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About ACT


Cindy Harper Headshot

Cindy Harper

Executive Director

Cindy Harper currently serves as the Executive Director of ACT. Cindy has worked as a consultant with non-profit organizations bringing more than 30 years of experience with boards, staffs, and volunteers of arts organizations and community groups. With a B.S. in Mathematics from Wake Forest University and an M.A. in Arts Administration from the University of New Orleans, Cindy has held various positions with arts organizations including the National Endowment for the Arts, the Mississippi Arts Commission and the Alabama Ballet. Active in the community, she served as president of the Birmingham Figure Skating Club for five years and chaired the 2016 US Figure Skating National Theatre On Ice Competition in Pelham, AL. She has served on numerous boards including Association of Fundraising Professionals – Alabama Chapter, Magic City Actors Theatre, Space One Eleven and the Music Opportunity Program.

Brian Cocke

High School Festival Director
Brian Cocke has been the High School Festival Director since 2020. He is in his 20th year of teaching and is currently the elementary drama teacher at Trace Crossings Elementary and Gwin Elementary in Hoover City Schools. He previously taught elementary music at Chalkville Elementary School (Jefferson County Schools) and Paine Elementary (Trussville City Schools). He received his Bachelors, Masters, and Educational Specialist Degrees in Choral/Vocal Music Education from the University of Alabama and his Doctorate in Organizational Development and Leadership from Grand Canyon University in Phoenix.

Board of Directors

Allison Upshaw, PhD


Dr. Allison Upshaw is a native of Forest Home, Alabama. She holds degrees in vocal performance from Oberlin Conservatory and Louisiana State University, as well as a PhD in Interdisciplinary Studies from the University of Alabama. As a member of Actor’s Equity, she’s performed in Menopause, The Musical; Jelly’s Last Jam; Jerry Springer, The Opera; and GRITS, The Musical. She’s the author of The Mama and Me Chronicles, and continues to work as a classical recitalist. In addition to founding OPERAtunities and Planning Diversity, Inc., Dr. Upshaw works as the Director of Faculty Development and Assistant Professor of Music at Stillman College in Tuscaloosa, AL.

Gary Weatherly

Vice President
Gary Weatherly is a graduate of the University of North Carolina at Greensboro where he earned a BA degree in Drama with emphasis in Design and Technology and was awarded the Raymond Taylor Scholarship Award. Mr. Weatherly has finished his course work for a Master’s of Science in Theatre Education from Southern Oregon University and is in the process of finishing his thesis for the degree. Mr. Weatherly recently retired from Mountain Brook High School as a Teacher, Designer, Technical Director, and Manager of the Fine Arts Center. Before discovering the challenges of teaching in secondary school, Mr. Weatherly designed professionally over 400 productions in almost every state in the southeast for over 25 years and is returning to that role. He has worked as the resident designer for Birmingham Children’s Theatre, Alabama Ballet and the Miss Alabama Pageant, and worked for most of the Birmingham community and university theatres as a guest designer.
Lonny Harrison Headshot

Lonny Harrison


Mr. Harrison has been the Director of Theatre at Saint James School for 25 years now. He attended the University of South Alabama for undergraduate school where he received a BFA in theatre. He went on to attend the University of Florida and the University of Alabama where he earned his MFA in theatre with a concentration in scenic design. Mr. Harrison has worked in many professional, community and school theaters across the United States. He has been involved in many different organizations including ACT, SETC, USITT and educational arts based organizations including the Alabama Institute for Arts in Education where he serves as the director of the Theatre Institute. He has worked extensively on the board of the Alabama Conference of Theatre in positions including president, treasurer, secondary division chair, as well as the Alabama State Representative for the Southeastern Theatre Conference. Mr. Harrison has been inducted in the Alabama Theatre Conference Hall of Fame in recognition for being a pioneer in Alabama Theatre.  Mr. Harrison has three children, a son Tres and two daughters named Jessica and Emma.

Adam Miller

Treasurer/Past Community Theatre Chair
Adam M. Miller holds an M.F.A. in Theatre Management/Arts Administration from The University of Alabama, having interned at the Alabama Shakespeare Festival. He served as the Director of Marketing & Public Relations for the LSU Department of Theatre and their affiliated Equity theatre, Swine Palace Productions, for more than three years. Adam has served as the Managing Director of Theatre Tuscaloosa at Shelton State Community College in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, since 2010.
Jeff Glass, Past President, ACT

Jeff Glass

Past President

Jeff Glass serves on the Alabama Conference of Theatre Board as the past President after previously serving as President, Vice President and Secondary Division Chair. He also serves the Alabama Educational Theatre Association Board as Secretary. Jeff currently teaches Theater I & II, Musical Theatre, and Technical Theatre at Wetumpka High School. Jeff attended Auburn University Montgomery and interned at the Alabama Shakespeare Festival. Mr. Glass graduated from AUM in 2003, Cum Laude, and is a member of the Phi Kappa Phi National Honor Society. He is the recipient of WAKA News Golden Apple teaching award, the 2018 ACT’s Theatre Dorothy Schwartz Outstanding Educator Award, the Alabama Shakespeare Festival’s 2018 Alabama Educator of the Year, the 2019-2020 Alabama Thespians Teacher of the Year, and the 2020 ACT Secondary Theatre Teacher of the Year. Most recently he was named Elmore County Schools 2022-2023 Teacher of the Year. Jeff is the Director of the Wetumpka High Theatre Guild.

Kristy Meanor

SETC Representative

Kristy Meanor serves as Executive Director for the Wetumpka Depot Players, the River Region’s oldest community theatre. Kristy has directed, acted and designed for the Depot Players for the last 35 years and has been ED for ten years. Kristy leads marketing, educational outreach programs and the artistic activities at the Depot Theatre. Kristy has served in leadership roles with ACT and SETC. Her recent work onstage in Night Mother was recognized at ACTFest and SETC with an Outstanding Achievement in Acting award. Kristy was also named Best Director at Southeastern Theatre Conference for her work with the talented ensemble of The Fantasticks and was a part of the ensemble cast of the nationally recognized production, Second Samuel. Other roles include Rosemary in Picnic, Willie Mae in The Sugar Bean Sisters, Dotty in Noises Off, Sister Amnesia in Nunsense, Felecia Dantine in I Hate Hamlet and Melissa in Love Letters. Directing credits include, Tuesdays With Morrie, Big River, The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, A Funny Thing Happened on the way to the Forum, I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change and Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. Kristy is a former recipient of ACT’s Marian Gallaway Award. Kristy is mom to an ensemble of amazing children- Laurel, Drew and Colgan and a fur baby named Rudy.

Matthew Stratton

College/University Chair

Matthew Stratton, Technical Director in The University of Alabama’s Theatre and Dance Department, enjoys artistic adventures through engineering, designing, and teaching. Matthew’s professional experiences include Glimmerglass Opera and the McLeod Summer Playhouse, and most recently a project manager on the Sloss Furnace set for the World Games opening ceremonies in Birmingham. He also recently designed scenery for Opera Huntsville. He is excited to share his collaborative artwork with you, the UA Theatre and Dance Department, and the people of Alabama.

Jean Butler's headshot: Women with brunette mid-length hair, brown framed glasses, side smile.

Ashley Butler

College/University Vice Chair

Ashley Butler is a theatre artist serving on the faculty of Auburn University’s Department of Theatre and Dance. Throughout her career, she has worked as an educator, performer (actor/dancer/singer), director, dramaturg, and choreographer. Ashley is also a creative director and graphic designer specializing in performing arts marketing. Her current teaching, creative, and research interests include the intersections of theatre, dance, text, and movement in such disciplines as immersive, site-specific, musical, and dance theatre; and cross-disciplinary pedagogies such as movement for actors and acting for dancers. She holds an MFA from Ohio University and a BFA from Auburn University, both in acting.

Chris Carter

High School Division Chair

Revel Gholston

High School Division Vice Chair
Revel Parsons Gholston has been a part of Alabama’s Secondary Theatre Education crew for the past seventeen and half years. All of these years have been spent managing the Opelika Center for the Performing Arts and managing the High School theatre program at Opelika High School. Graduating from the University of Iowa with a focus on English, Theatre, and Creative Writing, Revel, is always eager to help out anyone and everyone that could use a hand. Having handled over 100 professional touring productions for the East Alabama Arts Association, all while directing nearly 50 high school productions, and teaching in the classroom part-time, Revel tries to find time to rest as well as spend as much time with his wife and two children before they forget who he is. Bringing as much culture to the state of Alabama has always been Revel’s mission, and the Alabama Conference of Theatre is more than a great platform for everyone to do just that. Revel looks forward to the bright artistic future that the state is producing.

Lisa Ponder

Community Theatre Division Chair

Lisa Ponder is an actor/director based in Montevallo, Alabama. She studied theatre at Auburn University. Lisa has been active in the Birmingham theatre community for many years. She has also worked in radio, television and film. She currently serves as President of the board for South City Theatre in Pelham, Alabama. Favorite roles include Eppie Lederer (The Lady With All The Answers), Mrs. Shields (A Christmas Story), and Cassie (The Real Queen of Hearts Ain’t Even Pretty). Directing credits include The Last Night of Ballyhoo, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Elvis People, and The Miracle Worker. Her sentimental favorite credit is as stage manager for Romeo and Juliet because this is how she met her husband. Lisa has been recognized for her work both onstage and offstage, including Love, Loss, and What I Wore (2018, Outstanding Achievement in Acting) and The Gulf (ACTFest & SETC 2019, Outstanding Achievement in Directing and Best in Show). A life-long learner, Lisa continues to study and develop her craft through classes and workshops.

Kim Mason

Community Theatre Vice Chair

Ashley Bishop

Theatre for Youth Division Chair

Ashley Bishop is a performer, designer, and educator with over 40 years of experience in the theatre. A graduate of the Alabama School of Fine Arts (Theatre ‘91), She double-majored in performance and design at the University of New Orleans (95) and received her Masters of Education from DePaul University in 2011. Now teaching theatre at R.F. Bumpus Middle School, she has also taught at Center Point High School and the Jefferson County Academy of Theatre and Dance. Prior to moving into teaching, she spent 15 years in Chicago, where she was an Artistic Associate and teaching artist with American Blues Theatre, a founding member of the Route 66 Theatre Company and a teaching artist with Timeline Theatre. In 2013, Ashley and her husband, Marty Higginbotham, founded Ravenswood Theatre, best known for their annual production of It’s a Wonderful Life, Live!

Bobby Miller

Bobby Miller

Theatre for Youth Vice Chair

Bobby currently works as the Middle School Drama Director at UMS-Wright Preparatory School. He graduated from Huntingdon College with a degree in creative writing and history. Since then, he has obtained a Juris Doctorate from Barry School of Law as well as a Masters in Secondary Education from the University of South Alabama. He has written a fantasy novel, Revelation, and edited books for various authors. His most recent adventure has been diving into stage combat with the Society of American Fight Directors. When Bobby is not spending time with his wife and two sons, he finds pleasure in reading, writing, and plotting his next great fantastical tabletop adventure.

Layne Holley

Professional Division Chair
Rebecca Yeager

Rebecca Yeager

Professional Division Vice Chair

Rebecca Yeager is an actor and educator who focuses in early childhood and collegiate
education. She graduated Cum Laude from Birmingham-Southern College with a Bachelor of
Arts in Musical Theatre and received a Master of Fine Arts in Theatre Performance from the
University of Southern Mississippi. In addition to performing and directing across the south,
Rebecca served as the Artistic Development Coordinator at Birmingham Children’s Theatre
where she spearheaded the Theatre for the Very Young program. She is a Visiting Professor at
Birmingham-Southern College, Vice Chair of Southeastern Theatre Conferences’s Theatre for
Youth Division, Vice Chair of Alabama Theatre Conference’s Professional Division, and serves
on the board of InToto Creative Arts Initiative.

Through her work at professional and community theatres, public, private, and community
colleges, and numerous high schools, elementary schools, and private arts studios, Rebecca has
spent over fifteen years working to make quality collegiate and early childhood education
accessible to students of all socio-economic backgrounds.

Some of her favorite roles include Charlotte in Charlotte’s Web, Merlin in The Sword in the
Stone, Prospero in The Tempest, Betty in the world premiere of Love Is A Blue Tick Hound,
Eurydice in Eurydice, The Fool in King Lear, Stella in A Streetcar Named Desire, and The Mute
in The Fantastiks.

Mark B. Moore

Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, and Accessibility Chair

Mark B. Moore has has been involved in community theatre for more than a decade and has directed productions that include The Watsons Go To Birmingham, Daddy’s Dyin’: Who’s Got the Will?, Deathtrap, Sordid Lives, The 25th Annual Putman County Spelling Bee, Crowns, A Christmas Story, Radio Golf, and Stick Fly. By day, he is the Director of Development at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center Education Foundation. Mark has served as Board President of the American Advertising Federation North Alabama and the Huntsville Public Arts Committee. He is a member of Huntsville’s Human Relations Commission. Mark and his husband are the proud dads of three rescue pups.

Great Advisory Board

Jordan DeWitt

High School Division Past Chair

Melissa Strickland

Theatre for Youth Division Past Chair

Melissa Strickland has a BS in Secondary Language Arts and has been a teacher in Prattville and Montgomery for 25 years, teaching English, theatre, art, and several other electives. She has been diligently growing the theatre class and Creative Outlet theatre club at Prattville Junior High for the last seven years, and her students have participated in the ACT Youth competition. She is also the current board president of Prattville’s Way-Off Broadway Theatre. Melissa was very active in theatre throughout high school and college, and after a hiatus returned to community theatre in the last few years as an actor and director. She has tried to instill her love of theatre into her daughters, Syndal and Skylar, and hopes to do the same with her two grandchildren as well. Thankfully, her husband James is always supportive of any theatre endeavors Melissa takes on. She is excited to be a part of the growing ACT Youth Division!

Patricia Putman

Executive Director Emeritus*
Patricia Putman is Executive Director Emeritus for the Alabama Conference of Theatre (ACT) . Patricia served as a Governor Appointee for the Alabama State Course of Study for Theatre Arts 2017. After teaching music in the Jefferson County School System for 34 years she retired Dec. 1, 2011. Patricia served as the Music Director for Corner Theatre Academy at Corner High School from 1987-2013. She has a BS (1978) & MS (1987) in Music Education from Jacksonville State University. Patricia was the 2011 ACT Secondary Teacher of the Year. She is a huge supporter of the blending of all the arts and Arts Education on all age levels. *Patricia passed away in 2023.