Kim is an experienced urban educator, school leader, and avid Swing Dancer who brought an innovative new program to her elementary students in collaboration with local Swing Instructors. Her students at Erie Elementary loved the music and history of Swing, and while learning this new skill developed discipline, teamwork, and valuable social emotional skills. They also had a ton of fun! After seeing the positive impact the program had on her students, she became a champion for expanding youth access to Swing Dance Instruction throughout Chicago Public Schools, and Swing for Kids was born. She now resides in Oakland, CA where she is the Executive Director of zSharp, a nonprofit bringing music education to underserved schools in the East Bay.
Photo by Braden Nesin Photography
Jon Klein is Professor of Pediatrics and Senior Associate Chair of the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Illinois at Chicago. He is a pediatrician with expertise in adolescent medicine and adolescent health services research. From 2009-2017, Jon was Associate Executive Director at the American Academy of Pediatrics. Before moving to Chicago, Jon served on the faculty at the University of Rochester and worked with the Monroe County (NY) United Way and Youth Bureau on evaluation of youth development programs. He started swing dancing in 2012, and is excited to help grow this great program for young people.
Melissa Rutherfoord fell in love with swing dancing as an Arizona teenager in 1997 when her school hired instructors to teach a beginning lesson. She has experienced the benefit that swing dancing can bring to youth, and looks forward to inspiring a new generation of dancers. Melissa holds a BFA in theatre production from The University of Arizona and is a Swing Dance instructor at Big City Swing.
Photo by BASE Photo & Design.
Kathryn Hennington has actively engaged with youth enrichment programs in Chicago since 2012, but she has been dancing far longer. Her first Swing Dance workshop was back in high school! She has since completed her Master of Arts degree in Political Science from Loyola University Chicago. Kat is passionate about Chicago’s variety of arts, music, museums, and dance. She is thrilled to be part of Swing for Kids, which blends her love for dancing and her commitment to local youth education and enrichment.
Elizabeth Pittelkow is the Director of Accounting and Compliance for a supply chain technology company. She is an alumna of the University of Illinois, where she earned degrees in accounting and finance from the College of Business. Elizabeth is passionate about promoting business ethics and communication skills, and she does so by speaking at conferences, serving on panels, and writing articles. In her leisure time, she enjoys swing dancing and playing sports.
Nicolle Wood is the director of one of Chicago’s premier special event performance production companies, The Galaxie. Nicolle has enjoyed an extensive career in teaching, performing and presenting classic American entertainment and vintage dance forms for nearly 2 decades. Her teaching expertise spans multiple generations of students. Her heart lies with the instruction and inspiration of young people. Motivating children and young adults to find a new and exciting way to communicate and express joy, creativity, respect, and understanding of one another through vintage American dance has been a constant in Nicolle’s career.
photo by Robert Chi
Emily Haines is a choreographer, performer and teacher. She received her BFA in dancemaking with honors from Columbia College in 2006. She has performed professionally and taught for Hurley and Dancers, Dance CoMotion, Luna Negra Dance Theater, has been a guest teacher and choreographer at Iowa State University, as well as setting and performing work independently. Emily has a varied movement background that draws from contact improv, ballet, acrobatics, hip hop, modern, cabaret, jazz, and latin social dance forms. Currently she is a teaching artist in the public schools for Old Town School of Folk Music and is excited to join Swing for Kids. Whether it is dance, yoga, acrobatics, or bike riding, expression of self thru physicality is at the root of her being. Emily’s mother, a dancer and actor, was her first and perhaps most influential teacher and has found passion for sharing the joy of movement with persons of all abilities because of her.
Photo by Elena Belaya
Audra Lawlor is a choreographer, performer, and dance instructor. She is currently a resident instructor at Big City Swing. Additionally she holds a Theater and Education degree from Bowling Green State University. She has presented at a national conference on the psychology of teaching dance. Prior to her work as a dance instructor,Audra worked at regional and national theaters as a production manager.
Photo by Mindy Baumgartner.