Erika K. Wesley

Erika K. Wesley is a nonprofit leader with over 10 years of experience in constituency building, relationship management, program development, strategic planning, leadership development, and teaching and curriculum development. Wesley is also a writer and storyteller committed to unearthing the experiences of Black people in Connecticut and raising them up in poems or prose. She is the author of the book “For the People to Drink” and the creator and host of the “Show of Hands” podcast.

Wesley is a higher education and community educator with teaching experience in business writing and creative writing. She is the chairperson of BLaC (Building Leaders and Communities) Strategies, an emerging nonprofit in Connecticut focused on cross-community leadership development and community messaging.

Most recently, Wesley served as the executive director of Horizons at Greens Farms Academy, Westport. She has also worked with Fairfield County’s Community Foundation and Carver Foundation of Norwalk. She has a B.A. from University of Connecticut, an M.F.A. from Manhattanville College, and is completing an Ed.D. in organizational leadership from Abilene Christian University.

José Casas

José Casas

José Casas (Teaching Artist) is a playwright and Assistant Professor who heads the Playwriting Minor in the Department of Theatre & Drama at the University of Michigan. He is a member of the Dramatists Guild as well as a board member of Children’s Theatre Foundation of America. He has a B.A. in Theatre Arts from the University of California, Santa Barbara, a M.A. in Theatre Arts from California State University, Los Angeles, a M.F.A. in Playwriting from Arizona State, and two years of graduate coursework in Drama and Theatre for Youth and Communities (DTYC) at the University of Texas at Austin.

His plays include la rosa grows beyond the wall, all brown all chingon, aDoBe, a million whispers all at once, the vine, la ofrenda and somebody’s children, Flint, 14, and Palabras del Cielo: An Exploration of Latina/o Theatre for Young Audiences. His work has been included in a number of anthologies, including The Bully Plays, Ethnodrama: An Anthology of Reality Theatre, and Theatre for Youth II: More Plays With Mature Themes. His plays, la ofrenda and somebody’s children were awarded both the Bonderman National Playwriting Award and the American Alliance of Theatre and Education’s Distinguished Play Award.

His book, Palabras del Cielo: An Exploration of Latina/o Theatre for Young Audiences was awarded the American Alliance of Theatre and Education’s Distinguished Book Award. Currently, he is working on the 2nd volume of Palabras del Cielo as well as the book, Every Great Dream: Visioning African American Theatre for Young Audiences. Both books will be published by Dramatic Publishing.

Jenny Nelson

Jenny Nelson

Roz and Bud Siegel Director of Education & Community Engagement

For the past 20 years, Jenny Nelson has anchored her entire career to working with young people through the art of live theater. She received her bachelor’s degree in theater, a master’s degree in theater from the University of Arizona, and a second master’s degree in education from Fairfield University. Jenny enjoys being a theater educator for all ages, from kindergarten to graduate school. She bring a wealth of experience as both a performer and educator in the traditional and non-traditional classroom.

For the last 15 years, Jenny has focused on social justice theater. Skilled in Theatre of the Oppressed and multiple anti-racist/bystander trainings, Jenny believes that theater has a responsibility to reflect society and pose thought-provoking questions to encourage a dialogue with the community.

She currently acts as Associate Artistic Director of Collective Consciousness Theater (CCT), a social justice theater company in New Haven, CT. At CCT, Jenny has directed numerous productions that include mostly new plays written by playwrights of color and women.

She has taught at several universities, including City College of New York in the Graduate Program for Theatre Professionals and Educators. She has also worked as an artist and educator at several theaters, including Long Wharf Theatre, The Shubert Theatre, and Yale Repertory. Recently, Jenny was a nominee for The Tony Teaching Award of Excellence. Jenny is also an accomplished pianist and songwriter as well as a professional director. Selected past directing credits include Pass Over, The Royale, Sunset Baby, Milk Like Sugar, We Are Proud to Present…, and Gidion’s Knot.

“It continues to be the joy of my life to work with young artists. I have been so fortunate to bear witness to the transformative power of theater in the classroom and on the stage. Theater has the capacity to change hearts and minds, but social justice theater has the ability to change the system itself.”

To contact Jenny directly, please email