Board of Directors

The Groundlings is a non-profit organization, founded in 1974 by Gary Austin. This generous team of professionals, Groundlings and Groundlings Alumni, dedicate their time to ensuring the prosperity and longevity of The Groundlings Theatre and School.

Board of Directors

Joseph Yoshitomi

Chairperson

Joseph Yoshitomi has nearly 20 years of arts administration experience in not-for-profit producing and presenting organizations, for-profit media and technology companies serving the performing arts, and as an outside consultant on special projects for individual artists and companies. He currently serves as the Vice President and General Manager for Dallas Summer Musicals, was the first and only VP Marketing for TheaterMania/OvationTix leading up to that company’s sale, and also served as Director of Marketing & Communications for Geffen Playhouse in Los Angeles where he oversaw marketing during that not-for-profit theater’s largest artistic programming and earned-revenue expansion. He is a speaker at national conferences such as INTIX and those organized by Americans for the Arts and Theatre Communications Group. His marketing and communications methods have been reported as innovations in the Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, Washington Post and American Theatre Magazine. He currently serves on the board of The Groundlings and has served on the boards of LA Stage Alliance and the Foundation for New American Musicals. He has independently produced theater, and began his career as a Los Angeles County/J. Paul Getty Arts Administration Intern at The Pasadena Playhouse.

Board of Directors

Nicholas Antonian

Treasurer

Nick Antonian, CPA, MBA is the Treasurer of the Groundlings. He is currently a Director at Marcum LLP in the Firm’s Los Angeles office. As a member of the Assurance Service practice and National Retail and Consumer Products Group, he works on the financial audits and reviews for multiple clients as well as mergers and acquisitions. His experience includes working with clients in the high technology, manufacturing, distribution, furniture, and retail and apparel industries and provides post-audit business consulting services including financial forecasts, advanced modeling and recommendations for operational efficiencies. Nick can be contacted at [email protected]

Board of Directors

Jandiz Estrada Cardoso

Secretary

Jandiz Estrada Cardoso is the Sr. Director of Engagement under the Global Talent Development & Inclusion division for film, tv, and streaming at NBCUniversal. For her first 6years in this role, her focus has been on scouting and designing creative pipelines for emerging actors, comedians, hosts and casting directors. She executive produced the bicoastal NBCUniveral Short Film Festival and the national search and tour of StandUp NBC both awarding talent holding deals to their champions. In her freelance career, she has worked on pilots and series with networks including AMC, ABC, CBS, Starz, Spike TV and MTV, and films with studios including Disney, WB, Paramount, Universal, New Line and Screen Gems. In 2010, she joined NBC’s New York casting office, which auditions all NBC pilots and served as Associate on the last season of the Emmy Award winning series, 30 Rock. She was voted Backstage Magazine’s Reader’s Choice Award for Audition Coach of the Year. Proud member of Casting Society of America, Hollywood Radio & Television Society and voting member of the Television Academy of Arts & Sciences. Last year, she was the recipient of the Golden Eagle Award for Diversity Impact in Television.

Phyllis Katz

Phyllis Katz

Groundlings Alumna

A pioneer member and former director of The Groundlings, Phyllis has enjoyed working in TV, film and stage as an actor, writer and director. Her one-woman show, "Katz: Music & Characters," won a Drama-Logue award for best performance; her play, "Codependently Yours," was an L.A. Weekly award nominee; and her first film short, "Shoedini," ran on I-film for a year with a 10 rating. She most recently appeared in RENO 911!, STRONG MEDICINE, and the film, TAKING THE PLUNGE, and was the female lead on Showtime's cult comedy, SHERMAN OAKS. As a songwriter, she co-authored three TV theme songs, and the anthem for Project Literacy, and was a regular contributor to FX's SON OF THE BEACH. In addition to co-creating The Groundlings School, Phyllis does private coaching and conducts writing, character development, and song improv workshops across the country. She is a contributing writer for OurLa.org, and her first book, "Hipwrecked: My Health Insurance Sucked, So I Went to India" is now available!

Kiel Kennedy

Kiel Kennedy

Groundlings Main Company Member

Kiel Kennedy is an Emmy nominated writer and current member of The Groundlings Main Company. His credits include: SUPERSTORE, NOBODIES, the 2019 SXSW and ASPEN award winning short MILTON and the upcoming feature film, LAZY SUSAN.

Board of Directors

Jonathan Sánchez Leos

Jonathan Sánchez Leos is currently the Director of Fellow Affairs and Title IX Coordinator at the American Film Institute. In that role, he co-created (along with current Groundling SAMANTHA DE SURRA) “Young Women in Film” - a program dedicated to teaching underserved populations the art of filmmaking, and sponsored by the Will & Jada Smith Family Foundation and the LA Department of Cultural Affairs. In 2019, he was chosen as an Eisenhower Fellow and traveled extensively throughout China to speak on issues dealing with diversity & representation in that role. Prior to coming to Los Angeles, Jonathan was a Fulbright Clinton Fellow in Ukraine where he advised on national youth policy issues; and a Presidential Management Fellow for the US Department of Justice and the US Department of Health & Human Services. He is fluent in English, Spanish and Russian. A native of Chicago, Jonathan has dedicated his work to giving voice to underrepresented populations and serving as a champion for diversity and equity. He can be reached at [email protected]

Board of Directors

Matt Levy

Matt Levy is a partner at the entertainment law firm Hansen, Jacobson, Teller, Hoberman, Newman, Warren, Richman, Rush, Kaller & Gellman L.L.P., where he specializes in the representation of emerging and established talent and production companies in the film, scripted and unscripted television, and digital media industries. Prior to practicing talent-side transactional entertainment law in TV and Film, Matt began his legal career as an entertainment litigator and music industry attorney, and before that, he served as an assistant tour manager on an international tour for KC and the Sunshine Band and the Village People.

Sam DeSurra

Sam DeSurra

A native to Los Angeles, Sam’s background includes writing, directing, and singing. She also helped to co-create and manage a program called Young Women in Film at the American Film Institute that seeks to teach young women in high school how to make films.

Chris Eckert

Chris Eckert

Groundlings Main Company Member

Chris Eckert performed in the 2017 CBS Sketch Comedy Showcase and is the head writer for the 2018 showcase. Chris Eckert’s TV credits include RAISING HOPE (GLAAD Award), SUPER FUN NIGHT, THE COMEBACK, MAD TV, and numerous national commercials. He created the sold-out shows ‘YOU PAID TO DIE* TONIGHT’ (an LA Weekly top pick) and ‘THE GALE’ (a night of queer improv) for The Groundlings. Chris got arrested for stealing a Hanson CD when he was 16.

Kiel Kennedy

Kiel Kennedy

Groundlings Main Company Member

Kiel Kennedy is an Emmy nominated writer and current member of The Groundlings Main Company. His credits include: SUPERSTORE, NOBODIES, the 2019 SXSW and ASPEN award winning short MILTON and the upcoming feature film, LAZY SUSAN.