Alumni News – March 2018

Beth Leavel MFA ’80 (School of Theatre)

Beth Leavel MFA ’80 (School of Theatre) returned to campus for a multi-day colloquium for theatre students.
Leavel, 2006 Tony winner, heads back to Broadway this fall for the opening of  The Prom.
Photo:  Leavel high-fiving School of Theatre Director John Poole.  credit Scott Hoffman/News & Record

Suzanne Eggleston Henneman ’77 (School of Dance)

Suzanne Eggleston Henneman ’77 (School of Dance) is serving as President of the Maryland Dance Education Association and is President-elect of the National Dance Education Organization 2017-18.  Henneman is a retired dance educator for Baltimore County Public Schools and runsTeaching Artist: Bearfoot Dance Consulting.

Julie Maloney MFA ’71 (School of Dance)

Julie Maloney MFA ’71 (School of Dance) is the founder of Women Reading Aloud, a non-profit organization devoted to promoting women writers, and will have her first novel released in April.  A Matter of Chance  is a psychological suspense novel that follows a desperate mother’s search for her missing daughter.

Emma Ford ’14 (School of Theatre)

Emma Ford ’14 (School of Theatre) was nominated for Best Costume Design in a Professional Production for 2017 New Hampshire Theatre Awards

Dani Keil MFA ’14 (School of Theatre)

Dani Keil MFA ’14 (School of Theatre) a University of North Carolina at Greensboro graduate is the assistant stage director of Tulsa Opera in Oklahoma, is guest-directing the Pulitzer Prize-winning play “Disgraced” at Cape Fear Regional Theatre this month.

Phoebe Lustig ’14 (School of Music)

Phoebe Lustig ’14 (School of Music) is the Schools Program Manager with the Charlotte Symphony.

Believe in the G logo


Believe in the G is UNCG’s day of giving. It occurs in February of every year and spans a 48-hour period. Over the course of these two days, UNCG seniors, alumni, faculty, staff, parents and friends are encouraged to support the area of UNCG they care about most with a gift of any size. The goal of this 48-hour giving period is to achieve more gifts than ever before in any single two-day counting period, and to spread the Spartan spirit far and wide.

The goal is to have everyone:

1) Wear blue and gold to show Spartan spirit.
2) Share with the world why you love UNCG.
3) Make a gift of any size to support the area of campus you care about most.


#BelieveintheG 2018 will take place around the world, wherever there are UNCG alumni, parents, friends, faculty and staff, on Wednesday, February 21 through Thursday, February 22. A celebration will take place on Friday, February 23 at the Spartan Spot at the Men’s Basketball game that evening.


Go to Believe in the G and donate now.  You’ll be allowed to choose from a list of designations.  Then smile and share the news with a selfie on your favorite social media!

Go to Believe in the G


Alumni Award recipients holding awards

2017 Distinguished Alumni

This month, the College of Visual and Performing Arts awarded its highest honor to five alumni who exemplify excellence in their fields, recognizing them for their achievements in artistry and education.

Carla Gannis ’92 (Art); Doug Risner ’88, MFA ’90, PhD ’01 (Dance); David Kish MM ’02, DMA ’03; Connie McKoy ’89, PhD ’98 (Music) and Hugh Hysell ’88 (Theatre) were named CVPA ‘s 2017 Distinguished Alumni at a dinner and awards presentation on November 2nd in the UNCG Alumni House.

The recipients have varying stories of how they came to Greensboro and where they’ve been since, but they all agreed it was the faculty at UNCG that made an incredible impact on their lives.  Scroll down to read the recipients’ bios and click on the links to hear excerpts from the recipients’ acceptance speeches and to read their bios.

Carla Gannis ’92
School of Art

Carla Gannis headshotCarla Gannis is an artist fascinated by digital semiotics and the situation of identity in the blurring contexts of physical and virtual. She currently lives in Brooklyn, New York. Gannis studied painting at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro before receiving an MFA from Boston University. She is faculty and the assistant chairperson of The Department of Digital Arts at Pratt Institute.

Upon her arrival to New York in the late 1990s, Gannis began incorporating digital elements into her painting-
based practice. Since then she has eclectically explored the domains of “Internet Gothic” cutting and pasting
from the threads of networked communication, googleable art history, and speculative fiction to produce dark
and often humorous explorations of the human condition. Her practice of collage and remix illuminates the
potentialities of democratization and alienation in technology. In her work, she invites viewers to experience
inescapably mediated contemporary life “through a digital looking glass” where reflections on power, sexuality,
marginalization, and agency, emerge.

Since 2003, Gannis’s work has appeared in numerous solo and group exhibitions both nationally and internationally. Her most recent solo exhibitions include “Augmented Gardens and Other Emoji Delights” at the New Media Artspace, Baruch College, New York, 2017;  “A Subject Self-Defined“ at TRANSFER Gallery, New York, 2016; and “The Garden of Emoji Delights” at Real Art Ways, Hartford, CT 2015. Her work has been
featured in press and publications including, ARTnews, The Creators Project, Wired, FastCo, Hyperallergic, Art F City, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times and The LA Times, amongst others. She has participated on numerous panels regarding intersections in art and technology including “Let’s Get Digital,” Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York in 2014. Her speculative fiction was included in DEVOURING THE GREEN:: fear of a human planet: a cyborg / eco poetry anthology, published by Jaded Ibis Press 2015. Her augmented reality artist book The Selfie Drawings was awarded the Founder’s Award from the 2016 Lumen Prize.

Excerpt from Carla's acceptance speech

Doug Risner ’88, MFA ’90, PhD ’01
School of Dance

Dr. Doug Risner is Distinguished Faculty Fellow and Professor of Dance at Wayne State University in midtown Detroit’s cultural district, where he is Director of Graduate Studies and Program Director of the Master of Arts in Theatre & Dance Teaching Artistry, the only program of its kind in the nation. Distinguished Professor Risner received his BFA in Performance and Choreography, MFA in Dance from UNCG’s Department of Dance, and his PhD in Curriculum and Teaching. Dr. Risner conducts research on the sociology of dance training and education, curriculum theory and policy, social foundations of dance pedagogy, gender in dance and postsecondary leadership, and online learning and web-based curriculum design.

Dr. Risner has choreographed over 50 works which have been funded in part by the Pennsylvania Council of the Arts, Iowa Arts Council, North Carolina Department of Education, the George T. and Jutta F. Anderson Foundation and numerous universities across the United States; his choreographic work has been honored by the Seven States Choreography Competition, the American College Dance Festival and his alma mater, UNCG.

Dr. Risner has published over 100 journal articles, conference papers and book chapters. His four books include Stigma and Perseverance in the Lives of Boys Who Dance (2009); Hybrid Lives of Teaching Artists in Dance & Theatre Arts (2014); Sexuality, Gender & Identity: Critical Issues in Dance Education (2015); and Dance and Gender: An Evidence-Based Approach. He is the recipient of numerous awards, among them the Board of Governors Distinguished Faculty Fellowship (WSU), President’s Excellence in Teaching Award (WSU), Outstanding Dance Education Researcher Award and Visionary Award in Dance Education, both from National Dance Education Organization. UNCG has previously honored Dr. Risner with the Ethel Martus Lawther Alumni Award for the School of Health and Human Performance, Hester Doctoral Fellowship, Luther Self Dissertation Fellowship from Educational Leadership and Cultural Foundations, and the Virginia Moomaw Award for Outstanding Contributions to Dance.

Professor Risner is Editor-in- Chief Emeritus of the Journal of Dance Education, and as Associate Editor of the international journal, Research in Dance Education, he serves as managing editor for annual special topic issues. The Doug Risner Prize for Emerging Dance Researchers was established in 2016 by the Journal of Dance Education to honor Risner’s commitment to excellence in dance research and research education. His current book project, Case Studies in Dance Education: Ethical Dimensions of Humanizing Dance Pedagogy (McFarland) with Professor Karen Schupp (Arizona State University), brings together 25 nationally recognized scholars and practitioners investigating ethical decision making and pedagogical challenges of dance educators and those who prepare today.

Excerpt from Doug's acceptance speech

David Kish MM ’02, DMA ’03
School of Music

A native of Hershey, Pennsylvania, David Kish is Director of Bands and Professor of Music at Metropolitan State University in Denver, where he conducts the Wind Ensemble, Symphonic Band, and teaches conducting and music education courses. He has twice served as a Faculty Fellow in the Center for Innovation, is founding director of the Metro State Wind Band Celebration, and is a recipient of the Faculty Senate Teaching Excellence Award. In 2015, David was appointed Conductor and Musical Director of the Colorado Wind Ensemble, a highly acclaimed, semi-professional wind ensemble based in Denver.

David has taught instrumental music at all educational levels, including a position as Associate Director of Bands and Franklin Fellow at the University of Georgia. His writings on wind literature, conducting pedagogy, and music education have been published in The Instrumentalist Magazine, Journal of Band Research, Music Educators Journal, and five volumes of the popular resource texts, Teaching Music Through Performance in Band. David recently authored Volume VI of his book series, Guides to Band Masterworks, published by Meredith Music Publications and distributed by Hal Leonard Corporation.

Dr. Kish earned the Doctor of Musical Arts and Master of Music degrees in Instrumental Conducting and Music Education from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, and Bachelor of Music in Music Education from Susquehanna University in Selinsgrove, Pennsylvania. He has presented sessions at the Midwest International Band and Orchestra Clinic, the National Association of Music Education Conference, and various state music education conferences. He was Conductor-in-Residence at Capital Normal University in Beijing, China, and maintains an active schedule as guest conductor, clinician, and lecturer throughout the United States.

Excerpt from David's acceptance speech

Connie McKoy ’89, PhD ’98
School of Music

Connie McKoy is professor and director of undergraduate studies in the School of Music at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG) where she teaches graduate and undergraduate courses in music education.  A native of Fayetteville, NC, she holds a Bachelor of Music degree from the Oberlin Conservatory of Music and earned both master’s and Ph.D. degrees in music education from UNCG. For 19 years, she served the North Carolina public schools as a lead teacher, elementary general music teacher, and elementary, middle and high school choral director. Prior to her appointment at UNCG, she was visiting assistant professor of music at the University of Southern Mississippi where she directed the University concert choir and taught secondary choral methods.

Dr. McKoy’s research focuses on music teachers’ cross-cultural competence, and culturally responsive teaching in music. She has presented research papers and in-service clinics at state, national, and international music conferences, has Level III certification in Orff Schulwerk pedagogy and has taught recorder for Level I and II Orff training courses. Dr. McKoy has published in several professional journals including The Journal of Research in Music Education, The Bulletin of the Council for Research in Music Education, Music Education Research, The Journal of Music Teacher Education, and The International Journal of Music Education.

She has served on the editorial committee of the Music Educators Journal and is currently on the editorial board of Update: Applications of Research in Music Education. She also co-authored the book Culturally Responsive Teaching in Music Education: From Understanding to Application, recently published by Routledge. She has served as conductor/clinician for elementary, middle, and high school all-county choruses across North Carolina, and in 2010, she conducted the North Carolina All-State Middle School SSA Choir.

In 2017, Dr. McKoy was an invited participant in the Sixth Biennial Yale Symposium on Music in Schools. She is a past president of the North Carolina Music Educators Association and is currently the Chair of the Society for Music Teacher Education, an affiliated society of the National Association for Music Education. She is married to Rudolph J. Click and they have 4 beautiful grandchildren.

Excerpt from Connie's acceptance speech


Hugh Hysell ’88
School of Theatre

Hugh Hysell is a Tony Award ® winning Broadway producer, award winning theatrical marketer, performer and entrepreneur. Hugh’s Broadway producing projects include Six Degrees of Separation, Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike, Peter and the Starcatcher and others. He has served as marketing director of over 200
Broadway and Off Broadway shows (including Phantom of the Opera, Les Miserables, Jersey Boys, Monty
Python’s Spamalot, and others), drove membership and single ticket sales for performing arts centers (NYU
Skirball and others) and orchestrated promotions for streaming series on Amazon Prime, film premieres, and
TV series. Hugh also led ticketing sales channels for multiple e-commerce sites (Groupon, BroadwayBox and
others), and activated grassroots street teams for over 50 Broadway shows and tv series.

As an actor, Hugh almost always appears as a comic villain, dumb sidekick, evil boss or sketchy dad and has
performed in every state in the USA (and some of Canada). Tour credits include The Phantom of the Opera,
Pippin, Pirates of Penzance, and The Fantasticks.

He is currently appearing Off-Broadway in 30th Anniversary company of Perfect Crime. Other Off-Broadway credits include More Than All The World, My Big Gay Italian Wedding, My Big Gay Italian Funeral, Crude The Musical and the mad-lib comedy Villain De Blanks. TV credits include HBO's Divorce (with Sarah Jessica Parker and Thomas Hayden Church), NBC’s Happy (with Christopher Meloni), TLC's Suddenly Rich, NBC’s Law and Order and will soon be appearing in the feature film Big Break.

In addition to performing, running his theatrical marketing firm Hysell Marketing and his event company, Hugh frequently lectures at colleges across the country and taught at Columbia University. He is a founding member of The Off Broadway Alliance and currently serves as a nominator for the Off Broadway Alliance Award. / Instagram and Facebook: @hughhysell

Excerpt from Hugh's acceptance speech

Inaugural Distinguished Alumni Event!

The School of Music, Theatre and Dance welcomed five of its most accomplished alumni back to campus Thursday and Friday to recognize their achievements in the school’s first Distinguished Alumni awards.

“We’re honored to have these five alumni return to campus so our students and faculty can learn from their accomplishments and experiences,” said Peter Alexander, dean of the School of Music, Theatre and Dance. “These alumni, with their achievements in performance, research and education, are great examples of how far a UNCG music, theatre or dance degree can take you.”

The five distinguished alumni are:

Chris Chalk, Distinguished Alumnus in Theatre (2001)
Chalk is an actor known for numerous TV, stage and movie roles. He played Clemens Ray in the 2013 Academy Award-winning film 12 Years a Slave. He’s also had roles in a number of TV series, including Gotham, The Newsroom, Sons of Anarchy and Homeland.

Laura Poe, Distinguished Alumna in Music Performance (2001, 2004)
Poe is a highly accomplished pianist and an experienced conductor; she also plays a number of instruments. She is currently based in Duesseldorf, Germany, where she has been a member of the music staff at Deutsche Oper am Rhein since 2011. She will join the San Francisco Opera for the 2015-16 season.

Dr. Donald Hamann, Distinguished Alumnus in Music Education (1980)
Hamann is an internationally published professor of music education who currently teaches at the University of Arizona. He is director of the Institute for Innovation in String Music Teaching and has been published in national and international music education and research journals.

Anna H. Celenza, Distinguished Alumna in Music Studies (1989)
Celenza is the Thomas E. Caestecker Professor of Music at Georgetown University and has published several academic books as well as an award-winning series of children’s books. Her work has been featured on national radio and television programs.

Christal Brown, Distinguished Alumna in Dance (2001)
Brown is an innovative dancer, choreographer, educator, writer and activist. She is the chair of the dance program at Middlebury College, founder of the INSPIRIT dance company and Project: BECOMING, and creator of the Liquid Strength training module for dance. She is currently in the midst of a 44-month interdisciplinary movement study funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.