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Meet our staff

We are so incredibly lucky to have all of these amazing people working together to create the best production possible. 

President: Dee Wilson

Vice President/Treasurer: Barb Wells

13 people stand on stage in front of a background that says The Big One Oh - Penguin Project staff members from 2023 season wearing matching gray shirts with show logo

Director: Jackie Gunderson (she/her)
Being the Director of the Penguin Project of McLean County is Jackie's favorite hat to wear! Jackie has been with the program since 2014. Outside of Penguin Project, Jackie works at Illinois State University in the Purchasing Department, and volunteers her time with several local organizations. When she is not working or hanging out with the Penguin Project family, you can find her in her favorite pair of roller skates playing roller derby, enjoying Constitution Trail on the Healing Rides bike, or hanging out with her spouse, Cecil, and fur kids at home. Jackie attended Illinois Central College and Illinois State University, studying Special Education, and she recently graduated from Lincoln College ABE Program, studying Organizational Leadership, where she was chosen as the 2021 Lincoln Academy Student Laureate.

Director Jackie Gunderson - a white woman with short curly light brown hair looking at camera, smiling, with dangling earrings, navy blue blazer, red shirt

Producer: Laurie Bederka
Laurie has been with the Penguin Project of McLean County since 2014 and rocks the task of keeping Miss Jackie sane!  When not hanging with the Penguin family, you might find Laurie running, biking, swimming, training for a triathlon or Ironman, or walking her adopted dogs, Homer and Bernie, on the Constitution Trail. Laurie is in the Marketing Department at Country Financial. She was an Early Intervention Service Coordinator for several years, and is still involved with the Crisis Nursery. Laurie graduated from Illinois State University with a Bachelor's Degree in Family and Consumer Sciences. 

Producer Laurie Bederka - a white woman wearing black and white patterned shirt, black double string necklace, chin length straight light brown hair, smiling and looking at the camera

Choreographers: Tre Campbell (he/they) and Nakiya Rice (she/her)
Tre and Nakiya joined the creative team in 2024 - they will be co-choreographing Spongebob The Musical, and bring a whole lot of talent and positive energy to the team. 

Choreographers Tre Campbell a Black man, and Nakiya Rice a Black woman, embrace while smiling at the camera in front of a gold sparkly background, both are wearing plaid shirts

Music Director: Kiki Keeney (she/her)
Kiki (she/her) is honored to collaborate with the amazing directing team for the Penguin Project here in Bloomington-Normal!  Kiki is a K-5 Music Specialist for Unit 5 schools, working with both general and special education classes.  She loves the opportunity to work with all ages, from elementary through high school, as they develop more advanced skills and a deeper appreciation for music and musical theatre, making opportunities to bring theatre aspects into her music room on a regular basis.  Previously, Kiki has worked as a vocal director for community and high school music productions in Eldridge, Iowa, such as "The Little Mermaid," "Joseph and the Technicolor Dreamcoat," and "Seussical."  She is excited to be back working with student actors, now in her hometown! 

Music Director Kiki Keeney - a white woman smiling at the camera, with her hands on her hips, wearing a dark blue dress with constellations and stars, dangling earrings, a short brim tan hat, and short straight auburn hair.

Costume Designer: Katie Klotzbach
This is Katie’s 2nd year as a part of Penguin Project and she is so thrilled to be a part of an amazing company. She grew up in Bloomington through her high school years and participated in Normal Parks and Rec theatre for many summers.  She recently moved back to the Midwest from the East Coast to complete her computer science and genetics degree, at Heartland Community College and then Illinois State.  Outside of working retail and math tutoring, she can generally be found at Pepsi Ice Center in the goal crease trying to prevent her hockey friends from scoring.   

Costume Designer Katie Klotzbach - a white woman with long blue hair smiles at the camera in a car, wearing a gray shirt, black choker necklace and a seatbelt.

Penguin Coordinator :  Paula Collins
Miss Paula has been with the Penguin Project of McLean County since the beginning. She has worked as a volunteer coordinator, assistant music advisor, Mentor Coordinator, and is returning again as Penguin Coordinator. Paula is a Job Coach for the VTAP program which is apart of the Unit 5 School District 18-21 program. She is also involved with the Seedling Theatre for the Young at heart as their Music Director. Paula likes to spend time at Church, time with her daughter, and teach voice. She graduated from Illinois State University with a B.M.E. in Music.  

Penguin Coordinator Paula Collins - a Black woman with chin length curled hair smiles at the camera with a patterned white and black shirt and a silver necklace.

Mentor Coordinator :  Emma Barth
Emma Barth has been involved in Penguin Project since 2011. When she first started she was a mentor and was a mentor in High School Musical Jr., Beauty and the Beast Jr., Little Mermaid Jr., Madagascar Jr., and Willy Wonka Jr. Emma became the first mentor to age out of the McLean County Penguin Project and was then offered a position on the staff, where she was first a production assistant and now she is so excited to serve as the Mentor Coordinator. 

Emma currently works as a Special Education Teacher at Normal Community West High School and Penguin Project is a large reason as to why she chose the career path that she did. In her free time when she is not at Penguin, she enjoys reading, hanging out with friends and family, watching movies and playing board games. 

Mentor Coordinator Emma Barth - a white woman with strawberry blond hair in a braid over her left shoulder, wearing glasses, a green shirt with giraffe image, a black crossbody bag, standing in front of giraffes at a zoo exhibit.

Stage Manager: Judy Stroh 
Judy has been involved with the Penguin Project since the beginning. She enjoys each and every production and the people she gets to work with. She is a former special education teacher who is now working as an optometric assistant.

Stage Manager Judy Stroh - a white woman in theatrical headshot photo with stage makeup, chin length straight brown hair, dangling earrings with a matching layered necklace, a floral top, and a black fastener hat with feathers - image has a vignette fade at edges
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