Artistic Director

Mary Naftal is the president and artistic director of Dance Connection in Islip, New York. With over 40 years teaching experience, Mary holds a degree in Early Childhood Education from Long Island University. Her work as an arts educator has been recognized with an inclusion in "Who's Who Among America's Teachers" and being named a "Teacher in the Spotlight" in Dance Studio Life Magazine. Her students have performed on Broadway, on TV, in Disney Parks, and across the world. Mary currently serves on the panel of experts.  She is a recipient of the Town of Islip Small Business Award, a long-standing member of Dance Educators of America, and a member of the National Dance Education Organization and the New York State Dance Educators Association.


Producing Director | Lighting Designer

Joe is proud to serve as the Producing Director for Making Wishes Grow.  Joe works as the Marketing Director for Dance Connection in Islip, New York. In addition to his work at Dance Connection, Joe has a career as a theatrical lighting designer, assistant designer, and production manager in New York City and across the country. His experience spans the worlds of classical and contemporary theatre, musicals, ballet, modern dance, and opera. Joe serves on the board of directors of Robin Becker Dance and CM Performing Arts Center.  He is also a published author and regular speaker at industry conferences across the country on the topics of theatrical production, communications, and marketing strategy.  Joe holds a BFA from UNC School of the Arts and is a proud member of United Scenic Artists USA829 and the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE).



Production Stage Manager

Brenna is a Charlotte-based Stage Manager for theatre and dance.  Her stage management credits include Children's Theatre of Charlotte, Dance Connection, Making Wishes Grow, Bella Love, the Bezark Company, UNCA Commencement Ceremonies, Cirque du Soleil's The Beatles LOVE, the Santa Fe Opera, and Davidson Community Players.  Brenna holds a BFA in Stage Management from the University of North Carolina School of the Arts.


Gretchen Goess

Stage Manager


Lindsay Duet

Assistant Stage Manager


Eric Saccoccio

Technical Director


Ava Bonavita

Sound Designer


Finn O'Leary

Assistant Lighting Designer


Erin Sforza

House Manager