Meet the people behind the scenes at Popejoy
Tom Tkach, Director
Tom’s passion for the arts began at a young age, as he was exposed to a variety of performing and visual arts growing up on the outskirts of New York. He began his career in the performing arts as Director of Visibility at Very Special Arts, New Jersey, where he worked to promote artists with disabilities. He later held the position of Arts Grant Coordinator with Middlesex County Cultural and Heritage Commission before becoming Director of the Monmouth County Arts Council/Count Basie Theatre. Tom holds a BA in Finance from the Montclair University and an MA in Management of the Arts from The City University in London.
As a member of the Broadway League, Tom is a Tony® voter. He is also affiliated with the Association of Performing Arts Presenters and the Western Arts Alliance. Tom’s recent speaking engagements include the China Collaborative Innovation Center for Theatre Arts Management in Beijing, China and the International Cultural Forum in Saint Petersburg, Russia. In his spare time, Tom enjoys traveling and reading.
Terry Davis, Marketing Manager
Terry first discovered his love of the arts playing the drums in fourth grade. He took up acting in high school, and is actively involved in local productions today, mostly as a director.
Now in his 20th year at Popejoy, Terry continues his work in the arts as Marketing Manager. He enjoys inviting people to shows, and encouraging them to relax, forget about the stresses of the world, and enjoy the fruits of creative minds.
One of Terry’s favorite experiences at Popejoy was performing as Sir Evelyn in Anything Goes, where he enjoyed seeing community, cast, and audience coming together to create theatrical joy.
Terry holds a BA in Liberal Arts from Eisenhower College and an MFA in Dramatic Writing from UNM.
bill eyler, Senior business manager
Bill is the Unit Controller and Business Manager for Popejoy, also known as the “number cruncher” by his colleagues. He enjoys the variety his job at Popejoy provides, and being able to share the performing arts with Albuquerque. Bill holds a BS in Accounting from Louisiana Tech University.
Working at Popejoy has allowed Bill to see many shows, and he looks forward to The Book of Mormon this fall. If Bill could star in one show at Popejoy, it would be Mark Twain Tonight! - without the cigar smoking.
Bill spends much of his spare time gardening, participating in social dances like square dance and line dance, and singing with the New Mexichords Barbershop Chorus.
jessica hicks, senior graphic designer
As Popejoy’s Senior Graphic Designer, Jessica designs brochures, playbills, posters, invitations, and advertisements. She loves being able to test her “design muscles” with the variety of materials Popejoy produces.
At a young age, Jessica primarily participated in the visual arts, but also played the flute and took dance lessons. She holds a BA in architecture from UNM, and enjoys photography, painting, drawing, traveling, reading, pub trivia, and attempting to garden.
Rachel lamb, member services and data coordinator
Rachel began working at Popejoy as a student intern in 2005, while earning her BA in Psychology and Creative Writing. In 2012, Rachel became the Assistant to Director Tom Tkach, then the Member Services and Data Coordinator in the Development Office. She writes, edits, schedules, plans, and executes donor events.
Rachel’s favorite part of the job is seeing student interns grow and learn over the course of their employment, then watching those interns graduate and attain jobs in their ideal careers. Her first experience with Popejoy was a production of Les Misérables, which moved her so much she was immediately addicted to Broadway musicals. She hopes all patrons experience the same enjoyment at Popejoy that she does.
Laura Maness, supervisor of community education programs
Laura holds a BA in Theatre Arts, a BA in Anthropology, and an MA in Theatre Education and Outreach. She joined Popejoy in 1995 as the first staff House Manager. Since 2005, she has supervised the Education and Outreach program. Laura oversees the Schooltime Series, Senior Program, and Community Outreach Program. She loves creating opportunities to introduce the world of the performing arts to youth, seniors, and non-profit organizations.
In addition to her work at Popejoy, Laura is the President of the New Mexico Presenters Alliance, a mentor and ambassador for the International Performing Arts for Youth, and a mentor for Big Brothers, Big Sisters 2.0. In 2013 the YWCA honored Laura with the Women on the Move Award.
Judith Mersereau, Production services manager
Judi became involved with the arts when she began designing costumes, building sets, and painting scenery in high school. She built and painted sets for the Albuquerque Civic Light Opera (now Musical Theatre Southwest), Popejoy Hall, the UNM Opera Department, and the New Mexico Ballet. She also taught stagecraft, painting, and crafts at Highland High School for nine years.
Judi began working at Popejoy in 1979 and is currently responsible for scheduling professional and student crews, assisting with track and stage training sessions, backstage maintenance, and ensuring adherence to regulations.
Some of Judi’s most rewarding experiences are working with interns and seeing them graduate and get jobs with the experience they gain at Popejoy. She also enjoys seeing young students learn from and enjoy the Schooltime Series.
Maryellen Missik-tow, associate director of development
Maryellen received her BA in Communications from Pace University. After graduating, she was a Wall Street Recruiter and owned and operated her own recruitment firm in New Jersey for nearly a decade. After moving to New Mexico, Maryellen began working at UNM for the School of Engineering followed by the School of Medicine.
In 2009, she became the Popejoy Hall Director of Development, where she organizes private fundraising to further advance Popejoy’s mission of making the arts accessible to all New Mexicans. Maryellen’s favorite part of working at Popejoy is seeing how the funds her office raises positively affect children through the Schooltime Series.
Maryellen’s first performance at Popejoy Hall was The Phantom of the Opera, which is now tied with War Horse as her favorite production.
Tram Nguyen, operations manager
In Tram’s ten years at Popejoy, she has managed various aspects of operations including contracts, rentals, and administrative duties that pertain to human resources, IT, and operations. Tram also oversees Front of House and enjoys the variety in her work. She hopes all Popejoy patrons can escape from their everyday worries and immerse themselves in a rewarding experience.
Tram became involved in the arts a young age, singing in several choral groups and performing in school productions. She went on to earn her Associate’s Degree from the University of Maryland and is currently working on her BA at UNM.
After emigrating from Saigon, Vietnam, Tram grew up outside of Philadelphia and travels back east several times a year to visit her large family. She loves spending time with her son and enjoys reading, camping, hiking, traveling, and having new adventures.
Patricia O'Connor-Navrot, Senior Marketing Representative
Growing up, Patricia participated in drama and photography, and has loved the arts since then. Her first experience at Popejoy Hall was a performance of Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew.
Patricia holds a BA in Foreign Languages, a BA in English, and an MBA in Marketing – all from UNM. She is currently pursuing an MA in Rhetoric and Writing.
She has worked at Popejoy for 12 years, including two years as a student intern. Patricia programs Ovation Series events and manages all of Popejoy’s social media, websites, and e-mail communications. She enjoys working at Popejoy because there is never a dull moment.
In her free time, Patricia enjoys traveling, reading, visiting museums, and watching cheesy TV shows.
Alex ortega, lead custodian
Alex is Popejoy’s Lead Custodian. He grew up practicing the martial arts, and has held a first-degree black belt in karate since 1972. In 1975, Alex won an Albuquerque Grand Champion Award.
Alex has worked at Popejoy for a year and enjoys interacting with students and crews from the shows. Alex’s favorite Popejoy performance was Wicked because, “the actors and stagehands were the nicest people I have ever had the pleasure of working with.”
In his spare time, Alex enjoys spending time with his wife Andrée, fishing, hunting, and watching the St. Louis Rams win.
Heather Polyard, volunteer Coordinator
Heather is currently pursuing her BA in Psychology from UNM. She has worked for Popejoy since 2008, starting as Front of House Floor Manager and working her way up to Volunteer Coordinator. Heather’s work with the volunteers has been the most rewarding and valuable part of her job - she even says it’s like having 275 extra grandparents who teach her new skills, and constantly give her words of encouragement and friendly smiles.
Heather wants customers to be treated the same way she treats guests in her home; she hopes everyone remembers their Popejoy visits fondly and leaves with lasting memories. Outside of work and her busy school schedule, Heather enjoys photography, road trips, reading, DIY projects, and running.
Chris quintos, program coordinator
Chris has been working as the Popejoy Marketing Program Coordinator for over two years, and has had a passion for the arts since she was young, always involved in arts clubs in school. She continues to draw, paint, and sketch today.
Chris holds a BFA in Advertising Arts and loves meeting people who are also passionate about the arts. Although Peking Acrobats was the first Popejoy show she ever attended, Chris has found a bigger love for Broadway musicals like Jersey Boys.
Chris hopes all of Popejoy’s patrons are able to enjoy their entire experience - from the purchase of tickets to riding the shuttle back to their car. In her spare time, she enjoys photography, watching boxing, listening to music, painting with oils, and spending time with her family.
Cheryl Ritson, fiscal services tech
As a Fiscal Services Tech, Cheryl assists Popejoy’s accountant and coordinates donation transmittals.
Cheryl holds a BA in Psychology and Sociology from UNM, and an AAS in Accounting from Albuquerque TV-I, now known as CNM. Cheryl was a subscriber for ten years before she began working at Popejoy, and still enjoys attending shows today.
Cheryl’s involvement in the arts began with playing the piano in third grade. Two years later she started playing in the school band, and she still plays the baritone today. She also plays in her church handbell choir, volunteers with the Solid Grounds coffee house run by her church, and enjoys rooting for the Lobos at football games.
billy tubb, production services technical director
Prior to becoming a staff member in 1990, Billy worked as a Popejoy stagehand from 1984 to 1986. However, he has been involved with theater since high school. His first experience with Popejoy was in 1969 when he saw Jesus Christ Superstar.
Billy earned a BFA in Technical Theatre and Design from UNM, and loves the excitement of working in theatre. He has enjoyed building a history of performing arts in Albuquerque through Popejoy, and seeing students who start at Popejoy go on to lead successful careers in their field.
Billy likes gardening, music, architecture, traveling, discovering great restaurants, and anything having to do with the great outdoors. He is also the President of the Illumination Engineering Society in New Mexico.
chris velasquez, custodian
Chris has worked as a Popejoy Custodian for about a year, gladly providing a service that benefits patrons and the great staff at Popejoy. His favorite part of working at Popejoy is training the work-study students.
Chris participated in the arts in elementary school, but has since become more of a spectator. He likes to spend his spare time playing basketball, weightlifting, fishing, and camping.
Chris is thankful for his girlfriend, who has so much faith in him, and told him about the Popejoy position in the first place!
David Bentley Jr., house management associate
After earning a BS in Chemical Engineering from Massachusetts Institute of Technology and leading a career in chemistry, Dave’s interest in the arts drew him to Popejoy Hall. He started by volunteering as a Popejoy usher before becoming House Manager in 1997.
He is responsible for coordinating the customer service activities of the house management staff and volunteers. Dave’s favorite aspect of his job is interacting with Popejoy’s patrons and ensuring they have an enjoyable time.
Dave fulfilled his dream of participating in live theatre when he performed in the chorus of Brigadoon produced by the Albuquerque Civic Light Opera Association. Dave invites all of Popejoy’s patrons to introduce themselves to him when they visit.
Brian Colburn, House Management Associate
For the past 15 years, Brian has been ensuring that patrons, volunteers, and staff enjoy successful Popejoy performances, and has enjoyed learning from the many people he works with. His first experience at Popejoy Hall was a UNM Wind Symphony Concert, which was also the first date he had with his wife. His two favorite shows are The Producers and Blast! and he hopes to one day take part in a TEDx event.
Brian holds a BA in Business and an MA in Education. He teaches Business, Marketing, and Finance for Albuquerque Public Schools and frequently travels with his students. He spends his spare time outdoors hiking, fishing, and camping with his family. Brian and his wife Amanda are expecting their first child, a baby girl, in September.
Rosemarie DeLeo, HOUSE MANAGEMENT ASSOCIATE
Rosemarie graduated from UNM with a BBA in Marketing in 1985. She has worked at Popejoy Hall as a House Manager since 1998, and loves being a part of the excitement of live theatre and being around others who love it too. She finds it satisfying when a show runs smoothly and also when she is able to help resolve customers' problems, and see patrons walk away happy.
Outside of Popejoy, Rosemarie works at a public library and spends time with her family and dog. She also enjoys being a KUNM radio volunteer where she can pursue her love of listening to and playing music on the radio.
Her first Popejoy experience was attending a Bonnie Raitt concert with her brother while she was in high school. Today, Rosemarie’s favorite Popejoy performance is a tie between The Phantom of the Opera and The Lion King.
mike gaba, HOUSE MANAGEMENT ASSOCIATE
Mike enjoys working as Lounge Manager because of the interactions he has with an eclectic mix of people, and the great productions that come to Popejoy Hall. The first Popejoy performance Mike saw was Rent, and he is excited for this fall’s The Book of Mormon. Although Mike is now involved with the arts through Popejoy, he claims to be the only person in history to fail elementary school art.
In his spare time, Mike enjoys researching his family history, which he traced back fourteen generations. He also enjoys traveling and working with his horse.
hannah peceny, HOUSE MANAGEMENT ASSOCIATE
As House Manager, Hannah ensures patrons have a relaxing and enjoyable time at Popejoy. She has spent six years with Popejoy, beginning in her freshman year of college. Hannah worked her way from Floor Manager, to Assistant House Manager, to House Manager, all while earning her Bachelor’s degree along the way. Her favorite part of her job is having the unique opportunity to interact with many different people, volunteers and staff included, who have become like family to her.
If she could star in any show, it would be something from Disney, so she could indulge in her love of Disney tunes.
Hannah’s first experience at Popejoy was seeing Les Misérables with her sister - it was the moment her love for theatre flourished.
herb wright, HOUSE MANAGEMENT ASSOCIATE
Herb earned his BS in Business, and now works as a House Manager at Popejoy. He has been working at Popejoy for 13 years – the first seven as a volunteer, and the last six as Assistant House Manager and House Manager. Herb loves seeing the smiles of patrons as they leave the theatre, and hearing about how much they enjoyed the performance.
Growing up, Herb was introduced to the arts when his babysitter would drag he and his sisters to musicals at the Pasadena Playhouse. Now, one of his favorite performances at Popejoy is The Phantom of the Opera.
When not working at Popejoy, Herb can be found volunteering his time to worthy causes; collecting films, CDs, LPs, and robots; and watching and studying films.
Kenneth Elliot, Manager of ticket operations
Ken has been overseeing Popejoy’s ticket sales for the past 18 years. He loves the interacting with Popejoy’s diverse patrons, and hopes that they have a magical experience at shows. Ken’s first performance at Popejoy was Stanley Clarke in 1980, and his favorite performance so far has been The Lion King.
In his spare time, Ken loves seeing live music, listening to The Grateful Dead, watching the Dallas Cowboys and Tennessee Volunteers, and going to Lobo Basketball games.
Ken studied Liberal Arts at CNM, and holds Bachelor of University Studies from UNM.
Victoria chavez, ticket office representative
Victoria has been with Popejoy for almost five years, and most enjoys working with her co-workers in the ticket office. The first performance she saw at Popejoy was the Dracula Ballet and her favorite was The Phantom of the Opera. Victoria hopes patrons leave Popejoy realizing they have access to great theatre right here in New Mexico, without having to travel long distances.
kristina gore, TICKET OFFICE REPRESENTATIVE
Kristina has been selling tickets at Popejoy for nine years, and loves the camaraderie she experiences at the ticket office. Her favorite Popejoy performance was Les Misérables. In her spare time, Kristina enjoys swimming and spending time with her cat.
chris owen, TICKET OFFICE coordinator
Chris has been selling tickets at Popejoy for almost 14 years and most enjoys working with the Schooltime Series. She enjoys seeing the children react to live theatre for the first time, and hopes all Popejoy guests have a fun and enjoyable time. When she’s not working at the ticket office, Chris enjoys playing with her grandkids, doing crafts, and reading.
Charlotte Walton, Group Sales/Sponsorship
Charlotte has worked at Popejoy since 2003. She coordinates group ticket sales, and helps plan Popejoy events.