He>I: Dr. Heather LaForge’s CYT Story

In the past 10 years since my CYT story began, I have performed many different roles: CYT Teacher, CYT Director, CYT Artistic Director, CYT Inc’s Director of Operations, & soon, CYT mom. Regardless of my title, I always endeavor to trust in the Lord and let His word guide my action.

My name is Heather LaForge, and this is My CYT Story .

In 2005, I was a graduate student studying Theatre Arts at University of California, San Diego. I happened upon a flier in the department lobby that said “Seeking artists to teach an after-school theater program.” One email and one interview later, I found myself standing in front of 75 middle schoolers saying “I’m Heather LaForge, and I’ll be one of your CYT@school teachers this session!” Until I began teaching for CYT@school, I had never heard of Christian Youth Theater. The closest CYT to my hometown was 2.5 hours away.

Dr. LaForge warming up with the Addams Family cast just before places. Fall 2014. CYT San Diego, NCI.

Dr. LaForge warming up with the Addams Family cast just before places. Fall 2014. CYT San Diego, NCI.

Fast forward to five years later. I had earned my Ph.D., become a mother, and was now living in Santa Cruz while my husband worked on his postdoctoral research. One day, I received a call telling me that a group of families were looking to start a theatre program with an organization called CYT, and would I be interested in perhaps applying to be the Artistic Director. I responded with an enthusiastic, “Yes!”, saying “I actually worked for CYT in San Diego years ago!” A slight pause, then I continued, “But my second daughter was just born yesterday. Could we meet in a few weeks?”

Celebrating Middle School Graduation with CYT Santa Cruz students.

Celebrating middle school graduation with CYT Santa Cruz students in 2012.

For the next two years, I served as Artistic Director for CYT Santa Cruz. I loved being part of the start up, watching the program grow from 26 students in our first show, to around 60 in my last show with them. I saw “my CYT babies” grow into talented actors and amazing leaders. The CYT community cared for my family as well. CYT students and parents stepped in to babysit my girls when I needed it, and surrounded us with love when a little splinter landed my daughter in the hospital for 3 days over show weekend.

LaForge Family at the CYT Santa Cruz Going Away party, just before moving down to San Diego in 2012.

LaForge Family at the CYT Santa Cruz Going Away party, just before moving down to San Diego in 2012.

When my family relocated to San Diego, in 2012, I was hoping I’d be able to get involved in CYT again… perhaps as a teacher…or a director… God dreamed a bigger dream and a few months later, I was announced as CYT Inc.’s new Director of Operations! This is the position I currently serve in. I aim to support CYT affiliates across the country, providing guidance, wisdom, and connecting leaders so that together we would feel like a true national organization. It has been a joy to work towards this goal.

With National Leaders in Lafayette in Jan 2015.

With CYT National Leaders in Lafayette in Jan 2015.

Now, I am about to embark on another new role: that of CYT mom! My eldest daughter is eligible to audition in the spring for her first CYT show. She is nervous, as am I. She’s watched so many auditions and knows what to expect, but I’ve never sat and watched my kid stand up bravely in front of so many and sing her heart out. As nervous as I am to step into this role, I know that God’s in charge. My daughter will get her bravery from Him, just as I continue to do. She is at the beginning of her CYT story, and my prayer is that God works on her heart through this organization just as he has done for so many others.

When some folks hear my story, they say “what a weird string of coincidences.” What I see, though, is God’s hand working through my life. Every part of my journey has led me to where I am today. God’s been faithful in using my experiences to benefit the larger CYT community. I feel lucky that God has collided my passion with His work and I hope that by yielding to His plan, I will help allow God’s CYT story to continue to unfold.

Our Emerald CYT Story: EXPO 2015 Recap

Have you ever been someplace that feels both totally new and totally familiar at the same time? That’s what it was like at CYT EXPO 2015.There is NO PLACE like home!





Storm Troopers

3rd Place (tie): Storm Troopers, CYT SD.

3rd Place (tie): Flying Punkeys, CYT Kansas City

3rd Place (tie): Flying Punkeys, CYT Kansas City

2nd Place: Emerald Citizens Brigade

2nd Place: Emerald Citizens Brigade, CYT SD

And our Improvathon 2015 winners: Carry On my Wayward Pun, from CYT Kansas City!


Improvathon 2015 Winners: Carry on My Wayward Pun, CYT Kansas City


EXPO Social Poster


Our super hot Social Media Liaisons. Tweet tweet. 

social liaisons

Seriously. Let’s get social…SOCIAL!


Expo_2015_photobooth Expo_2015_photobooth2 Expo_2015_photobooth3 Expo_2015_photobooth4 Expo_2015_photobooth5 Expo_2015_photobooth6 Expo_2015_photobooth7



Check out more photobooth pics on the CYT Facebook page.


Makin' 'friends in the sun...with a rubber shark, as you do when in SD.

Makin’ ‘friends in the sun…with a rubber shark, as you do when in SD.





Bonfire & fireworks.


Dr. LaForge & CYTyler. It's real.

Dr. LaForge & CYTyler. It’s real.

Morning worship.

Morning worship.


Our 2015 Decathletes include:

Chrissy Nefe, CYT Denver; Annmarie Songer, CYT Denver; Max Songer, CYT Denver; Alex Warren, CYT Denver; Coleton Emr, CYT Houston; Ryan Ramsower, CYT Houston; Katie Broussard, CYT Lafayette; Bret Chalpin, CYT Lafayette; William Sciambra, CYT Lafayette; Dean Yarborough, CYT Lafayette; Logan Watkins, CYT Lafayette; Kallie Kilchrist, CYT Lafayette; Brady Kidder, CYT Lafayette; Anna Katherine Epperson, CYT Santa Cruz


My CYT Story Winners 2015 with Paul & Sheryl Russell

My CYT Story Winners 2015 with Paul & Sheryl Russell

The 2015 My CYT Story winners include:

Callista Gleich, CYT Fredericksburg, Alexandra Gandy, CYT Indy (National winner), Katie Gilchrist, CYT Nashville, Nina Noelle Russell, CYT Sacramento, Breckin Murphy, CYT San Antonio, KJ Hutcheson, CYT Tri-Valley

We will be featuring these Oz-some stories on future blog posts.


FoodTrucks FoodTrucks2


1_WelcomeBeachParty 6_HYPE Brainstorming 7_HYPE Fredericksburg 9_HYPE Expo 2015


All business & inspiration with this crew of leadership.

NLC_EXPO_2015_group pic


#awkwardleadership #jazzhands



J.Russ. After Dark Dance Partay. There was choreo. Oh, was there ever choreo…

10min talent show

10-minute Talent Show




The Russells et al. 2015

The Russells et al. 2015


You guys. It's EXPO.

You guys. It’s EXPO. Dr. Heather LaForge hearts CYT.

Creative Director Renee Kauffman has a thought. Wanna hear it? Hear it comes. Awesome.

Creative Director Renee Kauffman has a thought. Wanna hear it? Hear it comes. Awesome.

ok but first...

I love you guys, but, first, coffee…

Renee, Taylor, & Janie.

Renee, Taylor, & Janie.

Owen & Lydia

Hype Queen Lydia & Owen.

mama redd

CYT San Diego mamas & papas hosting like champs.


There is no place like home. There is no place like home. There is no place like home.

Stay awkward San Diego. See you again next year!


Did you attend EXPO 2015? Tell us what you think by taking our survey.

Do you wanna go to EXPO next year? Of course you do!

Here are the deets so far:

EXPO 2016: Believe in You! 

When: June 26-29, 2016
Where: San Diego Hilton Resort and Spa
Book Your Rooms TODAY



CYT Job Postings!

Join CYT in service and spirit by working at your local affiliate!

Join CYT in service and spirit by working at your local affiliate!

Y’all heard? CYT is an an awesome place to work!
Here are just a few of the job opportunities currently available with a few of our affiliates.
CYT Denver
Open call for teachers: http://www.cytdenver.org/contact/
CYT Fredericksburg
CYT Santa Cruz
Not near one of these affiliates? Check out our homepage to find a CYT near you & contact them directly about how you might be of service. Peace!

Oh Po Boy, it’s the NLC 2015


NLC poster

Next Friday and Saturday (January 23 & 24), CYT leadership will gather for the National Leadership Conference (NLC). This year, the lovely folks at CYT Lafayette, will host the NLC. To get a feel for the magic & mayhem sure to ensue, I did a quick Q&A with one of the NLC coordinators, Dr. Heather LaForge (sound familiar? She’s also the Director of Operations over at CYT Inc.). Here’s what she had to say:

What is the NLC?
The NLC (National Leadership Council) Conference is a gathering of CYT Leadership from across the nation. We gather twice: once in January at the appropriately named “NLC Conference” and once during EXPO.

When did it start & why?
The NLC was started in 2006 and was a gathering of Board of Directors from across the country. As a group they firmed up the CYT Model that we now share with all of our affiliates. Their initial purpose was designed “to give input to the National CYT Board of Directors as it preserves and extends the Vision/Mission/Values of CYT Programs across the nation.”

Is there a theme for this year’s NLC?
We choose a theme for the year that goes along with our EXPO theme and is based on the expressed needs of the affiliates. This year’s 2015 theme is “Unity Starts At Home.” Our 2015 Verse that goes along with our theme is Romans 15:5-7.

Who is attending?
Typically at the NLC we see the Board Chairs, ADs, MDs, and ACs . But in the past years, we’ve seen an increase of other staff too, which has been so great! More board members are attending as well as marketing personnel, costumers, and more. The NLC is a wonderful opportunity to sit down and learn from one another. It’s a uniting experience, as we all realized how connected CYT is.

What is the goal of the NLC?
We believe the NLC is an opportunity for training, the sharing of experiences, and encouragement.

How do you choose a host city?
Well, there’s a number of ways, but since it’s in January and the conference is so short (1.5 days), we try to aim for a warm location! But last year, Atlanta experienced freezing weather while we were there, so our plans didn’t quite work. However, we all made it and had a ball all snuggled together.

NLC 2014

CYT Leadership gathered for the 2014 NLC in beautiful Atlanta. Look at all that joyful leadership!

This isn’t the first NLC you’ve attended, correct?
I’ve been the past two years, since the NLC went on hiatus while I was the AD of CYT Santa Cruz. When I started working for CYT Inc., Sheryl Russell and I decided that we really needed to offer a time for affiliates to gather outside of EXPO, so we quickly planned the NLC in 2013 in Houston.

What was your fave part about previous NLCs?

My favorite part over the past years has been the opportunity for CYT leadership to gather and really focus on our collective mission of service. Our annual EXPO is super fun, and totally exhausting because of all the students in attendance. However, the NLC is different: still so fun, but really different in its focus. We gather without the students, as like-minded adults, to discuss the best way to lead our kids. I love hearing the stories of what goes on around the country. We get dedicated time to talk about potential ideas for the nation. The My CYT Story Competition came out of an idea from CYT Indy at the 2013 NLC.

What is your job at the NLC this year?
I’m hosting again. I’m sure someday people will get tired of seeing me up front (since I host at EXPO too).

Dr. Heather LaForge. #nlcface #expoface #yestheyarethesameface

Dr. Heather LaForge. #nlcface #expoface #yestheyarethesameface

 For now, however, I host because I’m the one who works with the host city and selects the speakers. I love working with people on what they will share. It feels like we never have enough time for all the ideas!

Any shout outs to key peeps helping out at this year’s NLC?
Dana Berkus (Board Member of CYT Lafayette) has been incredibly helpful. She found our hotel, arranged our meals, got a guest speaker, etc. She’s amazing! Also everyone at CYT Lafayette has been incredibly helpful, as well as our CYT Inc. staff of course.

Ok. Last question. If the NLC was an animal, what animal would it be?
A Narwhal. (Obviously)

NLC. #NarwhalsLoveChrist

NLC. #NarwhalsLoveChrist

Wow. A Narwhal in Lafayette. Well, I for one, can’t wait to see those pictures.Thanks for the deets, Heather!

Please contact Heather@cyt.org with any questions regarding NLC. For more on the Narwhal, go here.

Act, Sing, Dance, & Live!

It’s 2015! Can you believe it? One of my fave CYT mantras is “Act, Sing, Dance, Live!” I’m gonna try to do more of all of those things in 2015 and not just in the theatre! Maybe I’ll even get myself a little mug with that slogan on there as a reminder…


Should this be your 2015 resolution, too? Grab a mug for yourself here.


What a thrill to begin a new year full of possibility and so many opportunities to Act, Sing, Dance, & Live. One of the new opportunities I’ve been presented with, is communicating with you all here on this blog. My name is Summer Moshy, and I will be just one of the voices you will be hearing from this year on the CYT Blog (I’m also the Curriculum Developer at CYT, Inc.). Another contributing voice will be Renee Kauffman (our Creative Director at Inc.), as well as a host of other magically exciting individuals (because, honestly, Renee & I can only be captivating like once a month, at most, and since this is a weekly blog, well, you can do the math). Krista, our previous blog editor, did an amazing job in this capacity and we hope to continue spreading the light & joy as she did while at the helm of our blog.

Act, Sing, Dance, & Live! Phew, that’s a lot to do all at once. (Quiet down all of you triple-threats out there…sheesh.)

Maybe I’ll start with just the Act part, first…

Act, literally means, “to do something” (in fact, the word “drama” comes from the Ancient Greek word, “dran” meaning, “to do”).  One of the best things we can do, is let others know that we see them and what they are doing, and that what they are doing matters to us. Lonliness and invisibility hurts so deeply. So, let’s work together to let each other know, “Hey! I see you over there! And I like it!” If you feel so called, check out these CYT affiliates Facebook pages (linked below) and let them know you see them by “liking” their pages, or better, yet, go see one of their shows & like them in person!

CYT Atlanta

CYT Baton Rouge

CYT Denver

CYT Fredericksburg

CYT Houston

CYT Indianapolis

CYT Kansas City

CYT Lafayette

CYT Nashville

CYT New York City

CYT North Idaho

CYT Phoenix

CYT Portland

CYT Riverside

CYT Sacramento

CYT San Antonio

CYT San Diego

CYT Santa Cruz

CYT Spokane

CYT Tri-Valley

CYT Tucson

CYT Upstate

CYT Waco

CYT Wichita

If you’re curious about what CYT is and why we Act, Sing, Dance, & Live all the year through, check out our website or like us on Facebook.

We promise, we like you, too.

Spotlight: CYT KC Student’s Emily Longhofer and Hannah Beck

Emily Longhofer and Hannah Beck, students from Mill Valley High School who are involved with CYT Kansas City, were featured in their school newspaper today- also published at MVNEWS.org.

Both girls chat about the pros and cons of being involved with CYT, as well as the opportunities that have gone their way:

“I don’t have any spare time. It’s hard to manage school and CYT,” Longhofer said. “It definitely affects school, but it’s 100 percent worth it. It helps me grow as a person….you have to make a lot of sacrifices for this. It means I can’t be involved in school or have a job. This is my life.”

“We both take dance classes, so it’s more time we spend there, but we love it,” Beck said. “I saw a show when I was in fourth grade. I saw kids up there that were my age and I got really interested into it.”

“I’ve met so many people and had so much fun, I really want to be a dance teacher and hope I can choreograph shows for CYT one day,” Longhofer said. “Our faith really keeps us going, the people there are amazing and we know we have Jesus.”

“We’ve gotten the chance to go dance in NYC, go to San Diego and hopefully soon we will be able to meet CYT people from around the nation,” Beck said. “I love the impact we can have on other people,” Beck said. “I get to serve the Lord and do I what I love. It’s awesome.”

You can read the complete article, by Krisitina Milewski, here.

CYT Reflects on Charity: Water

As CYT signed up to participate in Blog Action Day 2010, we thought about how water is connected to the arts and to youth. Immediately, Charity: Water came to mind.

If you grew up in America, chances are you have had access to clean drinking water your whole life. If you can, try to forget about your comfortable couch and fridge full of bottled water for a second…

According to Charity: Water, a non-profit organization bringing clean, safe drinking water to people in developing nations, “Almost a billion people on the planet don’t have access to clean, safe drinking water. That’s one in eight of us.” ONE IN EIGHT.

In Africa alone, economic loss resulting from an absence of clean water and sanitation equates to $28 billion, or circa 5% of GDP.

There’s an African proverb that states “It takes a village to raise a child”- likewise, it takes a well to nourish a village. Here is a likely scenario that could improve the lives of children to become more educated in both the sciences and the arts:

Please visit Charity: Water to find out more.
Infographic courtesy of Charity: Water.