Each faculty member possesses specialized knowledge and personal experience in the fields of entertainment and/or education that is vital to providing a real perspective into those careers.
Courtney Ozoveck: Department Chair
Courtney Ozoveck is a dance artist, choreographer, educator, and lighting designer rooted in the Los Angeles and Orange County area. Currently, she is a company member with Keith Johnson/Dancers from Long Beach. Her personal concert dance work has been presented in California, Arizona, Alaska, and Guantanamo Bay as well as in shows at Universal Studios, Disneyland and private corporate events. Recently, she worked alongside award-winning Broadway choreographer, Patrick McCollum, as Assistant Choreographer, in the LA Philharmonic’s production of Shakespeare’s The Tempest. Her musical choreography credits include 35 MM, Heathers, West Side Story, Lizzie, The SpongeBob Musical, The King and I, and more.She earned her M.F.A in Dance Choreography and Performance from CSU Long Beach and her BA in Dance from CSU Fullerton. She is proud to be in her sixteenth year on faculty at CSU Fullerton supporting a variety of students in their dance and musical theatre programs. Courtney is grateful to have the opportunity to work with the artists and creative team here at The Young Americans.
Valerie Stanford: Department Chair
Valerie Stanford is an actor and director who has worked extensively in New York, Chicago, Miami, Boston, Cape Cod, and Los Angeles at theatres including Coachella Valley Rep, LA’s LGBT Center, CalRep on the Queen Mary, LaMama, Gablestage, Bailiwick Rep, Speakeasy Rep, and Off-Broadway. She teaches/has taught at The Young Americans College of the Performing Arts in Corona, The Miami Theatre Center, The Brooklyn Friend’s School, and CalState Long Beach where she received her Master’s in Theatre Arts. She is a member of several theatre companies including Wellfleet Harbor Actors Theatre, The Provincetown Theater, The Playground Theatre in Miami, and Buzzworks Theatre Company in L.A.
Amie Bjorklund has her Masters: Acting the British Tradition from Birmingham UK. She is a professional actress and director with credits on both coasts and in England. As well as at YA, Amie teaches film studies and technical theater at Chandler Gilbert College in Mesa, AZ and has taught acting courses at ASU and GCU. She is currently pursuing her Masters of Applied Sciences in Film and Media Studies from ASU. Amie moved back to California at the start of the pandemic and is currently living in Sacramento where she relishes being close to her family again. (Although it won’t be long before the bright lights of Hollywood call her back.) Any moment she’s not watching a film, Amie can be found giving lots of love to her senior pup, Molly, or pickling veggies and canning them up.
Anna Barnutiu: Department Chair
Anna Barnutiu is an active piano teacher and performer of both chamber and solo performance. She has performed on numerous platforms throughout her solo and ensemble studies and involvement with California State University Fullerton and Claremont Graduate University, Riverside Community College Percussion Ensemble, and Blue Devils Drum and Bugle Corps. Following her undergraduate education in Piano Performance, she earned her Masters of Arts Degree in Piano Pedagogy at California State University Fullerton and upon graduating, received the Richard Chronister Piano Pedagogy Award. She continued her music education at University of California, Irvine to complete her Single Subject Teaching Credential in Music in 2014. Currently, she is completing a Doctorate of Music degree in Piano Performance at the Claremont Graduate University. Anna has been a music faculty member at the Young Americans College of the Performing Arts since 2015, and is currently the chair of the Music Department. Throughout her performing, teaching and academic career she accredits her amazing teachers, supportive family, loving husband, and almighty God.
Molly Stilliens began music at the age of 6 and continued her studies with a degree in Flute and Classical Voice from Cal Lutheran University. She then went on to study at the Pacific Conservatory for the Performing Arts. Finally she completed her MFA in Acting from CSU, Fullerton. Theatre credits include Ragtime, Pasadena Playhouse, Bridesmaids, Jurassic Park, A League of Their Own, Rockwell Table and Stage, Kinky Boots, 3D Theatricals, Sound of Music, Ragtime, Little Women, Legally Blonde, PCPA and Frozen: Live at the Hyperion, Disneyland Resort. She believes that with hard work and study, anyone can be an engaging and proficient performer.
Cody Jay is an American artist, award-winning music producer, videographer and photographer. Having graduated from Chapman University Conservatory of music, Cody studied opera and classical music before venturing into the music industry as an urban pop and R&B artist. Cody has a unique experience of pulling from multiple facets of music as a voice teacher, and has been a voice coach for over 15 years. As a side project, he owns his own content creation company called Cody Jay Creative, from which he curates contact for event companies, social media platforms, and artists of various types. Cody’s philosophy as a teacher is to impart his knowledge and experience to students looking to improve their craft and reach their goals. He does so at the Young Americans college, as well as his own program called “Find Your Voice” which many students enrolled in after attending the school. Cody is proud to teach at the Young American’s and has been doing so for over 5 years.
Cynthia McGarity is a singer, music director, director and master teaching artist with more than 25 years of experience in the industry. Highlights from her career include that of Master Teaching Artist at Disneyland for Disney Performing Arts,
leading workshops in Vocal Recording, Show Choir & Storytelling through Music Composition; Master Teaching Artist for Disney Musicals in Schools under the auspices of Segerstrom Center for the Arts in Orange County and Center Theatre. Cynthia loves working with students, singers and actors of all ages and abilities. Music is her favorite language.
Breadth of Knowledge
Lauren Kester, MBA, a former Young American (NK 2004), Emmy Award holder, playwright, author, and life coach. After working on high-profile shows such as 30 Rock, The Good Wife, and Saturday Night Live, she found her calling to help driven individuals drop their baggage, break free from fear & anxiety, to live authentically without regret. She has helped her clients move into new careers, level up their self-confidence and worth, and live the lives they have always dreamed of. Her insights have been seen in Refinery 29, Thrive Global, and Her Money, and she is currently writing a book to be published in 2022.
Dr. Shadee Abdi (Ph.D., University of Denver) is a critical cultural communication scholar whose research interests include intercultural, international and diasporic communication, family and interpersonal communication, performance studies and performances of Iranian diaspora. Broadly, her work explores how conflicting discourses complicate and enhance our intersectional understandings of identity and power relative to race, culture, gender, sexuality, nationality, religion, ability, class and family.