Coterie Leadership

Jonathan Thomas

Jonathan Thomas, Managing Director, co-leads The Coterie with the interim producing artistic director to bring the organization’s innovative performances and programs to the Kansas City region. Jonathan began his path as a professional opera and musical theatre performer out of college, working locally with many area performing arts organizations including the Kansas City Symphony, Kansas City Chorale, Simon Carrington Chamber Singers, Lyric Opera of Kansas City, and New Theatre & Restaurant. After seven years building a successful insurance and financial advising agency, he moved to San Francisco to follow his passion in arts administration. Before returning to Kansas City in 2018, he served as the development manager for The Walden School for three years, where he oversaw organizational fundraising strategies and expanded alumni relations. At ArtsKC, he served as Senior Development Manager, which greatly expanded his knowledge of the Kansas City arts sector. Prior to joining The Coterie, Jonathan served as the Senior Manager for Individual Giving and Partnerships at Lyric Opera of Kansas City, combining his love for the performing arts with his passion for leadership and fund development. Jonathan received a Bachelor of Music in Vocal Performance from the University of Kansas. He continues his commitment to educating and advocating for the arts by serving on the Orpheus KC board, the Johnson County Park and Recreation Artist Selection Committee, and by chairing the Theatre in the Park advisory council. He is a frequent guest speaker about the economic impact of the arts in Kansas City, appearing at the NAAAP Leadership Conference, Arts Day for Centurions, and at the Northeast Kansas City Chamber of Commerce. Jonathan is married to Gail Nakano and is a father to Sofia, a freshman at Cornell University, Tristan, a freshman in high school, and Cassia, a two-year-old who is undecided about her college plans.

Heidi Van

Heidi Van, Interim Producing Artistic Director, is a creator, director, and producer of contemporary experimental live theatre. ”A stalwart of the alternative theatre scene” (The Pitch), Heidi challenges the way theatre meets its audience; installing performances anywhere but expected. She launched her career 20 years ago at The Coterie and has worked as an actor, educator, and director for the company. She is the founder and Artistic Director of Fishtank Theatre, a generator of new theatrical work, activism, and entrepreneurship. She is also the founder of The Black Box, an ever-evolving stage that acts as a spotlight in the world of theatre, shining a light on bold and provocative performances. Directing credits include Mr. Popper’s Penguins, The Cat in the Hat, Pete The Cat at The Coterie; Dance Nation, The Wolves and Project Dawn at Unicorn Theatre; Shows For Days, Belfast Girls, Dry Land, Death By Shakespeare, Motherfreakinghood! The Musical! at Fishtank Theatre; and My Fair Lady at Musical Theater Heritage. Heidi is a graduate of Dell ‘Arte International School of Physical Theatre in Blue Lake, CA. She is the recipient of the Charlotte Street Generative Performing Artist Fellowship, The Pitch Mastermind Award, and a proud recipient of the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation SEED Grant. She is a graduate of Artist, Inc. and the Escholars program from The Bloch School of Entrepreneurship and Innovation.

Amanda Kibler

Amanda Kibler, Education Director, earned her M.F.A. in theatre for young audiences from the University of Central Florida. Before joining The Coterie, she worked as an actor, director, and teaching artist at the Omaha Theater Company in Omaha, NE, Orlando Repertory Theatre in Orlando, FL, and Visible Fictions in Glasgow, Scotland. In addition to her time in Coterie classrooms, Amanda founded and directed the first few years of Project Pride, coordinates the annual Young Playwrights Festival, and directs mainstage productions such as Puffs or Seven of Increasingly Eventful Years at a Certain School of Magic and Magic and Electric Poe. Amanda loves creating theatre for and with youth of all ages.

David Golston

David Golston began working as Director of Marketing & Public Relations for The Coterie in January 2013. Prior to The Coterie, he worked as Director of Marketing and Public Relations at InterAct Theatre Company in Philadelphia, PA, for seven years, as Director of Marketing for Unicorn Theatre in Kansas City, MO for six years, and from 2003-2008, he served as General Manager for National New Play Network, an organization of theatres nationwide focused on the development and continued life of new plays. He has also worked as a freelance graphic designer and marketing consultant for several up-and-coming arts organizations in the Kansas City area. With over twenty years of experience promoting hundreds of productions, including dozens of world premieres, David is proud to have dedicated his career to organizations with missions to create and develop groundbreaking new works of theatre and introduce new audiences to the inspiring power of the performing arts. David is a graduate of the University of Missouri – Kansas City, where he completed a bachelor’s degree in business administration.

Allison Nissley

Allison Nissley, Theatre School Director, has worked in theatre as a teaching artist, performer, director, and stage carpenter. She got her start working as a teaching artist at The Coterie as an education intern and as a freelance teaching artist. A Kansas City native, she earned her undergraduate degree in theatre from Northwest Missouri State, then began working in Kansas City, as a theatre artist. She has worked professionally in theatre for young audiences, touring and performing educational theatre with the National Theatre for Children, based in Minneapolis, before settling back in Kansas City.

Jason Coats

Prior to joining the Coterie as Box Office Manager, Jason Coats was a career educator and artist born and raised in the Kansas City area. He has performed in and directed for theaters all over the metro area, including The Coterie’s joint performance of the regional premiere of Newsies with the White Theatre. He had the honor of serving as Education Director for The Barn Players Theatre for 12 years, developing and overseeing all their youth programming. With an MA in education from University Missouri-Kansas City, Jason has taught theatre and other content areas for the last 20 years in the Kansas City, KS, and Shawnee Mission school districts, with experience in grades K-12. He has also performed with the Heartland Men’s Chorus, Kansas City’s gay men’s chorus, for 14 years. Jason is also one of the directors for Project Pride with The Coterie.

Stephanie Laaker

Stephanie Laaker, Booking Coordinator, works with teachers to bring Coterie artists to their classroom. She has worked as a teaching artist and theatre practitioner in Kansas City since graduating with a BFA in Theatre Performance from University of Central Missouri.  She is grateful to work as an administrator and educator with an organization that shares her passion for theatre as a tool for communication and growth.

Tressa Lee

Tressa Lee, Box Office Assistant & Marketing Specialist, joined The Coterie in July 2022 working part-time in the box office. She put her 5+ years of marketing and content creation experience to use by assuming responsibility for The Coterie’s social media accounts in February 2023 when she was promoted to full-time. She is passionate about creating a stellar experience for every patron that attends a Coterie show and promoting the amazing work done by The Coterie on and off the stage. In her free time, she enjoys traveling to new places, singing in shows and at jam sessions, and reading a good mystery or sci-fi novel.