Meet Our Leaders


Gale McNeeley

Founder & Program Director

Gale McNeeley founded Youth ARTS Alive in 2017 to introduce children to the visual and performing arts. He began his career as a speech teacher in 1968 at an Urban Community School in Cleveland, Ohio. Since then, he has taught theatre to children and adults on both coasts. He has been a union actor since 1970, appearing on stage, television, movies, cabarets, circus and street theatre. Currently, Gale loves doing his one-man shows of original characters and songs, bringing Archy the poetic cockroach, and Mehitabel the alley cat to audiences around the country. Visit his webiste and follow on YouTube!
Gale looks forward to seeing children from more and more Santa Maria families joining us for classes each summer.

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Hanne Shaye Tonder

Director of Communications

Hanne is an actor and communications professional from Hollister, California. With a B.A. in Mass Communications from Cal State LA, she has merged her passions for art and marketing into a fulfilling career. In 2022, she graduated PCPA's Professional Actor Training Program and continues to act in California and the Pacific Northwest. Hanne is thrilled to put her training to use and partner with Youth ARTS Alive! for her second year.

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Faith Richter

Program Coordinator

Faith Lennon Richter is an Appalachian expat from Wheeling, West Virginia. She is a rising second year actor in the conservatory at PCPA. Faith is a multi-hyphenate artist whose mission is to open hearts to the commonality of human experience through authentic connections. This is her first time working with Youth ARTS Alive, and she could not be more excited to connect with you all! You can check her out on Instagram @faith_lennon.

Meet the Team

Andrea Huffman


Andrea Huffman is a Santa Maria native. She started her career as a portrait photographer specializing in the newborn to 5-year-old age group. She continues to work in photography alongside freelancing as a graphic designer. She is excited to be joining Youth ARTS Alive! for the first time to instruct art classes with aspiring artists of the community.

Nicole Johnson


Nicole is an art student from Santa Maria, California. Currently attending Cuesta college with plans to transfer to Cal Poly to pursue a Degree in fine arts. With a high school art teacher for a mother, Nicole has practiced many different mediums of art since she could hold a pencil. Nicole is enthusiastic as ever to share her knowledge and techniques, and inspire creativity in young people. 


Bexley Childers

Art Intern

 Bexley is pursuing her degree in Anthropology with a minor in Speech and Communication at Allan Hancock College.  Throughout her performing career, Bexley has learned the importance of taking care of one’s mind, body and soul; these practices bleeding into her day-to-day life which has made her a well-rounded person.  She is a House Manager in Solvang at the Theaterfest, happy to bring theater and concerts to the Santa Ynez Valley to everyone she can as both music and theater are her passions!  Bexley loves the performing arts and cannot wait to explore and expand upon her knowledge with you this summer!  She is always listening to music, you can check out her playlists at @scarlette8898