Dean’s Welcome

Dean of the School of Arts and Humanities Dr. Nat Hardy

The School of Arts and Humanities is a leading example of Stephens College’s mission to Communicate. Collaborate. Create. Our mission is not just teaching students, but imparting in them a lifelong love of learning and an appreciation for the pursuit of knowledge and creativity. At Stephens, we are proud of our legacy and take great pride in the cultural, educational and artistic gifts, and the opportunities we offer our students.

The School of Arts and Humanities offers programs in a wide range of academic disciplines in the creative arts and humanities. The arts and humanities truly thrive in Columbia, Missouri, as dozens of on- and off-campus performances take place year-round at Stephens, making the College one of Columbia’s premiere centers for the performing arts.

Led by an accomplished and dedicated faculty who are well respected and nationally known artists, educators, researchers and writers in their disciplines, the courses and programs of the School of Arts and Humanities offers includes: Education, Digital Filmmaking, Fashion, English and Creative Writing, Humanities, Visual and Performing Arts, and our Los Angeles-based, low-residency MFA in Television and Screenwriting.

I invite you to explore our programs, read about our faculty, and learn how the School of Arts and Humanities can help you to build your own unique future. If you have any questions about majoring, minoring or taking courses in the Arts and Humanities at Stephens College, please reach out at any time.


Dr. Nat Hardy
Dean and Sara Jane Johnson Scholar
School of Arts and Humanities
Stephens College


About the Dean

Dr. Hardy most recently served as Associate Dean of Arts and Sciences at College of Saint Mary, a women’s college in Omaha, Nebraska. His international background includes considerable administrative experience in higher education, serving both undergraduate and graduate students, as well as tested leadership experience. As an international faculty member and administrator, and a dual citizen of the U.S. and Canada, Dr. Hardy values and embraces diversity, inclusion and social equity and welcomes the opportunity to help create an even more diverse, global and inclusive Stephens College community.

Dr. Hardy holds a Ph.D. in the Early Modern Literature of Illness and Disease (University of Alberta), an M.Ed. in Higher Education Administration (Georgia Southern University), an M.F.A. in Creative Writing (Louisiana State University), an M.A. in Restoration Utopian Literature (McMaster University) and a B.A. in Literature and Philosophy (University of Alberta). To date, Dr. Hardy has held teaching and administrative positions at the College of Saint Mary, Savannah State University, Rogers State University, Oklahoma State University, Louisiana State University, the University of Alberta and McMaster University.


Faculty + Staff

Undergraduate Programs

Communication Design | Digital Filmmaking | Education | English + Creative Writing | Event + Convention Management | Fashion | Humanities | Performing Arts


Graduate Programs

Master of Fine Arts in TV and Screenwriting



Communication Design


John Shelby, Instructor

Gillian Tracey, Instructor

Christina Gilbert, Instructor

Erica Pefferman, Instructor


Digital Filmmaking


Steph Borklund
Associate Professor of Digital Filmmaking
M.F.A., Savannah College of Art and Design; B.A., University of Kansas

Steph Borklund has more than 15 years of experience as a producer, director and editor. Her works include documentaries, narratives, and corporate and industrial videos. She previously worked as director of postproduction for Left Coast Productions in California, where she won several Telly, Aurora and Summit Creative editing awards for her corporate and industrial work. Currently, she is working with Kerri Yost on a short documentary about Helen Stephens, a poor farm girl from Missouri who went to the Berlin Olympics in 1936 and became the fastest woman in the world. Other works include producing and directing “Chasing AllieCat” (Citizen Jane Film Festival and Oregon Shorts Film Festival), a short narrative about three mountain biking teens who find a priest in the woods, beaten and near death; producing, directing and editing “I Am One” (Citizen Jane Film Festival), a short educational film about bullying; and working as an assistant camera operator for “Getting Away Together,” a PBS television series. Her most rewarding job has been teaching at Stephens and having the opportunity to teach the next generation of female filmmakers.


Chase Thompson
Associate Professor, Digital Filmmaking Program Chair
M.F.A., Stephens College; B.S., Columbia College

Chase Thompson is an associate professor of digital filmmaking at Stephens. An independent filmmaker, Thompson is a fourth-generation teacher with a passion for helping students find their creative voice through digital filmmaking and photography. His feature length documentary “Zielinski” was selected into Slamdance, True/False Film Fest and Radar Hamburg International Independent Film Festival, and it received Best Political Doc at Philadelphia Independent Film Festival and the Golden Reel Award at the Nevada Film Festival. Thompson’s essay “Writing Around Lois Weber” was featured in the book “When Women Wrote Hollywood,” which went on to be runner-up for the Susan Koppelman Award. In 2018, Thompson directed the Stephens Film Institute, which produced his pilot episode “Tampsen Air.” In April 2019, “Tampsen Air” premiered at the Kansas City Film Festival International and went on screen at the Denver Pop Culture Convention and the New York City Independent Film Festival, where it was nominated for Best TV Pilot.


Kerri Yost
Associate Professor of Digital Filmmaking
M.A., Central Missouri State University; B.A., University of Missouri-Columbia

Kerri Yost is an associate professor of digital filmmaking at Stephens. She is an independent filmmaker who learned filmmaking overseas while teaching abroad. After returning home to Missouri, she focused on films about people in the Midwest. Her feature film “Neither Here Nor There” documents Bosnian refugees starting new lives in Missouri, which played on PBS and was nominated for an Emmy. Her short documentary films “Billy” and “X-Ray Man” both focus on the long-term effects of being a soldier.




Dr. Sean Travis Clouse
Associate Professor and Education Program Chair
Ph.D., M.A., B.S., University of Missouri-Columbia

Sean ClouseDr. Sean Travis Clouse earned his B.S. in psychology, M.A. in human development and family studies, M.A. in counseling psychology and Ph.D. in counseling psychology all from the University of Missouri-Columbia. A member of the Stephens faculty since 2006, he teaches courses in the Education, Psychology and Counseling programs. His courses focus on lifespan development, multicultural aspects of learning, social justice issues and counseling. He also serves as the certification officer for the early childhood and elementary education and school counseling programs. Clouse is a licensed psychologist in the state of Missouri and focuses his clinical work on adolescents and young adults.


Elizabeth Watson
Director of the Children’s School at Stephens College
B.A., Stephens College; M.Ed., University of Missouri-Columbia

Watson’s passion for education has been shaped over the past 16 years as a classroom teacher in both preschool and elementary and as an instructor in the college classroom. She started her career at Stephens College as an undergraduate student from Minnesota and received her early childhood degree and teaching certification. After her first year of teaching, she continued her education at the University of Missouri and received her master’s degree in curriculum and instruction with an emphasis in reading. This year, she will continue as a doctoral student at the University of Missouri in learning, teaching and curriculum with an emphasis in reading. As an early childhood and elementary educator, she believes the best way to enhance learning is to provide students with hands-on experiences which will create thought-provoking experiences for students to become independent creators.


English + Creative Writing


Dr. Kate Berneking Kogut
Associate Professor of English and Creative Writing, English and Creative Writing Program Chair
Ph.D., M.A., B.A., University of Missouri-Columbia

Dr. Kate Berneking Kogut is an associate professor of English and creative writing, specializing in scriptwriting and new script development. Her plays have been produced, showcased and workshopped in California, New York, Chicago and in venues in the South and the Midwest. Kogut also writes, directs and produces short films through her production company, Envelope Sky Creative. Her current research interests include character development, fictional world-building and transmedia storytelling, which explores ways a story unfolds through various media. She earned her Ph.D. in theatre at the University of Missouri-Columbia.


Dr. Ann Breidenbach
Assistant Professor of English and Creative Writing
Ph.D., University of Missouri-Columbia, M.F.A., Pine Manor College, M.A., Western Michigan University, B.A., Central Michigan University

Dr. Ann Breidenbach is an assistant professor in the English and Creative Writing programs and teaches classes for the Women’s Studies minor. While working on her qualitative dissertation about the experience of menopause for second wave feminists living on women’s land in the Ozarks, she rediscovered her passion for writing. Breidenbach began taking seminars in creative nonfiction writing and eventually enrolled in an M.F.A. program. She brings an interdisciplinary approach and her identity as a writer to her teaching. She is working on a manuscript titled “Girlhood Cache,” which is a memoir told through a series of flash non-fiction essays. Her current research project, “Feminist Activism and the Women’s Film Festival: a Site for Social Change,” explores women’s film festivals as a means of feminist activism. Most recently she has presented her research at the European Network for Cinema and Media Studies annual conference and the University Film and Video Association annual conference. She earned her M.F.A. in creative writing from the Solstice Low-Residency M.F.A. in Creative Writing Program at Pine Manor College in Boston. She earned her Ph.D. in rural sociology with a graduate certificate in women’s and gender studies at the University of Missouri-Columbia.


Dr. Carli Sinclair
Ph.D., University of University of California, Davis, M.A., California Polytechnic State University, B.A., University of Missouri

Dr. Carli Sinclair teaches undergraduate courses in American literature, women’s literature, and writing. She earned her Ph.D. in 19th century American literature from the University of Missouri. Her research interests include American landscape writing, women’s nonfiction and American Gothic writing, and she recently published a biography of Sarah Josepha Hale in “Writers on Women’s Rights and US Suffrage: Dictionary of Literary Biography.” Her current writing project, which was supported by a grant from the Maine Women Writers Collection, analyzes the diaries and accounts of 19th century seafaring women.


Kristine Somerville
Assistant Professor of English and Creative Writing
M.A., University of Missouri; B.A., College of the Ozarks

Kristine Somerville teaches contemporary literature, advanced composition, language ethics, nonfiction workshop, fiction workshop and the Harbinger publishing internship at Stephens College. Her short stories and prose poems have been published in various magazines, including The North American Review, Passages North, River City, Zone 3, The South Carolina Review and Quarterly West. Her essay "Katie Suber" received notable mention in Best American Essays, and her fiction has been nominated twice for a Pushcart Prize. Her visual and “Found Text” features and omnibus reviews appear regularly in The Missouri Review. Somerville is the co-editor of TMR Books and faculty advisor of Harbinger and Sigma Tau Delta English Honor Society.


Event + Convention Management


Adonica Coleman

Adonica Coleman is the owner of A2D Events, which was established in Columbia, Missouri, in 2011. The company specializes in corporate, fundraising and community events. She is a longtime volunteer and current board member of Granny’s House, BOLD Academy, and is also an advisory board member at COMO magazine. She is passionate about her family, community, and connecting her Stephens students through networking. She has been an adjunct instructor in the ECM program since Fall 2018.






Kirsteen Buchanan
M.A., University of Missouri-Columbia

Kirsteen Buchanan, a Stephens alumna, has taught at Stephens for over 20 years. Her broad fashion industry experience in New York, Chicago and Dallas includes retail product development, branded design, product development for a sweater factory, domestic and offshore manufacturing, trend surveillance, creative fashion design and technical design. She also has designed costumes for the Okoboji Summer Theatre in Spirit Lake, Iowa, and for dance company productions in Dallas.

Buchanan has a Master of Arts specializing in visual communications from the Missouri School of Journalism. Buchanan's design practice aims to fuse beautiful product design with meaning. She focuses on the intersection of fashion, visual communication and language, using surface design and mixed media art to explore design concepts and a range of questions that center on transformation, connection, communication and storytelling. In 2019, Buchanan won the Next Generation Award in the Surface Design Association Exhibition in Print for her digitally printed designs: Borders That Unite, and Best Overall at the sustainable fashion show ScrapsKC ReVision for her dress made from contact lens packaging. She has exhibited work at several Surface Design Association international conference runway shows. She was a 2003 finalist in the GenArt/Florida Grapefruit Juice National Handbag Design Challenge, a 2002 finalist in the “Inspired by Threads” competition and a 2001 finalist in the Beefeater Bold Spirits Design Competition.


Stephanie Carlo
Assistant Professor of Fashion, Fashion Program Chair
M.F.A., Savannah College of Art and Design, B.F.A., School of Visual Arts and Design of Puerto Rico.

Stephanie Carlo is a fashion and textile designer. Born and raised in Puerto Rico, her fashion design aesthetics are influenced by her background in fine arts and her interest in art history. As Carlo has expanded her skills as a textile designer and as a fashion illustrator, she has never set aside her practice as a fashion designer. She is designing textiles as a freelancer for apparel and accessories designers in Puerto Rico, the United States and Germany. Carlo earned an M.F.A. in Fashion Design from Savannah College of Art and Design and a B.F.A. in Fashion Design and Printmaking from the School of Visual Arts and Design of Puerto Rico.



Dr. Lori Hall-Araujo
Assistant Professor
Ph.D., Indiana University-Bloomington, M.A., University of Chicago, B.A., Michigan State University

Dr. Lori Hall-Araujo is an assistant professor in the fashion program and the curator for the Stephens College Costume Museum and Research Library. Prior to joining Stephens in Fall 2016, she was the 2015-2016 Anawalt Postdoctoral Fellow in the Center for the Study of Regional Dress at UCLA’s Fowler Museum, where she conducted research on collectors, collecting practices and indigenous Mesoamerican dress. Other museum projects include work on the Victoria and Albert Museum’s Hollywood Costume exhibition when it was hosted by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in 2014-2015.

When not tap dancing, her research and teaching interests include costume design for film and television, dress as a signifier of identity, and museum studies.


Maggie Holper
Assistant Professor of Fashion Marketing and Management
M.B.A., B.F.A, Lindenwood University

Born and raised in St. Louis, Missouri, Holper came to Stephens in 2017 after six years as a pattern maker, technical designer and director of product development for Lori Coulter Swimwear. She participated in the launch of direct-to-consumer swimwear brand Summersalt and continues to work with the company in a consultative role. With a B.F.A. in Fashion Design and an M.B.A. with an emphasis in entrepreneurship from Lindenwood University, Maggie is well versed in garment design and construction, patternmaking and alterations, apparel production and distribution, and business development. She teaches many classes within the fashion program from Product Development to Fashion Marketing and Management Capstone Development.


Lisa D. Lenoir
Assistant Professor of Fashion Communication
M.S. DePaul University, B.A., Indiana University

Lisa D. Lenoir takes an interdisciplinary approach to her fashion communication instruction and research, drawing theories from communication and media, linguistics, and fashion business history and current issues. She recently presented research papers in New York and Chicago related to Global Englishes and fashion blogs, and fashion in India and Cuba.

Lenoir graduated with distinction from DePaul University with an M.S. in International Public Service. She also received a B.A. in Journalism with a minor in graphic design from Indiana University. Upon completion of her studies, she worked for numerous newspapers in the Midwest, covering everything from police/fire to fashion. Lenoir’s entry into fashion writing came organically through her early stories featuring boutique owners, who explained the business side of retail and partnered with her on editorial/advertising special sections. This knowledge fueled her interest in fashion and led her to reporting and editing positions in Indianapolis and eventually, Chicago, where she served as the Chicago Sun-Times’ reporter and then, its fashion editor. During her tenure at the Chicago Sun-Times, she covered Fashion Weeks in New York and Milan, as well as the fashion, travel, society and the retail business scene in Chicago.

She has won individual and team journalism awards for commentary, travel and social issues. She is a member of the Costume Society of America.


Maureen Lowary
Assistant Professor
B.F.A., Rhode Island School of Design

Maureen Lowary has more than 25 years of teaching experience and more than eight years of fashion industry experience. She graduated with a B.F.A. in Apparel Design from the Rhode Island School of Design, where she received the Alumni Association Award for the Outstanding Senior and received an award from the American Velvet Association for her Velvet Eveningwear design. She has studied Chanel techniques with noted author Claire Shaeffer. Most recently, Lowary spoke about tackling design problems at a Rightfully Sewn professional development seminar in Kansas City.

Lowary began her career on Seventh Avenue as an assistant designer to Liz Claiborne. She has also worked for Crazy Horse, Kathryn Conover and Rugged Wear Ltd. She has freelanced for Nicole Miller in New York and Big Smith in Missouri as well as a number of private individuals. Lowary has served as a guest critic for the Rhode Island School of Design and the University of Massachusetts at North Dartmouth apparel and textile design departments, and has judged fashion shows for the local 4-H chapter in central Missouri as well as the “Make It With Wool” competition.


Dr. Monica McMurry
Ph.D., M.Sc., University of Missouri-Columbia, B.F.A., Stephens College

Dr. Monica McMurry has 30 years of teaching and administrative experience in the fashion field. She previously served as Dean of the Stephens College School of Design, and chaired the fashion programs at both Stephens and Columbia College. McMurry graduated summa cum laude from Stephens College with a B.F.A. in Fashion Design. She received her Master of Science and Ph.D. from the University of Missouri’s Textile and Apparel Management program and attended a design thinking workshop at Stanford. In her dissertation, "Jacqueline Kennedy’s Effect on Women: A Content Analysis of Her Style, Role and Thought as First Lady, 1958-1963," McMurry reviewed the most popular women’s magazines of the early 1960s and looked at how Jacqueline Kennedy was portrayed to the average woman via media mentions.

During her teaching career, McMurry has taught both studio and lecture courses for fashion design and product development and fashion marketing. Her areas of expertise include fashion history, curating and executing fashion exhibitions, menswear design, tailored design and couture and bespoke techniques. Other interests include sustainability, fair trade and textile upcycling. She is a member of the International Textile and Apparel Association (ITAA), the Costume Society of America (CSA) and Fashion Group International. McMurry has presented both national and international juried fashion designs and scholarly research. Her work with the Costume Museum and Research Library at Stephens College has given her the opportunity to speak across the nation about historic dress.




Dr. James Terry
Associate Professor
Ph.D., M.A., University of Missouri-Columbia, B.A., Wesleyan University

Dr. James Terry is an archaeologist and art historian. He holds a Ph.D. in Classical Archaeology from the University of Missouri-Columbia. He has participated in archaeological field work in Israel, Jordan, Cyprus and Tunisia and, as a Fulbright Scholar, spent a year living in North Africa researching Late Roman and Early Byzantine tomb mosaics. His research interests include human sacrifice in ancient Greek art and the paleolithic roots of artistic pleasure.



Dr. Mark Thompson
Associate Professor, Director of General Education
Ph.D., M.A., University of Toronto, B.A., Dalhousie University

Dr. Mark Thompson is an associate professor of history and global studies. He holds a Ph.D. in history from the University of Toronto. Thompson teaches modern European, U.S. and world history, as well as the sophomore core courses Government and Economics and Global Village. His research interests include the Indochina War, as well as the intersection of European integration and decolonization. His article "Defending the Rhine in Asia: France’s 1951 Reinforcement Debate and French International Ambitions" is forthcoming with the journal French Historical Studies.


Performing Arts


Sarah Aker
Staff Artist, Lighting Design
M.F.A., Florida State University; B.A., Saint Mary’s College, Notre Dame, Indiana

Sarah Aker teaches, designs, serves as the master electrician, and advises students at Stephens. Some of her favorite designs here at Stephens include " A Midsummer Night’s Dream," "Emma," "Everything You Touch," "Fun Home," "Julius Caesar" and "Pippin," as well as the dance concerts. Before Stephens, Aker was the staff space coordinator and lighting designer for the University of Illinois Department of Dance. Professional lighting design credits include designs for Okoboji Summer Theatre in Iowa, Bristol Valley Theater in New York, Station Theatre in Illinois, Parkland College in Illinois, South Bend Civic Theater in Indiana, Illinois Shakespeare Festival in Illinois, Beloit College in Wisconsin, Ruth Page Center for the Arts in Illinois and About Face Theatre in Illinois.


Timuchin Aker
Assistant Professor of Theatre
M.F.A., University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign; B.A., Kalamazoo College

Timuchin Aker is a resident actor/teacher at Stephens, where he teaches all levels of acting. He also directs, acts in various productions and fight directs. At Stephens, he directed "Julius Caesar" and "Emma," and has acted in "Marian, or the True Tale of Robin Hood," "Intimate Apparel," "Blithe Spirit," "Into the Woods," "An American Daughter," "The Mystery of Edwin Drood," "A Midsummer Night's Dream," "Hay Fever," and "Clybourne Park." Professionally, Aker has worked across the country at Actors Theatre of Louisville, The Cleveland Playhouse, Great Lakes Theater Festival, Idaho Shakespeare Festival, Illinois Shakespeare Festival, American Theater Company and Okoboji Summer Theatre, among others. He completed the acting apprenticeship at Actors Theatre of Louisville, following which he lived and worked in N.Y.C. and Chicago. He also worked as an actor, director and writer on various world premieres while a member of The Ruckus, a Chicago-based theater company. While in Chicago, he taught several classes based in Meisner Technique at Green Shirt Studio. While earning his M.F.A. in acting, he also studied the Alexander Technique at the Alexander Technique Center Urbana.


Tom Andes
Instructor of Music
B.S., University of Missouri–Columbia; 2-Year Certificate in Piano Performance, Berklee College of Music

Tom Andes has studied privately with distinguished jazz masters including Joanne Brakeen, James Williams, Kenny Werner and Jerry Bergonzi. Andes was the musical director for "Fun Home" at Stephens and "Annie" and "Godspell" last summer at Okoboji Summer Theatre. Andes is the house pianist at Murry’s restaurant in Columbia, Missouri, where he has performed with the Tom Andes Trio for 25 years. His original compositions have been featured on television, radio and various websites regionally and nationally. His fifth CD, “Here to Stay,” was released in Fall 2006 and his latest CD, “One Thousand Sets,” was released in 2008.


Michael Burke
Director of Production, School of Creative and Performing Arts; Director of Production & Operations, Okoboji Summer Theatre
M.F.A., B.F.A., Stephens College

Michael Burke returns to campus following the successful 62nd season at Okoboji Summer Theatre. At Stephens, he oversees all production departments for the School of Creative and Performing Arts; is the resident sound designer; supervises all student stage managers and sound designers; and teaches Introduction to Stage Management, Stage Management II and Sound Design. Burke also is an adviser to the Warehouse Theatre Company. Prior to his return to Stephens in 2007, he spent 15 seasons at the 5th Avenue Musical Theatre in Seattle as a stage manager and as the company manager, working on more than 35 productions, including the pre-Broadway runs of Jeckle & Hyde, Hairspray and The Wedding Singer. Other regional credits include the American Heartland Theatre in Kansas City and The Guthrie Theatre in Minneapolis. Burke is a proud member of Actors’ Equity Association and the Production Managers’ Forum and a graduate of Stephens College.


Ruth Ann Burke
Executive Director, Okoboji Summer Theatre; Business Manager, School of Creative and Performing Arts
M.B.A. and B.F.A., Stephens College; M.A., Drake University

Ruth Ann BurkeRuth Ann Burke serves as the executive director for the Okoboji Summer Theatre, where she recently completed her 21st summer season in the Iowa Great Lakes region. During the school year, she is the business manager, overseeing box office operations, marketing and corporate sponsorships for the School of Creative and Performing Arts. Before returning to Columbia in 2007, Burke worked in marketing and public relations in Seattle. She is a proud alumna of Stephens College.




Robert Doyen
Program Coordinator for Theatre, Professor of Theatre
M.A., Illinois State University; B.F.A., Stephens College

Rob Doyen is a resident actor/teacher at Stephens, where he teaches Acting and Directing. He has spent the last 42 summers at Okoboji Summer Theatre. This year at Okoboji, he appeared in "Murder on the Orient Express," "Mary Poppins," "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof" and "Living On Love." Last season at Stephens, he was featured in "Marian, or the True Tale of Robin Hood," "Leader of the Pack," "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof" and "Pippin." Doyen is a member of Actors’ Equity Association and the Screen Actors Guild.


Rusty Elder
Instructor of Music
M.M., B.S., University of Missouri-Columbia

Rusty Elder serves Stephens as a teacher, administrator, adviser and performer. As program coordinator for music, Elder works with faculty to facilitate a variety of music opportunities to Stephens students: private lessons, academic classes, ensembles, master classes and over 10 major performances each year. He is also a member of the First-Year Faculty Adviser program, a program that pairs first-year students from all disciplines with experienced faculty dedicated to their success. A recipient of the College’s Distinguished Advising and Teaching awards, Elder instructs courses in Music Theory, Music History, World Music and Rock & Roll. A percussionist, he performs for numerous concerts and recitals throughout the year. Elder is a member of the American Musicological Society.


Pamela Ellsworth-Smith
Associate Professor of Voice
M.M., Loyola University; B.M.E., Arkansas State University

Pamela Ellsworth-Smith teaches voice at Stephens and is the director of The Velvetones, Stephens’ vocal jazz ensemble, which has performed at the Bluebird Cafe in Nashville, Tennessee, and the Jazz Standard in New York. The group made its Carnegie Hall debut in 2004. She also directs Stephens’ A Class Act: Musical Theatre Troupe. In addition, Ellsworth-Smith serves as a vocal coach for many mainstage musicals. This year, she is thrilled to be the artistic director of "Great American Songbook." She has performed roles with New Orleans Opera Company and Santa Barbara Civic Light Opera, as well as regional companies on the West Coast. Ellsworth-Smith has studied and performed at The Mozarteum in Salzburg, Austria. She is the Missouri District Governor for the National Association of Teachers of Singing. Ellsworth-Smith has been an active adjudicator for voice/choral festivals and taught master classes in various high schools in the Midwest. Her students have attained high honors in regional and national competitions, performing in professional companies and apprenticeship programs across the United States.


Darren Gibson
Visiting Artist, Dance
Ballet Tech School

Darren Gibson grew up in New York City, where Eliot Feld discovered him. He was the first graduate of The New Ballet School (known now as Ballet Tech) at the age of 16, where he worked as principal dancer and ballet master and also served on the board of directors. Since then, Gibson has accumulated numerous ballet credits, staged ballets for Richmond and Boston ballets, and assisted Ann Reinking in an original work for the American Ballet Theatre. Gibson also has been involved in musical theater, appearing as a featured performer in both the New York Shakespeare Festival production and Broadway revival of "On the Town," directed by George C. Wolfe; and "Movin’ Out," directed/choreographed by Twyla Tharp. He also served as assistant choreographer for "The Look of Love," choreographed by Ann Reinking, and was an original cast member in the first national tour of Fosse. Gibson was a featured performer and resident director/choreographer in London’s West End production of "Fosse" and "Movin’ Out." Other credits include "City Center Encores: House of Flowers," directed by Kathleen Marshall; "No Strings!" and the "Radio City Music Hall Christmas Spectacular," directed by Robert Longbottom. Gibson is a proud member of Actors’ Equity Association, American Guild of Musical Artists and American Guild of Variety Artists. He is a former artistic director for TexARTS Academy and the TexARTS Broadway Company in Austin, Texas, where he choreographed and directed 30 musicals and ballets. He taught dance for the Texas State University Musical Theatre Department. He teaches Ballet, Modern and Jazz techniques as well as Improvisational Choreography.


Jennifer Hemphill
Assistant Professor of Musical Theatre, Musical Theatre Program Chair
M.F.A., Kent State University; B.F.A., Tisch School of the Art at New York University

Jennifer Hemphill teaches all levels of Acting and Musical Theatre, and directs and acts in various productions. Prior to joining the faculty at Stephens, Hemphill was most recently seen on Broadway in "Mamma Mia!" She enjoyed three years of performing the hit ABBA show at the Winter Garden and Broadhurst theaters on Broadway and two years playing to full houses on the national tour. Hemphill has performed in New York, on tours across the U.S. and Canada, in Europe, with symphonies, and at sea for the last two decades. She enjoys adjudicating for Showstopper national dance competitions and is a proud member of the Actors’ Equity Association. Her academic focus is on preparing actors for the industry through solid technique and practical application.


Dr. Rebecca Holley
Scene Shop Foreman
Ph.D, University of Missouri-Columbia

Dr. Rebecca Holley is an artist and educator who hails from Colorado. She holdsF a Ph.D. in theatre from the University of Missouri-Columbia, where she wrote her dissertation on cosmic symbolism in musical theatre. In Columbia, she has stage managed and designed lights for several GreenHouse Theatre Project shows, and stage managed and sound designed for many shows at MU's Department of Theatre. Favorite projects include: “Our Town” and “A Christmas Carol” with GreenHouse, and “Crimes of the Heart,” “By the Bog of Cats” and “Greater Tuna” with MU Theatre. This past summer, she served as the technical director for the Stephens College Summer Theatre Institute.


Kerri S. Packard
Costume Shop Supervisor
M.F.A., University of Iowa; B.F.A., Arizona State University

Kerri Packard has been a costume designer/technician for more than 30 years. Her work has been seen at the University of Missouri-Columbia (where she taught for 23 years), the Texas Shakespeare Festival, Arrow Rock Lyceum Theatre, Maples Repertory Theatre and Southeast Missouri State University.






Kristy Simpson
Administrative Assistant, Performing Arts
B.E.S., University of Missouri-Columbia

Kristy Simpson is the administrative assistant for the School of Creative and Performing Arts. Before coming to Stephens, Simpson worked for 10 years as the operations manager for a locally based e-commerce company specializing in purchasing and fulfillment. She serves on several community committees in support of the arts and has two children active in music and theater.

Contact Us

School of Arts and Humanities

Jennifer Singh,
Administrative Assistant
(573) 876-7132 [email protected] Dudley Hall 221

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