Camp Staff Biographies

Summer in the Arts at Northern hires many talented individuals for the summer camps. NIU faculty, graduate and undergraduate students, alumni, guest artists and area teachers, serve as camp directors, instructors and counselors. Camp directors devise the camp curriculum and oversee the week's activities. All have had extensive teaching experience. Campers are supervised at all times; the ratio of adults to campers is about one to 12. Counselors are assigned to each residence hall floor and accompany the campers to all meals and activities.

NIU Jazz Camp


Geof Bradfield (Camp Director)

Geof Bradfield's work as a saxophonist, composer, and bandleader synthesizes jazz and other African Diaspora influences with formal practices from the Western European tradition. 

He has performed throughout the U.S., Europe, Russia, Africa and the Middle East both as a sideman and as a leader of his own ensembles. His work is featured on 50+ CDs, including six critically acclaimed albums as a leader. As a composer, he has received commissions and awards from ArtWorks (with Guggenheim Fellow Ryan Cohan), Chamber Music America, Illinois Arts Council, City of Chicago DCASE, Chicago Jazz Ensemble, Michigan State University Jazz Ensemble, Black Metropolis Research Consortium, the Mellon Foundation and DownBeat Magazine (Rising Star arranger, 2015 DownBeat Critics Poll).


Mark Dahl

Mark Dahl (big band director) holds a bachelor’s degree in saxophone performance and a master’s degree in music education from NIU. He has studied conducting with Steven Squires and Ronnie Wooten and jazz pedagogy with Ron Carter. He is currently band director and assistant division chair for fine arts at Lyons Township High School in LaGrange. The program consists of two concert bands, symphonic band, wind ensemble, marching band, jazz band, jazz lab band and jazz ensemble.

Mark’s groups have been selected and performed at the Jazz Showcase in Chicago, the Illinois Music Educators Association State Convention, the Illinois Superstate Band Festival and the Essentially Ellington Competition in New York City. In addition to his school responsibilities, Mark conducts clinics and performs throughout the Chicago area and has been on the staff of the Birch Creek Summer Jazz Camp (2001-2009) and the Northern Illinois University Jazz Camp (2010-present).


Marybeth Kurnat

Marybeth Kurnat (instructor, co-head counselor) holds a B.M. in Music Education from NIU, and has been teaching professionally since 2012. She currently teaches 6th grade band, jazz and general music at Huntley Middle School, and is an arranger and co-director for the DeKalb High School a cappella program. ​During her career as a public school educator, she has been nominated for a Golden Apple Award and Kane County Educator of the Year. She also maintains a private woodwind studio, and is frequently engaged as a festival clinician and adjudicator. Marybeth has a dynamic performance background in instrumental music, vocal music and theater. She is a member of the St. Charles Singers and the Chicago Choral Artists. ​She has been on the NIU Jazz Camp ​staff since 2011​.


Lexi Nomikos

More information on Lexi coming soon!


Lenard Simpson

More information on Lenard coming soon!



Kimberly Branch

Kimberly Branch (instructor, counselor) is currently pursuing a degree in jazz studies and music education at NIU. She performs with several NIU ensembles, including the Jazz Ensemble, Wind Symphony, Huskie Marching Band, and various jazz combos. She has many years of experience as a private instructor. She was the trumpet clinician at Dillard Center for the Arts Summer Jazz Camp in Fort Lauderdale, Florida for the past three years. She was a counselor and taught voice and trumpet lessons at the 2012 NIU Jazz Camp.


Bobby Cooper

More information on Bobby coming soon!



Kyle McComb

Kyle McComb (percussion instructor. counselor) Kyle McComb is a member the NIU jazz studies program (receiving his Bachelor’s of Music Performance degree in May 2018), and plays regularly in the Chicago area. While at NIU, Kyle has performed with the NIU Jazz Ensemble, Latin Jazz Ensemble, and various jazz combos and classical ensembles. He has studied percussion, pedagogy, improvisation, and composition with Rodrigo Villanueva, Juan Pastor, Quin Kirchner, Greg Beyer, Mike Mixtacki, Ben Wahlund, Robert Chappell, Reggie Thomas, Geof Bradfield, Fareed Haque, Art Davis, and David Maki. His playing and composition reflects his interest in jazz music as a music of interaction, spontaneity, and innovation. An affinity for many styles of music and a willingness to experiment musically has made Kyle an in-demand sideman in the Chicago scene. Kyle has instructed young musicians in situations varying from private lessons to jazz combos to big bands to percussion ensembles; his teaching emphasizes developing an individual approach to music that is based on a firm understanding of musical traditions and technique.

Everette Benton Jr.

Everette Benton Jr. (percussion instructor. counselor) Kyle McComb is a drummer based in Dekalb, Illinois. Originally from East St. Louis, he began playing drums at age 13, performing in his middle school and high school jazz groups and marching and concert bands. He performed in the IMEA (Illinois Music Education Association) Honors Big Band (2011) and Honors Combo (2012). He also performed with the East St. Louis Sr. High School Jazz Band as they made it to the Essentially Ellington Competition in New York. He is currently pursuing his Bachelors Degree in Music Performance (Jazz Studies) at Northern Illinois University, studying under Rodrigo Villanueva. He has performed with Reggie Thomas, Fareed Haque, Geof Bradfield, Marquis Hill, Adam Larson, the NIU Jazz Orchestra, Tim Warfield, among others.



Marlene Rosenberg

Marlene Rosenberg has emerged as one of the most talented and multi-faceted bassists on the scene today. She has played professionally throughout the United States, Europe, Latin America, and Japan and toured with Joe Henderson, Nancy Wilson, Joe Williams, Frank Morgan, Ed Thigpen, Albert "Tootsie" Heath, Benny Green, Roy Hargrove and Wallace Roney.

Currently at NIU she is coordinating the jazz combo program, and teaching Introduction to Jazz Studies. She is part time faculty at Northwestern in the small jazz ensemble program under the direction of Victor Goines. Ms. Rosenberg holds a Masters of Music in Jazz Pedagogy from Northwestern University and a Bachelor of Music in Jazz Bass and Composition from the University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana.


Sam Dando

More information on Sam coming soon!



Scott Mertens 

Scott Mertens (piano instructor, big band director) is a pianist, educator, and composer/arranger in northern Illinois. He has a bachelor's degree in music education from the University of Missouri-Columbia. His master’s degree in music is from NIU. He has written jazz charts for Jim Martin's jazz music site, and he was a contributing author for the 2007 book by Ron Carter and Richard Miles, Teaching Music Through Performance in Jazz.

Scott currently performs in the Chicago area and has been a member of the Doug Stone/Doug Bratt Big Band. He was the director of the NIU Community School of the Arts Jazz Band, and has been a clinician at jazz festivals across the Midwest. He has worked extensively with middle and high school jazz bands, is a band director in Sycamore, Illinois, and has been with the NIU Jazz Camp for many years.



Tetsuya Nishiyama

More information on Tetsuya coming soon!



Nick Roach

Nick Roach holds a Bachelors of Music in Jazz Studies from the University of North Texas and got his masters in jazz at NIU. Originally from the Dallas/Ft. Worth area and recently relocated to Chicago, Nick has quickly established himself as an in-demand composer, arranger, educator and performer. Having performed in several states and on cruise ships on five continents, Nick is an adept and versatile musician on multiple instruments. As a composer/arranger, he has written for groups of all different sizes and instrumentations, from trombone quartets to big bands and everything in between. As a student and professional musician, Nick has had the privilege of performing with many respected musicians of different genres, such as Arthur Barrow, Cynthia Scott, Brad Leali, Carl Allen, Derrick Gardner, Corey Wilkes, Robert Irving III, Ari Brown, Andy Narell, Al Smith, Geof Bradfield, Reggie Thomas, Camille Thurman, Tim Warfield, Russ Phillips, Victor Garcia and Eric Schneider.


Theatre Arts Camp

Nathan Wyman (Camp Director)

Nathan Wyman (camp director) is professor of theatre at William Jewell College in Liberty, Missouri, where he also serves as director of Jewell Theatre Company. He graduated from the NIU School of Theatre and Dance in 1998 with a master's degree in fine arts in scene design and technology. He has been involved with the NIU Theatre Arts Camps for many years as head counselor and assistant to the director and is excited to return each year to work with these creative and energetic staff and students!


Nick Benz

More information on Nick coming soon!


Zoe Depreta

More information on Zoe coming soon!


Hannah Gilbert

Hannah Gilbert (instructor, counselor) hails from Horicon, Wisconsin. She completed her fourth year in the NIU BFA Acting program in spring 2016. While NIU focuses on the Stanford Meisner technique, she was also able to train in the technique of Michael Chekhov, rooted in the techniques of Konstantin Stanislavski, at the Moscow Art Theatre in Russia for a semester. Hannah has experience in Dialects, Verse Drama, and Movement.  Hannah is currently writing, working on music, and getting her feet on the ground professionally. She can't wait to return for another year of camp!


Bryant Hayes

More information on Bryant coming soon!


Daniel Kies

Daniel Kies is a South Florida native pursuing his MFA in Acting at Northern Illinois University. He recently finished his bachelor’s degree in musical theatre at Palm Beach Atlantic University. He also had the opportunity to study playwriting and solo performance abroad in London. Daniel is a company member with the Palm Beach Shakespeare Festival, where he has performed in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Hamlet, and Much Ado About Nothing. Additional SoFlo credits include Spring Awakening, The Rocking Dead: A Zombie Musical, Frost/Nixon, The Man Who Came to Dinner and Sleepwalk. 


Nyssa Lowenstein

Nyssa Lowenstein is a graduate from Northern Illinois University with a BFA in Acting. She is originally from Denver, CO. She has studied for a semester at the prestigious Moscow Art Theatre School, where she performed in The Seagull. She also has performed in Adana, Turkey with a touring production of Marat/Sade. She has been previously seen at NIU in Romeo and Juliet, Ubu the King, The Lucky Chance, Comedy of Errors, and Marat/Sade.


Bethany Mangum

More information on Bethany coming soon!


John Morefield

More information on John coming soon!


Jessie Roark

More information on Jessie coming soon!


Matthew Romriell

Originally from Salt Lake City, Utah, Matt received his MFA in Acting from Northern Illinois University. He is currently on faculty at NIU, as an instructor of acting in the School of Theatre and Dance, and as Stage Director for Opera Theatre at the School of Music. Regional credits include Les Miserables, The Philadelphia Story, and Man of La Mancha. Other favorites include Charles in Blithe Spirit, Claudio in Measure for Measure, Nick in Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf, Flote in Red Noses, Jake in A Lie of the Mind and Berger in Hair. In Utah, he was also fortunate to perform his verbatim play, Schism, at Salt Lake Acting Company.

Visual Arts Camp

Lynn Stockton (Camp Director)

Lynn Stockton (camp director) has been a high school art teacher for 30 years. She is a National Board Certified Teacher.

In 2008, she was recognized by the Illinois Art Education Association as the Secondary Art Teacher of the Year. Her students have won numerous awards and scholarships at the local, state, and national levels. She has helped to facilitate and restructure the visual art programs of two Illinois school districts and was instrumental in the addition of advanced placement studio art as an option for high school students in those districts.

In June 2011 she was appointed to the National Prismacolor Advisory Council. She is currently teaching at Rockford Jefferson High School where she heads the largest advanced placement studio art program in northern Illinois. Ms. Stockton has been the director of the Visual Arts Camp since 2001.

Portraits in Acrylic

Brandon Barber

Brandon Barber (instructor and counselor) received his bachelor of fine art degrees in both sculpture and painting from Northern Illinois University in spring 2013 and plans on pursuing graduate school in the near future. He was a camper at the Visual Arts Camp for four years as a high school student and began his career as a counselor with the camp in 2007. He began teaching at the camp in 2013.

Mixed Media

Lisa Doll

Lisa Doll (instructor) earned her bachelor's and master's degrees in education from NIU; her undergraduate major was in art education and her graduate specialization was in outdoor education. She has taught art at several Rockford public schools since 1993, and is currently teaching at Guilford High School. Her students have shown their artwork at a variety of shows, including the Rockford Art Museum Youth Show and Rock Valley College High School Art Show. She has taught at the Visual Arts Camp for several years.


 Ana Cortes

3-D Sculpture Experience

April Macantagay

April Macatangay (instructor, counselor) received her bachelor's degree in art education from NIU in 2005 and earned her bachelor's degree in fine arts from NIU in 2007. She has been an artist-in-residence in Poland, as well as in the Philippines, where she learned to make traditional clothing from pineapple fiber. Her work has been exhibited widely and she currently teaches in the Chicago area. April has worked with the Visual Arts Camp for a number of years.

Timothy Roloff

Tim is currently student teaching in Rochelle and will be graduating in May with an art education degree. 

Acrylic Painting

Courtney Haugdahl

Courtney Haugdahl (counselor) is an art education student at Northern Illinois University, an honors student, and a member of the honor society, Phi Kappa Phi. Courtney’s favorite art medium is painting and she enjoys reading and making art in her spare time. Art has been a way for Courtney to challenge herself inside and outside the classroom and she hopes to always continue to learn more about it beyond school. She has worked at the Visual Arts Camp for several years.

Janell Matas

Janell Reamer Matas (instructor) has a master's degree in sculpture as well a bachelor’s degree in Art Education with an emphasis in painting from NIU.  She  has been an art teacher since at Naperville North High School since 2002, where she teaches AP Art History, drawing and  painting.  She has been a counselor and teacher off and on with the Visual Arts Camp since 1997.

Experimental Drawing Studies

Bjana Lunde

Bjana Lunde (instructor, counselor) received her bachelor's degree from NIU in 2005, where she majored in art education. She taught ceramics and sculpture at Harry D. Jacobs High School in Algonquin from 2005 - 2013 and is now teaching at Algonquin Middle School. She was on the dean's list during her undergraduate career at NIU and has been involved with the Visual Arts Camp for many years.

Life Drawing

Frank Matas

Frank Matas (life drawing instructor) has a master's degree in painting from NIU and has been an art teacher at Lake Park High School in Roselle since 1998, where he teaches drawing, painting, ceramics, sculpture and advanced placement studio art. He has been with the Visual Arts Camp since 1995.

Terrance Gray

Terrance is thrilled to be back teaching at camp for his second year!

Drawing Realism

Becki Miller 

Becki Miller (counselor, instructor) is currently a local and freelance artist. She will be attending NIU in 2015 to pursue her degree in art education. She has been involved in the camp since 1998 as a camper and became a counselor in 2002.

Dynamic Color and Composition

Elizabeth Woodyatt

Elizabeth Woodyatt (instructor) earned her bachelor's degree in fine arts and art education from the University of Illinois and her master's degree in art education from NIU. She has taught art to children in the elementary grades through high school in the Rockford area since 2001. She is currently teaching art, including fine and computer arts at Boylan Catholic High School in Rockford. She also creates, exhibits, and sells her own artwork. She has taught at the Visual Arts Camp for a number of years.

Special Projects

Sarah Greer

Sarah is currently student teaching in Rockford to finish her K-12 art education teaching license. She holds a BA in Art History and is currently finishing her MS in Art Education. Sarah has previously taught in China and studied in Indonesia. Sarah is also a former camper; this is her second year as a camp counselor.