Board of Trustees

Laurinda Paschal-Dodgen


Laurinda Dodgen is the Associate Vice President, Community Engagement for Molina Healthcare of Illinois. She previously worked for AARP as a community strategist where her efforts were focused on political and community based changes that improve the lives of individuals 50 plus and their families. She has extensive experience working collaboratively with community, governmental and business partners to address public health needs. She led the AARP state office in engaging communities of color and lobbied to pass the Illinois Secure Choice Savings Program (SB2758) that was endorsed by the Black and Hispanic caucuses. Laurinda co-founded the International Sports Exchange Program, a youth sports based exchange program between the US and Turkey. She also co-created a national college tour program for high school teens that has served over 500 students since inception in 2015. She serves is the Vice Chair on the Board of Directors for Chicago Housing Authority’s (CHA) non-profit Springboard to Success and is a 2018 fellow in Crain’s Leadership Academy and Executive Leadership Council. Laurinda received her BA in Kinesiology and a Masters of Public Health Administration from Northern Illinois University. She also holds a Masters of Public Policy and Administration from Northwestern University. Laurinda recently completed her Bachelors of Nursing at Methodist College in Peoria, IL and is a registered nurse.
Chadaé Nichol

BOARD Co-Chair

Chadaé Nichol is a Broadway performer and arts educator from Joliet, IL and currently based in Los Angeles, CA. Chadaé made her Broadway debut in Motown the Musical. She was most recently seen in The Lyric Opera of Chicago’s productions of Oklahoma and Showboat. Regionally she has also had the amazing opportunity to be a part of productions of Little Shop of Horrors, Cabaret, and The Wiz. She has also starred in productions at Disneyland in California. She earned her BFA in Musical Theatre from Ball State University.
Julie Hindenburg

Board Second Chair

Julie Hindenburg is a multi-faceted educator with over 28 years of experience teaching Kindergarten through College age students in several subject areas with a focus in dance, music and ELA curriculum. She has served on many curriculum and strategic planning teams to implement innovative changes within Rockford Public Schools in Rockford, IL. She has also served as the Program Coordinator for the Creative & Performing Arts program. Prior to her current position, Julie was the Arts Integration Specialist in Rockford Public Schools. Julie holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Education from Northern Illinois University. Additionally, she holds a Masters in Arts Integration from Aurora University as well as Masters in Educational Administration from Northern Illinois University.
Daniel Beetstra

Board member

As an educator, Daniel strives to foster a strong music education as part of developing the 21st century learner. Participation in the Fine Arts community helps to develop an intrinsic motivation to serve our community by building a sense of collaboration and advocacy. Daniel earned a BA of Music Education at Northern Illinois University. Since graduating, he has served many Illinois communities including Belvidere, Algonquin, and Woodstock, Rockford, and Huntley. An avid vocalist, Daniel and his wife are both founding members of the professional choral ensemble, Cor Cantiamo, serve on the Board of Directors, and promote music education through their organization. He is a Google Level 2 Certified teacher and loves integrating technology into all of his classrooms.
Cyndi Conley

Board Member

Cynthia Conley is a longtime dance educator from Rockford, IL. She has taught for The School of the Rockford Dance Company, Rockford College, Spectrum School, and was the Middle School dance educator for the Creative and Performing Arts Program for Rockford Public Schools. She has choreographed numerous shows for Starlight Theatre, Rockford College, Clock Tower Dinner Theatre, and Artists Ensemble Theatre. Cynthia holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Dance from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, and received her Certification in Dance from Rockford College.
Kirsten Garrigan

Board Member

Kirsten Garrigan is an impassioned, highly dedicated educator and leader who believes, ‘Excellence inspires and when you empower people with a strong vision, teamwork and collaboration with strong, guiding leadership great things can and will happen.’ Kirsten has been engulfed in education and the arts her whole life, she has taught visual arts to 3-8th graders, middle school literacy in an arts integrated program and is currently the Principal at Lincoln Middle School in Rockford, IL. Kirsten holds a Bachelor of Arts degree, a Masters in Teaching from Rockford College, along with her administrative certification from Aurora University, and is currently enrolled with Northern Illinois University to obtain her superintendent certification.
Alma Jones

Board Member

Alma Jones brings her passion for the arts and music through several facets of Naperville area community service. She facilitated a “Jazz as Therapy” improvisational curriculum for special needs students, co-chaired the installation of Rotary Harmony Park, an outdoor musical instrument installation along Naperville’s Riverwalk- a “place where there are no wrong notes”, and served as Development Director and President of the Board of North Central College Performing Arts Association. Alma served as President of the Rotary Club of Naperville, a Board Director of Little Friends, Inc., an organization serving clients with developmental needs, and is a past Chair of the Aurora Chamber Women in Business program. As founder and President of Alma Jones & Associates, Inc., a Brand Strategy Firm, Alma is a Telly Award winning Producer and Writer, a recipient of the MarCom Creative Award and Communicator Awards, and was named an Influential Woman in Business by The Business Ledger, along with the Annual Award for Business Excellence, and a Finalist for the Naperville Area Chamber Small Business of the Year. Alma is honored to serve on the Academy of the Arts Board and believes that “Art & Music is food for the soul.”
Keelan Whitmore

Board Member

Keelan Whitmore from Rockford, Illinois, trained at the Rockford Dance Company, the Joffrey Ballet School/New School University, and graduated from Michigan’s Interlochen Arts Academy and St. Mary’s College L.E.A.P. Program where he received his B.A. in Dance. As a member of Kansas City Ballet from 2001-2006, Whitmore performed works by choreographers including George Balanchine, Nacho Duato, Jerome Robbins and Twyla Tharp. In 2006, Whitmore became a member of the Suzanne Farrell Ballet. His choreography has been showcased in workshop and gala performances presented by Kansas City Ballet, Virginia School of the Arts, the LINES Ballet Training Program, LINES Ballet BFA at Dominican, and Regional Dance America, which presented Whitmore with its National Choreography Recognition Award in 2005. That same year, he co-founded Kansas City–based multi-disciplinary ensemble Quixotic. Whitmore also danced with Alonzo King LINES Ballet from 2006-2013 and as a soloist with TanzTheater Münster in Germany from 2014-2021 performing works by Hans Henning Paar, Toula Limnaous, Thomas Noone, Gustavo Ramirez Sansano, and James Wilton.​


Dylan Ladd

Executive Director

Dylan Ladd is a passionate music educator and vocalist from the northwest suburbs of Chicago. Dylan has taught choir in grades 6-12. He also was the Operations Manager for The Broadway Collective after several years as Student Development Director, overseeing the Education Department for the institution. Dylan earned his Bachelor of Music Education and Master of Arts & Entertainment Administration degrees from Valparaiso University. He also holds a Graduate Certificate in School Administration & Supervision from Johns Hopkins University.


Dr. Mary Ann Bobosky

BOARD Advisor

Dr. Mary Ann Bobosky is a long-time educator and supporter of the arts in Naperville. Her husband, Brand founded Century Walk, Inc., a Public Arts Program, with over 50 pieces of art throughout the city. She received her BA from The University of St. Francis. She received her MS in Counseling, her CAS, and Ed.D in Education Leadership from Northern Illinois University. She is President of Advocates Building Communities. She has served on the Board of Directors for Naperville Bank and Trust for eight years. Mary Ann serves on the Advisory Council for Loaves and Fishes Community Services, Naperville Responds to our Veterans and Kids Matter. She was one of the founders of the Naperville Education Foundation. She is on the College of Liberal Arts Advisory Council for Benedictine University. Mary Ann is Past Chair of the Naperville Area Chamber of Commerce and Naperville Sunrise Rotary. She has chaired events for Little Friend's School and Naper Settlement and the DuPage Children's Museum. She is a member of PEO and a Lifetime Member of the Naperville Branch of AAUW. The City of Naperville has established standards of excellence for education and the arts. She believes The Academy of the Arts will be an important addition to keep these high standards.
Hilary Decent

BOARD Advisor

A British freelance journalist, Hilary Decent has a background in education and a life-long passion for the arts, especially musical theatre which she spells the English way. Born in London, England, she worked as a newspaper reporter for many years before switching careers to support special needs children. Directly before moving to the U.S., she taught study skills to overseas students at the University of Hertfordshire, England. In Naperville Hilary is best known for her column in the Naperville Sun, which is a mixture of human-interest stories and humor, normally poking fun at her long-suffering husband ‘Grumpy.’ A consummate volunteer, Hilary has been a member of the Rotary Club of Naperville for 14 years, twice receiving the Service Above Self award. She also enjoys hamming it up at Naper Settlement’s All Hallows Eve where she has played Mrs. Lovett for many years largely because she bakes her own pies and is the only volunteer they could find with an authentic British accent.

Artistic Advisory Board

Alex Lacamoire

Music Director, Orchestrator

Hamilton, Dear Evan Hansen, In The Heights

Taylor Dayne


Grammy Nominee

Stephen Wallem


Nurse Jackie, SAG Award Nominee


Connor Associates

Independent School Consultants

With sixteen Strategic Partners and Associates across the United States and clients spanning four continents and twenty-six states, Connor Associates Strategic Services has been a trusted market research and branding partner for hundreds of national and international private, independent, and public charter schools and organizations over the past thirty years, including three of the four leading independent arts schools in the nation.
DLR Group


DLR Group is an integrated design firm. With offices around the globe housing specialized design expertise, our integrated design team is backed by the more than 1,000+ design professionals and the resources of the entire firm. Core areas of design expertise include Civic, Courts, Cultural+Performing Arts, Detention, Energy Services, Federal Markets, Healthcare, Higher Education, Hospitality, Housing, K-12 Education, Museums, Retail+Mixed-Use, Sports, and Workplace.
Pepper Construction Company


Family-owned for 90 years, Pepper has remained at the forefront of commercial construction, leading the industry in sustainable, lean and virtual construction technologies. At Pepper, our K-12 services start with pre-referendum planning, where we assist our clients in the budgeting and planning process before the referendum vote. As you consider your next capital project, we can help identify the right-sized project and associated costs.



College of Dupage

“The Academy of the Arts was an amazing concept and now is becoming a reality in the Naperville area. The school’s focus on academics and the arts is a perfect combination that will nurture creative thinking and innovation in all areas of education. This school will be a ground-breaking and very welcome addition to our community.”
Anthony Venezia, Animation Department Chair

Arts Dupage

“The prospect of opening the Academy of the Arts in Naperville is an exciting one. Students will develop a capacity for communication, self-confidence, and problem-solving skills which will better prepare them for the college experience and further their success in professional careers in the arts.”
Deborah Venezia, Director

Century Walk

“Century Walk Corporation has been working with students on mural projects in our community. The opening of the Academy of the Arts will be a tremendous support to these young people as they explore opportunities in the arts.”
Brand Bobosky, President

Bev Patterson Frier

“Culture is the backbone of any community. One of the big advantages for a parent is that the students will be able to study their chosen area of the arts at their school. I used to pick up my two kids at their schools when it was out in the afternoon and then drive them to their respective instructors in downtown Chicago. This will be a fantastic addition to our entire region. I am thrilled to support this project.”
Bev Patterson Frier

Road Show, Inc

“Naperville has always been a community for the arts. The arrival of Academy of the Arts promises to bring a new level of academic and arts education to our next generation of young artists, giving them a road map for a future enriched by the arts.”
Carrie Bramlett, Executive Director