NTC strives to be knowledgeable, aware, stimulating, caring, fun and creative. We do this every day with the help of some incredible people. To get to know each member of our staff, click on the photos below.

AllAccountingClient ServicesCreative ServicesITSales and MarketingSchool Communications

Ward Eames

Founder and President

Ward Eames

Founder and President

In 1978, Ward founded NTC to deliver entertaining and engaging programs that motivate families, students and educators. For nearly 35 years, organisations have used NTC’s engagement strategies and tactics to enhance their reputations and visibility in the communities they serve. Ward has worked with clients in the energy, financial services, health, technology, environment, recycling and consumer products industries, among others, and is in the third year of producing a nationally broadcast TV series for tweens and teens called [email protected] Under Ward’s supervision, NTC has developed the art of teaching using live theatre into a science of its own. With a keen eye for talent, he has assembled a staff filled with knowledgeable, aware, creative, stimulating, fun, caring personalities, building NTC into the largest educational touring theatre company in the country. As founder and president, Ward Eames oversees all departments by keeping a finger on the pulse of the day-to-day operations of the organisation.... Read More »
763-452-1104

Margaret Eames

Chief Executive Officer

Margaret Eames

Chief Executive Officer

Margaret joined The National Theatre for Children over 20 years ago, after many years of working in the graphic arts industry. As the owner and CEO of NTC, Margaret oversees the company’s employee benefits plan, accounts receivable and payable, the company payroll and monthly financial statements, as well as general office management. Margaret is extremely proud of the work NTC accomplishes on a daily basis and is thrilled to have made a difference in the lives of so many students and families over the past 40 years.... Read More »
763-452-1103

Patrick Rowan

Chief Operating Officer

Patrick Rowan

Chief Operating Officer

As NTC’s COO, Pat is responsible for the management and oversight of all the operational aspects in NTC’s Theatre Production, Print Production, Digital Production and School Communications Departments. This responsibility of daily operations at NTC includes all programs and school assemblies, special live events, video, digital activities, social media, educational print materials, distribution and product development. He works with executive management to help grow the business as well as on budgets, directing, hiring, training, leading tactical staff meetings, creative sessions, troupe logistics, scheduling, school activations and strategic planning. Patrick began his career at NTC in August of 1998 as a touring actor, educating and performing for children all across the country and has since built sets, props, costumes, hired over 1,400 actors and helped produced 1,000’s of educational programs, including NTC’s nationally syndicated TV show [email protected]™ and has helped make a difference in the lives of hundreds of thousands of students and their teachers and families all over the US. Pat is passionate about the work we do here at NTC and is happily married to his wife, Jennifer, a High School teacher, and proud parents of identical twin daughters and one son.... Read More »
763-452-1107

Eddie Eames

Chief Marketing Officer

Eddie Eames

Chief Marketing Officer

Becoming a full-time part of the NTC team in August 2009, Eddie has a unique perspective on NTC’s operations. A Marketing & Communications major and graduate from the University of St. Thomas, he analyzed the NTC business model and practices. Now as the Director of Marketing, Eddie is responsible for managing NTC’s business development and content marketing areas and is tasked with creating relationships with corporate, governmental and non-profit sponsors who want to partner with NTC to actively engage students, teachers and families on important societal issues through the school channel. Prior to this role, Eddie has spent time executing projects in numerous areas of NTC ranging from Client Services, Sales, Marketing, and Customer Service departments. http://www.ana.net/content/show/id/32228... Read More »
763-452-1115

Nikki Swoboda

Director of Sales and Marketing

Nikki Swoboda

Director of Sales and Marketing

Nikki Swoboda is thrilled to be joining NTC as Director of Sales and Marketing. A career arts administrator and education advocate, Nikki connects the dots across NTC departments to ensure a streamlined, communicative, and fulfilling experience for NTC’s clients and students – so that as many students get to have theatre in their lives as possible. She is tasked with managing business development and content marketing, acting as a liaison between NTC and various stakeholders, and supporting school communications through Marketing and other initiatives. Nikki serves on the Strategic Planning Committee of NTC as well and greatly believes in the power of arts integration. Prior to NTC, Nikki has served as Education Director at Stages Theatre Director, Program Director at West Coast Dance Explosion, Professor of Theatre at St. Kate’s and director to a whole bunch of original musicals at the Minnesota Fringe Festival and beyond. She proudly holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts and a Master of Fine Arts and is published in the subjects of diversity and innovation in arts classrooms, best practices for working with youth, and body politics in movement. Her best gig of all time, however, is being on Team Theisen, where she gets to be Ben’s partner, and mom to Lynnea and Van.... Read More »
763-452-1102

Jenny Pfarr

Office Management Coordinator

Jenny Pfarr

Office Management Coordinator

Jenny came to NTC with years of experience in Business Administration, Office Management, and Accounting. She started at NTC as a sales caller, help the title of Marketing Coordinator and has moved on to Office Management. As the Office Management Coordinator, she is the gate keeper of our client database. She manages NTC’s Salesforce prospect marketing, manages conference events and helps maintain budgets. She assists with coordinating NTC’s Pardot Software, MPI Data, and Conversica System. She supports Client Services and our Accounts Payable/Receivable Department. Jenny is in charge of ordering all NTC office supplies and equipment. She also manages landlord maintenance and deals with vendors for office related supplies and services. In general – she helps out where ever needed. Jenny lives in Minneapolis with her family. She enjoys photography, spending endless hours with her two crazy kids, and is always up for whatever adventures that may come her way. ... Read More »
763-452-1119

Bill Turner

IT Director

Bill Turner

IT Director

Bill Turner began working for NTC in 1995 as an actor. He was instrumental in developing characters for such shows asWhere in the World is Carmen Sandiego? and 2Smart 2Smoke. As an artistic associate, Bill began directing and building shows. As Technical Director, Bill managed set design and construction, prop design, costume development, and production budgets. He also served as Technical Producer forShakespeare in the Park. Bill also served as Director of Production, and General Manager of The National Theatre for Children. Bill currently manages the technical infrastructure at NTC.... Read More »
763-452-1113

Marvin Martin

Client Services Manager

Marvin Martin

Client Services Manager

Marvin joined the NTC team in August, 2021. Marvin’s career prior to NTC was in the Travel Industry, having held positions in the areas of sales, training, client relations management and technology solutions consulting. Marvin is excited with the opportunity to parlay his career experiences into a positive and success focused career with NTC. A little about Marvin who is originally from Tampa, FL and discovered the Twin Cities by way of attending and graduating from the University of Minnesota with a B.S. in Finance. Marvin’s leisure time includes traveling, cooking & dining out, sports- watching and playing, listening to, primarily, jazz, r&b, reggae and classic rock music and volunteering within the communities of Minneapolis and St. Paul. ... Read More »

John Trones

Director of Creative Services

John Trones

Director of Creative Services

John Trones joined NTC in 2008 as a part-time employee in what was then known as the School Marketing Department, and later transitioned to a full-time tour coordinator in 2009. In 2011 Trones stepped into the role of the Director of School Communications where he coordinated the scheduling and communications efforts for thousands of schools and dozens of clients every school year. In 2017, John made the move to Director of Production where he oversees all aspects of Production for NTC. An avid musician and actor, Trones enjoys performing at a variety of venues when not at NTC. ... Read More »
763-452-1108

Frank Maciel

Creative Producer

Frank Maciel

Creative Producer

Frank Maciel’s first paid acting gig was touring Los Angeles with Alice in Waterland for NTC in 1989. After moving to Minneapolis from his native California, he worked as a Tour Coordinator at NTC, writing scripts for the company on the side. Frank hosted Kids News, an NTC educational video project launched in the early 90’s, and worked as a staff writer for the TV show, [email protected] About. Recently, he supervised Acting Out! — NTC’s first peer to peer anti-bullying program, coaching student groups from four Minnesota high schools. Frank’s quirky resume includes improvising with Comedy Sportz in the Twin Cities & LosAngeles; hosting the afternoon kids’ show, Club Fun TV on KMSP Channel 9; startling guests at Disneyland as Sally Mae, the Ugliest Girl in Frontier land; appearing on television in improv and sketch comedy based programs; and one of his favorite jobs — behind the scenes work on a game show hosted by Dick Clark, getting the chance to chat up Betty White, Ed McMahon, Rip Taylor, Dawn Welles, and Adam West. He even helped push the original TV Bat mobile when it died unexpectedly outside the soundstage! Currently Frank’s duties as NTC’s Manager of Product Development include work on marketing pieces, RFPs and grant applications while heading up the Business Development Call Center as well. He lives in the Loring Park area of Minneapolis and FINALLY has underground parking.... Read More »
763-452-1129

Jon Taylor

Creative Director

Jon Taylor

Creative Director

Jon serves as Artistic Director at The National Theatre for Children. He began working with NTC in 1992 as a freelance performer, writer and director. He became an Artistic Associate in 1998 and Creative Director in 2004. He has written dozens of programs for NTC and was head writer on the nationally syndicated sketch comedy program, [email protected] During his free time, Jon writes and performs with various theatres in the Twin Cities. He has performed with Gaydar Productions, Outward Spiral and the Minneapolis-based comedy troupe HOT DISH and he co-founded 8 Ball Productions with John Trones. Jon is also an author, having published a five book series entitled We Are Heroes which explores how kids can volunteer and contribute to their communities.... Read More »
763-452-1127

Nate Metcalf

Technical Director

Nate Metcalf

Technical Director

Nate Metcalf has been one of the most active performers in NTC’s history. After 10 years on the road as a touring actor, Nate still holds the company records for most tours (over 50) and most performances (well over 4,000)! Even now that he’s in the office, he’s still a little hard to pin down. Serving as the Technical Director, Nate oversees the construction of all NTC’s props, costumes, and scenery. When not in the shop he can be found at his laptop working on the script for a new show, or staying in touch with his actors on the road. He has written (or co-written) over 30 shows for NTC. Outside of the office, Nate can’t stop writing, turning his talents to scripting one-acts, ten-minute plays, and currently, his first full-length endeavor. He can also be found horsing around with several of the community theatres around town. A lover of all game shows and trivia contests, Nate had a moment in the sun when he went on the tv show Jeopardy! in 2007 and walked away with enough money to pay for his wedding to the Lovely Jolene. The two currently live at Fort Awesome, with their trusty guard DOGS, Spaghetti and Norman.... Read More »
763-452-1106

Jill Van Heel

Art Director

Jill Van Heel

Art Director

From small town treasures to some of the biggest names in retail, Jill Van Heel, NTC’s Art Director, has been thriving in the world of design for over twenty years – and what a ride it’s been. Jill has worked for some of the top retail companies in North America as well numerous print shops, newspapers, travel agencies, etc and believes design is much more than aesthetics. It’s a science, a strategy. There’s a method to the madness. Jill holds a BS in Graphic Design, AAS in Multimedia Technologies and a diploma in Commercial Art & Design and has had her hand in just about every type of project. In addition to NTC, Jill also works as a makeup artist for MAC, is addicted to lip gloss and has an extreme love for 80’s hair bands, country music and just about everything in between. She loves to see live music (has been known to travel over eight hours to see a show), collecting obscure items from the 80’s, traveling anywhere that isn’t hot and humid, is serious about her Diet Coke and Vanilla Iced Nirvana from Dunn Bros., laughing for no reason, doing arts and crafts when time permits, playing old school Super Mario Bros with her nephews and embracing her crazy cat lady status.... Read More »
763-452-1136

Morgan Marx

Digital and Video Manager

Morgan Marx

Digital and Video Manager

Morgan joined NTC's Production Department in 2015, as the Digital Manager. It's her job to create and manage NTC's web and multi-media materials. Besides her work at NTC, Morgan is a freelance videographer and an experimental cook/baker.... Read More »
763-452-1106

Evan Jackson

Casting & Company Manager

Evan Jackson

Casting & Company Manager

Evan started his career at NTC as a touring actor in 2014, completing seven tours over a three-year period before moving to the Twin Cities to fulfill the role of Production Writer and Coordinator and has since transitioned to Casting & Company Manager. Prior to working full time for NTC, Evan worked for various companies and theatres across the Midwest and Eastern United States as an actor having done over 1,200 performances in 21 different states. Evan is a native of Lafayette, Indiana and a graduate of Purdue University where he studied Mass Communications and Acting. Outside of the theatre world, Evan enjoys watching sports, playing card games, doing crossword puzzles and a strong cup of black coffee.... Read More »

MaryLynn Mennicke

Director, School Communications

MaryLynn Mennicke

Director, School Communications

As Director of School Communications, MaryLynn oversees the team who coordinates NTC’s programs at schools across the nation and who are dedicated to providing a phenomenal experience for educators who work with us. MaryLynn is proud to be part of the mission of NTC in providing quality educational theatre to students – for FREE! MaryLynn started working at NTC in 2010, after several years freelancing as a performer and educator in the Twin Cities. In addition to her work at NTC, she currently serves as the Director of Music at a Lutheran church where she directs the choir and plays piano, cello and ukulele. She also is an avid world traveler. Her last tally: 5 continents and 19 countries visited! ... Read More »
1-800-858-3999 ext. 226

Matt Levine

Content Manager

Matt Levine

Content Manager

Matt Levine started with NTC as a School Communications Representative in November 2016, and soon after made the move to Client Services. Working with corporate, government, and non-profit clients, he helps facilitate partnerships that bring educational opportunities to schools throughout the country while enhancing clients’ visibility in their communities. Outside of NTC, he is a novelist, screenwriter, freelance editor, and avid movie-watcher.... Read More »
763.452.1135

Phil Ward

L.A. Operations Director

Phil Ward

L.A. Operations Director

Born and raised in the Midwest, Phil has lived in Los Angeles since 1983. He was a touring actor with NTC in the early 90s and at one time held the record for the most NTC performances. These days, when he's not casting and directing NTC tours for the Southwestern U.S., he can be found performing with the improv group ComedySportz Los Angeles, where he is the Managing Director. He is a longtime ensemble member at Theatre of Note in Hollywood, where he has served as an actor, director, writer, composer and musician. He has also written and directed plays for the Repertory Theater of America in Baltimore.

You can also see Phil in a handful of independent films, including Robert Altman's STREAMERS, and hear him on a handful of albums, including his live CD "Easily Amused," featured on the Dr. Demento radio show.... Read More »

Derek Meyer

Tour/Distribution Manager, School Communications

Derek Meyer

Tour/Distribution Manager, School Communications

Derek Meyer began his career at NTC as an actor in 2008 and performed in over 25 different shows, touring to schools across the country, through 2014. Since then, Derek has worked for the company in a variety of roles in the Production and School Communications departments. In his current role as Distribution Manager, Derek makes sure all program information and materials get to the schools in conjunction with their scheduled programs. He is a graduate of The University of Wisconsin – Green Bay with a degree in Theatre. When Derek isn’t at NTC, he can probably be found riding his bicycle, performing in a show, or baking something tasty. ... Read More »
1-800-858-3999 ext. 216

Ben Ratkowski

Sales Account Manager

Ben Ratkowski

Sales Account Manager

Ben Ratkowski is originally from Milwaukee, Wisconsin where he was raised as an only child—a fact that his three sisters lament. He now lives in North Saint Paul, Minnesota with his wife Rachel and his two kids, Patrick and Natalie who are immersed daily in Ben’s “dad jokes.”

Being around theatre his entire life lead Ben to having a bunch of fun stories—ask him for a story if you dare wish. Eventually, it also lead him to the University of Wisconsin - Stevens Point where he earned his Bachelor of Fine Arts degree. Ben has worked in the theatre professionally for over 20 years with such companies as Prairie Fire Children’s Theatre, American Shakespeare Center, M&W Productions, and Boulevard Ensemble Studio Theatre. Ben is excited to continue to empower people through the magic of theatre in his new role as NTC’s Sales Account Manager. ... Read More »

Melissa Kim

Data Manager

Melissa Kim

Data Manager

Turi Jystad

Tour/Staffing Manager, School Communications

Turi Jystad

Tour/Staffing Manager, School Communications

Turi Jystad came to NTC in 2017 as a School Communications Representative. As Staffing Manager, she now works closely with representatives on daily schedules, training and hiring needs. Turi studied Theatre Arts and Communication Studies at Southwest Minnesota State University. In the evenings, Turi works as a stage manager and enjoys playing video games, reading, spending time with cats and learning new yo-yo tricks.... Read More »

Sophie Widman

School Communications Manager

Sophie Widman

School Communications Manager

Sophie came to work at NTC in August of 2018 after graduating from Ripon College with a degree in Theatre and Music. Sophie was first hired as a School Communications Representative where she called schools across the country informing them about our incredible programs. In February of 2020, Sophie was promoted to be one of the School Communications Coordinators, helping negotiate tours and plan marketing strategies for NTC's programs. Now as a School Communications Manager, among many other things, Sophie is primarily responsible for planning, tracking and updating the strategic communications for all scheduling and activation campaigns. While not at work and in her spare time, Sophie enjoys acting in the performing arts community, attending shows throughout the area and exploring state parks. ... Read More »

Kael Narlock

Tour/Media Manager, School Communications

Kael Narlock

Tour/Media Manager, School Communications

Kael joined NTC in fall 2018 as a School Communications Representative. They enjoy making a positive impact on the lives of students through theatre, since Kael has a B.A. in Theatre Arts with a focus on Social Justice. They have worked in theatre and performance for five years and the service industry for six years, making them a perfect fit for School Communications! Kaels spare time is spent snuggling with their dog Lily, performing in plays, musicals and films in the Twin Cities, playing video games and designing costumes for Cosplay conventions.... Read More »

Helena Magalhães

School Communications Manager

Helena Magalhães

School Communications Manager

Helena started to work at NTC as a School Communications Representative in the fall of 2018 after graduating from the University of Iowa with a BFA in Dance. Now, as a School Communications Manager, she facilitates school programs all across the country. Through marketing, strategic expertise and coordination with the School Communications team, Helena aims to share NTC's free educational programs and resources with as many students and educators as possible. Besides her work with NTC, Helena is a company member of Concerto Dance by Jolene Konkel and enjoys spending time biking, baking, reading and with friends.... Read More »

Grant Hooyer

Representative, Print Distribution

Grant Hooyer

Representative, Print Distribution

Grant Hooyer is the Print Distribution Coordinator for NTC. He is in charge of shipping and distribution of printed materials for the schools our actors visit. Grant has also been a touring actor for NTC, performing in shows like The Treasure Trove of Conservation Cove, Men in Plaid, and The Energized Guyz. Originally from Sioux Falls, SD, he graduated from Augustana College with B.A.’s in Psychology and Theatre. Grant moved to the Twin Cities in 2013 to pursue theatre, and has worked for various companies around town such as Theatre in the Round, Lyric Arts, and Artistry.... Read More »

John Kunik

Representative, School Communications

John Kunik

Representative, School Communications

Laini Devin

Activations Manager, School Communications

Laini Devin

Activations Manager, School Communications

Shana Eisenberg

Representative, School Communications

Shana Eisenberg

Representative, School Communications