Featured Speakers

Friday morning, 9:30 am Session

Nobuko Miyamoto

Nobuko Miyamoto is an artist who uses music, theater and dance for her own work as well as for projects she creates with communities.

Originally a dancer on Broadway and in films such as Flower Drum Song and West Side Story, her involvement in social change movements of the ‘60s galvanized her as an activist and inspired a re-conceptualization of her role as an artist. This led to her co-creation of the seminal Asian American album A Grain of Sand with Chris Iijima and Charlie Chin, and her founding of arts organization Great Leap in 1978, creating musicals, concerts, albums, music videos and most recently FandangObon, a festival of art, cultures, earth.

Her later performances, musicals and albums have continued to probe themes of identity, as well as the intersections of cultures & faiths, and our connection with Earth. More recent projects include her touring lecture/performance What Can A Song Do?, and producing, songwriting and performing in Great Leap’s series of environmental music videos, “Eco-Vids.” Nobuko’s Smithsonian Folkways album 120,000 Stories, the number of Japanese Americans incarcerated during WWII, explores her identity as a Japanese American woman, a life that intertwines the Asian and Black experience, and her concerns about Climate Change.

Nobuko has been recognized with the Ford Foundation’s Leadership for a Changing World Award, and California Arts Council Director’s Award for her contribution to the arts in California.

Her memoir, Not Yo’ Butterfly: My Long Song of Relocation, Race, Love and Revolution is published by University of California Press.

To learn more about Nobuko, visit: www.nobukomiyamoto.org

Danny Feldman

Producing Artistic Director, Pasadena Playhouse

Danny Feldman joined Pasadena Playhouse in 2016. Overseeing both the artistic and business operations of the organization, he has worked to stabilize operations while ensuring the highest quality productions. His first season of programming, including Our Town, King Charles III, Pirates of Penzance, Belleville and Bordertown Now was lauded by audience members and critics alike, receiving the company’s first Ovation nomination for Best Season.

Prior to the Playhouse, Feldman was Executive Director at Labyrinth Theater in New York City, where he oversaw the company’s first Broadway production, instituted an audience development plan that doubled the audience, and increased contributed income to resolve the organization’s long-standing debt. As Managing Director at Reprise Theatre Company, he increased artistic programming, created a city-wide festival, launched a concert series featuring lesser-known Broadway musicals, and created education program, giving at-risk high school students an introduction to classic American musicals.

Saturday morning, 11:00 am Session

Prop 28 Symposium Presenters

Pauline Crooks, Visual and Performing Arts Coordinator, San Diego County Office of Education
Pauline Crooks is the Visual and Performing Arts Coordinator for the San Diego County Office of Education, a position she has held since January 2016. She works to ensure every child has the opportunity to experience the arts to build empathy and self-awareness in order to see the many assets they bring to their community and the world.  Pauline received a bachelor’s degree in music education from The Ohio State University, a master’s degree in teaching from National University, and a master’s degree in educational administration from Concordia University.  She is a National Board Certified Teacher in early and middle childhood music and has been a music educator for more than 30 years.  Pauline is the leader of Arts Empower San Diego, a partnership between the San Diego County Office of Education and a coalition of nonprofit arts organizations, community partners, and school districts to champion arts education in all schools across the County.  She carries this mission of ensuring every child has access to a meaningful, culturally sustaining, standards-based arts education throughout the region and state in her work with the California County Superintendent’s Arts Initiative as the Region 9 Arts Lead.

Anne Fennell, President, CA Music Educators Association (CMEA)Anne Fennell is the K-12 Music Program Manager for San Diego Unified School District in San Diego, CA, President of California Music Educators Association, and the Past Chair for the National Association for Music Education’s Innovation Council.  She holds a bachelor’s in music education, a master’s in educational leadership studies, and Orff-Schulwerk Levels: I-II-III. Her experiences include 36 years in education, 32 of those teaching music composition and steel drum ensembles (grades 9-12), Kindergarten-Grade 8 music through Orff-Schulwerk, and leading vocal and instrumental ensembles in civic, professional, and national performances.  Anne is a published author and presents nationally and internationally. She has received numerous awards, including the 2020 Technology in Music Education National Teacher of the Year, 2017 MSA National Teacher of the Year, and top 10 GRAMMY Music Educator, 2016.


Abe Flores, Deputy Director of Policy & Programs, Create CA

Abe Flores is an advocate, administrator, and organizer who is “paying it forward” by advancing the arts in schools and communities. He grew up in Boyle Heights, with the arts as the spark that lit his passion for education and community. Seeing first-hand the inequitable access to a well-rounded education in his community and others like it – he dedicated his career to ensuring all youth benefit from the arts as he did. He has organized local, state, and national advocacy efforts for the arts. He was the Program Director for a youth development program focused on creativity and wellness in Boyle Heights, where he grew up. In 2013, he won the American Express Emerging Leader Award for organizing communities throughout LA County to advocate for the arts in their schools. In his current role as Create CA’s Deputy Director of Policy & Programs, he oversees the organization’s programs, public will campaign, collective impact efforts, and policy work – all to ensure that a quality arts education is part of every student’s life. He is married to his high school sweetheart, raising two boys, has visited over 30 national parks, and still plays in a punk band.

Michael Despars, Moderator, Past President, CA Educational Theatre Association (CETA)

As the Theatrical Arts Director at Fullerton Union High School and the Immediate Past-President of the California Educational Theatre Association (CETA), MICHAEL DESPARS has dedicated his eighteen-year teaching career to fostering student artists. Michael earned his Bachelor of Fine Arts (B.F.A.) in Acting from the University of Southern California and his first Masters Degree in Education from Azusa Pacific University, later completing his Masters in Theatre at the University of Northern Colorado in 2015. Michael is currently working on supporting universities as they develop Theatre Credentialing programs as well serving as a point person on Prop 28 implementation for CETA.  Michael’s contributions to Theatre Education have garnered widespread recognition, including awards such as the Jim Thomas Distinguished Career Service Award for Theatre from the Orange County Department of Education, Fullerton Joint Union High School’s 2017 District Teacher of the Year, semi-finalist for Orange County Teacher of the Year, the Theatre Leadership Award for his work on the CETA High School Theatre Festival and directorship of the Orange County CAPPIES Critics Program.

Sunday morning, 9:00 am Session

All-Conference Professional Development Intensive

Amanda Rose Villareal

Amanda Rose Villarreal

As an intimacy specialist, Amanda Rose uses consent-based practices and de-loaded communication to support directors’ artistic visions while maintaining performers’ boundaries. She is an Associate Faculty with Theatrical Intimacy Education and serves as editor of the Journal of Consent-Based Performance, guiding emerging scholarship in the field of intimacy and consent-based practices. In the past year, they have worked as an immersive intimacy specialist with Sinking Ship Productions in NYC (The Job Opportunity; Project Ascension; the Rite) and Geffen Playhouse in LA (Every Brilliant Thing), and their intimacy choreography has featured in productions at Pasadena Playhouse (Uncle Vanya, Sanctuary City, and A Little Night Music) and Geffen Playhouse (Inheritance Part 1 and Part 2, POTUS) in LA. They also founded the Rocky Mountain Artists’ Safety Alliance and developed the Colorado Theatre Standards, guidelines for leveling power imbalances and protecting participants within creative processes.