Meet The Young American Staff

Leif E. Green (he/him) – CEO 

Email: lgreen@youngamericans.org

Phone: (951) 493-6753 Ext: 00101

Eric Funk (he/him)Production Manager & Producer

Email: efunk@youngamericans.org

Phone: (951) 493-6753 Ext: 00122

Eric is originally from Clarion, Pennsylvania, but now calls Southern California home. He has always been involved in the arts, but after taking a Young Americans Workshop while in high school, he knew it was what he wanted to do forever. Eric joined The Young Americans in the New Kid class of 2016. While in the group, he traveled all over the world. From Asia, Europe, and all across the U.S., Eric has worked with tens of thousands of children and helped them find confidence and friendship through the performing arts. Eric is the current Production Manager/Producer for all of YA’s projects and is honored to be apart of such an amazing team.

Mariah Parker (she/her)Outreach Coordinator

Email: mparker@youngamericans.org

Phone: (951) 493-6753 Ext: 00120

Mariah Parker, the current Outreach Coordinator for The Young Americans, began her journey with us as a New Kid in 2015. She’s traveled and taught with us in 7 countries and several states in The US. As a child, she found safety in expressing herself through the arts and performance. Now she finds passion in helping give students around the globe the same opportunity. If you or anyone you know is an educator and would like to have us in your community please let her know!

Justin Bobbs (he/him)Media & Production Coordinator

Email: jbobbs@youngamericans.org

Phone: (951) 493-6753 Ext:

Bob Marino (he/him)Operations Manager

Email: bmarino@youngamericans.org

Phone: (951) 493-6753 Ext: 00104

Bob Marino recently returned from London conducting the London Symphony Orchestra and Royal Philharmonic Orchestra for a series of Broadway recording sessions at the world-famous Abbey Road Studios and has just confirmed a booking to return this December for another project with the London Symphony.  Broadway credits include Kiss of The Spider Woman, starring Vanessa Williams, Sunset Blvd., starring Glenn Close, Into The Woods, starring Bernadette Peters, and Hello Dolly, starring Nell Carter, and Joanne Worley.  Tours include Jerry Lewis – “Unlimited”, Ben Vereen and Leslie Uggams – “On Broadway”, Harry Blackstone (5years), Don Rickles and Joan Rivers – “In Concert”, Ringling Bros. Barnum & Bailey Circus, The Three Tenors (Rome), Andrea Boccelli, The New York Tenors, Peter Cetera,  Bob has had the pleasure of accompanying some of the greatest entertainers in the industry including Mel Torme, Andy Williams, Henry Mancini, Peter Cetera, Steve Allen, Lionel Ritchie, Savion Glover, Quincy Jones, Jackie Evancho, John Raitt, Peggy Lee, John Denver, George Burns, Jerry Herman, Carol Channing, Shirley Jones, Toni Tennille, and many others.  Bob was the associate producer and drummer for the Legends of Swing which received 3 Grammy nominations.  Bob has conducted, musical directed, played drums and percussion, technically designed, lighting designed, and produced over 400 full-scale musical productions.

Brian Debreceni (he/him)Chief Administration & Development Officer

Email: bdebreceni@youngamericans.org

Phone: (951) 493-6753 Ext: 00118

Oliver Mayes (he/him)Director (Dinner Theater)

Oliver Mayes is a theatre and media artist whose work has been seen in several states throughout the U.S. such as California, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, South Dakota, and Virginia.

With a background in acting, directing, producing, movement choreography, writing, and teaching, his credits span various mediums including plays, musical theatre, new play development, concerts, cabarets, and new media.

Oliver is a recipient of several directing and choreography honors including the 2020 Stage Directors and Choreographers Society Fellowship, awarded through the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. He most recently directed The Premiere Playhouse’s production of Cabaret in the Sioux Falls Orpheum Theater Center of South Dakota.

More available at www.oliver-mayes.com.

Brian KennedyMusic Director (Dinner Theater)

Magen Richeal – Choreographer (Dinner Theater)

Magen Richeal has danced her entire life; as a student, teacher, choreographer, and studio owner. She has choreographed countless routines for competitive dance and cheer, as well as for musical theatre. A few of her most recent musical theatre choreography credits include: Cabaret, Blood Brothers, and Beauty and the Beast, for The Premiere Playhouse at the Sioux Falls Orpheum Theater Center of South Dakota.

Bruce Sampson (he/him) – Director (Summer Camps)

Bruce is a degreed writer and producer who has taught and directed all over the United States and internationally (including the U.K., Europe, Hong Kong, Singapore, South Africa, Japan and China.)

Bruce’s relationship with The Young Americans began in the summer of 1979 when, as a 15-year-old, he was a featured performer in two productions at The American Music Theater in Petoskey, MI. From 1982 – 1989, Bruce performed at several YA dinner theater properties (Harbor Springs, MI, Atlanta, GA, Newport Beach, CA, and Seal Beach, CA.)

He went on to write and direct several of his own dinner theater projects in Irvine, Costa Mesa, Corona and Riverside California between 1989 and 2008. During that timeframe, he produced musical-variety shows at Knott’s Berry Farm and Disneyland and convention shows for clients such as State Farm Insurance, Baxter Medical, Taste of Orange County and The Orange County Fair. Bruce also produced one of the largest annual youth vocal competitions in Southern CA from 2008 – 2014. He has also been an adjudicator for show choir and beauty competitions in California and Louisiana.

Sampson returned to The Young Americans in 2009 where he guest-directed at least 30 international music outreach tours until 2018. He also spent 3 of those years teaching English Composition at The Young Americans College of the Performing Arts in Corona, CA. Recently, he served as writer and director for The YA’s 2021 Summer Camp project in Northern Michigan and was honored to contribute an original production number to the YA’s 2021 “The Magic of Christmas” show. Bruce was thrilled to lead the creative team in writing and producing the YA class of 2021’s “New Kids Show”.

Kiara Sampson (she/her) Assistant Director (Summer Camps)

Steven Agdeppa (he/him)- Choreographer (Summer Camps)

Gary Delk (he/him)Music Director

Susie Johnson (she/her)Executive Producer of Michigan Projects

Email: soozfj55@gmail.com

Susie was a Young American at the age of 15 and traveled and performed with them on many tours and Television shows, with Bing Crosby, Fred Astaire, Bob Hope, and many other shows. At the age of 18, she produced THE AMERICAN MUSIC THEATRE in Petoskey, Michigan at North Central Michigan College for the YAs. At the age of 21, she was the Company Manager for their COLUMBIA ARTIST TOURS, “Music Man”, “Oklahoma”, “West Side Story”, and “A Salute to Richard Rogers”. At the age of 21, produced the original Young Americans Dinner Theatre, at The Highlands, and still produces the dinner theatre today. She started The Young Americans Performing Arts Camps, in Harbor Springs, which now tour the USA, giving the ticket proceeds back to the schools for their own Arts Programs.

Susie’s summers were always spent in Northern Michigan with the Yas, but during the year, Susie worked for 32 years in Television Production at Paramount Pictures. Her career started assisting the VP of Television Production, later venturing into freelance production work, working on Sitcoms.

After retiring from Paramount Pictures, Susie moved to Harbor Springs to continue perusing her dream of building a permanent camp – with housing, that would enable the Yas to do musical theatre and performing arts camps during the summer, much like that of The American Music Theatre days, and their Performing Arts Camps.

Susie’s favorite thing is to mentor young students that want to venture into the production end of the entertainment business and pay it forward, for all the amazing years of professional training she received in her career.

Kendra Shaw (she/her) – Harbor Springs Camp Coordinator

Kendra first fell in love with The Young Americans when her youth choir had a chance to partake in their show in Bay View, Michigan when she was in middle school. After years of appreciating the group from the audience, Kendra was able to join the team in the summer of 2021, working behind the scenes on registration. She now serves as the Camp Director for Harbor Springs High School, where she teaches English Language Arts. Kendra is thrilled to stand in a role that allows kids to experience the magic of the arts.

Kristy Balthazor (she/her)Arkansas Dinner Theater Manager

Phone: (479) 239-2062​
Email: CenterStageEureka@gmail.com

Website: https://www.centerstageeureka.com

Kristy enjoyed a 25 year career as a partner in an insurance and risk management agency. Their firm re-created itself three times as a result of merger & acquisitions, including a ten year relationship with a family owned community bank. With locations spread across multiple states, Kristy knows the challenges of creating and maintaining a strong culture in a growing sales & service company. Her industry exposure includes manufacturing, construction and professional service clients.
She moved to Holiday Island AR in June of 2020 to enjoy lake life. She quickly became restless for a business challenge. In Feb. of 2021 she was invited to join several local business leaders from the Greater Eureka Springs Chamber of Commerce to get involved in a project that would have the Young Americans Organization put down roots in Northwest Arkansas. It was clear to her from the first time she stepped foot into Center Stage that she is called to put the God given talents of artists into the spotlight.

Cynthia McGarity (she/her)Local CA outreach Director