Loni Conley, Board Chair
Loni Conley is a financial advisor with Northwestern Mutual and works with over 300 households from around the country. Loni hails from Greene County and is a member of the Charlottesville Chamber of Commerce. The Conleys enjoy hiking, camping on the Blue Ridge Parkway, and the summertime when they can spend their days outside and swimming at ACAC (the fitness and wellness sponsor of Charlottesville Ballet). Loni is passionate about Charlottesville Ballet’s mission for health and wellness within an athletically rigorous environment, and he looks forward to nurturing and growing this core value of the company within the community.
Kahtra Kayton, Treasurer
Kahtra Kayton, originally from Northern Virginia, grew up studying dance pre-professionally. She attended the College of William & Mary and then taught high school biology and chemistry in the Richmond area. She and her husband Jack moved to Charlottesville in 1995, where they raised three children, including one professional dancer who received her training at Charlottesville Ballet Academy. Kahtra is passionate about helping others identify and bolster their strengths, and she now works as an independent coach in team development and executive coaching. Kahtra is also an active member of the Charlottesville community and is involved with her church, Community Bible Study, the local William & Mary Alumni Chapter and the Junior League. Kahtra is delighted to contribute her focus on excellence and development to the Charlottesville Ballet.
Carol Krohn, Secretary
Carol Krohn moved to Charlottesville in 2000 with her husband, Steve, and their two sons, Joseph and Peter. She volunteered for a number of years in various capacities—from room mother to school representative on the countywide Parent Council—when her boys were students in Albemarle County public schools. She is a long-time volunteer for the Shelter for Help in Emergency, where she served on the board of directors as fundraising chair and board president. Carol is a member of Church of Our Saviour Episcopal, where she serves as register of the vestry and sings in the adult choir. She also sings in the Festival Chorus of the Virginia Consort. In her life before children, Carol worked in journalism and public relations, earning a bachelor’s degree in journalism and a master’s degree in British literature from the University of Southern Mississippi. Carol believes deeply in the life-changing value of arts education and in the essential fairness of extending that opportunity to every child. She enjoys volunteering weekly to walk children from Woodbrook Elementary School to their Chance To Dance classes, getting a front-row view of the Charlottesville Ballet’s commitment to making ballet accessible throughout our community.
Mary Jae Abbitt Sushka
Mary Jae “MJ” Abbitt Sushka was born in Newport, RI and grew up in Charleston, SC. After completing a BA from Furman University in music scholarship & saxophone, and an MBA from Boston University, she worked for 15 years in financial services as a regulator with the SEC and as a compliance officer at NYSE Asset Manager. In 1988 the SEC’s EEO nominated her to be a Counselor and Federal Woman’s Program Manager, and in the late 1990’s when many European countries’ governments liberalized after the fall of Communism, MJ advised government officials and private entrepreneurs with USAID in Bulgaria, Montenegro, Moldova, Romania, etc. on good governance guidelines & best business practices. MJ’s family built the first Afghanistan “green” school where girls and boys attend class together. Baba School started with 25 students in 2015, and 475 are now enrolled! Loving semi-retirement in Charlottesville, she enjoys CB training and performances. MJ is on the board of the Paramount Theater, participant in the Albemarle County Historical Society and (many years Guide at James Monroe’s Highland) sits on the Monroe Highland Commission. MJ’s husband Peter (USNA ’62) is a retired US Navy Submarine Commander and on the board of Charlottesville Opera.
Originally from Rochester, New York, Virginia resided in the San Francisco Bay Area for over 30 years. When she retired from a career in real estate in Menlo Park, California, she and her husband relocated to Charlottesville, where she has resided for the past 20 years. She holds a BA from Manhattanville College, Purchase, NY and an MA from San Jose State University in San Jose, CA. Since retiring Virginia has served on the Board of several arts organizations, including the Charlottesville Symphony Society, the National Society of Arts and Letters, the Wednesday Music Club, and Charlottesville Opera. Dance has been an avocation since childhood and she continues to take adult classes at Charlottesville Ballet Academy. She is a strong supporter of the mission of Charlottesville Ballet and is pleased to become a small part of the company.
Janis S. Chevalier grew up in the Chicago area where she was exposed to inspiring cultural institutions such as the Art Institute of Chicago, the Chicago Symphony, as well as a memorable performance by the Bolshoi Ballet. She received her BA in Russian from the University of Wisconsin at Madison, and after she and her husband moved to Charlottesville 40 years ago, she devoted her time to supporting the arts. Janis currently co-chairs the Events Committee of The Fralin Museum of Art Volunteer Board and is a member of the Charlottesville Opera Board of Directors. She has served on the boards of the Tuesday Evening Concert Series and the National Society of Arts and Letters, and was a docent at The Fralin for over 23 years when her daughter was in school. She also co-founded and co-chaired Partners in Enrichment Resources for Kids (PERKs) which held training workshops for volunteers discussing art prints with children in the elementary schools. Janis is now grateful to be able to support and rekindle her love of dance through the quality performances of the Charlottesville Ballet. She hopes to help promote the Ballet and its mission of wellness, inclusion, and quality to more of the Charlottesville and surrounding community.
Sara Jansen Clayborne, Co-Director and CBA Principal, trained at the Ballet School of New York under the direction of Diana Byer and Sallie Wilson. In 2001, she graduated from the Professional Children’s School in New York City and began to dance professionally with New York Theatre Ballet. Sara moved to Virginia in 2004 and has performed with the Richmond Ballet and with Starr Foster Dance Project. In 2007, Sara co-founded the Charlottesville Ballet, putting her myriad of experiences to work while keeping her love of performance alive in her dual role as dancer and director. She retired from the stage in 2013 to devote her time to the growth of Charlottesville Ballet and Charlottesville Ballet Academy. Sara has taught dance for over a decade and is also a NASM-certified personal trainer. She is an American Ballet Theatre Certified Teacher in Primary through Level 7 of the ABT National Training Curriculum and is excited to put the ABT Curriculum into practice, both at CBA and within the professional company. Sara looks forward to nurturing the growth and appreciation for dance among peers and in the community.
Emily Hartka grew up in Roanoke, VA and fell in love with ballet at the age of five. She began dance classes at Roanoke Ballet Theatre and performed in collaborative shows with Opera Roanoke, the Mill Mountain Theatre, and Radford University. Emily spent her senior year of high school at the Virginia School of the Arts in Lynchburg, VA under the late Petrus Bosman. Upon graduation, she joined the Richmond Ballet and also enjoyed working with school children in Richmond Ballet’s Minds In Motion program. In 2008, Emily relocated to Charlottesville to co-found the Charlottesville Ballet and to attend the University of Virginia, where she completed a Bachelor of Arts in Nonprofit Management & Arts Administration. She serves as Co-Director of the Charlottesville Ballet and recently retired from the stage to focus on the growth and development of the organization. Emily is thankful to all who have made the growth of Charlottesville Ballet possible and she looks forward to the season ahead.
Evan Mayo is a partner at the Charlottesville law firm Tremblay & Smith, PLLC. He represents clients at trial in commercial litigation, land use disputes, defamation and personal injury claims. He also works with business and corporate clients to achieve commercial transactions, structure business units, and ensure compliance with federal and state employment regulations. Evan grew up in Nashville, Tennessee. He is a graduate of Vanderbilt University and the University of Virginia School of Law. Evan also serves on the Board of Lawyers Helping Lawyers and previously volunteered as a Firefighter for Albemarle County Fire and Rescue. Evan admires the passion and focus of the performers and leaders of Charlottesville Ballet, and looks forward to assisting them with legal challenges as they grow. Evan and his wife, Mackenzie, recently celebrated the birth of their first child – Griffin.
Sherry Whaley is originally from Cedar Bluff, Virginia and attended the University of Tennessee and Grace School of Nursing. She has been at the University of Virginia Medical Center for 30 years working in critical care and has certifications in critical care and neuroscience nursing. Sherry has been an active student, teacher, dancer, and advocate in the dance community in Central Virginia since her move to Charlottesville. Sherry has studied ballet with Finis Jhung, Dawn Hillen, and Michael Vernon and jazz with Frank Hatchett and Josh Bergasse in New York City. Sherry is also a certified Zena Rommett Floor-Barre® technique instructor. She is delighted to be a serve on the board of directors and is thrilled to help with the growth and development of Charlottesville Ballet.
Dr. Heather Snyder, Medical Director for Charlottesville Ballet and Board President Emeritus
Dr. Heather Snyder, originally from New Bedford, Massachusetts, moved to Charlottesville in 1999 with her husband, Dr. Bryan Snyder, to establish their own podiatric medical practice – Albemarle Family Foot & Ankle (a CB Diamond Sponsor). Heather graduated summa cum laude with a BS in Biology from Stonehill College and received her doctorate in podiatric medicine from the Temple University School of Podiatric Medicine. She completed a two-year podiatric medical residency at the University of Pennsylvania. Dr. Snyder is Board Certified in Podiatric Medicine and a Fellow of the American College of Foot & Ankle Orthopedics and Medicine. She is an active member of the International Association for Dance Medicine & Science (IADMS) as well as the American Academy of Podiatric Sports Medicine. Since 2007, Dr. Snyder has served on the board of directors and as the Medical Director for Charlottesville Ballet, working with dancers in the professional company and students at Charlottesville Ballet Academy to promote the organization’s mission of health and wellness.
Kiyomi Chandra (Wells Fargo)
Corey Clayborne (American Institute of Architects)
William Hines (UVa Community Credit Union)
Geoffrey Kershner (Academy Center of the Arts, Lynchburg)
Brent Kitchens (University of Virginia McIntire School of Business)
Keith Lee (Keith Lee Dances)
Miki Liszt (Miki Liszt Dance Company)
Lisa Molinaro (Former Woodbrook Elementary Principal)
Elsie Thompson (Attorney)
Hannah Watson (Bantam Communications)