Lisa M. Knight
EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR / Lisa@girlschoralacademy.org
Lisa has been a business owner and an active member of the arts community for over 30 years, creating programming, building sustainable partnerships and providing leadership skills. She founded a nonprofit focused on youth mentorship using theater and cultural arts with community organizations and after school programs. Since 2016 she has been the COO of Public Thread, a Michigan based company working with and designing around upcycled materials to create artfully crafted products. Lisa serves on the Board of Circle Theatre and is part of their 2022 season creative team. She holds a bachelor's degree in criminal justice, and a master's degree in organization leadership from Cornerstone University.
ARTISTIC DIRECTOR / Kathy@girlschoralacademy.org
Kathy has been a successful Choral and Theatre director for 32 years. She graduated from CMU with a Bachelor in Vocal Music and Speech/Theatre. In addition, she earned her MM from EMU and an MA in Education from Marygrove College. Kathy is also very active in ACDA and serves on the Board of Michigan School Vocal Music Association as the Director of State Events. She also is an active adjudicator, clinician and accompanist. Kathy grew up in Dearborn, MI and began teaching at Henry Ford College and Monroe Junior High. Later, she and her family moved north and Ms Cunningham began teaching and directing at Mid Michigan College and Gladwin Junior High and High School. She built a choral program from 2 choirs of 20 each to 5 choirs of nearly 300 singers. Kathy is very excited to begin her journey as the new Artistic Director of the Girls Choral Academy! In addition, she's excited to be on the west side to be closer to her daughter, Jade and son, Cole.
JUNIOR ACADEMY & SENIOR ACADEMY CHOIR DIRECTOR
Mary grew up in Grand Rapids and has been teaching K-12 vocal and general music for six years. She graduated from Grand Valley State University in 2011 with a BA in Vocal Music Education. Then she taught in Phoenix, AZ for three years before returning to Grand Rapids to marry her husband and continue her career. While in Arizona, she completed her MA in Curriculum and Instruction with an Emphasis in Reading. Mary has taught general music for the Kent City Summer Migrant Program, and she started and developed the K-12 music program at Hope Academy of West Michigan. She also teaches music for Grand Rapids Public Schools and directs the children’s choir, Park Singers, at First Park Church. Mary has traveled to Finland, Estonia, Germany, France, Belgium, and Ghana on choir tours, and most recently she sang in Carnegie Hall with the Park Church Chancel Choir. Mary has a passion for pets. She shares her home with a dog and four rescue cats. She enjoys reading and group fitness with friends.
GRANDVILLE AVENUE GIRLS CHOIR DIRECTOR
Born and raised here in Grand Rapids, Maya is a former member of GCA, participating from 6th to 12th grade. Receiving a leadership award her senior year (2016) both from GCA and her high school choir at Catholic Central, she is excited to take her leadership skills to the next level and inspire the Grandville Avenue Girls Choir to find the true happiness that comes out of coming together in song. Maya has been directing GCA choirs since 2018. “This is a rewarding opportunity for me, as this will be my first job as a choir director!” – Maya
DEVELOPMENT & COMMUNICATIONS SPECIALIST Cat@girlschoralacademy.org
Cat Finney comes to the Girls Choral Academy from a long history of performing arts production and administration. She earned her BA in Theater and Drama from the University of Michigan before embarking on a career in theater, dance, and opera that took her from New York to Los Angeles, Toronto, Disney and beyond. Here in West Michigan she has worked for Opera Grand Rapids, the Grand Rapids Ballet, and Mason Street Warehouse among other organizations. In her spare time she sings with the Grand Rapids Women’s Chorus, grows flowers for the local deer to consume, and enjoys travelling with her husband, Jim.
PROGRAM & ADMINISTRATIVE ASSISTANT/ Chris@girlschoralacademy.org
Born and raised in Muskegon, and having lived in Grand Rapids for the last 30 years, Chris is a life-long resident of West Michigan. She received a Bachelor of Arts degree from Hope College in 1989 and a Master of Arts degree from Grand Valley State University in 2001. Chris is a recently retired elementary school teacher, having served mainly in Wyoming Public Schools in her 30 years of teaching. In her spare time, she enjoys singing in the Park Church Chancel Choir, playing handbells at Park Church, playing oboe occasionally around the West Michigan area, walking her two chihuahuas, and reading.