The staff of Performing Arts Educators is made up of performers, producers, directors, stage managers, educators, and administrators. We have been called “the most organized, well-run production company for amateur performing arts groups” by professional staff in world-class venues. We pride ourselves in running tight, well-oiled productions, so our performers can enjoy their performances without worries.
Matthew Straub, Producer/ Artistic Director
Matthew provides the leadership and vision for our many performing series. He is currently producing series at Carnegie Hall (13), Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts (12), Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts (2), and previously at Broadway and off-Broadway venues, and Olympic-related venues (Sydney 2000, London 2012 and the upcoming Tokyo 2020) for over 20 years. His performance background includes as a flutist for the former Florida Symphony Orchestra and primary wind at Walt Disney World, and extensive fife performance, including the Walt Disney World Fife and Drum Corps and the famous Gettysburg, PA fife and drum corps, plus Baroque instrumental performance on original instruments, and even the Andy Warhol 1966 Plastic Exploding Inevitable. Educationally he has organized and taught band, orchestra and chorus parochial music programs from kindergarten through high school. Matt is currently putting his efforts towards bringing American and Scottish educational performance groups together. As the author of a textbook for performing artists (Mime: Basics for Beginners, PLAYS, Inc., Boston), Matt has experienced the performing arts as artist, educator, and producer.
Mark Jacob, Producer/ Business Director
Co-founder and Program Director of The Jacob School, a private school for creative, at-risk youth. Mark has an extensive background in planning and executing corporate expansion plans and has worked with both labor and management. He conceptualized and developed a value-based system used to motivate individuals to achieve their potential which was rated “Best Practice” by the State of Florida Bureau of Quality Assurance. His lifelong love is to work with youth, having successfully implemented urban programs in New York and Vermont and rustic programs in Texas and finally the ground breaking StoneSoup School in Florida. Mark’s forte is the Visual Arts. As Executive Director of Stonesoup School, he was conservateur of the $1.8M Jacob School Bequethment of Modern Russian Art and representative for the $14M Aranda Collection. He currently works with other academic and non-profit institutions in the area of business model development and logistical planning.
Carrie Straub, PhD, Director
Carrie Straub, PhD is a Director and board member of Performing Arts Educators. Carrie is interested in improving accessibility to the arts for all individuals and uses program evaluation and research methods to identify evidence-based practices of fine arts instruction. Carrie also is Research Director for a Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation grant for TeachLivE virtual classroom, investigating the use of virtual environments to train teachers. Her costuming and theater performance background, coupled with her role as school director of Stonesoup School, and has informed Carrie’s work at the intersection of education and the arts.
David Knoell, Executive Stage Manager
David Knoell is currently a Professor of Theatre at Lake Forest College in Lake Forest, IL, directing productions and also serving as Technical Director. He is also an Artist-in-Residence at Concordia University Chicago as director of Decapolis Theatre Ministry. David is a member of Actors' Equity Association, the professional union for actors and stage managers, and a board member of Equity Library Theatre-Chicago. He produces Jam Sandwich, the long-running improv show at Second City Training Center, Chicago. His directing work has been seen in Chicago, Minneapolis, New York, Montreal, Orlando, and the New Orleans Superdome. visit; www.dktheatrical.com
Stephanie Stroud, Stage Manager
Stephanie is the Artistic Director of Concordia University Chicago’s Theatre Department. In addition to teaching courses in Theatre and Humanities, she is the producing manager and director for CUC’s The Collective. Directing credits include: UNTIL DEATH (a new play by Dana Lynn Formby), A MIDSUMMER NIGHTS DREAM, and CRIMES OF THE HEART (Feb 2017). She has acted on Chicago stages such as Lookinglass Theatre, Chicago Dramatists, Mortar Theatre, and Erasing the Distance Theatre. Additionally, she is a lecturer on Woman’s and Gender Studies and Female Voices in Theatre. Stepahanie graduated with an MFA from Penn State, and a BA in Comparative Literature from Washington University.
Mackenzie Jacob, Media Manager
Mackenzie currently attends the University of Connecticut and has participated in countless theatrical productions. She danced ballet, contemporary, and jazz at Dance Explosion in South Florida for several years, and she was selected to serve in the Broward Center for the Performing Arts’ highly selective Teen Ambassador program. As an ambassador, she works with the Broward Center and its affiliated venues to promote their shows to younger audiences. She also attends and reviews a variety of shows as a South Florida Cappies Critic. Her reviews have been published in the Sun Sentinel’s “Forum” and the Miami Herald. Her work with the Teen Ambassador program, South Florida Cappies, and PAE allows her to personally experience both the business and behind the scenes aspects of producing a show. After years in the arts, she brings her expertise to PAE as a way to further its online presence. Additionally, Mackenzie is so excited to work with such talented individuals and to share her passion.
Susan Stanek, Artistic Director, Cultural Dance, "Young Artistic Director Series"
Susan Daly Stanek was born in Dublin where she began dancing at age four and was one of the first students of the famed O’Se School of Irish Dance Dublin. She enjoyed a flourishing dance career and traveled Europe as a member of an international touring group. She was also a member of the John Players Theater Company, “Tops of the Town.” In 1986, Susan moved to the United States and in 2004 she opened the JIG Factory/Ridgewood Irish Dance. In 2005 Susan was named one of the top 40 under 40 Irish Professionals, in America and most recently selected as “Irish Community Chaley ampion in America” by the Irish Echo. The JIG factory, Ridgewood has been named as one of the top 50 small business in the USA. In 2010, she founded Camp Rince Nua, a summer sleep away camp located in Lennox MA which focuses on Irish dance and culture. Her choreography has been featured at major sporting events, theater productions, and commercials and she is the recipient of many international awards for her work in theater and dance.
Amor Jackson, Artistic Director, Osaka, Japan, "Young Artistic Director Series"
Amor Jackson is a professional international dance instructor who has taught dance throughout Europe, Asia, and her home state of New York. For the last eight years she has been active in the dance community in Osaka, Japan teaching full time at various studios such as Freeway Dance Studio and Youth Theater Japan. Amor holds a diploma in Dance Education from the Royal Academy of Dance and enjoys sharing her teaching experiences with other teachers by conducting teacher training workshops. She is PAE’s contact person and Artistic Director for the Nagoya, Kyoto and Osaka portions of the PAE’s Japan/Tokyo 2020 performance tour during the summer of the Tokyo Olympics in 2020.