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Melissa Denton

Executive Director

| Executive Director

Melissa has dedicated the past 10 years to The Unusual Suspects Theatre Company, creating pathways for social and emotional development through theater arts, to LA’s hardest-to-reach youth and families.  As Executive Director, Melissa leads her team to ensure organizational excellence, program growth and expansion, and increased visibility. She has represented US as a thought leader in various capacities, including the First International Teaching Artist Conference in Oslo, Norway, and has designed and facilitated performance based training workshops for corporate and nonprofit clients, such as the Dramatist Guild of America, Shepard Symposium on Social Justice, and the Satyagraha Institute’s Nonviolent Training Program.  Prior to her role at US, Melissa served as Project Coordinator with New York City’s Roundabout Theatre Company, managing 25 teaching artists at Bronx Theatre High School.  She has worked as a teaching artist for various arts organizations in NYC, including the Guggenheim Museum.

Melissa holds a Master of Arts in Nonprofit Management from Antioch University, Los Angeles and a Bachelor’s in Theatre-Mass Communications from South Dakota State University. She also is a Certified Nonprofit Professional from the Nonprofit Leadership Alliance.

Melissa directs and performs for stage in Los Angeles.  Some of her TV acting credits include, Two and a Half Men, The Middle, Anger Management, and Seinfeld.

Yolanda Androzzo

Program Director

| Program Director

Yolanda Androzzo is a youth development director, playwright/poet and theatre arts professional lauded for spearheading regional, community, and family initiatives that support health and wellness, improve childhood education, promote the fine arts, and otherwise nourish underserved populations with proven outcome based program models.

Possessing a BFA in Theatre Acting from DePaul University, Yolanda has 15 years of experience in non-profit programs management and has worked as both a teaching artist and program manager for the YMCA, Urban Gateways Center for Arts Education and Old Town School of Folk Music. Yolanda has performed as an actress in film, television and on stage for companies such as Goodman Theatre, the Shakespeare Theatre Company of DC, and the McCarter Theatre Center. Yolanda is also a featured artist in television DVD documentary “Hope Is In Me — A Musical Journey” and companion CD (available on itunes). Yolanda is also playwright of “The MLK Project: The Fight For Civil Rights, “ a touring hip-hop, poetry and multi media play and curriculum, which has reached over 7,500 students and community members.

Meisha Rainman

Development Director

| Development Director

Meisha is deeply committed to strengthening local communities, both in her professional and volunteer work.  After transitioning from a successful career as a talent agent in the entertainment industry, she is proud to have been a key leader in the transformation of the Silverlake Independent JCC from a self-supporting school of 100 families to a thriving community center for arts, education and culture reaching over 2000 people a year.  Meisha served as the Board Chair of SIJCC from 2012-14 and continues to serve on their Board of Directors. She is also a Regional Director on the Community Friends & Family Board supporting a National Blue Ribbon LAUSD magnet school committed to serving a diverse, multi-cultural student body. Born and raised in NY, Meisha is a graduate of the Olin School of Business at Washington University.  She now lives in Silver Lake with her husband and two children and is honored to be a part of the incredible team at The Unusual Suspects.

Leo Vargas

Program Manager

| Program Manager

Leo is an avid performer, writer, master teaching artist and behaviorist with over 20 years of experience using arts education to benefit the lives of underserved and at-risk youth, as well as children on the spectrum. A former teaching artist with The Unusual Suspects from 2009 to 2012, and again in 2016, Leo was most recently the after school Program Director at the Ekata Family Training Center where he was charged to rebuild, rebrand, and restructure their existing camp. He has also taught and created arts education programming for East LA Classic Theatre (ECT), PeaceQuest Theatre Group, Greenway Arts Alliance, The Summer Night Lights Program, and various residencies with P.S. Arts. As a behaviorist, Leo piloted the Social Learning Group sessions with the Behavioral Learning Center in the San Fernando and Santa Clarita Valleys — and continues to avidly work with autistic youth on mastering daily living, communication, self-help and social skills using arts education as the foundation. He is bilingual with a Law & Society degree and a minor in Socio-Cultural Linguistics from UC Santa Barbara.

Caroline Bringenberg

Operations Manager

| Operations Manager

Caroline graduated magna cum laude from Occidental College in May 2014 with a Bachelor’s degree in Urban and Environmental Policy. She first became passionate about educating underserved populations while designing nutrition curriculum and school food campaigns for middle and high school students in LAUSD. Her senior thesis, Effective and Unifying School Discipline Policies in an Era of Unprecedented School Violence, explored issues facing at-risk students in Los Angeles and the importance of conflict management skills and restorative practices in curbing violence within these communities. She feels deeply committed to the mission of The Unusual Suspects and is thrilled to be a part of the team.

Nick Williams

Grants Manager

| Grants Manager

Nick Williams is an actor, producer, husband, and proud father. He was store director at Hollywood Video’s flagship store in Los Angeles for over 4 years, supervising a staff of 13, and is the former art board President at Theatre of NOTE in Hollywood, where he still acts on a regular basis. Some of his recent performances at NOTE include Rio Hondo, Entropy (Scenie Award), I Wanna Hold Your Hand (two Scenies Awards), What May Fall (Broadway World Awards nomination), The Pity of Things (two Broadway World Awards nominations), Skeleton Stories, Nibbler and Kill Me, Deadly (Ticket Holder Awards’ Best Supporting Actor nomination). Among several non-NOTE performances in Los Angeles, his portrayal of Chris Keller in All My Sons at the Raven Playhouse was recognized for “Best Performance by a Lead Actor / Drama” (Stage Scene LA). He holds a BA in Acting from Willamette University. Nick has worked in Development for The Unusual Suspects since 2012 and is honored to play a small role in bringing the transformative power of theatre to our most underserved communities.

Ariella Wolfe

Program & Communications Associate

| Program & Communications Associate

Ariella graduated from the University of Oregon and the Robert D. Clark Honors College with a B.A. in Theatre Arts. She first became interested in community-engaged and applied theatre while researching the Portland, OR based theatre company Sojourn Theatre and has since spent time training, researching, and working to better understand how theatre may be used as a tool for social change. In college, she studied abroad in Buenos Aires, Argentina and joined the neighborhood community theatre/teatro communitario group Matemurga de Villa Crespo, which deepened her passion for working in Latinx and bilingual communities. Her most transformative work experience was completing a year-long fellowship at American Conservatory Theater in the Education & Community Programs department working to engage diverse communities in the creative process. Ariella has also worked as a stage manager, director and director’s assistant, script reader, and an academic tutor. As a creator and administrator, she is invested in fostering safe spaces for creative growth, expression, and dialogue. A recent transplant from the Bay Area, she is thrilled to be joining The Unusual Suspects Theater Company where she can contribute to work at the intersection between the arts and social change.