About Us

Act One Youth Theater was founded by Lauri Hunter on Jan 2, 2014. Its purpose was to allow children from all income levels to participate in live theater. She believes that live theater is very instrumental to building a well rounded individual.

Participation in theater teaches young people to be creative thinkers, team players and confident public speakers. They will carry these life skills forward and become very successful in their adult life.

We are actively seeking board members for our 2019-2020 Season. You do not need the parent of an existing actor to volunteer. Only possess a desire to make a change in children's lives.

Board Members

Lauri Hunter, Founding member and President


  is originally from North Dakota, and transferred to ASU in 1996 to defrost. She graduated Magna Cum Laude from Arizona State University where she received her Bachelors degree. In the past, she has served as the marketing chair for Entrepreneurial Mothers Association (EMA) and a board member for a local children's theater. She has also been involved with several committees to help raise money for charities in the community including United Way and Big Brothers Big Sisters. She has one beautiful, loving daughter who is a talented performer, a trained opera singer and accredited actor living in LA. 

Ryan Neilsen, Vice President


 Environmental Compliance Engineer. Ryan Nielsen is a member of the Act One Youth Theater board since the beginning. His background in directing environmental projects and working with budgets will lend well to the developing board. He is married and has one daughter in high school and the other in middle school. 

Ed Balli, Treasurer


 is the founding member of Majestic Insurance. Ed Balli is an Arizona native originally from Tucson, Arizona. He has served in the United States Army, Army Reserves and the Army National Guard for over 30 years working in aviation and transportation. He has been called to duty by Bush 1 (Kuwait War) and Bush 2 in warzones overseas in Afghanistan in 2007 and 2010.
Ed has also worked in the insurance industry for over 30 years with 20 years as an independent insurance agent (self-employed) at Majestic Insurance Agency. He has a Bachelor of Science degree in Business in Marketing from the University of Phoenix.
In his spare time, he loves working with kids and volunteering at dog shelters. He also enjoys paragliding, hiking, running with his pups and flying helicopters. He is currently trying to learn how to play the guitar. 

Board Members

Lisa Leathers-Cox


 is a native Arizonan and has served as Board Member, Chairperson, and Task Force Facilitator for various groups/organization throughout the Valley.
As an experienced business development/marketer with a background in broadcasting, media relations and strategic partnerships, she has been involved in the construction/development industry since the mid 90's. 

Mary Ellen Rosinski


 Almost a native Mary Ellen Rosinski has lived in Phoenix for most of her life, going to Chaparral High School and graduating from ASU with a major in Accounting and a minor in business. She continued on to received her CPA and then went to worked for Arthur Young Accounting Firm in both the audit and tax department, were she specialized in working with banks. She has a lovely talented 11 year old daughter which attends the Arizona School for the Arts. She is an avid skier, scuba diver and hiker. She is currently Treasurer of the International Reciprocal Trade Association which is the barter industries association which educates new exchanges on how to run and operated a quality barter exchange. She is the co-founder of Tradesource Trade Exchange the oldest most respected barter exchange in the valley which was founded in 1987 and has bartered over $200 million dollars in the phoenix market. 

Claire Haines


 Originally from Maine, moved to Phoenix 25 years ago to enjoy the beautiful weather. She has a degree in microbiology from the University of Maine. She is vice chair of the Ennis Committee with Phoenix Sister Cities. She has been caring for children in her home for the past 16 years. She is married and has 3 children. She has witnessed the benefits of youth theater building invaluable life skills preparing a child to become confident and take on challenges.

Board Members

Joanne Rizzi Richman, M.D.


  Joanne is a Physician in private practice in Scottsdale where she has lived since 2002. She was born and raised in Brooklyn, NY where she earned her Bachelors Degree in Biology at Long Island University on a full academic scholarship. She received her MD Degree from St. George’s University School Of Medicine and completed residencies in both Internal Medicine and Anesthesiology at Hackensack University Medical Center in NJ. She is the mother of 2 great kids. She became involved in Boy Scouts when her teenage son first joined in 2012 and has since served as a Cub Scout Leader for 4 years and is currently Treasurer and a Committee Member of her son’s Boy Scout Troop. She also has a very talented teenage daughter who has performed in multiple musicals and plays in various theaters in the valley. She and her children are avid Disney and Yankees fans and love to travel around the world. 

Sarah Marchese


 Sarah is originally from Kansas.  She began singing and playing violin at the age of 8.  During her high school years, Sarah was in musicals such as The Music Man and Charlotte’s Web.  She was awarded a scholarship at a small community college and continued singing for three years before retiring her vocal cords.  Sarah has called Arizona home since 2007 and obtained her Master’s of Science in Industrial & Organizational Psychology from Grand Canyon University.  She has two boys, ages 16 and 18- one of whom has briefly followed in her footsteps with a gift for music.  Sarah has volunteered her time with the PTO board of her children’s school, organized school supply drives for children at an underprivileged school, and previously served on the board of Kids’ Chance of Arizona.  During her time with Kids’ Chance, Sarah was the chair for the annual 5k and helped raise $20,000 for children of terminally or catastrophically injured workers to continue their post-secondary education.