National Team: Jackie Rotman | Sonja Samant | Sophia Horwich | Aryanna Aronson
Chapter Directors: Anjana Bala | Lauren Baker | Marcus Montanez-Leaks | Olivia Berci | Katie Cutshaw| Michele Brizgys | Kaitlin Schulz | Kara Petros | Taylor Steinman | Anna Liu | Veronica Hawkins
Founder & President
Jackie Rotman founded Everybody Dance Now! (EDN!) in 2005 at age 14. She graduated from Stanford University in 2012, at age 20, with a B.A. in Public Policy and a concentration in International Development. In addition to serving as the current President of EDN!, Jackie is an Associate Consultant at The Bridgepsan Group, a consulting firm that helps nonprofit organizations make decisions and build organizations that inspire and accelerate social change.
Jackie has built EDN! from an idea and a vision at the age of 14, to a thriving organization, starting in Santa Barbara, where she developed over twenty local site partnerships, mobilized dozens of teachers, established EDN!’s outreach performance, performance troupe, and cultural dance class programs, personally taught at 18 locations, organized master classes of 100-200 people, developed EDN!’s strong media and publicity presence, and raised more than $100,000 from grants and private donations. In 2009, Jackie co-founded an EDN! chapter at Stanford University, and began to train 6 high school leaders to take over the Santa Barbara chapter. In 2010, after EDN! was featured on America’s Best Dance Crew’s “Champions for Charity” episode, Jackie began working relentlessly to create the growth model and leadership training curriculum for Everybody Dance Now!’s national expansion. Today, EDN! provides training, mentorship, and various resources to help young people throughout the U.S. create and sustain programs in their communities to provide free hip-hop dance programs to at-risk youth.
Passionate about contributing to positive social change globally, Jackie has volunteered on educational and community development projects in India, Mozambique, Guatemala, and Uganda. In 2010, she spent 10 weeks researching an educational nonprofit that teaches leadership and social entrepreneurship skills to Ugandan secondary school students, funded by a competitive Chappell-Lougee Scholarship. Inspired by an organization that she discovered in East Africa called Breakdance Project Uganda, Jackie helped initiate Breakdance Project Santa Barbara (BPSB) in 2011 as a project of EDN!, serving 200 community members and laying the foundations for future BPSB events. In 2011, Jackie also interned with the US Treasury’s Office of African Nations in Washington, D.C. and with Acumen Fund, a nonprofit global venture fund, in New York City. On campus at Stanford, Jackie served as Co-President of Right to Education for All Children (REACh) from 2010-2011, helping lead 15 officers and a member base of dozens of students in raising $6,000 for schools in three developing countries. Jackie also danced with Dv8 and Urban Styles Dance Groups, was active in the public service leadership community, and participated in Cap & Gown, Stanford’s Women’s Honors Society. She graduated with an Award of Excellence and with University Academic Distinction.
In 2009, Jackie also became certified by the Art of Living Foundation to teach the Youth Empowerment Seminar! (YES!), drawing on powerful yoga and meditation techniques to help young people successfully navigate through adolescence.
Among other awards, Jackie has been honored as one of Glamour’s Top Ten College Women (2011), a Truman Award Finalist for the state of California (2011), a Do Something Award finalist (2010), a Fankuchen Fellowship winner (2010), a Do Something Activist on America’s Best Dance Crew (2010), and a Diller Tikkun Olam Award winner (2009). In high school, Jackie was California’s Junior Miss and 2nd Alternate to America’s Junior Miss (now called Distinguished Young Woman of America), a Coca-Cola Scholar, Santa Barbara’s “Teen Extraordinaire,” PANIM’S Young Jewish Activist, a Hitachi Award winner, and an AP Scholar with Distinction. She was also the youngest woman and only college student to publish an essay in the book, Full Bloom: Cultivating Success (2010). Jackie enjoys speaking to youth about their ability to create social change. She feels that EDN! has given her more than she could ever give “it” – helping her grow as a person and a leader, form meaningful relationships with community members, students, and colleagues, and find a great deal of personal fulfillment and joy.
Sonja Samant began working with Everybody Dance Now! during the summer of 2010. Sonja began dancing at the age of three and studied ballet under a member of the Bolshoi Ballet, with the ultimate goal of dancing professionally. Unfortunately, after a severe knee injury, she was forced to stop dancing for two years. Inspired by EDN!’s mission and vision of providing the opportunity for all youth to dance, she created a chapter in Gainesville, FL. After only a year of being in existence, her chapter partnered with ten sites, mobilized other high school students at teachers, incorporated a performance troupe and cultural dance classes, and was featured on WJCB TV. Currently, in addition to working with her chapter, attending Duke University, and developing a chapter at Duke, Sonja serves on the National Team for EDN!. Passionate about EDN!’s goal for social change , Sonja is excited to continue her work on the National Team!
Chapter Support Manager & Chicago Director
Sophia Horwich, as the Chicago Director for EDN!, has worked hard to bring the benefits of EDN! to an urban area where there are many students in need. Much of Chicago is at or below the poverty level, and there is a high level of gang involvement as well.
Growing up in a northwest suburb of Chicago, Sophia always loved dancing but never really got the formal training she had always hoped for. The living room and bedroom of her home was her stage, until she arrived at college and auditioned for her University Dance Company. Being able to perform on a real stage and take classes with a group that she got close with was so invigorating and uplifting for her. Realizing how much of an impact dance had had on her life, she set her sights on bringing the cause to as many students as she could get her hands on.
Committed to community service since a young age, Sophia began gaining leadership experience as a young middle school and high school student. She coordinated a youth rally against genocide in Darfur through her Jewish youth group, and she engaged in over 300 hours of community service by her high school graduation.
Sophia is a student at DePaul University, studying Psychology with a minor in Creative Writing, and she intends to go on to pursue a PhD. She has said, "My favorite part of EDN! is the joy it brings to so many people. It is easily the most rewarding thing I've ever done, and I have seen the effect it has on the students, which is why I do it.” Fun facts about Sophia: other than when she's dancing, she is extremely clumsy and is known for breaking her arm three times in a row. She is also double jointed in both elbows!
In addition to directing EDN! in Chicago, Sophia provides support to other chapter directors and serves on EDN!’s growing National Team.
Aryanna Aronson, 17, attends Santa Barbara High School and has been dancing for fourteen years. She has danced with SB Ballet Center, Diane Knowles, Gustafson Dance, and currently at Santa Barbara Dance Arts. In fourth grade Aryanna became more serious about dance and added several different dance styles to her repertoire and classes to her schedule. She has been a member of the SB Dance Arts Company for the past six years. This is a pre-professional dance company with a rigorous audition process and full calender. This past September she auditioned and made it into their senior dance company, Axis, for the fourth year now and was named captain. She enjoys a number of different styles of dance including, Ballet, Jazz, Hip Hop, Contemporary, and more. Aryanna also teaches a Jazz-Hop class for 5-7 year olds. She delights in the opportunity to mentor these younger students
In addition to dancing five days a week, Aryanna is working as a teacher's aid in the fourth grade classroom at her Temple's Religious School this year gaining valuable leadership and mentoring skills. Aryanna has set high academic standards for herself. She feels honored to be apart of the Multimedia Art and Design Academy for the second year now at Santa Barbara High School and looks forward to the challenges and opportunities that it has to offer.
Aryanna is thrilled to be apart of EDN! since she sees how much she personally benefits from having dance in her life and wants to help give the gift of dance to other kids.
Anjana Bala - Stanford Co-Director
Anjana Bala is currently a sophomore at Stanford University. She is majoring in Human Biology with a concentration in Writing, Literature, and the Arts in Medicine. She has been dancing Bharatanatyam, a form of Indian Classical Dancing, since the age of five and has performed internationally. She has been dancing Hip-hop for the last seven years and is heavily involved with a dance team on Stanford's campus called Dv8 – which she co-directed from 2011-2012. Through Everybody Dance Now!, Anjana hopes to spread her love and passion for dancing to those who do not have the same opportunities. She is incredibly excited and honored to be a part of Everybody Dance Now! and to work with other passionate individuals across the nation.
Lauren Baker - Stanford Co-Director
Lauren Baker is a senior at Stanford University majoring in Economics with a minor in Psychology. Originally from Los Angeles, she has been dancing for fifteen years and has had the opportunity to perform throughout the country. Though she has been trained in ballet, jazz, tap, and modern, she joined a hip-hop dance team her sophomore year at Stanford and has loved it ever since! In high school, similarly to her work with EDN!, she helped to instruct dance classes for inner-city children in Los Angeles, allowing them to experience dance as a medium for self-expression in a positive and supportive environment. She continues to stay active in the dance community at Stanford and looks forward to allowing other Stanford students to share their passion for dance while making an impact in their surrounding communities!
Marcus Montanez-Leaks - Stanford Co-Director
Marcus Montanez-Leaks is a 21 year-old senior at Stanford University studying Psychology with a specialization in Health & Development and a minor in Comparative Studies in Race & Ethnicity. Since he began dancing hip-hop at age 18, he has thrown himself into the dance community in the Bay Area and has diligently pursued anything and everything dance related. He co-founded Stanford's first and only non-audition hip hop dance group, Common Origins, believing that everyone has potential and that dance should be made accessible to anyone regardless of prior experience. Most recently, an overseas study program gave him the opportunity to work with an organization in South Africa called Making an Impact through Sports, through which he taught dance to primary school youth. As a firm believer in the power of the arts and the capacity of young people to make change, he is excited to be part of Everybody Dance Now! and to use his own passion for dance to positively impact others.
Olivia Berci - Santa Barbara Director
Olivia Berci, 16, is a senior at Laguna Blanca High School in Santa Barbara, CA. As Everybody Dance Now!’s Santa Barbara Chapter Director, Olivia works to sustain, expand, and further develop Everybody Dance Now!’s founding and model chapters’ local programs. In addition to working as Santa Barbara’s chapter director, Olivia also sits on Everybody Dance Now!’s National Board of Directors as the youth member. Olivia also teaches for Everybody Dance Now! on a weekly basis, and she greatly values the time with her students. Olivia furthers her own dancing at Santa Barbara Dance Arts, where she has been member of the studio’s pre-professional student dance companies for five years. Outside of dance, Olivia is the lead prosecution lawyer for her school’s mock trial team, works as the Opinion and Editorial Editor for her school’s nationally acclaimed newspaper The Fourth Estate, and has served as a student ambassador for Laguna Blanca’s admissions office for the entirety of her high school career. Olivia also works as a teacher’s assistant at her local congregation. Olivia was recently awarded Laguna Blanca’s Jennifer Demko Baer Inspirational Award, was the recipient of the Harry Kirsch Scholarship, and was a Gold Presidential Community Service Award winner. This past summer, Olivia interned at St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children in Philadelphia under the Chief of Neurology. Olivia is so humbled to be working with such an incredible team of young leaders in Santa Barbara, and to be a part of Everybody Dance Now!’s greater network of programs.
Katie Cutshaw - Ohio State University Director
Katie Cutshaw is a sophomore at The Ohio State University in the exploration program. She has been dancing since a young age and is a firm believer in self-expression and healing through dance. It’s for this reason that she decided to get involved with Everybody Dance Now! and extend it’s influence to the Columbus area. Katie continues to stay active in the dance community at her school as a member of The Ohio State Dance Team and also as a student in the dance minor program. Outside of dance, Katie stays active on campus through involvement in her sorority, student government and other organizations.
Michele Brizgys - Ohio State Vice President
Michelle Brizgys is currently a third-year student The Ohio State University pursuing a degree in chemical engineering and a minor in dance. She started dancing at the age of 7 and has loved it ever since! She wanted to become a part of Everybody Dance Now! because it involves two of her biggest passions: dance and community service. She loves being able to share dance with others and being a positive role model for the kids. She is currently the Vice President of EDN!’s Ohio State chapter, but she stepped in as Chapter Director for a quarter in 2012 while EDN! Ohio State’s Founding Director studied abroad.
Kaitlin Schulz - Ottawa Director
Kaitlin Schulz is a 16-year-old junior attending Ottawa High School in Ottawa, KS. She is on the dance team at her high school, and she takes ballroom dancing classes along with being trained in dance styles such as jazz, tap, ballet, modern, contemporary, hip hop, lyrical, pointe, and musical theatre for twelve years. Kaitlin has danced at multiple studios and is currently on the Senior Troupe at Spotlight Dance Studio. Including dance team and Everybody Dance Now!, she dances five to six days of the week.
Kara Petros - Agoura Hills Director
Kara Petros is a senior at Agoura High School in Agoura Hills, CA. She has danced for the past thirteen years at Agoura Hills Dance, Ballet Arts, and she is currently on her high school's competition dance team. She has been trained in jazz, hip-hop, tap, and lyrical, but she currently focuses on contemporary and ballet/pointe. The past two out of her three years on Agoura High's dance team, Kara has been, and still is, a Varsity captain, which has given her experience in leadership, choreography, and more. Being on the dance team, Kara has performed at her school's pep rallies, football games, and other events, danced down Main Street at the Disneyland Holiday Parade, and competed all across Southern California, receiving high awards in multiple categories.
Anna Liu - San Jose Director
Anna Liu, a junior at Monta Vista High School in Cupertino, has been dancing since the age of six. Her main focus is on Chinese folk dance, but she has also explored ballet, jazz, lyrical, hip hop, and modern dance. She has participated in her high school dance team, the Marquesas, as well as dance teams outside of high school. Anna finds dance to be an excellent outlet for expression, and it has helped her to become more outgoing and socially active. Before high school, Anna experienced giving back to her community firsthand by performing at festivals, senior centers, and twice at the San Francisco Ethnic Dance Festival. She wants to continue giving back to her community through dance, and she has EDN! to be the perfect opportunity to achieve her dreams and connect with dancers nationwide.
Outside of dance, Anna is also extremely academically driven. She enjoys her Advanced Placement classes and actively participates in the school community. As president of the Math and Science Club and an officer in both the National Honor Society and Science National Honor Society, Anna proves her interest in math and science, as well as in dancec. She competes in academic as well as dance competitions, and she is a strong advocate of education in the core subjects as well as in the arts. She tutors peers and middle school children in math during her free time, and she also assists Chinese dance classes for six to eight year old children.
Anna cannot wait to share her passion and love for dance with others, and she hopes that EDN! can positively affect the lives of youth in her community of San Jose!
Veronica Hawkins - Scottsdale Director
Veronica Hawkins became the Scottsdale Chapter Director in April, 2012. She started with one class and has since grown Everybody Dance Now! Scottsdale from a single class to seven classes. She is currently working on expanding from Scottsdale to other cities in the Valley where more youth are at risk of joining gangs or experimenting with drugs.
Veronica was a gymnast in her elementary school years and played the violin and flute up until high school, when she found dance. She started as a beginner and progressed into a dance company and then the Elite dance line, CHSazz. After high school Veronica intended on majoring in Dance but was unable to complete her major due to a knee injury. She studied Forensic Science in college, but she continues to love dance and helps out occasionally at her high school. Since 2011, Veronica has served as a part time assistant in the dance program at the high school, helping with choreography, as well as concert planning and production.
National Team Alumni
Jess Davis, former EDN! Santa Barbara Director (2010-2011) & National/Executive Director (2011-2012) – Claremont McKenna College ‘16
Haley Araki, former Assistant Director – UC Berkeley ‘15
Alina Wattenberg, former Managing Director – Duke University ‘14
Kelly Furukawa, National Team founding member – University of Pennsylvania ‘15
Mindy Phung, former Stanford Director/Co-Founder and National Team founding member – Stanford University ‘12