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Board of Directors

Who We Are

Amber Linde


Amber Linde serves as a Program Officer for the National Institutes of Health’s (NIH) National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Division of Microbiology and Infectious Diseases, Virology Branch's Adenoviruses, DNA Tumor viruses, Parvoviruses & Poxviruses Portfolio. She supports extramural research studies that advance mechanistic, methodological, and data-analytic approaches to discover, integrate, describe and/or analyze DNA viruses. 


Prior to her work at the NIH, Amber worked for the Department of Defense for 20 years and managed portfolios containing grants and contracts that directly supported alternative medicine and approaches to mental health through nutrition, art, and meditation for US military personnel. 


In 2019, Amber became a proud comeback musician. She started playing again at the Browningsville Cornet Band on tenor saxophone. Amber enjoyed that band so much she was encouraged by her fellow musicians to join other bands. In 2021 she started playing for the Market Street Big Band where she plays tenor saxophone and flute. In 2022, Amber joined two more bands, The Swinging Harmony Band and the Harmony Cornet Band. There she plays tenor, alto saxophones, and the flute. In 2021 she serves on the Board of the Browningsville Cornet Band and in 2022 she became the Manager of the Market Street Big Band. 


As Amber’s day job focuses on grants and contract management, using that knowledge, she has written and successfully received grants for various art programs. With this background, Amber is very proud to be offered the President of Italia Performing Arts Institute where she will actively serve for the nonprofit to encourage professional and student learning in the dance arts. 


Amber resides with her husband Seth in Frederick, Maryland. She holds degrees from Walden University (PhD), University of Maryland (MS), and Winthrop University (BS).


Peter Kirk


Peter Kirk lives in Woodstock, Virginia, USA, with his wife Lorenza (married 2009) and their two dogs. Born in Britain, he lived many years in Chelmsford in the south east of England.

His academic life started in the study of Physics at the University of Cambridge and completed postgraduate courses in Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics. He worked for several years in the electronics and software industry, including design of accounting software. He studied theology to MA level at London Bible College, now London School of Theology. After training in linguistics he served with Wycliffe Bible Translators and the United Bible Societies on a Bible translation project in the Caucasus region, partly living in that region and partly based at home in Chelmsford. 

In 2012, Peter and Lorenza moved to the United States and opened Italia Performing Arts LLC, a dance studio in Winchester, VA. As a trained bookkeeper and tax preparer, he is the Business Manager for the studio which includes responsibility for its accounts, student database, website, and marketing. 


In 2018, he was one of the founders of the non-profit Italia Performing Arts Institute. Initially, the IPA institute was to promote scholarships for those pursuing dance in the Shenandoah Valley region where Peter has served as Treasurer. He will continue to serve as Treasurer as the IPA Institute expands its vision in the opening of the ARTEINMOVIMENTO Dance Company.

Laura Fieo


Laura is a Frederick County, Virginia resident that has been a special education teacher for 23 years. She has been teaching at Admiral Byrd Middle School in Frederick County since 2005 and has been the lead special education teacher since 2017. Laura is also an active member in her church, Stephens City United Methodist Church and participates in several committees. She serves as the Chairperson of the Preschool, the Secretary of the Worship Committee and Church Council, and is on the Daycare Board. She also teaches Sunday School.


Laura has had a love for the arts starting at an early age with taking ballet and tap, participating in church children’s choir and handbell choir, playing the flute and piccolo in the school band, marching band, and a community marching band. She has two daughters that have participated in dance since an early age.


Laura helped to create the Italia Performing Arts Parent Committee, which helped to organize parents to assist with shows and functions. When the Italia Performing Arts Institute was formed, Laura helped to establish it and is the secretary for the Institute. She has helped to organize fundraiser events and other activities and events that are sponsored by the Institute. Laura started to work part-time for Italia Performing Arts where she has taken over the responsibilities of ordering costumes for shows and competitions, organizing parent volunteers for shows and events, assisting to promote events for the studio on

social media.


Angela Palombi


Angela is a Frederick County, Virginia Resident working in healthcare for 23 years as a MRI/CT technologist. Her family has long been native to northwest Virginia and West Virginia. Her personal exposure to the arts growing up was dance, music and arts of many different styles, Her parents were florists. She has family members who are music therapists, art teachers adding designers, photographers and a variety of educators. She has two young daughter age 13 and 11 who are talented and involved in various music and dance styles. Her love for the arts run deep. She had served in church as worship chair and various other roles. She has a passion to help wherever she can to promote the arts in the Shenandoah Valley that create the community connections of respect and love for one another through the arts. 

Cecilia Engelberg

My husband, Alan, and I moved from New Jersey to Charles Town , WVa six years ago. It was the best decision!  We wanted to retire and live the rest of our days in my home state. Alan wanted Chicago, at first, but I won out and he could not be more happy. We have one son, Nick, here with us in Charles Town.  Our older son lives in Waverly, Virginia with his wife and five children.

        I worked as a registered( diploma ) nurse for nine years. I decided to then attain my B.S. degree from W Va University in Morgantown. I worked there in the Medical University Hospital for three years. Appalachian Laboratories for Occupational Safety and Health (ALOSH) was my next job. I traveled all over the country working as a field nurse. After one year working there, Alan signed up as a Medical Field Officer and the rest is our history, 45 years in 2023!

         I had served eight years as a flight nurse In the Delaware Air National Guard.

When I started at ALOSH I had to hang up my flight wings because at ALOSH, we were commissioned officers in the US Public Health Service.

          Our family experienced moving seven times and it provided such rich experiences for us all.

           I went back to school at age 50 to become a sign language interpreter, because I have always been intrigued by this language. I worked for three years in schools and churches and music venues. I stopped working as an interpreter but I still practice signing music.

             I have always loved dancing!!  When Alan used to travel a lot with his work, I decided to take up ballroom dancing. I got hooked and in all the cities we lived, I found a dance studio.  So it has been 30 years, off and on.  

             I just experienced learning a modern and ballet type of dance with my new instructor, Al’Yona Kalynii. She works for Freddie Ciampi who owns and teaches at Social Graces in Berryville, Virginia.  He brought Al’yona and her daughter, Masha, and her Mom, Svetlana from Kharkiv, Ukraine August 2023. Al’yona has danced and choreographed modern-ballet performances for 25 years. She teaches all types of ballroom dances as well as hip-hop.  We performed our solo on February 23, 2024 at Freddie’s yearly Gala. It was totally awesome to dance a different style dance and have such an amazing, beautiful teacher.

             I am compassionate about dancing and how it helps us stay young and vibrant and happy!

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Susan Strickland


I am a Native born Washingtonian. Both of my parents met in DC and worked for the Federal Government. I originally lived in Fairfax, VA, then Moved to Maryland when I married. I have 4 children and 1 Grandchild currently. Expecting a New Baby grandchild.


My career started with NIH in Bethesda, MD working with the Grants Administration, with PBIM. I took a leave of absence to have children. After staying home raising them, I returned to work in the Benefits and Human Resources area. I am a licensed Insurance Broker, affiliated with several Companies. I also work with Artisan Movers as their Marketing and Advertising VP.

I have always been involved in Dance, as a child, with Ballet, then Aerobics, and now my husband and I enjoy Line dancing, ballroom and country dance. I spend time working in my garden and planting flowers. My son recently married a girl who is hearing impaired, so I am taking courses in sign language. I love staying busy with a variety of activities.

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