Young Playwrights' Theater inspires young people to realize the power of their own voices.




Brigitte Winter

Executive Director

Brigitte Winter has more than a decade of experience in nonprofit management, arts administration, fundraising and strategic communications in the DC region. Prior to joining YPT, Brigitte worked as a Legislative Director in Annapolis, and served as Artistic Director of The Unmentionable Theatre, a Baltimore-based company dedicated to producing new plays with social and political weight. Brigitte holds a BFA in Theatre from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC,) summa cum laude, a Certificate in Nonprofit Management from Georgetown University and a Masters in Public Relations and Corporate Communications from Georgetown University. She continues to work with Georgetown as an Adjunct Instructor. Brigitte is the proud recipient of the 2013 Outstanding Alumni of the Year Award from the UMBC Alumni Association, the 2013 Outstanding Student Award from Georgetown University and the 2012 Georgetown Social Impact Award for her commitment to creating positive social change as a communicator.

In 2014, Brigitte and her husband, Dustin Blottenberger, co-founded No Discipline Arts Collective, an artist-led initiative committed to producing cross-disciplinary work that breaks down traditional boundaries between isolated artists and disciplines. Since August 2014, No Discipline has presented seven pop-up art events featuring more than 60 artists and writers and benefiting causes including the ALS Foundation, the Kristin Rita Strouse Foundation for Suicide Prevention, Young Playwrights' Theater, Columbia Writers, Shirley’s Boxer Rescue and House of Ruth Maryland.

Brigitte is also an author with short fiction featured in the bestselling 2016 City of Weird: 30 Otherworldly Portland Tales anthology by Forest Avenue Press, the 2017 Enter the Apocalypse anthology by TANSTAAFL Press, the 2017 Renewal Anthology by Queer Sci Fi and Columbia Writers’ 2014 anthology, Trapped Tales.

Karen Zacarías

Founding Artistic Director

In the 2007-2008 season, Karen had three world premieres: The Book Club Play at Round House Theater (also selected for the 2007 Eugene O’Neill conference and developed with PWC), Chasing George Washington: A White House Adventure at the Kennedy Center, and Looking for Roberto Clemente at Imagination Stage (with music by Debbie Wicks La Puma). Karen is the winner of the 2006 Francesca Primus Award for her play, Mariela in the Desert (World Premiere at The Goodman Theatre in Chicago). Mariela is also the winner the 2005 TCG/AT&T First Stages Award, the 2004 National Latino Playwrights’ Competition, finalist for the 2004 Susan Smith Blackburn prize, and short listed for 2005 Kesselring Prize. Her play, The Sins of Sor Juana won Outstanding New Play at the 2000 Helen Hayes Awards and has been produced throughout the country. Her musical plays for young people have enjoyed productions at The Goodman Theater, The Coterie, Chicago PlayWorks, The Alliance Theatre, Imagination Stage, Arden Theater, Cleveland Playhouse, and St. Louis Rep. The plays include Einstein is a Dummy (world Premiere at the Alliance Theatre), a flamenco version of FERDINAND: THE BULL, the mariachi-inspired The Magical Piñata, and salsa/hip-hop Cinderella Eats Rice and Beans:A Salsa Musical. Currently, Karen is working on commissions from Arena Stage (Emilie and Voltaire...Were Here), Round House Theater (an adaptation of How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents), the Kennedy Center, and South Coast Repertory. Karen Z lives in D.C. with her husband Rett, and children Nico, Kati, and baby Maia.

Farah Harris

Artistic Director

Farah Lawal Harris is an actress, playwright, teaching artist, director, poet and proud recipient of a 2015 and 2017 Arts and Humanities Fellowship Program individual artist grant from the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities. Prior to joining YPT, Farah worked as a Grants Specialist on a government contract, as well as a Development Manager for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, National Capital Chapter. She holds three Bachelor of Arts degrees from the University of Maryland-College Park in Theatre Performance, Criminology & Criminal Justice, and African American Studies and graduated with High Honors. Farah was a Founding Member of the Washington, DC-based theatre companies The Saartjie Project and Wild Women Theatre and has performed with various companies including dog & pony dc, The Source Festival, 500 Clown and the Inkwell. She performed her one-woman show, So Do You Love Me Yet? in the 2009 Capital Fringe Festival and continues to write plays based black women's experiences. Farah’s plays have been produced in the Kennedy Center Page-to-Stage Festival (FRESHH Inc.), Theater Alliance’s Hothouse New Play Development Series, Convergence Theatre, the Capital Fringe Festival and the DC Black Theatre Festival. For more information, please visit


Frank Cervarich

Operations Director

Frank is an arts administrator with experience in development, communications and office management, as well as an actor, puppeteer, improviser, playwright and teacher. From 2011 to 2012, he served in a kindergarten classroom at Malcolm X Elementary School in Southeast DC through City Year, an AmeriCorps program, providing mentorship and tutoring to his students. After completing City Year, he served as a Research/Program Associate at the Migrant Legal Action Program. He is a founding member of Pointless Theatre, and currently serves as Pointless’ co-Director of Communications. He has written two plays (The Solar System Show and Imagination Meltdown Adventure) that have been produced, and has toured DC with The Solar System Show. Imagination Meltdown Adventure won the Director’s Pick of the Fringe Award in 2012. He has performed at the National Theater, Smithsonian’s National Air & Space Museum, the Mansion at Strathmore, The Puppet Co., the Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center, The Writer’s Center, GALA Hispanic Theatre and in the Capital Fringe Festival. He is a graduate from the University of Maryland, College Park with a BA in English and Theater. 

Jessica Wisser

Development Director

Prior to joining YPT, Jessica was employed as Executive Director of the Alexandria Symphony Orchestra in Alexandria, VA. In her time as the administrative leader of the ASO, Wisser oversaw the organization’s launch of Northern Virginia’s first El Sistema-inspired music education program, ASO Sympatico, as well as the organization’s celebratory performance of the 100th Anniversary of Igor Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring with a one-night only performance at the National Gallery of Art Modern Art Wing, featuring new choreography and performance by Bowen McCauley Dance.

Previously, Wisser worked as General Manager at Cantata Singers, a choral organization in Boston, Massachusetts that administered Classroom Cantatas, a residency program in a diverse spread of Boston Public Schools where students create their own musical compositions based in curricular guidelines. Wisser also completed an administrative internship with the Wolf Trap Opera Company in Vienna, Virginia.

Jessica graduated with a B.A. from Duke University, focusing on a double major in Music and Public Policy. While at Duke, Jessica sang with the Duke University Chorale as well as with Duke University’s oldest all-female a cappella group, Duke Out of the Blue. An arts lover from a young age, Jessica began her music career as a pianist, debuted on the local musical theater stage as Fish #2 in The Little Mermaid, and studied voice and music theory during high school at the Fine Arts Center in her hometown of Greenville, South Carolina. Jessica currently lives in Arlington, Virginia with her husband, Evan, her daughter, Claire, and her dog, Jefferson.


Jared Shamberger

Program Director


Jared is a DC-based playwright/director/actor. In 2014, he wrote and performed his first one man show, 12, featuring several solo pieces he created as a founding member of Brave Soul Collective. Jared is most proud of his work in HIV prevention, including his travels throughout the country using theater to educate students on the importance of sexual health and responsibility. He considers himself an "artivist," combining his artistic sensibilities and his activist spirit.




Claudia Rosales Waters

Program Associate

Claudia Rosales Waters has been a teaching artist for ten years, getting to explore learning through the arts in classrooms across Atlanta, New York and Washington D.C. She achieved her Master of Fine Arts in Performance degree from the University of Maryland in 2013. Claudia is an accomplished playwright and performer, specializing in physical theatre, devising new works and stage combat. Recently, Waters has been working with Romanian school Transylvania College, consulting on a mindfulness guidebook for teachers. She is exploring teaching mindfulness through theater, as well as developing training for teachers and schools hoping to bring the practice into their community. 

Teshonne Powell

Communications Associate

Hailing from Providence, RI by way of Atlanta, GA, Teshonne has always indulged her love for the performing arts. As a graduate of Duke University, she went on to work with youth through Teach For America and Festival Ballet Providence and has been a proud supporter and participant in community-oriented theatre through her time with Mixed Magic Theatre in Pawtucket, RI. Since obtaining her Master of Arts degree in Mass Communication and Media Studies from Howard University, Teshonne has cultivated her love for DC arts while working with Atlas Performance Arts Center on H Street NE. She has also worked with FRESHH Theatre Inc. as an actor, and as the coordinator for its out-of-school-time arts education program, Griot Girls. She enjoys reading and writing speculative fiction, performing in the arts, and supporting her friends--all wonderful and talented members of the DC arts community.


Monica Johnson

Administrative Assistant

Monica Johnson is a graduate from Howard University with a B.A in Spanish and a current student at George Washington University. She has been studying Spanish since middle school and has studied abroad three times. Prior to joining YPT, Monica has worked in academic settings as a Spanish Tutor/Teacher Assistant at the Middle School of Mathematics and Science in Washington D.C and as an English Tutor at a grade school in Salamanca, Spain. In addition, she interned at The National Society for Collegiate Scholars, a non-profit organization. Monica enjoys going to art museums, music festivals and food festivals during her spare time. She played the bassoon for four years and was selected to play second chair in the 2010 Cobb County GMEA Band Performance.