Meet The YA Staff

Talya Franklin (she/her)

College President 

Email: tfranklin@youngamericans.org

Phone: (951) 493-6753 ext:102

Born and raised in Southern California, Talya has over 15 years experience in driving organizational impact within the corporate realm and non profit sector. Talya is a business executive who specializes in strategies bringing together processes, employees, and strategic long term business planning. From establishing and evolving strategies by advancing staff skills and competencies to optimizing finances, Talya has a reputation of rebranding organizations by restructuring and rebuilding.

Production Team

Bruce Sampson (he/him)

Director of Creative & Production

Email: bsampson@youngamericans.org

Phone: (951) 493-6753 Ext: 109

Sampson is not new to The YAs.  He began his association with the group as a performer at age 15. Bruce performed at four Young Americans dinner theater properties in Atlanta GA, Newport Beach CA, Seal Beach CA and Harbor Springs MI.  From 2009 through 2017, Sampson served as guest director for YA International Music Outreach tours in Europe, the UK, Japan, Hong Kong, Singapore, and South Africa. He even taught English Composition at the YA College of the Performing Arts for three years.

Bruce has been contracted as a writer and director for a number of The Young Americans’ projects over the last three years, including summer camp tours, The New Kids Shows, and convention shows. He has also contributed arrangements for The Young Americans’ annual Christmas show.  This past summer, Bruce was a valued member of the team that brought The YA dinner theater show to life at The Highlands Resort in Harbor Springs, Michigan.

All three of Sampson’s daughters were members of YAs as well.

In addition to his experience with YAs, Bruce has written, directed, and produced all over the United States and three cities in China. He has written shows for Disneyland and Knotts Berry Farm and co-produced an award-winning dinner theater in Newport Beach for 5 years.

Bruce is “honored and excited to have this opportunity to continue contributing to this organization that has been such a major part of my life and that of my family.”

Belle Hein (she/her)

Production Coordinator

Email: bhein@youngamericans.org

Phone: (951) 493-6753 Ext: 110

Belle has been involved in theater since she was eight years old and has enjoyed being both on and off stage, learning all aspects of live performance. She joined The Young Americans in 2018 as a technical intern where she found her passion for lighting. She toured across the U.S. and Japan with the organization, experimenting with lighting design. Belle graduated with an Associate in Child and Adolescent Development and plans to fulfill her dream of becoming a Kindergarten teacher.

Justin Bobbs (he/him)

– Production Coordinator

Email: jbobbs@youngamericans.org

Phone: (951) 493-6753 ext: 104

Justin joined The Young Americans in 2015, participating in eight tours, taking on leadership roles, and eventually choreographing numbers for the group. After his time there, Justin went on to audio engineer for television and live performance, working on shows such as Shameless and Generation. Justin is also a music producer, with credits alongside artists such as Miguel, The Weeknd, SiR, Matt Corby, Nick Hakim, Lucky Daye, and more. Justin was nominated for a Grammy in 2019 for his contribution to the Critically acclaimed album “Black Panther: The Album” curated by Kendrick Lamar.

Willie Jones (He/Him)

– Media Coordinator

Email: wjones@youngamericans.org

Phone: (951) 493-6753 Ext: 111

Outreach Booking agent

Email: eric@youngamericans.org

Phone: (951)-314-8688

Eric Funk, originally from Clarion, Pennsylvania, moved to Los Angeles to attend The Young Americans College of the Performing Arts in 2016, where he obtained degrees in Vocal Performance and Acting. He then traveled all over the world teaching music to children and performing. His travels led him all over Asia, Europe, and North America. Eric became the Director of Production at The Young Americans and oversaw all creative and technical aspects of shows and tours. After long contemplation, he decided to move back to Clarion in the fall of 2023 to be near family and get involved in his hometown community he loves. Eric is the Community Development Coordinator (CDC) for the Clarion County Economic Development Corporation (CCEDC) located in Clarion, Pennsylvania. He serves as a key piece of the CCEDC’s efforts to promote economic development through community revitalization and redevelopment. Eric acts as a full-time liaison between the many small communities throughout the county, aiming to plan development projects, build local capacity, and funnel in outside investment. This initiative will seek to develop planning and fundraising for Main Street revitalization in five county downtowns: Clarion, East Brady, Foxburg, Knox, and New Bethlehem.

Eric is so happy to return to The Young Americans in May 2024 as the Booking Agent part-time. If you or someone you know is interested in having the YAs at your school, shoot him an email!

Supervising Staff

Rumeya Balendran (she/her)

Accounting Supervisor

Email: rbalendran@youngamericans.org

Phone: (951) 493-6753 ext: 106

YA College Admin

Mohammad Shahisaman (he/him)

– Dean of Instruction

Email: mshahisaman@yacollege.edu

Phone: (951) 493-6753 ext: 107

Mohammad graduated from California State University Fullerton with a B.A. and M.A. in English. He began his tenure at The Young Americans College in 2015 as the Breadth of Knowledge Department Chair. In 2020, he became the Dean of Instruction and is focusing on expanding equity, diversity, and inclusion within the college’s curricula.

Juandretta Murphy (she/her)

– Dean of Students

Email: jmurphy@yacollege.edu

Phone: (951) 493-6753 ext: 108

La’tesa (she/her)

– Admissions Recruitment

Email: lpugh@yacollege.edu

Phone:  (951) 493-6753 ext: 113

La’tesa’s a Detroit girl living the “California dream” enjoying the sunshine and ocean waves! She prides herself on being a free spirit who enjoys helping others and doing her due diligence within society in hopes of making a positive and lasting impact on others. She lives a simple and humble life that is filled with joy between being a military wife, mother of three beautiful children, grandmother to a precious granddaughter and traveling the world with family and friends. Of course she finds peace hanging out with her four legged buddies too.

La’tesa is an AIU Alumni who graduated in 2013 with a Business degree, specializing in Administrative and Healthcare Management. New to Performing Arts, she joined The Young Americans in 2023, bringing over 20 years of Leadership skills, knowledge and vast experience to the Recruitment team. La’tesa also has over 9 years experience within Admissions and Recruitment within Higher Education to bring to the YA team working side by side with other YA Recruiters, recruiting students globally. When not Recruiting La’tesa is busy running her private business – Mindful Vibes and Body Sculpting where she finds joy helping others feel great about themselves externally and internally; and just getting to know a little bit about each person that she crosses paths with. As she would tell you, her purpose in life is to assist others to live a healthy, strong, successful and abundant lifestyle!

A few of her favorite quotes: “Any human anywhere will blossom in a hundred unexpected talents and capacities simply by being given the opportunity to do so.” ~ Doris Lessing “We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give.” ~ Winston Churchill “It would be a terrible mistake to go through life thinking people are the sum total of what you see.” ~ Unknown

Bianca (she/her)

– Admissions Recruitment

Email: bgarcia@yacollege.edu

Phone:  (951) 493-6753 ext: 114

An Army Veteran, Bianca is a highly skilled recruiter with a deep passion for guiding individuals toward their ideal career path. She firmly believes that the key to personal fulfillment and success lies in finding the perfect opportunity. Bianca’s dedication to assisting individuals in achieving their professional aspirations has been instrumental in shaping her own career.

Additional Contractors

Kendra Shaw (she/her)

Harbor Springs Camp Coordinator 

Email: kshaw@harborps.org

Mandi Richards (she/her)

Harbor Springs Camp Registration

Melissa Robinson, RN (she/her)

Michigan Performer Wellness Advocate