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 (11), Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts (10), 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, Lead Stage Manager
David an Artist-in-Residence at Concordia University Chicago where he teaches theatre and public speaking courses. He also lends his time directing and teaching at Lake Forest College and City Colleges of Chicago. He is a member of Actors’ Equity, the professional union for actors and stage managers, and President of Equity Library Theatre. He produces two shows, both currently enjoying successful open-runs: JAM SANDWICH at the Second City Training Center in Chicago, and COLLEGE IMPROV NIGHT at the Playground Theater. Last summer he directed CUC’s Decapolis Theatre Ministry at the National Youth Gathering in the New Orleans Superdome.
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 has participated in countless theatrical productions and loves being involved in the arts. Furthermore, she danced ballet, contemporary, and jazz at Dance Explosion in South Florida for several years. She was also chosen 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 a younger audience. She also attends and reviews a variety of shows as a South Florida Cappies Critic, and her reviews have been published in the Sun Sentinel’s “Forum.” 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. She brings her expertise to PAE as a way to further its online presence. After years in the arts, Mackenzie is so excited to work with such talented individuals and to share her passion.
Lucie Shannon, Administrative Manager
Lucie Shannon, PAE’s new Administrative Manager, combines a business and artistic background. For starters, she appeared onstage at Carnegie Hall by the age of 12! Sited in Seattle, Lucie volunteers at Food Lifeline and local food banks throughout the year. For PAE Lucie has previously created and managed eight Playbill editions and is already well known by many of our directors and performers. She grew up in a family which taught dance, gymnastics, and later evolved into producing shows at the national and international level. With this arts background, business experience and Business Admin degree, Lucie is well suited to oversee the schedules, contracts and obligations of an active arts production company.