Adam W. McKinney
Adam W. McKinney has a diverse and accomplished background in arts leadership across the globe, having served as an arts organization director, tenured professor, choreographer, dancer, educator and activist. McKinney was most recently an Associate Professor of Dance in Ballet with tenure in the School for Classical & Contemporary Dance at Texas Christian University. There he taught courses in classical ballet, modern dance and choreography. He was the Co-Director/Co-Founder of DNAWORKS, an arts and service organization committed to healing through the arts and dialogue. Previously, he was the inaugural Dance Department Chair at New Mexico School for the Arts in Santa Fe.
He has danced with some of the world’s preeminent dance companies, including Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, Alonzo King LINES Ballet, Béjart Ballet Lausanne (Switzerland), Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet and Milwaukee Ballet Company.
McKinney has led dance work with diverse populations across the U.S. and North America, and in Africa, Asia, Europe and the Middle East. A leader who is committed to making ballet and dance accessible to all, he served as a U.S. Embassy Culture Connect Envoy to South Africa through the U.S. State Department. McKinney has created community social justice and awareness projects including the interactive Fort Worth Lynching Tour: Honoring the Memory of Mr. Fred Rouse and “The Borders Project” at the Mexico/U.S. and Palestine/Israel borders. He was also honored with the NYU President’s Service Award for his dance work with populations who struggle with heroin addiction.
McKinney was named one of the most influential African Americans in Milwaukee by St. Vincent DePaul. He holds a BFA in Dance Performance with high honors with a focus on classical ballet from Butler University and an MA in Dance Studies with concentrations in Race and Trauma theories from the Gallatin School at New York University.
Nicholas Dragga Is the Executive Director of Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre. He is a Certified Fund Raising Executive and previously served as the Executive Director of Ballet Lubbock where he focused on program design, development and the branding of the organization. During his tenure Ballet Lubbock’s budget has more than quintupled, net assets have grown from $700,000 to over $12 million and the organization moved into its new $10 million facility as part of the $154 million Buddy Holly Hall of Performing Arts and Sciences.
Nicholas is energized by collaborations and the creative process and highlights the Ballet Lubbock Company’s music and choreographic commissions. Ballet Lubbock has enjoyed transformative financial successes, but Nicholas is most proud of Ballet Lubbock’s community and program growth which includes a 400-student academy, community engagement programming that reaches over 600 students each week, and adaptive dance and arts in medicine initiatives that reach all ages and abilities. Nicholas strongly believes there is no excellence without community. He holds a Bachelor of Music in Music Performance and Composition from Texas Tech University and a Master of Science Degree in Arts Administration from Drexel University.
Director of Human Resources
Lauren Carlini (she/her) is a Pittsburgh native with a background in business operations and people management. Lauren is a Duquesne University graduate. Prior to joining the PBT team, Lauren worked for her family’s business. She enjoys volunteering her time in her neighborhood, at her son’s school and as a board member of the Valley Points YMCA. In addition to overseeing the human resources functions at PBT, Lauren leads the team engagement committee and the Equity Project Transformation Team Subcommittee on Recruitment and Hiring, and is a member of the safety committee. Her favorite thing about working at Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre is working alongside the most talented people in Pittsburgh. She says, “Everyone– the admin team, the faculty, the dancers, of course– is so impressive. We have an excellent team and I am so grateful to be a part of it.”
Director of Education
Kerra Alexander-Sullivan has over a decade of experience inspiring and impassioning the community as a dance educator, adjunct professor, choreographer, and performing artist. She has made a career-long commitment to making dance accessible to Pittsburgh and its surrounding communities. Throughout her tenure at PBT and in various roles, she has established an unprecedented number of new programs and community partnerships and is responsible for the considerable and significant growth of community and accessibility programming over the past 15 years. She is a stakeholder of the Buzzword program, an early literacy collaborative that focuses on parent/child interaction and building vocabulary. She has been instrumental in expanding and facilitating the dance program at Hope Academy of the Arts where children can receive quality and accessible dance education. She originated the Dance the Story program and successfully transitioned it to virtual during the pandemic. She also authored the PBT Creative Movement Curriculum, presented at conferences, and has hosted professional development trainings.
Her extensive dance training began early at the age of 3 at the Anderson Young Ballet Theatre in Anderson, Indiana. Through her dedication and hard work, she was invited to join the pre-professional Young Ballet Company at age 13 where she trained with many renowned instructors and received scholarships through Regional Dance America.
Alexander-Sullivan attended Point Park University to continue her studies and holds a BA in Dance, ballet and modern concentrations. After graduation, she was a founding company member of Staycee Pearl Dance Project and performed commercial work with Diana Rua Media and MadHouse Productions. She later performed for Shana Simmons Dance and Jamie Erin Murphy.
Alexander-Sullivan is an ABT Certified instructor and has taught extensively in the Pittsburgh area for PBT, local dance studios, intensives, and master classes in ballet, contemporary, modern and jazz. She is currently an adjunct faculty member at Seton Hill University where she teaches courses in Dance History and World Dance.
Director of Marketing
Lou Castelli comes to Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre with extensive experience in performing arts administration in Pittsburgh’s Cultural District. He spent ten years in various roles on the marketing team of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, where he managed the campaign launching Marvin Hamlisch as the orchestra’s Principal Pops Conductor. He then became Marketing Director at Pittsburgh Public Theater, where he oversaw the company’s move to the O’Reilly Theater. He spent more than 20 years at The Public, and most recently served as the theater’s Managing Director from 2018 through 2022. Lou was born and raised in Pittsburgh and has a large extended family. He graduated from Central Catholic High School in Oakland and Allegheny College in Meadville, with a degree in Communication Arts.
Director of Development
Pittsburgh native David Hammond comes to Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre from Austin, Texas, where he has served that community as Director of Development at KMFA 89.5, Austin’s classical radio station. Since 2013, David has led a team of volunteers and professionals in raising over $22 million to support KMFA’s daily mission and a $10.5 million capital campaign to build its new home. David joined KMFA after a decade of fundraising experience with Conspirare, Austin Opera, Pittsburgh Opera, and the Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh. He is a Certified Fund Raising Executive (CFRE) and received his bachelor’s degree in music business from PennWest Clarion.
Kristin McLain brings with her a lifetime of sewing experience, having learned from her mom starting in middle school. She began her time at PBT in 2016 with the building of PBT’s brand new Giselle. Staying on as a part time stitcher, then full time First Hand, and currently Costume Director, she’s work on many of PBT’s costumes old and new. Other prior experience includes study in Costume Design and Construction at the University of Pittsburgh, and various freelance design and construction work for a number of companies throughout the city. Additionally, Kristin is a versatile, visual artist and craftsperson, focusing on fiber arts, sculpting and watercolor paintings.
Dean of Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre School
Raymond Rodriguez is the Dean of the Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre School. He began his dance journey at the age of six, attended the High School of Performing Arts in Manhattan and trained in classical ballet at the American Ballet Theatre (ABT) School on a full scholarship. Rodriguez later joined ABT as an apprentice before joining the Cleveland Ballet (Ballet San Jose), where he became a principal dancer and later took on the roles of rehearsal assistant, répétiteur, regisseur, principal ballet master, associate artistic director and managing director.
In 2016, Rodriguez relocated to Chicago to join the Joffrey Ballet as Head of the Studio Company and Ballet Trainee Program. In 2019 he was promoted to Academy Director. Under his leadership, the Joffrey Academy of Dance enjoyed many accomplishments, including the expansion of new studio space and presence in the South Loop neighborhood, a newly created Contemporary Ballet Trainee Program, the launch of Rita Finds Home -a new family-friendly ballet and the creation of the BIPOC Academy Committee (BAC) to help parents and school leaders better support students of color. His tenure saw many Academy students promoted into the Joffrey Ballet Company and others who accepted contracts with ballet companies worldwide.
Throughout his career as a principal dancer, he performed many diverse and challenging roles and successfully staged numerous ballet productions worldwide. He has appeared in various films and television shows and he is a current judge and Master Teacher for the Youth America Grand Prix (YAGP). Rodriguez also serves on the advisory board of the national dance publication Pointe Magazine and served as co-chair of Dance/USA’s school director’s affinity group.
Rodriguez is an ABT-certified teacher and an international guest instructor. In 2018, Rodriguez earned an MFA in Dance from Hollins University. He is the founding co-artistic director of Pointe of Departure, Cleveland’s classical ballet company. Some of the awards he has won include an Isadora Duncan Award (Izzie), Crain’s Chicago Business Notable LGBTQ Executive and the National Association of Latino Arts and Culture’s Outstanding Achievement in the Arts award.