Dr. Michelle (Shelly) Cihak entered the journalism field after earning a B.A. from Vanderbilt University in communications and political science. After working for outlets such as Good Morning America, Bloomberg Personal Finance, and PennWell Publishing, she followed her passion into the field of education. As a Literary Arts Instructor at the York County School of the Arts, Dr. Cihak taught creative writing, art history, and dramaturgy, as well as wrote and directed numerous theatre programs. Going on to earn a M.S. in curriculum and instruction from Walden University and a doctorate in Education, Policy, Planning, and Leadership from the College of William & Mary, Dr. Cihak continued to support students and teachers as an International Baccalaureate Coordinator, Assessment and Compliance Coordinator, Assistant Principal, and Principal. She is thrilled to return to her love of the arts at GSA! Dr. Cihak enjoys spending time with her husband, two stepsons, host of rescue animals, and a good book.
Assistant Director/Foundation Director
Deborah Thorpe earned her BA degree in Dance and Education from Goucher College and her M.Ed degree in Dance Education from Colorado State University. Her professional modern dance career ranged from regional dance companies in Colorado, Baltimore and New York City. In 1984 she assisted in forming GSA, and from 1985- 2011 she was Chair of the GSA Dance Department. Her position of Assistant Director and Foundation Director began in the fall of 2011. She has been an integral part of the arts community in Hampton Roads and has recently served on the executive committee of the Downtown Norfolk Council, chair of the NEON district, as a panel member for the Virginia Commission on the Arts, and was President of the Board for Todd Rosenlieb Dance for 8 years. She was also a member of the WHRO Community Advisory Board and the Horizon Circle of CHKD. She is currently on the community advisory board for the Hunter House and a volunteer for the DNC and the NEON district. She is the Founding Director of the Regional High School Dance Festival and received the Outstanding Service Award from the National High School Dance Festival in 2002.