Zip Zap Zop Enrichment team members are passionate about helping individuals access connection opportunities that supportive improv programming provides.
Maja Watkins, Executive Director & Founder:
Maja has worked with children on many levels. Having a brother on the autism spectrum has given Maja an understanding of how powerful communication is for ALL children. Maja’s education includes a B.A. in Child Development and she is also a graduate of The Second City where she studied improv and sketch comedy. Maja has worked for years as a teacher and behaviorist where she practiced emergent curriculum. Maja’s focus is on inclusive classrooms where curriculum is designed to allow children and young adults to reach their highest potential in whichever way they feel most comfortable.
April Rasmussen PhD, Content Editor:
April is a credentialed teacher in English Language Arts and has taught everything from Advanced Placement, Literature Through Film, and English as a Second Language. Her passion is for the art of story as a tool for student growth. She holds advanced degrees in Education, Mythology and Depth-Psychology.
Matt Rasmussen, Development Director:
Matt graduated from Saint Mary’s College of California, with a degree in Political Science. He has previously worked in both Development and Education with Bentley School in Lafayette, California. Matthew has also worked in Development for several other nonprofit organizations, including the Oakland Zoo and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, and he has additional fundraising experience with Mal Warwick and Associates.
TiaMaria Harrison, Professional Development Director:
Tia has been working in the field of Education for the last 20 years. She began her career working directly with a variety of children diagnosed with and without disabilities. After earning her Masters Degree in Early Childhood Education and Special Education, she found a passion for working with parents and supporting ALL children. Her experience as Adjunct Faculty at Santa Monica College only reinforced that, not only parents and children need support to succeed, educators need support too.
Molly Wixson, Early Education Specialist:
Molly Wixson has been working in the field of early education since 2007. She began as a corps member for Jumpstart, an Americorps program dedicated to enriching low income preschool classrooms, and from there worked her way up to becoming a preschool teacher herself. She has worked one-on-one with special needs children as well as teaching improv to children and youth of all ages focusing on connection, building confidence, and feeling valued. She holds her BA in theatre and a site supervisor permit in the field of early childhood education. She is currently enrolled in a masters program in Psychology at Phillips Graduate Academy.
Will Todisco, Curriculum Specialist:
After receiving his B.A. in Theatre, Will toured nationally with a children’s theatre company, performing literary classics, which led him to work with students at an Improv-based summer camp for children on the Autism spectrum. The Spotlight Program, based out of the NorthEast ARC in Danvers, MA, made the connection between improvisational performance and the social-emotional and social pragmatic growth and development for children on the spectrum and beyond. After assisting the SPED department at Edward Devotion, a public school in Brookline, Will moved out to LA to begin work for the LCS SPED program where he was able to develop his Improv(e) Social Skills class that has been offered at each of the LCS campuses over the 2014-2016 school years.
BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Oscar Madrigal, President: A one-time student of the Watts Towers Arts Center, Oscar has spent a career working in the nonprofit sector, being driven by a desire to help people and serve his community. A graduate of UCLA with a degree in English, Oscar has put his writing talents to use in technical writing, grant reports, and proposals. Oscar is a single father of two boys with Autism, growing and learning about the disorder and how to be a parent to children with Autism, discovering how to advocate for them and acquiring the knowledge to navigate the many hurdles and bureaucracies that that befall parents of children with Autism. Oscar is now currently working in special education, where he can use his experience as a parent to help more students with compassion, understanding and dedication. Oscar’s writing has been published in literary journals, college newspapers, and technical reports. For the past few years Oscar has served on the board of various non-profits and been an active participant and parent advocate in the autism community. Oscar lives and works in South Los Angeles.
Ari Schneider, Vice President is a graduate of The Second City Conservatory and has a (BA) Hons from The Guildford School of Acting in England. He has been a cast member of the all-ages improv review The Really Awesome Improv Show (Voted Best Kid’s Comedy Show) at The Second City in Hollywood for the past 3 years. He also is affiliated with the mentorship program, YSF (The Young Screenwriters Foundation) at New Rhodes as well as teaching after-school improv with Zip Zap Zop Enrichment: Non-Profit.
Kylie Hodges is thrilled to join Zip Zap Zop! She is excited to take the skills she’s learned over the years to help bring Zip Zap Zop to more classrooms across the country. With a background in public relations and marketing as the coveted spokesperson (also known as Hotdogger) of the Oscar Mayer Wienermobile, television production as a former HGTV producer and freelance television host, and now marketing coordinator with the female-run tech startup Kitchen Table App, she is honored to be a part of a cause she cares deeply about.
Willie Hunter is an American comedian, writer, and actor. He is most known for co-creating and writing for The Carmichael Show. Willie went to Auburn University and studied Secondary Education – Mathematics. He has been a stand-up comedian since 2007 when he first performed at The Stardome in Alabama. Today you can catch him in the hottest clubs in the country. Always a contributing member to society, Willie has worked with kids from ages 6-18 years old. He has been a youth sports coach, mentor, and camp counselor.
Partnerships & Funding Partners
- Larchmont Charter Schools
- Silverlake Independent Community Center
- Palisades Preschool
- Turning Point School
- The Second City
- Valor Academy
- Inspire Charter School
- Citizens of the World Charter School
- PlayLab Pasadena
- Working With Autism
- Jeffrey Ross
- Juli and Peter Miletich
- Richard Foos
Zip Zap Zop is a project of Social and Environmental Entrepreneurs (SEE), a registered 501(c)3.