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.
Stacy Handler is a passionate arts administrator and arts advocate. Prior to joining Urbanity as Managing Director, she served in senior leadership roles with several NYC-based institutions, including Gibney Dance, Lumberyard Center for Film and Performance (previously American Dance Institute), and The New York Pops. Stacy specializes in fundraising strategy and has extensive experience in expanding donor networks, securing institutional support, and implementing special events. Stacy received her M.A. in Performing Arts Administration from New York University and her B.A. in Psychology from Emory University in Atlanta, GA. She is a classically trained mezzo-soprano and a graduate of the Ballet Etudes Company of South Florida. Today, singing and dancing remain beloved hobbies of hers, as she is a member of Chorus pro Musica and enjoys the occasional contemporary class. Stacy is also proud to have completed her first marathon, the New York City Marathon, in November 2015. She and her husband, Jesse, live in Boston with their adorable cat, Catniss.
Director of Education
Leilani Ricardo is a life long New Englander and devotee of the arts. Prior to her transition to Director of Education, Ms Ricardo spent five years as an instructor for Urbanity. As an Urbanity Staff member, she has taught with more than a dozen community partners ranging from individual workshops to year long high school residencies. At the School she has taught levels I - V of Contemporary, Adult Beginner Contemporary, multiple levels of Ballet, summer camps, Improvisation, and private lessons. She has served as Resident Director of Urbanity's Summer Intensive for three season, as well as taught Ballet, Jazz (commercial & musical theater) and Improvisation during SI. Outside of Urbanity, Ms. Ricardo spent several seasons as a Lead Teacher for Boston Ballet’s Education and Community Initiative, taught for the Massachusetts Educational Theater Guild, and taught both dance and theater in various Boston Public School locations. She is proud to have coached students who have gone on to attend Boston Conservatory, Kirov Academy, and her own alma mater.
As a performer, Ms. Ricardo has appeared in both fringe and regional theaters throughout New England including Commonwealth Shakespeare Company and Imaginary Beasts, both acted and danced at Outside the Box, and danced for National Endowment for the Arts recipient Kat Nasti/Kat Nasti Dance. She has also served as choreographer, dance captain, assistant choreographer, fight captain, assistant fight choreographer, movement coach/captain for numerous theater companies through out New England. She received her Artist Certification from the City of Boston in 2016.
Ms. Ricardo holds a BA in Dance from Dean College, where she graduated Summa Cum Laude. The summer immediately following her graduation, Ms. Ricardo attended the Commonwealth Shakespeare Company Apprentice Program on their first ever Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival Scholarship Award. Previous to her college experience Ms. Ricardo trained at Ballet New England and was coached by John Ling. She holds several black belts and various rankings in a variety of Martial Arts styles. Her belief is that dance is for everybody and every body and that there is joy in rigor.
Artistic Operations & Social Media Manager
Cayley Christoforou is a New England based artist who strives to blend her love of the arts with her skills in business. She has been adjunct faculty member and choreographer for the Salve Regina University and Providence College dance programs. Her choreography has been presented at the Boston Contemporary Dance Festival (2014, 2016,2017), Salem Arts Festival (2018), and Southern Vermont Dance Festival (2015). In November of 2016, Christoforou received the honor of being the assistant director of Salve's Extensions Dance Company Concert 2016. She was also featured in the Dance Studio Life Magazine 2017 Contemporary and Modern Issue.
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.
School Administrative Manager
Lindsay Gray was born and raised on the North Shore in Saugus, MA. Her love for dance started at a local studio, leading her to Hofstra University to pursue her Bachelor of Arts in Dance. During her time at Hofstra, Lindsay performed in faculty-choreographed works by Rachel List, Robin Becker, Colin Stilwell, and Caroline Copeland, as well as guest-choreographed pieces by Igal Perry, Frederick Earl Mosley, and Larry Keigwin.
In addition to her performance experience, Lindsay presented choreography at the American College Dance Association festival in 2017, and at the New York University Choreography Seminar in 2018, completed three arts administrative internships, and produced four student-run dance showcases. To finish up her time at Hofstra, Lindsay wrote a departmental thesis on the intersection of ballet and politics throughout the history of Russia, which earned her departmental honors. She earned the Citation of Merit from the Department of Drama and Dance and Lindsay graduated summa cum laude from Hofstra University in 2018.
Lindsay has previously worked with Boston Ballet School and continues to teach at Melrose Dance Academy. Her passion and enthusiasm for the arts is fueled by its ability to impact individuals and society, and she seeks to use her creativity and talents to support dance education through administration in Boston.
Marketing & Communications Manager
Jason Leonhard has been working in the arts and non-profit industries since the age of 16. He recently graduated from Muhlenberg College in Allentown, PA with a BA in music composition & theory and media & communications. He has written for, performed in, and served as music director for several choral and instrumental ensembles, worked as a music theory & composition tutor, and composed/sound designed for a multitude of student films and staged productions.
Professionally, he has worked in marketing, design, and writing roles for organizations including Miller Symphony Hall, The Gay Journal, the Muhlenberg College Department of Theatre & Dance—and Urbanity! He seeks to spread arts accessibility and the joy of creative expression across all communities.
Ashley Fazio was born and raised along the shore of South Jersey where she spent her time growing up at the beach and boardwalk. Ashley always expressed a love for dance since a young age and continues to feel strongly about her passion today. After attending a performing arts high school in Sommers Point, NJ, Ashley attended Hofstra University, double majoring in public relations and dance. In her time at Hofstra, Ashley participated in various dance productions and worked with choreographers including Amy Marshall of Amy Marshall Dance Company in New York, and guest choreographer Maxine Steinman. Ashley was also a dancer in a student choreographed piece that was chosen to represent Hofstra University at the American College Dance Association festival.
Outside of dance, Ashley has worked with Paramount Pictures, Girls on the Run - Long Island, Executive Enterprise, and Bishop McHugh Regional Catholic School. Ashley is a recent graduate of Hofstra University, a creative go-getter, and strives to stay positive and see the good in every situation. Working with Urbanity Dance, Ashley feels a purpose and is inspired through dance every day.
Michaela Henry is a graduate student at Boston University studying Arts Administration. She received a BFA in Dance Performance and Choreography from Kent State University. While at Kent, Michaela had the opportunity to perform, choreograph, teach, and emerge in leadership roles such as Student Director of the 2016 Student Dance Festival. Additionally, while she was a company member of the Kent Dance Ensemble, she had the opportunity to travel to Florence, Italy to participate in the OpenFLR three-week summer intensive and performance.
Michaela is originally from Pittsburgh, PA and she has a rich variety of dance and theatre experience. She attended a performing arts high school, Lincoln Park Performing Arts Charter School, where she majored in musical theatre. Since moving to Boston, Michaela has worked as an Administrative Assistant and Dance/Movement Teacher to preschoolers at the New England Hebrew Academy. She has also performed with Boston University’s Dance Theatre Group and in the Boston Contemporary Dance Festival. At Urbanity, Michaela will also be the Company Intern this fall as well as a member of Urbanity Underground. After she completes her graduate program this coming May, Michaela aspires to continue to work as part of the Urbanity team as well as continue to grow and emerge as a dance artist in Boston.
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.
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.
Ben Hires is currently the Director of Strategic Partnerships at the Boston Public Library. In this role, Ben is responsible for maintaining and building strong, diversified relationships to advance the Library's mission by ensuring the success of its philanthropic efforts and major organizational partnerships from sectors across the community. Ben has held positions at the Boston Children's Chorus (BCC) and Boston Youth Symphony Orchestras where he learned the importance of social justice and music in young people’s lives. 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, and Advisory Committee of Boston Chinatown Neighborhood Center’s Pao Arts Center. He formerly served on the Executive Committee of the Harvard Allston Public Realm Flexible Fund, president of the Boston University Arts Administration Alumni Association, community chair for the Boston Creates Arts and Culture planning process and has been a mentor for Big Brothers Big Sisters and 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 all from Boston University.
From beautiful Monte Sereno, CA, Vanessa Mulcahey 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 for Centerboard, a community based nonprofit organization that revitalizes communities by investing in their people and places, in Lynn MA. 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-five 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, The New England Anti-Vivisection Society and Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerages CARES. Ray lives in Peabody, MA with his husband, Tim.
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.
Nicolle Diver was classically trained in ballet and performed with the Joffrey Ballet and the San Francisco Ballet. She was introduced to the freedom and beauty of contemporary dance while studying Modern Dance at the University of California, Berkeley. After hanging up her leotards and a career in Financial Services, she is focused on raising two young Urbanity hip hop dancers and preserving arts in the South End.
Meghan Perdue is a Digital Learning Fellow at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where she produces online courses and digital tools for residential and open use for the School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences. She is passionate about supporting arts and arts education in Boston, in a way that builds community and celebrates diversity. She has been a big fan of Urbanity for many years, and is thrilled to join the board and help the organization grow. She hails from Fort Worth, Texas, and completed her Bachelors degree at the University of Oklahoma, and her masters degree at Harvard University.
Amy d'Ablemont Burnes
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