We’re able to deliver creative, impactful and educational programs thanks to the work of our talented staff. To find out more about each staff member, click on the photos below.
Margaret joined The National Theatre for Children over 20 years ago, after many years of working in the graphic arts industry. As the owner and CEO of NTC, Margaret oversees the company’s employee benefits plan, accounts receivable and payable, the company payroll and monthly financial statements, as well as general office management. Margaret is extremely proud of the work NTC accomplishes on a daily basis and is thrilled to have made a difference in the lives of so many students and families over the past 40 years.
In 1978, Ward founded NTC to deliver entertaining and engaging programs that motivate families, students and educators. For over 40 years, organization have used NTC’s engagement strategies and tactics to enhance their reputations and visibility in the communities they serve. Ward has worked with clients in the energy, financial services, health, technology, environment, recycling and consumer products industries, among others, and is in the third year of producing a nationally broadcast TV series for tweens and teens called M@dAbout. Under Ward’s supervision, NTC has developed the art of teaching using live theatre into a science of its own. With a keen eye for talent, he has assembled a staff filled with knowledgeable, aware, creative, stimulating, fun, caring personalities, building NTC into the largest educational touring theatre company in the country. As founder and president, Ward Eames oversees all departments by keeping a finger on the pulse of the day-to-day operations of the organization.
Becoming a full-time part of the NTC team in August 2009, Eddie has a unique perspective on NTC’s operations. A Marketing & Communications major and graduate from the University of St. Thomas, he analyzed the NTC business model and practices. Now as the Director of Marketing, Eddie is responsible for managing NTC’s business development and content marketing areas and is tasked with creating relationships with corporate, governmental and non-profit sponsors who want to partner with NTC to actively engage students, teachers and families on important societal issues through the school channel. Prior to this role, Eddie has spent time executing projects in numerous areas of NTC ranging from Client Services, Sales, Marketing, and Customer Service departments. http://www.ana.net/content/show/id/32228
In 1998, Patrick started his career at NTC by educating and performing for children all across the country. During this experience, he quickly realized and saw firsthand the important impact that NTC’s programs have in in the lives of students and their families. This unique opportunity to make a difference in the world is why so many organizations have hired NTC over the past 40 years and it’s what keeps Pat energized and excited to come to work every day. Mr. Rowan comes from a long line of educators and has helped NTC to grow and evolve. Over the years, Pat has been responsible for all the operational aspects in producing educational programs, school assemblies, special live events, livestream events, video productions, digital activities, social media, educational curriculum, print materials, distribution and product development. He works constantly with executive management to run the business, as well as manage an immensely talented staff filled with knowledgeable, aware, creative, stimulating, fun, caring personalities, who have helped to build NTC into the largest educational touring theatre company in the country. Pat is passionate about the work we do here at NTC and leads the company from a pragmatic point of view, with clear intentions, communication, humility, collaboration, consideration, common sense, creativity and comradery. As NTC’s president, Patrick Rowan oversees all departments by keeping a finger on the pulse of the day-to-day operations and overall management of the organization. Pat is happily married to his wife, Jennifer, a High School teacher, and a proud parent of identical twin daughters and a son.
Nikki Swoboda is thrilled to be joining NTC as Director of Sales and Marketing. A career arts administrator and education advocate, Nikki connects the dots across NTC departments to ensure a streamlined, communicative, and fulfilling experience for NTC’s clients and students – so that as many students get to have theatre in their lives as possible. She is tasked with managing business development and content marketing, acting as a liaison between NTC and various stakeholders, and supporting school communications through Marketing and other initiatives. Nikki serves on the Strategic Planning Committee of NTC as well and greatly believes in the power of arts integration.
Prior to NTC, Nikki has served as Education Director at Stages Theatre Director, Program Director at West Coast Dance Explosion, Professor of Theatre at St. Kate’s and director to a whole bunch of original musicals at the Minnesota Fringe Festival and beyond. She proudly holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts and a Master of Fine Arts and is published in the subjects of diversity and innovation in arts classrooms, best practices for working with youth, and body politics in movement. Her best gig of all time, however, is being on Team Theisen, where she gets to be Ben’s partner, and mom to Lynnea and Van.
Ben Ratkowski is originally from Milwaukee, Wisconsin where he was raised as an only child—a fact that his three sisters lament. He now lives in North Saint Paul, Minnesota with his wife Rachel and his two kids, Patrick and Natalie who are immersed daily in Ben’s “dad jokes.”
Being around theatre his entire life lead Ben to having a bunch of fun stories—ask him for a story if you dare wish. Eventually, it also lead him to the University of Wisconsin – Stevens Point where he earned his Bachelor of Fine Arts degree. Ben has worked in the theatre professionally for over 20 years with such companies as Prairie Fire Children’s Theatre, American Shakespeare Center, M&W Productions, and Boulevard Ensemble Studio Theatre. Ben is excited to continue to empower people through the magic of theatre in his new role as NTC’s Sales Account Manager.
Marvin joined the NTC team in August, 2021. Marvin’s career prior to NTC was in the Travel Industry, having held positions in the areas of sales, training, client relations management and technology solutions consulting. Marvin is excited with the opportunity to parlay his career experiences into a positive and success focused career with NTC.
A little about Marvin who is originally from Tampa, FL and discovered the Twin Cities by way of attending and graduating from the University of Minnesota with a B.S. in Finance. Marvin’s leisure time includes traveling, cooking & dining out, sports- watching and playing, listening to, primarily, jazz, r&b, reggae and classic rock music and volunteering within the communities of Minneapolis and St. Paul.
Jenny came to NTC with years of experience in Business Administration, Office Management, and Accounting. She started at NTC as a sales caller, help the title of Marketing Coordinator and has moved on to Office Management. As the Office Management Coordinator, she is the gate keeper of our client database. She manages NTC’s Salesforce prospect marketing, manages conference events and helps maintain budgets. She assists with coordinating NTC’s Pardot Software, MPI Data, and Conversica System. She supports Client Services and our Accounts Payable/Receivable Department. Jenny is in charge of ordering all NTC office supplies and equipment. She also manages landlord maintenance and deals with vendors for office related supplies and services. In general – she helps out where ever needed. Jenny lives in Minneapolis with her family. She enjoys photography, spending endless hours with her two crazy kids, and is always up for whatever adventures that may come her way.
MaryLynn directs internal projects and facilitation for NTC school programs. MaryLynn is proud to be part of the mission of NTC in providing quality educational theatre to students – for FREE! MaryLynn started working at NTC in 2010, after several years freelancing as a performer and educator in the Twin Cities. In addition to her work at NTC, she is a choir director and plays piano, cello and ukulele. She also is an avid world traveler. Her last tally: 5 continents and 19 countries visited!
Phone:18008583999 ext. 226
Derek Meyer began his career at NTC as an actor in 2008 and performed in over 25 different shows, touring to schools across the country, through 2014. Since then, Derek has been focused on making sure that every school NTC performs for gets the same great experience. He is a graduate of The University of Wisconsin – Green Bay with a degree in Theatre. When Derek isn’t at NTC, he can probably be found riding his bicycle, performing in a show, or baking something tasty.
Phone:18008583999 ext. 216
Turi Jystad came to NTC in 2017 as a School Communications Representative. As Staffing Manager, she now works closely with representatives on daily schedules, training and hiring needs. Turi studied Theatre Arts and Communication Studies at Southwest Minnesota State University. In the evenings, Turi works as a stage manager and enjoys playing video games, reading, spending time with cats and learning new yo-yo tricks.
Kael joined NTC in fall 2018 as a School Communications Representative. They enjoy making a positive impact on the lives of students through theatre, since Kael has a B.A. in Theatre Arts with a focus on Social Justice. They have worked in theatre and performance for five years and the service industry for six years, making them a perfect fit for School Communications! Kael’s spare time is spent snuggling with their dog Lily, performing in plays, musicals and films in the Twin Cities, playing video games and designing costumes for Cosplay conventions.
Helena started to work at NTC as a School Communications Representative in the fall of 2018 after graduating from the University of Iowa with a BFA in Dance. Now, as a School Communications Manager, she facilitates school programs all across the country. Through marketing, strategic expertise and coordination with the School Communications team, Helena aims to share NTC’s free educational programs and resources with as many students and educators as possible. Besides her work with NTC, Helena is a company member of Concerto Dance by Jolene Konkel and enjoys spending time biking, baking, reading and with friends.
Sophie came to work at NTC in August of 2018 after graduating from Ripon College with a degree in Theatre and Music. Sophie was first hired as a School Communications Representative where she called schools across the country informing them about our incredible programs. In February of 2020, Sophie was promoted to be one of the School Communications Coordinators, helping negotiate tours and plan marketing strategies for NTC’s programs. Now as a School Communications Manager, among many other things, Sophie is primarily responsible for planning, tracking and updating the strategic communications for all scheduling and activation campaigns. While not at work and in her spare time, Sophie enjoys acting in the performing arts community, attending shows throughout the area and exploring state parks.
Grant Hooyer is the Print Distribution Coordinator for NTC. He is in charge of shipping and distribution of printed materials for the schools our actors visit. Grant has also been a touring actor for NTC, performing in shows like The Treasure Trove of Conservation Cove, Men in Plaid, and The Energized Guyz. Originally from Sioux Falls, SD, he graduated from Augustana College with B.A.’s in Psychology and Theatre. Grant moved to the Twin Cities in 2013 to pursue theatre, and has worked for various companies around town such as Theatre in the Round, Lyric Arts, and Artistry.
Bill Turner began working for NTC in 1995 as an actor. He was instrumental in developing characters for such shows asWhere in the World is Carmen Sandiego? and 2Smart 2Smoke. As an artistic associate, Bill began directing and building shows. As Technical Director, Bill managed set design and construction, prop design, costume development, and production budgets. He also served as Technical Producer forShakespeare in the Park. Bill also served as Director of Production, and General Manager of The National Theatre for Children. Bill currently manages the technical infrastructure at NTC.
As the Director of Video Production, Frank oversees the production of NTC’s educational video content. He is also the Creative Director for Livestream Learning Studio, an educational livestream subscription service that delivers virtual events to schools across the United States. Frank has worked with NTC for over twenty years, touring as an actor; writing for the educational TV series M@dAbout; and hosting KiDSNEWS, an educational news and current events program, produced by NTC. As a current member of the Creative Services team, Frank creatively sticks his nose in as many NTC projects as possible. Prior to his work with NTC, Frank worked extensively with the Walt Disney Company in California, writing and directing stage productions for their theme parks and teaching improvisation through Disney Performing Arts, a program that focused on teaching creative arts-related skills to students in grades K-12.
John Trones joined NTC in 2008 as a part-time employee in what was then known as the School Marketing Department, and later transitioned to a full-time tour coordinator in 2009. In 2011 Trones stepped into the role of the Director of School Communications where he coordinated the scheduling and communications efforts for thousands of schools and dozens of clients every school year. In 2017, John made the move to Director of Production where he oversees all aspects of Production for NTC. An avid musician and actor, Trones enjoys performing at a variety of venues when not at NTC.
Jon serves as Artistic Director at The National Theatre for Children. He began working with NTC in 1992 as a freelance performer, writer and director. He became an Artistic Associate in 1998 and Creative Director in 2004. He has written dozens of programs for NTC and was head writer on the nationally syndicated sketch comedy program, M@dAbout. During his free time, Jon writes and performs with various theatres in the Twin Cities. He has performed with Gaydar Productions, Outward Spiral and the Minneapolis-based comedy troupe HOT DISH and he co-founded 8 Ball Productions with John Trones. Jon is also an author, having published a five book series entitled We Are Heroes which explores how kids can volunteer and contribute to their communities.
Nate Metcalf has been one of the most active performers in NTC’s history. After 10 years on the road as a touring actor, Nate still holds the company records for most tours (over 50) and most performances (well over 4,000)! Even now that he’s in the office, he’s still a little hard to pin down. Serving as the Technical Director, Nate oversees the construction of all NTC’s props, costumes, and scenery. When not in the shop he can be found at his laptop working on the script for a new show, or staying in touch with his actors on the road. He has written (or co-written) over 30 shows for NTC. Outside of the office, Nate can’t stop writing, turning his talents to scripting one-acts, ten-minute plays, and currently, his first full-length endeavor. He can also be found horsing around with several of the community theatres around town. A lover of all game shows and trivia contests, Nate had a moment in the sun when he went on the tv show Jeopardy! in 2007 and walked away with enough money to pay for his wedding to the Lovely Jolene. The two currently live at Fort Awesome, with their trusty guard DOGS, Spaghetti, Norman and Eleanor Roosevelt.
Born and raised in the Midwest, Phil has lived in Los Angeles since 1983. He was a touring actor with NTC in the early 90s and at one time held the record for the most NTC performances. These days, when he’s not casting and directing NTC tours for the Southwestern U.S., he can be found performing with the improv group ComedySportz Los Angeles, where he is the Managing Director. He is a longtime ensemble member at Theatre of Note in Hollywood, where he has served as an actor, director, writer, composer and musician. He has also written and directed plays for the Repertory Theater of America in Baltimore.
You can also see Phil in a handful of independent films, including Robert Altman’s STREAMERS, and hear him on a handful of albums, including his live CD “Easily Amused,” featured on the Dr. Demento radio show.
Evan started his career at NTC as a touring actor in 2014, completing seven tours over a three-year period before moving to the Twin Cities to fulfill the role of Production Writer and Coordinator and has since transitioned to Casting & Company Manager. Prior to working full time for NTC, Evan worked for various companies and theatres across the Midwest and Eastern United States as an actor having done over 1,200 performances in 21 different states. Evan is a native of Lafayette, Indiana and a graduate of Purdue University where he studied Mass Communications and Acting. Outside of the theatre world, Evan enjoys watching sports, playing card games, doing crossword puzzles and a strong cup of black coffee.
Morgan joined NTC’s Production Department in 2015, as the Digital Manager. It’s her job to create and manage NTC’s web and multi-media materials. Besides her work at NTC, Morgan is a freelance videographer and an experimental cook/baker.
Matt Levine started with NTC as a School Communications Representative in November 2016, and soon after made the move to Client Services. Working with corporate, government, and non-profit clients, he helps facilitate partnerships that bring educational opportunities to schools throughout the country while enhancing clients’ visibility in their communities. Outside of NTC, he is a novelist, screenwriter, freelance editor, and avid movie-watcher.
JILL VAN HEEL
From small town treasures to some of the biggest names in retail, Jill Van Heel, NTC’s Art Director, has been thriving in the world of design for over twenty years – and what a ride it’s been. Jill has worked for some of the top retail companies in North America as well numerous print shops, newspapers, travel agencies, etc and believes design is much more than aesthetics. It’s a science, a strategy. There’s a method to the madness. Jill holds a BS in Graphic Design, AAS in Multimedia Technologies and a diploma in Commercial Art & Design and has had her hand in just about every type of project. In addition to NTC, Jill also works as a makeup artist for MAC, is addicted to lip gloss and has an extreme love for 80’s hair bands, country music and just about everything in between. She loves to see live music (has been known to travel over eight hours to see a show), collecting obscure items from the 80’s, traveling anywhere that isn’t hot and humid, is serious about her Diet Coke and Vanilla Iced Nirvana from Dunn Bros., laughing for no reason, doing arts and crafts when time permits, playing old school Super Mario Bros with her nephews and embracing her crazy cat lady status.
A graduate of the University of Minnesota, Seth Campbell began his career with NTC as a touring actor in the fall of 2019. He later appeared in numerous educational videos for NTC’s new livestreaming platform. In 2020, Seth joined the Creative Services team as part of the livestream and video production crew. He quickly became an invaluable resource doing everything from camera and sound design to editing video and producing livestreams. In his spare time, Seth can be found hosting his own livestreams which may or may not involve the world of professional basketball, as well as enjoying frequent trips back to his homeland, Madison Wisconsin.
Jordan is thrilled to be continuing her NTC journey as a School Communications Manager. Beginning as a Lead Communications Rep, she worked with schools across the country encouraging them to take advantage of NTC’s amazing programs. After graduating with a B.A from Columbia College Chicago which encompassed music, theatre, management, and education she taught a wide variety of classes/workshops at the Old Town School of Folk Music in Chicago, and was an integral part of the store leadership team with Target here in the Twin Cities. As a Communications Manager, she will facilitate school programs across the country with the sole purpose of engaging, and educating students through a collective theatre experience. In her spare time, Jordan enjoys crafting, singing, and snuggling with her 12 yr old pup.
Phone:1-800-858-3999 ext. 455