Vanessa Becker-Weig is Co-Founder of Voices Amplified (formerly known as The Girl Project. She is a transplant from Central Ohio, where she earned a B.F.A. in Acting at Wright State University. Since moving to Lexington 10 years ago, Vanessa has directed or choreographed numerous productions for Woodford Theatre, the School for the Creative and Performing Arts, U.K.O.T.’ s Broadway Bound, The Academy for Creative Excellence, Dunbar High School, and several award-winning productions for the Itheatrics Junior Theatre Festival in Atlanta. She was the Education Director for Woodford Theatre from 2015-2019 and served as Artistic Director for the theatre in 2020. Prior to moving to Lexington, Vanessa served for ten years as the Education Director and Resident Director/Actor for the Phoenix Theatre (now CATCO). At the Phoenix, she directed, choreographed, and appeared in more than fifty productions as well as designed and implemented classes, camps, workshops, and in-school residencies. Vanessa specializes in movement theatre and theatre styles such as Kabuki, Commedia Del ‘Arte, Laban, Puppets and Masks, and Musical Theatre, and she was in the regional tour of the musical The Secret Garden, which incorporated both deaf and hearing actors and won several Central Ohio artistic excellence awards. Vanessa is a proud recipient of a Bluegrass Alliance for Women Impact Award and the prestigious Freddie G Fellowship from Music Theatre International.
Ellie Clark is an actor, educator and producer who currently resides in Atlanta, GA. She co-founded Voices Amplified alongside Vanessa Becker Weig in 2012, then known as The Girl Project. As an actress she has performed throughout the United States as well as across the pond in the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. Her favorite roles include Cleopatra in Antony & Cleopatra, Elizabeth Bennet in Pride & Prejudice, Stella in A Streetcar Named Desire, Marie in Marie Antoinette, Anna in Burn This, Sheila in A Chorus Line, and Emma in Stupid Fucking Bird. Ellie recently obtained her MFA in acting from Ohio University’s Professional Actor Training Program where she received a fellowship for her commitment and dedication to the arts. Ellie has been a teaching artist for over 20 years with a focus on acting and physical actor training. She is co-Artistic Manager for Arvold Warner Studio in Atlanta where she works and consults with screen artists invested in furthering their craft. She has trained extensively with Anne Bogart and the SITI Company in Viewpoints, Suzuki and Composition and attended their summer intensive where national and international artists take part in highly demanding physical work and theoretical research to generate original theatre. As a ten-year resident of New York City she continued her training with the SITI Company in Viewpoints, Suzuki and Composition. She acted as Education Director and Associate Producer for Woodford Theatre in Kentucky, she is the Movement Specialist for Kentucky’s Governor’s School for the Arts Drama Program and has taught collegiately at Ohio University and Transylvania University. She also co-founded the Lexington Shakespeare Institute, which came to be known as Kentucky Conservatory Theatre and was a teaching artist with the program for nine years. Ellie is a founding member of Lexington’s Project SEE Theatre, acting as co-artistic director, co-producer and actor. Born and raised in Lexington, KY, she is a graduate of the School for Creative and Performing Arts (SCAPA), Paul Laurence Dunbar High School and received a BFA in Acting from the University of Kentucky. Ellie has worked with the prestigious Actors’ Theatre of Louisville in their yearlong apprentice program. You can visit her website at www.ellieclark.org.
Margaret McGladrey, Ph.D., is an applied sociologist committed to participatory action research with government agency and nonprofit organization partners in the arts, child welfare, education, and public health. After completing a postdoctoral fellowship with the Tisch College of Civic Life at Tufts University, Dr. McGladrey served as Director of Program Capacity and Support for the Kentucky Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) Network responsible for supporting local CASA programs that train and guide community volunteers to advocate in Kentucky courts for the best interests of children experiencing abuse and neglect. She made the difficult decision to leave paid work for CASA in fall 2020 after being recruited back to University of Kentucky as the project director for two institutional research initiatives:1) developing a pilot program to prepare for a major grant application to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to recruit and retain underrepresented minority faculty in biomedical and behavioral science research and 2) managing the implementation of opioid overdose prevention and treatment practices in criminal justice settings as part of the biggest grant UK has ever received, the NIH-funded HEALing Communities Study. With Voices Amplified, she created The Girl Project: Next Generation middle school mentoring program and serves as the Research and Advocacy Director responsible for the program's feminist critical pedagogy and grant-writing/evaluation. She also is a certified teacher of Kundalini Yoga (E-RYT 500) and has been teaching mindfulness, meditation, and yoga classes in community and school settings for more than 10 years.
Jeni Benavides serves as the Program Facilitator for The Girl Project, Voices Heard and The Girl Project: Next Generation. She is originally from Charlotte, North Carolina and attended the University of South Carolina where she studied theatre, focusing on performance.After receiving her B.A., Jeni went on to study at the University of Kentucky, where she received her M.A. in Theatre. Her master’s thesis, Cultivating the Unassailable, analyzed the pedagogy and application of The Pacific Performance Project (also known as P3/East), which integrates the Suzuki method, Shogo Ohta’s slow tempo work, as well as principles of aikido training. Jeni has trained with P3 in both South Carolina and most recently in Seattle. She also is a passionate storyteller for The Girl Project, doing a lot of documentary theatre work for the high school program as well as TGP’s community event Voices Heard: Kentucky. She is a passionate theatre educator who teaches part time at the University of Kentucky. Many thanks to Vanessa, Ellie, Margaret, and the team who has supported bringing her into this wonderful community of artists and students.