LYNN HARRIS (founder) is a believer, and leader, in the power of pop culture to drive change, especially when it’s funny. A veteran standup comic who performed all over the city for more than a decade, she also co-produced and starred in Gotham Comedy Club’s longest-running variety show, Breakup Girl LIVE. As VP of communications for the global human rights group Breakthrough, Lynn used her blend of humor and advocacy to drive some of the U.S. office’s most visible and highest-impact programming in recent years, including: Dudes Against Violence Against Women: Because DUH, the sold-out comedy shows that reached more than 38 million and saw a 300% increase in revenue; and the “Be That Guy” animations screened on NASCAR and Indy 500 Jumbotrons. www.lynnharris.net @harrislynn
Lynn is also co-creator, with Chris Kalb, of the award-winning Breakup Girl, the superhero who saves the world by saving your love life, and who came to life online, on TV, in books, and on stage.
An award-winning journalist and novelist, Lynn is author of six humorous fiction and non-fiction books, including Death By Chick Lit (called “brilliant” by New York Magazine) and Breakup Girl to the Rescue! Her writing—on gender, culture, and a wide range of social justice issues—has appeared in The New York Times and The New York Times Magazine, Salon, Glamour, and a twenty-year-career’s worth of national newspapers, magazines, and literary anthologies. She founded and taught for years Mediabistro’s popular class in Humor Writing for Journalists. Lynn has appeared on TV and radio like a jillion times, including as a Tonya Harding lookalike, which is a long story.
MARC SOKOL (consulting COO) makes mission-driven companies go. He currently manages all people, finances, and operations for the global human rights organization Breakthrough, making sure long-term strategic development stays on track (and that the lights come on every day). Earlier, Marc was VP for Business Development/acting COO of a national school reform organization that provided training services to administrators and teachers. Marc designed the staff and operation systems, programs, and budgets, growing the organization to 100 trainers delivering 4,500 training days yearly. As a private consultant, Marc has helped nonprofit and for-profit clients with strategic planning, organizational development, education and training programs, and client development. His nationally-replicated Architectural Youth Program received numerous awards and won multi-year funding from the NEA. As a member of Visual AIDS for the Arts, he helped produce the World AIDS Day tribute “Night without Light.” He is now a newly-minted health and wellness coach for Take Shape For Life. Marc is a huge fan of travel, both recreational (he has visited more than 50 countries) and time (Doctor Who).
ELSA WAITHE (founding instructor) is a standup comedian from Norfolk, VA now living in Brooklyn, NY. Her comedy is a mix of lighthearted jabs but critical jabs at attitudes and issues around homosexuality and race—and herself. She’s been featured on This American Life, hosted the monthly comedy show “Affirmative Laughter” at The Experiment Comedy Gallery, and performs all over New York. @elsajustelsa
NAOMI PITT (intern, social media) is a comedian, musician, and lover of all things cheese. She is currently studying stand-up at the Comedy Cellar and performing improv at the PIT and UCB Theatre, and has studied sketch writing with the Second City. Having dreamed of being a professional comedian since she was a kid—memorizing stand-up specials and staying up late watching Saturday Night Live—she moved to New York from her home state of Vermont in 2016 to pursue comedy. Naomi is excited to be working with GOLD to create a collaborative and motivational atmosphere for girls and women to find their funny.
BLAIR DAWSON (intern, student relations) is a New York-based performer and an avid Missy Elliot enthusiast. By day she is an educator; by night she is a stand-up comic and UCB improviser. Blair earned a BFA in Production Design with a concentration in Costume Design from Savannah College of Art and Design. However, upon entering the work force, she quickly traded in her measuring tape for a mic. As a comedy newbie, Blair understands the value of building a supportive environment for young girls to enter the community and is thrilled to join GOLD to create such a space. She loves all things comedy and is eager to spread the knowledge. @blairsimoneD
CARSEN SMITH (intern, branding & content) has only been in New York for a few weeks but has already been mugged and burned twice. And that’s just in the coffee shops. Carsen is currently a senior at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, TN, but was called to New York to help GOLD for the love of the mission. When she’s not in the office helping Lynn, she performs improv comedy with UCB and performs stand-up at any open mic nights she knows Chelsea Peretti has been to recently. Her original show “I’ll Have What She’s Having,” an improvised cooking show, is currently running at Nashville’s Third Coast Comedy Club. She’d like to thank her improv troupe, Tongue ‘N’ Cheek, and UN-thank her dad for letting her watch too many Adam Sandler movies as a kid.
JES TOM (instructor) is a weird queer stand up comic with but one goal: To hurt the feelings of The Oppressor. Born & raised in San Francisco and now established in New York, Jes is a fresh voice in stand up comedy, gleefully providing the non-binary queer Asian-American radical cyborg perspective that everyone never knew they wanted. Jes has performed in all five boroughs of New York City, in colleges and conferences spanning the frigid American northeast, and in other venues of all sorts including Caroline’s on Broadway, Gotham Comedy Club, Bowery Poetry Club, Nuyorican Poets Café, The Town Hall, and The Friars’ Club. Jes debuted their first full-length solo show, FRESH OFF THE BANANA BOAT, to a sold-out audience at Dixon Place’s HOT! Festival in 2014. Jes’ first 30 minute comedy special, Cold Brew, was recorded live in August 2016 at Astoria’s QED: A Place to Show and Tell. Jes Tom holds a BA in Theatre from Smith College. They have completed the Meisner Acting program at Maggie Flanigan Studio. www.jestomdotcom.com
DRAE CAMPBELL (instructor) is a writer, actor, director, story teller, dancer, and nightlife emcee. She has been featured on Late Night with Conan O’Brien and on stages all over NYC. Drae’s directing work has appeared in Iceland, NYC, Budapest and in the San Francisco Fringe Festival. The short film Drae wrote and starred in with Rebecca Drysdale, YOU MOVE ME, won the Audience Award for Outstanding Narrative Short at OUTFEST 2010 and has been shown in festivals globally. Drae won the grand prize at the first annual San Miguel De Allende Storytelling Festival in Mexico. She once reigned as Miss LEZ and also got dubbed “the next lezzie comedian on the block” by AfterEllen.com for her comedic stylings on the interwebs. Campbell hosts and curates a monthly queer storytelling show called TELL at BGSQD. www.draecampbell.com
KERRI LOUISE (instructor) was a finalist on Last Comic Standing, which led to her own reality show, Two Funny. She was a correspondent on the Oprah Winfrey Show and has also appeared on Comedy Central, The View, VH1, 20/20, and many more. She lives in New Jersey with her husband, comedian Tom Cotter, and their three sons. www.kerrilouise.com
ABBY SHER (instructor, 1/17 class) is a writer, performer, and mother of three cool beans. She’s performed with The Second City, ImprovOlympic, HBO, and NPR. Her memoir, Amen, Amen, Amen: Memoir of a Girl who Couldn’t Stop Praying got lots of awards and a nod from Oprah. Her next book, All the Ways the World Can End is due out Spring, 2017. She co-produces the “Roll Call Comedy Lab” and shows up with a trash-talking puppet in odd places. www.abby-sher.com @abbysher
AVERY LENDER (T.A.) is a sophomore at Fieldston in New York City. She enjoys comedy, eyeliner, and good lo mein.
SOPHIE ZUCKER (T.A.), as a toddler, used to sing “You Are My Sunshine” for crowded airplanes and was thus brought up under the false impression that everyone wanted to hear what she had to say. She is a proud graduate of Oberlin College, and an even prouder recipient of her Religion degree, which she loves to reference but rarely uses. Sophie has trained at The Second City Network, UCB, Under The Gun and Annoyance, in both sketch and improv. Her web series “Ida and Sophie Livefeed the World” was featured on the Jill Soloway-curated website wifey.tv. Currently, she is a staffer on CBS’ The Good Wife and BrainDead. @mightyzucks