Photo credit: Becca Vision NYC

Board of Directors for New York State Dance Education Association

For information on Board Member positions and duties, download:

Board of Directors Duties Board of Directors and General Duties

2023 Board of Directors:
Lisa Herlinger-Thompson: President
Barry Blumenfeld: Past President
Allison Thomashefski: Treasurer
Kathleen Leary: Secretary
Kristina Walton: Director of Communications
Nicole Bryant: Director of Awards
Audrey Woolever: Director of Fundraising
Danielle Staropoli: Director of Conferences
Christine Catalano: Director of NHSDA
Sandra Stratton-Gonzalez: Director of Advocacy
Nessaja Sharber: Student Representative

Lisa Herlinger-Thompson, BA, MA (President)
Location: Queens, NY

Work Environment: NYCDOE middle school Dance Educator. Summer Staff at I’m A Bright Kid Foundation in Hawaii.

Area of Expertise/Interest: BA in Dance and MA in Dance Education. Experience teaching PK-12, as well as public sector children and adults. Expertise both in teaching and choreography. Interested in Improvisation and Creative Movement as technique, dance for the camera, and cultural dance, with particular experience in the traditional dances of Uganda and Hula from Hawai'i.

Barry Blumenfeld, MA, RDE (Past President)
Location: New York, NY

Work Environment: Dance Educator at Friends Seminary School. Adjunct Professor at New York University Steinhardt. Master Facilitator for the Dance Education Laboratory of the 92nd Street Y. Ask the Experts Columnist for Dance Teacher Magazine.

Area of Expertise/Interest: BA in Psychology and MA in Performing Arts-Dance. Certified Level 1 Teacher of Language of Dance®; Certified yoga instructor; AMGA Certified Rock Climbing Wall Instructor. K-12: creative movement, LOD, choreography, tap, modern, yoga, capoiera and rock climbing Frequently presenting and writing on Technology and Dance Ed. Co-creator of the app, DanceMaker (iOS and Android).

Allison Thomashefski, MFA, Dance K-12, Childhood and Special Education 1-6 Certifications, NYS (Treasurer)
Location: Rochester, NY

Work Environment: Dance Educator at The Aquinas Institute of Rochester (Grades 6-12) and Nazareth College.  NYSED: Dance Crosswalk, 2021 Individual Arts Assessment Pathway Committee Member.  NYSDEA: 6 years experience as admin support.  Private Studio: Dance Emporium in Avon, NY. 

Area of Expertise/Interest: MFA in Dance and BS Childhood Education & Special Ed.  Interests include creative movement exploration, choreography, and technique development with middle and high schoolers.  In higher education, I enjoy teaching dance pedagogy and creating community dance opportunities for movers of all ages and abilities.  Private studio instruction in Ballet, Creative Movement and Jazz. 

Kathleen Leary, (Secretary)
Location: New York, NY

Work Environment: Dance Education Coordinator of the Jerome Robbins Dance Division at the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts

Area of Expertise/Interest: Informal education practices, equity in access, dance history and archives, students on the autism spectrum, adults with no or low vision, adults with Alzheimer's and dementia, film, theatrical design, and textiles 

Kristina Walton, MA, PK-12 NYS Certification in Dance (Director of Communications)
Location: New York, NY

Work Environment: The Dalton School (NYS Independent School) & All Souls School (NYS Early Childhood Independent School)

Area of Expertise/Interest: Early Childhood, K-12, working with children with learning differences, integrated curriculum design, private studio teaching in ballet, modern, tap, jazz, creative movement, pre-professional choreography for students, dance performance, multicultural dance, web design, and communications

Nicole Bryant, MA, NYS Dance Certification Pre K-12 (Director of Awards)
Location: New York, NY

Work Environment: NYCDOE Dance Educator, Middle School dance major program grades 6th - 8th. ICT Elementary school dance classes grade K-5. Private studio adult beginner contemporary classes. Teen summer intensives.

Area of Expertise/Interest: MA in Dance Education, BA in Modern Dance and Choreography, NYS Professional Certification in Dance Pre K-12th Grade, Graduate of the Simonson Method of Teaching Technique course, Arts Administration, Office Management at Mark Morris Dance Group, Summer dance intensive coordinator and director ages 12 - 18, Teaching Artist and performer at the National Theater, Kampala Uganda, Freelance performer with Kim Elliott Dance, and Katiti King.

Audrey Woolever, MFA (Director of Fundraising)
Location: Ithaca, NY

Work Environment: Lecturer in Dance at Wells College and Dance Teacher at The Next Jennaration.

Area of Expertise/Interest: MFA in Choreography/Performance, BA in Theatre & Dance, BA in English: Creative Writing. Public and Private sector teaching in dance education. Private Studio instruction to PreK-12th grade. Expertise in teaching, performing and choreographing. Interested in teaching classes in Creative Movement, Jazz, Tap, Modern, Body Percussion, and Contemporary.

Danielle Staropoli, MA (Director of Conferences)
Location: Brooklyn, NY

Work Environment: K-8 Dance Educator and Gender and Sexuality Alliance (GSA) Advisor at Bay Ridge Preparatory School. Dance Specialist for Summers at LREI.

Area of Expertise/Interest: MA in Dance Education. BA in Dance. Minor in English. ABT certified teacher in Pre-primary through Level 3 of the American Ballet Theatre National Training curriculum. Incorporates books in the early childhood dance classroom highlighting social emotional learning and DEIJ topics. Freelance choreographer, with pieces presented at Triskelion Arts, Manhattan Movement & Arts Center, Access Theater, 2016 DUMBO Dance Festival, and National Theatre, Kampala, Uganda.

Christine Catalano, MA, NYS Dance Certification Pre K-12 (Director of NHSDA)
Location: New York, NY/ Long Island, NY

Work Environment: Public Sector: NYCDOE Dance Educator, 9th-12th Grade Dance Elective Program. Private Studio: Creative Movement, ages 3-5 and Tap, ages 5-17

Area of Expertise/Interest: MA in Dance Education, BA in General and Special Education, Minors in Dance and Fine Arts, NYS Professional Certification in Dance and Visual Arts Pre K-12th Grade, Early Childhood Birth-2nd Grade, Childhood 2nd-6th Grade, Generalist 5th-12th Grade and Special Education Birth-12th Grade.

Sandra "Sandi" Stratton-Gonzalez (Advocacy Director)
Location: Wappingers Falls, NY

Work Environment: Coordinator of the Arnhold Dance Teacher Support Programs and Professional Learning Facilitator, Arts and Students with Disabilities; NYC Department of Education, Office of Arts and Special Projects. Member of NDEO Dance and Disabilities Task Force and teacher of the NDEO Course Teaching Dance to Students with Disabilities.

Area of Expertise/Interest: Formerly the Dance Educator at The Children's School, a fully inclusive public elementary school in Brooklyn NY, and Founding Director of Soundance Repertory Company, a community-based dance group in the Lower East Side of Manhattan. Interested in equity and access to dance education for all children.

Kiana Cotton, (Student Representative)
Location: Brockport, NY

Work Environment: Full-time Undergraduate Student at SUNY Brockport pursuing a BFA in Dance with a minor in Spanish. Dance Instructor at Brockport School of Dance and Performing Arts for ages 2-18 in Hip-Hop, Ballet, Tap and Jazz.

Area of Expertise/Interest: AS in Liberal Arts and Sciences. Experience in Dance Production. Interests in diversity, equity and inclusion in dance education.