history and leadership

Board of Directors


Tracy Coats

Director of District Partnerships 


Paul Walwyn

Walwyn Law


Tracy Gershon

Founder, Northern Lights Music and SHERO Consulting


David Gamble


Heather Crabtree

Hastings Architecture

Rachel Agee

Communications Specialist,
Tennessee Housing Development Agency

Kamilah Ajamu

Registered Nurse, Neonatal Assessment, Grady Hospital

Jane Alvis

Principal, Alvis Company

Danielle Frazier

Sharon Dixon Gentry

Director, Cultural Development
and Inclusion
Hospital Corporation of America

Tasneem Ansariyah Grace

Mosaic Changemakers

Stacey Hucks

Corporate Compliance Documentation and
Coding Manager,
Community Health Systems

Pierre Johnson

Business Process Improvement Leader, Lean Enterprise

Leah Lowe

Department of Theatre,
Vanderbilt University
Director of the Curb Center for Art, Enterprise and Public Policy

Lj Ratliff

Pyschotherapist in Private Practice

Non-Voting Advisors

Reed Omary


Producing Artistic Director

vali Forrister

Vali is the Producing Artistic Director of the Actors Bridge Ensemble, which she co-founded in 1995. She has produced over 90 productions for the company, has acted and directed over 30, and authored six. She founded and leads Act Like A GRRRL, an autobiographical writing and performance program for teenage girls and adult women to gain public voice by articulating their lived experience.

Vali Forrister

Producing Artistic Director, Acting School Instructor

CJ Tucker

Acting School Instructor

Cynthia Harris

Program Director

Jesse Strauss

Grants Administrator

Carrie Wilsman



RESIDENT artists

Dee Benn

Costume Designer

Sally Bebawy


Richard K. Davis

Lighting Designer

Paul Gatrell

Scenic Designer

Stacey Hucks

House manager

Kat Tierney- Smith

Stage Manager

that which hinders your task is your task.

Sanford Meisner

Actors Bridge was founded in 1995 by Bill Feehely and Vali Forrister. Bill saw the need to create ongoing professional actor training in Nashville and Vali longed to bring to her hometown the new socially-relevant plays she was seeing in New York, Chicago and London.

For the last 28 years, we done exactly that. We have trained over 7,000 students in the Meisner Technique. Those actors have gone on to perform on local, regional and national stages as well as in film and television. There are few local productions that do not include a performer in some way influenced by Actors Bridge training. As a professional theatre company, we have produced over 100 plays, including 18 World Premieres and 90 Nashville premieres.
Actors Bridge began in the Belmont Little Theatre in 1995. In 1996, we became the theatre-in-residence at St. Augustine’s Chapel on the campus of Vanderbilt University. We spent 7 amazing years performing cutting-edge theatre in the little A-frame chapel, while the gracious congregation received the Eucharist on our funky sets. 
In 2003, we left St. A’s to become pioneers in Germantown at the Neuhoff Site. For 12 of these years, we were the professional theater in residence at Belmont University. In 2013, we joined the revitalization of Charlotte Avenue by moving our studio space to the LeQuire Gallery building. In 2015, we moved a few blocks down the road to the Darkhorse Chapel (behind Darkhorse Theater) at 4610 Charlotte Avenue, the place we still happily call our home.
Actors Bridge is the home of Act Like a GRRRL, Directors Inclusion Initiative, and First Time Stories. Actors Bridge continues to be led by Co-Founder and Artistic Director Vali Forrister.