About Us

Our Work

One size does not fit all – and we know that. Our programming is custom-designed for every individual and client. We’ve focused on:

NC-Post-Active Listening
-Public Speaking – in meetings, at conferences, with coworkers
-Leadership – taking initiative, reading your audience, collaboration
-Storytelling – in business, brand, a classroom or museum, in personal lives
-Creativity
-Positive Risk-Taking
-Flexibility and the ability to pivot in conversations
-Teamwork, stress-relief and time to laugh with your coworkers and new friends

Every class starts with a ‘why are you here’ and every private workshop inquiry starts with a call to listen to your goals. We teach people how to listen better and connect with their audiences – so we listen to ours!

Our classes change and evolve with every new group of students, and even when we come back to the same company or group, we work with the people in the room and what they need that can be furthered with improv 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!

Our Team

The Engaging Educator is made up of a passionate and talented team of educators, facilitators and professionals. Each of our Engagers brings a distinct style and energy to our brand of Yes, And, and 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 Oleniczak

    Jen Brown (Oleniczak)

    Founder and Artistic Director

  • Erin Badenhop Moncada

    Erin Badenhop Moncada

    Administrative Director

  • Magalie Yacinthe

    Magalie Yacinthe

    Administrative Assistant

  • Shaelyn Amaio

    Social Media/Community Engagement + Graphics

  • Jill Frutkin

    Jill Frutkin

    Engager

  • Minna Taylor

    Minna Taylor

    Engager

  • Lawrese Brown

    Lawrese Brown

    Engager

  • Olive Persimmon

    Olive Persimmon

    Engager

  • Molly Anne Coogan

    Molly Anne Coogan

    Engager

  • Jen Glantz

    Jen Glantz

    Engager

  • Hillary Murrell

    Hillary Murrell

    Engager

  • Chelsea Hogan

    Chelsea Hogan

    Engager

  • Shoshana Torn

    Shoshana Torn

    Design + Web

  • Andrea Kamins

    Andrea Kamins

    Engager

  • Michelle Lopez

    Michelle Lopez

    Advisor

  • Hannah Jack

    Hannah Jack

    Advisor

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 thousands of people – all non-actors! – with the awesomeness that is Improv.

Before starting EE, she was an actor in Milwaukee, Chicago and New York. After a few too many waitressing gigs, she found herself at the City College of New York, getting a degree in Art History and working in museums as a museum educator. She realized the field lacked the ‘how you say it’ training and boom – The Engaging Educator was born.

Since 2012, Jen has given two 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. Along with Improv-based workshops, she is passionate about Autism acceptance within cultural organizations, and loves to personally collaborate with museums on the creation of socialization programs. Jen holds degrees and accreditation from Marquette University, City College of New York, St. Joseph’s University and Second City and the school of Yes, And.

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 class, in fact, he was the worst.

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ANDREA KAMINS is an educator and professional development specialist who works with youth and adults throughout New York City. Andrea’s passion for working with young people has led her to roles ranging from teaching preschool to running after school programs with high schoolers. She also leads professional development workshops for adults in non-profit settings and the private sector, on topics including classroom management, effective supervision, and facilitation skills.

Andrea came to improv as a way to strengthen her skills as a facilitator and her ability to think on her feet. She graduated from Oberlin College with a degree in Psychology, and holds a Certificate in Professional Coaching from the International Coach Academy.

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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
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ERIN BADENHOP MONCADA is an actor, burlesque performer, arts administrator, and Cat Video Enthusiast, and soon to be First Time Mom. 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. www.erinmoncada.com
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SHOSHANA TORN is an artist-designer based in Brooklyn. While she was born and raised in Baltimore, she has called New York her home for the past four years. Shoshana graduated from NYU with a B.A. in Art History, and concentrations in Studio Art and Italian Studies. As an individual striving to combine art with social change, she has previously worked for art museums and non-profits in areas of programming, social media, design, and education.

With The Engaging Educator, Shoshana fills in the role of communication designer and web manager. In addition to working with The Engaging Educator, Shoshana is a consultant for multiple local non-profits, helping with digital communications and design strategy.

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MAGALIE YACINTHE is owner of YES (Yacinthe Event Service), an event management solutions firm. As an alumnus of Florida A&M University’s School of Business & Industry, Magalie has a blended background of corporate and nonprofit experience with organizations like Goldman Sachs, Aon Hewitt, innovateHER, and the Center for Creative Economy. Magalie serves as member of the Board of Directors at the Delta Arts Center, an art gallery focused on the contributions of African-Americans in the arts.  Hailing from Miami, FL and currently residing in Winston Salem, NC, Magalie spends her free time working on her first novel and brunching with friends.

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MICHELLE LOPEZ is an innovative program designer for people with special needs, currently the Director of Community Programs of the Children’s Museum of the Arts. Michelle has a Bachelors degree in Communication Arts, minoring in Psychology, and a Masters in Creative Arts Therapy. Since 2004, she has served children and families affected by autism as an ABA Instructor, counselor and trainer for various NY schools. She previously worked as Manager of ArtAccess Programs and Autism Initiatives at Queens Museum in New York. While overseeing the ArtAccess Library Programs & Autism Initiatives, Michelle developed training for over 700 library & museum staff on engaging their visitors with ASD; benefiting over 5,500 individuals including families and professionals.

Michelle contributed to excellence in programming that earned ArtAccess the 2008 Mayor Bloomberg Award in Honor of the Americans with Disabilities Act and 2009 VSA arts Outstanding Community Partner Award. Her work has been featured in various publications, including a book published by the National Arts Education Association, titled Understanding Students with Autism through Art, by Gerber and Kellman in 2010. In February 2014, the American Library Association published a book by Barbara Klipper titled, Programming for Children and Teens with Autism Spectrum Disorder that featured three of Michelle’s programs.
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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.×

HILLARY MURRELL has worked as a museum educator for the last ten years and most recently was the Head of Education at The Walt Disney Family Museum. Previously, she has worked at The Fowler Museum at UCLA and a number of art galleries. She has an MA in Contemporary Art from Sotheby’s Institute of art London.

Hillary credits her success as a museum educator with her childhood training in theater and Improv. Although her years as an actor were short lived, the skills of flexibility, adaptability and communication have been invaluable in her career. She is very excited to share those skills as an engager!×

HANNAH JACK is a high school English teacher and theater director in NYC. Originally from Pennsylvania, Hannah grew up performing and directing at the Bucks County Playhouse. She went on to study theater and English at Barnard College, where she had the honor of directing the 114th Annual Varsity Show at Columbia University. Hannah received her M.A. in Adolescent English Education from Hunter College and has worked as a teacher in several NYC schools, including The Brearley School and Mather Building Arts & Craftsmanship High School, a new public high school which she helped to found in 2013. Her theater experience includes work as an assistant director and stage manager on many NYC productions, both on and off Broadway. Hannah believes that theater can transform the lives of young people and is a passionate advocate of helping students learn and grow through performing arts.×

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.

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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.

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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
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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.
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CHELSEA HOGAN is a Los Angeles based Museum Educator, Improviser, and Sketch Writer. Originally from Upstate New York, she has worked in preeminent museums in Los Angeles and Washington D.C. as an educator while also regularly performing Improv and Sketch comedy. She holds an MAT in Museum Education from the George Washington University and a BA in Art History from Ithaca College. She is excited to blend her passions for teaching, performance, and connecting people to their unique creative selves as an Engager with The Engaging Educator.

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Our Vision

Improv(e) yourself.

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 museum education 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 their companies for trainings and development. After realizing this was the only class that very strictly did NOT train actors, but 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. Through improv education, professionally, socially and individually – all through the Yes, And. 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.

We often get asked “What is Yes, And?” Simply put, it’s the idea of elevation – we’re stronger when we surround ourselves by people that lift us up, and people we lift up. Our Yes, And mentality to teaching is not just positivity, it also embodies our idea of positive risk-taking – something we are doing as a company right next to our students!

About Us was last modified: January 12th, 2017 by admin