Disability Teaching Artists
ArtStream’s teaching artists meet you where you are.
Sandy Blackman, RDT
Sandy Blackman joined the ArtStream team in 2014.
Sandy is a Registered Drama Therapist (RDT) with an MA in Expressive Therapies and Mental Health Counseling from Lesley University, and a dual BA from University of Maryland in Theatre Performance and Psychology. Her passion for theatre began in childhood, and she has been acting and studying theatre since then, from musical theatre to improv comedy. In addition, Sandy has over 10 years of experience working therapeutically with children, teens, and adults, especially those with developmental disabilities.
Annie Coffman joined the ArtStream team in 2011.
Annie is a native of Northern Virginia who received both a Bachelor and Master degree in music from Towson University and the Cleveland Institute of Music, respectively. She has performed in a number of operas and musicals with various companies throughout DC, MD and VA.
She first became involved with ArtStream after meeting Patricia Woolsey during a 2011 production of Mozart’s Cosi Fan Tutte. She has worked as a choreographer with ArtStream ever since.
Outside of ArtStream, Annie works at BuckleySandler LLP, a proud sponsor of ArtStream. She also sings with the National Philharmonic Chorale and has a side job as assistant music director at a church in Alexandria.
Annie looks forward to continuing to work with, support, and promote ArtStream!
Elizabeth Cronin joined the ArtStream team in 2009.
A native of Grosse Pointe, Michigan, Elizabeth received a BA in Vocal Performance and Theatre from Indiana University, then moved to New York City. While in NYC, Elizabeth helped to record numerous new musicals. She also had the chance to work on the business side of the industry at a talent agency representing TV, film, theatre and musical theatre actors.
With ArtStream, Elizabeth has worked as a choreographer, assistant director, and director.
Annetta Dexter Sawyer
Annetta joined the ArtStream team in 2006.
Annetta is a graduate of Rutgers University and American University where she earned her Bachelor degree in English and Communications and her Master in Performing Arts for Dance & Theatre, respectively.
She is honored to foster self-expression and self-worth with students through poetry, performance, dance, yoga, and visual arts. She has also worked with Arts for the Aging, teaching healing movement, healing stories, theatre improvisation and visual arts. Annetta feels that her well-rounded experience and understanding of the arts as a healing tool aligns well with ArtStream’s varied programming, including its military hospital program, Allies in the Arts.
Teaching Language Arts and Moving Arts for Arlington public schools, Annetta has been awarded as a poet-in-residence for The Arlington Humanities Project. She is also a member of the MCPS Teaching Artist Roster through the Arts and Humanities Council of Montgomery County. In addition to her artistic work with children, Annetta is also on the Fine Arts faculty at Trinity University and works locally in the DC region as a freelancer.
With ArtStream, Annetta teaches multiple arts in schools for children with special needs. Annetta believes strongly in arts integration and mixed-ability integration. She is proud to work with the unique, progressively productive theatre, and exceptional organization that is ArtStream.
Mary Beth Levrio
Julie Bain Miller
Julie Bain Miller joined the ArtStream team in 2007.
Julie is a proud graduate of the American Musical and Dramatic Academy in New York City where she focused on Musical Theatre Performance. After graduation, she spent five years creating, producing and performing with the Rising Sun Performance Company in lower Manhattan and worked as the female awards handler for the New York Innovative Theatre Awards. She was last seen on a local stage as Pam in Rockville Musical Theatre’s critically acclaimed Baby.
Julie first joined ArtStream as a performer, playing Princess Glory in both the film and touring productions of their innovative musical Knights of Glory. Since joining the team, Julie has served as a choreographer, assistant director, and director with the Inclusive Theatre Companies and has also taught several classes. She couldn’t be more proud of the incredible and inspiring work that ArtStream creates!
Amy Sheff Neumann
Amy Sheff Neumann worked across the country as a teaching artist, director, and performer. Amy currently performs with Now This!, a DC-based musical improv comedy troupe and Synergy in Action, a Playback Theatre company. A member of the Actor’s Equity Association, she appeared at the Kennedy Center, Ford’s Theatre, Round House Theatre, and the American Century Theatre. Amy toured nationally in both The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Annie.
Amy has directed and taught acting, musical theatre, and music at the Ensemble Theatre Community School, Columbia Center of Theatrical Arts, Long Lake Camp for the Arts, Imagination Stage, and the Young Actors’ Theatre. By day, Amy is a social worker; her work focuses on children and teens with special needs. She also holds a BFA in Acting from Syracuse University and an MSW from Catholic University.
Emilia O’Connor is a co-founder and teaching artist for ArtStream.
She has worn practically every theatre “hat”: actor, director, assistant director, teaching artist, stage manager, vocal coach, and stage technician. She started her theatre career at an early age with BAPA’s Imagination Stage. She began her theatre studies at NYU with the Playwrights Horizons Studio where she completed her two-year primary studio training. Emilia earned a BA in Theatre from the University of Maryland. Eventually, Emilia would return to Imagination Stage as an employee and discover a love for working with students who have special needs.
Since then, Emilia has earned a MA in Education and Human Development from George Washington University with a focus in Transition Special Education and works as a special education teacher with Montgomery County Public Schools.
Emilia has a conversational ability in ASL and fluency in Spanish. With ArtStream, she teaches classes in voice, music and movement, drama, musical theatre, and is an assistant director with Gaithersburg Inclusive Theatre Company A.
Mehdi Raoufi joined the ArtStream team in 2011.
Mehdi is a DC-based teaching artist and sound designer. He graduated from Christopher Newport University with a BA in Theatre, focusing on Directing and Dramatic Literature. As a teaching artist, Mehdi developed and directed two children’s theatre camps for the Herndon Parks and Recreation Department and taught at Imagination Stage during his time as an education apprentice.
As a sound designer, Mehdi designed a number of shows, including Imagination Stage Dance Ensemble’s 2011 production, the VF Dance Company in Germantown as well as provided sound support for Constellation Theatre Company.
Mehdi teaches guitar privately and has done some composing and playwrighting.
With ArtStream, Mehdi has served with the Inclusive Theatre Companies as an assistant director and director, as well as teaching several classes.
Carolyn Ricks joined the ArtStream team in 2013.
Carolyn is an educator, violinist, singer, and theatre enthusiast from Alexandria, VA. She holds a BA in Theatre Arts with a minor in Jazz Studies from McDaniel College, and an MEd in Special Education from George Mason University. A former special education teacher with FCPS, she is currently an infant educator with the Infant & Toddler Connection of Fairfax-Falls Church.
Carolyn spent several years directing performances for the youth drama ministry at Oxon Hill UMC in Oxon Hill, MD. Her directing credits there include Bones and Baggage Claim to name just a few. She also developed a summer drama curriculum for Sky Education in Fairfax, VA. She recently played 1st violin in the pit for a local performance of Sweeney Todd.
With ArtStream, Carolyn has served with the Inclusive Theatre Companies as an assistant director and director, as well as teaching several classes.
Sandra Roachford joined the ArtSream team in 2010.
Sandra has a BFA in dance from The Boston Conservatory of Music and an MA in dance from American University. She taught dance and creative movement in the Greater Washington DC area for 25 years, working with Imagination Stage, The Girl Scouts of the Nation’s Capital, Iona Senior Services, and Arts for the Aging teaching creative movement to older adults. She also works with Kids Enjoy Exercise Now (KEEN) teaching music and movement.
Sandra is currently working with Nancy Havlik’s Dance Performance Group. She has had previous performances with DPG in Washington, DC; Baltimore, MD; Philadelphia, PA; and New York, NY.
With ArtStream, Sandra teaches classes in schools and other provider organizations for individuals with intellectual and development disabilities (IDD). This work is highlighted in the Stone Soup Films production “DC Hero — Sandy Roachford.” She also works as a choreographer with Inclusive Theatre Companies.
Penny Russell joined the ArtStream team in 2007.
Penny is a teaching artist and performer based in the DC/Baltimore area. She has worked as a writer, director and performer with the Blue Sky Puppet Theatre since 1994, and performs with Good Life Theatre, where she just completed a three year run at Wolf Trap. Other favorite performing companies include Bread and Puppet Theater, The Other Opera Company, Adventure Theatre, and The Puppet Company at Glen Echo.
Penny teaches puppetry workshops throughout the DC/Baltimore region and beyond, including workshops as far away as Scotland. She is a regular teaching artist for the Wolf Trap Institute and also sings with the Swing Set Trio and the Roland Cumberland Orchestra.
With ArtStream, Penny has teaches classes in schools and other provider organizations for individuals with intellectual and development disabilities (IDD). She also leads workshops in self-advocacy.
Nicolette is a co-founder of ArtStream.
Nicolette is a theatre educator, social skills trainer, playwright, and director. With ArtStream, she designs curriculum for many Leadership Programs, which teach social and pre-employment skills using an arts model. Among these programs, she leads regular “Positively Speaking” workshops in partnership with the Down Syndrome Network of Montgomery County.
Nicolette has written two books: an interactive handbook, ArtStream for Life: A Social Skills and Communication Handbook for Self Advocates, and a children’s book, The Colorful Adventures of Pauline and Tiff. ArtStream for Life was published by ArtStream, Inc. and Tilson & Diaz Solutions, Inc., and produced with a grant from the Maryland Developmental Disabilities Council. The lessons in the handbook are presented live by Nicolette and a self-advocate to help the audience understand that communication skills are for everyone. Pauline and Tiff was co-authored by Nicolette and an ArtStream client with Down syndrome and features illustrations by Annie Dykstra. The book was self-published through a private grant.
Nicolette is proud to co-host Montgomery County, Maryland’s first inclusive talk show “Telling Your Story with Terrel and Nic.”
In 2017, Nicolette was awarded “Outstanding Technical Achievement” by the Ethan Saylor Memorial Film Festival. The award recognizes Nicolette’s commitment to empowering individuals with disabilities, and, especially, her work preparing self-advocates with Down syndrome to speak in the halls of Congress.
Nicolette is a proud member of Leadership Montgomery 2010 Core Class and holds a Master of Education from George Mason University. Nic loves yoga, meditation, and hiking. She lives in Germantown, Maryland.
Daniel joined the ArtStream team in 2006.
Daniel Villar is an accomplished singer, pianist, and songwriter in the Washington, DC Metro region. He holds a Bachelor of Music degree in Vocal Performance from the University of Maryland. Daniel has enjoyed teaching private voice and piano lessons to children and adults since 1999. He also works as a music teacher, musical director and composer for theatre companies, including ArtStream’s Inclusive Theatre Companies.
Natalie Zanin joined the ArtStream team in 2008.
Natalie is a writer, director and actor who has appeared on area stages for over 20 years.
Natalie researches and writes original historical theater pieces. She trains and costumes actors for events such as the Smithsonian’s Air and Space Museum’s 50 Years of the Space Age, and for the National Archives Sleepover at the Archives. She created an historical three-character drama for the hip-hop theatre artist, Holly Bass. She is a licensed tour guide and a tour developer. In 2001 she launched Historic Strolls, a company that combines historical walking tours with theatre to create a unique experience. She is the author and director of The Ghost Story Tour of Washington, DC’s longest running costumed/character-led tour and A Dickens of a Tour: Charles Dickens in Washington. She has appeared as a guest and expert on History Channel and Travel Channel and has told stories for Canadian and French television, NPR, CNN Radio, Washingtonian Magazine, Politico and others.
Other credits include Natalie’s one-woman show: Dolley Madison’s Washington and the original, interactive program Maryland, My Maryland: Early Maryland History in public schools and home schools. Natalie is the lead actor and guide for the International Spy Museum’s Spy City Tours. She teaches drama in after-school programs for public and home schools. She also appears as an expert witness for local law firms in mock trials.
With ArtStream, Natalie has worked as an assistant director and director with the Inclusive Theatre Companies, and has taught several classes.
Delia Zielinski joined the ArtStream team in 2014.
Delia is a vocalist and actor who performs opera, classical art song, music theatre, jazz, and theatre.
She has appeared in productions with Annapolis Opera, Riverbend Opera Company, Center Stage Opera (PA), Loudoun Lyric Opera, Studio Theatre, Montgomery Playhouse, OutoftheBlackBox Theatre Co., DC Playwright’s Forum, and the Capital Fringe Festival. Recent operatic roles include Lisette in La Rondine, Genevieve in Suor Angelica, Nannetta in Falstaff, and Zerlina in Don Giovanni. In oratorio she has performed solos in Faure’s Requiem and Mendelssohn’s Gloria. In concert, she was a featured performer at the Johnny Mercer Music Festival in Savannah, GA, and in recital with the Washington Flute Society, the Kunen Theatre at Levine School of Music, the Kosciuszko Foundation, and the Martin Luther King, Jr. Library Concert Series. In 2013 Delia released her first solo album, “Boston Two,” featuring songs by American composers Amy Beach and Arthur Foote.
Delia is proud to be an ArtStream teaching artist, teaching classes in schools and other provider organizations for individuals with intellectual and development disabilities (IDD). She also leads workshops in self-advocacy.