Organizational Structure

Forward Theater Company has a unique three-branch organizational structure, created to reflect our core belief in the importance of communication and maintaining a balance between the artistic choices and financial health of our company.

The first branch is our administrative staff which is responsible for the daily operations of the theater. The second branch is our board of directors which is responsible for financial oversight of FTC and long-term fiscal planning. The third branch is our advisory company, made up of local professional theater artists, which is responsible for guiding FTC’s long-term artistic plans.

Our bylaws have mandated paths of communication between these three branches and a system of checks and balances to keep FTC strong, focused on our artistic role in the community and fiscally responsible.


Artistic Director
Jennifer Uphoff Gray is the artistic director of Forward Theater Company, where she directed 4000 Miles, Mr. Burns (a post-electric play), Silent Sky, Vanya & Sonia & Masha & Spike, From Up Here, Or, Sons of the Prophet, Good People, 44 Plays for 44 Presidents, A Thousand Words, The Farnsworth Invention, Moonlight & Magnolias, In the Next Room..., Why Torture is Wrong, and the People Who Love Them, and All About Eve. Regionally, she has directed for Madison Rep and Milwaukee Shakespeare. Also: National Tour of Copenhagen, and Associate Director on Broadway of Copenhagen, Cabaret, The Blue Room (starring Nicole Kidman) and The Life. Jen grew up in the Madison area, holds a degree in Dramatic Literature & Stage History from Harvard College, and with her husband Peter is raising her family on Madison’s west side.
You can email Jen at

Managing Director
Julie Swenson joins Forward as Managing Director after 17 seasons as Producing Director for Renaissance Theaterworks in Milwaukee. Julie received a BA in theater from Illinois Wesleyan University and became a member of Actors’ Equity Association while living in New York city. Julie fell in love with the Forward family when she worked as an actor in Forward’s production of Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike in the role of Masha. Outside of theater she served on the Village of Nashotah board serving as President for two terms and was the host of New Home Building Today on WTMJ-4 in Milwaukee. Julie has two grown sons, Johnny and Jarek, and is happily settled on the west side of Madison.
You can email Julie at

Director of Development
Julia Nicholas manages individual giving, grants, and fundraisers. Julia has a Master’s degree in arts administration and an MBA from the University of Wisconsin - Madison's School of Business. She previously led marketing and public relations efforts for the Elgin Symphony Orchestra and marketing research for Lands’ End. In addition, she has worked in marketing and public relations for the Norfolk Chamber Music Festival at Yale’s Summer School of Music and at the Spoleto Festival in Charleston, South Carolina.
You can email Julia at

Director of Marketing and Communications
Scott Haden manages the marketing and advertising life of Forward Theater. He previously served as Managing Director of the Rocky Mountain Repertory Theatre in Grand Lake, CO, and has enjoyed acting at various regional theaters across the country, including American Players Theatre, Utah Shakespeare Festival, Chicago Shakespeare Theatre, Writers’ Theatre, Madison Repertory Theatre, Milwaukee Chamber Theatre, and Theatre at the Center. He is a proud member of Actors’ Equity, Madison's Whoopensocker ensemble, and a founding member of the Wisconsin Story Project, Dolphinback Theatre/Chicago, and the Lovewell Theatre Project. Scott holds a BFA in Musical Theatre from the Webster University Conservatory of Theatre Arts.
You can email Scott at

Audience & Donor Relations Manager
Samara Safarik manages audience services and donor relations for Forward Theater. She's most recently from Los Angeles, where she spent 10 years as a resident company and staff member with Will Geer’s Theatricum Botanicum. It was there that she earned her Equity card, created their first development department, acted as casting director, internship coordinator, teaching artist and actor. Samara's acting work includes film, television, commercials, mime and arts education in LA, Chicago and Denver. Her first mainstage performance with Forward was in Mary Jane. She’s also been seen in Forward’s Wisconsin Wrights Festival, Monologue Festival and currently serves on the Dane Arts Review Panel. Samara grew up in the Midwest, graduated from Northwestern University and is happy to be back among family and friends, telling stories with Forward. She lives in Verona with her family, including two feisty daughters Charlotte and Rowen.
You can email Samara at

Company Manager
Celia A. Klehr started her professional life as a non-Equity actor in 1976. Because she believes that theater is most relevant when it is for, by, and of a community, Celia has made Madison her home, both professionally and personally. She was a founding member of Forward Theater Company and the Madison Repertory Theatre Acting Company. During her 14 years with the Rep she appeared in more than 20 productions, served as company manager for three years, and earned her Equity status. She has played leading roles in three feature-length films and several documentaries, and has served on the Madison Arts Commission, Madison Sesquicentennial Committee, and the State Street Committee. Celia is dedicated to creating work for theater professionals in Madison and strongly believes that theater is a vital part of Madison’s culture. Most recently, Celia was seen onstage in FTC productions of All About Eve, Moonlight & Magnolias, and Good People.
You can email Celia at

Artistic Associate
Karen Moeller has been contributing to the artistic life of Forward Theater from its very first season. Karen appeared in Forward Theater's All About Eve; In the Next Room, or the vibrator play; The Farnsworth Invention; Sons of the Prophet; From Up Here; Learning to Stay; and, most recently Marjorie Prime. She has also worked with CTM, Four Seasons Theatre, Strollers Theatre, Mercury Players, Madison Repertory Theatre, Broom Street Theatre, Alley Stage Theatre, Are We Delicious, and Riverside Theatre (Iowa City). She can also be seen and/or heard in various commericals throughout Wisconsin and the Midwest. Karen studied theater at the University of Iowa and the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London. A native of Door County, she is proud to call Wisconsin (and Madison!) her home. Karen is ever grateful for how rich our community is with actors, designers, writers, and directors, all of whom possess such a deep commitment to the art and craft of theater.
You can email Karen at

Stage Manager
Sarah Deming-Henes grew up in Madison and had a delightful time of it. She adored seeing, and eventually being a part of, the thriving theater scene here. Since 2001 she has worked 14 seasons at American Players Theatre, where her very first professional (AEA) stage management contract was Thornton Wilder's The Matchmaker (starring Sarah Day). Sarah has frequently bounced between working at APT and many Milwaukee theater companies, including First Stage, Milwaukee Chamber Theatre and, most recently and most often, The Milwaukee Repertory Theater - where she has stage managed at least 1 production a season since 2011. Having delighted in the success of Forward Theater Co. from its creation there has always been a spark of hope in Sarah's heart to come and play with this company, and her many friends here, contributing to the fantastic art Forward creates with such care and love. Which is why becoming the Stage Manager for Forward's 2018-2019 10th Anniversary Season is such a joy!
You can email Sarah at

Business Manager
Alex Moskoff handles bookkeeping, maintains FTC's database, and manages the office. He has a Bachelor's degree in legal studies (and studied film and television) at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. Most recently, Alex was a production accountant at Warner Bros. Television in Los Angeles, where he also worked in the finance and post-production departments. A native Madisonian, Alex recently moved back to the area with his wife, a professional chef/baker.
You can email Alex at