One size does not fit all – and we know that. Our improv education programming is custom-designed for every individual and client. The one true through line? Improv is an incredible tool for personal and professional development.
Since we teach people how to listen better and connect with audiences, we make a point to listen to ours. Every class and program starts with a ‘why are you here’ and every inquiry starts with a call to listen to your goals. Our classes change and evolve with every group of students. Even when we return to a client or have students join us again, we’re working with the people in front of us, improving their communication skills through improv-based education.
We truly believe that improv-based training improves professional, communication and social skills for everyone – don’t just take our word for it, check our reviews!
The Engaging Educator is made up of a passionate and talented team of professional educators and facilitators called Engagers. Each of our Engagers brings a distinct style and energy to our brand, and we all believe in the power of Improv as Continuing Education.
“Yes, And-ing” our way through life, here are a few members of our team:
Jen Brown (Oleniczak)
Founder and Artistic Director
Erin Badenhop Moncada
Social Media/Community Engagement + Graphics
Molly Anne Coogan
Charly Evon Simpson
JEN BROWN (OLENICZAK) is the Founder and Artistic Director of The Engaging Educator. Through EE, her pedagogical approach of Improv as Continuing Education has reached over 25,000 people – all non-actors!
Since 2012, Jen has given three TEDx Talks on the power of Improv, grown EE to three locations in NYC, Winston-Salem, NC and LA, and recently began The Engaging Educator Foundation, a 501(c)(3) which offers free and low-cost Improv workshops for educators, at-risk adults, teens and students on the Autism Spectrum. Jen holds degrees and accreditation from Marquette University, City College of New York, St. Joseph’s University and Second City.
Currently, Jen happily resides in Winston-Salem with her husband, who she met while teaching an improv class – and no, he wasn’t the best person in the class, in fact, he was the worst.
JILL FRUTKIN was an NYC Teaching Fellow, and earned her Masters of Science in Teaching at Pace University. She is a NYS certified special education teacher with a focus on autism. She has experience working in both private and public schools, and taught elementary 6:1:1 classes for four years with the DOE.Jill earned her BFA in Drama at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. She is the co-founder of the internationally acclaimed devised theatre company The TEAM. With The TEAM, Jill has taught devised theatre and creative collaboration workshops to students and artists of all ages.
Jill believes in the fusion of individualized education and artistic practice; that creativity and collaboration are key elements to productive learning experiences for people of all ages and professions. www.jillfrutkin.com
ERIN BADENHOP MONCADA is an actor, burlesque performer, arts administrator, and Cat Video Enthusiast. Originally from the Bay Area, she graduated from Seattle Pacific University with a BA in Theatre. She spent 5 years in Development at the Seattle Art Museum, followed by 5 years as the Administrative Manager at Miss Indigo Blue’s Academy of Burlesque. She began working for EE in early 2015 when she lived in Brooklyn. Now a resident of Portland, OR and a remote EE employee, Erin loves spreadsheets and all forms of organization and color coding. She’s also a new mama to baby Alma as of January 2017! www.erinmoncada.com
LAWRESE BROWN is the founder of Brown Coaching and Consulting, LLC, an organization on a mission to equip students with the skills, learning, and development necessary to navigate all post-secondary pathways. To date, they’ve equipped thousands of students with the 21st-century skills pertinent to college and career success through partnerships with top educational institutions and organizations such as Big Brothers Big Sisters, Boys and Girls Club Newark, Young Women’s Leadership Network, Step Up, and Girls Who Code.
Lawrese has a Masters in Educational Leadership from NYU and aspires to be a media maven like her birthday-twin, Oprah.×
MINNA TAYLOR is a NYC based communication coach. Her company, Energizeyourvoice.net, focuses on helping professionals discover their full voice in order to unlock their full potential. She coaches people into presence and rediscovering their authentic self through personalized programs suited to the individual or institution. Her methods are founded in business strategy with a heavy emphasis on play and moment to moment discovery.
Her teaching specialties are public speaking, presentation skills, and team building. She has a BFA from NYU Tish in association with The Atlantic Theater Company and an MFA from Brooklyn College with a concentration in speech and vocal production. She is a working Voice Over artist and comedy film producer.×
SHAELYN AMAIO has been a public experience advocate since her days operating rides at an amusement park in Connecticut. Since then, she has worked in museum education, exhibition development, and project management in several museums and design firms in New England, New York, and Alabama, earning a Masters in Museum Anthropology from Columbia University along the way. Shaelyn recently began managing public programs at the New York Transit Museum, where she organizes lectures, events, tours, excursions, and the occasional party. She loves to explore her surroundings and to think, write, and tweet about ways to make cultural heritage institutions more fun and more accessible.
OLIVE B. PERSIMMON is a writer, speaker, and trainer. She passionately believes that strong communication skills can improve an individual’s personal and professional life. It is with immense gratitude that she’s able to share her passion by coaching professionals who want to become powerful storytellers, speakers, and leaders.
Olive graduated with a degree in International Politics from Kent State University. After a short-lived idea to become a politician, Olive realized she was drawn to politics for the opportunities to speak, share ideas, and engage an audience. After working for a nonprofit for several years, she found her way to the coaching arena. She started her career with one of the top training firms in NYC before deciding to leave corporate america. She loves helping clients learn how to express their ideas confidently and clearly. When she’s not training, she is a member of Humorous Toastmasters and actively speaks in NYC. She’s given speeches at the NYC Salon, coached corporate professionals, and emceed a TEDx talk.
Olive spends her free time thinking about new speeches, working on her second comedy novel, performing spoken word, and writing handwritten letters to old friends.
MOLLY ANNE COOGAN is an actor, writer, producer, director and teacher having worked with companies ranging from The Civilians and The Metropolitan Museum of Art to CBS and TBS. Her teaching artist career spans working in California in high-need schools across the Bay Area to New York’s renowned 52nd Street Project, helping inner city kids create original theatre. Molly currently teaches audition workshops at liberal arts colleges across the country and believes the skills of improv and theatre – communication, teamwork, and creativity – awake us to possibility, confidence, and connection.
Molly holds a BA in Theatre with honors from Bates College and trained in improv at UCB NY. She is the owner of Two Wheeler Productions and is one half of the comedy duo, Moll&Rell. www.mollyannecoogan.com
JEN GLANTZ is the founder of the Bridesmaid for Hire, a business started in 2014 from a viral Craigslist ad. Jen has told the story of starting her business to over 500 press outlets, and continues to serve as a bridesmaid expert for media outlets around the world. She is the author of the Amazon best-selling book, All My Friends are Engaged and her second book, Always a Bridesmaid (For Hire), published by Simon and Schuster, is available now on Amazon. Jen created the website, The Things I Learned From, in 2010 as a platform to inspire, motivate, and share personal stories with strangers all around the world. She’s a mentor for young women and a hired speaker for professional conferences around the country.
CHARLY EVON SIMPSON is a writer, performer, and teacher. Her work has been seen, heard, and/or developed at the Kennedy Center, Ensemble Studio Theatre, Ars Nova, The Flea, SPACE on Ryder Farm, and more. Charly has worked as a teacher or coach in a variety of different settings and positions for the last ten years from tutoring full-time in a middle school, to assistant directing a camp for children with autism and emotional support concerns, to leading workshops on yoga, health, and wellness as a health coach, and now to teaching playwriting and storytelling to both kids and adults. She loves to support others in finding their voices because she believes communication, connection, and creativity—three skills important in all facets of life—thrive when people are able to use their voices effectively.
Charly holds a BA in Theatre Arts and Literary Arts with honors from Brown University, an MSt in Women’s Studies from University of Oxford, New College, and an MFA in Playwriting from Hunter College. www.charlyevonsimpson.com
Started in 2012, Founder Jen Brown (Oleniczak) was working as a museum educator in NYC and performing Off-Broadway with her improv troupe. When she noticed that the field lacked the ‘how you say it’ component of teaching, she started leading professional development classes in Presentation Skills and threw in a few improv exercises. Realizing that improv connected directly with teaching and communicating, she listed a few public classes in NYC, limiting them to non-actors, specifically educators and teachers. Suddenly, professionals of all kinds were signing up for classes, raving about the results and bringing our improv classroom into companies for training and development. After realizing this was the only program that very strictly did NOT train actors, and focused on the education and reflection side of improv, Jen began The Engaging Educator with a Yes, And and hasn’t looked back since.
With the idea that improv is “going to the gym for your brain”, we believe improv is a lifestyle that needs to be practiced consistently and by everyone. It is not our goal to make actors; our classes are strictly for people looking to work on skills unrelated to performing as a career in communication, presentation and social areas of life.