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Rachel Pottern Nunn, 2023 M.F.A Candidate (Arts Leadership)

Rachel is from Raleigh, NC where she earned B.A.s in Theatre and English from William Peace University. She loves every aspect of theatre-making, and has experience as an actor, director, arts administrator, educator, stage combatant, singer, and designer/technician. Research interests include community building through the arts, theatre for social justice movements, and anti-capitalist funding models in the arts. She is using her time at Virginia Tech to explore sustainable practices in arts administration as the field evolves through the devastation of Covid-19 and the nationwide calling-in of #BlackLivesMatter, fleshing out her production experience with new trends on the administrative side of the business. Between undergraduate and graduate school Rachel spent five years working in public libraries in youth programming, planning and executing educational programs for infants through teens—an addition to her theatre experience that shaped the way she views the performing arts as a community-building catalyst.

Ashley Pope, 2024 M.F.A. Candidate (Arts Leadership)

Ashley is from Birmingham, AL where she graduated from Samford University with a B.F.A. in Musical Theatre. She has previously held positions as a music, voice, and theatre teacher, front desk receptionist, and office assistant for companies such as Red Mountain Theatre, Samford Academy of the Arts, and Mason Music Studios. She has also worked as an actor and host for The Dinner Detective in Birmingham as well as performed in numerous shows within her local community. Ashley is thrilled to be attending Virginia Tech. She wants to gain new experiences and further develop her skills in order to play a vital leadership role in keeping art organizations vibrant and to allow artists to continue to positively impact the world through visual and performing arts.

Gabriel Velazquez, 2022 M.F.A. Candidate (Arts Leadership)

Gabriel, a native Texan, holds a Bachelor of Arts in Drama from Franciscan University of Steubenville and has been involved in theatre production for the last 11 years. With a background in classical performance, Gabriel has spent the last two years collaborating with local vineyard owners to provide an aesthetically pleasing and entertaining blend of Shakespeare, wine, and an intimate performance atmosphere for the Roanoke Valley. Excited to be at Virginia Tech, Gabriel plans to build his knowledge of arts management and creative collaboration to assist with, and eventually lead, the continuing osmosis of art and theatre into our ever-growing culture. 

Taylor Wood, 2022 M.F.A. Candidate (Arts Leadership)

Taylor is from Nashville, TN where she earned a B.F.A. in Theatre Design/Technology with minors in Dance and Directing. Since earning her undergraduate degree, she has held various roles in management and production for the performing arts including: Stage Manager, Production Manager, Production Scheduler, Assistant Company Manager, Production Assistant, and Event Manager at various organizations including Nashville Opera, Utah Festival Opera and Musical Theatre, Central City Opera, Des Moines Metro Opera, and Orlando Shakes to name a few. In the two summers since beginning this program, Taylor has completed fundraising internships with Jacob's Pillow Dance Festival and Appalachian Voices. She is staying on with Jacob's Pillow remotely throughout the fall to serve as the Holiday Auction Project Coordinator. Taylor is using her time at Virginia Tech to combine her past experience with new skills and frameworks to help build a better future for artists and the performing arts.