Kit McKay is a stage director, curator, and producer who has spent the last twelve years bringing professional artists from across the country and around the world to northern Michigan as the co-founder of Parallel 45 Theatre. At P45, she directed The Sound of Music, HAIR, Christmas Carol in Prose, A Streetcar Named Desire, Hedwig and the Angry Inch, Too Much Light Makes the Baby Go Blind (30 Plays in 60 Minutes), Shakespeare’s R&J, Metamorphoses, and Our Town. Kit attended Interlochen Arts Academy, Sarah Lawrence College, and Northwestern University’s Master of Fine Arts directing program. Upon her master’s graduation, she studied at the Yale School of Drama masters program in theatre management and worked as a Yale Fellow at Seattle Repertory Theatre. She spent 7 years as a curator and producer for LUMBERYARD Contemporary Performing Arts.Her two stage productions at the Rose Theatre of Omaha have been nominated for 7 OEA awards (winning one), 4 TAG awards (winning one) including Best Direction for Tarzan. She directed the Intermediate Repertory and/or Musical Productions at Interlochen Arts Camp for ten summers.
Nick is a Northern Michigan native with a business degree and a passion for the arts. He worked eight years at the Downtown Development Authority where he nurtured his love for bringing community together. Through event planning, Nick has coordinated major community events throughout his career including the Downtown Light Parade, the Sara Hardy Downtown Farmers Market, Up North Pride, and more. He has performed and directed with Parallel 45 and has been with the company as Producing Director since the summer 2021. He loves to use his passion for connecting arts within the community by volunteering with a number of organizations as board member, performer, and coordinator. These organizations include Mashup Rock and Roll Musical, Up North Pride, Commongrounds Cooperative, Crooked Tree Arts Center, Old Town Playhouse, and more.
When Debbie was six years old, she sat on Willard Scott’s lap, (he was dressed as Ronald McDonald—his first professional gig!), as he announced she had raised the most money for Muscular Dystrophy through a local neighborhood carnival and talent show she and her family created. Debbie continued supporting the annual Jerry Lewis Labor Day Telethon through her childhood, even winning a college three-day dance marathon to continue to raise money for childhood muscular diseases. From these early experiences, Debbie learned that through compelling story telling and linking communities to the good works of non-profits, people were very generous and loved to help. Debbie went on to complete two college majors in Speech Communication and Theatre and also obtained a Juris Doctorate. She soon discovered that her two passions: the theatre lover, performer side and the logical lawyer, governance side were the perfect combination for development work! Since then, Debbie has raised funds for many local charities, Rotary groups, high school band parents, private schools, PTA’s, Odyssey of the Mind, and many millions for new school construction both overseas and domestically. For the past 13 years, Debbie has focused her work on various arts groups in Traverse City including City Opera House, Old Town Playhouse, and the Traverse City Film Festival. She has served on the Traverse City DDA, including a three-year stint on the Traverse City Arts Commission, the Old Town Playhouse Artistic Committee and Board of Trustees, and now sits on the Child and Family Services Board and the Traverse City Planning Commission. Debbie is thrilled to be working on behalf of Parallel 45, a theatre company that fully believes in and models truthful, artistic, imaginative storytelling. For centuries, storytellers have shaped our world, raised social consciousness, and moved humanity. We all must continue to support their work!
Director of Education
Stacia relocated to Traverse City from the Southeast where she worked as an actor, teaching artist, and educator. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Theatre from Brenau University and is trained in both Classical and Musical Theatre Performance, Theatre for Young Audiences, and Theatre Education. She spent several years sharing her love for theatre with underserved communities through her instruction with the Boys and Girls Club of America and has served as a Teaching Artist at many regional theatre companies throughout the Southeastern US. Ms. Sexton most recently held the position of Resident Teaching Artist at Birmingham Children’s Theatre, where she toured and performed Theatre for Young Audiences programming. Since making Northern Michigan her permanent home, Stacia has worked with many schools and theatre companies including The Children’s House Montessori, St. Francis High School, Drama Kids of Northern Michigan, and the Old Town Playhouse. Ms. Sexton could not be more ecstatic to be joining Parallel 45 as Director of Education and is honored to be part of the ongoing quest to bring adventurous and engaging theatre fare to the community.
Susan comes to Parallel 45 after over a decade in events and entertainment. Having spent over 13 years with the Traverse City Film Festival, State Theatre, and Bijou by the Bay, most recently as Director, her experience with producing large scale events has been honed in Downtown Traverse City. She served as President of the Downtown Traverse City Association where she helped provide support and plan events for our incredible downtown businesses. Her passion for volunteerism has brought her into orgs such as Up North Pride, United Way, Mashup Rock & Roll Musical, Old Town Playhouse, Planned Parenthood and many more. An avid arts lover, and believer in the magic of community, she is ecstatic to be part of P45.
Brian earned an accounting degree from Ferris State University and a law degree from Western Michigan University’s Cooley Law School. A CPA and attorney who has worked in public accounting (both tax & audit), the legal field, in-house as a Chief Financial Officer, he now runs a consulting firm assisting for- and non-profit businesses with accounting, tax, finance, and legal issues. Brian is a Traverse City native who has lived in northern Michigan his entire life. He and his wife Bridgett have 2 children, 3 dogs, and 1 cat, and can often be found outside, hiking, kayaking or camping.
BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Now Senior Charitable Gift Officer at Interlochen Center for the Arts, Andrew also currently serves as the Governor-appointed Chair of the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs. Once the Director of Public Policy at ArtServe Michigan, he spent the early part of his career working as a legislative assistant in the Michigan House of Representatives and later as Project Director for the Michigan House Civics Commission initiative. He sits on the Traverse City Area Chamber of Commerce Government Relations Committee.
Amanda grew up on a small farm in northern Indiana. After graduating from Indiana University with a business degree, she moved around the world to Hong Kong and Switzerland with her husband and three small children. When they returned to Michigan, she opened A Summer Place antique shop in Elk Rapids and became deeply involved in the local business community and Rotary Club. Amanda retired in the fall of 2017 after 27 wonderful years in business. She and her husband Paul have lived just south of Elk Rapids full time since 2004, and part time for many years before that. They love the natural beauty, culture and good restaurants we are so lucky to be surrounded with here. She is very excited to be helping to bring live professional theatre to to the community.
Nancy credits her love of theatre to growing up back stage while her mother performed in professional dinner theatre. She was hooked from the time she was five-years-old, both as a patron and participant. Having taken a hiatus over the past few years, she is thrilled to be a part of Parallel 45, bringing innovative, professional theatre to life right here in Traverse City. Nancy is the mother of Gabe 16, Sallie 11, and wife to Bob Butz, a freelance writer. In her professional life, Nancy serves as Vice President of Member Experience at Hagerty Insurance.
Paula earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Classics from Miami University. In 1987, while living in Munich, Germany, she created the concept, and managed all aspects of, Munich’s first English-language periodical: Munich Found Verlag. Back in the States, Paula served as Print Coordinator for the Northern Suburban Special Recreation Association, designing course catalog and print materials for this organization providing recreational opportunities for children and adults with physical and mental disabilities. After a move to the east coast, Paula served as Materials Librarian at Boston Architectural College where she transformed the architectural and interior design materials library. It was from this institution that she also received her certificate in Decorative Arts. For 4 years, she served as House Committee Chair of the College Club of Boston, and was a Council Member of the Lexington History Society for 7 years. For 5 years, she served as President of the Lexington Education Foundation. Now based full time in Traverse City, Paula is a professional organizer, founding Content Organized Interiors, LLC, where she has spent the past 8 years working with clients to make problem residential and office environments more efficient and comfortable. Paula is also President of the Green Brick Foundation, a private foundation assisting organizations that support and uplift others. She is a founding board member of Impact 100 Traverse City, and a founding board member of the Grand Traverse Cultural Center. She is an organizer of Born to Read, which provides reading opportunities to families in need and is sponsored by Traverse City Rotary Twilight. She serves as an Exhibition Committee member of the Glen Arbor Art Association. Paula has enjoyed a life-long interest in live theatre nurtured by her grandparents who operated the Summer Theatre School in Bloomfield Hills. She has enjoyed the innovative performances at Steppenwolf when she lived in Chicago in the ‘90s and at the Huntington Theatre during her stay in Boston.
A native of Traverse City and a graduate of Interlochen Arts Academy, Molly is an attorney in private practice, focusing on the business and real estate arena. She studied Great Books at the University of Notre Dame, graduating with honors in 2002, and earned her J.D. from Cornell Law in 2007.
Christopher is co-founder and Chief Executive Officer of Old Mission Investment and Trust Company. Christopher earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in economics and management from Albion College. He joined Prudential Securities in 1993 as a Financial Advisor and, through a firm merger, transitioned to Wachovia Securities as a Vice President of Investments. In 2000, he received his Certified Investment Management Analyst (CIMA) designation from the Investment Management Consultant’s Association following coursework and evaluation from the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania. In October of 2010, Christopher received his Certified Trust and Financial Advisor (CTFA) designation from the Institute of Certified Bankers, demonstrating his competency in areas involving trust administration, and matters involving tax, probate and estate planning. He is a competitive sailor–both big boat and small–competing in numerous annual regattas and distance sailboat racing events, recently completing his 14th Chicago to Mackinac race. He loves to mountain bike in both the summer and the winter months. Christopher has been a musician since the age of 5, studying classical, jazz, and electronic keyboard. He is married to his wife Autumn, and they’ve lived in the Traverse City area since 1993.
The owner of Social Butterfly Weddings and Events, Tracy delights in freeing her clients from the details and helping ensure their event goals are achieved. Tracy is a passionate community volunteer, focusing her non-arts-related time on work with the March of Dimes and breast cancer-related causes.
A life-long community leader, Diana currently sits on the boards of the National Writers Series and the Northwestern Michigan College Foundation. She is also active in supporting Child & Family Services of Northwest Michigan and serves as President of the Begonia Charitable Foundation.
Meg graduated from Smith College in art and art history, then worked as a stock girl at Nordstrom, headquartered in Seattle. Four years later, she was a buyer with 28 people under her and she knew she didn’t want to work in corporate America. She made her way to New York in 1979 and started her own business, Soho Showroom, which represented small, avant-garde clothing designers. She collaborated with husband Jerry on a wearable art clothing line in 1986, featured in Vogue, Harpers Bazaar and carried by Bergdorf’s and Bloomingdales. For 23 years, Staley/Gretzinger provided her family and their employees a platform to live and work creatively in the city. Eventually, they moved north along the Hudson to Cold Spring, NY and became deeply entwined in the fabric of a small creative community with many opportunities to build and serve. They bought a farm in Leelanau County in 1988 and began annual summer treks. Now they’re lucky enough to call Maple City their home, as of 2012. She makes one-of-a-kind clothing and home goods for a small audience out of her Cedar studio under the label Meg Staley Handmade. She was heavily involved with the lauded and beloved Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival in numerous capacities during a period of great growth when her husband served as board chair, and her son is also an Equity actor living in NYC.
Erin Anderson Whiting holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Sarah Lawrence College and a diploma from the Interlochen Arts Academy, where she majored in Creative Writing and was named a Presidential Scholar in the Arts. Erin has enjoyed an 18-year career in nonprofit development, spending 6 years as Charitable Giving Specialist at the Grand Traverse Regional Land Conservancy and 5 years as Charitable Gift Officer at Interlochen Center for the Arts before assuming the role of Parallel 45 Theatre’s first Executive Director, directing philanthropy to the organization she co-founded and managing its general operations. The author of Look About You: A Magical Childhood in Michigan’s Wild Places, Erin is also the co-owner of Mr. Music DJ & Event Services and a proud board member of Crosshatch Center for Art & Ecology. She lives in Traverse City with her husband Ben and her very good dog, Scooter.