Karen Hough, Founder and CEO

Karen Hough is the Founder & CEO of ImprovEdge, and has been using improvisation as an engaging learning tool for over 12 years. She is the author of the Amazon #1 category Bestseller, “The Improvisation Edge: Secrets to Building Trust and Radical Collaboration at Work” published by Berrett-Koehler, and the Yes! Deck, a handy deck of cards packed with exercises, tips and ideas. Karen is working on her second book which will be published in spring 2014.  ImprovEdge received the silver Stevie International Award for “Most Innovative Company of the Year 2012” for Women in Business. She is the recipient of the Athena PowerLink Award for outstanding women-owned business, and ImprovEdge is a certified WBE (Women’s Business Enterprise). Ms. Hough writes numerous articles for industry media, and has been featured in ASTD’s T&D magazine, Mashable.com, BusinessInsider.com; she is also a regular contributor to the Huffington Post and Inc.com. She is a national conference keynote speaker on topics such as executive presence and presentation skills, negotiation, and leadership. Read more…

Jason Sudy

Jason Sudy is the founder of Side Street Planning, a city planning firm headquartered in downtown Columbus, Ohio. Jason has 15 years of professional urban planning experience with both public and private sector clients. Jason has a passion for cities and founded Side Street Planning to help make our cities something greater. Jason has a degree from Case Western Reserve University in Political Science and a Masters of City and Regional Planning from The Ohio State University. Jason is an adjunct faculty member at The Ohio State University in the City and Regional Planning Department of the Knowlton School of Architecture. Teaching at Ohio State since 2005, Jason has influenced hundreds of city planning students, both graduate and undergraduate, and stays continually involved by teaching in both the fall and spring semesters. Jason is highly active in the local theater and improvisational community in Central Ohio. He regularly acts, directs and produces full-length and short scripted works with MadLab, OGP, On the Verge, and Fake Bacon Productions. He is a founding member of the short-form improvisational troupe Fake Bacon that has performed over 200 shows since forming in 2006. Jason has also performed with FFN, the Downright Five and numerous other improvisational comedy troupes in Columbus.

Dionysia Williams

Dionysia Williams is a Broadway dancer, singer and actor. A proud graduate of Wright State University, Williams has toured across the country and internationally (China, Europe) performing  Broadway musicals. Select credits include “Forbidden Broadway”, “Marvelous Wonderettes”, “The Pajama Game”, “Grease”, “Fame”, “Anything Goes”, “Cats”, and “A Chorus Line”. Miss Williams is also a professional choreographer and deeply committed to youth dance development. She has been a lead instructor for Interlochen Arts Camp, Wright State University, Columbus Children’s Theatre, CATCO, and many high schools.  She is currently on faculty at BalletMet Dance Academy, the premiere school attached to Columbus, Ohio’s professional ballet company. Williams is considered an expert in landing parts, jobs and handling interviews and has taught master classes around the country.

Michael A. Shepperd

Michael has led the way in creating meaningful, memorable experiences for groups from insurance professionals to accounting partners. He is also the Artistic Director of Celebration Theatre in Los Angeles. Michael’s award-winning acting credits include roles on Broadway, and television including “NCIS,” “Criminal Minds,” “ER,” “Monk,” “Frasier,” “Friends,” “Arrested Development,” and “Ally McBeal.”

Brooke Cartus

Brooke Cartus is a facilitator with ImprovEdge. She received her J.D. from The Michael E. Moritz College of Law at The Ohio State University, and was a 2014 recipient of the Michael E. Moritz Leadership Award for exceptional service to the legal and educational community. She has worked with numerous statewide and national organizations including The Ohio Art League, the Ohio Educator’s Association, Equality Ohio, and The Human Rights Campaign. She recently presented at the 2014 Ohio State University National Conference on Race, Diversity and Learning. She has facilitated public discussions with a wide range of organizations and individuals, including the Columbus Police Department and former NFL players Wade Davis and Chris Kluwe. Brooke started her career at The Crane School of Music in New York studying classical music, and continues to perform regionally and nationally as a stand-up comedian. She has been published by The Huffington Post, as well as Outlook Ohio and 614 Magazine.

Mike Everett-Lane

Mike Everett-Lane is the Executive Director of College Summit New York, a non-profit organization that works with public schools to increase the number of students enrolling, and succeeding, in college. He is a graduate of Yale University, where he received departmental honors in Political Science, and Harvard Business School, where he authored “The Holland House,” an HBS case. Mr. Everett-Lane has over eighteen years of experience in the nonprofit sector, new media, communications, and management consulting.

Michelle Wilson

Michelle Wilson is a Creative Lead and Senior Facilitator for ImprovEdge. She is also a New York City based actress, director and facilitator. For the last 15 years, Michelle has been facilitating the exploration of where art and business principles meet. After training employees from numerous fortune 500 corporations, she has learned that instigating the creative flow within an organization is the key to organizational growth. “The role of play and creative learning are underutilized treasures that we at ImprovEdge mine for gold.”

Jamie Pachino

Jamie is a senior facilitator, keynote speaker and writer for ImprovEdge. As an educator, Jamie has taught at Northwestern University (her alma mater), University of California, Irvine, as well as Columbia College, National Louis University and the Chicago Academy for the Arts in Chicago. Jamie originally trained as an actress, and received her improvisational training in Chicago where she lived for almost 15 years. Jamie currently writes for TV and film, with series for work TNT and USA, teleplays for Hallmark Hall of Fame, Lifetime and UP, and features for Disney, DreamWorks, Walden Media, Lions Gate and more. Also an award winning playwright, Jamie’s plays have been published, commissioned and produced and developed by such companies as Steppenwolf, American Conservatory Theatre, Long Wharf, Hartford Stage, San Jose Rep, Geva, Florida Stage and many more. More at www.jamiepachino.com

Erika Jackson

Erika is a Lead Instructional Designer and Facilitator with ImprovEdge. In addition, Erika is the VP of Training and Operations for Wellcoaches Corporation. As a Board Certified Coach and Professional Certified Coach with the International Coach Federation, Erika also advises the ImprovEdge Coaching practice. She has expertise in adult learning methodology and an expansive toolbox of teaching methodologies. She has consistently engaged in on-going skill development through various coaching schools as well as concentrated study in Appreciative Inquiry and Non-Violent Communication. She earned her MA from Ohio State University.

Melissa Smolko

Melissa is Director of Communications and Client Experience for ImprovEdge. She is an accomplished program/project manager and strategist with specific expertise in marketing, public relations, content development and social media.  Previous to ImprovEdge, Melissa held various positions at a large regional bank, most recently managing small business program implementation and an affinity program for women. Her communications background includes work at various organizations requiring technical writing – banking and medical communications. She created, produced, directed and acting in a variety of improvisational theater productions – both long-form and game/skit-based. In addition, she founded and produced for a site-specific theater company. Melissa is a graduate of John Carroll University and resides in Cleveland, Ohio, with her husband and son.

April Olt

In addition to serving as a facilitator for ImprovEdge, April has worked with theatre companies and creative artists as an artist, director, producer, manager, instructor and dramaturg in LA, NYC, Chicago, and Columbus. As an educator, she teaches with several theatre companies in the Columbus area and creates specialty workshops and camps for children and youth.  April has also taught courses at Ohio Dominican University, Sinclair Community College, and COTC. April received her B.F.A. in Theatre Performance from Illinois Wesleyan University and her M.F.A. in Directing/Dramaturgy from Roosevelt University in Chicago.

Christy Fryman

As an Executive Coordinator for ImprovEdge, Christy uses her strong skills in business administration, project management, sales and customer service to provide the best client experience and relationship possible. Aside from her role with ImprovEdge, Christy uses her background in music and singing to teach young children music on a weekly basis. She received her BA from Hyles-Anderson College.

David J. Thompson, Ph.D.

David has over 20 years of experience of creating and leading individual and organizational improvement initiatives. David has conducted hundreds of workshops to audiences ranging from Amgen to Michelin, Abbot Labs to Target, and the University of Kentucky to the IT Agency of the Sultanate of Oman. His topics and areas of expertise include team building, Crucial Conversations, change management, work/life effectiveness, total rewards, the multi-generational workforce, conflict management, and creative play at work. As the Director of Global Learning & Development for NetJets, he created and led all the leadership development for the 6,000 employees for NetJets Services, NetJets Europe, and Executive Jet Management. Previously. He was the Director of Learning for Resource (the largest independent Ad Agency in the country), and created a comprehensive learning and development program covering a variety of strategic and leadership topics. He also spent several years working as an HR Strategy Manager at Microsoft and the WorkLife Director at Purdue. He has held several positions in the classroom, teaching MBA courses for the Fisher College of Business, The Ohio State University, Ohio University, and Capital University. He has been tapped for his workplace expertise and interviewed on CNN, and published in Wellness Management, Careers and Engineer and WorldatWork Journal. When he’s not standing at his computer (yes, standing! He doesn’t sit), he enjoys teaching kids how to hit an outside fastball as a youth baseball coach and how to pitch a tent in the winter as a Boy Scout leader.

Dan Montour

Dan is a facilitator with ImprovEdge. He utilizes his Master of Education in Foreign and Second Language from The Ohio State University and experience from improv comedy to help those find their voice in a second, (or first) language. He has developed a pedagogical style that uses Applied Improv to develop linguistic and interpersonal goals. Dan has designed and taught workshops with various departments at Ohio State including the Spoken English Program, College of Social Work, Mortiz College of Law, Fisher College of Business, Postdoctoral Advisory Council, and the Office of International Affairs (OIA). As a Program Coordinator for OIA, he develops events and workshops that bridge the cultural and linguistic gap between international and domestic students. Outside of OSU, Dan has led professional development training at Atatürk University at Erzurum, Turkey; Wuhan University, China; ABS International Conference for English Teachers in Buenos Aires, Argentina and Innovate Conference in Columbus, Ohio. Dan continues his love for performing through various sketch, improv and theatre productions across the Mid-West.

Sonda Staley

Sonda Staley is a facilitator with ImprovEdge and an adjunct instructor in public speaking and theatre at Capital University and Columbus State Community College in Columbus, Ohio. She received her B.F.A. in theatre performance from Indiana University of PA and her M.A. in Theatre and Communication from Indiana State University. After graduating she moved to Cleveland, Ohio where she was a performing artist in the public school system.  A year later she landed in New York City where she lived for 10 years doing theatre and teaching presentation skills in the business community. As a lead trainer and curriculum developer Sonda traveled the world working with American businesses with a focus on ESL.  After returning to Ohio in 2005 Sonda immersed herself in the central Ohio theatre community as an actor and director.  A lifelong student herself, she loves the energy and diversity of the classroom where her students are always an inspiration.