Amy Ryan was raised in North Omaha. After college, she served as a women’s advocate and director of children’s programs at the Newhouse Shelter for Domestic Violence. She returned to Omaha in 1995 to pursue a graduate degree in counseling psychology at the University of Nebraska at Omaha.
Prior to beginning her full-time duties as the theatre’s executive director, Ryan owned and operated a successful Benson restaurant, The Pizza Shoppe & Pub, for 22 years. In 2005, she opened the Pizza Shoppe Collective, an event venue connected to the restaurant.
Ryan was named SCORE’s Entrepreneur of the Year in 2007 and received 40 Under 40 recognition from the Midlands Business Journal in 2009.
A graduate of Creighton University with a degree in sociology, Lassiter sought to understand how socio-political systems affect youth and young adults as they move through their education. This led to a nine-year career in youth development in Omaha and continued when she moved to Minnesota in 2013. While there, Lassiter refocused her career to arts administration, eager to support the success of artists, arts organizations and creative communities.
She received her M.A. in arts and cultural management from St. Mary’s University of Minnesota and has worked to further this mission in various capacities. She served as the grants and special projects manager at the Minnesota Opera, where she spearheaded the implementation of an innovative community engagement methodology, and as interim executive director of ARTS-Us in St. Paul, Minn.
Also a musician and actor, Lassiter’s work is inspired by personal life experiences, contemporary theater and improvisation as well as acoustic, soul and classical music. She uses music and performance to explore life’s essential and most difficult questions.
Audiss graduated magna cum laude from the University of Nebraska at Omaha with a degree in K-12 art education and an emphasis in painting.
Prior to her arrival at Benson Theatre, she worked for Omaha Public Schools as a high school art teacher and a special education paraprofessional. These experiences taught her to multitask and develop lessons to accommodate multiple intelligences.
Audiss co-founded The Octopuses Garden Art Alliance, an Omaha-based nonprofit that provided opportunities for underserved populations to experience and engage in the arts, and also served as its education coordinator. During her six years with the organization, she developed a passion for uniting people from different walks of life through arts programming and community building.
She also served as the secretary liaison for the Nebraska Art Teachers Association and as president of Benson First Friday, where she currently serves as program director.
Audiss lives in Benson with her husband and son.
Board of Directors
Aaron Weiner, Vice President
Abrahams Kaslow & Cassman LLP
Teri Corcoran, Secretary
Kara O’Connor, Treasurer
Metro Omaha Women’s Business Center
Greater Omaha Chamber
CBRE | MEGA
Black and Pink
Habitat for Humanity of Omaha
Watie White Studios
Business Ethics Alliance
University of Nebraska at Omaha College of Communication, Fine Arts and Media
Amy Ryan, Ex Officio