Meet The Staff
Betsi Graves, founder and director of Urbanity Dance, is originally from Kansas and Orlando, Florida, and moved to Boston in 2000. Her dance training includes studies in ballet, jazz, and modern dance under the direction of Gaymarie Tomlinson and later, performing with Southern Ballet Theatre, now Orlando Ballet. At the age of 17, she was selected by Mia Michaels to tour across the U.S. on full scholarship with LA Undergound. She taught ballet, modern, and jazz at Harvard University, Boston College, Regis College, and Boston Ballet (2002-2012). Graves is an alumna of Jacob’s Pillow Choreographer’s Lab (2006), Green Street Studios Emerging Artists Program (2008), and holds a BA in English from Boston College. She performed professionally as a modern dancer for Karen Murphy's Limón-based Falling Flight Project (2008-2010) and as a street performer for Theatre Mama and Cirque du Soleil’s Kooza (2008). As a choreographer, Ms. Graves has garnered grant support from Massachusetts Cultural Council, the City of Boston and Boston Dance Alliance. Recent commissions include works for A Far Cry, UMass, Regis College, Plymouth State, Boston Ballet School, Touch Performance Art, and a diverse array of corporate/commercial clients.
Since founding Urbanity Dance in June 2008, the company has experienced a roller coaster of growth; the company was voted “Best of Boston" and shortlisted for Bostinno's 50 on Fire in 2013. In the last three years, Graves' choreography for Urbanity has been presented at Jacob's Pillow Dance Festival Inside/Out, Alvin Ailey Citigroup Theater, Mass MOCA, Boston's Institute of Contemporary Art, and venues across New England, New York, Virginia, Texas, and Florida. Graves takes great pride on Urbanity's emphasis on school and community, which touches over 5,000 people annually through it's programs. She leads Dance With Parkinson's classes, training under David Leventhal (Mark Morris Dance Group). In 2012, Graves founded the Boston Contemporary Dance Festival, which hosts 35 contemporary dance companies from around the world. She is honored to be a leader within Boston's rising cultural landscape, thrilled to be a part of the global community elevating this art form, and grateful to all supporters who have touched Urbanity over the years.
Marco Carneiro first came to Boston as a music student and has been working with arts organizations throughout Greater Boston ever since. Before joining Urbanity, he was most recently the programs & marketing administrator at the Hopkinton Center for the Arts where he worked to build year-round and seasonal programs across the visual and performing arts for all ages, during which time the organization saw significant growth in engagement, program diversity and enrollment, and revenue. He also founded and served as the managing artistic director of the Boston Stage Company from 2008-2011. Highlights from his time with BSC included directing and designing the east coast premiere of the Satori Group's acclaimed original work iLove:, and curating Revue, a multidisciplinary arts festival featuring more than two dozen local artists. As a coach and music director, he has worked with community and collegiate theater groups and choral ensembles in Boston and MetroWest, in addition to leading voice and diction workshops for non-singers across multiple disciplines.
Marco has also enjoyed working for Dialog Projects, SongFest, Ashmont Hill Chamber Music, and Guerilla Opera, as well as serving as a community advisor for ArtWeek Boston and as a member of the Milford Cultural Council. Before graduating magna cum laude with his BA in Arts & Entertainment Management from Dean College, he studied voice performance at the Boston Conservatory.
Director of Education
Alison Merrill was born and raised in Ridgefield, CT where she began her dance training at the Ridgefield Conservatory of Dance. She attended Elon University and received a major in Public Health and Human Services. After graduating, Alison moved to Boston to serve as the founding dance instructor at Brooke Mattapan Charter School were she created an arts integration curriculum that served 500 students. Prior to Brooke, Alison was the Dance Director at Chimney Corners YMCA. There she facilitated a partnership with Jacob's Pillow Dance Festival.She is currently dancing with one of Boston’s elite hip hop company’s, Concept Artists under the direction of Tarikh Campbell and Sean Bjerke. Past performance credits include but are not limited to Sony Music, the Orchard Record Label, Hottspot, World of Dance Boston, Monsters of Hip Hop, and RAW Boston Artists. Alison would like to thank Tarikh Campbell, Sean Bjerke, James Robey and her former colleagues at Brooke Charter School for their profound influences on her dance style and teaching ability.
Haley Day has been a mover and shaker (and perhaps an endorphin addict) from an early age. She danced her way from her hometown of St. Louis to college in Kansas City where she got a BFA in Dance Performance with a dual emphasis in ballet and modern; in the Fall of 2013 she moved to Boston to join the company of Urbanity. In the Fall of 2014 she came on as the School Principal of Urbanity as well as dancing in the company. In her spare time, she enjoys her two cats, her boyfriend, and Ben and Jerry's.
Michelle Thomas is a Artist and Author living in Boston, Massachusetts. She is most intrigued by issues of communication; from how people choose to use or shun labels, to the nonverbal communication of dance. Her work investigates how written and visual form can communicate together, often experimenting with format and process. She strives to call attention to issues within her own communities, and help to give a point of access and understanding to those outside of the community. Michelle graduated from the Massachusetts College of Art and Design. You can view her artwork and interactive dance installations at michellebthomas.com
Cayley Christoforou is a New England based artist who strives to blend her love of the arts with her skills in business. Her choreography has been presented at the Boston Contemporary Dance Festival (2014, 2016) and Southern Vermont Dance Festival (2015). She is currently an adjunct professor and choreographer for the Salve Regina University dance program. In November of 2016, Christoforou received the honor of being the assistant director of Salve's Extensions Dance Company Concert 2016.
Cayley received her masters degree in business administration, as well as an undergraduate degree in English communications and dance from Salve Regina University. During her undergraduate experience, Cayley was an integral part of the Salve dance program. She was a dancer and choreographer for Extensions Dance Company, the PR Coordinator of SRU Dance, and the first student to direct the Student Choreography Showcase. Upon graduation, Cayley received the Salve Regina University Dance Award 2015.
Meet The Board
Anmol Mehra, who grew up in Texas, is a Portfolio Manager for Fidelity Investments. Anmol is the Board Chair and has been involved with Urbanity Dance for almost 3 years. A lover of all forms of arts, he also serves on the Board of Directors of Music For All an organization he was first involved with over 20 years ago. Anmol has a BS in Mathematics/Actuarial Studies and an MBA in Finance, both from the University of Texas at Austin. He also serves on the Advisory Board for the University of Texas MBA Investment Fund.
Dan Devoe is Director of Marketing at Legal Hero, Inc. Before entering the startup world, Dan was a practicing attorney at Ropes & Gray LLP. Dan graduated from the Boston University School of Law. He also performed the role of Joe in Urbanity's Within the Lines.
John Lee, originally from Chicago, is the Principal - Information Privacy & Risk Management at Raytheon . He was a nationally ranked figure skater in ice dancing and was trained by renowned national/international coaches. He continues to stay connected to the sport by coaching skaters of all ages and was introduced to Urbanity through a mutual friend. John has a MS in Investment Management from Boston University, MS in Accounting from Boston College, and a BS in Management from UMass-Boston.
Ben Hires joined the BCC in July 2009 as the Director of Programs. In this role, Hires is responsible for providing direction, management and coordination of all choir activities. Hires has held positions at the Boston Youth Symphony Orchestras where he learned the importance of music in young people’s lives. Prior to the BYSO, Hires served as a counselor at an outdoor therapeutic program for teens in Paint Rock Valley, Alabama. Prior to BCC, Hires served as the Executive Director of the New England String Ensemble. Hires serves on the Board of Urbanity Dance, the Board of the Allston Brighton Community Development Corporation, Executive Committee of the Harvard Allston Public Realm Flexible Fund, Advisory Committee for the Boston Chinatown Neighborhood Center’s One Chinatown Arts Center and as president of the BU Arts Administration Alumni Association. He was also a community chair for the Boston Creates Arts and Culture planning process and has been part of the Big Brothers Big Sisters program of Massachusetts Bay and College Access Mentor program for the Boston Chinatown Neighborhood Center. Hires earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Philosophy and Political Science, a Master of Theological Studies, and a Master of Science in Arts Administration from Boston University. Ben is an avid triathlete, competing in Ironman events.
From beautiful Monte Sereno, CA, Vanessa Driscoll is a Program Manager in Teradyne’s Defense and Aerospace group, guiding cross-functional engineering and operational teams throughout a program’s lifecycle. Vanessa studied ballet and danced in college spurring her lifelong dedication to the art form. Her affinity continues evermore as both a Board Member and Urbanity Underground dancer. Vanessa also seeks to improve Boston communities, promote voluntarism, and develop the potential of women as a member of Junior League of Boston, where she previously served as Director of Fund Development. Vanessa graduated from Boston University with both a BA in Biology and a BS in Business Administration & Management.
Vita Murrow is an artist, educator and seasoned non profit leader. She currently works as a children’s author crafting wordless pictures books together with her husband Ethan Murrow and Candlewick Press. Their most recent book “The Whale” is nominated for a CILIP Carnegie and Kate Greenaway Medal, the UK's oldest and most prestigious children's book award. Previously Vita was Director of a regional school partnerships program, and regularly collaborates with leading literacy organizations including Wondermore and Raising A Reader. Vita earned her MSEd in Education and Teaching Literacy from the Bank Street College of Education in New York City, and holds a BFA from Cornish College of the Arts in Seattle. Vita previously served as a public school educator in New York City and Seattle and specialized in supporting students with learning differences. As an Artist, Vita has a for passion children’s media and literature, and has worked in publishing at Art with Heart (a nonprofit publisher of books for children in crisis), in television in the films department at Sesame Street, and was the co-creator of the short film “Dust,” Official Selection in the 46th annual New York Film Festival (produced with Harvest Films, Santa Monica, CA). Vita is an Urbanity parent to two young dancers, and grew up dancing and performing herself in regional theater and at a performing arts high school in her home town of Minneapolis.
Jennifer Fo is an equity research analyst at Fidelity Investments where she makes recommendations on investments in small cap healthcare companies. She joined Fidelity in 2009 after graduation from Boston College with a BS in Business Management. Hoping to continue pursuing her passion for dance and the arts, she was grateful for the opportunity to join Urbanity Underground and remains an active member. She has watched the organization grow from just an idea to what it is today and is honored to serve now as a board member. Jennifer is originally from Irvine, CA.
Gary Knell is a founding partner of the design build firm Studio FKIA. Since 1992, Studio FKIA has been a creative force in boston's design community; their ability to think outside the box and freely collaborate has garnered them respect among boston's best designers and entrepreneurs, such as CBT Architects, Flour Bakery, Winston's Flowers, and Hacin + Associates. Gary was exposed to Urbanity by his son Ethan, who was their first student, and he has since danced in numerous Urbanity performances. Gary has a Bachelors Degree in Architecture from Wentworth Institute of Technology.
Ray Pasciuto is the Director of Development and Member Services at The New England Anti-Vivisection Society in Boston. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Journalism/Public relations from Suffolk University. As a long-time development professional, Ray's personal mission is to increase the impact of nonprofit organizations, bolster the sustainability of their missions and the effectiveness of their staffs, by designing, implementing and spearheading successful fund raising programs. His development experience has spanned over twenty years, including Suffolk University, The National Center on Family Homelessness, Cambridge Friends School, The American Association for Thoracic Surgery (AATS), and The AATS Graham Foundation, and Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerages CARES. Ray lives in Peabody, MA with his husband Tim, and their pooch, Cosmo (a miniature schnauzer).
Liz Marconi served as the Treasurer of the Anthony Quinn Foundation for the past five years. Liz was formally a controller for AEW Capital Management’s direct investments group. Prior to AEW, Liz worked as an assurance supervising senior associate at PricewaterhouseCoopers, LLP in Boston. Liz is a Certified Public Accountant. She received a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from Washington University in St. Louis.
Meet The Advisory Council
Michelle Chasse Chair, Musical Theater Dance at Boston Conservatory
Thomas Kaplan-Maxfield Author, English Professor at Boston College
Juri Love Founder, Genuine Voices
Eric Martin President and CEO, Music for All
Ethan Murrow Graduate, Drawing and Painting Faculty, School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
Bill Nigreen Principal, Facilitation for Social Change
Julie Roper Marketing and Events Manager
Michele Rozen Principal, Rozen Communications
Michelle Smith Executive Director, Houston Met Dance Company
Myran Parker-Brass Executive Director, Arts for Boston Public Schools
C.A. Webb Partner and Co-Founder at Assemble VC