12 students, to design teacher training programs for Middle and High School teachers, and to facilitate partnerships with local schools, community programs, and industry professionals.
Vera brings to MGTA multiple established relationships in the mid-Atlantic region’s technology, arts, philanthropic, and public and private education communities. She has over fifteen years of administrative and managerial experience developing major new organizations, building strategic and tactical partnerships, and managing multiple cutting-edge national and international projects. Her professional activities include several years designing and coordinating international training programs and policy briefings for the International Research & Exchanges Board, in conjunction with multiple U.S. government agencies including USAID, USIA, and the U.S. Department of State.
Assistant Director, Marketing & Programs (click here for bio)
Candy Neukam, Assistant Director (Marketing & Programs), has been with Potomac Arts Academy since 2008 when it became a year round community arts organization. She received a Bachelor of Science in Business Marketing from George Mason University, and most recently completed a Graduate Certificate in Arts Management. Most of her working life has been in the for-profit business sector, beginning in the waste industry and ending in the jewelry business prior to joining Potomac and the non-profit world.
Candy has always had an interest in the arts and has volunteered with Mason’s Friends of Music. She firmly believes in the connection between the arts and stronger communities. Understanding that the arts foster personal development and enhance quality of life, she is excited to combine her business experience with her lifelong love of the arts in order help Potomac reach more people in the area. She pursues piano as a hobby and enjoys all that the Washington D.C. area has to offer in the arts.
Assistant Director, Promotions & Website (click here for bio)
Matt Geske has been with Mason’s Potomac Arts Academy since 2008 and currently serves as an Assistant Director. His responsibilities include program website and media management, program supervision and management, promotions and ad artwork, email marketing campaigns, purchasing, registration, and special events. Matt also oversees donations, expense tracking, and grantwriting, and he coordinates the facilities maintenance of the Potomac building. Matt holds a diverse background and experience in the arts. He earned his Bachelor’s Degree in music, performed and taught as a dancer/ choreographer, managed art gallery sales, and had a small stint in a theater group – accompanied by significant experience in arts and entertainment management.
Born on a farm in North Dakota, Matt received a full scholarship to Minnesota State University – Moorhead, where he earned a B.M. in Music Business and served as Assistant to the Performing Arts Series Director. Moving to Nashville, he completed a marketing internship with EMI Records and received dance training at Vanderbilt University. Afterwards, Matt moved to Michigan to tour with the group NitroPraise as a dancer/ choreographer. He then returned to Nashville, working as a retail manager and dance instructor, performing with local gospel musicians. After an extended trip through Southeast Asia, he moved to the Washington DC area and was hired by George Mason University’s Potomac Arts Academy. Matt is currently pursuing a Graduate Certificate in Arts Management from Mason. He is an avid member of the Friends of the National Zoo, Friends of the National Arboretum, and Friends of Dance at Mason, and he believes strongly in the connection between the arts and nature.
Coordinator, Registration & Programs (click here for bio)
Alaina Talley is an alumni of George Mason University and graduated Magna Cum Laude with a Bachelor's degree in Theater. She is currently the Assistant Coordinator of Registration and Programs with Potomac Arts Academy and focuses mainly on coordinating Potomac's 200+ weekly private lessons. Before joining forces with Potomac, Alaina represented Acting for Young people as a Teaching Artist and Company Actor and now also serves as an Administrative Assistant for AFYP. Alaina has previously worked with non-profit organizations, such as Cultural DC as an Assistant Producer for the annual Source Festival in Washington, DC. The arts have been a strong factor in Alaina's growth as a student, teacher, and a working professional. She has always had a passion for community arts and is thrilled to be a part of such a vibrant, growing organization!
Coordinator, Outreach & Programs (click here for bio)
Jessica Teaford (Assistant Coordinator of Outreach and Programs) brings her knowledge and experience of fundraising, marketing, and event management to help further the wonderful programs offered at Potomac Arts Academy. Jessica joined the Acting For Young People (AFYP) family in 2008, working as a teaching artist in the after school and summer camp programs, and later joined the Administrative Team. During her time at AFYP she has worked with ages kindergarten to high school both in the classroom and on stage. She also holds an integral role in the day to day operations of the organization.
Originally from southwestern Virginia, Jessica relocated to northern Virginia to attend George Mason University. In 2011 she received her B.A. in Theater from GMU with a Minor in Event Management and Tourism. While an undergraduate, Jessica’s work as a stage manager, production manager, costume designer, properties designer, and as an actor would be seen in over thirty theatrical productions with the Mason Players. Jessica received her M.A. in Arts Management from GMU in 2012. She has an extensive background in the arts, working professionally as an actress, stage manager, and events planner with organizations in the Washington D.C. area such as Wolf Trap Foundation for the Performing Arts and The Keegan Theater. Additionally she serves as the Production Manager for TEDxGeorgeMasonU, an annual independently organized TED event at George Mason University.
Coordinator, Data & Programs (click here for bio)
Kaity Cookson is an alumnus of George Mason University and graduated, cum laude, with a Bachelor's degree in Theater and a minor in Dramatic Literature in 2011. She has been an integral part of the Acting For Young People team since 2008, working as a teaching artist in after school, summer camp, and workshop programs, as well as holding the position of Resident Stage Manager for all of AFYP's educational and professional productions. She also contributes to the day-to-day operations of AFYP as the Assistant Director of Programs and Outreach. As an Assistant Coordinator with Potomac Arts Academy, Kaity is thrilled to expand her work to include music and art, and to use her organizational and management skills to help support Potomac's many programs.
Kaity has an extensive background in the arts and education. She has taught children ranging from early childhood through high school-level for over seven years. In her time as a student at GMU, she participated in many stage productions as an actor, stage manager, and technician. Kaity served on the board for GMU's producing group, the Mason Players, for three years, and co-founded GMU's chapter of Alpha Psi Omega, the theater honor fraternity. She received the Chris Parsons Achievement Award for her work with the theater department in 2010. Kaity has also worked professionally as a stage manager in the DC Metro Area.
Admin Assistant, Mason Game & Technology Academy (click here for bio)
Nerissa Hart works as an Administrative Assistant for the Mason Game and Technology Academy. She helps to keep instructors in constant communication with one another, coordinate class schedules, run attendance and make sure that classes run smoothly overall within MGTA. Additionally, Nerissa has worked doing showcase and marketing photography for MGTA classes as well as Acting for Young People classes and performances. Nerissa graduated from George Mason University’s School of Theatre with a BFA in Performance for the Stage and Screen, and using this experience, she not only teaches classes for Acting for Young People, but is also working to create classes that combine the areas of computer game design and theatrical performance. Nerissa’s diverse background and passion for both video games and theatre has allowed her to assist in developing full classes integrating these two fields.
Outside of the Potomac Arts Academy, Nerissa has begun working professionally as an actor and writer in the Metropolitan Washington area, appearing in the Netflix Television series House of Cards, performing in Pocket Change Theatre Company’s production of Midsummer on a Playground, and serving as the creator and writer of the international award winning webseries pilot, Versus. With her passion for writing, performance, directing and video game design she is determined to voice act and write for games in the near future.
Faculty Coordinator (click here for bio)
Claire Allen is the Faculty Coordinator at Potomac Arts Academy, maintaining communication with the Music faculty, developing faculty-student and faculty-administration relations, and assisting with recital planning. She also acts as faculty representative on the Potomac board and other external organizations. Ms. Allen also helps coordinate various activities in the string department and has a large role in building and expanding the violin program.
Previous administrative experience includes running her own private violin studio, working as an intern at the Baltimore School for the Arts, and working as a student assistant in the Arthur Friedheim Library at the Peabody Conservatory of Music. She is excited to be part of the Potomac Arts Academy team and is eager to bring our students the best arts experience possible.
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