Although I was born in Cincinnati, Ohio, we moved north to Troy, Ohio when I was entering the first grade. It was very exciting, because school was delayed for a week because the school was brand new—they were still finishing construction. But I finished at Hook Elementary, and then went to Van Cleve Junior High School, and then Troy High School.
I began university studies at Ohio University as a journalism major, but after two years auditioned for the School of Dance, and was accepted into a new four-year program. I left Ohio University with a BFA in Dance, and a job dancing for a modern dance company in Columbus, Ohio.
Unfortunately, Dancentral ran out of money and laid off all of the dancers in the spring of that year, and so I looked for another company with which to perform. I had an unreliable Volkswagen Rabbit, and I was worried about how far I could safely travel in it. Within a circle drawn on a map (of how far I thought the car would carry me) was Pittsburgh, and after a very positive audition with Pittsburgh Dance Alloy, I had a new home.
I spent the next ten years with Dance Alloy, performing, teaching in the company's school, and choreographing. I was the recipient of grants from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, and also a travel grant from an anonymous donor, which allowed me to spend a month traveling in Japan, soaking up the essence of Japanese culture. (I later served as a panel member for the Dance Panel for the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts.)
I "retired" from full-time dancing to become Assistant Managing Director of Dance Alloy, a great way to transition into the arts management field. (Also helping was working under two extraordinary arts administrators: Pat Bjorhovde and Marilyn Coleman.) I spent a year as Tour Manager/Company Manager at Pittsburgh Ballet Theater, where I served both as a booking agent for touring engagements, as well as facilitating the day-to-day logistics when the company was on tour. (This meant making sure that a bus-load of 40 dancers, one or two semi trucks with sets, costumes, and props, and appropriate marketing materials got to the right place at the right time.)
But then, I got itchy (like many young people) to move away from the Great Lakes region that had always been home and experience life in another part of the country. Because my friends Ron and Amanda had recently moved to Miami, I went down to visit them and fell in love with the place. My Pittsburgh friend (and Dance Alloy's Production Manager) Barbara Thompson helped me squeeze all of my possessions into a U-Haul truck (like a 3-D version of the game Tetris!), and I drove south.
Once in Miami Beach (living just about nine blocks from the ocean), I took a position at First Union National Bank in the Cash Management division. I loved my co-workers and this particular area of the bank, and rose to the Assistant Vice President level. (First Union was acquired by Wachovia Bank midway through my tenure.) As Wachovia continued to expand, I managed a team of Sales Support Associates spread across offices in Jacksonville, Tampa, Orlando, West Palm Beach, Ft Lauderdale, Houston, Dallas, and Austin. There were times when I was on an airplane 3–4 times a week, and that schedule began to wear on me.
Because I had been doing volunteer work as a tour guide in Miami Beach's Art Deco Historic District, I was able to move into the position of Director of Outreach and Public Events with the Miami Design Preservation League (MDPL). I ran monthly lecture series, film series, art exhibits, and programing for the annual Art Deco Weekend. I represented MDPL at the 9th World Congress on Art Deco in Melbourne, Australia, and led a two-week tour of Art Deco architecture in northern India.
With Miami as a base, I was able to travel frequently, and made trips to Mexico, Guatemala, Costa Rica, Venezuela, Cuba, Argentina, Uruguay, Australia, New Zealand, Spain, Turkey, and India.
In 2006, the City of Miami had designated a stretch of Biscayne Boulevard as the Miami Modern (MiMo) Biscayne Boulevard Historic District, and some property owners and historic preservationists asked me to lead an effort to create a Business Improvement District (BID) to provide funding for promoting the area. Many of the properties were fabulous motor inns built along US 1 in the 1950s and 1960, but that had fallen onto hard times in recent years. The motels capitalized on exotic imagery (using large signage pylons and flashing neon) to attract tired travelers who had just driven from up north. A few of the motels had already undergone restorations, and the BID hoped to encourage more preservation efforts. Unfortunately, many property owners rejected the notion of voluntarily paying more taxes to enhance the district, and the effort failed.
By this time, I had been living in Miami Beach for 17 years, and had begun to miss the change of seasons and varied topography of the North, so I moved back to Pittsburgh. I found work as the Executive Director for Pittsburgh Festival Opera, a mid-sized opera company with a mission to perform new works and grand classics, all in English. The company was transitioning to a summer festival format, and we completely re-invented our business model. Despite challenges of rehearsal space, storage, and money (arts organizations never have enough funding!), we created opera magic under the guidance of Artistic Director Jonathan Eaton. I'm most proud of our Richard Strauss series, mounting new productions of Ariadne auf Naxos, Capriccio, The Silent Woman, Intermezzo, and Arabella—repertoire not generally undertaken by smaller companies.
After having traveled extensively in eastern Mexico, I had always wanted to live in this wonderful, colorful country. With the pandemic upending just about every aspect of my life, I decided there was no time like the present. Although the Yucatan peninsula is extraordinarily beautiful, the climate was a drawback—it's very hot and very humid almost year-round. I was looking to live somewhere a little more central in the country, and the high mountains of central Mexico meant lots of sun but gloriously moderate temperatures.
After exploring a number of cities in the central part of Mexico (Mexico City, Pueblo, Querétaro, San Luis Potosí, etc.), I settled on Morelia, about 134 miles (216km) directly west of Mexico City and the capital of the state of Michoacán. I spent a month living in Morelia in May/June 2021, just to confirm that I liked the city. [Check out posts during my exploratory month in Morelia: Morelia—Week 1, Morelia—Week 2, Morelia—Week 3, Morelia—Week 4, and Morelia—Wrap-Up]
Well, as it turn out, I loved the city, and in September 2021, I arrived with a Mexican green card as a permanent resident to start my new life in Morelia. Please visit the articles in the Mexico section of the site to read more about my life and travels here.