Jennifer Holmes

Executive and Artistic Director

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Jennifer Miranda Holmes, Ph.D. co-founded Global Empowerment Theatre in Zanzibar, East Africa, with her husband in the summer of 2007. She has been an educator, director and performer in New York City for over two decades. Currently, she serves as Executive Director of Pace Performing Arts at Pace University. Previously, Jennifer was the Dean of the College of Arts, Communications and Design; the Polk School of Communications; and the Roc Nation School of Music, Sports and Entertainment at Long Island University. Prior to her tenure at Long Island University, she worked at The New School where she was the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs at The School of Drama. While there, she redesigned and updated the Drama BFA and MFA curricula, developed new initiatives at The College of Performing Arts, and directed the US premiere of Last Train to Tomorrow composed and conducted by Carl Davis at Alice Tully Hall and Shining Lights in the Lingering Night at The Great Hall, Cooper Union in partnership with 400 Years of Inequality. Dr. Holmes also initiated the Cultural Change Task Force, a cohort of faculty, students, and administrators dedicated to fostering inclusive, diverse and equitable theatre arts practice. Jennifer has facilitated classes and workshops in theatre and education at The New School, Manhattanville College, Bronx Community College, New York University, Pace University, University of Massachusetts and Bank Street College. She has been published in the International Journal on Learning, The Teaching Artist Journal and in a book on educational theatre edited by Dr. David Montgomery and Dr. Robert Landy titled, Theatre for Change: Education, Social Action and Therapy. She has presented several papers on her work, and has led panel discussions and workshops at both national and international conferences including the International Drama in Education Research Institute, National Communication Association, The International Learning Conference and the Applied Theatre Conference at Central School for Speech and Drama. Jennifer has participated in theatre projects in Puerto Rico, Ireland, Brazil, and England. She has trained and worked with other leaders in the field of theatre and education, such as Augusto Boal, Anna Deavere Smith, Philip Taylor, Pedro Noguera, Chrissy Poulter, Chris Vine and Dorothy Heathcote. Her degrees include a B.A. from Vassar College in Drama, an M.A. from New York University (NYU) in Educational Theatre, and a PhD in Educational Theatre from NYU. She is a member of SAG/AFTRA and Actor’s Equity Association. Contact

John Socas


John Socas, Ph.D. co-founded Global Empowerment Theatre with his wife, Jennifer, and has worked with students in East Africa and India for the past ten years. John received his Masters in Fine Arts from the National Theatre Conservatory and his PhD from New York University. He has worked around the world as a director, choreographer and performer. His work has been seen in New York at the Guggenheim Museum, PS 122, Lamb’s Theatre, and Soho Rep, among others; regionally at Hartford Stage, Denver Center for the Performing Arts, and George Street Playhouse, and internationally at Edinburgh Fringe Festival, and Japan’s We Love Dance Festival. His scholarly writing has been published in several peer-reviewed journals and he has lead panel discussions and workshops at national and international conferences including the National Communication Association (NCA), the Association for Theatre in Higher Education and the American Alliance for Theatre and Education. John has been honored for his work in education and theatre with the Spirit of the Fringe Award at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, the John Golden Incentive Award for Playwriting, an “Excellence in Leadership Award” from Bronx Community College, and the “Mid-Career Achievement Award” from NCA. The focus of his dissertation and much of his teaching is on improving the self-presentation and job-interview skills of urban community college students. John is a full-time faculty member at Bronx Community College (CUNY), where he directs the award-winning Theatre Workshop. Contact

Ashley Olson

Program Director – GETZanzibar

Ashley Olson is a New York State certified drama teacher who has worked in a variety of settings, teaching roles, and artistic capacities. She holds an MA in Educational Theatre from The Steinhardt School of Culture, Education and Human Development at NYU. Ashley has taught at a number of prominent educational institutions in New York City. She used theatre to enhance the third grade curriculum at Grace Church Elementary School, taught playwriting at Hunter College High School, and is a proud member of The Park Avenue Armory Education Department’s artist core where she assists with school and family programming. Ashley is a trained actor with a BFA in Drama from Syracuse University and four months of training at Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre in London. Ashley is currently working as an adolescent literacy program instructor for an after school program in Queens where she brings her dramatic, hands-on approach to curriculum development and literacy instruction. Ashley is committed to empowering international populations through theatre. Contact

Maya Turner Singh

Program Director – GETIndia

Maya Turner Singh has been a teaching artist since 2005. She has worked with several prominent educational theatre organizations in New York City including The New Victory Theater, TADA! Youth Theater, and The Park Avenue Armory. Maya has developed a performing arts curriculum for Global Partners Junior, and organization which connects students in New York City to students in over 30 cities around the globe. She also works with South Gate Productions to create audience guides for Broadway and Off-Broadway shows; most recently she worked on the guide for the revival of Les Miserables.  In 2007, Maya holds degrees from the Eugene Lang College at The New School in Liberal Arts with a concentration in Theatre and a Masters in Educational Theatre from The Steinhardt School of Culture, Education and Human Development at NYU. In addition to her work with GET, Maya serves as the Education Manager for Marquis Studios, a non-profit Arts Education organization in New York City. Contact

Ashley Hamilton

Core Teaching Artist

Zanzibar 1Ashley Lauren Hamilton is a PhD Student in Education Theatre with an emphasis on Applied Theatre at New York University. Ashley received her BFA in Acting from the University of Colorado at Boulder in 2010 and her Master’s Degree in Educational Theatre, Theatre for Communities from New York University in 2013. Ashley’s work is vast, ranging from working as an actress off-Broadway in New York City to creating theatre in New York City maximum security prisons to creating and performing her own one-woman interview-based plays.Ashley currently lives in New York City and works as an adjunct professor at NYU and as a teaching artist “creating theatre and dialogue“ in the NYC public school system, in NY juvenile detention centers, with children on the autism spectrum, and in a women’s maximum security prison while also conducting research for her PhD. Ashley’s PhD research focuses on the complexities of teaching theatre in spaces like prisons and how this form of theatre can be used as a resource for authentic dialogue, affectual experience, and lasting rehabilitation. Ashley is also pursuing her Drama Therapy license.  For more information on Ashley’s work you can visit

Lindsey Cacich Samples

Core Teaching Artist

1525651_10202714449280108_1251851763_nLindsey C. Samples is a director, actor, and educator based out of Minneapolis, MN, USA. With an extensive background in theater, Lindsey utilizes her skills to not only teach the art form but to use theater as a tool for learning, self-empowerment, and social change. In Minneapolis, Lindsey is a teaching artist for many youth theater companies and social service agencies. She is also an arts administrator and teaching artist for Upstream Arts, an organization dedicated to teaching social and communication skills to individuals living with a disability, using music, dance, theater, poetry, and visual art. With Global Empowerment Theatre, Lindsey has had the opportunity to create original theater pieces with students in India, providing a platform for youth voice and confidence in English literacy skills. She holds a Masters of Education in Youth Development Leadership from the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities. Lindsey has been a key member in both GETIndia’s 2013 and 2014 programs.

Tessa Bry Taylor

Core Teaching Artist

TessaBryTaylorTessa Bry Taylor is a theatre artist and educator based in Provincetown, Cape Cod, and Boston. She is the founding Executive Director and Education Director of Peregrine Theatre Ensemble, Provincetown, MA, and currently serves as a teaching artist for Target Arts, facilitated in conjunction with Boston Public Schools through the Citi Center for the Performing Arts. Tessa has worked in various capacities with several organizations including: Provincetown Theater; Payomet Performing Arts Center; Wellfleet Harbor Actors Theatre (Cape Cod, MA); Guthrie Theater & Theatre de la jeune lune (Minneapolis, MN); and St. Ann’s Warehouse and the Manhattan Movement and Arts Center (NY, NY).  She has worked as a teaching artist with several organizations and school districts across NY and MA, specializing in Shakespeare for Youth, Applied Theatre, and the implementation of drama in the classroom. Tessa is a graduate of U of Minnesota, and hold a Masters in Educational Theatre fromNew York University. She is currently a doctoral student pursuing a PhD in Arts Education at Lesley University.


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