Gary Dennis

Executive Director

Gary Dennis is an active member of the Augusta art community and has participated in different capacities with multiple organizations.  These roles include set design and build, director, actor, writer, and producer.  Organizations include Le Chat Noir, Augusta State University, the Augusta Players, Richmond County Board of Education, Greater Augusta Arts Council, and the Georgia Assembly of Community Arts Agencies.  Gary holds a bachelor’s degree from Chaminade University of Honolulu and a Master’s Degree in Business, (MBA), from Augusta State University.  In addition to performing on stage whenever able, Mr. Dennis, along with Krys Bailey are the co-founders of Le Chat Noir’s resident improv comedy group, Schrodingers Cat.


Irene Shastri

Academic Support and Grants Supervisor

Irene has a bachelor's degree in math from Villanova University and, in a previous life, she ran a small private language school in India. She has worked with students of all ages (kindergarten to adult) and tutored various levels of math, from basic numeracy concepts to college-level Calculus. She has also taught conversational English as a Foreign Language to adults.,


Vivian Clanton

Administrative Assistant

Vivian Baxter Clanton, a native of Philadelphia, was educated at Temple University, where she studied business and sociology; however, she has spent much of her life working in the arts.

When she moved to Augusta, she accepted a position at Butler High School, then became a secretary/bookkeeper at
at the Davidson Fine Arts School. While at Davidson, she was able to celebrate the passion and development ofaspiring young artists, many of whom achieved excellence in their chosen fields. After 26 years working for the Richmond County Board of Education, Mrs. Clanton retired from her position at Davidson, but was excited to join the staff of JNSA on a part-time basis.

Sala Allen

Visual Arts Instructor

Audrey “Sala Adenike” Jeter-Allen is a multi-faceted artist who enjoys singing, dancing, writing, painting, drawing, teaching and learning.

Ms. Allen served as the visual arts teacher at the Jessye Norman School of the Arts from 2006 to 2013, and, after a year’s sabbatical is excited and grateful to return to the JNSA Faculty. She is an alumna of Vassar College in Poughkeepsie NY and holds a BA Degree in Performing and Visual Arts from Empire State College, State University of New York. Ms Allen became fascinated with the creative possibilities of visual arts as an adolescent. She began seriously painting canvases during her high school years. Her style has evolved to incorporate bold vibrant color and African inspired motifs with vibrant colors becoming her trademark.

As a visual artist, Ms. Jeter-Allen’s paintings have been exhibited at Vassar College, Poughkeepsie, NY; The Medical College of Georgia, Augusta, GA (now Georgia Regents University); Paine College, Augusta, GA; The Cotton Exchange Museum, Augusta, GA; The Lucy Laney Museum, Augusta, GA; Jessye Norman School of the Arts, Augusta, GA; Empire State College, Saratoga Springs, NY; and New York City Public Schools.  Many of her paintings are in private collections as well. After several years as artistic director of ABATSU African Drummers and Dancers and AJADACO Children’s African Dance Company, Ms Allen now serves as Director Emeritus and Artistic Consultant.

 Ms. Allen has collaborated with many community organizations, including the Greater Augusta Arts Council, the Art Factory, 21st Century After School Program, Shiloh Community Center and other community based organizations. In 2012 she was contracted as visual arts instructor for CYSS (Child, Youth and School Services) at the Fort Gordon Military Base in Augusta, GA. She also served as the 2012 Artist in Residence for the CSRA African American Arts Alliance.

Ms Allen also enjoys singing and songwriting. Her CD of original songs is entitled Same Direction/Sala Adenike and is available online at iTunes.


Michaela Watkins

Drama Instructor

Michaela is an Augusta native and graduate of Carnegie Mellon University's School of Drama. She is an east coast actor & artist working professionally in New York, and has privately coached middle schoolers, high schoolers as well as adults since 2012. She's pleased to offer and share as much as she can with her hometown

Buffy Duncan

Program Coordinator

Buffy Duncan is a community and church volunteer, local drama troupe director, and House Manager at the Imperial Theatre with a passion for community development, musical theatre, and spaghetti. Most importantly, she is a proud and committed JNSA parent. As an active member of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Augusta, Buffy assists in planning and organizing activities and worship services for young adults, facilitates theological discussions, and fosters a commitment to social justice and personal growth. In addition to her church leadership, Buffy supports the local arts through her role as a house manager where she ensures a pleasant experience for patrons visiting the theatre. Currently, she is working towards a degree in Sociology in hopes of being the greatest JNSA program and volunteer coordinator that ever lived!