YA Talent Update!

Young Audiences NJ & Eastern Pennsylvania is pleased to announce staffing changes that bolster the organization’s ability to meet its mission to inspire young people and expand their learning through the arts. Celebrating its 50th Anniversary, Young Audiences teaching artist-led programs are reaching students and teachers with critical arts education programs that support learning and community.  “Just as important as the teaching artists who work directly with students in schools across our region, our staff is critical to program development and coordination, fundraising, administration, and maintaining focus on our commitment to equity,” states Michele Russo, President & CEO.  


Joseph Ahmed (he/they) has been promoted to Director of Artists Services and Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Accessibility. Joseph is a Philadelphia-based arts administrator and multi-disciplinary performance artist who first met Young Audiences as a teaching artist with Almanac Dance Circus Theatre. Outside of YA, he has worked in theater and circus for a decade, including Foodplay Productions, Obvious Agency, the Arden Theatre Company, Theatre Exile, and Asian Arts Initiative. He graduated from Boston University with a BFA in Theater Arts and is a Certified Diversity Professional through the Institute for Diversity Certification. 


Quentin Felton (she/they) is a Brooklyn-based writer, poet, multi-discipline teaching artist, and marketing consultant. As YA’s new Marketing Associate, Quentin will oversee and facilitate various marking efforts through email marketing, social media, and website-based communications. A graduate of Brooklyn College, Quentin is dedicated to carving space for BIPOC and Queer perspectives within their own teaching ideologies, highlighting the importance of a truly equitable education. Quentin looks forward to continuing to spotlight YA’s overall mission of providing meaningful arts education to schools, students, and communities. 

Alexa Hardy (she/her) returns to Young Audiences in the new role of Grants Manager. She is responsible for grant research, writing, and reporting for $1.25 million in grant funding each year. In her prior tenure on the YA staff, Alexa played a key role in the development and launch of Arts United, YA’s diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility efforts, and she has rejoined that work, now into its 5th year.“I’m thrilled to be back supporting Young Audiences’ mission,” states Alexa. Growing up in New Jersey, I had my own meaningful experiences with teaching artists in school, and YA gives me an opportunity help bring those experiences to other children throughout the region. I am particularly excited to continue supporting YA’s commitment to providing inclusive, accessible, and anti-racist arts programming.” 

Jocelyn Jeffries (she/her) has joined the staff as Programming Administrator, working directly with school partners to coordinate in-school residencies and performances. Jocelyn is recent graduate of Rowan College at Burlington County with a Liberal Arts and Sciences Degree. She previously worked with NJ’s statewide arts education advocacy organization ArtsEdNJ, marketing and promoting their efforts. Coming from a family of educators, Jocelyn has a rich background of diverse arts interests including visual, performance and digital arts, with a primary focus on is filmmaking. Jocelyn is passionate about sharing the power of the arts for all.   


*Camera Shy* Lori Rivera (she/her) has been promoted from Finance Director to Senior Director of Finance and Administration, responsible for organizational budget management, finance, human resources, and office technology. Lori has more than 20 years of progressive experience in financial management and accounting in the for-profit and non-profit sector.  Lori spent 10 years at the American Red Cross of Lower Bucks County as Director of Finance and HR.  More recently, was the Director of Finance and Administration at the Princeton Blairstown Center. States Lori, “Young Audiences provides students in my backyard with amazing experiences in the arts that they may not have had access to otherwise. It is with pride and pleasure that I serve behind the curtain to keep the show in production.”