Meet The YA Staff

Talya Franklin (she/her)

College President 


Phone: (951) 493-6753 ext:102

Eric Funk (he/him)

Director of Production


Phone: (951) 493-6753 Ext: 109

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 oversees all aspects of YA production projects and is honored to be apart of such an amazing team.

Justin Bobbs (he/him)

Media & Production Coordinator


Phone: (951) 493-6753 ext: 104

Mariah Parker (she/her)

Outreach Coordinator


Phone: (951) 493-6753 Ext: 105

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!

Elliot Brummond (he/him)

Production Coordinator


Phone: (951) 493-6753 ext: 110

Rumeya Balendran (she/her)

Accounting Supervisor


Phone: (951) 493-6753 ext: 106

Giselle Martinez (she/her)

– Office Supervisor


Phone: (951) 493-6753 ext: 111

Giselle Martinez is the newest member to join our YA team! Some of her interests include painting, catching sunsets, vibing out to all genres of music, cooking/baking, fashion and photography. Currently a Senior in college, Giselle is eager to further her Accounting career with the guidance of the amazing Finance Team. As a former dancer, Giselle is dedicated toward applying her appreciation for the arts in our Programs, to guide the community and future Young Americans blossom!

YA College Admin

Mohammad Shahisaman (he/him)

– Dean of Instruction


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.

Dr. Kisha Bashkiharatee (she/her)

– Dean of Students


Phone: (951) 493-6753 ext: 108

Kisha moved to California from a small town in Louisiana to continue her education and follow her passion and help others. After attaining her degree, she worked in a variety of settings, including mental health clinics and urgent cares, foster family agencies, and shelters using both therapeutic techniques and the arts to bring wholeness to others. The opportunity to work at with The Young Americans has given Kisha the opportunity to continue combining mental wholeness with her love for the creative arts.

Thomas Schultheis (he/him)

– Dean of Admissions


Phone: (951) 493-6753 ext: 103

Thomas Schultheis received his Master of Arts in Strategic Communications from National University and Bachelor of Science in Psychology from James Madison University. He has created curriculum, taught at conferences, and given keynotes with organizations around the country. He is a Teaching Artist with Dramatic Results. Thomas is the Theatre Consultant for the REACH Grant and on the Musical Theatre Competitions of America Creative Team. Additionally, he worked for 15 years at the Disneyland® Resort with Disney Performing Arts. He performed on Broadway in Grease! and tours of Smokey Joe’s Cafe, Chicago, and South Pacific. Thomas founded The Educators Collective, bringing together exceptional leaders in education, and created The Educators Collective Virtual Summit.

Christal Kirk (she/her)

– Recruitment


Phone: (951) 493-6753 ext: 113

As a recruitment specialist with a passion for the arts, Christal Kirk has a proven track record of sourcing and hiring top-tier talent in a variety of industries. Drawing on her extensive experience in recruiting, she has developed a keen eye for identifying candidates who not only possess the necessary skills and qualifications but also share a similar passion for the arts.

Growing up in Southern California, she developed a love for the arts from a young age. Whether it was painting, photography, or singing, she was always drawn to creative expression. This passion only grew stronger as she pursued her education at San Francisco State University in Northern California.

After returning to Southern California, she began her career in talent acquisition, where she quickly realized that her love of the arts could be an asset in her work. By seeking out candidates who are not only skilled but also passionate about their craft, she has been able to help companies build teams that are not only effective but also culturally aligned.

She is passionate about continuing her work in talent acquisition and her love for the arts as a recruiter for Young Americans College of Performing Arts .

Isabella Marrujo (she/her)

– Recruitment


Phone: (951) 493-6753 ext: 114

Isabella Marrujo is a passionate admissions and recruiting professional with several years of experience in the field. She received her AA in Social and Behavioral Science, which has been invaluable in her role building relationships with students and helping companies grow and build their reputations. She discovered her love for the performing arts at a young age, attending plays and working behind the scenes during school productions. As a recruiter for the Young Americans College, she is excited to continue her career by seeking individuals who also share a passion for the performing arts.

Additional Contractors

Kendra Shaw (she/her)

Harbor Springs Camp Coordinator 


Mandi Richards (she/her)

Harbor Springs Camp Registration

Melissa Robinson, RN (she/her)

Michigan Performer Wellness Advocate

 Kristy Balthazor (she/her)

– Arkansas Dinner Theatre Manager


Phone: (479) 239-2062