Joshua Levy, Founder and Executive Director
Growing up Joshua wrote stories, designed puppet shows and composed rap songs with his sister, directed plays, sang in musicals, worked on set design, and performed in plays. He started working with special needs children while in middle school and high school. Joshua has lived in Austin, Texas since 1998, and for eight years he taught special needs children at the elementary and high school levels, and he served as an assistant principal at an elementary school and at a high school. Following his career in public education Joshua was with Pearson in State Assessments for nine years including positions as a project manager, a test development manager, and a program manager. He has an undergraduate degree in Elementary and Special Education from the University of Nebraska, a Masters of Educational Administration from Texas State University, and an M.B.A. from the University of Texas at Dallas. Joshua is married to his wife Lori, and they have two beautiful children and two dogs.
John W. Traphagan, President
John Traphagan, PhD is Associate Chair and Professor of Religious Studies at the University of Texas at Austin, where he is also a professor in the Human Dimensions of Organizations program. A cultural anthropologist by training, John has spent several years pursuing research in Japan and is currently engaged in a study of entrepreneurs building businesses in depopulated rural parts of the country. John is the author of numerous scientific articles and five books, including Rethinking Autonomy: A Critique of Principlism in Biomedical Ethics. He also writes a regular blog for the Huffington Post.
Pat Otto, Secretary
Pat has 30 years of experience as a former special education teacher and administrator. She has worked with students of all ages and disabilities in Texas and in other states. Prior to retirement, Pat worked at the Texas Education Agency working on assessments for students with disabilities. Since retirement, Pat has been a volunteer for both CASA and Special Olympics. She also enjoys seeing films, experiencing art exhibits, reading, and attending live theater around Austin. Pat has an undergraduate degree in English and political science with a secondary education endorsement from the University of Texas at Arlington. She also has a master’s degree in Special Education from Central Connecticut State University. Pat lives in Austin with her husband Bob.
Alicia Garnes, Treasurer
Alicia Kaminsky Garnes is a native Texan who has lived in Austin since 2010. Alicia attended Tufts University where she graduated Cum Laude with a BA in History. After receiving her MBA with a concentration in Marketing from American University, she worked in Marketing Communications for several publishers in Washington, DC. In 2004, Alicia moved to Denver, CO and worked in Marketing Communications for Great-West Healthcare. Since Alicia moved to Austin, she’s worked for Carol Dochen, Realtors as the Director of Marketing and consulted on various marketing projects for local, small businesses. Alicia is married with two children and actively volunteers her time at her children’s schools and in the community.
Angela M. Nonaka, Board Member
Angela is a faculty member in the School of Social Work at the University of Texas at Austin, where she utilizes her training as a linguistic anthropologist to research and teach about issues of (dis)ability vis-à-vis linguistic and cultural diversity in social work education and practice. Her research focuses on the study of different signed languages, Deaf communities, and Deaf cultures in Asia. She has conducted extensive anthropological fieldwork in the region, including at Ratchasuda College (Thailand) and Tsukuba College of Technology (Japan), two institutions dedicated to providing tertiary education for Deaf people. At UT Angela is the recipient of a Dad’s Association Centennial Teaching Fellowship.
Amanda Zhu, Graduate Student, University of Texas, Austin, Advisor to the Board
Amanda always enjoys interaction with children. In her extended family, she grew up with cousins bonded as brothers and sisters, and has immensely enjoyed the magic power and fun of music, photography, and films. She has several extended family members who are on the autism spectrum. She feels strongly about celebrating the neural diversity underlying autism. Amanda is thrilled to join Joshua’s Stage as a volunteer and as a student of her current M.A. program Human Dimensions of Organizations (HDO. Details see: hdo.utexas.edu). Through the immersive experience within Joshua’s Stage, she looks forward to collecting thoughts from parents and making direct observations that will feed into her proposed HDO Capstone study on ‘trust’. Specifically, she seeks to address the particular question of why parents would choose to trust Joshua’s Stage with their children’s extracurricular arts enrichment. Hopefully, the findings from her research will provide insights to Joshua’s Stage and contribute to its betterment during growth.