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Meet Our Board of Directors

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Michele Pagen


Michele is a professor of theatre in the Department of Culture, Media, and Performance at California University of Pennsylvania. A native of southwestern Pennsylvania, Michele knew that if given the opportunity, she would build a place where area youth could study theatre and musical theatre in an environment that was safe and nurturing, yet challenging and professional. The Mon Valley Performing Arts Academy is just that place. She received her B.A. in Theatre from California University of Pennsylvania and her M.A. and Ph.D. in Directing and Staging Pedagogy from Bowling Green State University. Michele teaches the acting sequence, directing, and voice for the actor courses at the University. She is an Estill Master Trainer with Estill Voice International. 

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John Wagner

Vice President


John is a graduate from New York University with a MA in Performing Arts Administration and a graduate from Shenandoah University with a BFA in Musical Theatre. This is his 6th year teaching with the Academy, and he is also an instructor of Dance at Theatre at PennWest California. He is the Artistic Director for the Main Street Theatre Company, the resident theatre company at the State Theatre Center for the Arts. His directing and choreography credits include: Pippin, Beauty and the Beast, The Drowsy Chaperone, Newsies, Mamma Mia, Spring Awakening, Chicago, Peter Pan, Annie, Sweeney Todd, The Music Man, Carrie, Gypsy, Mary Poppins, Hairspray, The Producers, 42nd Street, The Nutcracker, and Cats. He is a proud member of the Actors’ Equity Association and his performing credits include: Spamalot, La Cage Aux Folles, Gypsy, All Shook Up, A Chorus Line, Anything Goes, Chicago, 42nd Street, and Footloose.

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Destiny Cumberland


Destiny Cumberland has served on the Board for the past year, appointed by her peers as tresurer. She also serves as the Administrative Assistant for MVPAA. Prior to her admin duties, she served for 2 years as the Acting Teacher for Upper Elementary, Middle School, and High School. Destiny holds a Master of Business Administration and Bachelor of Arts in Theatre from PennWest California, and is currently employed at Duquesne University on their Campus Visit and Events team. Destiny also completed an Arts Administration internship in London, England, during the summer of 2021 with The Space Theatre. An avid stage manager, event planner, and lover of all things type-A and dramatic, she finds passion in assisting the MVPAA in new endeavors year after year. 


Brendan Pavlick


Brendan is super excited to be a board member for MVPAA. He is thrilled to be a part of a strong team who seeks the absolute best for their students. His goal is to help MVPAA grow and grow. Brendan is a graduate of California University of Pennsylvania majoring in Theatre. Brendan is currently seeking his Master’s in Conflict Resolution at PennWest University. Brendan has been with MVPAA since 2019. He took on different roles including Production Stage Manager, Company Manager, and just recently the Summer Programming Manager. Brendan also spent time stage managing and academy managing at the Theatre Peckham in London, England, where he plans to return to in the near future.


Carla E. Anderton


Carla E. Anderton has taught English and Communications courses at the college and university levels since 2012. She is a California University of Pennsylvania (now PennWest California) and Seton Hill University graduate, and holds a Bachelor of Arts in English and a Master of Fine Arts in Writing. From 2010-2016, she was President of the Board of Directors of Jozart Center for the Arts, and she has served as the Secretary of the Board of Directors of Mon Valley Academy for the Arts since 2020. She founded and edited the monthly news magazine Pennsylvania Bridges from 2014-2019 and has worked in journalism for over 25 years. She is a published author and a recognized expert on the Jack the Ripper murders. She has one daughter, Elle, and lives in Daisytown.


Sarah Martik


Sarah Martik is an alumni of the Mon Valley Performing Arts Academy and California University of Pennsylvania’s Department of Theatre & Dance. During her studies, she served as an Academy Assistant, worked four summers with Summer Experience, and was a course instructor for Beginning Voice. She is now the Executive Director of the Center for Coalfield Justice, a local environmental justice nonprofit based out of Washington, PA, and holds a Masters in Public Administration and Policy in addition to her undergraduate B.A. in Theatre and Spanish. one daughter, Elle, and lives in Daisytown.

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