Wendy joined the Ensemble of American Blues Theater in 1998. She helped lead the transition during the rebirth of ABT in 2009. Ms. Whiteside secured the 501(c)3 and became responsible for administrative oversight, financial reporting, and collaboration with the Ensemble on artistic programming. She ushered in the annual Blue Ink Playwriting Contest, Blueprint Play Development, and implemented community outreach as central to the company’s mission. She led the company from zero funding to over quarter-million dollar organization in three years. She’s served three terms on the National Endowment for the Arts’ theater panel. She sits on the national Board of Directors for Network of Ensemble Theaters. She is a cum laude graduate of Northwestern University, received her MFA at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and is a Kellogg Executive Scholar in Nonprofit Management (Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University). As an actress, she’s the recipient of seven Joseph Jefferson Awards or nominations and two After Dark Awards.
JACLYN HOLSEY, General Manager
Jaclyn Holsey became an ensemble member of American Blues Theater in 2011. She recently left her position as Regional Operations and Programs Coordinator at First Nonprofit Insurance Company to become the General Manager for American Blues. Before moving to FNIC, she was the Executive Assistant at Victory Gardens Theater for 4 years where she had the honor of helping to open the Biograph Theater. Jaclyn is currently working towards a Certificate in Nonprofit Management from the University of Illinois at Chicago. In her spare time, she is also and Equity stage manager working at various theaters around Chicago including ABT, Timeline, Collaboraction and Teatro Vista.
SARAH BURNHAM, Production Manager
Sarah joined the Ensemble of American Blues Theater in 2011. She began working at ABT as the technical director for their acclaimed It’s a Wonderful Life: Live at the Biograph! She recently graduated from the University of Oklahoma summa cum laude with a BFA in acting and scenic design. Since moving to Chicago, Sarah has designed properties and sets for companies such as Theater Seven of Chicago, SiNNERMAN Ensemble and Steep Theater Company. When not at the theatre Sarah is an avid reader and enjoys spending time playing with her puppy, Piper.
STEVE KEY, Graphic Designer
Steve is a graduate of Columbia College, where he studied Graphic Design. He has worked at public relations firms, advertising agencies, and as a freelance designer for more than 15 years. Overlapping and eventually replacing graphic design, his primary occupation has been acting and other theater-making arts. He executes or oversees the design and production of all promotional materials.
He joined the Ensemble of American Blues Theater in 2011.
MANNY BUCKLEY, Education Outreach Manager
Manny joined the Ensemble of American Blues Theater in 2012. He has acted in Waiting for Lefty and installments of Ripped: the Living Newspaper with ABT, as well as roles with Steppenwolf, Victory Gardens, Next, Stage Left, Gift, Mary Arrchie, Raven, and The Inconvenience. Prior to Chicago, Manny toured nationally with ArtReach, a division of Cincinnati Children’s Theater, as a performer and teaching artist in such productions as The Satchel Paige Story (as Satchel Paige). In addition to performing in schools for young audiences, Mr. Buckley has taught in public schools for over ten years and counting. His origination of the role as Carson in Hit the Wall, which played to sold out houses, garnered him the Best Actor Award from the Chicago Reader and a Black Theater Alliance Award as Best Featured Actor.
HEATHER MEYERS, Literary Associate
Heather joined the American Blues Theater Ensemble in 1996. She stage managed numerous productions over the years in Chicago as well as in Iowa, Indiana & Wisconsin. She’s worked in new play development for several years serving as the Program Director for The Relatives. Ms. Meyers created and produced the short play festival, Big Shoulders specifically dedicated to stories about Chicago that ran annually for 6 years. She also works with Warrior Art Studio collaborating with Veterans to develop art, discussion, and education.
KELLI MARINO, Dramaturg
Kelli served as dramaturg for Remy Bumppo Theatre Company, Timeline Theatre, Court Theatre, and A Red Orchid Theatre. She worked in Theatre Education with the American Blues Ensemble (while known as American Theater Company), Northlight Theatre, Collaboraction, and Citadel Theatre. Kelli holds a M.A. in Theatre Studies from the University of Arizona and a B.A. in Theatre Education from the University of Northern Colorado. She is the Co-Regional Vice-President of the Chicago Literary Managers and Dramaturgs of America and the proud Coordinator of Chicago’s Joseph Jefferson Artistic and Technical Team. She joined American Blues Theater as an Ensemble member in 2012.