Take the Lead Dance Project is an arts education organization dedicated to enriching lives through dance
Take the Lead Dance Project (formerly Philadelphia Dance Foundation) is a 501c3 nonprofit arts education organization founded in 2008 by Shana Heidorn and Leigh Byron. Shana is a professional ballroom dancer and owner/director of Philadelphia’s premier ballroom dancing instruction studio, The Society Hill Dance Academy. Leigh has a distinguished background in education as a former superintendent and principal of schools in New Jersey and New York. When they first met to discuss how to combine their respective backgrounds into enriching the lives of children and youth, it led to the formation of Philadelphia Dance Foundation. Their common belief is that the power of dance changes people’s lives.
Shana opened Society Hill Dance Academy in June 2002. Originally from Apple Valley, Minnesota, where she started teaching there more than 20 years ago, Shana trained with coaches from all over the country, was a competitive dancer and eventually opened her own school in Philadelphia. “Dancing is a beautiful sport that brings people young and old together in a way that does not compare to anything else,” Shana says. “Do not wait until ‘someday’ to dance!”
Leigh Byron - Dr. Byron has accomplished the educational leadership trifecta: superintendent in public schools, headmaster in private schools, and head of school in charter schools. In addition, he is the co-founder of a non-profit foundation whose mission is to use ballroom dancing to enhance the lives of children, and was the executive director of a non-profit foundation that uses soccer as a motivator to teach leadership skills to teenagers in low-income communities. He is a contributing editor at large for Broadway World. His doctorate is from Columbia University.
In 2016 Executive Director, Jackie Fisher, founded Philadelphia Dance Foundation’s first high school social dance program Take the Lead Dance Project. Which in 2017 became the name of our organization. Jackie started her professional dancing career in 2002. She has an extensive background in teaching and performing. In 2008 she began teaching social dance in the New York City School District for the international arts education nonprofit organization, Dancing Classrooms, becoming one of their select senior teaching artists. Jackie taught grades 4, 5, 8, 11, and 12, but felt that the high school students needed and appreciated social dance instruction the most. She was frequently impressed with the enthusiasm high school students displayed for their social dance program. Repeatedly, Jackie received testimony from students, teachers, and administrators as to how life changing the social dance program was for them. For that reason, Take The Lead Dance Project is dedicated to promoting social dance for high school students in the city of Philadelphia.
Tracy Heisler - Tracy has been dancing since she was four years old training in ballet, jazz, theater dance and tap. After high school Tracy attended the Crane School Of Music in upstate NY. After graduating, she taught music to kindergarten through twelfth graders in North Carolina and Missouri. Tracy is excited to return to teaching and currently lives in Philly with her family.
Nicole Condo Pellulo - Nicole is a South Philadelphia native and has always had a passion for dancing. Growing up she attended dancing school and decided to continue her arts path by attending and graduating from the Creative and Performing Arts High School in Philadelphia. After getting married and becoming a mom to her two beautiful sons, Peter and Joey, she decided to turn her love of dance into a career. She trained to become a Zumba instructor and now enjoys teaching Zumba classes in Philadelphia. Nicole says, “Dancing is the one thing in life that makes me feel happy and free.”
Catherine Austin - Catherine is a native of Philadelphia who began dancing and performing at the age of 5. She has learned many forms of dance including Bharathanatayam (a South Indian Classical dance style), Bollywood, Hip Hop and Ballroom. She has gone on tour with musical artists, performed at special events and competitions. She believes learning how to dance is the best thing a person can do for themselves. It makes you more comfortable within your own skin, keeps you active, makes you happy and is an amazing way to communicate with other people. She stands by her statement that, "Dance is its own language and if you learn to speak a language that has no words, you will be universally understood."
Samuel M. D’Antonio, Chief Financial Officer, Mercy Health System, MHCHS-
Mr. D’Antonio has worked as a CFO for hospitals, health systems, home health and community based health business enterprises for the past thirty five years and possess extensive experience and expertise in healthcare financial management, mergers and acquisitions, operations and strategic planning.
Mr. D’Antonio has seasoned financial expertise including performance improvement and turnaround, revenue cycle, accounts receivable reduction, cash flow enhancement, debt financing and mergers/acquisitions.
Mr. D’Antonio holds a bachelor’s degree in accounting from St Joseph’s University with graduate studies in marketing also from St Joseph’s University. He is a member of the Philadelphia chapter of the Healthcare Financial Management Association and is a past adjunct graduate school faculty instructor at Penn State University, Malvern and St Francis University. Mr. D'Antonio is actively involved in various charities that support the Philadelphia Community for disadvantaged children such as the Philadelphia Dance Foundation and the Walnut Street Theater Foundation for the arts.
Most recently Mr. D’Antonio was named the 2014 Chief Financial Officer of the Year by the Philadelphia Business Journal and SmartCEO Financial Executive of the Year in 2015.
Robert Barry Bernberg
Temple University School of Law, Class of 1974. Law Office of Robert G. Bernberg, Philadelphia 1974-1978. Managing Partner, Philadelphia and Pittsburgh offices of the Great Neck, New York-based law firm Hayt, Hayt and Landau 1978-1992. National Executive Committee 1990-1992. Co-owner and Business Affairs Counsel, Latin Beat Magazine, the world's leading tropical music magazine, 1992-present. Owner, Salsabor Music and Latin Beat Magazine Music record labels 1996-2006. Founder, Siempre Salsa Philly, initiative to preserve and foster the growth of salsa music and the community from which it emanates 2015-present. Founder, producer of City of Philadelphia's annual Salsa Week Celebration, 2015-present. Philadelphia Dance Foundation Board of Directors 2016-present.
Susan Troxell practiced law for 20 years, specializing in litigation and trial defense of product manufacturers and clinical laboratory professionals. She was a partner in the Philadelphia firm of Lavin, O'Neil, Cedrone & DiSipio before retiring in 2012. A classically-trained musician, she earned a degree, magna cum laude, from the Eastman School of Music at the University of Rochester, in piano performance and English. An avid ballroom dancer herself, she has served on the board of directors of Susan Hess Modern Dance, and currently volunteers as the librarian for the Richard III Society, writing articles and giving lectures in England and in the United States. She attributes her success in life to having been exposed to music, dance and art at an early age, and passionately believes in their power to transform lives.
Paula is an avid ballroom dancer who retired from a career in the field of children’s protective services in Camden, New Jersey. Paula joined the Board of Take the Lead Dance Project to continue her efforts to help enrich the lives and futures of inner-city youth. Paula previously served on the boards of Suburban Music School and Media Fellowship House, both in Media, Pa.