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The gig economy is on the rise. Learn from our very own Matt Pardo, Kyle Hackett, Sam Suggs, and local entrepreneur, Katie Overfield-Zook about what it takes to be entrepreneurial and earn an income from creative side hustles. Refreshments will be provided!

Date: Wednesday 2/2
Location: Memorial Hall Auditorium
Time: 1:50 - 2:40PM

Pre-registration on Handshake via this link is encouraged, but not required:

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KYLE HACKETT is a visual artist and assistant professor of Painting and Drawing at James Madison University. Hackett earned his M.F.A. from the LeRoy E. Hoffberger School of Painting at Maryland Institute College of Art and his B.F.A. in fine arts from University of Delaware. His paintings explore issues of race, class, and social standing through approaches to self-representation and the constructed image. Hackett has exhibited nationally and internationally, receiving numerous honors and awards. His work has been featured in publications including New American Paintings, The Washington Post, and HuffPost. Hackett’s work is represented by Goya Contemporary Gallery (Baltimore, MD) and notably collected by Ethan Cohen Gallery (New York, NY).

MATT PARDO, M.F.A., AEA, is an assistant professor of dance at James Madison University. His experience includes Eisenhower Dance Ensemble, River North Dance Chicago Dance Company (apprentice), Pittsburgh Opera, GroundWorks DanceTheater, Einstein on the Beach (Olivier Award - Best Opera), Lucinda Childs Dance Company, among others. Dance Europe selected him as a “Top 100 Dancer in the World” for 2010–2011 and called him an “Artist to Watch.” Pardo is a co-founder and co-director of The Blanket (, which has been featured in Dance Magazine (online), American Express’ Departures magazine and the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. The Blanket has been producing Lucinda Childs: DANCE and worked with the Joyce Foundation on a weeklong run at The Joyce Theater in October 2021. Choreographic and teaching credits include the American Dance Festival, Point Park University, Elon University, Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre School, Centre national de la danse (Paris), Slippery Rock University, and more. (

SAM SUGGS is the first solo bassist in 36 years to join the Concert Artists Guild roster, and was recently recognized with an award for “Extraordinary Creativity” at the 2017 Bradetich Foundation International Double Bass Competition. Applauded by The Strad for his “brilliant and compelling programming,” Suggs performed many original works to win first place at the 2015 International Society of Bassists Solo Competition and was named “New Artist of the Month” (Musical America). As a collaborator, Suggs has performed at the Mostly Mozart Festival, Yellow Barn, Chamber Music Northwest, Lincoln Center, Carnegie Hall, the Kennedy Center, and with the Argus Quartet, PUBLIQuartet, and Frisson Ensemble (composer-in-residence). A native of Buffalo, Suggs recently received his doctorate from the Yale School of Music and serves on the faculty of JMU, the Heifetz Institute, Peabody Bass Works, Sewanee Summer Music Festival, and the Summer Performing Arts with Juilliard Strings Program in Shanghai.

KATHLEEN OVERFIELD-ZOOK has had a multifaceted career as a musician, pedagogue and entrepreneur alike. She holds two degrees from the University of Michigan in viola performance. She worked for over a decade as a freelance musician in New Jersey, the Philadelphia area, and Virginia. After the founding of her company The Bloom Trio and Event Musicians, LLC, a network of professional musicians for special events, Overfield-Zook found her passion for arts entrepreneurship and entrepreneurship education. Having previously served as assistant director of the Gilliam Center for Entrepreneurship at JMU, she is now an entrepreneurial ecosystem builder with the Shenandoah Community Capital Fund, an entrepreneurial support organization based in Staunton, Virginia, that serves entrepreneurs, creatives, innovators and changemakers across the entire Shenandoah Valley.

MELISSA SANTJER is an environmentally-focused architectural design student. Long before she developed a passion for architecture and woodworking, she developed a love and respect for the land while growing up on a small horse farm. Her skills in woodworking have enabled her to create her own small business, Rising from the Ashes. Melissa strives to design with a sense of social, cultural, and ecological responsibility. Her love for horses never left, as she continues to ride while working toward becoming a licensed architect.

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