Meet the Team
Artistic Director & CEO
Anton Jones holds his MFA from the University of Iowa Playwright’s Workshop and his BA in Theatre from Grinnell College. He has directed, written and provided hip-hop theatre workshops for CLIMB actors since 2007. He has worked as a director, playwright, and theatre educator for Penumbra Theatre, Pillsbury House Theatre, The Illusion Theatre, History Theatre, Karamu Theatre, Florida Studio Theatre, Upstream Arts, Children’s Theatre Company, The Guthrie, St. Paul Conservatory for Performing Artists, Imagination Stage in Bethesda, MD. He is a two time Jerome Many Voices Fellowship Recipient. As a sound designer/composer, his work has been heard internationally, off-broadway and most recently on CLIMBs podcasts of Faraway Woods.
Education Director/Associate Artistic Director
In Lauren’s time at CLIMB, she has created and led numerous programs for adults and children. She has worked as a theatre educator for the Children’s Theatre Company in Minneapolis and at Pittsburgh Public Theatre. A prolific actor, Lauren has performed with Theatre in the Round and Theatre Coup D’Etat in Minneapolis and Pittsburgh Rep and Gemini Children’s Theatre in Pittsburgh.
Afton Benson combines her Master’s Degree in Organizational Behavior and Business Management with over 10 years of management experience to help passionate artistic nonprofit organizations thrive. She manages local Minnesota theatre companies and individual artists including: WLDRNSS//Jon Ferguson, Curiosita: A collective, Joshua Palmer, and Benjamin Domask. She also serves as Treasurer on the Board of Directors for the International Jugglers’ Association. That’s right! Afton is an active juggler, juggling up to 5 balls at one time!
Director of Sales & Engagement
Michael is in his 10th season with CLIMB and has worked as an actor, Actor-Educator, Maintainer, and Outreach Coordinator. When he’s not providing contacts with star customer service, Michael is performing with theatres around the Twin Cities, including Park Square, History Theatre, Chanhassen Dinner Theatre, Theatre Coup d’Etat, Freshwater, Pillsbury House, and Artistry. Michael has a BFA in Acting from from Millikin University.
Rachael holds a BA in Theatre Arts from the University of Iowa. She started her CLIMB career as a stage manager in the 2015 season. As a stage manager in Minneapolis/St. Paul, Rachael has worked with many companies, including TigerLion Arts, 20% Theatre Company, Park Square Theatre, Illusion Theatre, Hennepin Theatre Trust, Brownbody, & Mixed Blood Theatre. Rachael has been a stage manager with Triple Espresso: A Highly Caffeinated Comedy for four years, and recently took the show on tour for the 2016 Holiday Season. Rachael is a proud member of Actor’s Equity Association
Erin Farsté got her BFA in Musical Theatre from Rockford University in 2015. Her CLIMB journey began as a performing company member for the 2016-17 year before joining the Outreach Coordinating team. Erin is also an actor in the Midwest region of the country, working with various theatres and film companies such as: South Dakota Shakespeare Festival, National Theatre for Children, Baby E Films to name a few.
Eli joined CLIMB as an Actor Educator in the 15-16 season. After returning as an actor briefly in January 2017, he made the move to Outreach. Eli also works as an actor throughout the Twin Cities and is a new company member with Savage Umbrella. He graduated from Northwest Missouri State University with a B.S. in Theatre: Performance.
Alisha is a Minnesota native who has worked in CLIMB’s gaming department for four years. Prior to CLIMB, she spent three years working for organizations that serve people with special needs as caregiver, supervisor, and mentor. As a mother of two, Alisha values CLIMB’s mission and is proud to work for an organization that helps youth better themselves and their community.
Buffy Sedlachek After 11 years with CLIMB, she is now the PEP Emeritus. Once a Resident Artist with Stages Theatre Company and Literary Manager of the Jungle Theater, she is an Affiliated Alum of the Playwrights’ Center. She led the YoungPlaywrights Summer Conference, where she met Anton Jones. Among her awards are: Minnesota State Arts Board Fellowships, McKnight Advancement Grants, Jones Commissions, a Jerome Foundation Travel and Study Grant, a TCG Observorship, and three nominations for the Susan Smith Blackburn Prize for distinguished women playwrights. She is the co-author of two curriculum guides for teaching of playwriting. A member of SAG and AEA, she has been honored with Golden Hugo from the Chicago International Film Festival. She prepped for her MFA with Brian Way at The London Theatre Center and subsequently with Phil Bosakowski of the Iowa Writers Workshop.
CLIMB BOARD of DIRECTORS
Jim Gambone, Chair
President, Points of View
Dr. James Gambone is CEO of Points Of View, a film, design and consulting firm. Jim was on the Board of Directors at Capella University and is a faculty member in the School of Public Service Leadership. Jim was a Drop-Out Prevention Specialist on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation and a Resource Training Director with the Mpls Public Schools where he developed and delivered curriculum and training programs. Jim’s Ph.D. is in bilingual/bicultural education.
Bonnie Matson, CFO
Bonnie Mattson has been with Springsted, one of the largest independent financial advisory firms in the U.S., since 1984. She became one of three owners in 1993. With offices in 6 states, Springsted provides financial advisory services to cities, school districts, colleges and universities, and non-profits. Bonnie has a degree in Business, is a CPA and a CMA.
James Olney, Lawyer
Associated Financial Group
James Olney was a plaintiff’s attorney before joining Associated Financial Group in 1999 where he provides guidance to employers regarding a myriad of issues related to having employees. James writes articles on employment issues and regularly conducts training for both managers and HR professionals.
Christine Walsh, Sales Director
Christine’s positon with YottaMark culminates a long career in sales and marketing in the food industry. Christine’s passion for education, however, continues as well. Christine is an adjunct professor at Concordia College in St. Paul, MN.