Creative Arts Staff

Performing Arts, Center for the Arts

Darren Litz / Performing Arts Director | email

Darren B. Litz heads the music and drama outreaches at Family Life, manages program development, and produces and directs our stage productions.

Prior to coming here, Darren was the Director of Vocal & Music Theater Studies at Bradford Area High School in Bradford, PA.   In addition to being a public schools music educator for 16 years, he served as Worship Coordinator at the Bradford Christian & Missionary Alliance Church and guest directed several festivals across New York and Pennsylvania.

While living in Bradford, Darren produced, directed, arranged and choreographed materials for numerous community and high school productions.  His students performed with many national artists, earning regional, state, and all-eastern recognition in vocal competitions.

During the 1990’s, Darren rededicated his life to serving God and was inspired to create a gospel quartet, 4 Men for God, that ministered to thousands of people in all types of settings, from prisons to elegant auditoriums.  After three years of watching God open and close doors, Darren was called to Family Life in 2002.

A graduate of Indiana University of PA, Darren is a member of the American Choral Director’s Association, Music Educator’s National Conference, and received a Diplome D’Honneur for excellence in vocal music from the Federation Internationale Des Choeurs D’Enfants.  While at Bradford High School, his choral program was honored by the Pennsylvania State Education Association.

Darren lives in Bath, NY, with his wife, Kim, and their two daughters, Brielle and Ainslee.  “God continues to fuel my passion for serving others with the gifts he has given me.  I give all the glory to God, because apart from Him, I can do nothing.  I am unworthy, but still His.”

Katie Bernier / Performing Arts Assistant, Counseling Assistant | email

Katie is a 20-something who thrives on bringing order to chaos of any kind! How has this come to be? Well as the oldest of 12 children, Katie has lived a real “cheaper by the dozen” life. A natural and gifted caregiver, her greatest passion is discipling and mentoring young adults. She also loves reading, writing and blogging (AKA: truth scribbling) as a way of unwinding and processing life. So to wrap all her skills into one great career, Katie has decided to study Biblical counseling and is currently working on her certification.

Katie’s job at Family Life takes the form of an administrative assistant and then some. She works for the Performing Arts department, helping to support the ministry’s operational processes and keep matters running smoothly. She jokingly says her job is “primarily about running around behind everyone, picking up leftover pieces!” (I bet that’s much like growing up with a dozen siblings!)

An avid theater lover, Katie also serves as wardrobe manager and assistant costumer for most of Family Life’s theatrical productions. She loves to travel on the road with the acting and production crew, and thrives when she's living life “behind the stage.”

Robbie Lindmark / Dramatic & Artistic Director, Theater Instructor | email

Youtheatre Class 1.0 & 2.0

Robbie’s main responsibility is directing the Youtheatre program where all of his creativity is put to use! In addition to his directing talents, Robbie also loves to build, and assists in the set design and construction of each Family Life production. He also works with teenage actors through New Vine, Family Life's teen drama troupe, and enjoys acting in as many shows as time allows!

Robbie has had a natural bent toward the dramatic arts for most of his life. As a 7th grade student, Robbie auditioned for Family Life’s Youtheatre production of Narnia, where he received the role of Mr. Tumnus. As Robbie thrived in God-honoring atmospheres, he continued auditioning with Family Life and was awarded the role of Willy Porter in “The Gifts of the Magi” – the ministry’s first traveling Christmas production.

During his high school career, Robbie began taking advanced art and drama classes which helped him to start receiving lead roles in well-known productions, including Professor Harold Hill in “The Music Man,” George Bailey in “It’s a Wonderful Life,” Jim Dillingham in “The Gifts of the Magi”, and Enjolras in “Les Miserables.”

Since his first production with Family Life, Robbie’s passion grew steadily for combining theater with God’s Word to teach children. In 2011, he began his apprenticeship for Darren Litz, the director of performing arts for Family Life. A year later, Robbie made his directing debut with the colorful musical “Seussical,” followed by “Peter Pan” and “The Wizard of Oz.” He has overseen the Youtheatre Workshop program for three years, teaching drama, set design classes, and directing shows.

Ben McCarthy / Performing Arts Assistant, Piano Teacher | email

Ben can be found either on the stage or behind the scenes at nearly every Family Life theater production or outreach. He joined Family Life in 2012 following his role in the Christmas production of “It’s a Wonderful Life.” Since then, Ben has jumped head first into performing arts as an actor, set builder, and production assistant.

Music has been a significant part of Ben’s life since the very beginning. Even as a young toddler, Ben found great delight in singing and playing piano. With much discipline and love for the instrument, Ben strengthened his skills into adulthood with 14 years of private piano and vocal lessons.

Up through his high school years, Ben won several first place awards in a variety of state-wide music competitions. He also served as his school’s piano accompanist during his junior and senior year, playing for choir rehearsals, theatrical productions and a traveling singing group called “The Academy Singers.”

With a heart for connecting people to God, Ben finds great joy in leading worship in all types of environments. Starting at age 17, Ben filled the role of piano leader for his church’s worship team. Since then, Ben has enjoyed leading worship for Family Life’s rock bands, “Konnected” and “Revelation.” He also has led worship for several churches in the area and is currently leading for Victory Highway Wesleyan Church in Corning.

Ben has a zeal for life and loves being outdoors with friends and family hiking, swimming, camping and traveling. In 2014, he married his wife, Bethany, and they are very excited for the chance to start a family together.

Jeremiah Leonard / Performing Arts Assistant, Piano & Guitar Teacher | email

Having studied piano for 16 years, Jeremiah attended Houghton College, where he earned a degree in Music and Education with piano as his primary instrument. Jeremiah also studied guitar throughout his high school years. He played guitar for his church’s praise brand, and while in college, occasionally played for Koinonia services as well.

While attending Houghton College, Jeremiah sang in Men’s Choir, Houghton College Choir, and performed as a chorus member in productions of The Mikado and The Magic Flute. Jeremiah also served as an accompanist for several vocalists and played piano in various performances as well. Jeremiah’s first experience with Family Life was playing keys in the pit orchestra during the production of Les Miserables, The Concert Edition.

Growing up on his family’s Christmas tree farm in central New York, Jeremiah’s parents taught their children about Jesus, which helped Jeremiah dedicate his life to Christ at an early age. Jeremiah met his wife, Liesl, in college, and after graduation, they married and settled down in Bath, NY.

Andrea Wilkinson /Dance Director/Dance Teacher | email

Intermediate Ballet I-II, Advanced Ballet I-II, Pointe I-II

Andrea has over ten years of teaching experience in ballet, jazz, and tap. She began studying dance at Ballet Theatre Ohio under the direction of Christopher Niehs. She continued her training and became a scholarship recipient with Ballet Theatre Ohio, Phoenix Repertory Dance Theater, Blue Lake, Midwest School of Ballet, and the University of Akron.

Throughout her dancing career, Andrea has trained and performed with Cleveland Chamber Ballet, Richmond Ballet, Ohio Dance Theatre, Ballet Magnificat, Hosanna Sacred Arts, Columbia College of Chicago, The Cleveland Ballet, and Bryant Ballet Theatre.

Andrea is a graduate of The University of Akron where she earned bachelor’s degrees in Sports Medicine and Kinesiology with a concentration in dance. Andrea later earned her master’s degree in Exercise Physiology.

With a passion to reclaim the arts for the glory of God, Andrea accepted the position as dance director of One Pulse in 2013 – Family Life’s premier dance ensemble. One Pulse has performed throughout New York at churches, nursing homes, festivals, and schools. Andrea currently lives in Hornell and works at Alfred University as its head athletic trainer.

Bethany Stiller / Dance Teacher | email

Advanced Ballet I-II, Stretch & Strengthen

Bethany grew up one of four kids in a home where, at any given time, someone can be found dancing or singing away! At 8 years of age, she was incredibly nervous about taking her first ballet lesson. Her mother insisted she go anyway, and Bethany hasn't stopped dancing since.

The first seven years of her training were under Robin Conrad Sturm, a former principal dancer of the Washington Ballet and current director of the Northern Virgina Dance Academy. When the family moved from Virginia to New York, classical training continued under Jenny Foreman at the Alfred Ballet Academy.

After high school, Bethany obtained her B.A. in General Music from Crown College, where she used her dance skills in musicals, on theater ministry teams, and in other venues. She currently dances with One Pulse and occasionally choreographs and performs for community theater and worship services.

Dustin Woodard / Drums Teacher | email

Dustin Woodard was born and raised in the Los Angeles area where he began studying music at age seven. Having played drums and percussion for over seventeen years, Dustin became proficient in Classical, Worship, Rock, Jazz, Afro-Cuban and other styles of music. He received his bachelors of Music from California State University, and his masters of Music from Houghton College.

Dustin has performed at the Monterey Jazz Festival, International Clarinet Association Conference and with such groups as the New West Symphony, Gold Coast Wind Ensemble and the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra. He is a member of the Southern Tier Symphony and currently teaches at Houghton College, Alfred University as well as his own private studio in Houghton, NY.

An active freelancer in Western New York, Dustin has performed with many different ensembles and theatrical productions throughout the region, including Family Life’s Peter Pan and Les Miserables, The Concert Edition. He is very excited to teach at the Center for the Arts and discover what God has planned for him!

Lauren Norris / Dance Teacher | email

Beginning Ballet, Intermediate Ballet, Creative Movement

Lauren Norris grew up dancing and loves Jesus, ballet and kids. She studied ballet for 12 years at a private studio in Alfred and Hornell, and found her passion teaching dance students in that same area. Lauren furthered her dance education by attending the Chautauqua Regional Youth Ballet where she studied under dancers from the New York City Ballet. In addition to ballet, Lauren has some experience with Ballroom and contemporary styles of dance.

One of her most valued accomplishments was her role in developing and directing Side Porch Ballet Productions in Almond. Side Porch Ballet offers one week of ballet instruction to students at no cost, and is held at Lauren’s house on her side porch. After a few years of success, Lauren expanded the outreach to Jamaica on an missions trip with Source of Light Ministries. In Jamaica, she danced for schools and churches, which soon after, led to her teaching a free dance intensive to young Jamaican students.

Now living in Almond, NY, Lauren enjoys assisting with One Pulse, Family Life's premier dance ensemble. She is excited to teach and glorify God through dance at Family Life’s Center for the Arts.

Liesl Leonard / Woodwinds & Brass Teacher | email

Liesl is a graduate of Houghton College where she studied Instrumental Music Education with flute as her primary instrument. With over six years of teaching experience, Liesl teaches brass for beginners and woodwind for beginners and advanced learners. She is certified to teach music to grades PreK-12 in New York State and also works as a substitute teacher in the local public schools.

With 14 years of experience in flute performance, Liesl has played with many ensembles including Houghton College’s Philharmonia, Symphonic Winds, and Flute Ensemble. She’s also played with Camerata, AMA Flute Trio, Harmonie en Bois, and even had the opportunity to play with the classic rock band, Kansas.

Liesl’s first experience with Family Life was performing in Kids Choir. Throughout high school, Liesl was an active member of the teen worship band, Konnected, and most recently performed as a member of the pit orchestra for Family Life’s production of Les Miserables, The Concert Edition.

Liesl Leonard lives in Bath, NY with her husband, Jeremiah, and puppy, Emma. In her spare time, Liesl is an avid cook and loves to explore world cultures both through music and food.

Miki Reaume / Dance Teacher | email

Intermediate & Advanced Jazz, Adult Jazz/Tap, Musical Theater

Dancing since the age of 12, Miki is formally trained in tap, ballet, jazz and theater dance. She also has experience dancing and choreographing swing, ballroom, funk, character, and hip hop styles of dance.

After finishing a two-year training at American Musical & Dramatic Academy in New York City, Miki danced with the Radio City Rockettes for seven years.  

As a professional actress, Miki has experience performing in national and regional tours. She performed various musical theater roles in Broadway Under the Stars, Tokyo Disney Sea's "Encore!", Cats, 7 Brides for 7 Brothers, My Fair Lady, Hairspray, Thoroughly Modern Millie, Guys and Dolls, and 42nd Street where she played the lead role, Peggy Sawyer. This particular performance earned Miki an award for “Best Actress in a Musical” in New Hampshire.

Miki currently lives in Painted Post with her husband, Tre. She choreographs shows for Victory Highway Church in Painted Post, and also teaches dance workshops at 171 Cedar Arts and Dancer's Alley in Horseheads. In 2011, Miki opened her own business, “With These Steps Choreography,” and finds great satisfaction in choreographing wedding dances for couples wanting to make their big day memorable.

Wendy Spencer / Dance Teacher | email

Beginning, Intermediate, & Advanced Tap, Worship Dance

Wendy started dancing at age 12 with the Full Gospel Tabernacle Worship Dance Team in Orchard Park, NY. As a teenager, she danced in The Nutcracker Ballet with the Pittsburgh Ballet Company at Shea’s Theater in Buffalo NY.

With a love for many styles of dance, Wendy trained for five years under the direction of Tommy Ralabate in Ballet, Tap, Jazz, Modern and Lyrical dance. Over the years she has taught jazz, tap and ballet classes for many studios in the Buffalo area, as well as a class for special needs children. Each year, Wendy looks forward to her students giving a recital which incorporates dance, scripture, and drama skits that share the Gospel.

Wendy recently finished her training with Dance Masters of America at The University of Buffalo. Three years ago, she proudly opened her own dance studio, “Fishers of Men Dance Company” in Dansville, NY, where she resides with her husband, Steven, and their four children.

Lisa Karr / Voice Instructor | email

Raised in Howard, NY, Lisa brings fourteen years of vocal music experience to Family Life’s Center for the Arts. She has a bachelor’s degree in Music Education from Houghton College, and a master’s degree in Education from Indiana Wesleyan University.

After college, Lisa taught vocal music to grades K-12 for ten years in the Belfast and Jasper-Troupsburg school districts. She enjoyed teaching in the public schools, but after some time, Lisa felt a distinct call overseas, where she would apply her gifts and talents to missionary work.

For four years, Lisa taught vocal music at Bingham Academy in the capital city of Ethiopia, called Addis Ababa. Bingham is an international Christian school with students from over 25 nationalities, so Lisa found herself absorbed in a rich cultural experience. Also in Addis Ababa, Lisa volunteered with Strong Hearts Ethiopia - a ministry that serves the physical, educational and spiritual needs of children and families living in the capital’s leper colony.

Lisa returned to the States in June and is excited to be back home with family and friends. She currently lives in Howard and teaches Vocal Music in Alfred-Almond Central School District.​