AMY ALVAREZ, LCSW-BAS, MPH graduated from Mount Holyoke College with a degree in Theatre Arts and Philosophy, and holds a Master of Social Work and a Master of Public Health, both from Tulane University. She also holds a post-graduate certificate in Forensic Social Work from Tulane and was a Harris Fellow in Infant Mental Health at the LSU School of Psychiatry. Amy is a member of Actors Equity Association, the professional stage actor’s union, and is a four time Big Easy Award winner for her work in musical theatre and cabaret. Amy has created four original cabaret shows with her musical partner, Jefferson Turner, which have been performed locally as well as in Baltimore and New York City.
Blake started dancing at the age of three and has been in the studio ever since. He has toured internationally with “Tops in Blue,” and has toured nationally with “Oliver,” “West Side Story,” “Gypsy,” “Fiddler on the Roof,” “Bye-Bye Birdie,” and “Annie.” Blake has taught all over the world and his unique teaching styles, combined with his personality and strong varied techniques, keep him in constant demand on the road. He is an award winning director/choreographer of musical theatre, industrials, and national competition winners. He has had the opportunity to inspire many young dancers/singers/artists along the way.
He has directed and choreographed great shows like “Side Show,” “Working,” “Floyd Collins,” “Anything Goes,” “Godspell,” “Nunsense,” “The Fantastiks,” “Steelpier,” “Copacabana,” “A Chorus Line,” “Tommy,” “Singing in the Rain,” “Jane Eyre,” “Bat Boy,” and recently he was selected to create, direct and choreograph a new show at a brand new venue at The National World War II Museum, called “Let Freedom Swing.” His passion is dance and performing arts, but his love is animals. Blake now serves as the President of Dance Teachers United, a national dance teacher organization that serves dance teachers and educators throughout the country. He was awarded Dance Teacher of the Year in 1998. Blake was recently awarded the International Network of Schools for the Advancement of Arts Education, Teacher of the Year.
Director of Colleges & AdvancementStudent Services
Dr. Richard Collins joins NOCCA after serving as the founding Dean of Arts and Humanities at California State University Bakersfield. With a BA in English from the University of Oregon and an MA and PhD from the University of California, Irvine, he has taught at LSU Baton Rouge, the American University of Bulgaria, Xavier University of Louisiana, LSU Alexandria, and CSU Bakersfield. In addition to NEH fellowships to the School of Criticism and Theory and to Columbia University, he received a Leverhulme Commonwealth/USA research and teaching fellowship in American Studies to the University of Swansea in Wales, a Fulbright research fellowship to London, and Fulbright Senior Lectureships at the Universities of Bucharest and Timisoara in Romania. His publications include critical studies of Victorian and modern world literature, as well as poetry, fiction, translations, and creative nonfiction. His books include John Fante: A Literary Portrait (Guernica Editions) and No Fear Zen: Discovering Balance in an Unbalanced World (Hohm Press). He returns to New Orleans after a nine-year absence.
Yvette is very happy to be immersed on a daily basis in such a wonderful creative environment. Born and raised in New Orleans, she has always been an avid lover, and participator, in the arts. Her spare time is spent in nature and walking every dog in the neighborhood!
I have a B.S. in Accounting and a Master’s Degree in Public Administration from the University of New Orleans. If it concerns money, I am your first stop. As the Chief Financial Officer, I am responsible for budgeting, expending, accounting for and safeguarding all of our funds here at NOCCA. This includes purchasing, accounts payable and receivable, payroll, budgeting and strategic planning. In addition to my fiscal duties, I also manage the Information Technology Department. My greatest joy, working at NOCCA, is making a difference in the lives of young artists. To know that I have just a small role to play in their path to becoming successful artists is very rewarding. And being able to come to work each day in such a wonderfully nurturing environment is very gratifying.
Jennie Guidry began her time at NOCCA as the founding faculty member for math in the Academic Studio and taught math for three years while also serving as Assistant Chair in Sciences. She moved into Student Services this year to take on college advising and accountability as NOCCA prepares to graduate its first class of full-day students. Jennie brings to NOCCA a passion for mathematics education, curriculum development and alternative assessment methods, as well as experience in technology integration.
Director of Communications & Campus Activities | Custodian of RecordsAdministration & Staff
Communicator EXTRAORDINAIRE! If you have not heard of NOCCA, Brian will tell you everything you ever needed to know…Middle School Programs, Workshop Series, Auditioning, who your state legislator is, Brian knows it all. In addition to communications, Brian coordinates all campus events and manages the daily calendar, not an easy task for a booming arts center. He has even been known to drive a van full of kids on a field trip when asked!
Deborah, is a certified Athletic Trainer licensed by the Louisiana State Board of Medical Examiners. She holds a Master of Science degree from the University of Southern Mississippi, along with two Bachelor of Science degrees from USM.
Before coming to NOCCA in the summer of 2005 she was the Director of Sports Medicine/Head Athletic Trainer at the University of New Orleans where she had been since coming to New Orleans in 1988.
Garren McKelvey is the Systems Administrator. He has been in the IT industry for over a decade. He got his bachelor’s degree from Indiana University and has several technical certifications including A+, Network+ and MCSE. When he’s not neck deep in networking equipment Garren spends his free time writing, cooking and playing a wide variety of games. He enjoys traveling the world with his wife, trying to take everything in.
Dr. Kit Nelson (Science) is the Chair of Integrated Sciences for the Academic Studio. She earned her Ph.D. from Southern Methodist in 2001. Following a post-doctorate research position with noted Anthropologist Lewis Binford, she worked for Tulane University for 9 years. During this time she taught undergraduate and graduate classes, mentored students, and conducted archaeological fieldwork in Egypt, Peru, and the American Southwest. For her dedication to students in the classroom and the field she was awarded the Newcomb Distinguished Faculty Award (2010). She continues to publish and is currently carrying out archaeological research in the American Southwest at a Puebloan site near Taos, New Mexico in association with Southern Methodist University.
Kyle has a professional career that has focused on education and public service. His career began as a City Year AmeriCorps volunteer in Boston, MA. After graduate school, he was a Senior Budget Analyst for the Office of Budget and Management for the City of Chicago. He was recruited to the School District of Philadelphia where he served as Deputy Chief Financial Officer. Kyle returned to City Year to lead new site development and the start of City Year Louisiana (both Baton Rouge and New Orleans), City Year Los Angeles, and City Year Johannesburg. Kyle took a leadership role at the Recovery School District where he served as Chief Administrative Officer. While working at the RSD, Kyle visited and was inspired by NOCCA-the performing and visual arts high school for the State of Louisiana- where he is now in his tenth year as President and Chief Executive Officer. In his spare time Kyle enjoys being with his wife and son above all else; exercises his deep commitment to helping lead and support the civic work of the city, region and state; experiences the arts, sights, sounds, land, food, culture, and sports of New Orleans and Louisiana; and walks with the joy of seeing his beloved Saints and Cubs as World Champions in his lifetime.
Kyle has had the privilege to perform artistically as Heck Tate in the NOCCA Stage Company production of To Kill a Mockingbird and as the Narrator for the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra’s production of Peter and the Wolf. Kyle has a Bachelor of Arts from St. Olaf College and a Masters of Public Administration from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.
Leadership and Civic
Coro Fellowship- St. Louis, MO. Class of 1998
New Orleans Regional Leadership Class of 2010
Leadership Louisiana Class of 2012
Norman C. Francis Leadership Institute Class of 2015
Arts Schools Network- National Board
Any Given Child New Orleans- Start-up and Governance Committee
GNO Inc.- NextGen Council
New Orleans City Planning Commission- Commissioner and past Chairman
Urban League of Greater New Orleans- Board
ASI Federal Credit Union Board (past member)
Bywater Neighborhood Association Board (past member)
City Year Louisiana, New Orleans, and Philadelphia Advisory Board (past member)
New Orleans Public Belt Commission (past member)
New Orleans Regional Leadership (NORLI) Board (past member)
City Year Outstanding Alumni- 2008
Gambit 40 under 40- 2012
The Jeffrey Lawrence Award for Outstanding National Art School Leader – 2017