Our Staff

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Kat Almirañez, Associate Artistic Director, has been working in the field of theatre in education for over 18 years. Prior to joining The Project community, Kat was part of the Creative Arts Team (CAT) community for 21 years, going from youth theatre member in 1996 to becoming Program Director for the Literacy through Drama program. Kat is a visual artist, theatre artist, and a human rights activist. She earned her BA at New York University and is currently studying in the MA in Applied Theatre program at CUNY School of Professional Studies.
Ahmed Attia, Development Associate, is a former Project kid and a graduate of Lehman College where he earned his BA in History and in Theatre. He is currently working on earning his master’s degree in History at Lehman College as well. Prior to re-joining the Project, Ahmed was a part of the Whitney Museum’s membership team for 2 years, joining them when they moved to their new location downtown. He was also an Educator at the New York Historical Society, where he enjoyed guiding kids of all ages through the museum’s exhibitions. More than anything, Ahmed loves tennis, despite a woeful record playing for the Lehman College tennis team (a record Ahmed refuses to speak about or acknowledge).
George Babiak, Director of Design & Production, worked for years as a bicycle mechanic at Bicycle Habitat in New York City while futilely pursuing a career in the theater. Prior to working at the Project, he helped found Recycle-A-Bicycle. George also traveled the world as a member of TheaterSports New York, an improv comedy troupe. He has a degree in English Literature from Hunter College. George is also a PADI SCUBA Divemaster and member of the New York Aquarium Volunteer Dive Team. One of his latest and proudest achievements is swimming the Hellespont in August of 2015 with his wife Vanessa Valdes. He loves the Project, is delighted to finally have that elusive career in the theater, and wants to work here for a couple of centuries.
Liz Bell, LCSW, Director of Education, received a BA in English with a minor in Philosophy from Villanova University in 1998. She began volunteering at the Project as a Homework Helper in 2000, becoming an intern that same year. In 2001, aside from joining the Project staff, she completed her MA in American and British Literature from NYU. In 2009, she received her MSW at Fordham University, with a concentration in clinical social work and a specialization in children and families, earning licensure in 2010. In 2017, she became a licensed clinical social worker, and received her certification in Child and Adolescent Psychotherapy at IPTAR (Institute for Psychoanalytic Training and Research).
Kali Crandall, Development Director, joins The 52nd Street Project from NYU’s Center for Ballet and the Arts where she held the positions of Associate and Manager of Events, Communications, and Development. Previously, Kali was the Executive Assistant to the Executive Director at the Alvin Ailey Dance Foundation, and has held the positions of Manager of Institutional Giving and Development Associate & Operations Manager at RIOULT Dance NY. Kali holds a Master’s Degree in Arts and Cultural Management with a focus in non-profit administration from Pratt Institute and received a B.A. from the University of Rochester in Brain & Cognitive Science and Studio Arts.
Caylyn Creager, Education Assistant, is a Bay Area native and graduate of NYU Tisch with a BFA in theatre and minor in Law & Society. At NYU she performed in the Stella Adler tour of The Two Gentlemen of Verona and was VP of the Asian American Theatre Alliance. Caylyn has taught at Kids On Camera and the Marsh Youth Theatre as well as interned at the American Museum of Natural History. Recently, she spent a sunny summer at the Marin Shakespeare Company. She is super excited to join the Project staff and to get to know all the talented Project kids! 
Brian Freeland, Production Manager, joined the Project in the summer of 2017. Prior to joining the Project he ran a number of independent theatre venues in Denver, Colorado. Brian is a director, writer, sound, and media artist having worked nationally and internationally for the past 25 years. He was a founding member of The LIDA Project where he served as artistic director from 1995-2015 and co-founder of Countdown To Zero, a political theatre collective. Brian received his education from the University of Colorado at Denver and The American Musical and Dramatic Academy.
Natalie Hirsch, Artistic Director, was born and raised in San Francisco. She attended Brown University and then received a Masters in Applied Theater from the City University of New York. Before coming to the Project, she directed the Junior Youth Theater of the Creative Arts Team. For many summers, she was the Performance Coordinator of Camp Winnarainbow, a performance arts and circus camp in Northern California. Natalie can speak fluent French, juggle, and walk on stilts. She is also trained in a number of different dance techniques. She is totally exhilarated to be joining the Project Team.
Garrett Kim, Program Director, joined the staff in 2015 after interning and volunteering at the Project. He has taught at First Stage Children’s Theater in Milwaukee for their Theatre Academy and their Next Steps program for students with autism at First Stage, where he’s also an alumnus of their pre-professional actor training program Young Company. Outside of his work at the Project, he creates and develops new theater, and he’s a member of Dramatists Guild of America. Garrett graduated summa cum laude from Fordham University in May 2016 with departmental honors in Theater, concentrating in playwriting & directing.
Carol Ochs, Executive Director, has worked in the non-profit theater community for over 25 years. Carol came to the Project from Lincoln Center Theater where she worked for five years as assistant general manager. Previously, she was director of marketing and development for the Ark Theater Company of Soho. She holds an MFA in Theater Management from the Yale School of Drama and has taught there. She is a board member of the Human Arts Association, of ART/NY and has sat on the Nancy Quinn Fund and NYC Department of Cultural Affairs grants panels.
Gus Rogerson, Producing Director, started at the Project as a volunteer in 1991. He has been a member of the New York theater community for more than 20 years. His acting credits include the original productions of SIX DEGREES OF SEPARATION, FACE VALUE, and THE GREY ZONE, and the film IN AND OUT, opposite Matt Dillon. His directing credits include the American premiere of David Harrower’s first play, KNIVES IN HENS. He served as associate producer for the feature film SUNDAY, which won the Grand Jury Prize at the 1997 Sundance Film Festival. He is a graduate of Dartmouth College.
John Sheehy, Director of Institutional Advancement, joined The 52nd Street Project from Lincoln Center Theater where he was Development Associate and Research Associate for four years. Prior to that he worked at the Long Wharf Theater in New Haven, CT. John is also a lyricist and published playwright with an MFA in Dramatic Writing from Brandeis University. His plays have been seen in Boston, New York, Los Angeles and Louisville, KY.
Johanna Vidal, Community Coordinator, is a former Project kid and a graduate of the University of Michigan with a degree in Spanish. While at U of M, she was co-Entertainment Chair of EnspiRED, an arts organization focused on self-expression. She also interned for En Nuestra Lengua, a Spanish immersion program where she helped kindergarten students enhance their vocabularies in their native language of Spanish. She is thrilled to join the Project as a full-time staff member!
Yazzy Wilder, Office Manager, is also a former Project kid and the first recipient of The Henry and Gloria Jacobs Scholarship, a full scholarship to the University of Michigan for qualified alumni of The 52nd Street Project. She graduated in 2009 with a BA in Economics and has worked in both sales and banking since then. At the University of Michigan she was one of the organizers of The Latino Culture Show, and was on the fundraising team for F.O.K.U.S. (Fighting Obstacles Knowing Ultimate Success) whose mission is to educate, empower, and unite communities by using traditional and non-traditional forms of art. Yazzy began working with the Project in October 2016 and in her first staff meeting she told everyone “It feels great to be back, I feel like I never left.”  
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