Meet the Catharsis Production family, working to challenge oppressive attitudes and transform behaviors.
Meet our diverse group of engaging, passionate, highly-trained and profoundly funny educators.
Our StaffBack →
Kenya works at Catharsis Productions as Human Resources Manager. Kenya earned a Bachelor’s in Communication from Eastern Illinois University in Charleston, Il and a Master’s in Organizational and Multicultural Communication from DePaul University right here in Chicago. She also holds a Professional in Human Resources Certification. Kenya has worked in both higher education and professional services. Kenya is a wife and mother who loves spending time with her family and friends. She is very excited to be working at CP with a great team of people.
Fleur De Vries
Director of Marketing
Born a true cheese, haring and tulip loving Dutchie, Fleur started her career in Amsterdam in advertising. After she received her M.S. degree in Commercial Communications from the University of Amsterdam in 2006, she shifted her focus to Marketing Communications.
After some years of corporate life, Fleur turned her world upside down and moved to Malawi for 6 months to work as an interim Head of Marketing for a microfinance-bank. She ended up working in several countries in Africa for 5 years. Later, Fleur moved to Chicago with her husband, a Chicagoan, and started working as a consultant for CVS/Caremark. So after some interesting switches between the corporate and non-profit world, Fleur landed at Catharsis Productions, where she finds the best of both worlds. Fleur prides herself in being the world’s worst baker and an excellent office-entertainer.
Tazmania makes everyone’s life at the office just a little easier. Whether organizing a staff party, or making sure everyone is comfortable at the office, Tazmania is right on top of it. She is also the Submission Editor for Uncanny Magazine and enjoys being submerged within the thralls of all things supernatural and fantasy. No wonder Tazmania holds a Bachelor of Arts from Columbia College in Creative Writing. Her hobbies include editing, organizing, sleeping, and goofing around with her children, Orio, Kookie, and Nova Chip.
Lawrence attended Roosevelt University where he attained a Masters of Science degree in Accounting. Developing strong relationships is the foundation of everything he does personally and professionally. His background and experience includes results-driven talent with proven ability to communicate complex information proactively and concisely with all levels of finance, non-financial staff, and the general public. In his spare time he enjoys cooking, attending live concerts, zip-lining, baseball, and basketball games.
Heather Imrie, M. Ed.
Director of Program Development & Efficacy
Some say that Heather Imrie is an oppression fighting enigma, wrapped in a riddle, served with a side sauce of social justice; still others have said wait what did you just say? This is surprising since Heather has been teaching social justice and violence prevention for almost 20 years. Here at Catharsis Productions she is our Director of Program Development & Efficacy. During her career she has created and presented training on sexual assault, domestic violence, stalking, sexual harassment, systems of oppression, victim blaming and bystander intervention to crisis centers, universities and military installations around the world. She is the creator of various anti-violence programs most notably Got Your Back/The Hook-Up and she is the co-creator of the Force of Awesome Institute, a program that incorporates active coaching and curriculum analysis for violence prevention educators. When not working she is with her partner Scott, probably running late, on the way to an adventure. Or watching TV, there’s always that.
Founder and Chief Executive Officer
Christian Murphy founded Catharsis Productions with Gail Stern in 2000. He serves as Chief Executive Officer for the company where he oversees the strategies and implementation of the company vision, mission, and its core values. In addition to co-creating SEX SIGNALS with Dr. Stern and serving as the original main male presenter for the program, Mr. Murphy focuses primarily on the aesthetic and creative content of the programs. He has also served as the chief architect of the adaptation of the civilian script for military audiences, engaging with staff in each branch of the military in a diligent effort to have each script reflect the military jargon, customs, and courtesies of that branch of service. Mr. Murphy also co-wrote with Dr. Christopher Kilmartin and co-produced the U.S. Army sexual harassment video “Amateur Night,” which is now seen as part of the sexual harassment refresher course for U.S Army Soldiers. He serves as a major contributor to the online trainings designs, in particular, U GOT THIS!. Mr. Murphy worked as a professional actor for over twenty-five years and as an award-winning playwright. His one-person show, Meditations, won the 1998 Factory Theater Shut Up and Laugh! One-Act Play Festival, where he met Dr. Stern. Shortly thereafter he and Gail began developing “Sex Signals” (then known as “The Sensitive Swashbuckler & Other Dating Myths”) through Downstage Left Program at Stage Left Theatre in Chicago. Mr. Murphy also served as the founder and original Artistic Director of Voices in Harmony, a Los Angeles-based non-profit organization that paired urban youth with theater and film professionals to collaborate one-on-one in creating and performing personal stories. He has been trained as a certified rape victim advocate through Chicago’s Rape Victim Advocate program. He designed a peer-education training program on gender issues for Lambda Chi Alpha and its undergraduate fraternity members. He served as the co-chair on the MEN (Men Endorsing Non-Violence) subcommittee for Illinois Coalition Against Domestic Violence and co-created its highly successful Male Ally Pilot program for students at the University of Illinois at Chicago. He received his Bachelor of Arts and Masters of Business Administration degrees from the University of Notre Dame. He currently serves on the board for the non-profit Stage for Change and teaches the Our Whole Lives (OWL) healthy sexuality curriculum to eighth graders. He is happily married to Lauren Murphy, co-owner of Laurenceleste, makers of some really hip, organic personalized baby blankets. Visit them at www.laurenceleste.com. Christian is also known for his extraordinary Chewbacca impression.
Contract & Client Relations Director
Ben Murrie, M.S. serves as the Contract & Client Relations Director. Having joined Catharsis in 2003, he now oversees and maintains the integrity of almost 3,000 annual presentations. After graduating from Pepperdine University, Ben worked as a primary counselor in a psychiatric hospital. He earned his M.S. in Educational Psychology from Oklahoma State University, where his work concentrated on the intersection of moral development and social psychology. From this, he developed “Going Down”, a program that explores how pornography affects cognitive and behavioral functioning. Ben has been a keynote and featured speaker at various Military conferences as well as the National Sexual Assault, Advocacy in Action, and EVAWI Conferences. He has also conducted trainings for the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office and represented Catharsis on NPR’s “To the Point” and TIME.com. He is married to the imminently gracious Shawna Murrie, with whom he has two rambunctious sons.
Administrative Coordinator of Contracts & Client Relations
Elizabeth Schult hails from the sunny sands of Palm Springs, California, trading in the dry heat for thunderstorms and blizzards. She graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Creative Writing and a minor in Psychology from Knox College in June 2013. Elizabeth is honored to be a part of the Catharsis team as the Administrative Coordinator of Contracts and Client Relations, and proud to commit her days to social change. Instead of sleeping, Elizabeth reads almost anything, writes comics, bakes for friends and coworkers, volunteers at the Oak Park Library in the graphic novel section, works to get her passport filled, and takes her cat for walks.
Client Relations Manager
Tara Sparks began working for the company in the summer of 2013. In Tara’s mind, the stars had aligned, creating the perfect position that matched her experience and interests. As a lover of the written word, Tara pursued and earned a Bachelor’s in Communication from the University of Miami and a Master’s in Written Communication from National Louis University. Professionally, her altruistic nature always caused her to take positions in the health and education fields because she loved using her communication, organization, and planning skills to help others. She feels honored to work with a great group of people who are all committed to changing the world one presentation at a time. When she’s not managing schedules and organizing presentations, Tara’s still probably planning something: her next writing project, a travel adventure, life. Email her and she’d be happy to plan something for you too!
Dr. Gail Stern
Founder and Chief Visionary Officer
Dr. Gail Stern is the co-founder of Catharsis Productions, co-author of the non-stranger rape prevention program Sex Signals, and author of the programs, Beat the Blame Game, and Teaching Rape as a Moral Issue. She has been a SME for the White House and each branch of the Armed Forces on issues related to sexual violence prevention.
Dr. Stern and colleague Heather Imrie are the co-creators of the innovative Force of Awesome Institute, a program for violence prevention educators that enables them to design and deliver more effective presentations in their own communities. Based on Dr. Stern’s and Ms. Imrie’s extensive research and experience, the Institute incorporates a combination of lecture, group work, and coaching, effectively transferring the training capacity to participants.
A large part of Dr. Stern’s expertise strays from traditional prevention education. She began performing stand-up and improvisational comedy at the age of fifteen, and continued performing throughout her college and professional career. In the early 90s, she was asked to utilize this skill when training over 800 Chicago Police sergeants on “cultural sensitivity.” She discovered quickly that the strategic use of humor enabled her to connect with her audience, not only in building rapport, but also in enabling them to hear challenging information. This experience fueled the rest of her academic career, and she focused her studies and research on using humor to reduce emotional and cognitive resistance to challenging issues.
Dr. Stern is also the creator of the sexual assault prevention programs, Beat the Blame Game; Sexual Violence Prevention as a Moral Issue; The Canary in the Mineshaft: What Rape Jokes Signal About Our Culture; and, Fight Fire With Funny: Using Humor to Reframe Rape as a Moral Issue. Dr. Stern served as the director of the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) Campus Advocacy Network from 1991-1998, providing crisis counseling and court advocacy to victims of violent crime.
Manager of Program Development
Cara Thaxton was born and raised in Chicago, IL surrounded by laughter, love and chaos. She is the youngest of five kids, and an aunt to eight nieces and nephews. Cara comes to Catharsis Productions with over fifteen years of experience working for social justice, both in Chicago and the San Francisco Bay Area. Her work earned her the 2003 Advocate of the Year award from the State’s Attorney’s Office. In her career, Cara has educated thousands of individuals, from elementary school students to the media, on rape prevention and intervention, with a special focus on the LGBTQ community and hate crimes. Cara’s unique educational style is authentic, entertaining, and compassionate. Cara is thrilled to have found a home with Catharsis, a company that shares her dedication to ending violence and her approach to education. Cara holds a Bachelors of Arts in Sociology and Communications from Aurora University.
Our Educators← Back
Vincent Banks holds Gary, Indiana to be the town where his career began, as that’s where he began rapping in elementary school, started acting in middle school, and took up stand-up in high school. He has since ventured into screenwriting, and spirituality has become an integral facet of his life. Vincent is a 2018 graduate of DePaul University’s theatre school, and he is “elated and honored” to join the Catharsis family in fighting fire with funny!
Diego is happy to bring his brand of funny to the Catharsis Productions team. He is a Chicago born and bred actor, singer, writer, musician, composer and technician. He has been performing in Chicago and around the country for two decades. Diego has been seen on Steppenwolf, The Gift, The Inconvenience, Jackalope theatre, Griffin Theatre, and Kokandy productions stages. He has been co-host of America’s Greatest Game Show with Erik Estrada, as well as being the face of the Fueling Good Road Trip national campaign. Diego spends his free time playing video games, joining his movie team for cinematic adventures, writing songs to sing, handing out high fives and trying to be as strong as Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson.
"NSFW"/"SAY WHAT?!" Educator
After a fulfilling stage and film acting career with credits from Los Angeles to New York, Sharyon returned to her hometown of Chicago in 2008. She then began touring with Catharsis Productions – enamored by the goal of the company to lessen sexual violence by “fighting fire with funny”. Though she has kept up her love of performing with recent credits at Chicago Theater Workshop, Chicago Children’s Theater, and a number of local film projects, she has also discovered a love for writing and development of social justice-based interactive workshops. At this point she has completed projects with CCT, the TEECH Organization, and is thrilled to be returning to Catharsis Productions with the creation of “NSFW”/”Say What?!”
Anthony DiNicola is a very proud member of the Catharsis Productions team! He has delivered over 500 presentations to date, in 47 states in the USA, and 3 on continents. A native of Boston, Massachusetts, Anthony moved to Chicago after graduating from Bowdoin College. He received his rape victim advocacy training through ICASA in Springfield, Illinois. He always is looking forward to the continued laughs and discussions he has the privilege to engage in with audiences all over the place, and especially to helping end rape culture in his lifetime.
Anne Dufault is inspired by the work she does with Sex Signals, and the incredible audiences she has conversations with. She is a graduate of Skidmore College’s Theater Program and the National Theater Institute at the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center. In addition to her work with Catharsis, Anne is an actor and educator, currently based out of Chicago. Anne has performed as an actor in New York City, Cincinnati, and Boston, and has taught with a range of theaters and programs, including Timeline Theatre Company and Explo at Yale. During her time at Skidmore College, she directed and produced the play “After” about sexual assault on college campuses, and is thrilled to continue to create discussion about this issue through Sex Signals.
Javier is proud to join the Catharsis team! A native of Minneapolis, Minnesota, Javier relocated to Chicago where he got his BFA in Musical Theatre from Roosevelt University’s Chicago College of Performing Arts. He has been actively engaged in a wide network of Chicago area theatres that include Chicago Shakespeare Theatre, The Goodman Theatre, and Lifeline Theatre. Through his love for storytelling, he discovered a passion for engagement in social justice issues, with a particular focus on discussions about representation onstage and onscreen. Javier is thrilled by the work Catharsis has done in promoting cultural shifts in deconstructing rape culture, and is excited contribute to that work and to marry his love for theatre and performance with a direct engagement in social change.
Jessamyn Fitzpatrick is absolutely thrilled to be a part of the Catharsis team! A Chicago native, she graduated from Reed College in Portland, OR, where she studied feminist theatre, free love, and the art of drinking wine in the rain. Jessamyn has performed with various Chicago companies such as Redmoon, Walkabout, The Chicago Mammals, Corn Productions, and Beast Women. She also spent a few years moonlighting as a burlesque dancer, and then escaped to Paris for a year, where she lived exclusively on bread, cheese and cheap theatre. Jessamyn is also a proud teaching artist at both TimeLine and The Raven Theatre. Her work performing Sex Signals continues to be the most challenging, unpredictable and inspiring work she has ever done. Thanks to Catharsis for all that they do, and to her parents, for letting her talk about rape culture at family dinners.
Greg Geffrard is a Haitian American who was born in Miami, FL. Primarily a spoken word writer and performer in his youth, he found that acting served as the best platform to help decipher and explore his fascination with the intricacies that make us all so unique. After receiving his M.F.A at the University Of Iowa, Greg decided that moving to Chicago was essential to find balance while continuing his growth as an artist and educator. Greg comes to Catharsis with over 8 years of teaching experience and longs to live in a world where equality is not only a word written in doctrine but illuminated in action. He enjoys reading, performing spoken word poetry and believes that joy is an essential part of the human experience. “No matter how many miles you walk in the shoes God gave you, you can never wear out your soul”.
Jyreika is from Louisville, KY with a Bachelors in Musical Theatre and a Masters in Public History from Northern Kentucky University. Thrilled to be working with Catharsis Productions, Ms. Guest has been working as a poet, actor, and creative for communities seeking artistic outlets. In Ohio and Illinois, she’s served as a teaching artist for survivors of domestic violence and abuse through entities such as Pones Inc., National Underground Railroad Freedom Center educational programming, and Stillpoint Theater Collective. On Sundays, she’s pruning plants and performing belly rubs on her pit bull, Belle!
Mike is proud to be counted among the incredible group of people that make up Catharsis Productions. He was born in Southern California and migrated to Nelson County, Virginia before he studied at VCU in Richmond, Va. He is a Theatre and Voice Over artist currently residing in Chicago. Mike is also the Club Manager of Edgewater Castle F.C., a non-profit soccer club that makes competitive play accessible to all Chicagoans.
Gregory Taylor Hill is a Chicago based actor, improviser, and teaching artist from Ohio. You can see Gregory perform at IO theatre doing improv and his countless number of characters inspired by the beautiful people of Chicago. He is thrilled to be apart of such an awesome team of people who use comedy as a tool for change. ” No matter what people say, words, ideas and laughter can change the world”- Robin Williams
Cayla Jones is excited to be working in her role at Catharsis productions. Cayla is a recent graduate from Illinois State University, and currently resides in Chicago. Cayla has acted in a multitude of diverse productions ranging from “We Are Proud to Present a Presentation About the Herero of Namibia, Formerly Known as Southwest Africa, From the German Sudwestafrika, Between the Years 1884–1915” to “She Kills Monsters” and through work at Illinois State University, the Goodman Theater and multiple other institutions, has really shown her love for the art and acting.
Connor is proud to be a recent addition to the Catharsis Productions team of educators. A native of Houston, Texas, Connor received his BFA in Performance and Dramaturgy from the University of Oklahoma. After graduation he moved to Chicago, where he has been lucky enough to write and perform his own comedic material at theatres all over the city. Connor is also a founding member of GeekHaus, a cosplay performance collective geared toward inclusivity within the LGBTQ Community. Teaching Got Your Back and Sex Signals, he’s excited to use humor to approach difficult subject matter and inspire others to help stop interpersonal violence.
Tommy is very excited to be working with Catharsis at last. A long time fan of their work, he has been an educator, actor, and musician in the city of Chicago. He is a graduate of the School at Steppenwolf (Summer 2017), and received his B.A. in Theatre Education from Illinois State University. He has worked with companies like The House Theatre of Chicago, Steep Theatre Co., Jackalope Theatre, Remy Bumppo, and Silk Road Rising. He is honored to work alongside such caring and empowering social justice activists.
Cameron Miller is a man-child from the mountains of North Carolina that still listens to his mama. His inability to spell or solve math problems pushed him into the acting profession. His healthy obsession for laughter guided him to Chicago, where he became a part of the super awesome Catharsis Productions. Back in the Carolinas, Cameron earned a degree in film production and since then has been in different comedy troupes in Chicago and North Carolina. He also does stand-up comedy at various places throughout Chicago, and he received his advocate training from Rape Victim Advocates here. With all that Cameron has done and accomplished, nothing makes him more excited than to be working with such a fine group of folks. SEXSIGNALS tackles a serious subject with comedy, which Cameron feels gives his skills more meaning that anything he has yet to do. Oh, and he says hey to his family.
A graduate of UCLA’s MFA acting program, Tiffany has lived and worked as a teaching artist in Los Angeles, Atlanta, and now Chicago, a city she is proud to call home. Teaching is her passion, acting is her pleasure, and combining the two through her work with Catharsis has been a dream come true. She is immensely grateful to her family, friends, mentors and fellow educators who continue to guide, support and inspire her path towards justice through the arts. Cheers!
Marjorie is a Chicago-based actor, writer, and educator and is ecstatic to be a part of the Catharsis team! Born and raised in the Indiana Dunes, Marjorie made the small town girl move to Chicago to pursue her BFA in Acting at DePaul University, which she received in 2017. When she’s not acting, writing, or teaching, Marjorie likes to bullet journal, take long walks, and complain that they just don’t make music like they used to. She is so proud to be a part of the Catharsis team!
DeRante Parker currently lives in Los Angeles, California. He was born in Atlanta, GA, but grew up most of his life in Las Vegas. He attended college for acting in Pocatello, ID, then went off to Columbia, SC to get an MFA in acting. DeRante joined Catharsis Productions in 2009 and received his rape victim advocate training from the RVA of Chicago. DeRante feels blessed and grateful to be part of this organization and to part of this important work. Everyday he looks forward towards serving and educating others on these issues.
Sarah Patin is an all-around theatre kid with a love for performing, devising, directing, and teaching. Not long after graduating with a B.A. in Theatre Performance from Louisiana State University in 2012, she ran away to Chicago and spent the next 5 years doing The Chicago Theatre Thing, performing with amazing and inspiring companies like The Runaways Lab, The Comrades, Emerald City Theatre, Strawdog Theatre, Collaboraction, Redtwist Theatre, Pegasus Theatre, and The Artistic Home. She has also directed in festivals with The Runaways Lab and The Artistic Home, and has been a teaching artist with Emerald City Theatre and The City of Evanston. She is beside herself with gratitude for the opportunity to do this work with Catharsis Productions.
Paula is thrilled to be one of the newest members of the Catharsis family. Originally from Venezuela, Paula moved to Chicago after receiving her B.F.A in Theatre Arts and has called it home for the past five years. During that time she’s had the pleasure of working with a wide network of theatres, including Rivendell Theatre where she is currently an ensemble member. Through her work with companies like Teatro Luna and F.Y.I Paula ignited her interest for theatre and storytelling as a means for social change and became passionate about the creation of new work through devising and collaboration. She has worked in the city as a teaching artist for the past three years and loves that Catharsis gives her a platform to use theatre, humor and education as a way to tackle difficult subjects like interpersonal violence and rape culture.
Scrantom is a Chicago based actress, art director, and educator. She grew up in various parts of Georgia and Tennessee with a brief stint in Albuquerque, New Mexico. She graduated the University of Iowa with a BA in Theatre and Literature and later studied at London Academy of Music and Dramatic Arts and Atlantic Acting School. She’s had the privilege to act with great Chicago artists including Strawdog Theatre, Teatro Vista, Victory Gardens Theater, Lifeline Theatre, Shattered Globe Theatre, The Waltzing Mechanics, The Backroom Shakespeare Project and more. In her spare time, she enjoys biking through Chicago, befriending every dog she meets, doing puzzles, and freelances as a film director and production designer. Maggie is beyond honored to be apart of the Catharsis family and vastly proud to be doing this work. Everyday, she is humbled by and grateful for this opportunity and the incredible people involved.
David Seeber is very proud to be performing with Sex Signals. He has been privileged to act in Chicago plays including Annie Bosh Is Missing (Steppenwolf), The Shadow Over Innsmouth (WildClaw Theatre), Loom (Nothing Without a Company), The Whole World is Watching (Dog & Pony Theatre Co.), Collaboraction’s 13th Sketchbook Festival, and Mercury Fur (Ex-Pats Theatre Company). He co-founded the National Cool Theatre and performed in their productions of Uncle Vanya and The Football Play. He enjoys riding unicycles and wants to learn to hang glide. David is a graduate of Columbia College Chicago. He never dreamed that he would be creating safer communities across the country for survivors of sexual assault, but now can’t imagine doing anything else. He wants to thank his friends and family for their love and support.
Sarah, a recent grad from The Theatre School at DePaul University, is thrilled and honored to join the Catharsis team. Her favorite projects in the last year include performing Claire in “The Maids”, organizing a battle of the bands, and interning at PR casting. Talk to her about season 2 of The Crown, being a New England girl and sports fan, and anything music related.
Michael Turrentine was born on The West Elm of Yore! Khaleesi is a long time childhood friend of his sharing similar interests in dragons, long skirts, and of course, the Winter. Michael is also very much known for his sense of humor and abstract imagination. On a real note, Michael is originally from Tulsa, Oklahoma but now dwells in the windy arms of Chicago. He is mainly an actor working all around the city, but LOVES his Social Justice work with Catharsis Productions. He started off educating college students through Catharsis but has since moved into Military Education, specifically the Navy. Michael is very much excited to be a part of a company that does such incredible work and touches so many lives.
Hannah is thrilled to be a new member of the Catharsis family! After graduating from the University of Michigan, with degrees in Psychology and Women’s Studies, Hannah spent most of the last three years traveling and working abroad in Southeast Asia, Australia, and South America. She feels fortunate to have been able to immerse herself in so many cultures, foods, languages, and mountain ranges. She has work and volunteer experience with organizations aimed at supporting women’s empowerment, domestic violence prevention, sexual trauma populations, and chronic mental health issues. Hannah is excited to settle back in Chicago and continue working toward her passion to end sexual violence.
Hilary Williams is a Chicago based actress, writer, and educator. A graduate of Columbia College Chicago with a BA in Theatre/Acting, Hilary hails from Omaha, Nebraska. She has worked with such companies as The Hypocrites, LifeLine Theatre, New Leaf Theatre, Rivendell Ensemble, Wayward Productions and Shattered Globe. As an educator and teaching artist Hilary has worked with TimeLine Theatre, CAPE, Still Point, and currently teaches for Storycatchers Theatre working with court involved youth. She is grateful to her fellow Great Lake’s educators and the rest of her Catharsis family for their work and dedication.
Assistant Manager of Educator Delivery and Development
George Zerante is ridiculously honored to be a member of the Catharsis team. A graduate from Illinois State University, he has now been a part of Catharsis Productions for quite some time performing Sex Signals, Got Your Back, and The Hook Up. When he is not traveling the world, trying to make it a better place, he resides in the greatest city on earth, Chicago. He has acted in plays, commercials, and, humbly, has a very brief close up with Angelina Jolie in her movie, Wanted. George proudly received his rape victim advocate training through the RVA of Chicago, and finds his role as an educator with Catharsis Productions to be the most important work that he has ever done. CONSENT!!!