ASTC Board - Profiles


Julia Brogan

Julia has a Bachelor of Science in Early Childhood Education and a Master's of Professional Writing. She co-founded a pre-school, The Gentle Nudge, in Santa Fe, had her own paralegal business, also in Santa Fe, and taught elementary school for many years in Colorado, California and New Mexico before retiring in 2014. She worked as Assistant Stage Manager and general gopher for the Starlight Children's Theatre 2015 production of Iolanthe. She believes in the power of live theatre to implement change and creative dialogue, and believes whole-heartedly in the students who participate in the Theatre Arts Program at NMSU.


Mike Cook

Mike Cook is a native of Deming and has been on the ASTC board for six years, as of 2015. He has acted in local theatre for the past 15 years, including at NMSU, Holy Ghosts, Dracula, Clean House, and The Laramie Project -- which was one of the best and most treasured experiences of his life. Professionally, he is a writer and editor. He is also an master gardener intern.


Karen Feder

Karen recently returned to Las Cruces from a sojourn in El Paso and vows never to leave again! She worked as a sign painter and graphic designer way before technology took over. She was a high school art teacher in Detroit and suburbs, specializing in 3-dimensional design. Prior to teaching, she was the curator of the largest puppet collection in the U.S. at the Detroit Institute of Arts. She also worked as a set designer for advanced high school and college theater for a total of 41 shows, throughout the late 90's-2007. Karen also has her own jewelry design business, MOONLIGHT BEADERY. She is thrilled to be back on the ASTC board and promises to offer help and enthusiasm always!!

James Gerwels

James was invited to join the ASTC board in 2010 and has enjoyed serving ever since. He serves on the board of directors of the Las Cruces Symphony Association, where he has held various roles including Board President and resource chair. He also currently serves on the board of the Golden Apple Foundation of New Mexico. James works in finance and is a CFP® professional. He holds degrees in both Economics and Philosophy from the University of Utah.


Wil Kilroy, Managing Director, Treasurer

Wil has worked nationally as an actor, with roles ranging from Steve in Becky’s New Car to Laertes in Hamlet, and on TV productions such as All My Children and Babylon Five, and is an alumni guest artist with The State Ballet of Rhode Island. Directing credits range from his original work, Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, to musicals such as his recent Catch Me if You Can. As the co-founder of the National Michael Chekhov Association, Wil has taught nationally and internationally. Wil was awarded the Kennedy Center bronze medallion for achievement in Theatre Education in 2014.  


Barb Elliott Ross, Secretary

Barb holds degrees in elementary education (B.S.), Special Education (M.A., Ed. Specialist) and Curriculum and Administration (Ed.D). She worked for many years in Nebraska as Special Education Administrator and Staff Development consultant/trainer. She received the Nebraska Governor’s Award for Service to Children and Families; served as Chair, Nebraska Interagency Coordinating Council; and was President, Hastings Symphony Board of Directors.  She is currently Vice-President, Las Cruces Symphony Association, and was President of the ASTC Board for four years.  She values the collaboration with faculty and students that brings live theatre to the community and helps students grow in creativity and professionalism. 


Irv Ross

After working in the field of Special Education for forty years, he retired to Las Cruces with his wife Barbara.  Irv earned his Master’s Degree from the University of Wisconsin and a doctorate from the University of Illinois. He has never participated in theatre arts, however, as an educator he appreciates the application of theatre performance to daily life.  Going to theatre teaches us about ideas, meaning and people and places.  Having seen NMSU theatre performance for the past several years it is gratifying to see how the students have fun with each performance.


Deborah Storm

Deborah studied theatre at the University of Southern California where she earned her B.A and M.A in Russian Literature.  For twenty years she was manager of the Kavli Institute for Theoretical Physics at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and is a Friend of the KITP.  Deborah joined the ASTC Board after moving to Las Cruces in 2012.  She enjoys the opportunity provided by Board events to contribute to NMSU Theatre Arts and interact with  theatre students.  As an actor she has appeared at the CFTA as Mrs. Gibbs in Our Town and as Polly Wyeth in Other Desert Cities.


William Storm, President

Dr. Storm is interim department head in the Department of History.  He teaches dramatic literature, theory, and theatre history for the Department of Theatre Arts and is co-director of the High Desert Play Development Workshop.  He has taught at the University of Southern California, UC Santa Barbara, and UC Irvine in addition to NMSU.  He is the author of After Dionysus: A Theory of the Tragic, Irony and the Modern Theatre, and Dramaturgy and Dramatic Character: A Long View (2016) along with plays and essays.  He was literary manager of the Mark Taper Forum in Los Angeles.


Denise Welsh-Pirtle, Vice President

Denise Welsh-Pirtle retired from NMSU in 2015, as Director of Instructional Media Services coordinating worldwide video conferencing and live interactive distant education courses.  She had worked at NMSU since 1984. Denise became an ASTC board member in 2008 and has served as Vice President for several years.  She was drawn to theatre after seeing Dracula in the Hershel Zohn Theatre.  She loves working on this board with great folks who share her passion for theatre.  A real plus for her is getting to get to know the theatre students and watching them grow and mature as actors and young adults.   


Carolyn Williams

Carolyn Williams is a retired special education teacher. Currently she teaches high school equivalence classes in the DACC Adult Education Program. She has been a member of the Las Cruces community for over ten years and has been a volunteer for ASTC in the past and has served as president. She has also served on the board for the Las Cruces Symphony, and currently serves on the Governance Council of Alma d'arte Charter High School. Carolyn has returned to serve again on the ASTC Board. Her love of live theatre began when she played a pumpkin in a kindergarten play. She says that going to the theatre makes us laugh, cry and think. But, most of all, it helps us better understand the human condition.