Leadership & Staff

Originally from West Chester, PA, Katie has called Chicago home since 2007. As an actor, she has performed in everything from musicals to completely original shows in the U.S., London (most notably at Shakespeare's Globe), and the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. Katie graduated magna cum laude from Syracuse University with a BFA in Drama and holds an MA with Distinction in Applied Theatre from The Royal Central School for Speech and Drama. Her dissertation, "Side By Side", focused on developing creative arts programming for individuals with a dual diagnosis of Down syndrome and dementia. Katie founded Artists Breaking Limits & Expectations (A.B.L.E.) with the aim of creating opportunities for individuals with developmental differences to find the same confidence, friendships, and joy she has found through the arts. She is equally invested in nurturing new facilitators and teaching artists, and enjoys speaking and presenting about A.B.L.E.’s work. In addition to her artistic life, Katie is also a fully certified STOTT® Pilates and GYROTONIC® Instructor with over a decade of experience training clients of all ages and abilities to find healing and strength through movement. Her favorite dance party song is “Teenage Dream” by Katy Perry.

Katie Yohe - Founder, Executive Artistic Director, Teaching Artist

Lawrence hails from Austin, TX, and moved to Chicago in 2004 to pursue his Masters in Theatre from The Chicago College for Performing Arts at Roosevelt University. Lawrence is a multi-faceted performer, having worked onstage, in film, and as a motion-capture performer (he’s been in many of your favorite video games including the Mortal Kombat and Injustice franchises, and is happy to talk superheroes with you). Lawrence co-founded A.B.L.E. with his wife, Katie, and is proud to serve as a teaching artist and often volunteers with the ensembles. In addition, he has written and directed both of A.B.L.E.’s feature films, The Spy Who Knew Me and The Curse of the Tempest Jewel. His favorite dance party song to boogie to is “Can’t Stop the Feeling” by Justin Timberlake.

Emma is originally from the Boston area. She has lived in Chicago since 2017 and started working with A.B.L.E. shortly thereafter. Emma has a longstanding passion for exploring theatre and disability, and has worked with multiple theatre companies for individuals with autism including Spotlight Camp and Red Kite at Chicago Children's Theatre. In addition to her work as a teaching artist, Emma has also served as a sign language consultant for A.B.L.E. and adapted our 2019 production of As You Like It. Emma’s favorite dance party song is “Firework” by Katie Perry.

EMMA MACLEAN - Program Coordinator, teaching artist

Lawrence Kern - Co-founder, Teaching Artist


Teaching Artists

Originally from Valparaiso, Indiana, Braden has lived in Chicago since 2015, and joined the A.B.L.E. team in 2016. Braden has a range of experience in theatre and has served as a teaching artist for Red Kite program at Chicago Children’s Theatre, Columbia College Chicago Center for Community Arts Partnerships, Chicago Youth Shakespeare, and Mudlark Theatre. He is currently pursuing an MA in Clinical Mental Health Counseling from Northeastern Illinois University, and working towards his certification as a Registered Drama Therapist. Braden’s favorite dance party song is Michael Jackson's "Don't Stop till You Get Enough."

Braden Cleary

peter van Kempen

Kaylie hails from Ashland, Illinois, but has called Chicago home since 2012. She has led theatrical programs for students grades k-8, such as SMASH! Entrepreneurial Theatre Camp and Armour Elementary’s after-school program. Kaylie is a primary special education teacher for CPS. She has also worked as a theatrical stage manager with various Chicago theatre companies prior to obtaining her Masters degree in Special Education. Her favorite dance party song is “Uptown Funk.”

Kaylie Honkala

Kendra Van Kempen

Sean grew up in New Mexico but left the high desert to study acting at Southwestern University in Georgetown, Texas. He then moved to Chicago where he obtained an MFA in acting from Roosevelt University. Sean has always loved performing on the stage, and is especially fond of mask work and improvisation. He has built a career performing motion capture for various video game franchises. When it comes to dance party, Sean’s favorite jam is “Brown Eyed Girl”.

Sean Okerberg


2019-2020 Volunteer Facilitators

  • Nette Angelini

  • Somer Benson

  • Rosie Bross

  • Nate Buursma

  • Claire Chrzan

  • Kara DavidsoN

  • Shannon Diegel

  • Mary Feigenbutz

  • Megan Gray*

  • Kiaran Hartnett*

  • Chelsea Hosler

  • Aaron Latterell

 
  • Lauren Lynch*

  • Kate McDuffie

  • Arin Mulvaney

  • Alison Perrone

  • Ben Raanan*

  • Jenna Rapisarda

  • Mary Ruppert*

  • Michael Russell

  • Beth Sherwood

  • Susan Sjodin

  • Lindsay Stock

* denotes first season with A.B.L.E.

Thank you to all of the individuals, past and present, who have shared their time and talents with our ensemble. Want to see your name on this list? Click here to read more about being a facilitator.


Board of Directors

  • NANCY BUCHANAN

  • GREGORY DESMOND

  • Jenny Fisher

  • MATT MAXWELL

  • KENDRA VANKEMPEN

  • KATIE YOHE

A.B.L.E. is currently seeking new board members. If you would like to share your time and expertise with our growing organization, please click here to fill out an application.


Community Partners

Producing partner

Producing partner

 
Rehearsal venue partner

Rehearsal venue partner

 
Capacity-building support

Capacity-building support

A.B.L.E.’s programs are is partially supported by a CityArts Grant from the City of Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs & Special Events.

A.B.L.E.’s programs are is partially supported by a CityArts Grant from the City of Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs & Special Events.