Leif Green • CEO & College President
In 1976, when the Young Americans came to Wheeling, West Virginia, sixteen-year-old Leif Green was eager to audition. When he was accepted a few months later, he was thrilled and eagerly prepared himself for an adventure of a lifetime, which turned out to be a lifelong adventure!
After three years of performing with The Young Americans, Green followed his childhood dream of becoming a professional actor. He became a member of the Screen Actors Guild and Actors Equity and appeared in commercials, television, stage, and film. Most notably starring in Paramount Pictures Grease 2 and the Emmy Award-winning ABC Afterschool Special, The Woman Who Willed A Miracle, opposite Cloris Leachman.
After four years of acting, Green, acutely aware of the tragedy and loss caused by the raging AIDS pandemic, began volunteering, with the AIDS Walkathon movement. This led to a part-time job, which lead to a full-time job, which lead to a career spanning 25 years. He worked as a community organizer, administrator, fundraiser, producer, and creative director. During his tenure in the fight against AIDS, he raised more than $350,000,000 for AIDS charities all over the country.
Green also spent time managing the pilot program for The Library Initiative! for the Robin Hood Foundation, which built state-of-the-art libraries in ten elementary schools in New York City’s five boroughs. The pilot program was a success and resulted in over 250 libraries being built in the following ten years.
Green also had a passion for animation and has worked as a production manager at Walt Disney Feature Animation and Warner Animation Group. His credits include Hercules, Tarzan, Mulan, Brother Bear 2, Osmosis Jones, The Looney Tunes Back in Action, Space Jam 2, The Lego Movie 2, and DC League of Super Pets.
Coming full circle, Green is again thrilled to be joining The Young Americans and eager to create adventures for young performers all over the globe!
Mohammad Shahisaman • Dean of Instruction
Mohammad graduated from California State University Fullerton with a B.A. and M.A. in English. He began his tenure at The Young Americans College in 2015 as the Breadth of Knowledge Department Chair. In 2020, he became the Dean of Instruction and is focusing on expanding equity, diversity, and inclusion within the college’s curricula.
Dr. Kisha Bashkiharatee • Dean of Students
Kisha moved to California from a small town in Louisiana to continue her education and follow her passion and help others. After attaining her degree, she worked in a variety of settings, including mental health clinics and urgent cares, foster family agencies, and shelters using both therapeutic techniques and the arts to bring wholeness to others. The opportunity to work at with The Young Americans has given Kisha the opportunity to continue combining mental wholeness with her love for the creative arts.
Thomas Schultheis • Dean of Admissions
Thomas Schultheis received his Master of Arts in Strategic Communications from National University and Bachelor of Science in Psychology from James Madison University. He has created curriculum, taught at conferences, and given keynotes with organizations around the country. He is a Teaching Artist with Dramatic Results. Thomas is the Theatre Consultant for the REACH Grant and on the Musical Theatre Competitions of America Creative Team. Additionally, he worked for 15 years at the Disneyland® Resort with Disney Performing Arts. He performed on Broadway in Grease! and tours of Smokey Joe’s Cafe, Chicago, and South Pacific. Thomas founded The Educators Collective, bringing together exceptional leaders in education, and created The Educators Collective Virtual Summit.
Amy Ciceri • Recruitment & Youth Program Development
Born and raised in the scenic Mojave Desert of SoCal, Amy spent her formative years surrounded by promising young talent, drawing inspiration from the diverse students in both of her parent’s high school arts programs. Amy’s affinity with The Young Americans began in middle school when her mother’s choral music program hosted the ‘test-run’ for the first YA Music Outreach tour. Amy was instantly hooked. She auditioned her senior year and began performing and touring with the YAs immediately after high school.
Amy’s inclination to eventually become a high school performing arts teacher was greatly inspired by her choir teacher mother. Amy cherishes the past decade spent collaborating with her students to create genuine, shared learning through the arts. Come full circle, she accredits much of her students’ growth to the many YA workshops they engaged in that provided a range of artistic exploration.
The life stories and unique perspectives of her students continue to fuel Amy’s creative passion for music, writing, and designing innovative 21st century curriculum that empowers our youth to self-actualize and communicate effectively, thereby fostering meaningful human connections that cultivate artistic purpose and contribution throughout their lives and greater communities.
Amy’s guided by a simple, yet profound principle — believe in people. She loves being back with the YAs, working with a team of creative and caring people who are dedicated to making a valuable impact on our youth and the ever-evolving field of performing arts education.