ARTISTIC DIRECTOR & FOUNDER, BOARD MEMBER
MARIA CHENG is a playwright, actor, director and choreographer. Her works have received critical acclaim across four continents and garnered awards from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Guthrie, Jerome, McKnight and Rockefeller Foundations. She partnered Bill T. Jones on PBS, was a featured performer in Robert Wilson’s The Knee Plays and played lead roles at numerous theatres in Mpls/St. Paul. She was the choreographer at the Guthrie under artistic director Liviu Ciulei, her mentor in theatre. In 2012, Maria came out of retirement to found TEA. At the 2014 Colorado Theatre Festival, her Spirit & Sworded Treks swept the awards for best original play, actress, lighting, choreography, excellence in direction and Peoples’ Choice. Coming to America, directed by her and performed and written with Peter Trinh, won best production, actress and Peoples’ Choice at the 2016 CTF and was presented at the national festival in 2017
PRESIDENT OF THE BOARD
JONATHAN VOGELS is a published author and produced playwright, whose works have been performed in Boulder, Providence, Hartford, Boston and Denver. He wrote the Foundations segment of TEA's Coming to America which premiered in November of 2015. Jon is the Upper School Principal at Colorado Academy, a preK-12 independent school in Denver. He has been an educator for more than 25 years, teaching English, history, and drama as well as advising diversity groups and serving as a college counselor. In 2000, Jon earned his PhD in American Studies from Boston University. His dissertation was published in 2004 as The Direct Cinema of David and Albert Maysles. Currently Jon is completing All of the Above, a one act within Coping With America, a sequel to Coming to America,
SECRETARY OF THE BOARD
TARIKA CEFKIN is the Executive Director of the Nathan Yip Foundation, which provides direct educational support to rural communities in China and Colorado. Tarika’s love for the arts started while singing in children's choir and performing traditional Thai music and dance at local cultural functions. She attended the Denver School of the Arts, where she studied oboe performance, and holds a Bachelors degree in Speech & Theatre from St. Lawrence University, as well as a Masters in International & Intercultural Communications with a focus on international human rights from the University of Denver. Tarika volunteers as the Public Safety Chair on the Colorado Dragon Boat Festival’s Operations Committee and is a member of the Denver Chorale. She was also a community liaison during the planning of Denver Zoo’s Toyota Elephant Passage exhibit. In her spare time, she enjoys acting, singing, traveling, and exploring Colorado’s outdoors.
TREASURER OF THE BOARD
CELENA MARTINEZ is a 10th generation Coloradan, social and community advocate, and owner of her own financial service practice with New York Life. With over a 25 year history of community involvement, civic engagement and servant leadership, Celena is invested in providing tools and resources in local government, small business, corporate, and non-profit industries to support empowering others to achieve their financial goals and create generational wealth. Celena’s philanthropic efforts and love of arts, culture, and theatre have brought her to TEA in the role of Treasurer and Bookkeeper. Celena is a board member for Metro Volunteers and Project Safeguard. She is a strategic and state-wide capacity building professional for Latino Organizations.
BOARD MEMBER, WEB MANAGER
MAILEEN HAMTO works as the Equity and Inclusion Manager for Aurora Mental Health Center. In addition, she is the producer and editor of Colors of Influence, an online magazine / blog that shares stories of purpose and intention, highlighting leaders who are committed to justice, equity and opportunities for diverse communities. The Colors of Influence blog covers a variety of issues, from workforce diversity, cultural preservation, community advocacy, and social inequities. Professionally, she has two decades of experience in communications leadership for organizations with expressed values of eliminating poverty, dismantling racism, and creating opportunities for underserved communities. She is grateful for wisdom gleaned from lived experiences as a bilingual and bicultural Filipina immigrant woman who is on a lifelong process of decolonization. She holds two master's degrees: an MBA from the University of Portland and a Master's in Healthcare Management from Oregon Health & Science University. At the University of Colorado Denver, she is currently pursuing a doctorate degree (Ed.D.) in Educational Leadership, with a concentration in Urban and Diverse Communities
BOARD MEMBER, DEVELOPMENT CHAIR
IVY HONTZ, currently employed by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment where she was recognized for her work with Ute Mountain Ute and Southern Ute tribes of Colorado, is also a Commissioner for the Aurora Senior Commission. She has worked in the Asian community as a Program Manager, a successful grant writer, and national and international speaker. She is the first non-Asian recognized as an Asian American Hero. She has served on the board of the Asian Chamber of Commerce and St. Anna’s Assisted Living Home serving Korean elderly. She is a Master Gardener and provides training and assistance to local community gardens. She has served as a volunteer and site coordinator for 9Health Fair, and coordinated the wellness village of the Colorado Dragon Boat Festival. Ms. Hontz possesses a M.A. in Counseling Psychology and a Masters in Non Profit Management.
BOARD MEMBER, GRANT WRITER
GINNY MAGID has worked in education for 32 years as a classroom teacher, a college administrator, a researcher at the regional and national levels, and now a private tutor. Her research explored policy issues related to higher education access and financing, including demographic studies that focused on college-going rates by race and ethnicity. Most recently, she taught high school math at Colorado Academy, where she served as a faculty advisor to Faces of Diversity and Platforum, the annual diversity event. Ginny earned her BA in applied mathematics from Brown University and a master’s in higher education at the University of Pennsylvania. She and her husband, David, have three daughters in college.
BOARD MEMBER, MARKETING CHAIR
PAM SWEETSER and her husband, Dan are the adoptive parents of two children; Lacey who was born in Korea and Sam who was born in India. Her children catapulted Pam into life and career interests she never imagined. She is the founder and Executive Director of Heritage Camps for Adoptive Families, Inc., non-profit camps for adoptive families with children born around the world to foster a positive self image in adopted children, and a keen understanding of the child’s birth culture for the entire family .Pam feels strongly that the arts are a vital way to develop cultural pride in children and adults, so is happy to be involved in Denver’s only Asian theatre company.
NATIONAL ADVISORY COUNCIL
Advisor to TEA for Artistic Growth & Development; award winning director and playwright; founder and former artistic director of Mu Performing Arts; founder and artistic director of Circle Theatre; playwright of Yellow Fever and numerous other plays.
Manager of the Aurora Planning and Development Office.
Founder and Artistic Director of the Vintage Theatre, actor, director and designer.
Award winning California playwright, art activist, Co-Founder of Duende Drama & Literature, an arts producing non-profit agency.
Head of Theatrical Department at Donna Baldwin Agency, voiceover instructor at Denver Performing Arts Center.
Board Member, Ma Yi Theatre, New York City.