Courtney Laves-Mearini (Artistic Director)
Courtney Laves-Mearin received her training in Houston, Texas studying primarily under Anne and Nicolas Polajenko, Gilbert Rome, ABT’s Alexander Minz, Claire Duncan and James Clouser. She also had the opportunity to study with Fosse jazz dancer, Delia Weddington-Stewart for five years while growing up in Houston. She trained for a year at the University of Utah under Li-Chou Chang and had the opportunity to work with Sir Anton Dolin and Toni Lander, restaging Pas de Quatre in the role of Marie Taglioni. She danced with several ballet companies including Atlanta Ballet, South Carolina Ballet Theater and Cleveland San Jose Ballet. She danced lead roles in Serenade as the Russian Lead, soloist in Paquita, Sleeping Beauty as Princess Aurora, Concerto Borocco principal, Raymonda Variations soloist, and Lynn-Taylor Corbett’s Appearances.
Courtney has been teaching ballet since 1978 for various studios in Houston, Florida and Cleveland including teaching at the University of Akron’s dance department. She received her B.A. in Anthropology and Communications from Cleveland State University in 1997 and has excavated for three field seasons on the Maya Mountain Archaeological Project in Belize, Central America with Dr. Peter Dunham.
Heather Young (Executive Director)
Heather Young holds a Master of Fine Arts in Contemporary Dance from Case Western Reserve University and a Bachelor of Arts from Hamilton College. In July 2022, she was promoted to Executive Director of City Ballet of Cleveland. Prior to that time, she served as administrative assistant for the company. Mrs. Young is also the Office Manager and dance instructor at Cleveland City Dance and a yoga instructor at Yoga Roots. She has worked as an adjunct faculty at Lake Erie College, Case Western Reserve University and Cleveland State University. Mrs. Young was a Teaching Artist with Groundworks Dance Theater, an instructor for the Read to Learn…Dance to Move program with DANCECleveland, and has taught Yes!..I Can Move classes for people with Parkinson’s disease at InMotion.
Young has danced professionally with Antaeus Dance, Verlezza Dance Company, Marquez Dance Project, and Tikvah Company of Artists. She has performed in works by notable choreographers including Martha Graham, Pascal Rioult, Carolyn Dorfman, May O’Donnell, Amy Miller, and Elisa Monte. She recently returned to performing with Ajayi Dance, Sarah Holmes Villanueva and Marquez Dance Project.
Young is also a seasoned choreographer whose works have been performed at the Northeast Ohio Dance Festival, Case Western Reserve University, Allegheny College, and Hamilton College. In May 2013, she choreographed the 8th Grade Musical at Hathaway Brown School and in March 2014 choreographed Shrek the Musical at Euclid High School. Her work, Let My Hero In, premiered at Cleveland Public Theatre’s DanceWorks’14. She was also a choreographer for Cleveland Dance Exchange’s Top Ten during Cleveland Public Theatre’s DanceWorks’ 15. Mrs. Young has also been blessed with the opportunity to set works on City Ballet of Cleveland dancers for the Youth America Grand Prix.
Jessie Beck is an alumnus of Cleveland City Dance where she trained under Courtney Laves-Mearini, Paul Wilson and Linda Adolphi. She studied at the Washington School of Ballet and the Joffrey Ballet School in their summer intensive programs. She holds a BA in History from the George Washington University, and a JD from the Cleveland-Marshall College of Law. After more than a decade living in the Pacific Northwest, she
relocated to the Cleveland area in 2021. She currently serves as the Director of Rental Assistance at
EDEN, Inc., a non-profit focused on ending homelessness in our community. She is a past board member
of the Coalition Ending Gender-Based Violence in Seattle, WA.
Mary Braun is a retired art teacher. After graduating from Case Western Reserve University, she began her teaching career in the Cleveland Public Schools in 1976. In 1978, she began teaching for Cleveland Heights University Heights schools where she taught for 29 years.
Her initial association with Cleveland City Dance was as an adult student herself and later also as a mother of a Cleveland City Dance student.
Presently Mary receives great satisfaction problem solving prop ideas for City Ballet of Cleveland outreach performances and enjoys volunteering for the Sugarplum Fairy Tea. Cleveland City Dance provides her with a sense of community with wonderful people dedicated to the Arts.
Donna Burrer (Board President)
Donna Burrer is currently the Training Director at MAI Capital Management, a Cleveland-based wealth management firm providing planning and investment advisory services. She holds an MEd in Adult Learning and Development, and has more than 30 years of experience in learning and development, leadership development, technical communications, and program and project management. Throughout her career, Donna has worked in a variety of industries, including paint and coating research, medical diagnostics and biotechnology, financial services, investment management, and learning and development consulting. Donna’s passion for dance and especially for ballet started in childhood and even now she continues to study ballet at Cleveland City Dance. Another outlet for her love of dance and performance is promoting City Ballet of Cleveland and its talented pre-professional dancers through extensive volunteer efforts and by serving on the CBC Board of Directors since 2013.
Lauren Dangelo began dancing in Cleveland, Ohio. In addition to training at local schools, she attended summer programs at Cincinnati Ballet. Lauren graduated in 2014 magna cum laude with her BFA in Dance Performance. Upon graduating, Lauren went on to dance with the Charlottesville Ballet under the direction of Sara Jansen Clayborne. There, she danced both soloist and corps de ballet roles in both classical ballets; The Nutcracker , The Firebird , Sleeping Beauty , as well as other original compositions. She also danced in several original contemporary works, most notably by Colby Damon from Ballet X , and Steven Melendez from New York Theatre Ballet, among others. Lauren now considers herself a freelance dancer, working with companies and creatives around the country. As of late, she has had the opportunity to dance with ODC in San Francisco, CA, where she had the pleasure of dancing Kate Weare’s work, Giant ; New Dialect in Nashville, TN under the direction of Banning Bouldin, Sidra Bell, Kun-Yang Lin/Dancers’, amongst others . Lauren has performed in the Broadway and commercial industries by working as the dance captain on the show Chicago: The Musical , as well as working on Royal Caribbean’s Brilliance of the Seas. As of late, Lauren is on the precipice of graduating from Northwestern University with her Masters in Clinical Mental Health with a focus on eating disorders. Lauren is excited to be able to meld both of her passions together and primarily work with dancers and shed new light into the industry.
Dr. Evelyn M DeLiso (Board Treasurer)
Evelyn M DeLiso’s childhood career goal was to become a professional ballet dancer. Growing up in Ames, Iowa, she took dance lessons from seven years old and through college. She holds a BA and MA in Dance from Butler University. In her mid-twenties, she returned to graduate school. She has a Ph.D. in Ceramic Engineering and Science from Rutgers University. During her 35 year industrial career, she worked for companies in R&D that make and sell products including Alcoa, Corning, Inc., Masco Corporation, and Dan T. Moore Company in Cleveland, Ohio. She is an inventor holding 20 granted US patents. Since 2018 she is a certified Iyengar Yoga teacher at Level I. Since retiring in 2015, she has become actively involved with City Ballet of Cleveland. She has delightfully taken on the role of Grandmother Halle in the Nutcracker since 2017 and is currently serving as the Board Treasurer. She is a member of the American Ceramic Society and the Iyengar Yoga Association of North America.
Julia Galletta (Board Secretary)
Julia Galletta has been involved with Cleveland City Dance and City Ballet of Cleveland since 2010. Specializing in ballet and modern dance, Julia took classes at Cleveland City Dance, the Ballet Academy, and attended summer programs at the Dance Institute in Akron and Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet while in high school. She graduated in 2010 from Jacksonville University with a B.F.A. in dance then spent time teaching and continuing her dance training upon graduating. As she continued with her love of learning, Julia graduated from Cleveland State University with a Master of Business Administration in 2012. She currently works as a Fiduciary Advisor at PNC Private Bank. She holds the Certified Financial Planner™ certification and Certified Trust and Fiduciary Advisor certification. She continues to share her love of dance and joined the City Ballet of Cleveland board in the fall of 2020.
Lisa Gangi is a Supervisory Attorney Advisor for the Office of Medicare Hearings and Appeals. She provides Administrative Law Judges with authoritative advice and substantive assistance in highly complex Medicare appeals cases. Lisa is also a patent attorney, specialized in intellectual property law for the life sciences. She has a Ph.D. in Molecular Biology and Genetics from the University of North Carolina and a J.D. from University of Richmond. Prior to becoming an attorney, Lisa spent eight years as a cancer researcher for the National Cancer Institute. She has published more than 25 peer-reviewed articles in national journals and was invited to lecture across the United States, Europe, and South America. Lisa is a proud dance mom to her daughter Olivia, who is a Senior Company member and has relished being more closely involved with the City Ballet of Cleveland.
Meghann has been on City Ballet of Cleveland board since 2022. She grew up dancing at Cleveland City Dance from age 7 -18 years old. Meghann returned to Cleveland from New York City in 2015. She has been teaching Preschool, Pre-Ballet, and beginning ballet for 7 years. What she loves about CCD is connecting with the community, and loves helping grow small minds develop a love for dance! Meghann graduated with her Bachelors of Fine Arts in Painting and Drawing from the University of Akron, Mary Schiller Myers School of Art school. She also has a Masters of Fine Arts in Painting and Performance Art from Parsons The New School for Design. Meghann’s devotion for teaching led her back for a second Masters Degree in Early Childhood Education and Special Education from Teachers College, Columbia University. Her resilience with having an IEP at a young age, has helped her be an advocate for children and wants only the best for all her students. Outside of work Meghann’s hobbies consist of sailing, kayaking, baking challah and spending time with her husband and their St.berdoodle Luna!
Naomi Hollander is a film, television and video professional. She holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Theatre Arts and Political Science from Cleveland State University. Upon graduation, Ms. Hollander initially worked at the world headquarters of the Council of International Programs, a non-profit international exchange for social and human service professionals. This position allowed her to travel the world and meet, work, and collaborate with people from over 70 different countries.
A career change led her into the film industry where she has worked for the past 33 years on productions ranging from feature films, music videos, commercials, training films, corporate business meetings and live events. In addition to working with CEO’s and Presidents of major corporations, she has had the opportunity to work with notable figures such as Barack Obama, Joseph Biden, Hillary Clinton, Willem Dafoe, Ben Vareen, Smokey Robinson, Jay Z and Beyoncé. She has served as a member of the board of directors of both the Ohio Independent Film Festival and the International Women’s Group of Cleveland.
Naomi is excited to join City Ballet of Cleveland’s Board of Directors where both her daughter and son have been company members for multiple years!
An attorney overseeing regulatory compliance for Nestle USA Foods. He is a graduate of Ohio University and Celveland-Marshall College of Law. Steve and his wife Stephanie are lifelong supporters of (and retired participants in) the performing arts and he is excited to help the CBC reach new heights and new audiences. He lives with his wife and two grade school-aged children in Aurora.
Anna Soref is the co-founder of GrowthWays Partners, a Cleveland-based strategic advisory firm offering services to investors, management teams and related stakeholders to optimize the enterprise value of companies in the natural products industry. Anna has more than 25 years of experience as a journalist, consultant and content expert in the natural living space. As a dance mom, Anna witnessed the extraordinary benefits dance brings to children. Now an empty nester, she is excited to promote dance as a CBC board member and has a particular passion for bringing dance to underserved communities. Anna also serves on the board of KidSpirit.
Brittain Lamoureux (Parent Liaison to the Board)
Dr. Lamoureux is a Licensed Clinical Psychologist currently practicing at the Louis Stokes Cleveland VA Medical Center in the Northeast Ohio VA Healthcare System. She earned her Bachelor of Arts in Anthropology and certificate in Women’s Studies from the University of Georgia, a Master of Arts in Psychology from New York University, and a PhD in Clinical Psychology from Kent State University. She specializes in trauma and Posttraumatic Stress Disorder. She has been published in academic journals and book chapters, and has presented at national and international conferences on issues related to traumatic stress. Dr. Lamoureux has held appointments teaching medical students and residents, as well as in the training of pre- and post-doctoral psychology trainees, and has provided expert consultation in the area of posttraumatic stress and co-occurring conditions.
Britt’s love of dance goes back as far as she can remember. She took dance classes in the Atlanta area from the age of 2 though her graduation from Avondale High School’s DeKalb Center for the Performing Arts. She studied dance as a minor at UGA, and took classes as she was able while in graduate school. One of her favorite dance performance experiences was in “Dig Deep” with Abby Bender at Triskelion Arts, which was a finalist for Time Out New York’s Dance Audiences Award in 2004. Britt discovered Cleveland City Dance in 2011 when looking for high quality dance education for her older daughter, who is now an apprentice dancer with City Ballet of Cleveland. She has enjoyed taking adult dance classes herself at CCD, and was delighted to fill the role of Mrs. Gund in CBC’s Uniquely Cleveland Nutcracker in 2022.